Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Blog Casserole: What's The Plural Of Elvis? Don't Judge Me.

I sit here, in my floral leggings and knee socks, happily snacking on homemade brownies and hot tea, and I can only think of one thing.
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OK. Let me explain.

First off, real life has been getting in my bloody way. Near the end of January, I was hit with one of my terrible sinus infections. You know it's bad when the doctor shines a light on the back of your throat, then reels away with a look of disgust on their face. I was on a strong dose of antibiotics when we left for San Antonio in the first week of February, which didn't work. I was switched to a different medicine, which I was on when we went to see The Who. To be honest, those antibiotics didn't work, either; however, I am a Buford, and I can tough it out with the best of them. Things were starting to get back to normal, and everything was fine. I had outlines for posts planned, and everything was peachy.

Then, March happened. On the 8th, my heart was struck by a profound loss; my beautiful boy, Nigel, died incredibly suddenly of a heart attack. I was with him when it happened, and I know that the last thing he heard was my voice. Though that fact is something I have had a difficult time living with, I will carry that burden if it helped my boy. See, I love Nigel as if he were a dog; we have had that bond from the moment I saw him, and I know our lives were supposed to be shared. Hell, we've had dogs I never loved as much as my Nigel. Without him, there is a giant hole in our home. I never thought I wouldn't like to hear the radio uninterrupted, but now, it feels almost wrong. I refuse to listen to The Redwalls. I almost cried listening to the new Plain White T's EP because I knew he would have absolutely loved "Haven't Told Her", yet he wasn't there to sing to it -- he always responded to pronounced drums, and layered vocals. Now, I don't have anyone to share all of the marvelous new albums I have yet to discover with. For his headstone, I gave him my Woodstock mosaic -- it's so very Nigel.

That same day, we were roped into doing a major garage sale with my dad's mother. The only problem was, it had to be ready in two weeks. So, from March 9th to the 29th, we were sorting through storage sheds, garages, and heaven knows what else. At first, I was glad to have a distraction from what was going on; the longer it went, though, the more apparent it became that I should have gone back to see my doctor when the antibiotics didn't work that second time. One thing that may not be apparent about the Bufords, though, is that we're stubborn to our detriment. Instead of doing what I knew I should, I simply, well, didn't. Maybe some of my feeling sick has been dealing with losing Nigel, I don't know. This all came to a head on Monday night, when, during a high stress event, I damn near passed out. Almost fell flat on my face, and I was the only one home at the time. What home appraiser calls at 7:30 in the evening, and tells you he'll stop by at 11:30 the next day? The kind that doesn't know the lady of the house is out of town for the next two days, and the master can't even be relied upon to relay the message for another hour and a half. It was up to me, then, to finish clearing away the remnants of the garage sale madness, as well as deep-clean the house before said appraiser got there the next day. Wouldn't you have passed out, too? And, I should point out, I'm also in college. All of these activities were going on in addition to my actual job of trying to get a bloody degree. Not to mention dealing with some administrative bollocks from the living embodiment of Greendale.
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These are even their bloody colors.

My headspace has been clearing up the last few days, and I seem to be getting back my stamina. Which is a good thing, since I've got finals looming on the horizon, as well as some real life odds and ends.

Somehow, I still hear a voice in the back of my mind saying "surely you've been doing stuff! Having some kind of an adventure in between all of this stupid muddle. Yes?"
In a way, yes.

Sometime in February, I got a call from my sister. I usually know something is wrong when she actually wants to talk to me on the telephone, since, you know, we rarely speak at all. Rather like our communal blog, our efforts toward maintaining constant contact faded out long ago -- even when I held out, and waited for her to come back of her own accord. At any rate, call she did.
This is a paraphrased account of what happened.

Seester: I'm at Walmart, and there are two guys here that look like your type.
Me: I didn't know I had a type.
Seester: Well, one of them looks like a mod, and he's got a weird jacket with some weird buttons on it, and he's kind of weird.
Me: Yeah.
Seester: And there's another one here, that's, like, his friend.
Me: And.
Seester: Well, I wanted to know if you'd be mad if I gave them your blog URL.
Me: You want to what?
Seester: And, you know, they can, like, look it up if they want.

