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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Let's get LOST! (Season 5 Poster)

Such a simple poster, yet so profound.

Hello, my fellow fanatic Losites! Time to over-analyze, pick-apart and speculate about this new piece of information from our favorite show! It's just a little tidbit... but let's devour it nonetheless...

I like how the poster is split, to show the two camps of people, and I can't tell you how happy I am to see Faraday on the island side of the poster. I'm looking forward to seeing more of his character. I had been concerned about him, because when the island went "blooop" and disappeared, Faraday was still in the dingy out in the water somewhere. I was hoping he was within the circumference of the island's power and was transported with it. Or maybe he had his own way of getting back on the island...?

Should I be paranoid that one of my favorite characters, our "brotha" Desmond is so tiny and relegated to the background of the shot? Does that mean he's taking a lesser role? Or is it simply a marketing/artistic problem of fitting all of the Oceanic 6 and him on one side of the poster? Either way... he looks kinda goofy with short hair...

"Destiny Calls" - what does that imply? It brings up that classic LOST discussion between faith and fate. Do the survivors have any control over their lives or are they "destined" to do what the island (or Jacob) demands of them? I wonder if we're going to see more of Jacob this season? How are the Oceanic 6 going to get back to the island? Are Penny and Desmond going to help them locate it, now that Penny knows how to find it?

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think. :) I can't hardly wait until January 21st!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Girls Who Can Rock

So, a while back I wrote a blog post about "Dudes Who Can Rock" and I'd been meaning to do a follow-up post for a while now, on chicks who can rock. Since there was some confusion and criticism last time about my definition of "rock", let me just clarify again.

The following is a list of my top 10 favorite female lead singers. I think they represent a wide range of rock and roll styles and subgenres and are also very representative of my music collection. "Rock" has become a very subjective term, with a zillion subgenres such as power-pop, progressive rock, alternative, you name it. I'll ask you now to ease up on whether or not these ladies "rock" - all I know is they can belt out the notes and they've got rock and roll stage presence by the bucket-loads.

1. Shirley Manson from Garbage
She's a fierce Scott who sings from the very tips of her flame-red hair to the very bottom of her Doc Martens, whether she's belting out an alternative power-pop tune or singing a breathy sultry ballad. After seeing the band live, I don't think their recorded music does her voice or her energy/stage presence justice. Her voice takes no prisoners. One of these days, I will tell you, Loyal Readers, of the Smashing Pumpkins concert we went to, where Garbage was the opening act. All I can say is, it's really sad when the opening act totally out-performs the main act...
Listen to Vow, the single that started it all, or check out I Think I'm Paranoid, just because it's fun.

2. Johnette Napolitano from Concrete Blonde
Concrete Blonde was, to most, an obscure alternative band that only had a couple of charted minor hits... but Johnette's voice is legendary in my books. My favorite songs are when her voice starts out so soft and low and haunting and as the song gains momentum, her voice escalates into that rock roar. She has an amazing range and control...and plays the bass - how cool is that? Too bad the band is long gone... And like Shirley Manson, the recorded music just doesn't do Johnette's voicejustice. Hearing her voice live in concert made me cry... it was that amazing.
It's hard to pick a song from You Tube for you to listen to. Caroline and Joey were their two successful singles, but God is a Bullet is my husband's favorite, while Walking in London is my favorite.

3. Tori Amos
What kind of music does Tori sing? Hmm. Hard to explain. She's just a girl and her piano, but her voice is definitely unique and captivating. I read a music review once, where the collumnist said he wouldn't want to meet Tori's voice in a dark alley. I think it's beautiful and strange and original. Although I do know of one friend of mine, who cannot stand her voice. Perhaps it is an acquired taste?
Ugh... I'm having such a hard time picking songs for you to listen to. How do you pick just one Tori song when they are all so different? Try Winter, Spark or Precious Things.

4. Janis Joplin
Do I even have to explain this choice? She is the original woman of rock! All other female rock leads have to follow in her shoes. If you don't know who she is, then you need to go back to rock and roll school and take some notes.
Listen to Piece of My Heart and bask in the awesome bluesy-ness of her voice.

