Saturday, December 13, 2008

Random Rants & Raves

This morning, during my 3.5 hour run, I had plenty of time to think about some really random things.  They all came out in little rants and raves...hey when you're stuck alone with your thoughts for that long, it's great entertainment.  

Raves
  • I have to start off with this one...who wears short shorts?  Frank wears short shorts...and I was running behind him for a good two hours.  I'm just going to leave it at that.  
  • My BAMF running playlist....it was the BEST yet.  I did a random mix so I had no idea what was up next and Deerhunter's "Nothing Ever Happened" just so happened to come up during mile 20.  The guitars at the end of this 6 minute song are serious...and build up...and build up...and next thing I knew I was at home base and had just ran my fastest mile.
  • The Great Houston Blizzard of 2008 that we had on Wednesday...I kept thinking about how beautiful the snow was and how much fun we had that night!
  • Having the guts to make the move to Mark's 3:45 group...and actually being able to keep up with them!!  
  • The runners high...yes, it exists...but I think it may have made me hallucinate a bit.  Around mile 18 I started thinking about how I want to start swimming...and should buy a bike...because really, I need to get into triathlons.  As if the marathon thing wasn't punishment enough...I NEED MORE!!  Maybe one day I'll do a 1/2 Ironman!!
  • Frank giving me his biscuit at breakfast...it really was worth sacrificing my two sad pieces of toast.  And the Barnaby's waiter that gave me my purple coffee mug...yeah he rocks!  The biscuit and purple mug saved my life...
  • Chicken Soup...no, not for the soul...but good ol' Campbell's outta the can.  I had been told that it is the perfect thing to eat the night before a long run...the veggies and chicken provide the nutrients, it's light, the broth is great for hydration, and it's loaded with electrolytes.  I felt like a million bucks!
Rants
  • Realizing at mile 7 that I forgot to put my Glide on.  If you're not a runner, I don't think you understand....but if you are, you know what kind of pain I'm experiencing right now.  My low cut dress for tonight's Christmas Party is definitely going to have me explaining my lovely abrasions. 
  • Overpasses...
  • Underpasses...
  • Changes in elevation in general...
  • Running loops around Memorial...I cannot even tell you how much I loathe loops of Memorial!!  It drives me insane...but I do enjoy the whole access to a bathroom thing.  
  • People who try to run me over...and construction workers who make "hey baby" comments.  Seriously?  Unnecessary. 
I cannot believe the marathon is only a little over a month away!  Bring it....I'm ready!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Top Songs of 2008

This list is by way of Mr. Scott Satchfield, my musical guru. Unfortunately I do not have the time to put together my own list, but our tastes are so similar that I agree with about 95% Of them and could not let his hard work go unshared. I'd like to wish those of you who do not have these tracks a happy downloading!!

1 Kids - MGMT
2 The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver - Elbow
3 Nothing Ever Happened - Deerhunter
4 Flume - Bon Iver
5 Black River Killer - Blitzen Trapper
6 Time to Pretend - MGMT
7 Mykonos - Fleet Foxes
8 Furr - Blitzen Trapper
9 Touch Me I'm Going to Scream pt 2 - My Morning Jacket
10 The Rip - Portishead
11 Lights & Music - Cut Copy
12 Saved By Old Times - Deerhunter
13 Crimewave - Crystal Castles vs. Health
14 On the Water - The Walkmen
15 DLZ - TV on the Radio
16 Herringbone - Department of Eagles
17 Folk I Farta - diskJokke
18 Willow Tree - Chad VanGaalen
19 Halfway Home - TV on the Radio
20 Skinny Love - Bon Iver
21 Wucan - Black Mountain
22 The Rat - Dead Confederate
23 Oxford Comma - Vampire Weekend
24 White Winter Hymnal - Fleet Foxes
25 Top Drawer - Man Man
26 Recent Bedroom - Atlas Sound
27 Remember - Ruby Suns
28 Teen Creeps - No Age
29 Faerie Dance - Plants and Animals
30 You Belong - Hercules & Love Affair

Big Little Live Music Weekend at the Continental Club

This weekend, the stage at Houston's Continental Club will be blessed with the performances of two amazing bands.  Friday night New Orleans' own Big Sam's Funky Nation will be jammin' out with their funky selves and Saturday night, Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights will take the stage.  These are two of my favorite surprise opening acts of 2008.  

