Thursday, July 16, 2015

I've Moved!

Hi, friend!

I've moved to

Please visit me over there for updates on Hogan McSmalls, music, Los Angeles, health stuff, Ewoks, curly hair, cocktails, the amazing world of candy at 7-11, Texas, vampires, books, curls, tea lattes, the 90s and everything else I forgot to list here.

Thanks for supporting all these years. No worries, you can still find me on Twitter as @Kendragarden but for blogs, go to because that's my name and stuff!

Love y'all. Mean it.


Monday, June 15, 2015

Selfie! For Posterity.

This morning I got a pedicure. Normally I would use the time to do something I consider productive like answer emails or read a book or heart pictures of all my friends' pets on Instagram. (Oh, yeah, their kids too.) But this time I decided to give my poor brain a break. I picked up a magazine with Kim Kardashian on the cover. In the article about her (um, she's pretty fascinating, haters), they talked about her selfie book. Which got me to thinking about how many people hate selfies.

Selfies can be odd. They can be ugh. They can be too much. I don't enjoy an Instagram feed full of only selfies anymore than the next gal but I think there's ultimately something awesome and powerful about them. And I think, mostly, for, you know, normal humans, in the future we'll be glad we took them.

Let me explain. When I was a teenager and on into my early twenties, I hated posing for photos. If I could help it, I wouldn't let anyone take a pic of me. I thought I was too cool; my days were too kick ass to be documented. The result of this is that I only have a handful of photos from arguably the most fascinating period of my life so far. And all of those were taken by other people and are just accidentally in my possession. So, I'm usually turning away from the camera like, ugh, no paparazzi, please:

This photo was taken after a play I was in. That's why I'm wearing a jacked up wedding dress. Also, that's my adorable friend Julie. Today I would kill for a pic of us back then. I should've just done as my mom asked and smiled for the camera. (Don't tell her that.) But I didn't. I couldn't. And so I have this sad photo instead.

If I'm not full-on turned away, I'm making a face or expressing my disdain for the common practice of photo taking. Ugh, I am just way too punk rock for this pic with my little paisley shirt:

Pretty positive I couldn't even say the word "sober" when that was taken. So maybe that's why I'm actually facing the camera. Who knows? Aside from gems like these, all I have from ages 15-25 are basically headshots and pics from plays I did. When I was playing a character, not photos of normal non-made up surly little me. I wish I had real pictures from that part of my life. I wish I had pics of my friends and I smiling for the camera. I wish I had some evidence that I lived back then besides, you know, a degree or whatever and an encyclopedic knowledge of doc marten eyelets and types of maroon lipstick.

These days I try to do better. But, it's hard. When I'm having fun with a group of people, the last thing I think about is taking a photo. I try to remind myself because I know I'll want them later when I'm hella old and trying to get my nostalgia on. But the last few times I've been with my sister, Pistol, we've forgotten. And, man, if I'm with really good friends, forget about it. I never remember to Instagram it. It just doesn't even occur to me. My Instagram feed is pretty much Hogie, cocktail, graffiti, selfie, Hogie, Hogie, Hogie. But I'm determined to do better.

So, anyway, all this is a long route to declare I'm pro-selfie. I'm OK with Kim K having a book of them. I'm cool with teens taking selfies until their arms fall off. At least they're documenting their existence. At least they'll have something to look back on. And, a selfie is from your perspective. It's how you saw yourself in that moment. Its filter is the expression of your soul, man. (Ugh, sorry, LOL, but seriously my soul is frequently Brannan, dudes.) And there's something amazing and timeless about that. We all just need to remember to whip out the phone and have the waitress take a group shot every once in a while because, let's face it, when we're 90, we're not gonna care about all the pizzas we ate, we'll care about the people we knew. Well, also maybe a little bit about the pizzas.

BAM! Selfie of me writing about selfies: #nomakeup #metaasfuck

Happy Selfie-ing, my friends!


*Pic at start: 'Oooh, I just got free bright red lipgloss from Sephora' selfie

Friday, June 5, 2015


For a while, when it was my turn to pick a movie, I just couldn't get it right. (If you're like, what is she on about, read this.) One night I picked The Theory of Everything, that Stephen Hawking film, which was pretty interesting for about twenty minutes and then it was just a big ole' snoozefest. (I thought it would be about his theories and his work but it was just about his illness. He's a fascinating badass dude but the movie is hard to stay with the whole time.) Then I picked a movie called 5 Flights Up. If you know me, you know there was no way I wasn't gonna pick this one. It stars Diane Keaton (swoon), Morgan Freeman (swoon) and a cute little dog (swoon swoon). I'm a sucker for those two actors, for dogs and for movies about old people. But not even those two could save this movie from being one big shrug. And then, of course, I picked Magic Mike. I was curious. I'd been wondering about this movie since that one night I call my 'Me Date' when I chose to watch four episodes of "Hart of Dixie" instead of renting it and then I almost burned down our kitchen while making popcorn. Plus, you know, Joe Manganiello. But despite all the naked hot dudes, it ended up being criminally boring.

I started feeling competitive with Tim because when it was his turn, he was picking stuff that didn't make me fall asleep in my popcorn like Song of the Sea, a beautiful Irish animated movie about a Celtic sea goddess. (One night he even chose to go out for drinks and then a late showing of Ex Machina, which is a really cool flick if you haven't seen it.) So, I got all pissy agro about it, like, I'M GONNA PICK THE BEST MOVIES EVER AND YOU WILL LIKE THEM. I don't know if I did that exactly but my last two turns have been pretty awesome and they're both streaming on Netflix so maybe you'll like them too.

The first one was an Iranian vampire flick called A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night. First off, this film just looks perfect, all black and white and cinematic with images you can't get out of your brain afterward. It's dark and moody with a sense of humor. I love a fresh take on bloodsuckers so this one really hit home with me. There's a scene where the vampire girl is riding a skateboard that made me squeal with delight. After the first five minutes or so, I even forgot I was reading subtitles. Pick this movie to watch with your significant other or some friends if you want to WIN EVERYTHING.

Then, last night, I chose that Jon Favreau movie, Chef. It's funny and sweet and has so much food porn in it that you'll need lots of snacks while you watch. The film is also stacked with talented hot people. Like, Jon Favreau was all, hmmm, who am I gonna cast, I know, ALL THE HOT PEOPLE. So, there's Scarlett Johansson and Sofia Vergara and Robert Downey Jr. Oooh and John Leguizamo is in it too. I love John Leguizamo. He should be in everything. They should just stick him in every film ever from now on. You know, like Emma Stone and Bradley Cooper.

OK, anyway, those are my recommendations. Pretty good, huh? I'm sticking gold stars all over my body because I'm so good at picking movies. And these are extra great because they're free if you have Netflix.

Happy movie-watching, everyone! Please let me know if you have any recommendations for me. Not that I need them or anything.


*photo of my chill as fuck shadow.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

About a Dress

Yesterday I wore a dress. It had been a minute. It's been coldish and cloudy in Los Angeles, that weird kind of dreary where the day starts off like the opening of a horror flick but you know it'll get hot at some point and the day will turn into a sickeningly sweet rom-com. So you can't wear a dress with tights; you can't wear a sweater. You have to layer. I've been living in jeans, tees and my denim jacket.

But yesterday it was sunny and I wore a dress. I love dresses. They're just so easy; put them on and go. I don't know how to do much fashion-wise. I'm either in a dress or jeans. My Pinterest style board is full of, well, you know, dresses and jeans. And, while jeans are my first love, I wear dresses a lot. There are any number of reasons I'll put a dress on. I could be really happy or I could be really sad and hoping the dress will make me feel better. I could be feeling anti-pants. I could be completely lost as to what the proper attire is for a night out or a friend's barbecue so I throw a dress on and hope for the best. I could be hot but not feeling shorts.

