Year in Music

As far as music goes, forget Pitchfork's top 50 albums of the year. What do they know anyway??
This is the reason my top 50 list is so much better than Pitchfork's: I give you links to my favorite track from each album!

50. Louis XIV Slick Dogs & Ponies Guilt By Association
49. Safetysuit Life Left to Go Someone Like You
48. Oxford Collapse Bits Young Love Delivers
47. Feral Children Second to Last Frontier Baby Joseph Stalin
46. Copeland Beneath Medicine Tree She Changes Your Mind
45. Tickle Me Pink Madeline Typical
44. Cajun Dance Party The Colourful Life No Joanna
43. Innerpartysystem S/T Heart on Fire
42. Hawthorne Heights Fragile Future Rescue Me
41. Rise Against Appeal to Reason Re-Education (Through Labor)
40. Black Kids Partie Traumatic I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You
39. Sigur Rós Með Suð í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust Með suð í eyrum
38. The Cure 4:13 Dream Sleep When I'm Dead
37. Envy & Other Sins We Leave at Dawn Don't Start Fires
36. Los Campesinos! Hold on Now, Youngster You! Me! Dancing!
35. The Plastic Constellations We Appreciate You Perched on a Porch
34. Fairmont Transcendence Melt Your Heart
33. TV on the Radio Dear Science Red Dress
32. Aqualung Words and Music 7 Keys
31. The Envy Corps Dwell Story Problem
30. Fall Out Boy Folie a Deux Disloyal Order of Water Buffaloes
29. Ludo You're Awful I Love You Love Me Dead
28. Elliot Minor S/T Jessica
27. Son, Ambulence Someone Else's Déjà Vu Horizons
26. The Presets Apocalypso Talk Like That
25. Anthony Green Avalon She Loves Me So
24. Radiohead In Rainbows Videotape (it did get released Jan 1 2008!)
23. The Ting Tings We Started Nothing Shut Up and Let Me Go
22. Ours Mercy Live Again
21. Snow Patrol A Hundred Million Suns Disaster Button
20. Neil Halstead Oh, Mighty Engine Elevenses
19. The Killers Day & Age Human
18. Jack's Mannequin The Glass Passenger The Resolution
17. Bayside Shudder Moceanu
16. Edison Glass Time is Fiction Our Bodies Sing
15. Pendulum In Silico Granite
14. The Wombats A Guide to Love, Loss and Desperation Moving to New York
13. The Futureheads This is Not the World Radio Heart
12. Curbsquirrels We Wish We Knew How to Quit This 8-Bit
11. Travis Ode to J. Smith J. Smith
10. Kerli Love is Dead Creepshow
9. Liam Finn I'll Be Lightning Second Chance
8. Shiny Toy Guns Season of Poison I Owe You a Love Song
7. Bell X1 Flock Flame
6. Coldplay Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends Violet Hill
5. Margot & the Nuclear So and So's Not Animal! Broadripple is Burning
4. Hot Chip Made in the Dark Ready for the Floor
3. Nada Surf Lucky I Like What You Say
2. Dear & the Headlights Drunk Like Bible Times Try
1. MUSE H.A.A.R.P. Hysteria

The only reason I put a live album in the #1 slot is because it's MUSE and they can do no wrong. There is no new material - just recordings from their Wembley Stadium gigs in 2007. So really, you can say DATH is #1 on my list, Nada Surf #2, and so on.

As for live music this year, I didn't get the chance to see much of anything. Of course I saw Editors, Hot Hot Heat and Louis XIV 3 times at the start of the year. Editors were amazing, as always. I tried to catch the Envy Corps in NY, but found out they canceled the rest of their shows to tour in England. I was able to see some new bands because I went without knowing they had canceled. Check out The Myriad if they ever come near you. Same goes for Vedera. The vocalist for Vedera looked like a little pixie... I wanted to hug her.

I finally saw Hot Chip this year, and it was the only show that made me bust out and dance. That rarely happens, but I broke a sweat at that Hotlanta show.

One of my favorite concerts of the year was Dear & the Headlights. They played the Orpheum and I went by myself - but had such a great experience I would drive hours to see them again.

Check out my videos at http://www.youtube.com/user/darkshines8
There are some great full length Nada Surf videos, as well as a few other gems from this year.
Looking forward to a greatly musical 2009!