I have to admit, I loved the idea of her walking up to two total strangers, husband and two incredibly young children in tow, and trying to explain her purpose for disturbing them. I pictured her conversation with these two young men in my mind, and was convinced she was doing it on a dare from her husband. With that thought in mind, I told her to do whatever she wanted, and went back to doing whatever it was I was doing. A few minutes later, I got a call from her telling me to keep my cellphone nearby, as she had also included my personal telephone number. Part of me wonders if she actually did it, or if she was merely talking the talk. The other part of me was simply amused; after all, remember the guy I dared to do the Freddie? We all know I'm up for people doing stupid things, myself included. Just like Mr. Freddie, nothing ever came of her tiny burst of extrovertedness. The thought, I suppose, counts for something: the thought being, of course, that she doesn't think I can get a guy myself. She denies this ever happened, but, Thanksgiving 2009, she told me she thought I was going to be a lonely old cat woman. And that was her phrase, not mine. Maybe if she hadn't refused to listen to my Vegas '06 stories -- something else she denied happened -- she would know I'm perfectly capable of taking care of myself.
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I was fourteen and stupid, don't judge me.

As I mentioned, we also went to San Antonio for a glorious week. I took lots of pictures, but, unfortunately, lost the outline of that post somewhere along the line. I do use spiral paper like it's going out of fashion. We did some lovely things, though. The Japanese Tea Garden...
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Found some kind of time machine to the 1920's...
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And were given free cookies at the Emily Morgan, and told to roam the place at our leisure...
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That, and, you know, cool stuff: note the train.

Last week, my dad burst through the front door and said "I've got a surprise for you".
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"I don't usually like surprises, let's get this over with," I told him.
Seeing that this could get ugly, my mother interjected, "don't be mad at him, he didn't pay for these."
And with that, he handed over a ticket envelope. Apparently, a friend of his was unable to go to the Elvis tribute act that was in town that night, and gave the tickets to my dad; and, being entirely honest, my dad doesn't like concerts (I know, how am I his daughter?). So, my mother and I had a fun time watching four fake Elvis impersonators from our free seats -- especially since the price on the tickets was $43 each. Fake Elvis Four took a crowd photograph, see if you can spot the two of us.
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If it helps, I couldn't find us, and I am us!

You may remember from the defunct communal blog that I spent an afternoon watching the Plain White T's "Meet Me In California" documentary. In it, they talked about how they'd been gusts on a show called "Greek". As I sat there in my little blanket fort, I realized that I hadn't ever actually seen them in the show. Let me tell you, though, the clips are few and far between. Someone edited together some of them, but not all of them; don't we all know me well enough by now to know that I needed to see it all? Yes. Little clips just weren't enough.

The problem I had, though, was that I just kept watching the stupid show. Until there weren't any more episodes to watch. Don't judge me. Mind you, half the time I was watching, I kept wondering if Scott Michael Foster -- the guy you watched in that clip -- had some kind of band background; he had that vibe about him all through the show, but I had absolutely no evidence. And all that wondering and watching is pretty much where my spare time went from the end of February to about four days ago.

And so, another edition of blog casserole has come to it's natural conclusion. What have we learned?

*Next time my antibiotics don't work, I'm going back to have a chat with my doctor.
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*With no help from my sister, I will not be an old cat lady.
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*My mother really enjoyed the little choo-choo.
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*I'm getting far too good at guessing if guys are in bands. What do I win?

*I have decided that the plural of Elvis is Elvisces, pronounced like appendices.
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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Uncle Carl Was Right, They'll Break Your Heart

Real life has been a total pain in my arse since the new year. Regardless of that fact, I have been able to keep up with band news, flipping my respective wig whenever something happens, as usual (don't look at me like that, we all know you do it, too). This story is going to involve a lot of wig flipping. A. Lot. Don't say I didn't warn you.
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Do we all remember that Tim Lopez dating show thing that was announced last year? Yeah, well, that was originally set to air a super-dee-duper preview episode on March 26th, and premier March 31st. In the wake of Bachelor Monday, I have been semi-looking forward to this travesty rip-off that NBC is going to force me to sit and watch every Tuesday because they are preying on both my reality dating AND band habits. Those bastards. Just as I was planning what I have referred to as the "Tim Tuesday" menu, they pull the March dates, and replace them with an April 9th premier. I thought it was a bit odd, and it didn't seem like it was a well planned out idea, but figured the Tim Tuesday meal could be put off, and I'd just use up my aubergines elsewhere (and they were fabulous in a spicy tomato sauce with an onion and garlic saute). I didn't think anything about any of this on March 29th as I checked the Plain White T's twitter feed to find a link to this video...

