tiaras optional

"My only argument is with those who do not view the world as cynically as I do." Michael Korda

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Categorize This Post

To the world, I probably seem like a very disorganized person. But I actually have a mind like a steel trap. Sometimes, I picture the inside of my brain, and what I see are rows and rows of file cabinets, all containing pertinent facts, categorized and cross-referenced. I really like categorization. When I was nine, I created a library of all my books, sorted into categories and then alphabetized. I even created little check-out cards so anyone who borrowed them could fill the card out and I could keep track. It may not come as a surprise to learn that my first job ever (non-paying sadly) was at my local library. I was 11 and volunteered there during the summer. When I got to alphabetize the books and reshelve them, I was in heaven.

Sometimes when I have trouble sleeping (which is pretty much all the time), I make lists in my head to pass the time. For some reason, categorizing stuff calms me down. There’s this old Go-Gos song called “Girl of 100 Lists.”

Ghetto blasters, phony jewels
Cathedrals, castles, making up rules
Trashy novels and leather gloves
This is a list of the things I love

I am the girl of 100 lists
From what shall I wear
To who I have kissed
Check items off
Let nothing be missed
Say I to myself and my 100 lists

I am that girl.

As mentioned previously, I’m about to break down and get an Ipod. In anticipation of this blessed event, I set up Itunes on the fancy new computer and started uploading a bunch of CDs*. Itunes has brought out my inner librarian. I started making playlists. And I realized that I could use playlists to categorize my entire CD collection. I can do genres and subgenres. I can organize things chronologically. My physical CD collection is divided into three categories: classical/jazz (very small), soundtracks (including original Broadway cast recordings, oh yeah**), and everything else (90% of my CDs, but since they’re mostly rock and pop, I didn’t break things down further). Each of the three categories is alphabetized. I’ve always wanted to do further categorization, but I’ve never been able to because of the inability of a CD to be in more than one place at a time (except for magic CDs, but I only own a couple of them).

These are my playlist categories so far (not including my shorter playlists, e.g., stuff I work out to, my favorite songs from the old Fox and Hounds jukebox):

Cheesy Pop
30s/40s/Big Band****

But I’m already running into problems. What do you do with bands that were big in the 80s, but still active today? I decided that Depeche Mode could stay in the 80s category, since I only have one recent CD and it only has one good song on it. And New Order is such a quintessentially 80s band, they’ll have to go in that category. But what about U2? After much discussion with Lord Kissington, I decided that if a band had their glory days in the 80s, then that’s where they’ll go. U2, welcome back to the 80s*****. Still, my 80s playlist isn’t just about chronology; it’s so much more than that.

Jesus and Mary Chain presented another conundrum. They started in the 80s, but their sound is really Britpop, so that’s where they’ll have to reside. Lord Kissington wanted to know what I was going to do with the Pixies. I decided on indie for them, even though they were on a major label and their first album came out in the 80s. Their sensibilities are more indie than anything else.

There’s obviously going to be some overlap within these categories. All my emo stuff is also indie, but much of my indie isn’t emo (that could totally be a question on the SATs). And the DC category will have a lot of overlap with the indie, emo, and hardcore categories. Some bands will end up all over the place. Blondie can go in 80s, punk, and disco. Rites of Spring can go in DC, indie, emo, and hardcore. Think of them as a manila file folder with four different colored tabs. Awesome.

Obviously, this system is pretty subjective. I have an 80s category, but none for the 70s or 90s. But there is a method to my madness here. Approximately 97% of my 70s stuff can be easily categorized into either the punk or disco categories. And my 90s stuff is all over the place and makes more sense going into categories like indie or emo.

I’m trying to figure out what other categories I need. Do I own enough trip hop to justify its own playlist? And what about all my math rock CDs? Maybe I need a “none of the above” category.

*And purchasing a bunch of embarrassing songs that I would never buy a whole CD of because the rest of it probably sucks and buying it would seriously damage my waning punk rock cred at the used CD store. I’m talking about you, Justin Timberlake.
**You haven’t lived until you’ve heard Robert Goulet (or Bob, as I like to call him) singing “If Ever I Would Leave You.”
***I thought about doing a sub-category of New Wave, but since at least 70% of my 80s stuff could be classified as New Wave, there doesn’t seem to be much point. I may do an 80s college rock category though, because really, Camper van Beethoven doesn’t have so much in common with Depeche Mode.
****These should really be their own categories, but since I don’t have much in any of them, I combined them.
*****This decision was aided by the fact that neither Lord Kissington nor I own a U2 record made after the 80s.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Keep It Like a Secret