I caught Big Sam for the first time in the middle of the day at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Jazz Fest to those in the know, and it was Dance Party USA.  In August, I had to drag some friends to see them at the Continental Club...and I had to drag those same friends out of the bar because they were having way too much fun!!  I also took my little brother to see them at the Blue Nile on Frenchman Street in NOLA, and he had a blast.  There were even random trumpet players coming into the club from off of the street to jam out on stage.  Big Sam looks is always stylin' and profilin' while dancin' around in his sunglasses, and playing the trombone...and the rest of the band definitely knows how to get funky!  If you're up for gettin' your dance on this Friday, that's the place to be.  I'm always a fan of hearing music from my beloved New Orleans in Houston!

Speaking of getting your dance on....Jonathan Tyler and crew are also a must-see at the Main Street venue.  I caught these guys before the O.A.R. show at Warehouse Live in April and was blown away by their performance.  We purchased their CD and its fun and funky....if you're a fan of anything with a steel guitar and you're a jammer...then you will most definitely dig these guys.  They will be opening up for JJ Grey in early 2009 at several House of Blues across the south, Houston included.  The tracks "Gypsy Woman" and "She's From the Other Side" are catchy and if you can't find a way to dance to them, then you need to get some boogie shoes.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Amos Lee says, "Listen Up Houston!"

And I completely agree with him!

Last night's show at Meridian was...well...there aren't words for it. Amos Lee is truly an amazing musician. Last year I saw him at ACL and it was one of my best experiences of the weekend. Me and my fest crew were exhausted from the heat, so we found a shady spot under the trees, layed down on the grass and watched Amos from afar. We sang along and tapped our feet...and although it was perfect for a Sunday in the park, it was NOTHING compared to what I experienced last night.

Before I go into detail about the show, here's my rant. It never fails that every concert that I seem to go to in Houston (at a small venue), I'm next to the obnoxiously drunk idiots who want to talk loud while the artist is performing. If you want to do this, stick to the shows in the Woodlands, Toyota Center and Reliant. The musicians that pick the smaller venues are passionate about their music, and so are their TRUE fans...it's very disrespectful. During one of Amos' songs, he started jamming and freestyling a bit...then he said something along the lines of: I know you probably have something important to say but so do I...and how we had been cooped up inside without power so he understood the rowdiness but to listen! Awesome! Way to go Amos!!!! Seriously though, I wanted to have these people escorted...

Enough negative energy...I'm speechless about the show. He played all of his stuff...new, old, covers...and it seemed every time we would say, "What's left?", he would hit us with another one of his musical masterpieces. I think he was reading Mandy's mind because right after she said, "I really want to hear 'Arms of a Woman' and 'Shout Out Loud'!!", he played them consecutively. He mentioned that he wrote the former ballad when he was 19 years old! That just makes it even sexier!

Speaking of sexy...the man played some serious baby-makin tunes last night. Nothing like what I had heard at ACL. Apparently he likes to "get down" for the late night shows...one song damn near made me blush!! The guy who opened, Mutlu, was surprisingly entertaining. He looks like a hippy, but sounds like Stevie Wonder or Michael McDonald! The last song of his opening set was "My Cherie Amore"...and it was a quality cover. For Amos' finale, he brought Mutlu on stage to sing some funky cover about caramel and gettin' it on...yep, speechless.

After the show, I got to meet him and he was so humble and truly grateful for the support. I had him sign his very first album...what a great night!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ike Ike Baby

Last week Houstonians and everyone else along the coast watched the approach of Ike and his cones of uncertainty. The path shifted from Houston, to Brownsville, and slowly creeped back towards the northern Texas Coast by Thursday. We all left work early to start stocking up on things, hoping that it was all for not. The hardcore Texans kept saying that we were overreacting and it wouldn't be more than a 'gust of wind' by the time it hit.

Thursday night everyone went out because of the day off of work on Friday...bars were packed and I even went to see Delta Spirit and Dr. Dog at Walter's on Washington, which was a terrific show. When they sang, "The Ark", it was especially eerie because we all knew what was coming. There was a glimpse of hope before I went to bed that night showing Ike as a Cat One at landfall...but four hours later while I was getting ready for my 12 mile run, Ike was forecasted back to a Cat 2 and maybe a 3.

Friday we gathered at Francis' for a hurricane party and to watch the feeder bands roll in. Water was rising in New Orleans and the power was out at my parents' home there...so they had to evac to downtown NOLA for some comfort. Francis and crew cooked up an amazing pre-hurricane meal...since we knew that we would be out of power for a while...complete with champagne, champagne of beers (High Life...that is), wine, pizza, duck, fried rice, guacamole, and an "Ike" cake...it was like a high-falootin' buffet! After the feast, I headed back to my place to get ready to 'hunker down'.