Yesterday I was none of those things although maybe slightly on the sad side. I had a lot of shit on the to-do list and didn't want to deal with choosing what to wear so I threw on a dress I got from last month's Stitchfix box. It was a navy blue sundress with wide white stripes at the bottom. I felt like a sailor. A small wimpy sailor wearing too much lipstick but still. Leaving the house, I felt better. A dress will sometimes make me feel like I can do anything and while I didn't quite reach that state yesterday, I definitely felt a bit of added bounce in my step.

As my day went on, I thought about how people treat you differently in a dress. I even feel differently about myself in a dress. I feel more confident but also more exposed. I'm the same person I am when I'm wearing ripped jeans and a faded Ryan Adams shirt but 'Dress Me' gets more respect and more attention. It's a double-edged sword I'm sure most women can relate to. On one hand, I talked the car wash guy down from $150 for a full detail to $80 and the bitchy receptionist at the doctor's office was kind to me. On the other hand, as I walked the dog, I had some not very shy dudes yell some not very inspired things at me from their car as they drove by. I feel like I should mention here that the dress in question is flowy and goes to the knee. It's not revealing or sexy. It's just a dress. And I don't look particularly spectacular in a dress. I look like a normal girl in a normal dress. But, there is something about a dress.

A few years ago, a friend mentioned that three girls hanging out together should not all wear maxi-dresses at the same time. "Too powerful," she said. When I first heard this, I laughed. I had no clue what she meant. But now I think I do. Dresses are powerful. Women in dresses are powerful, especially when we're wearing them for ourselves.

*photo of me in, you know, a dress.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Deciders

What I'm about to tell you is revolutionary. I don't know if you'll be able to handle it. I can't even, y'all. But I'm so about to.

I've been married for over a decade. That's over ten years of deciding what to watch. Which maybe isn't a big deal in your household. Maybe your girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife/lover/kid/pet llama has the same taste in everything as you. Maybe they're a decisive llama and you pick something from your Netflix queue with the quickness and everything is all happy happy joy joy. My house is not like that. In my house, we're both wishy washy indecisive lazy Pisces blah blahs. If you look up idgaf in the urban dictionary, there's a picture of us lying on a couch staring at iTunes movies or HBOGo and shrugging. We're the worst. It's amazing we ever eat anything, it takes us hours to agree on a restaurant. We can spend months scrolling and sighing and sighing and scrolling. Months, I tell you.

So the other night I looked at Tim and said, "Hey."

And he was all, "hey."

Then I was like, "Um, so I've been thinking."

And he goes, "Uh-oh" so I go, "haha."

Then I say, "Maybe we should take turns deciding what to watch and the other one has to be okay with it and just DEAL WITH IT no matter what."

So Tim shrugs and says, "K."

Then I shrug and say, "K."

Then it takes us 2 weeks to decide who should go first because we're both like, "I don't care, you go first, whatev."

However, now everything is better. We take turns being the decider! I told you: this is revolutionary shit. If I want to watch a horror movie, I don't have to wait until he's out of town or playing golf or at a hockey game or whatnot. If he wants to watch some show about armies shooting at each other in, like, mud and stuff, he can watch it. The catch is the other one has to watch it too. And it's working. Sometimes it's a no-brainer, like, I pick Mad Men and he sighs forever from relief. Or he picks Justified and I'm like, YAY OLYPHANT. But it's also forcing us to watch things we wouldn't otherwise watch. I'm gonna learn so much about World War 2 and people who can eat a lot of hot things, you guys. And Tim is gonna learn so much about the Scream franchise.

The person picking gets the whole night. So if I've already made him watch Grease 2 and an episode of Nashville but it's still early, we'll totally have time to watch Aqua Teen Hunger Force episodes until Meatwad loses all meaning.

And there you have it. Compromise, y'all. Not sure why we didn't think of this a decade or so ago. I blame Hogie.

Tonight I'm the decider and I CAN'T WAIT. Maybe just maybe I can find something about vampires who go to high school. Do they even make stuff about that?

*photo cred: don't fuck with the deciders, yo.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Freeway Is Ending

I've been thinking a lot lately about fear and perception and how each can alter or exacerbate the other. Like, if I perceive that 7-11 is out of M&Ms, that might make my fear escalate and go apeshit but really there might be a box in the back that hasn't been unloaded yet. Whew. Just typing that made me a little anxious.

Anyway, I was musing about this and other candy-related psychological shit while driving home from Highland Park the other day when I saw the sign above. I see this sign a lot because I go to Highland Park a lot (some of my favorite humans live there plus Cafe De Leche on York has the best chai lattes in Southern California) but it had never sparked any reaction from me before. This time, however, I remembered a similar car ride with my mom.

We were zooming down the freeway when my mom noticed a sign that said, "End Freeway." She clutched my arm so hard it hurt and said, "Kendra...Kendra...the freeway is ending! Don't you see that the freeway is ending?" This made me laugh until I realized she was actually pretty freaked out. I explained to her that it wasn't going to just abruptly end, we weren't going to Thelma and Louise it off a cliff. I told her that it would gently spit us out onto a regular street but I could tell she wasn't convinced and she didn't relax until we were safely stuck in L.A. traffic again.

At that point, I'd lived in Los Angeles for six or seven years. Even before that, I lived in San Marcos and spent a lot of time on the I-35 driving back and forth to Austin. Freeways didn't freak me out. Freeways were as common as making coffee in the morning was to my dad. Freeways were as comfortable to me as a booth at Chili's was to my mom. But, she grew up in small highway-less Texas towns and the only thing that passed for any type of freeway in my hometown -where she still lived- was a small loop that circled the city. People leisurely used it to get from Olive Garden to Walmart on the weekends.

So, just being on the freeway was a strange experience to her and her only experience with freeways "ending" was probably that scene in Speed when the bus has to jump the unfinished freeway or it will explode and everyone will die. Of course she was freaked out. Something super routine to me was crazy to her.

The last few days I've been seeing things through this filter. When something fills me with anxiety, I just tell myself that the freeway isn't really ending. You know what? It's sort-of working. And when it doesn't, I can always just get some M&Ms.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Things I Like Right Now

I like things. Loads of things. Like, so many things, you guys.

I just turned in something I've been working on that has taken up most of my time and my brain so this morning, when I sat down at my laptop to finally finally blog,  I experienced my old friend writer's block, also know as 'I Have Nothing At All To Say, Bitch' and, my favorite, 'Pure Ughiness.' I sat there drooling at the screen for a bit then my mind wandered and I started thinking about good awesome things that I enjoy and I thought I would share that shit with you guys because why the hell not, right? IT'S USEFUL AND STUFF.

OK, here we go:

Raindrops on roses.