5. Anne and Nancy Wilson from Heart
Heart songs sound fairly simple... until you see someone try to sing one on American Idol. They have amazing range and know how to rock.
Listen to Alone, but try not to laugh at all the 80's rock hair going on in this video.

6. Annie Lenox
Annie is the third redhead on this list (after Shirley and Tori). I wonder if there's something to that? She's Scottish like Shirley too... I guess they grow good female rock stars in Scottland. Annie started out as lead singer for the Eurythmics, but went on to have a successful solo career. Her voice is unmistakeable.
Listen to Walking on Broken Glass or No More I Love Yous.

7. Lacey Mosley from Flyleaf
Proof that big things come in little packages... this girl can rock it out! Her voice is so heavy, I was surprised when I finally saw her in person... she's so little! I never get tired of listening to this band and her voice.
Listen to I Am So Sick or All Around Me.

Selections 8 through 10, you might as well all group together as my progressive rock ladies. They all come from bands with similar sounds, where operatic signing is combined with heavy progressive rock. I love this type of music. It makes my goth little heart happy. At first listen, they may all sound the same, but I think they all have distinct voices and styles. Check it out...

8. Cristina Scabbia from Lacuna Coil
Something else I forgot to mention is that most of these bands are from overseas. I guess there's more of a market for this type of music over there than in the States. Lacuna Coil is an Italian goth metal band. I think out of these three picks, I like her voice the best.
Listen to Heaven's A Lie... you'll probably remember hearing it on the radio...

9. Whoever is the lead singer of Nightwish
Nightwish hails from Finland and seems to have a problem keeping lead singers. First it was soprano Tarja Turunen and now it's Anette Olzon. Either way, I love their stuff. Tarja looks a little bit like Morticia Addams to me... what do you think?
Listen to I Wish I Had An Angel or Nemo (and no, it is not about the Disney fish...)

10. Amy Lee from Evanescence
I actually think Amy Lee's voice is a little on the thin side... the times I've heard her sing live, it didn't seem like she had any power behind it. I guess what I'm saying is I wonder how much of her voice is "studio magic" and how much is talent. I don't want to knock the girl though; she's on a short list of girls who rock. They are few in number. I will also admit, I wore out Evanescence's first album... I didn't know you could wear out a CD... did you?
Listen to Going Under or My Immortal.

Honorable Mention: Drain STH
Drain STH was a short-lived all-female heavy metal band from Sweden. (Again with the overseas thing...) I love their album "Freaks of Nature". Every song rocks. I listed them as an Honorable Mention because, frankly, you can't really tell the lead singer is a girl. I suspect it's because they are running her voice through some distortion filters. She sounds like Axl Rose's cousin or something.
Listen to Enter My Mind.

Unfortunately, there are not that many female lead singers in rock bands. Not sure why that is. Mind you, I did not intend for this to be the list to end all lists. These are just the singers that I never get tired of listening to. Leave me a comment and let me know who I missed.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Humbled and Privileged

So... it's election day, and everyone in the blogosphere is putting up last minute rants or one last final argument for their candidate. In regards to the purpose of my blog, it is not concerned with politics, which is why I have avoided it for the last several months, and left those posts to more capable hands. However, I now feel compelled to make at least one political post.

I will admit upfront that discussing politics makes me sick to my stomach. Not because I dislike politics, but rather because I care so much for this country, it makes me so nervous to think about what hangs in the balance. I would like to hope that justice prevails and that for the most part people are decent and good, yet I can't help but worry that for various reasons (a broken political process, misinformation and flawed media, corruption, greed, selfish motivations, etc.) we could potentially miss the mark on making sound, right decisions to protect this country's citizens and uphold the life that our forefathers fought so hard to create for us.

I've tried to keep my blog to be solely about the arts and culture, as it interests me. Yet, I cannot pretend that I'm unaffected by the goings-on of the political process. In fact, the very luxury I have in enjoying the arts such as music, literature, art, film, I have because of the safe, civilized and free country I live in. As our second President of the United States so eloquently explained...