Speaking of 'hunkering'...I decided that it would be a good idea if every time someone said "hunker down" to drink. After champagne and hurricanes...and LOTS of mentioning of the h-word...I apparently passed out on my sofa around midnight. I woke up at 3am (on my sofa and wondering "WTF?") to loud whistling coming from the windows and front door....and no power, or water. I stayed up to watch the 100+mph winds blow through Houston...and I realized that I had never been through the eye of a storm before and that I would NEVER do it again.

The next day, once the wind had ceased around noon, the Daily Grind opened for business. Unbelievable! They were running off of a generator, providing hot coffee, good comfort food, and television to the weather weary. We ordered a couple of coffees and plates of whatever the chef decided to whip up, while chatting with others about the force of the winds and damage they had seen. It was so comforting...thank you Daily Grind, you saved my life :)

Dinner for the next couple of days consisted of grilled sandwiches, soup and Veuve champagne. I had been saving the bottle for about a year for a special occasion...this definitely was it!

Eventually Onion Creek opened back up, Memorial Park cleared the downed trees (which is pretty sad by the way) and I was able to go for a run, my power came back on, the bayous overflowed and receded, and now we are all trying to return to our blissful state of normalcy. Many friends are still without power and it is always amazing to see how people step up to take care of their loved ones in times like these. It shows that in the midst of chaos, there is a silver lining. Every report I have received from friends and family have been positive...minor damage, no power...but everyone is safe and has a home to return to. Thank goodness!

Other things to make you smile: Interstate traffic is non-existent for the time being, hot coffee and cold drinks, being forced to do nothing for a couple of days and slow down enough to spend time with friends, talking to random strangers about the storm and giving words of support, this beautiful weather that we have been seeing since Sunday...

Things will be back to normal before we know it! Until then, let me know if you need anything...

Here are some helpful post-Ike links:

Places that are open:



Important phone numbers:



Gas Stations (stay patient and keep your cool...we are all going through the same thing):



Friday, August 22, 2008

More Proof that the Chinese Government is Crazy


This article is in the Houston Chronicle today.


By JOE MCDONALD Associated Press
Aug. 22, 2008, 6:34AM
BEIJING — Customers in China of Apple Inc.'s iTunes online music store were unable to download songs this week, and an activist group said Beijing was trying to block access to a new Tibet-themed album.

In Internet forums, iTunes users complained they had been unable to download music since Monday. That was a day after the Art of Peace Foundation announced the release of Songs for Tibet, with music by Sting, Alanis Morissette, Garbage and others, and a 15-minute talk by the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan leader.

Michael Wohl, executive director of the New York City-based group, said he believed the album was the reason for the iTunes interruption, though he had no proof.
"We issued a release saying that over 40 (Olympic) athletes downloaded the album in an act of solidarity, and that's what triggered it. Then everything got blocked," Wohl said by phone.

Beijing encourages Internet use for education and business use but tries to block access to foreign sites run by dissidents and human rights and Tibet activists.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, which regulates Internet use, did not respond to a request for comment. A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Public Security, who would give only her surname, Wang, said she had no information.

Apple, based in Cupertino, Calif., acknowledged that customers were having trouble.
"We are aware of the logon problems but we have no comment at the moment," said Huang Yuna, an Apple spokeswoman in Beijing. She declined to say how many customers were believed to be affected.

Blocked iTunes users poured out their frustration on Internet bulletin boards.
"It seems like suspending iTunes is punishment for iTunes, but really it doesn't hurt iTunes, it hurts us," said a note on macfans.com.cn, a Chinese site for Apple users.

The Dalai Lama has been vilified by Chinese authorities, who claim he is trying to split Tibet from China. He says he only wants greater autonomy for the Himalayan region to protect its Buddhist culture.

Violent protests broke out in March in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa. Many Tibetans insist they were an independent nation before Communist troops invaded in 1950, while Beijing says the Himalayan region has been its territory for centuries.

Wohl said his group contacted Olympians ahead of the games and offered free copies of the 20-song album. He said those who downloaded it included competitors from the United States, Canada, Britain, Spain, France and Australia.

Most got the album before entering China, but "some in Beijing did download, and I think that's what spooked the Chinese government," Wohl said.

Wohl declined to identify the athletes by name, saying he wanted to avoid making trouble for them with the Chinese government or the International Olympic Committee.

China has the world's largest population of Internet users, with 253 million people online as of June, according to the government. The United States is in second place with 223.1 million people online, according to research firm Nielsen Online.

