Monday, June 25, 2018

Summer 2018 Playlist: Annotated

It's finally summer, so the playlist is heeeeeere! The weather's been somewhat strange lately--lots of rain, the Midwest's very own monsoon season. The temperature keeps soaring into the 90s, then plunging back into the low 70s. I think this playlist reflects those highs and lows.

1. "Paint Yo'nails," White Mystery: Whenever summer rolls around, I'm always happy to listen to White Mystery, one of Chicago's finest garage rock bands. Thought I'd kick this playlist off with a straightforward retro jam.

2. "Plastic Skeletons," Jealous of the Birds: Found this song on my Spotify Discover Weekly playlist a few weeks ago, and I was obsessed. It also starts out with a garage vibe, but the chorus moves into more of a punk sound. 

3. "Out Of," Cuesta Loeb: This is an artist who keeps popping up for me on Spotify, and I always like her songs, but she only ever releases singles? Why no album?! Want!! I feel like this song would be on the Twin Peaks soundtrack if Twin Peaks were a sunny, happy show. It's like alternate universe Twin Peaks

4. "Cheated Hearts," Yeah Yeah Yeahs: I've been listening to lots of Yeah Yeah Yeahs while running lately, because apparently cardio exercise + gloomy weather = Yeah Yeah Yeahs in my brain. I decided to include this classic because it's endlessly magnificent. 

5. "Run to Your Mama," Goat: Last fall I listened to a great podcast about the mafia in Providence, Rhode Island called Crimetown. This was the theme song. At the time I thought to myself, "This song is going on my summer mix." I made it happen.

6. "Lifeboats (Freestyle)," Jorja Smith: I first encountered Jorja Smith on the Black Panther soundtrack, but this pretty little song is off her new album. Her voice is amazing. Cutest British accent ever.

7. "Pynk," Janelle MonaĆ© featuring Grimes: As many of you know, I am madly in love with Janelle MonaĆ©, and have been for years, and her new album is the best, and I'm putting songs from it on all of my playlists for the foreseeable future. Now go watch her Dirty Computer movie. I want to join the roving gang of Bowies.

8. "Be Careful," Cardi B: This is the summer of Cardi B, so I felt she ought to be included. Or maybe last summer was the summer of Cardi B? At any rate, it's the first summer after she dropped her full length album. I like this song.

9. "The Pact (I'll Be Your Fever)," Villagers: Because what goes better with Cardi B than Irish folk music? Initially I wanted this song to be a coda on the entire playlist, but I had to put the Mountain Goats at the end because SOME PEOPLE like to leave a whole minute of silence on the end of their recordings. I think it works here, though. Something about the bouncy bass part even seems to mimic the music in "Be Careful" to a certain extent.

10. "Big One," Madeline Kenney: This is another one that Spotify handed to me on a Discover Weekly playlist. The first line is "my other car is your face," so that means it's my new favorite song.

11. "Not Abel," Hop Along: The perfect song for when you want a folk punk waltz with a Bjork-esque vocal line that somehow ends in 4/4 time.

12. "If You Could Know," Shannon and The Clams: Bringing back the garage/surf vibe with one from Shannon and The Clams' latest album. I saw them once in Vegas on what was potentially a date? It was unclear.

13. "Cardboard Castles," Dengue Fever: I can't remember who it was, but someone pointed me to the band Dengue Fever when I was traveling around Cambodia, because their lead singer is Cambodian. Thanks, whoever it was! I like this band--another with the retro surf sound.

14. "Sticky," Ravyn Lenae: Ravyn Lenae is great and I'm going to see her at Pitchfork in July! I felt that the organ in this song followed the previous song well.

15. "deep end," Lykke Li: I was disappointed in Lykke Li's new album. It was nothing like her previous album, which was more like sad-sad-sad-pop-folk, and while I typically have no problem with artists experimenting, it was jarring in this case. However, I kind of like this one.

16. "Date Night," Father John Misty: Unlike Lykke Li, I am *so pleased* with Father John Misty's newest album! It reminds me more of his first. There were lots of good songs I could have picked, but this one seemed summery, and also bitter AF, as is his wont.

17. "Everything is Everything," Ms. Lauryn Hill: I am also going to see Ms. Lauryn Hill at Pitchfork! I'll get to relive my childhood! Assuming she shows up! This song is a classic. Duh.

18. "Nobody," Three Dog Night: This was a later addition to the playlist. I was listening to my dad's old copy of Golden Biscuits on vinyl (the 70s were a special time), and it just seemed to fit. So joyful.

19. "We All Die Young," The Decemberists: Though all the songs on I'll Be Your Girl sound like they belong on separate albums, they're still good songs individually, and this one is no exception. It's very glam, like The Decemberists do Gary Glitter. Minus the serious criminal charges, I hope.

20. "Absolute Lithops Effect," Mountain Goats: In May I was fortunate enough to see Mountain Goats perform an acoustic show at Old Town School of Folk music. I've seen them several times, but never so raw. It was delightful. I love this song because it's hopeful, and I think we all need a little hope this summer. 

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Rest and Relaxation

I just returned from a trip to Denver to visit my lovely Letakins. Aside from my return travel—40 minute train delay due to lost power, 6 hour flight delay due to weather—it was a calm, stress-free vacation. I'd forgotten how to relax!