Haha, just kidding. Comedy! Here we go for real this time swear to Hogan McSmalls:

  1. Call Your Girlfriend Podcast: A friend suggested this to me and now I'm obsessed. As in, I walked for an extra half an hour yesterday just to finish an episode. The podcast is two long-distance friends basically "catching up." The thing is that they're incredibly smart and entertaining and they discuss important things such as Kanye, Ghostbusters, the Hilary email thing (ugh) and a whole bunch of other topics that are just necessary, you guys. Swoon.
  2. The Stand by Stephen King: I just reread this and pretty much checked out of life until I was done. I actually read the Uncut version and loved it. Just reminded me how much of a badass he is and always has been. I mean, this book came out in 1990 and it still rocks. It also made me think about how completely not useful my skills would be in the event of the end of the world. What am I gonna do, teach yoga? Write lists on leaves? Made me think I should take a cooking class or a CPR class or a something class.
  3. Stitchfix: As I write this, I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of this month's Stitchfix box. You can sign up to receive these as often as you want or you can just do it once. You fill out an extensive style survey with your likes, dislikes and sizes and a stylist sends you 5 items. Then you decide what to keep and send the rest back in this nifty little envelope they provide. (If you keep all 5, you get a discount.) It's genius. Half my closet is now from Stitchfixes since we had to get rid of all our clothes about 5 months back because of the whole toxic black mold issue. I feel like without Stitchfix, I'd have 2 Madewell shirts and one pair of skinny jeans. Anyway, check it. When that box arrives, it's like Christmas. I'm addicted.
  4. Empire: Holy hell, how much do I love Empire? Nope, sorry, can't quantify it. But, I will tell you that Cookie Lyon (Taraji P. Henson) is my hero and that this show is straight up delightful. I laugh so hard every episode. It's basically exactly what you'd expect: a bunch of hot people fighting and screwing and backstabbing. It's perfect. Anyway, the season just ended so catch up real quick before it comes back.
  5. This Bar Saves Lives: I bought one of these at a coffee shop and now I'm hopelessly devoted. They're delicious and gluten-free and fit in your purse so you can pull it out if you get noshy. I tend to go all hypobitchy (hypoglycemia, y'all) if I haven't eaten so this bar actually probably saves the lives of those in my proximity on the reg. But, really, the deal is that they give a packet of food to a child in need for every bar you buy. Like Toms for your mouth. Yay!
  6. I Love You, Honeybear by Father John Misty: I can't stop listening to this album. It's not just that "Bored in the U.S.A." feels like an anti-anthem or that there's a song called "Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Crow" or that he's adorable, it's that all-together, the album just feels perfect for right this very minute. I've been devouring it in a frantic way that reminds me of when Jenny Lewis's Voyager came out. Actually, I still listen to that too much but still. I Love You, Honeybear = goodness.
  7. Bareminerals Complexion Rescue: Yes, I'm going all beauty blog on you but this stuff is just so amazing, I had to. I have to be really careful about what I put on my face because everything makes me break out, especially BB creams. Plus, I need something with a broad spectrum SPF of 30 or more. This stuff works perfectly AND it's tinted so I don't have to wear, like, makeup makeup. I can put this on and some mascara and I'm out the door in less than 3 minutes. I'm in love.
  8. Miranda July's Instagram: Self-explanatory, yo. 

Those are my things I like right now. Now, go watch Empire.

*photo of Hogie because I like him.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

40 Moments

You know how people tell you to list stuff you're grateful for? Like it's gonna change your life? I tried that shit. I sat down with a mug full of chai latte and a good attitude firmly in place. I put on some good tunes. I cracked my knuckles like a mystery writer in a movie based on a Stephen King novel. Then I spent twenty minutes rolling my eyes at my laptop. I decided that because today I turn forty (OHMYFUCKINGGAWD), I should probably focus on moments instead of things. Because at this point, I've had a fuckton of moments, y'all. I thought listing them might make me, I dunno, grateful for the life I've had or something. At the very least it should be fun, right?

Well, it was. And it did. I got a little nostalgic and a lot mushy. I had some vodka. It was all very cute except I think starting today I might be a little old for cute. But that's okay because I've had some good times, man. Here are 40 of them:
  1. Books! All the books. The first time I read a Stephen King novel (I think it was Salem's Lot) or the Anne Rice Vampire Chronicles or Harry Potter or Hemingway. Shit, the first time I read Sweet Valley High in Elementary School.
  2. Parasailing in Maui with my sister-in-law, Stacey, and my dad. I was afraid of heights and then suddenly I was floating above the ocean up in the peaceful quiet thinking, oh fuck yeah.
  3. Dancing my face off all night at a gay bar called 404 in Austin with my friends Jill and Jenna and feeling like I would be young forever. (The next morning might make the reverse of this list.)
  4. The Cure. Specifically the first time I saw them in Dallas in 1989 with my friends Shay and Jennifer (The Prayer Tour for Disintigration) and the time I saw them by myself 5th row center at The Pantages on the Reflections Tour. They played the first three albums in their entirety including B-sides and it was life changing. I've never geeked out that hard.
  5. Tim proposing in Paris the night before we left to join friends in Amsterdam. He forgot to take out the ring so I assumed it was spontaneous. I don't remember anything he said, just that I felt sure.
  6. Blasting that terrible EMF song, "Unbelievable" in the dressing room of Midland Community Theatre getting ready for a Pickwick show. I think it was Beauty & the Beast but it could've been 45 Minutes From Broadway. Pre-show antics with that group was always pure joy.
  7. Laughing on the yellow dog on the way to speech tournaments with Matt, Guddy, Chad, April and the rest of the crew. Singing, "With dry-clean jeans and head that gleams, oh how we love him so" to the tune of some Neil Diamond song to Mr. Knight.
  8. Lying on a flat futon with the blinds closed all day drinking grape soda and eating junk food recovering from a night out at the Viper Room with Edi and Christie. Pretty sure we watched Fight Club. We always watched Fight Club.
  9. Riding around Midland in Max's station wagon with Max and Aaron blasting Nine Inch Nails' Pretty Hate Machine and chain-smoking cigarettes.
  10. My dad teaching me to read and write every day after he got home from work. I learned on a little magnetic chalkboard desk we kept on the floor of our dining room. Because of him, I was reading books by age 3.
  11. Taking my little sister to the H.O.R.D.E Festival in Austin in 1995 and getting fuuuuuucked up. Pistol touching Lenny Kravitz. Rolling down a hill with her laughing.
  12. My first rave. And my second, third and fourth raves. My pink kitty hat I wore to raves.
  13. My mom buying me Depeche Mode's Music For The Masses in 1987 even though I'd just started 7th Grade and one of the songs was pretty much just sexy heavy breathing.
  14. Ringing in the new year in Palm Springs for the last four years with my amazing friends Edi, Dan, Roberto, Monte and Tim.
  15. Putting a stuffed dog on my head and dancing around our San Marcos apartment and Olivia dubbing me "Doghead Alvey" while Edi and I almost peed ourselves laughing.
  16. Epic Colfax parties. What else were we supposed to do with a big house with blue shag carpet but throw giant parties where we did dance routines in the living room or had keg stand contests or pie eating contests or jello shot contests?
  17. Finding out my first nephew, Logan, had just been born on my 29th birthday while I was sitting at Home (in Los Feliz) having drinks and ice cream with Edi and Roxane.
  18. Responding, "Nah, we have 4 nephews, we're good," and MEANING IT when people ask if Tim and I are gonna have kids. Having 4 nephews is a constant joy. I wholeheartedly recommend it.
  19. My Meemaw saying she didn't know how to play Pente and then creaming me. Or spades or pool or any game, really. 
  20. My parents giving me my first pair of Doc Martens. They were pointy-toed and awesome and my mom hunted all over Chicago on a business trip to find them.
  21. My sister and I acting out pretty much all of Grease 2 in our playroom. I was always Stephanie Zinone.
  22. The little girl I was babysitting calling me a princess and saying I was "beautiful and brave" the day after I'd bombed a call back to be a princess on a Power Rangers show.
  23. Tim "kidnapping" me and taking me to all my favorite L.A. places on Valentine's Day even though we're way too cool to do Valentine's Day.
  24. Brunch club with my friends Liz, Ed, Nicole and Eliza. All the brunches.
  25. Going to first New Zealand and then Turkey with The Pickwick Players, my theatre troupe, and learning that there was way more to the world than West Texas.
  26. Playing cops and robbers with Matt, Will, Michael, Effie and Leanne. Running around M-town in the middle of the night like we gave no fucks because we gave no fucks.
  27. Sitting in a parking garage with Tim after seeing the 2001 Planet of the Apes remake and him playing the Travis song "Flowers In The Window" and saying it reminded him of me.
  28. Going to see The Shins at The Paladium with Edi, Dan, Tim, Roberto and Monte and taking about 300 group selfies while we waited for them to go on, before selfies were even a thing.
  29. Karaoke with Jenny, Brett, Rachel, Rodney, Eddie and so many others at Brass Monkey. Singing "Kitty" and Tom being my kitty. :)
  30. Amazing Krimma (Christmas) celebrations at Dan and Dawn's, at both the Dansion and the WeHo dream house. The Star Wars Christmas special and turkey-flavored soda. Both beautiful in their terribleness.
  31. Renting a cabin in New Braunfels, Texas in the sweltering July heat with my parents, my sister and my nephews and having a crazy fun time in between cases of heat stroke.
  32. Being understage after opening night of A Doll's House at Southwest Texas State and realizing I did that shit and I LIKED it.
  33. My sister and I chasing down the boys who kept ding-dong-ditching us after school and kicking their asses in an alley like we were the Little Rascals or something.
  34. The time, a week after adopting Hogan McSmalls, when he finally relaxed and realized we weren't gonna get rid of him. He hopped in my lap and licked my face and I cried.
  35. Tim and I laughing until we were actually crying at Mohawk Bend with Jenny and Robin because of my terrible Mumford & Sons impression and Robin's insane hatred of The Beatles.
  36. Lunching with Edi. Shit, 20 years of lunching with Edi.
  37. Receiving the anthology containing my first published essay in the mail and realizing I can write things and people might actually read them.
  38. A high school boyfriend telling me my eyes looked "exactly like concrete" then going on to tell me he thought I could do anything I wanted. It was a weird/cool moment. 
  39. In 1986, my friend Shay's older brother Dale putting on The Smiths' album Meat Is Murder and saying to us, "You girls should lay off the Book Of Love for a sec and come listen to this." I was 11. I still think about this frequently. I still listen to The Smiths.
  40. Knowing as I write this that I could have easily listed 4000 amazing moments and that they'll be zillions more even after my hair turns completely grey, even after there's not a filter in existence that makes my old mug Instagrammable.
To everyone who's been reading this blog since wow, what was it, 1893? Anyway, thanks. Thanks, thanks, thanks forever.