Apple has no China-based iTunes service. Users must log onto sites for the United States or other markets. Despite that, the company's iPod digital music player is hugely popular in China.
Wohl said he had heard no complaints from Apple about the possible impact of the album on iTunes access.

"They're incredibly supportive people. They wouldn't do anything like that," he said. "They support freedom of speech and freedom of expression."

Monday, August 18, 2008

Nigel the Flippin' 8 Year Old

My fellow yoga ninja in training, Nikole, our yoga ninja master, Mandy, and myself have started a weekly ritual of enjoying a tasty froyo from Swirll. It's big fun...we sweat our butts off for a couple of hours and indulge in yogurty goodness for anywhere between $6-9...well worth it.

The first time we went, we were sitting outside partaking in some excellent girl talk....when out of the corner of my eye I saw a little boy doing flips back and forth along the sidewalk. He was a cute and petit little guy and for about 5 minutes entertained us with roundoffs, flipflops, walking on his hands, and even a little bit of breakdancing. We were speechless. Then, just as quickly, he got in his mom's corolla (she had been parked while he was putting on the show), rolled down the window and waved, and then they drove off. The three of us let out a collective, "WTF?" and a "Did that just happen?" Yeah it did...it was weird..but I thought for sure it was a one-time act of randomness.

Low and behold, same time, same place last week...the kid is back. We had more witnesses with us this time, so we knew we weren't crazy. We cheered him on. Then we asked his name...it was Nigel...of course. He is in gymnastics and apparently just wanted to do some flips. When a friend's husband said he could show him some new tricks, Nigel said "I don't NEEEEED any new tricks" So said husband sat back down....only to be assaulted by little 8-year old Nigel moments later.

Nigel walked up to the hubby, grabbed his shoulder and said "Don't make me have to tell you to move!!!" He had the most serious look on his face and clearly he was not joking...I was honestly a bit scared of the kid.

Nigel may be performing randomly at a Swirll near you...but watch out, he's feisty! Just let him do his thang and get back in the car. He accepts applause, but that's about it. Best of luck kiddo.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

You know you work in the ghetto when...

Engineers are known for being frugal, well not all of us, but most...and engineering companies aren't much different.  My office building is in the most GHETTO part of Houston and that's not an exaggeration folks.  When you turn on the TV in the morning and see murders and other acts of crime....they're in the general vicinity of my office.  Here are some things that I've seen and I really can't make this stuff up:

  • Helicopters flying around looking for criminals
  • Apartment complex across the street blocked off because a body was found in a car
  • People throwing bricks at our cars
  • A carjacking of a fellow employee in the parking lot...at 2pm
  • There's a gym around the corner called "Phat Body Gym" (niiiiice)
  • Prostitutes walking on the street and pimps buying them the Subway special of the day
  • Last week there was a car pulled over in front of the building, at lunch, and four cops had their guns drawn
  • We found bullet holes in the conference room (always a good 'Safety Moment' for meetings)
  • The stairwells in the parking garage are locked to keep you from getting mugged...hopefully the elevators don't break.
  • The gas on the street is some of the cheapest in Houston, but for fear of my life I won't dare take advantage of the discount.
Unbelievable, right?  And I thought that working in the chemical plants was dangerous...

Saturday, August 9, 2008

GEAUX GREEN

Well it looks like even the local New Orleans Original Daiquiri drive-thru is going green.  I saw this last weekend at near my parents' house and had to stop to take a picture.  It all starts here folks...go to the drive through, order your alcoholic beverage and sip it out of a refill mug while you're cruisin around the Crescent City!  

Friday, August 8, 2008

Music Report

Here's some music that's been rockin' my world lately:

  • Elbow's new album, The Seldom Seen Kid, is on constant repeat in my car. The song "One Day Like This" is mesmerizing...it starts off with Guy Garvey's soft vocals and as soon as he breaks into his first "Cause holy cow, I love your eyes!", it instantaneously brings a huge smile to my face. Then he and the orchestral band build up into an invigorating chorus of "Throw those curtains wide!..." and wow. The lyrics are just unbelievable. Obviously this is my favorite song on the album, but the additional 10 tracks are just as enjoyable. "Grounds for Divorce" is another fav.
  • The D'Urbervilles' (not to be confused with the novel Tess of the D'Ubervilles) track, "The Receiver" is Linkin Park-ish but much more artsy. I am always a sucker for the singing/rapping combo...
  • Plants & Animals are yet another Canadian indie rock band. I don't know what they are putting in the water up there, but keep bringin' it, eh? Their album Park Avenue rocks...the whole thing, beginning to end. The songs are long and jammy and the beginning of every track never sounds like the end. You need it!
  • Fun dance music that I've been digging includes: Cut Copy, Hercules and the Love Affair, Crystal Castles, Walter Meego, Girl Talk.