Not that many people I actually know in real life read my blog. I have some overseas friends who read it to keep up with what’s going on in my life (I’m sure they are all wishing lately that I would get a life). I know a couple of local friends check it occasionally. Lord Kissington reads it regularly (leading to lots of conversations in which he points out that things may not have happened exactly as I said. Ummh, poetic license, dood.). My parents know that I have a blog. My father isn’t entirely clear on what these “blog” things are. In a moment of insanity, I actually gave him the address. A few days later, he told me that he couldn’t get it to work (I suppose he wrote the wrong address down, or perhaps he’s a little unclear on how this whole internet thing works). I sighed with relief and suggested that it was probably best that he didn’t read it.

My mother asks questions about the blog occasionally. She’s never come right out and asked for the address, but she’s hinted at it a couple of times. Then she said that she thought it was better if she didn’t read it, since I needed my privacy (and then she muttered something about how private can it be when it’s all over the internet, but I just ignored her). Still, I have occasional bad thoughts about her stumbling upon just the right combination of search terms to find the blog: “sienna miller sux tiaras one tree hill syphilis orlando bloom so hottie shrinking breasts,” or something like that. As far as I know, this hasn’t happened. Yet.

But I had a scare last week, when the blog was mentioned in the Express’ Blog Log. I am quite sure that my mother doesn’t read the Express, as she already reads every page of the Post, so why would she bother with the watered-down, ADD version of it. I mentioned the Express to Lord Merlin. I saw him the next day, and he mentioned that he had picked up a few copies, in case I wanted one. He had given one to his mother (my godmother), who was very excited about it.

“Oh, that’s nice,” I said. Seconds later, I was stricken with panic. “Oh shit, what if she mentions it or shows it to my mother? That would ruin my whole ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ family blog policy.”

He called his mother up to tell her that it was all a big secret. She told him that she hadn’t mentioned it to my mother and she wouldn’t in the future. And then she told him that it wouldn’t matter, because “it didn’t give the address.”

Apparently, she is also not so good with this whole internet thing. Phew.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Your Help Please, Internets

I generally post on and view my blog in Mozilla. On my new computer, I haven't set up Mozilla yet, so I've been using Internet Explorer. And the blog looks all messed up. So, ifyou're using IE, please please please leave me a comment telling me how it looks. Do you see random codes? Thanks.

I suppose I'm going to have to switch to the new blogger too. Grumble.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Mixed Tape

[Disclaimer: If you’re a regular reader, you’ve probably come here expecting some snark. So, I want you to know that this post is going to get totally emo. Consider yourself warned.]

I’ve been kind of a Luddite with this whole newfangled music thing. I don’t have an Ipod. This tends to cause consternation among friends and acquaintances. As my friend J said when told that neither Lord Kissington or I had one, “Isn’t there some sort of law that a couple in your demographic who’s so into music has to have at least one Ipod?” And he’s probably right, but we’ve broken that unwritten law. Here’s the thing: I have nothing against Ipods. Far from it, I’m planning to get one. It’s just that until last week, we had an aging laptop with not much memory, certainly not enough to support the massive amount of music we would be getting ourselves into, and no capacity for copying. And my trusty portable CD player had been serving me well.

But this has all changed. We’re not yet hooked up to the internetz (seriously, Verizon, how many days do you need to flip a switch?), but I’ve been exploring all this music stuff on the fancy new computer (henceforth to be known as FNC). Right after we got the FNC set up, I made myself two CDs, taking all the tracks I liked from a bunch of CDs I’d gotten recently, saving myself the trouble of carrying around a bunch of CDs just to listen to one or two songs. And it was so easy (yes, I know, isn’t it amusing that I’ve entered the 21st century) that I decided to make a mix for a friend. He’s burned me a bunch of stuff recently, and I’ve been promising to return the favor once I got the FNC. I wrote up a list. I thought it about. I revised the list. And then I even wrote liner notes. (I’m a huge dork, but January is a dead month and I have a lot of free time on my hands.) The liner notes were really fun to write, because most of the songs I put on the mix had some sort of history for me. Not that I put all that history in the notes, because my friend doesn’t really need to know that “Holland 1945” is emblematic of a relationship that went nowhere and caused me lots of angst, but writing up the more generic comments did make me remember why I liked each song. And it got me thinking about all the mixed tapes I made over the years.

