Monday, December 26, 2016

a 2017 to-do list

i'll admit that, while there are still a few days left in this year, i made a real paltry showing in 2016. out of 40 items, i was only able to accomplish 15. :(  however, it's only made me more determined than ever to attack 2017 and make shit happen. what do you want to cross off of your list next year?

1. visit seattle & portland
2. related: catch a fish at pike place market (i saw someone catch one; does that count?)
3. also related: order the maple blazer blunt doughnut at voodoo doughnut
4. get a hot stone massage
5. tell a story at a MOTH story slam
6. book a trip to south america (possibly this one)
7. write and place five one new essay
8. attend an art gallery opening
9. make my own cheese
10. get another tattoo
11. jump into a ball pit
12. order a drink at an old-fashioned soda fountain
13. create 4 crafts, one for each season
14. move into a new home that i love
15. spend the day at an amusement park
16. ride in a horse-drawn carriage
17. read seinfeldia
18. order room service
19. visit washington depot, CT (the inspiration for stars hollow in gilmore girls)
20. pay it forward at a drive-thru
21. travel by train
22. stay overnight at the house i was born in (which has been turned into a b&b)
23. dine at il pesce at eataly boston
24. drink something from a coconut
25. host a theme party
26. run a 5k
27. adopt a shelter cat
28. make a recipe from anthony bourdain's appetites cookbook
29. go see a stand-up comedian i really like but haven't seen live (maybe: joe list, aziz ansari, or rod man)
30. take a weekend trip to the hudson valley
31. swim in a rooftop pool
32. [keeping to myself]
33. start a conversation with a stranger at a bar
34. go to a renaissance fair and order a giant turkey leg
35. do a tarot card reading for someone
36. go on a photo expedition to somewhere that's been abandoned
37. make a jar salad
38. have drinks with a band i like
39. find and buy liz phair's exile in guyville on vinyl from a brick-and-mortar record store
40. crash a wedding (this will be on the list until i do it)

Sunday, December 4, 2016

my 16 favorite songs of 2016

SPOILER ALERT: this list does not include that terrible song that glorifies mattress theft. now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's get down to always, you can listen to all of these via spotify playlist as well.

16. bent shapes - "new starts in old dominion" 

let's start things off local. now that my former #1 hometown act, the barbazons, have disbanded, bent shapes has risen to the top. this upbeat, jangly gem was my favorite from their 2016 release, wolves of want. unrelated, but i got so damn excited by all of the boston love in this music video, from the MIT station on the radio to that very somerville-esque apartment to that scene where he's walking by the driving school -- which was shot on my street in my town! anywho, great tune.

15. fifth harmony f/ ty dolla $ign - "work from home"

as i believe i tweeted at some point, it blows my mind that no one had thought to write a song about "working from home" as sexual innuendo. the lyrics are so ridiculous yet clever, and i'll be damned if you aren't hearing "you don't gotta go to work, work, work, work, work, work, work" in your dreams after listening to it once. the perfect example of a dumb, sugary pop nugget. and then ty dolla $ign rolls in, telling her to make it clap with no hands and look back at it. a modern shakespeare!

14. car seat headrest - "fill in the blank"

will toledo was basically the pitchfork darling of 2k16, and i'd get any cred i had revoked if i didn't include at least one his songs. this rollicking, lo-fi number got my attention, and i especially like the tough-love lyrics: "you have no right to be depressed/you haven't tried hard enough to like it....stop your whining, try again/no one wants to cause you pain." listen up, fellow millennials.

13. sia - "cheap thrills"

just a really good time with a pretty simple, straightforward message: when the company and music are good, who needs moolah?

12. snakehips f/ ZAYN - "cruel" (jay pryor remix)

maybe it's because this version was my first exposure to the song, but it's so much more fun than the sloooowed dooooown original, IMO. zayn's sexy "pillow talk" was also a contender, but it didn't turn my car and cubicle into tha club like this one did. and when that beat drops? ohhh, dayum. i do believe this is the first remix i've ever featured on this list, so you know it's gotta be good.

11. tancred - "bed case"

a few weeks ago, while watching the 1994 cult classic reality bites (again), it occurred to me that if this song existed back then, it would probably fit nicely on the soundtrack alongside juliana hatfield, lisa loeb, and dinosaur jr. given that it has that early-90s veruca salt vibe. the solo project of jess abbott from the band now, now, tancred makes catchy, fierce indie rock with sweet vocals, handclaps, and lyrics about boys and ... well, boys. what more could you want?

10. two door cinema club - "gameshow"

i never paid much attention this band; just your standard background indie pop music as far as i was concerned. but i happened across this one on a new music friday a few months ago, and it had the darkness and edginess i'd been missing from them previously. the desperate "nobody wants meeeee!" scream is my favorite moment. pro tip: use the arrows in the top-left corner to see a full 360 view of the performance. whooooa.