I've got tons more....

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Jack J and crew are reducing your Concert Carbon Footprint!

I thought this was a very interesting article, especially since my week has included calculating Carbon Footprints. Also, check out Rogue Wave and Mason Jennings, two of Brushfire Records' artists mentioned in the article. If Jack approves, they must be good!

By Quinn Brown
CNN
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Don't let Jack Johnson fool you.

Tabbed as a "mellow rocker" by perhaps one too many publications, the chart-topping singer-songwriter has a fire within that belies his laid-back manner -- a fire that extends to his company, Brushfire Records, and his environmental activism.

Johnson started the record label in 2002 "as a way to put out soundtracks for surf movies we were making," he says. "Then our friends G. Love and Special Sauce were coming to the end of their record deal with another label, and the idea came up to put out their stuff."

The Hawaii-based artist -- whose latest album "Sleep Through the Static" hit No. 1 in the U.S. and sold over 2 million albums worldwide -- has continued to assemble talent. The label's roster now includes indie-rockers Rogue Wave, folk-pop musician Mason Jennings and keyboardist Money Mark.

Johnson says the record label is not driven by dollar signs.

"We never try to talk anybody into joining the label, but we just offer a lot of creative control over all their music and a fairer deal than with most other labels," he explains.

Rogue Wave frontman Zach Schwartz is one of the converts. "The music business is traditionally pretty cutthroat, nasty and evil, but [with Brushfire], it is not that way," he tells CNN. "You can make the music you want to make."

Still, even in these major-label-dominated times, artist-friendly labels aren't unusual; Dave Matthews has also attracted talent with his ATO Records. It's in making Brushfire a model of green business that Johnson and his colleagues have stood out.

As keen environmentalists, Johnson and his team have required Brushfire and its distributors to engage in earth-friendly implementations that have influenced others in the record business.

"The music is one thing, but there is this business side," says Zach Gill, a Brushfire solo artist and member of Johnson's touring band. "I think more and more businesses are saying, 'Yeah, we want to be responsible. Responsible to our employees. Responsible for the waste our company generates.' We're starting to see that a lot in all kinds of businesses, not just in music," he says.

Entertainment industry giant Universal Music Group -- the largest family of record labels in the recording industry -- has taken notice. Under Brushfire's direction, UMG uses recycled stock on all of the packaging for its releases, including movies, ensuring that the paper is as environmentally friendly as possible. Some is even made using wind power.

Moreover, Brushfire's artists have exerted their eco-influence on venues and promoters for concert tours worldwide. The tour rider, a checklist of artists' requirements at each venue, usually consists of specific brands of beer or (in one case involving Jennifer Lopez) the way the coffee is stirred. Brushfire uses an EnviroRider, a handbook of eco-friendly options and actions for various components of concert tour production.

"It gets augmented every year. What started out as suggestions are now becoming requirements [for us to play at a venue]," says Johnson.

Johnson and his management also created All At Once, a social action network that provides tools and information to people who want to become more involved in their community and worldwide. Visitors to the All At Once area at tour venues will be rewarded with exclusive music downloads by their favorite Brushfire artists. Johnson's charity, Ohana Charitable Foundation, will match any donation (up to $2,500) to nonprofits made by fans at the shows or online.

"We shrink our carbon footprint always, but we have all these nonprofit groups that we all work with," says Johnson. "Money from the shows goes to these groups and helps bolster their memberships so that after we leave the town, these groups can continue to do good things. So more than just lessening our negative [environmental] impact, it's actually leaving a positive impact [wherever we tour]," says Johnson.

Additional actions taken by Brushfire tours will include fueling tour vehicles with sustainable biodiesel, offering eco-friendly merchandise, working with venues to create waste management programs, onsite recycling and encouraging fans to use alternative transportation.

Back at home, Brushfire has adopted a similar strategy. All the power for the recording studios and the offices is generated by solar panels. Insulation is supplied by cotton from scraps of blue jeans. Energy-efficient lighting runs throughout the building. Second-hand furniture is all you will find in its offices.

The mission resonates with the other artists on the label's roster.