*photo of little me rocking my Wonder Woman suit, like ya do.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Breakfast Wars

My 6-year-old nephew is obsessed with two things: Star Wars and pancakes. He is also constantly asking "What if" questions. "Auntie Kendra, what if Hogie turned into a piece of toast?" "Uncle Tim, what if you turned into a really mean zombie?" So I guess it's not that weird that over chocolate chip pancakes yesterday morning he posed this question:

What if Star Wars was all about breakfast?


The conversation then devolved into us yelling out breakfast-themed Star Wars characters and Jackson asking more questions like, "WHAT IF THE DEATH STAR WAS A BIG FLOATING DONUT?" We determined that Luke Skywaffles and Admiral Orange Juice had to find a way to destroy the big donut, the evil base of Darth Jelly.

Yoda lived in a swamp of oatmeal. Princess Leia, of course, wore bagels on the sides of her head. Instead of carbonite, Han is encased in waffles and eats his way out. Bacon Fett worked for Java the Hutt. But the thing that made the little dude laugh until he slid out of the booth is when he yelled, "R2-D2 is a big fat blueberry!"

I smiled to myself the rest of the day. A lot of us make the mistake of judging our wit and what makes us laugh. I once wrote an article I thought was hilarious and either no one read it or no one else thought it was as funny as I did. It really bothered me. Like, was I horrible? Was what made me laugh so far off the norm that I should just give up? But, you know, cracking yourself up is one of the best things that can happen in a day. I mean, aside from free booze or a hug from a pug or something like that. Whatever makes you laugh is awesome and everything else can just get the fuck out, you know?

Because R2-D2 is a big fat blueberry.

*space donut from unequalmeasures.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

My 10 Favorite Movies of 2014

That's right, MOVIES not FILMS because you can't have a film list that includes a flick with Denzel Washington slowly walking away from an explosion without looking back. (Side note: I loooove Denzel movies. If you let me pick what we're watching, I'll pick a one-word-title Denzel kicking ass movie or something with vampires every time. If Denzel were to do a vampire film, I would probably never stop watching it.)

Last year was the first year I did this 'best movies' business because I'm not a film critic or a movie buff or anything like that but I wanted to do it again this year because I saw some stuff that made me feel feelings this year, you guys. A couple of these made me wanna jump up and down and fist pump when I exited the theater, like, YEAH MOVIES WHOOP. So, yeah. MOVIE LIST IN YOUR FACE. This year I picked my 10 favorites and then made up some dumb categories for a handful of other flicks I found interesting or fun or whatever. This may be cheating but I think we'll all be OK.

*Disclaimer: I have not watched Whiplash or Boyhood or Selma yet. I'll get around to it, geez.

*Other Disclaimer: Yes, I'm aware that January is halfway over. Also, I'm going by the U.S. release date, doods. If I saw it in the theater in 2014, it's fair game. I mean, except for, like, Ghostbusters. Ooooooh Ghostbusters. Swoon.

Anyway. Let's do it:

1) Only Lovers Left Alive
This movie is beautiful and wonderful and everyone should watch it. I'll watch any vampire movie, as I said above (I even watched a movie about vampires at a prep school earlier this year) but this one is really well done. I will watch it again for sure. Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston could not be any more suited to their roles. The film is darkly funny with a majorly satisfying ending. I wanted to climb inside it.

2) Birdman
I walked out of the theater dazed and happy after this movie. I also walked out wishing I still did plays because you feel as though you're in a theatre the entire time; it's extremely evocative. It's more of a journey than a movie. I feel like it's perfect. Oh and the entire cast is crazy great. Just phenomenal. I don't watch award shows often but I hope they win everything ever.

3) Pride
I'd never heard of this one when we decided to rent it one chill night. Then I cried four times while watching it. Yup, four times. Not like a trickle but sobbing tears. Because it's just such a beautiful story. It's an English film about a gay rights group in the 80s who lend their support to the miner's strike. There are so many wonderful moments in the movie. I came away feeling inspired and humbled by the love and courage of the characters.

4) Guardians Of The Galaxy
I've seen this one twice already and I can't believe that I don't have a dancing Groot on my desk yet. This might be the only movie that my two eldest nephews and I can agree rocks the universe. (I saw it the first time with them and it was crazy adorable how much they love it.) It's pretty much everything you want from a superhero movie: funny, exciting and badass with a soundtrack full of terrible 70s and 80s tunes.

5) What If
I've seen a lot of romantic comedies but I can count on one hand the ones I've actually liked. I would say I loved this one. It's quirky and sweet but not grossly sweet. It's funny without trying to reinvent the wheel or whatever. And Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan couldn't be more charming. Watch this one when you want to be cheered up.