9. father john misty - "real love baby"

ohhh, father john misty. the famously salty, bearded troubadour took a break from his onstage rants and all-caps tweets to record this adorable, no frills appeal to the object of his affection. aww.

8. heavy hearts - "bliss"

it's been so long since i've heard a song that really captures the energy and sound of the pop-punk/post-hardcore music that i loved back in high school and college, but "bliss" gets it just right. catchy as hell, too.

7. the 1975 - "the sound"

a synth-pop banger with an ear worm of a chorus that wouldn't sound completely out of place in the mid-80s, "the sound" makes me think of one of the times when i'm the happiest, which is letting loose with people i love on the dance floor at a wedding. not that i've ever danced to this song at a reception, but i'd really like to because the song seems destined for that ... in the best sense. just listen and you'll see what i mean.

6. twin peaks - "walk to the one you love"

if you know me at all, you know that i love me some twin peaks. like a fine wine, they just keep getting better with each album, though it did take me a bit of time to adjust to the bluesier, stonesier vibe of down in heaven as i'm partial to the raw garage feel of their sophomore effort, wild onion. while there are plenty of songs to love on the new one, i kept coming back to this for the groovy riff and the understated vocals. can't wait to see them this week for the 3rd time (and 2nd time this year), because the only thing better than their music is their live show. aw, yeah.

5. DNCE - "cake by the ocean"

now, i'm not saying that this is better than "call me maybe" in terms of pop song perfection, BUT i will say that i still get as giddy every time i hear the opening notes. sure, there are the ridiculous "AYAYAYAYAY-AH"s and the lyrics about licking frosting from your own hands and a promise ring-free joe jonas dropping the f-bomb. but i'm equally in love with the backstory about the title, which is supposedly the result of the band's swedish producers continually confusing the phrase "sex
on the beach."

4. pete yorn - "i'm not the one"

can we talk about how underrated pete yorn is? he's been quietly making killer songs since the early oughts, but always sort of flies under the radar. i wasn't the biggest fan of his latest album, arrangingtime, but this track immediately jumped out at me as the highlight. between the lovely melody and relatable lyrics (YES of course i tear up almost every time), it's just a gorgeous few minutes.

3. catfish and the bottlemen - "soundcheck" 

it's been so cool to watch these guys go from relative unknowns, performing to a crowd of 30 or so at great scott in 2014, to rocking a packed house at royale last year, to this year -- inevitably -- the house of blues :(. i'll always be partial to their debut album, but i was obsessed with this song for a good portion of the year. the quiet, crunchy chug of the pre-chorus leads into an epic, triumphant romantic declaration. then after the bridge, everything blows wide open and it almost turns into a completely different (but equally fantastic) song. 

2. the hunna - "we could be"

this year's biggest fuck-yeah-chorus comes to us courtesy of yet another british rock quartet, the hunna. their songs all kiiiind of sound vaguely the same, but it's okay because they all kind of sound like this one, which is great. strong vocals, anthemic refrains, great production. the other thing i really like about the tune, though, is that it's a total "fuck you!" to some record company who apparently passed on them. WHO'S LAUGHING NOW?!

1. SWMRS - "figuring it out"


shout out to spotify on this; it was actually one of my discover weekly picks early this year, and i immediately fell in love with its massive "oh-oh-ohhh"s, shreddin' guitar solo, and quirky lyrics about pop rocks, cherry cola, and waking & baking on wednesdays. a little bit of punk, a little bit of pop, a whole lot of fun. the band members are already cooler at like, 19 years old than i am at 30, but that's probably because the drummer's dad is billie joe armstrong from green day. spitting image, right?

Sunday, November 20, 2016

better watch out for those man-eatin' jackrabbits, and that killer cacti

i spent most of this past week in scottsdale, arizona. while it was a business trip, my team and i managed to squeeze in some leisurely pursuits as well ... shh, don't tell anyone.


we stayed at the saguaro, an instagram dream of epic proportions that's only a 5-minute walk from old town scottsdale. just scope the lobby:

there were also two pools, and we were lucky enough to witness a strange golf-related photo shoot at one of them on our first day:



and, a cute coffee shop:

however ... the rooms, while funky and fun, were a bit skeevy in that you could tell this place was probably a former by-the-hour motel that got a few coats of paint and some colorful bedding. still, not a terrible place to spend a few nights.

a spirit animal also kept watch over me:



our boss insisted that we stop here on our way to the hotel, as two of us were in-n-out virgins. i got the "animal style" burger and savored every messy, meaty, cheesy calorie in the back of that cab. 