That’s right: mixed tapes. There’s something about the phrase mixed CD that doesn’t quite roll off the tongue like mixed tape does. I used to make mixed tapes for myself and others all the time. My favorite mixed tape from college was so good that Lord Merlin borrowed it and refused to give it back. I was able to steal it back a few years later, but now it no longer plays and I don’t have the case anymore, so I don’t know all the songs on it. Someday, I’m going to try to recreate it.

I used to make mixed tapes for boys I liked or was dating. In high school, I had a huge crush on an older guy. I poured my little emo heart into making the most awesomest mixed tape ever, one that would say, “Lady Tiara has amazing, really mature taste in music, and you should totally fall in love with her, even though she’s technically jailbait.” It didn’t make him fall in love with me, but he did tell me that it got him into the Replacements. I guess that’s something.

(I told Bryc3 I was writing a post about mixed tapes, and he said “You obviously have to mention the ‘I made you this mix tape, you wanna do it?’ angle that most men you know employed throughout the nineties, myself included.” Ummh, it wasn’t just men. Not that it worked so much.)

In college, I didn’t just hand my mixed tapes out to anyone; you had to be really special to get one. I used to labor over the list of songs. Every song had to mean something. Or be really awesome. Or say, “this is the girl for you.” (I was so emo in college*.) I made one really amazing mixed tape for a certain young man. He was suitably impressed. We made out, but things didn’t work out. Later, I might have made out with his friend and then even later his friend might have realized he was gay**. But it was still a really awesome mixed tape.

I also made a lot of mixed tapes for myself. I came across one recently that I had made for a party, and I listened to it and it wasn’t half bad. But I only made mixes for my own parties or if someone asked me to provide one for them. Showing up at someone else’s party and insisting on putting on your own mix is really the height of douchebaggery. I had a friend who used to do this all the time, and he would actually carry around what he referred to (and was labeled as such) “the [his last name] party mix.” It was actually a really lame mix, filled with the type of songs my mother enjoys dancing to at her office Christmas party. In retrospect, he kind of sucked.

When I first started dating Mr. Ex a million years ago, he made me a mixed tape. It was a truly excellent mixed tape. One side was slower songs and the other was faster songs (the whole side thing is really lost with CDs, isn’t it?). I played it over and over again, and not that I wouldn’t have fallen for him anyway, but the tape didn’t hurt, as I was majorly impressed with his taste in music. But in this case, the mixed tape was completely misleading. Those 20 songs represented the absolute best of his music collection. There wasn’t much else, and within a year, he was listening to a bunch of crap that would barely pass muster on an adult contemporary station. I was 24 and I had somehow signed on to a relationship with a prematurely old man. He also hated about 75% of what I was listening to at the time, so to keep the peace, I tended to only listen to my music when he wasn’t around***. (Shortly after he gave me the mixed tape, I made one for him. I can’t tell you a single song that was on that tape, which is kind of weird. I guess I’ve blocked out a lot of that relationship.)

We eventually went through an ugly breakup, one of those ones that goes on for months. After a couple of years, we sort of reestablished a friendship. It was fraught with difficulty and often not worth the trouble. But one part of it was another exchange of mixed tapes. The one I gave him was just a compilation of songs I was listening to at the time. It probably included Air, Paul Weller, and Built to Spill. The mix he made for me was pretty good, better than I expected. It seemed that his taste in music improved after we broke up, except that he included a song by Belle and Sebastian, one of my least favorite bands of all time. Lord Kissington is totally into them. I guess I should be grateful that Mr. Ex only got into them after we split up. He also included a couple of songs from 69 Love Songs by Magnetic Fields, including the lovely “Yeah! Oh Yeah!” Here’s a sample of the lyrics:

I though if we lived apart
we could made a brand-new start
Do you want to break my heart?
Yeah! Oh, yeah!
I've enjoyed making you
miserable for years
found peace of mind in
playing on your fears
How I loved to catch your gold
and silver tears, but now my dear
What a dark and dreary life
Are you reaching for a knife?
Could you really kill your wife?
Yeah! Oh, yeah!
Oh, I die, I die, I die!
So it’s over, you and I
Was my whole life just a lie?
Yeah! Oh, yeah!

Cheery song. I get the feeling he was trying to tell me something.

During the period between that bad breakup and the beginning of things with Lord Kissington (a time I like to call “the first date of the month club”), another guy made me a mixed tape. It was ostensibly for a party we were throwing, but he put “our” song (or a song that could at least partially be considered “our” song because we listened to it together once), so that totally meant he loved me, right? I analyzed every track on it, wondering if there were any hidden meanings.