We went to a fun but poorly attended Motown dance party. We read books outside in the park. We took Denver Pride by storm. We strolled through the botanic gardens. We ate all the food. All the food.

We watched movies! I hardly ever watch movies anymore!
  • The 2001 Josie & the Pussycats film totally holds up.
  • Love, Simon is freaking adorable.
  • Ever After is just as delightful as it was 20 years ago. (oh god.) 
  • Empire Records is still in my top 3 films of all time. What's with today today? 
We also powered through several episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. That show is never not funny. Its writers deserve every award under the sun. 

Speaking of writing: I WROTE THREE WHOLE CHAPTERS OF A THING. THREE OF THEM. 

It was glorious.

Considering how awful the news has been lately (here are some scripts for calling your senators and representatives post-executive-order-which-doesn't-help-anything), it was nice to get away from the office and other responsibilities. Missed my dog, though. We were very happy to see each other when I finally did get home at nearly midnight on Tuesday.

I should take vacations more often. 

Monday, June 11, 2018

A Bookish Sunday

Yesterday I got my butt out of bed, dug my wrinkled raincoat out of the closet, and took the L downtown to make my mostly-annual visit to the Printers Row Lit Fest.

It really was miserable outside, but fortunately, the events I came to see were both inside. First I went to see Jac Jemc (author of the ambitious and ultra creepy The Grip of It) and Augustus Rose (author of The Readymade Thief, which I have not read) speak about their work. The tickets said the conversation was supposed to be an hour, but it ended up being only a half hour, which was too bad. On the other hand, it was a small crowd, so I was able to actually speak with both authors. And I got a lot of compliments on my passport stamp tattoo sleeve. [insert painting nails emoji here]

Later I went to a performance celebrating a new Black Girl Magic poetry anthology, hosted by none other than the *freaking amazing* Jamila Woods (listen to her music immediately), with performances by several other brilliant artists including E'mon Lauren, Britteney Black Rose Kapri, Eve Ewing and more. Not to mention DJ Ca$h Era who brought all the best 90s jams. Mind blown. [insert explosion emoji here]

I also bought lots of books, because who do you think I even am? Of course I bought books.
  • The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 2: Black Girl Magic, edited by Mahogany L. Browne, Idrissa Simmonds, & Jamila Woods - Picked this one up before I saw the show. Excited AF.
  • Mammother by Zachary Schomburg - I almost always pick up a book from local press Featherproof when I'm at Lit Fest, and I've heard good things about this one. 
  • Boring Boring Boring Boring Boring Boring Boring by Zach Plague - One reason I always buy from Featherproof is that they have good deals. Got this one for free. 
  • The Readymade Thief by Augustus Rose - After seeing him speak, I thought his novel sounded wonderfully weird. I also felt bad that most people were there to see Jac Jemc instead of him. I'd hope that someone would do the same for me. 
  • Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky - I've been wanting to read this one for a while, but I haven't been able to find a paperback copy. Thanks, Sandmeyer's Bookstore
For a while I'd been trying not to buy any new books, since I already own so many I haven't read. Hence The Backlog. But here's the thing: thanks to the corporate job, I have the money to buy books. And independent booksellers need money. If my purchase helps a nice bookstore to stay open another day, I'm happy, even if I never find time to read the book.

Literary good citizenship, y'all. Literary good citizenship.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Red Wine, Success!

My title has very little to do with the actual content of this post; it's just a Cold War Kids song from several years ago that I suddenly remembered liking. It may have utterly depressing lyrics for all I know. Though I'm a writer, I am terrible at listening to lyrics. I listen to The Smiths when I'm in a good mood because their melodies are so goddamn chipper.

Anyway, it's the "success" part I wanted to bring to your attention. Last week I tweeted about how I'd been having trouble writing lately, and I asked for good vibes to help me push through the block.

And boy oh boy did y'all come through.

Not only did I edit multiple stories last week, but I also started a completely new one. The idea just popped into my head. Who needs a muse when you have supportive friends? Thank you, thank you, thank you.

In other writing-related news, I've had three flash stories published this month!
Pleased as punch that all of these weird little stories found such good homes. (Can you tell I submitted a bunch of stories to magazines at once?) Just this week I've also had two more agents request full copies of my manuscript, which is obviously exciting. It had seemed like things were tapering off, despite my continued queries, so I'm glad to know my baby book has not been forgotten. 

I truly can't thank you all enough for being supportive of my writing. Because I don't get paid to do it, it can feel unreal sometimes, like the world views it as a cute hobby--whereas in my head, my corporate job is just some random thing I do to pay the bills so I can get home to my real work. It feels wonderful to know that you care about my writing, and that you want me to keep doing it. 

Let me pay forward some of that love. We just published our #SplitLipFAM round-up for the month of May, so you can check out that list for a TON of amazing stories and poems. I especially recommend Dorothy Chan's poetry, Robert James Russell's illustrated nonfiction pieces, sally burnette's story and Marianne Chan's poems. Split Lip is also currently looking for fiction readers, so if you're interested in pulling some gems out of the slush with us, fill out this application.

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