6) We Are The Best
This is the only movie on my list with subtitles but it's (for me) the most relatable. It's about two thirteen-year-old girls in Sweden in the 80s who are figuring out who they are by embracing punk music and as close to a punk aesthetic as they can with nothing to work with but their existing wardrobes and a pair of scissors. They start a punk band and it's crazy adorable. The way the characters are written is amazingly accurate; they speak and behave exactly like real girls that age. And the spirit of rebellion in the film is spot on. It made me feel nostalgic and happy and I think you should watch it.

7) Snowpiercer
This is another one that made me want to fist bump strangers when I left the theater. It's a post-apocalyptic situation -except on a train and with a bunch of snow- but it never feels stale. There are twists and turns and great performances by Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton, who I really feel like could make any movie work.

8) Edge Of Tomorrow
This movie did so poorly at the box office that they rereleased it under the title Live Die Repeat. Watching it confirmed my belief that most American movie goers have terrible taste. I mean, the movie's really really awesome. Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt are fighting for the human race but they have to keep living the same day over and over. Like sci-fi Groundhog's Day but there's no Bill Murray and way more shit gets blown up. It's so so so good, you guys.

9) The Grand Budapest Hotel
I never get sick of Wes Anderson movies and this one is as delightful as you'd expect it to be. My husband once said that his films are like being inside a diorama and I think that's pretty true of this one. It's quirky and fun and the characters are insanely amusing. One of my favorite things about this movie is that Willem Dafoe is in it. Just watch it.

10) Big Hero 6
Ahhh so much cuteness! I can't remember the last time I liked an animated Disney film this much. I laughed out loud several times while watching this and ate an entire bag of mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. I guess that doesn't have anything to do with the movie but man were they good. Like, they're really tiny and cute but they taste just like the big ones and they're easier to eat while watching a movie and they go sooooo well with popcorn! Anyway, this movie is cute and sweet and there's a big inflatable robot dude, what's not to love?

Honorable Mentions: Obvious Child, The Lego Movie, Frank

Oh and I made up some categories because why not:

Didn't hate it, haters: The Hobbit: The Battle Of Five Armies
Terrible but also fucking wonderful: Equalizer
Super awesome until the last 15 minutes: The One I Love
Made me the most uncomfortable, good job Donnie Darko: Nightcrawler
Monster I'd most like to adopt: Godzilla

OK, that's my list, y'all. Can't wait to watch lots of movies this year and literally not do anything else at all just sit there on my ass watching lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of movies.

*photo from electric feast.

Monday, January 5, 2015

The 10 Best Books I Read In 2014

Hello and welcome to my very favorite post of the year. I'm one of those weirdos who sets reading goals and keeps track of what I read every year. Then I pick the top 10 and thrown them up on the blog just in case any of you are looking for something good to read. Not sure why this is the FUNNEST THING EVER to me but it is. Books AND lists! Whoop! (Check out 2013's list here and 2012's list here for more recommendations.)

It was a very strange reading year for me. Maybe partly because my goals for this year were pretty lofty. I planned to read Infinite Jest, War & Peace, The Bell Jar some Raymond Carver, a bit of Nora Ephron and the entire Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold. Infinite Jest took me three months to read and, while I enjoyed aspects of it, I sorta wanted to throw it out of my car window on the 405. (Which would've caused an earthquake; have you SEEN the size of that thing?) But, I finished it and I'm super proud. I want a shirt. I want a trophy.  I want my three months back. I made all my goals except (and it's a big except) I only read five of the twenty Vorkosigan books and I only made it a third of the way through War & Peace, which ate up another month of reading time. I never quit books halfway. I always always finish them. But War & Peace got the better of me. What I remember about it is this: soldiers taking meetings. Good, right? Hahahahaha yeah.

So, this year I spent four months reading gigantic books I wasn't enjoying and the rest of the time reading a bunch of series like the Divergent series by Veronica Roth and The Giver quartet by Lois Lowry (which were both okaaay) and multiple novels by a handful of authors like Rainbow Rowell, Donna Tartt and Meg Wolitzer. I would find an author I dug and then read three in a row. I wouldn't say it was a banner book year for me but there were five that I really loved and five that I really liked so this list should be pretty dope, yo. Here we go:

1) The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Oh, this book! This book is completely consuming and beautifully written. I've recommended it to everyone who has uttered the word "book" anywhere near me in the last nine months. It follows a piece of art called "The Goldfinch" but really it's a story about loss and identity. It spans many years in one character's life and the book manages to be both character driven and riveting. I'm already looking forward to reading this again in a few years.

2) The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
I think there's a reason I waited so long to read this book. I don't think I would've fully appreciated it if I'd read it in my teens or twenties. There's a deep melancholy to this book but don't make the mistake of thinking that it's too sad to be palatable. Sylvia Plath nails certain aspects of being a human who wrestles with sanity and depression. I would recommend reading something light and fun after this and not Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton like I did. I mean, dude.

3) The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
This is the most relatable book I've read in recent memory. It follows a group of friends from a camp for the arts in the sixties throughout their lives, ending in current day New York City. Some of them succeed and some of them don't but the story of their struggles and their relationships with each other is so realistic and so beautiful that I threw down the book and exclaimed, "I FUCKING LOVED THAT!" to my dog when I finished it.

4) Where I'm Calling From by Raymond Carver
A friend of mine -whose taste in books I trust- loaned me this book and The Bell Jar at the beginning of the year. I ended up loving both and returned them to him with a lot of enthusiasm and thank yous. For lack of a better way to describe Carver's style, I'll just say that it's spare and real. Sort-of like Hemingway but way more realistic, like you're sitting in a room watching the characters, not being told a story. His storytelling isn't like anything I've ever read before but I enjoyed the stories very much. I look forward to reading much more Carver in the future.

5) The Year Of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
This was the last book I read in 2014 and what a way to end the year! Didion tells the tale of the year her husband died right in front of her while her only daughter was in the hospital with a very serious and very unusual illness. The book feels extremely intimate. You're led down the path of grief with the author and you discover what it all means or doesn't mean right along side her. It's not as sad as you would think. Instead it's inspirational.

6) Prince Lestat by Anne Rice
I loved this book. Loved it. I mean, it filled me with glee. But when a friend who had read and loved the first couple of books of the Vampire Chronicles back in the day asked if she should buy it, I told her to catch up on the other books first. The book gives mega-fans things they've been waiting for for decades and it's stock full of moody sexy moments between beautiful immortals but you really need to remember your Anne Rice to enjoy this one. I found it to be dark and sweeping and satisfying. Everything I want in a book with Lestat in the title.

7) The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
I loved The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex so I expected to love this one too. I would say I liked it a lot but didn't fall head over. It feels like a book for book lovers. A book for people who study books. It feels very inside, like the book equivalent to a tv show about the industry like "Extras" or "The Comeback." Which is not to say a regular reader wouldn't enjoy it. The characters are interesting and complex and as the novel goes on, you grow to really care about what happens to them even if they're not entirely relatable.

8) Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
This is not the type of book I'd normally pick up and read but it was recommended to me by a friend at a party -someone who has the same taste in books as I do- so I bought it and dove in. It's a really great little love story. Very simple but just lovely in a way that not many of the YA books I've read are. It's set in the 80s and the two title characters are so much like the people I knew growing up that the book felt like a warm fuzzy nostalgic hug.

9) The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
I'm not usually looking to read books about the second World War. Not that I haven't read my share but anything involving Nazis usually makes me feel like puking. But, this book had been recommended several times so I decided to go for it. I'm really glad I did. It follows a girl who becomes obsessed with books, even in the middle of book burning Nazi Germany. There are moments in the novel when I felt like I'd never breathe again but ultimately, it's a beautiful story about how awesome people can be even in the darkest lamest most horrible of times.