The Best Year of My Life

I'm watching CNN at the moment as they are re-capping 2008. Every half hour they show another major city celebrating the coming of 2009. The headline reads: Good Riddance 2008! I don't know about you, but I can't relate to all the reporting about 2008 being a terrible year for everyone. I think I may be the only one that considers 2008 the best year of my life!

As promised, here is a list of my favorite memories (both "good" and "bad") of being 28 years old. The mantra for the year has been "I am completely open to what the universe has in store for me." [This was an incredibly fulfilling year, so it's a long list]:

*Spending two days with Editors. Having Ed and Chris suggest I tattoo their faces on my boobs. Talking with Tom for hours about music and the downfall of NME. Turning down the drunken bass player from Louis XIV.

*Getting 18" of snow in one night and then leaving Milwaukee a week later.

*Saying goodbye to the Milwaukee skyline at the lakefront with Jonathan.

*8th row tickets to Matchbox Twenty with Shana (sitting behind the Charlie look-a-like guitar player from Mute Math).

*Staying with Jen in Manchvegas - cheeseballs, Rock of Love, Cracker Barrel, the Crab.

*Locking my keys in the car at the oceanfront and meeting Jon. Getting a personal tour of the oldest settlement in NH.

*Watching LOST with Liz (and kissing the almost life-size cutout of Dom).

*Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway.

*Having an awesome first date with Justin - swimming in the Gulf at 3am.

*Nada Surf at the State Theatre with Aimee.

*Finding a ticket on eBay to see Eddie Izzard, and making a friend at the same time.

*Driving around with Amanda, Aimee and Christina to the dog park.

*Male Order Brides show with Aimee - crazy bar fight.

*Green Lake with Addie, Kelsa, Micheal and Melanie.

*Sean giving me his PS2 - and all the subsequent Guitar Hero and Rock Band playing.

*Surprise party for my 9 year anniversary.

*Howl-o-Scream with Corey and Jen. Riding Sheikra.

*Halloween Horror Nights with Christina. Wandering the Streets of Blood (or whatever it was called) and saying "I could stay here all night" as a tall ghoul came straight up to me and stared me down. oooooooh it was the sexiest moment of 2008!!

*Re-discovering my love for baseball... watching the Rays not win the World Series.

*Driving to Atlanta with Christina to see Hot Chip. Lychees. Zombie scabs.

*Seeing Dear & the Headlights at the Orpheum.

*Watching Obama turn Florida blue with all my friends!

*Trip to Seattle to see Sarah. Shopping at Trader Joe's. Watching Twilight. Eating Coldstone Creamery. Paul giving me 30 Days of Night graphic novel. Grabbing boobies.

*New Kids on the Block concert with Christina.

*Melanie giving me Bella and Alice.

Here are some of the more disappointing memories of 2008:

*Breaking a tooth on the way home from Editors in Madison.

*18" of snow in one night.

*Sleeping in my car on Easter in Vermont in 5 degree weather.

*Trying lobster for the first time - gross.

*Boston and the aftermath of Wagamama's.

*Smurfette dying.

*Having my car towed at the Eddie Izzard gig.

*Any time I hung out with Justin after the first date. lol

*Having a tooth pulled (and signing divorce papers) on my trip back to Milwaukee.

*Rays not winning the World Series.

*Twilight movie.

*Not being able to skydive.

Thank you to all my wonderful friends, both old and new, that have made this such a fantastic year. It has been a pleasure getting to know you Jon, Aimee, Christina, Amber, Erin, Barbara, Mike, Brian F, Corey, Lil Jen, Dan, Jamie, Debbie, Jessica, Melanie M, Nick, and everyone else along my travels and since my move to Tampa.


another year

Today I turned 29.
I would have to say that it was the best birthday I can remember having - mostly because I drove around with the windows down and wore a short sleeved t-shirt all day :)

I guess I'll back up a bit. I've been very busy lately, and it's been good. I was working a lot, and more recently making presents for everyone (CDs will be in the mail this week), as well as spending a lot of time with my friends. I was starting to get a bit sad this week because I am away from my family during the holidays - and I was missing James a bit. It's the first birthday I've been single for since 2001.
Fortunately, I have amazing friends (like I've mentioned before) and we had a couple great nights planned. Friday night Christina, Aimee, Amanda and I went to Outback for my traditional birthday meal of steak. The 3 of them were in top form and had me laughing so hard I thought I was going to pee on myself. The waitress brought me the free ice cream and they sang "Happy Birthday" to me. She didn't believe I was 29. She said she thought maybe 19 or 20. Awesome. Apparently I'm the only one that looks younger the older I get.

