Recently, my parents took their record collection out of the closet they stored it in and gave it to me. There were not many records of value, but the collection is priceless.
In some Snow Patrol song that I can’t remember the lead singer states something about Sufjan Stevens “Chicago” bursting into life. That’s exactly how I felt the first time I heard “Chicago.” It sounded antiquated and new and exciting at the same time. I quickly purchased Illinois after hearing it just one time, and an obsession was born.
If you look at my Last.fm stats, you will see that Sufjan is completely ahead of any other band including The Cure and The Replacements. This isn’t entirely fair to those bands. Around the time Illinois came out, I struggled severely with insomnia. I found out that if played this album while trying to go to sleep, I would eventually enter a dream state around “The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades.” While for some people they could see where his music is boring and sleep inducing, for me, it was me totally becoming immersed in the stories and the music that put me to sleep. In other words, I dreamt a lot about Illinois, a state I have yet to visit.
Lyrics is always what pulls me into music, except for in Sufjan’s case. His lyrics are great pieces of storytelling, but for me it’s the layers of music. Being a non-musical person, I akin his sound to that of Photoshop. You start with a base layer, and then compile layers and layers to create a something amazing. However, if you remove all the layers, there is still a good song there. I consumed his entire catalog. Even though he can do acoustic as well as electronic, the ideas of layers are there. Every time I listen to his albums find something new.
When I received an email from Asthmatic Kitty Records that he was going on tour, I emailed Cristina letting her know that we were going. There was nothing on the calendar, but if there would have been it would have been erased.
Belle and Sebastian’s Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance
It’s been a while since I listened to Belle and Sebastian, and even though it’s hinted at in the title, I wasn’t expecting a dance record. Now, they didn’t go full EDM, more like good ABBA. (Yes, there is such a thing). “Nobody’s Empire” strikes really close to home with it’s explanation of what life is like with chronic fatigue. There are some songs that fit the classic archetype of Belle and Sebastian, but the truly memorable songs are the dance songs.
My 2014 seemed to be the year of music. I saw more concerts last year than any other year. Every trip included a stop at a record store. It was also a year in which my life changed.
Of course, this change started on the day we were going to a concert.
Graduate school put a dent in our dining out. Going to school 2-3 times a week, in Hammond, often forced us to eat poorly. In addition, the expense of gas (only our last semester saw the prices drop) and time required of us to study forced us to cut out dining out from our budget and schedule. When we graduated, we wanted to try somewhere new. A friend suggested Lebanon’s Cafe on Carrollton.
I teach AP Computer Science, so hackertyper.com was an amazing link to share with my students.
The internet is a big place. Impossibly big, almost. Keeping up with everything worthwhile can be challenging. That’s why The Comics Beacon is here to give you a list of the 10 websites that every self-respecting geek has got to read.
1. Comic Book Resources
Comic Book Resources is a great pop culture news site, with a particular focus on comic book related media. Of particular note are its recurring interviews with with the EiC of Marvel Comics, as well as quality reviews and previews of new comics, every week. It also contains three excellent sub-blogs; Spinoff, Comics Should be Good, and Robot 6, allowing for more opinion based pieces, which creates an excellent universe that you can get sucked into for hours. Check out the CSBG list of the 70 most iconic Marvel panels, it’s a great read.
2. The Toast
The Toast is a daily blog ran by Mallory Ortberg and Nicole Cliffe, and…
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Part 3 of my 2014 Year in Review.
The Paul McCartney concert that was supposed to happen in June was rescheduled for October. He did not disappoint. He was another bucket list artist I have always wanted to see. I think I teared up four times during the performance. The main two were his tributes to George, where he played “Something” on the ukulele and when he sang “Yesterday,” because it reminded me of my dad. He played for three solid hours.
We went to the Dallas Comic Con. I cosplayed as Amy Pond (cheap and easy!). I met Elijah Wood and Sean Astin, the original voice of Charlie Brown, Karen Allen, and some others. I love going to the Dallas Comic Cons. They are so much fun and they always have nice guests.
Voodoo Fest was a great time, as always. Foo Fighters and Outkast were my two highlights.
Rochelle and I went to see the Nick and Knight tour, which was Nick Carter of BSB and Jordan Knight of NKOTB. There was almost no one at the Civic Theatre, but they put on a fun little concert. They did a medley of old 80s and 90s songs that everyone know, so it was great just reliving the olden days of our youth.
I also got to finally see my favorite play of all time, The Phantom of the Opera. We have season tickets to the Saenger Theatre, and besides seeing Beauty and the Beast earlier in the year, we also saw Chicago. But Phantom is my favorite. I thought the Phantom rushed his singing lines, and of course, it’s not broadway, but it was still delightful.
On the 17th, I took the last big obstacle to graduating from grad school: COMPS. The whole month of November, that’s all I could think about. I studied for six different classes everything that I learned in them. Not only did I rewrite my notes and key points of the class, but I also read my notes aloud and recorded myself, so I could then listen to myself when I got too tired to read. But, it was all worth it, because I passed with flying colors!
The Renaissance Festival is one of my favorite things to do. Jousting, bawdy wenches, games and carnival rides that are completely unmotorized and made of wood, medieval food, and all sorts of craft and clothes booths make the Ren Fest an extremely fun and unique experience. I love dressing up in corsets and long dresses and eating a meat pie while watching the joust, as the queen looks on. One year I hope to do tea with the queen or the wine tasting.
Over Thanksgiving break, I went on a cruise with my mom. We had so much fun on the Carnival Dream out of New Orleans. Even though our stop in Belize was cancelled due to rough waters (the boat couldn’t tender), we still played with monkeys on Roatan Island (part of Honduras) and went cave swimming in Cozumel. The monkeys were so mischievous and climbed on you like it was nothing! The cave swimming was amazing. Cool, clear water with stalactites and stalagmites all around you. If you are good at diving, there are underground caves you could explore. So we just swam and did some light underwater exploring with some goggles. We then ate an authentic Mexican lunch under the ground. I highly recommend this tour! There was time for shopping at the end before you took the ferry back to Cozumel (the tour is on the mainland).
Dave Chappelle randomly did a comedy show, announcing it a week before the show. It sold out in minutes. He then added a late night time, and then an additional time the next night. We did the late night time. The first act was a newbie, but was pretty solid. Then it was a surprise set by Hannibal Buress. It seemed like he was trying out some new material, so some of his act wasn’t as polished as the rest, but still, not bad. And then Dave Chappelle killed it. I haven’t laughed that hard at comedy in a long time. I’ve loved Dave since my favorite movie, “Robin Hood: Men in Tights” came out in 1993, so this was a real big treat. Worth the late night with work the next morning. Worth every penny to see him.
On 12/13/14, the day I’ve been looking forward to finally arrived: GRADUATION! I did it! I received my Master’s in History with a 4.0 GPA. It was such a tough road at times, but I made some great friends, travelled abroad twice, and learned a lot of history, in addition to refining my writing. It was a dream that I pushed off for many years, but luckily, I finally plucked up the courage to start and finish. Kurt also received a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership Technology with a 4.0 GPA (though I know that my 4.0 was more hard fought and earned).
We finally ended the year in Panama City Beach. We rang in the New Year at my grandparents house, where we watched the festivities happening in Pier Park, where 10,000 beach balls descended upon the crowd and a giant beach ball (think Times Square) dropped as the clock struck 2015. It was a great year and Kurt and I continue to pray for good health and the ability to lead a full and happy life together. Thanks for reading and I hope that I can finally start writing many interesting articles in 2015. Now that grad school is over, I have the time for it!