"For me, it's so great to be a part of the label because so many people provide information about what we can do to make it better -- touring more efficiently, biodiesel -- stuff like that," says Jennings. "I'm learning a ton being around those guys."

At bottom, the atmosphere of collaboration and common purpose is rooted in the shared love of music, says Gill.

"Music is the great synchronizer. They've become quite a wonderful community to be a part of. I feel grateful to Jack for having the idea to bring together all these like-minded people to make music together," he says.

Johnson agrees. "It's everything. It is the whole reason to play music. I learn so much from playing with these other musicians," he says.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

HOUSE OF BLUES - HOUSTON

Finally!  Houston's House of Blues is set to open in October!  Concerts are starting to get booked...stay tuned!

Check out the website for more info.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Rants and Raves for the Week

Hola amigos!  Here are some random rants and raves for your reading enjoyment.

RAVES
  • 30 days of Coldplay on XM Channel 51 -  So maybe it started out a little too emotional the first morning (Fix You, Warning Sign...then Scientist....I mean really?) and it was way intense for my Monday morning commute to work, BUT it is pretty terrific.  There are live performances and unreleased covers, along with interviews with the band...it really compliments the Houston traffic well.
  • Swirll - There are 3 locations in Houston, one of which is on West Gray and very convenient for me.  Fourteen different self-serve healthy froyo's (frozen yogurt, that is) and you can add your own toppings buffet style.  The cookies & cream with crushed oreos...omigoodness...awesome.
  • Pearl Bar - This may be my new favorite bar in Houston.  Pool table, shuffleboard, golden tee, outdoor patio with PING PONG, hulahoops (what?), and a DJ...exactly!  The best thing is that its non-Houstonian in that there's a mingling atmosphere withOUT clubbiness.  People in shorts, slacks, dresses...whatever...it's all good at The Pearl.  Best part, its walking distance from my new loft....yeah!
  • Spiked watermelons, Ratatat's new album, my new wii, Lil Wayne, the movie Wanted, BATMAN, Into The Woods, Adele, happy hour at Zushi on Memorial...
RANTS
  • Kirby Drive & Bissonnett Street....all of it
  • Men who feel the need to hang male genitalia from their truck hitches.  Seriously, I don't need to see that at 6am and what are parents supposed to say to their innocent little girls?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Wanna know why Houston's Indie Music Scene has been lacking?

http://www.houstonpress.com/2008-07-10/news/houston-has-a-bad-reputation-with-touring-indie-bands/1


Houston Press finally wrote an extensive article on the reasons why indie bands usually skip over the Bayou City.  It's pretty long, but worth the read.  How disappointing...  I'll definitely keep doing my part by showing up at the shows, and you should do the same!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

And I have officially reached nirvana...

Not at I advocate this sort of activity (and I've never participated in it to date) but I'm just sharing a bit of information for you to use at your discretion. I have located a "Music Blog Aggregator", not to be confused with a Flux Capacitor. (Wow...I even just surprised myself with that bout of nerdiness...) Apparently it collects all new leak posts from every music blog that is registered on this site.

Three easy steps and you might find yourself with some new tunes...
1. Go to Xchannel.blogspot.com
2. Type in the album in the top right hand corner
3. Do what it do.

That's all I got...shhhhhhh

Thursday, June 26, 2008

J-E-L-L-O

Goodbye Jello shots and HELLO Pudding shots!

I have to preface this with a shoutout to TB for introducing us to such a creation during Francis' fabulous limo bus party. Thanks TB!

So some friends decided to make the traditional Jello shots for the party...while watching the chefs do their work, Tommy B found some boxes of Jello pudding and thought, "Why not?"

I believe the spirit of choice for the spiking was peach schnapps...and I have to say, it wasn't bad. It was a good start to a genius idea. I love pudding, I love alcohol...sounds like a winning combination.

After some intense discussions on optimizing the Pudding Shot, we came up with Baileys, Kahlua, any flavored rum, just to name a few. If you are going to improvise, proceed with caution and keep in mind the combination of flavors. For example, chocolate pudding and Kahlua would work perfectly...but lemon pudding, not so much. You get the hint.

I also found some recipes on the major recipe websites for the Pudding Shot. So we're not crazy, we just need to help support the cause.

Here's a recipe to get ya started:

Ingredients:
1 (3 1/2 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup vodka
1/2 cup Baileys (or Kahlua)
8 ounces Cool Whip
Lots of itty bitty Dixie cups or steal some ketchup cups from Wendys.