Last night a bunch of us went to Gameworks in Ybor City to play arcade games. I don't really care for the regular video games - I prefer the old school stuff. I spent nearly 2 hours playing skeeball and pinball. I played a round of DDR with Jen, and a round with Josef. We then went to a place that serves "Alaskan" tacos. An Alaskan taco is a taco that is deep-fried with all the ingredients in it. They had gator tacos, and since this year has been all about trying things I've never tried before, I got a gator taco. Surprisingly, I liked the gator taco better than the beef taco. I couldn't even eat half the beef taco - I gave it to Christina (it wasn't ground beef - it was like a slab of hamburger cooked in a shell). Gross.

Before Gameworks, a boy took me out to my favorite restaurant for Thai food. It was super sweet, and I had a great time. More will be revealed on this subject...

The best gift I got was from Melanie. She bought me 2 baby rats and the cage and all their stuff. I was so excited! Melanie hates rats, but she loves me enough to get me something she can't stand just because they make me happy. awwww!! (check out the ratties on my shoulder in the pic)

What I really wanted, however, was to go skydiving today. I have always wanted to do it, and this is the first time in my life I was in a place where it was possible to do it in the middle of December. I asked everyone I knew in Tampa if they wanted to join me. A few people said they were interested, but not financially able to join me. Amanda was the only person willing (with my persuasion) to jump out of a plane with me. We drove out to Zephyrhills, Sky Dive City at 3pm. There were a few clouds, but consistent loads taking off every 15 minutes. Something held our instructors up, and we sat and waited a very long time to be suited up and strapped into our harnesses. We finally boarded the tiny plane with about 20 other jumpers (you're crammed in side by side, straddling two long padded benches). I was watching the altimeter climb slowly as we rose above the clouds. Looking out the window, I started thinking about the past year. We came through the layer of thick white and the sun was starting to go down, which gave the clouds a very surreal textured glow about them. I started to tear up at the beauty of it, and how it was a complete miracle that I was even sitting on that plane. I looked over at Amanda, who was in such an intense state of shock I'm not sure she even realized she was on a plane anymore. I was so relaxed and peaceful, and couldn't wait to get out and be a part of the clouds when my ears went funny. I looked down at the altimeter and we had just reached 9000' but we were falling. The other jumpers were putting their helmets on and I was totally confused. The guy I was supposed to tandem with leaned forward and said the cloud cover was too thick and the pilot decided to land. I thought he was joking, but then realized the altimeter was falling twice as fast as we climbed. No good. Just under the clouds, at 5000' the licensed jumpers flew out the door one by one. There were 5 trainees, Amanda and I, and the 2 instructors left. They closed the airplane door and buckled themselves back in. We really were landing.
The plane touched down and my physical reaction was immediate. I was going to cry, and it was going to be a thorough cry. The guys were saying that we could wait around for the last 30 minutes of daylight to see if the clouds cleared up, but it was unlikely. I was like "Happy fucking birthday to me," and then started to cry. I couldn't stop myself. I kept trying to breathe it down, and look up - all the tricks I know to keep myself from crying, but I just couldn't hold it back. The one instructor kept trying to give me a hug and tell me that I could just get a rain check and come back any time, but it wasn't helping. He offered to buy me a drink ("it's nothing a few margaritas can't fix" - oh little does he know!)... They called it for sure - weather stopped the last load from taking off. We got unstrapped and out of the ill-fitting jumpsuits and slumped back to the car. As soon as I shut the door I told Amanda I was just going to let it out - since the tears were forcing their way past my eyes like some monster trying to escape its cage. And I did. I couldn't understand why I was so utterly crushed. I mean, it has been a life goal of mine - but I will get another chance. I sent a message to a few friends saying I couldn't stop crying and Christina had a good insight - I had all sorts of pent up anticipation and adrenaline, and my body was just releasing it. So true. When I was done crying, I felt much better. I even laughed my ass off at Amanda and how scared she had been (I have been telling her for 5 days that all she has to do is get on the plane and it will be okay - and she did get on the plane; she just didn't have to jump out of it). Even though I was sad, the thought kept running through my head that "there is always a reason" for things not working out the way I want them to. Who knows what could have happened.