10) Revival by Stephen King
I know, I know. A Stephen King book on my list, SHOCKER. I love all of his books but there was something about this one that stayed with me for weeks after I finished it. I read it on a spa retreat weekend while I was staying BY MYSELF in a place with no tv or wifi so I only had this book to keep me company. I inhaled it in a day and a half and after, felt like I needed to detox from my detox weekend. I don't even think I should tell you what this is about because I feel like I'll ruin it for you. Just read it. Geez.

Honorable Mentions: (They didn't make the list but I recommend them wholeheartedly.) Yes, Please by Amy Poehler, Kalix the Werewolf by Martin Miller, The Secret History by Donna Tartt, The Most of Nora Ephron (I just recommend ANY Nora Ephron. I mean, seriously.)

My 2015 reading goals are as follows: (Hold me to these, you guys!) Reread Dracula by Bram Stoker and Frankenstein by Mary Shelly. Read On The Road by Jack Keroac, The Age Of Innocence by Edith Wharton and Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier (because it's my mom's favorite).

Hope you found some new titles to check out. Have a great 2015 full of good books and good times, y'all! Cheers!


Monday, December 29, 2014

14 Things I Learned in 2014

So, it's the end of 2014 and while most people would expect me to kick it down the stairs while flipping it the bird and maybe screaming "Fuck you, you fucking fuck!" into its stupid little 2014 face, I'm already feeling rather warm and fuzzy toward the year. Because, although it was stressful and painful and just bizarre as hell, it was also a year where I learned what I'm made of. I'm made of vodka and chai lattes and chutzpa, y'all. Buttloads of chutzpa. I am a resilient, tough badass little fucker and 2014 made me see that. Also, while it was a challenging year personally, I had some success professionally. I tried new things and I found that putting yourself out there can be fun and rewarding. So that's cool and whatnot.

The year started really well. I was in Palm Springs with my pals wearing dumb hats and sipping Jack Daniels Honey in the hot tub. Maybe too much Jack Daniels Honey in the hot tub, tbqh but hey, it was still yay. And then around April I started feeling sick and things took a turn. But, I'm willing to forgive even though it will take a while to forget. You heard me, 2014.

So, I learned 14 important things in 2014. This is sorta like how I learned 13 things in 2013 and 12 things in 2012 and maybe A BIT like how I learned 11 things in 2011 but mainly different because, I mean, there are 14 things this year and they're special awesome things SO THERE. Here they are.

14 Things I learned in 2014:

1) Don't read the comments. In January, I wrote a piece about thigh gaps for Cosmopolitan. Any time you write about women's bodies, it can be inflammatory but I wasn't prepared for the outpouring of emotion from readers, both good and bad. I found it was better to not read the comments. Fighting in a comments section won't do anyone any good, it'll just make you upset. It's better to let your work stand for itself and learn from it. If you would do something different next time, then do just that. Do it better next time. (I intend to.)

2) Sometimes your friends will amaze and delight you. Enjoy it! This year, one of my oldest friends made me a shirt of myself as an Ewok holding a martini glass (above). He called it a Kwok. I call it the coolest gift ever. You can even order the shirts at Deadbeat Graphics if you want one.

3) If you tweet something about one of your idols, SOMETIMES THEY ACTUALLY SEE IT. I nearly died when Shonda Rhimes retweeted my tweet this year. I think I swooned and was placed delicately on a fainting couch by a big man in tights who then had to wave tacos under my nose to revive me. The same thing happened when I tweeted a terrible Duckie joke and Jon Cryer saw it and retweeted it. I know it doesn't mean anything, really, but it sure makes Twitter more fun.

4) On that same tip, why not write about the things you love? Maybe your long-time favorite writer will notice and share your article on her Facebook and her Twitter account like Anne Rice did with my piece, "8 Reasons the Vampire Lestat Should Be My Boyfriend." I shook for about an hour after this because I'm nothing if not chill as fuck.

5) Hogan McSmalls is the best dog on the planet. 

6)  Share your health experiences because you can help people. I wrote an article for xoJane about fibromyalgia and chelation and received tons of messages from readers looking for solutions to their own weird health issues. I will never again hesitate to share what I've learned just in case it helps someone else.

7) Trust your gut. I started having weird symptoms in April and I knew something was up so I had our house checked for mold. Turns out we had toxic black mold, which can cause all kinds of problems from acid reflux to TMJ to blindness to death. If I hadn't listened to my gut, we'd still be living in a poisonous atmosphere but as it is, Tim, Hogie and I are out of the grossness and, while still recovering, safe and sound. For that I am eternally grateful.

8) Possessions aren't everything. In fact, they're practically nothing. Because the mold spores got everywhere and latched onto anything porous, we had to move and get rid of most of our furniture and all of our books, papers, pictures, clothes, shoes, linens, towels, etcetera. We even had to get rid of my album covers. But, you know what? It doesn't matter. After the initial shock and depression, I now feel lighter and somehow better in general. And it's amazing what having fewer choices in your wardrobe can do for getting ready in the morning. I'm a getting ready genius now!

9) Birds belong outside. I feel really strongly about this one, guys.

10) TMJ is a bitch. Sometimes you just gotta be patient with a bitch. In 2014, I had my bite completely redone, I did acupuncture, I went to a chiropractor, I had massages, I tried hypnotherapy and I'm currently getting prolozone injections into my jaw joint all just to get a little relief from the pain. It's hurt all year long and it's tried my patience. But, I know it will get better eventually. It's a bitch but it's my bitch.

11) #YESALLWOMEN happened. And I participated. I learned it feels good to do something instead of hiding behind your laptop and nodding.

12)  Curls rock! Not only did I embrace my own natural curls this year but I declared it to the world in my first piece for Huffington Post. The overwhelming response from my fellow curly gals was amazing and awesome and made me even prouder to rock them. CURLY CURLY CURLY!

13) You can love yourself every day. You can. Seriously, I wrote about it ON THE INTERNET so it must be true.

14) Appreciate what you have. Especially people. This year was so hard on me emotionally that the only things that kept me going were friends and family and Tim, with whom I celebrated 11 years of dumb jokes and good times this year. Things may seem like they're crumbling down around you but you can grab onto that one good thing and use it to drag yourself out of the mean reds. I also recommend vodka.

Happy New Year, everyone and WELCOME, 2015! 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Happy Holidays 2014, Y'all!


Here is this year's holiday card. I love it because, I mean, HOGAN MCSMALLS, but also because I didn't have to do anything! My badass artist husband knocked it out and all I had to do was squeal, "cuuuuuuute!" when he showed it to me. (All credit to Tim for awesomeness and Hogie for cuteness.)

Today is only the 15th and it seems a bit early to be posting and emailing and tweeting and blogging a Christmas card but I thought it would help me get into the holiday spirit. (I'm getting my brows done this morning too, I'm sure that will also help. Good brows make the season merry and bright and stuff.)

The tree is up, the stockings are hung and the presents are wrapped. I am ready! I think. I mean, it's been a crazy year and I want this holiday season to last forever because we deserve this, right guys?? But also, I want it to hurry up. Fun and fa la la and all that.

It'll get here when it gets here but for now, I just want to say thank you for your support this year (and every year.) You guys make me feel all warm and fuzzy! (Ooooh.)