culinary dropout


we stepped it up a notch for dinner that night with a sit-down meal here, a casual spot with nice ambiance (and a nice bob marley mural). my crispy shrimp caesar salad and reeeeally strong old fashioned were good enough, but i was so glad i convinced everyone to split the s'more pudding for dessert. it came with salted caramel graham crackers and had toffee chunks in it and everyone was just making awkward food moans for a solid 10 minutes. "i can't imagine enjoying anything as much as i enjoyed that," one of my coworkers said nearly three days later when we were reminiscing about it. normal.

the saguaro restaurant

we now interrupt this regularly scheduled blog post to get real basic for a hot second. i detoxed the next morning (and the morning after that) with a "yogi breakfast" at the hotel restaurant. just greek yogurt with granola and fruit, apple slices, and almond butter, but oh maaaan it was good, and i felt like i was ready to do some sun salutations and like, harness my chi or some shit immediately after consuming it. namaste?

mcfate brewing company

i forgot how nice it was to dine al fresco in the middle of november. the beer was decent, and my grilled salmon and broccoli was so-so, but the atmosphere was just lovely.

barrio queen


solid mexican. solid margs. excellent lighting fixtures.


mannequin challenge 

a couple of weeks ago, i had mentioned the mannequin challenge to my colleague, who runs social media for our company. given the great vibes at the arizona office -- as well as the great piercings, tattoos, and crazy-colored hair -- we figured it was the place to make it happen. sidenote: there was also a soundtrack of 2000s pop-punk playing there at all times and it made me soooo happy.

anyways, it didn't come out perfect (dammit, dude in the beginning, why did you twitch?!), but considering how many people are involved, i think it's pretty amazing for only one take. the ping-pong ball and the group cheers-ing at the end are my favorite parts. oh, and that's a picture of our CEO that we're swooning over on the phone.

escape the room

half-drunk on margaritas from barrio queen and ready to enter an enchilada coma at 9:30pm, the last thing i wanted to do was a team-bonding exercise, but i'm so happy i did. if you've never done one of those "escape the room" things, it's pretty self-explanatory: they lock you in a themed room (ours was "old western bank heist") and you have an hour to get out with a handful of items, including the key to unlock the door. i knew it was going to be good when the super-sarcastic guy working there made fun of my coworker for being unable to unzip her jacket before we got started -- and when we finally got out, he made her an "i escaped the coat" sign as you can see above. oh, john! i'm pretty proud that my primary contribution to our success was shooting the fake sheriff. i spared the deputy, though. why do they love bob marley so much here?

old town scottsdale 

we had the morning to ourselves on friday, so i grabbed an americano and went wandering solo around old town to take some photos. since it was 8:30am, nothing was open yet, and it was a bit creepy, but kinda cool.

this was my first trip to scottsdale -- and to arizona, period -- so i barely scratched the surface of what the area has to offer, but i hope to return to this strange and delightful desert land soon. since this song was stuck in my head for the entirety of the trip (alternating with that "black beatles" tune), i'll leave y'all with this. yippee-ty-ay-yayyy.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

5 things i love right now

1. this townhouse in harvard square

the exposed beams! the skylights! the loft! the private deck! not the price tag! 

2. this hip-hop dance routine

one of the few things that make me happier than actually dancing is watching people dance who are better than i am. i completely geek out on youtube choreography videos and discovered this one, set to usher's sexy "no limit," after i got sucked into yet another vortex the other day. as with most of my favorites, this one was shot at millennium dance complex in L.A., which makes sense because ... L.A. that chick in the front of the second group?! i yelled "get it, girl!" out loud in my apartment. which reminds me that i also absolutely love that the other dancers hoot and holler the entire time. now if you'll excuse me, i'm off to teach myself this choreography. i'll, uh, see y'all next year i guess.

3. this village voice article about bob dylan 

a bit of a long read, but so, so cool. basically midnight in paris in article form, and set in 1970s new york instead. can you imagine hanging out at a diner with bob dylan and patti smith and joan baez and joni mitchell? and hearing dylan create blood on the tracks because you were his upstairs neighbor? well, the author did. oh, and partied with norman mailer, too.

4.  this gilmore girls-inspired coffee club

i mostly just wish i had thought of this idea. indeed, this is a legit coffee and tea subscription service inspired by gilmore girls, with roast names like "luke's no-nonsense special," "stars hollow autumn festival," and "taylor doose's town meeting." i'm almost certain it's just like, green mountain coffee that's been relabeled, but these geniuses know their market and that we'll eat this shit up with a spoon from emily gilmore's expensive flatware collection. sigh. full disclosure that i haven't subscribed ... yet.