“Do you think he put ‘Love Is a Drug’ on it because he, ummh, lurves me?” I whined to a friend.
“Yeah, sure. Or he likes Roxy Music. How the hell should I know?” she replied.

Things didn’t work out, but it was still an awesome mix. I still listen to it occasionally and it allows me to forget all of his really annoying qualities. That’s the power of the mixed tape.

I made Lord Kissington a mix after we had been dating for a few weeks. It was kind of a reciprocal mix, since he had given me one on our first date****. This mixed tape wasn’t a “fall in love with you tape.” It was a “I know you’ve already fallen for me and I just want you to share my love for all my favorites bands, especially the Get Up Kids, even though I know you totally hate emo” mixed tape. He was grateful and all, and it did spark an interest in all things Paul Weller, but he’s still not crazy about the Get Up Kids. Sigh.

I’ll leave you with these lyrics from the totally awesome and extra emo-licious song “The Mixed Tape” by Jack’s Mannequin. They totally get what I am trying to say:

Where are you now?
As I’m swimming through the stereo
I’m writing you a symphony of sound
Where are you now?
As I rearrange the songs again
This mix could burn a hole in anyone
But it was you I was thinking of

And I can’t get to you
I can’t get to you
I can’t get to you

*As I type this, my meddlesome inner voice says, “Just in college? Could you be possibly anymore emo now?”

**Really, the friend telling me that I reminded him of Elizabeth Taylor should have clued me in.

***Yes, now I can see that this wasn’t the most healthy relationship.

****Totally not as creepy as it sounds. We had known each for months and used to talk about music a lot, and I had expressed interest in hearing more of some bands he was into.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Express Yourself

I got very excited today when I opened up my copy of the Express, went straight to the Blog Log (after a quick stop at the gossip page), and saw that my blog was mentioned. After nearly two years of blogging, I had finally been picked up by the Express. I’ve never really expected to get picked up by them, since I tend not to cover the topics they seem to like (politics, commuting on the Metro, pandas). It’s not quite an Oscar, but it’s a little bit like getting a Golden Globe. As Kevin Bacon said on Will and Grace, “My Golden Globe really meant a lot because it didn’t come from my peers, it came from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.”

Then I read the sentence they quoted from yesterday’s blog:

“By mid-month, the resolutions have been all broken and you’re left with detritus of the holidays to clean up.”

“Hmmh,” I thought to myself. “They cut the parenthetical bits, but that must have been for space. I don’t really like the construction of this sentence. Why did I write it that way? It really would have been better as ‘By mid-month, the resolutions have all been broken, and you’re left with the detritus of the holidays to clean up.’”

Then I went back to my original and saw that this was the sentence I had actually written. Does the Express not understand cut and paste? Did they actually retype the sentence? So, anyways, Express, thanks, sort of. And remember, highlight the text, then ctrl C and ctrl V. It’s really very simple.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

T.S. Eliot Had It All Wrong

April isn’t the cruelest month. January clearly is. One generally begins the new year hungover, but hopeful, filled with noble intentions. By mid-month, the resolutions have all been broken (if you’re like me), and you’re left with the detritus (mental and physical) of the holidays to clean up.

I’ve been a bad blogger, but it has a lot to do with the whole January thing. Nothing ever happens in January. At least not for me. I have nothing to write about. For example, the January has included the following:

1. One extremely dead tree that was finally removed from my apartment last weekend. It was so dry that the needles weren’t just falling off, the branches were actually snapping off if you moved anywhere in its vicinity. Lord Kissington carried it down to the loading dock and I followed him, picking up branches and twigs (which on the plus side is much easier than having to sweep up 800,000 needles).

2. A fancy new computer has arrived. Sadly, the fancy new internet service is not yet up and running, so the aforementioned computer isn’t being used much.

3. I’ve been sick twice already this year: once with a general post-holiday exhaustion sort of malaise (I’m willing to admit that one might have been mental) and a killer cold, from which I’m still recovering. It’s snot galore and I am so over it.

4. I watched the entire second season of One Tree Hill and have started Season 3. I’m still kind of embarrassed, but this show is ridiculously gripping. I can’t stop watching. And it kept vastly me entertained while I was too sick to get out of bed.

5. Putting aside all the important books I received for Christmas (The Complete Claudine, The Wives of Henry VIII, and The Letters of Abelard and Heloise) in favor of rereading old mysteries because it’s just less mentally taxing.

So, as you can see, January has been a big fat nothing so far. January, you have 13 days left to wow me. I’ve already moved on to your shorter, but hopefully snowier and less dreary sibling February.