Directions:
1. Mix pudding and milk until well blended.
2. Add vodka and Baileys, mix well.
3. Fold in Cool Whip
4. Pour into Dixie cups or "borrowed" Wendys cups.
5. Keep in freezer
6. After pudding is set...cheers!

Let me know of your own creations. I'll be enjoying these at the beach next week...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Do the Voodoo 2008

The Voodoo Music Experience lineup is out! Unlike last year, I will not miss the festivities. This is the tenth anniversary of the fest, so they are referring to it as The Tenth Ritual. Check out more online: www.thetenthritual.com


Highlights of the lineup include:


  • JUST ADDED: Lil' Wayne (Hells yeah! Done and DONE!)
  • Stone Temple Pilots (C'mon, what 80s baby doesn't want to see STP??)
  • Deathcab for Cutie (yes I need to see them a third time)
  • DeVotchKa
  • Cold War Kids (saw them at ACL last year and loved them!)
  • Lupe Fiasco (duh)
  • Thievery Corporation
  • Ghostland Observatory
  • Joseph Arthur
  • Tokyo Police Club (yay!)
  • Ozomatli w/ Chali 2Na (They rocked at Jazz Fest..need to see them again!)
  • Big Sam's Funky Nation (they put on a TERRIFIC SHOW)
  • Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
I will be purchasing tickets for the fest.

New Orleans, October 24, 25 & 26th...why WOULDN'T you go? I'm in for getting a hotel...anyone else???

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Confessions of a CC's addict

Hi, my name is Brandie and I'm addicted to CC's.  Every morning I curse the fact that Houston doesn't have a Community Coffee House and dream of having enough capital to put up so I could open my own franchise.  It would kill...I know the other Crescent City transplants would agree.  But until that day comes, or until I move back to Nawlins....Catalina Coffee is pretty close. 

I met the owner, Max, the week before the Washington Street joint officially opened.  He raved about how he had also become a CC's addict during his time in New Orleans and aspired to open a comparable place to get your caffeine fix.  Named after his madre, Catalina coffee is right around the corner from my apartment and is the perfect place to chill, work, listen to live music and drink the best coffee in Houston.  Oh yeah, and they have fresh French pastries and ice cream that Max makes in the store.  Mmmmm!

He's a perfectionist when it comes to coffee.  Even his ice coffee is 24-hour brew...because according to him, that's the optimum brew time for a perfect cup o chilled java.  I'll never forget the time that I ordered an ice coffee and he said, "Sorry it's not ready yet...still got another couple of hours."  

Catalina has been featured in this week's Houston Press...way to go guys!  Best of luck.


Music Report...FINALLY

I know, I know...I've heard it from many of you and the music report is back.  My apologies!

I'll start with some tracks that I can't stop listening to...

The Russian Futurists, "Precious Metals":  It's poppy and fun and you need it.
Mason Jennings, "Be Here Now":  I found it on my iPod while it was on random, and it is a terrific song. 
John Mayer, "Say":  So the guy has been making some mistakes lately, but this song is too good to toss to the side.  Just give it a listen.

Now for some albums (and thanks to those of you who provided the recommendations!):

Coldplay "Viva La Vida":  C'mon, you all knew I was going to mention this one.  I have to admit, that contrary to every other Coldplay album, I didn't LOVE it the first time I listened.  It definitely had to grow on me...but aside from the first two singles, Viva La Vida and Violet Hill, the track Strawberry Swing is my favorite.  The lyrics are stellar and the guitar is hypnotizing...

Cut Copy "In Ghost Colors":  If you like to dance and you love 80's music, then you will appreciate these Aussies.  It's very different than anything I've heard, which is always a good thing.  Tracks of note are Lights and Music & Out There On the Ice.

Wintersleep "Welcome to the Night Sky":  I love the lead singer's voice and the Weighty Ghost track is reminiscent of Peter Gabriel.

My Morning Jacket "Evil Urges":  Contrary to what the reviews say, you need this CD.  "Thank You Too!" is my favorite song and I definitely put it on repeat over and over again...

Elbow "The Seldom Seen Kid":  I've been a fan of Elbow for a couple years now and this new album is buy-worthy.  Grounds For Divorce and One Day Like This are my two favorite tracks.  

Amp Live "Rainydaze":  This is a free download from a San Fran DJ who remixed some of the In Rainbows tracks.  I'm a pretty harsh critic when it comes to remakes and remixes of music that I feel passionately about, but this is unbelievable.  There are rhymes by Too Short, Del, Chali 2Na....and a soulful cover of 15 Step...wow.

Well I think that's enough musically deliciousness for today.  Overindulge and enjoy!