Thursday, December 4, 2014

My 10 Fave Albums of 2014

Hey guys, it's December! You know what that means. Yes, candy canes and glitter and eggnog and bad Christmas sweaters and traffic and angry mall shoppers and babies in terrible fake beards. But also (drum roll), end of the year lists! I LIVE for these lists. Give me a free two hours and I'll sit at my computer and read every single 'Best of 2014' list that exists. Nothing is too banal. Best Chairs of 2014? Oh yeah. Best Oatmeal of 2014? Bring it. But my favorite are the music lists. Because I have an insane appetite for this stuff. Tell me about a new band I end up vibing with and I'll love you forever and ever and maybe even like 20 years down the road have an inappropriate sex dream about you just because you introduced me to Modest Mouse back in the day. Hey, it happens. My brain is a weird weird place and music and love are all twisted up in there.

This year was a strange one for me musically. I never ran out of cool shit to listen to but I only got obsessed with a handful of albums. (To see a normal year in my mania, check out last year's best album post. Boyeeee, those were the days, dood.) This year I liked a lot and loved a little. But the ones I loved, I loved hard. I also became completely obsessed with a few songs but then didn't fall head over for the albums they came from. Like, I could listen to "Little Fang" on the Avey Tare Slasher Flicks album for the rest of my life on repeat but the rest was pretty whatever for me. And, while I love love loved "Lariat" by Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, I couldn't get into the rest of it. Sue me, man. So, making a Top 10 list was way easier than it's been in years past but the Runners-Up part was way harder because I kinda sorta liked everything. Know what I'm saying? No? OK, let's just do this. My 10 Fave Albums of 2014 Maybe Possibly In Some Sort Of Order I Dunno:

1) Jenny Lewis - The Voyager

I'd been waiting patiently for this album and then BAM, it was released during a shitty part of my year, when I needed it most. I got it digitally and on vinyl. I got the t-shirt. I couldn't help it. I love Jenny Lewis. I feel like Jenny Lewis is the closest thing my generation has to an icon. She's cool, her lyrics are crazy dead on and holy shit, that hair. When I made my initial list of like 38 albums in my little notebook, there were seven hearts next to this one. SEVEN HEARTS. Look, every song on this album is amazing and crankable but my favorites are "Head Underwater" and "Slippery Slopes." Real talk, I had to put the video for "Just One Of The Guys" up there because CUUUUTE.

2) Ryan Adams - Ryan Adams

 If you're wondering, no, I didn't put Ryan Adams right after Jenny Lewis because he produced most of her album, I put him there because these are my two favorite albums of the year (but I had to put Jenny first obviously). I've always loved him but this album just perfectly matches my soul. I should accessorize with it. I'm gonna wear it around like a scarf. "Gimme Something Good" (above) is perfect in every way and "Trouble" is everything you want from a Ryan Adams song.  Sidenote: Funny that he named this album "Ryan Adams." Isn't is weird to self-title like a zillion albums into your career? A lot of artists did that this year (Hello, St. Vincent) but at least with him, it's so good, it would be the right one to buy if you were just gonna get one of his albums, in my humble not popular opinion.

3) Spoon - They Want My Soul

This album starts off like whoa with "Rent I Pay" and "Inside Out"(above) and continues to rock the rest of the way. I love them because they're from Austin and because I just love them, OK?? I've never heard a Spoon song I didn't immediately dig and this album is no exception. I feel like anyone would jam the fuck out to this. Maybe get it for your Nana for Christmas.

4) Beck - Morning Phase

This album sounds just like Beck in that it doesn't sound anything like Beck, which is sorta par for the Beck course. But, honestly, that's why I like it. There are no turntables and well, maybe a microphone but it's kind-of like Beck is high and unplugged and playing music in your bathroom while you take a bubble bath in a bourbon haze. A perfect album for a road trip or for walking around on a rainy day. My favorite song is "Country Down" (above) but this is one of those albums you can throw on and leave on, which is nice.

5) Phantogram - Voices

I've got nothing but love for Phantogram. I still listen to their 2009 album, Eyelid Movies pretty regularly. I think this new one is even better. "Black Out Days" (above) is a moody sexy jam but I don't even know if it's my favorite track, I'm also obsessed with "Nothing But Trouble" and "Howling at the Moon." PLUS, there's a song called "Bill Murray," which I'm pretty sure has nothing to do with Bill Murray. Awesome!

6) Phox 

This band is extremely young, extremely talented and possibly too adorable for their own good. I saw them live earlier in the year and it was sort of like watching your little sister and her friends play a local party. They were giddy and apologetic to be on stage. Their moms stood behind me. It was as if they weren't taking themselves seriously yet but they totally should get on that real quick-like because this album is really solid and the songs are great. I love the lead singer's voice. Try "Slow Motion" (above) or "Evil."

7) The Black Keys - Turn Blue

Granted, The Black Keys could've put out an album of traffic noises and I'd probably like it but this one really is great. I could listen to this band all the time. I feel like you can really hear the Danger Mouse element in songs like "Turn Blue," which isn't at all a bad thing. I mean, hell, I like most bands he works with so yeah. Groovy, man. The best songs on this album in my opinion are "Gotta Get Away" (above) and "Fever." Yay!

8) Old 97s - Most Messed Up

I wasn't expecting to be blown away by this album or anything but I've always had a place in my heart for Rhett and the boys so I dutifully bought it the day it came out. And I dig it! It's self-aware ("Longer Than You've Been Alive" will make you laugh and cringe) and it's funny. When he sings "I am the most messed up motherfucker in this town," in "Most Messed Up," it makes me giggle. Also, "Let's Get Drunk & Get It On" sounds like an old school Old 97s jam which is, let's face it, all we homesick ex-Texans really want in our new school Old 97s.

9) Interpol - El Pintor

Interpol is an extremely distinctive band; most people either love or hate it. I for sure fall into the 'love it' category. They have a heavy, dark sound that reminds me of the bands I loved as a kid. I remember hearing "Slow Hands" back in the early 2000s and saying "Yes" out loud in my car. Anyway, this album is great and you should get it. "All the Rage Back Home" makes my heart hurt in a good way (above) and "Everything is Wrong" is oh so right. Yeah, I just typed that.  Also check out "My Desire."

10) TV on the Radio - Seeds

 I'm new to this band and they make me excited, I tell you! I've listened to "Happy Idiot" (above) at least 8,209 times over the last few months so I finally broke down and bought the whole album and it's wonderful.  I'm  starting to get to where I need to put it on once a day. "Careful You" is also a super good fun time jam, y'all.

OK, that's my list. If you know me or if you're a long time reader, you're probably wondering why I didn't include the new album by my favorite band (Pixies - Indie Cindy) so I should tell you that yes, I own it and yes, I like it but I don't love it. I want Kim Deal back, dammit. Maybe I'm being petty, I dunno. Also, just bought that FKA Twigs album so it's too soon to say one way or the other but I'm pretty sure I'm gonna love it.

Here are the albums that didn't quite make the list but that I've had in heavy rotation this year.

Runners Up:
Foxygen - ...and Star Power (Shout out to my Twitter pal, @thedayofthedot.)
St. Vincent - St. Vincent
Sylvan Esso ~ Sylvan Esso
Real Estate - Atlas
Alvvays - Alvvays
Black Lips - Underneath the Rainbow
The Orwells - Disgraceland

I hope that was as fun for you as it was for me. (Picture me in a party hat with streamers everywhere and, like, chihuahuas in tutus walking all over my desk.) I hope you either a) found something you want to check out or b) rolled your eyes at my obvious lack of perfect musical taste or c) agreed with everything I wrote because you're amazing and awesome and clearly a genius. Happy December and Happy Listening!