The disappointment gave way to a great meal at Five Guys with Jen, Christina and Amanda - followed by a trip to Cold Stone Creamery. By the way, Christina got me the Vampire Book (a complete encyclopedia of vampire myths and lore!). Amanda and I came home and played with the new babies and Aimee stopped by to drop off her gift to me: a t-shirt with lions on it!

I just started to write my conclusion for this blog with a list of my favorite moments for the year, when I realized I really want to relive and cherish those memories - so I'm postponing the conclusion. I may do the list later tonight; I may post it tomorrow. Either way, I am not quite finished, but not quite ready to finish my 28th year. Until that post...


My Friends Over You

Let me tell you about my friends...

For about a week now I've had a date planned for tonight (12/1). At first I wasn't terribly excited. I don't like to get my hopes up for dates in case they don't turn out well. My friend Jessica was playing excited for me. She kept saying "I have such a good feeling about this!" and I just smiled and said I was glad she did.
Over the last few days I had numerous phone conversations with my date. Needless to say, they were awesome and I found myself becoming more and more thrilled at the planned meeting. We were both building this up to be 3-D awesome.

He was in Milwaukee yesterday and was flying back to Orlando last night. I spoke to him last at about 1pm and he said he would call me later since he was almost to the airport.
He didn't call back but I didn't really think about it until today.
I didn't hear from him all day.
I left work and started my preparations for the date. I had more than a handful of friends now wanting updates and wishing me luck. It seems everyone has taken an interest in my love life here. I guess I'm not the only one wishing for a happy ending after all the heartache of the past few years.

Here's the deal. He was supposed to be in Tampa for work this week. He was driving in with his boss. I knew he was most likely busy with work, but I just wanted to make sure we were still on for dinner so I sent a message asking. It was a while before I heard back and was told about complications with work. My gut already told me the date wasn't going to happen, but I held onto a bit of hope. He called and explained the situation and was trying to get his boss to let him stay another day so he could train people further (aka hang out with Vega). I waited.

I continued to get ready. I have to admit my outfit was fantastic. My hair looked great. My makeup was cooperating. There was no way I was letting this go to waste. So I decided to take a trip to the airport post office to mail some packages and wait for a response.
It came.
He had to go back to Orlando.
I was extremely disappointed. I also understood that he was exhausted from not getting a lot of sleep and having a crazy day at work. But mostly, I had built up all this excitement and expectations had developed; I felt really empty all of a sudden.

Its no secret that I'm totally crazy. My head likes to visit dark places and make up stories all on its own. It's sort of like the movie Amelie. Nino doesn't show up for a meeting Amelie tries to set up (by hiding ripped pictures with a message in the trash) and she imagines that he was kidnapped by bank robbers, shipped off to Istanbul where Afghan raiders try to make him steal Russian warheads but their truck hits a mine in Tajikistan. He survives, but takes to the hills and becomes a Mujaheddin. My insanity isn't quite that extreme, but it took me to a place where he had made up the whole story about work and he hadn't even been in Tampa. I'm guessing its because James used to lie to me about all sorts of things. But still... Ridiculous. I caught myself before giving my imagination free reign and sent out a message to Christina, Aimee, Jen and Jessica. I just said that I was going to Starbucks because the date was off - that if I went home I would just cry myself to sleep (what can I say? I've a knack for being over dramatic).

I got replies immediately. Christina first; Aimee next, reminding me that it wasn't the end of the world and that it would just have to happen another night - but that she understood the disappointment and she was on her way. Jessica just sent a message saying "On my way!" and Jen followed suit. I wandered over to Starbucks and found only one person I knew there. Nicola calmed my crazies while I waited for the others.

They all showed up. I was feeling much better already and my heart warmed at how they came out for me. Jessica had been on a date! Aimee was in bed. None of them said any of that in their replies - they just heard I was upset and came to be with me. That is amazing. That is friendship.
If I had known my friends were so amazing like this, I would have asked for them when I was actually upset - on those nights when I used to cry myself to sleep about James and that whole messed up situation. I had a gold mine of friendship that I hadn't thought to tap into.

We sat and talked about Twilight. We joked about other stupid things. I showed them pictures of the snow that my mom and Liz sent me (apparently it dumped 9" on Waukesha yesterday). Jessica had called Amanda and let her know that I was upset and she showed up as well. I was surrounded by my favorite people in Tampa, and full of love for those fabulous women.
I may not have had a fantastically hot date tonight, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself with my friends.

I want them all to know that I would do the same for any of them; I would drop anything for them. Any time.