5. this cat flask

much like hooters restaurants, this flask is delightfully tacky yet unrefined. purrfect for covert winter boozin'.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

the best of texts from friends (and mom), part 4

in this edition, we have:

regrettable bar behavior:

makeout adventures that would make theodor geisel proud:

a full conversation that i never even had the chance to join:

unsolicited terrible tattoos:

incredulous observations:

epic sexts within a text (how meta):

online dating advice-seeking:

early bird special reports from mom:

and as always, dads:

Sunday, October 9, 2016

my fling with blue apron

isn't my kitchen beautiful? jk, i stole this from groupon

"it's easy," they said. "you'll love it!" they said. and by "they," i mean the evil marketing geniuses at blue apron, arguably the most popular meal delivery service. so, i took the plunge and signed up, hoping that it would inspire me to cook more and branch out in terms of my recipe repertoire. i lasted approximately a week and a half, and made three of the six meals they sent me before admitting defeat.

yes, i will admit that it was extremely nice to receive perfectly-portioned ingredients for all of the meals (seriously, even flour and butter). but there were so. many. ingredients. and so. many. steps. and i'm pretty sure i used all of the pots and pans in my apartment for each of the recipes. oh, they try to trick you into believing there are only six or so steps, but do not be fooled! each "step" is actually like 20. exhibit a:

aw hell naw!
don't get me wrong, the dinners were delicious. i made the beef & shishito pepper open-faced sandwiches:

and the crispy catfish with kale-farro salad and warm grape relish:

and the pimento cheeseburgers with collard greens and carrot slaw, which i forgot to take a picture of. they were all great, but it was way too much food for one person, and i'm not much of a leftovers girl, so the whole thing became pretty damn overwhelming (and slightly depressing) pretty fast.

not to mention, by the time i finished washing dishes, i felt less like a spunky, childless 30 year-old woman and more like a jaded soccer mom who was ready to feign a headache to her husband for the third night in a row. one mini-existential crisis and a freezer full of abandoned meals later, i gleefully canceled my subscription and was filled with indescribable relief. grubhub, i'm back, baby!

for couples and families, blue apron seems like it could be a great way to get more creative with meals and potentially save a very small amount of time and money on grocery shopping. however, if you're slicing and sauteing solo, i'd stick to your own devices. but, to paraphrase the old adage, better to have blue aproned and lost than never to have blue aproned at all.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

show review: diarrhea planet at the sinclair

the t-shirt i bought last night/the best t-shirt i'll ever own

gather 'round, kids ... let me tell you the story of a band called diarrhea planet, who have inspired air guitarists and drummers, made uptight prudes scowl at the mere mention of their name, and melted faces across the country.

i first discovered the six-piece revelation back in 2011ish, along with some of my other favorite nashville acts like natural child, JEFF the brotherhood, and pujol, but didn't witness their epic live show until last year. they played great scott, which is the size of a shoebox, and my friend and i were among the ... oh, four or so women in attendance. after having my mind completely blown by the four-guitar assault, i knew i couldn't go a full year without seeing them again.

this time around, they moved to my favorite venue in the area (the sinclair) and i was pleased to see that the female contingent was higher (though it was mostly just dutiful girlfriends ... sigh).

i arrived at the tail end of the first opener, local band salem wolves. they had great stage presence and solid chops, but weren't quite my cup of tea music-wise. straightforward, bad religion-esque punk would probably be the best way to describe them.

next up was western medication, a fellow nashville outfit and possibly my new favorite band. live, the vocals made me think of king tuff and white reaper, but not so much now that i'm listening to their album. and i still can't put my finger on what the music itself reminds me of. smith westerns, maybe? stone roses? it's driving me insane. regardless, i'm a big fan.

(update: i just read a youtube comment after i typed that paragraph about how they sound like smith westerns. can someone pay me for this?)

and finally, the main event ... the one, the only, the planet of diarrhea. if you haven't had the pleasure of experiencing one of their concerts, i can only liken it to a 45-minute roller coaster ride of stage-diving, fist-pumping, guitar-shredding goodness that leaves you wondering where you are and what just happened to you in its aftermath-- in the best way. the fact that nearly all of the members trade off vocal duties makes for an exciting and dynamic show as well. at one point, i was covered in beer (and god knows what else) and could not care less because i was headbanging and screaming "STREET RIP!" the power of diarrhea planet, man.

this wasn't my first rodeo, so i knew to stay as far as i could from the front of the crowd, where punk bros-a-plenty moshed the night away. 

guitarist jordan even got in on the action towards the end, simultaneously surfing and playing. siiiick.

if you're still not sold, i'll leave you with one of my favorite d-planet videos, a homage to nickelodeon classic pete and pete. aw yeah.