"I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain." - John Adams (1735-1826)

I am thankful that I live in a country where I have the leisure to enjoy the arts and the leisure and position to write about them on this inconsequential blog. There are some countries who are still "studying politics and war", where people don't have the right to vote, and are lucky to have fresh drinking water for the day, let alone a computer to blog about it. I feel humble and privileged.

Which leads me to my final point. In the early hours this morning, as I stood in line waiting to vote, I was complaining to myself about how cold it was (yes, it was a chilly 64 degrees here in AZ). I caught myself having whiny thoughts about the cold, about how long the line was, about how slowly we were moving, about being late to work, etc. Then I immediately recognized that I was being tremendously ungrateful and admonished myself for such thoughts. How could I complain about such an opportunity, to live in a country where every voice matters?

Voting is a privilege; one that our forefathers fought for during the Revolutionary War. Future generations fought to uphold it in the World Wars, and even now our soldiers are fighting not only to protect these rights, but are also trying to bring democracy, freedom and the right to vote to a land not even our own. As a woman, I have an even greater debt to pay, to the suffragettes who came before me, who fought for my right to vote. I conclude this post with a picture of a few of those ladies who paved the way...

And even though politics make me a little nauseous, I am thankful for the process, thankful for the opportunity and thankful that, regardless of the outcome, my Lord still sits on the throne. He sees all, knows all, and is in control of all things. I will find peace in that tonight.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

13 Days of Halloween - Masquerade Memories

This is my last post for the 13 Days of Halloween, and I'm in a bittersweet mood. I love this holiday but I am always sad when it is over. I had originally wanted to take the opportunity in this last post to share some memories I have about Halloween, but I feel like it's going to turn into a rant about "the good old days" and thus make me feel like an old fuddy duddy. To keep myself from writing a dissertation on how Halloween has changed, I'm going to limit myself to a list...

Favorite Halloween Costume - I've had several favorite costumes, but one that I remember being the most excited about was Princess Leia from Star Wars. Although, words cannot describe my disappointment when I put on the costume and looked in the mirror and did not see myself magically transformed into Princess Leia (as I had imagined) but saw myself in a plastic mask and a plastic rectangle-shaped smock with two holes cut out the sides for my arms. Ah, how costumes for kids have improved dramatically since then (there I go already... feeling old...). Then, to make matters worse, my mother made me wear a sweater over the costume because, believe it or not, it was actually cold that night in Arizona. I was disillusioned, to say the least. If you remember those plastic costumes, you'll know what I'm talking about.

Favorite Trick-or-Treating Memory - When I was young, the housing community I grew up in was on the outskirts of Phoenix in the desert. There were several ranches in the area, so it wasn't uncommon to see people riding horses down the sidewalk on a regular basis. But on Halloween, one of the horse owners really got into the spirit and transformed into... the Headless Horseman! He had an all black horse and a very elaborate black velvet costume with cape, old fashioned riding boots, gloves, etc. The costume was the type where the torso and shoulders were extended up so that it looked headless. He carried his jack-o-lantern head underneath his arm, which was actually one of those plastic pumpkin buckets we all used to trick-or-treat with, and it was filled with candy. He rode his horse slowly up and down the streets in the neighborhood and, if you were brave enough to go up to him and say "trick or treat" he would lower the pumpkin so you could take some candy. He stayed in character though, and never spoke a word. Totally creepy, but totally cool.

Favorite Halloween Candy - How can you pick just one? Is it the tootsie pops, jolly ranchers, smarties or the bazooka bubble gum? The word got around fast amongst trick or treaters on the street when a house was passing out the "good" candy (i.e. Hershey's chocolate miniature candy bars). And don't get me wrong, I love me some chocolate (reese's peanut butter cups, kit kats, three musketeers, snickers), but there is no second-guessing what my favorite Halloween candy is... I love candy corn! This is a very divisive candy - people either love it or hate it. I'm in the love it category. It just wasn't Halloween until my mom poured a big bag of candy corn into the glass pumpkin candy jar.

So what about you? Leave me a comment and let me know what is your favorite costume, favorite memory or favorite candy. And thanks to you, all of my Loyal Readers, for following along with me on this fun Halloween series of posts. I hope you enjoyed them...

By the way, I may or may not be posting in November. It all depends on if I decide to participate in NaNoWriMo...