*photo by me of Phox at El Rey.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Gilmore Girls Plus Twin Peaks Equals Love Forever

As I'm writing this, I've just learned that we landed a robot ON A COMET. Anything I write after this is pretty much meaningless because human beings figured out how to land something we built ON A COMET. But, let's face it, everything I write and you write and everyone writes is meaningless when compared to science. The meaning it has is whatever we give it. Which can be a lot and heavy and poignant and maybe not a robot surfing on a comet but pretty awesome anyway.

So, let's talk about Gilmore Girls.

Haha, I never thought I'd type that sentence. People have been telling me to watch two shows for forever: Gilmore Girls and Twin Peaks. For the last couple of months I have been all about distracting myself from reality. I mean, more than usual. So that has equaled reading a bunch of awesome books and watching great movies and diving into TV series I should've watched by now but just didn't. (Now that I'm thinking about it, the books I've read and films I've seen lately deserve their own post. Watch this space for that.) But, this one is all about Gilmore Girls and Twin Peaks because watching them at the same time is a mind fuck, you guys. A lovely intense mind fuck.

When people told me to watch Gilmore Girls, I would just say "OK." I would never reveal to them that I was in a focus group for the pilot of Gilmore Girls and HATED IT. I thought it was syrupy gross derivative bullshit and the cherry on top was that I abhorred the leads. I just had no interest and I was disgusted that it ran so long and that so many smart awesome people I knew loved it.

Twin Peaks was a different story. When it aired, I wanted to watch it badly. But my parents wouldn't let me and I was at an age where I was spending every night at our local community theater, either rehearsing or sitting in the catwalks brooding about boys I liked. There wasn't a friend I could have dvr it for me. I couldn't watch it on my phone at the coffee shop at lunch. (I didn't have a phone or a coffee shop.) And then later, when I was in charge of what I watched, I became worried that watching 2 seasons and then never finding out who killed Laura Palmer would drive me insane. I need things to finish. I'm the worst at this. This is why I haven't started reading Game Of Thrones and will not until George R.R. Martin finishes the series. I have a fear that something will happen, he won't finish and I'll be frustrated for the rest of my life. It's all about me.

Recently two things happened: Gilmore Girls popped up on Netflix and Twin Peaks announced a forthcoming new season. It seemed like the universe was handing me them on a platter. Hey you, I know life is hard right now but lookie, you can watch this shit! So, I dove in. I'm in the middle of Season 3 of Gilmore Girls and the middle of Season 2 of Twin Peaks. It's put me in an interesting head space. I'm talking fast and quippy and craving coffee but also having dreams about midgets and deeply wishing someone in my neighborhood carried around a piece of wood. It's messing with my psyche. Twin Peaks episodes are about everything and Gilmore Girls episodes are about nothing. I mean, maybe Rory has a misunderstanding with her friends or Lorelei can't order pizza for a week and gets adorably agro. But mainly, it's just amusing and sweet while Twin Peaks is deep and disturbing. But, I'll tell you something. Together, they are PERFECT.

I don't know what changed for me about Gilmore Girls. Possibly it's simply that when I first saw it I was surly, in my early-twenties and quite probably hungover. Maybe it's that I've mellowed or that as I've gotten older I have more tolerance for mainstream stuff. I think I would've loved Twin Peaks even more if I'd seen it when I was fourteen and full of ennui.

It would be easy for me to dismiss Gilmore Girls. In the first season, I noticed one episode where you can clearly see a mic over Lorelei's head. I watched a scene where the coffee mugs in Luke's change from pink to blue back to pink again at least four times in a row. Not to mention the trite plotlines. And, you know, it's cheesy. It's eye-roll inducing. But it's also wonderful. And there's Lane and Sookie and the mom. I love the mom. I love it when she's mean to Lorelei. I'm hooked.  As for Twin Peaks, it is exactly perfectly BRILLIANTLY down my alley. It's all things I like in my TV. Well, except so far no vampires. But, I'm so happy to finally be experiencing it. Thank you, Netflix.

So those are my TV recommendations, you guys. Take at least five minutes to marvel over the fact that we landed a robot on a comet and then grab the remote and dive in. I recommend a 2 GG to 1 TP ratio for perfect viewing harmony. Oh, and make sure you fast forward through the theme songs because if the combo of watching Gilmore Girls and Twin Peaks at the same time doesn't send you spiraling into the existential abyss, the theme songs for sure will.  Also, please watch this amazing mashup of the openings. OHMYGAWD.

Happy viewing and Happy Wednesday!

*perfect photo from here.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

If Moz Ruled The World: Popular Songs Mozified

Morrissey has had a hard time of it lately. Well, I mean, according to his music he’s always having a hard time of it but recently he’s had to deal with health issues on top of the world sucking and whatnot. Not gonna lie, I’m worried about the Moz. I thought maybe we should create a ‘Moz Day’ and let him rule for 24 hours. He can shove tofu down people’s throats and give citations to dudes wearing bright colors. Then I wondered what he would do to other musician’s songs if he could get his cold depressed hands on them. This list is the result of that.  Here we go:

  • Pink Floyd ‘Comfortably Numb’ = Morbidly Glum
  • Marvin Gaye ‘Let’s Get It On’ = Ew Gross Sex
  • The Cure ‘Just Like Heaven' ~ Robert Smith is a Bloody Wanker
  • U2 ‘Beautiful Day’ = Ugly Terrible Dark Day That I Hate Immensely With Every Fiber Of My Being
  • David Bowie ‘Young Americans’ ~ Old Fat Sad Americans
  •  Franz Ferdinand ‘Take Me Out’ = Take Me Out and Get Me Into A Car Crash
  • Gotye ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ = Some Johnny That I Used To Know
  • Aretha Franklin ‘I Never Loved a Man (The Way That I Love You)’ = I Never Loved a Man (Or a Woman or Anyone, OK, Gah)
  • Jay-Z ’99 Problems’ = Oh Please, I Have 9,999 Problems
  •  The Righteous Brothers ‘Unchained Melody’ = Unhinged Misery
  • The Ramones ‘Sheena Is A Punk Rocker’ = Sheena Is A Corpse
  • Willie Nelson ‘Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain’ = Oh wait, Moz loves this one.
  •  The Supremes ‘Where Did Our Love Go’ ~ Where Did Our Love Go? It Died
  • 50 Cent ‘In Da Club’ = In Da Cemetery
  • Joan Jett & The Blackhearts ‘I Love Rock & Roll’ ~ I Love Nothing
  •  The Everly Brothers ‘Wake Up Little Susie’ = Sleep Forever, Little Susie
  • Tina Turner ‘What’s Love Got to Do With It’ = What’s Love Got to Do With Me?
  • The Beatles ‘With a Little Help From My Friends’ = I Don’t Have Any Friends
  • The Rolling Stones ‘Wild Horses’ = Wild Horses Are Beautiful So Don’t Eat Animals, You Tossers
 I wish some of these actually existed. I'd love to hear "Ew Gross Sex." Anyway, get well soon, Moz!

*photo from the guardian.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Trick or Tweet: 10 Halloween Tweets That Are Better Than Candy

I've never done a tweet list on here before. I'm not sure why. I guess it just seemed like, you know, WORK or something. But, I love Halloween and I love Twitter and if there's one thing that's missing from the internet today, I'm sure it's a list of hilarious Halloween tweets. To fill that void, I made one just for you guys. Yes, I love you that much! Happy spooky laughter times!

Ha! Jokes! Happy Halloween!

*photo from here.