Hang on, hang on, just one cotton pickin' minute here, slim. Did that thing say EP? Are you telling me that we've waited over two years to hear anything original, and we're getting a bloody EP? Come on, we all know that Frankenweenie thing they did doesn't count (I felt like they kind of held back on their cover of Pet Sematary, but that's just me). And, wait, hold on, did that say April 9? Hmmm, I kind of get the feeling that something else is happening on that day, but I can't remember what. I swear, it took me ten minutes to figure out that the release of "Should've Gone to Bed" coincides with the premier of Ready for Love.
Let that sink in for a second.

Are we good? OK.

I mean, on a personal level, I've always thought that their post-"Delilah" career has been incredibly commercial (fifteen bucks a head for after show meet and greets that most bands in their genre just do for the hell of it without tables, out by the buses [you know, through chain link fences, while being arrested, that kind of thing] being the most valid instance), and this is another good example of that. Mind you, I'm all for taking advantage of a situation -- free enterprise, anyone? -- but it just doesn't feel right to me. Sue me. I have been grumbling about this since I figured out April 9th is going to be a commercial extravaganza.

Moving on.
So, on Monday, this hit the Interwebbing...
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along with the EP art...
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and the announcement that the song would premier the next day on satellite radio.

Tuesday morning dawned, and I headed to YouTube to find out what this EP is sounding like. I was home by myself at the time, so I plugged the Bose in, and turned it up loud. That is, I turned this up loud...

After realizing the stream of unseemly obscenities flowing freely from me in the silence that followed, my brain started processing what it had just heard. To be honest, it didn't really know where to start, but the first thing I thought of was that version of "Kiss Me Again" that had Alex Gaskarth in it. All of the fans were excited to hear him on it, but were incredibly disappointed when it was released; his portion was auto-tuned so heavily that it sounded like it was recorded on a tour bus -- probably because it was recorded on a tour bus. The point is, Mr. Gaskarth doesn't need an ounce of auto-tune; I have heard his voice without it, and it's like a little choir of angels in a field of the first snowdrops of Spring's bloom. Or something.

Tom Higgenson's voice is somewhat similar. I know that sixteen year old me took him seriously when he said to listen to his voice in that mega hit; little sixteen year old me fell in fangirl love with it, too. That sixteen year old me bubbled up to the surface when we saw the T's in Dallas. There was a point where the audio went completely out, except Mr. Higgenson's vocal microphone. As a tech ran frantically backstage to get another acoustic guitar, he sang "Delilah" a capella. It was a beautiful moment for me, and reminded me of what I love about music; how that voice sang me through tough nights until the dawn, the unfinished manuscripts, the finished manuscript, the scenes flashing past the backseat car window, and the darkness I allowed precious few others to shine light on. In this new single, that's the voice that's been auto-tuned so heavily I couldn't recognize it. And, for a second, my brain stopped working to let my fangirl heart break a little bit.

Then, I started thinking about the electronic beats (personally, I have always abhorred electronic drums), and whatever else was in there covering up the guitars-bass-drums formula they've had since before Stop was released. What in hell is going on with that? The final straw was when I read a comment saying something along the lines of "dis soundz lyke sumtin one direction wud do, hurr hurr" that I knew I wasn't alone in thinking that something had happened. In the wake of the release, I have considered several scenarios: simple change in sound (which seems unlikely after how Big Bad World and Wonders of the Younger turned out); influence from producers (two words: Hugh Padgham); the old sell out standby; and, most horrible of all, major-label influence (have you ever seen Anthem for a Dying Breed? You should).

Now, I know that I tend to really hate new material when it comes out, and I take a little bit to warm up to it (Memory Almost Full, can you ever forgive my doubt?); I thought that might be my problem. That is, until I heard something that changed my mind. Yesterday morning, the band stopped by their hometown radio station to do a live version of the single.

That's the Plain White T's I know, dammit. You can hear the harmonies, the guitars, even a little bit of bass from Mr. Retondo, and fantastic percussion from Mr. Hamilton. In short, you can hear the talent; it's evident that there's craftsmanship when there isn't so much electronic bollocks in the way of it.

Until I hear the entire EP, I'm going to be on tenterhooks about this. As it is, I'm glad it's an EP instead of an LP at this point, simply because we really don't know what to expect now. In the meantime, I have yet to decide if we're going to have Cottage Pie, or Spaghetti Bake on Tim Tuesday.
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