Oh yeah...and the tickets for the Houston Coldplay Show (11.18) will go on sale Saturday 6.28 at 10am.  Let's hope I get my pre-sale this week...

Friday, June 6, 2008

For those of you who are curious why I'm traveling the globe...

I'm working with the major chemical and investment companies who want to produce polysilicon for solar energy purposes. I attended a solar technology conference in Moscow and had meetings there, Seoul and Taipei. We signed two contracts for new plant designs in the 12 days we were gone and we are going to Italy for another signing next week!! It's ridiculous how many companies and investors are jumping into this booming market and the press is JUST now starting the buzz...

http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Investing/SuperModels/ItsSolarPowersTimeToShine.aspx?page=1

http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Investing/JubaksJournal/OutOfTheSpotlightSolarWillThrive.aspx?page=1

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bee-lieve in the Nawlins Hornets!!

Tonight is Game 6 in the Hornets vs. Spurs semi-finals...and I will be glued to the TV at my favorite local watering hole to cheer the bees onto victory! I'm not used to this much excitement during the spring. This is when I start counting down the days till football season begins. Lets hope this GENIUS is there! I still can't believe they took his Eva Longoria poster away after poor Frenchy Parker missed both free throws.





The Soul Rebel Brass Band has put out the Hornets "Fan Up New Orleans" theme song on their MySpace page. It's so good, that I'll probably go check them out live the next time I'm in NOLA.



The New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) is having a Cajun Day and Hornets Day on Saturday, May 17th. This will feature Louisiana's own Blue Dog man George Rodrigue, Hugo and the Honeybees (I know Kent will enjoy that!). Free Cajun dance lessons at 1pm and great Cajun music in the Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden. I wish I were in town for this!



Best of luck to the Hornets tonight and I'll have my Peja on a Stick ready!




Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Nostalgia Is All Around Us!

It seems as though my fellow products of the 80's are now in positions to create things that make us say "When I was a kid, these guys ruled!". Sure it makes us feel old because we now sound like our parents, but who cares...I'm super excited about it!

NKOTB: Yes, I know the sounds of Joey, Jordan, Danny, Donnie and Jon send straight men running for the hills...but us ladies will always love them even if they're dirty old men. The boys will be back on the block this Friday for their first stage performance in almost 20 years! I saw the clips of them practicing and they still have the mooooooves.

Sex & The City: Maybe this identifies more with where I am now than where I was when the show originally aired. Regardless, I cannot wait to see the fabulous four ladies on the big screen!

Down in Fraggle Rock: Was this my favorite show when I was a kid? Hells yeah! It was just announced today that it is being turned into a live action musical flick!! I can wait to see Mokey and Wembly again...and the Doozers!! What about Marjory, The Trash Heap? Anyone else remember that one....

Indiana Jones: I don't care how old Harrison Ford is...I'm still psyched about seeing the new movie! Every time I see the preview I get more and more excited about it. I'm hoping to catch it on the Imax screen...with the new age of special effects it has a chance at being a HUGE hit! Let's hope Lucas Films did it right!

I know there's more...but I'm drawing a blank!

Friday, May 9, 2008

BIG Houston Concert Announcements

These concert announcements are not to be taken lightly.  I will most definitely be attending these fantastic performances!!

COLDPLAY - Toyota Center - November 18 - Tickets go on sale June 14

Madonna - Minute Maid Park - November 16 - Ticket release date not listed yet

The Roots - Warehouse Live - June 18 - Tickets on sale now (I need to get mine...asap!)

Sheryl Crow/James Blunt/Toots & the Maytals - Woodlands Pav - August 14 - Tickets TOMORROW

Let me know if you want to come with to any of these shows...I already got my tickets to Neil Diamond in October.  Why Neil Diamond you ask?  Why not....when else are you going to sing Sweet Caroline with the man himself?  Exactly...

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Random Raves

I have been neglecting my bloggerly duties for way too long, things have been crazy! I have some random raves:

Rave 1: The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival was awesome! I attended opening day, which ended up being the only dry day of the two-weekend celebration, with my concert buddy Richie and we had ourselves a big time in the Big Easy! The weather was perfect for enjoying Cochon de Lait Po-Boys and Southern Comfort beverages. We started it off at the Fais Do Do stage where some Norwegian band was playing. This stage is always dedicated to the best of Cajun folk music, but they DID have two accordians and people were promenading, so I fully embraced it. Next, we moved on to Big Sam's Funky Nation...I had never seen this crew and now I'm a HUGE fan! Big Sam was stylin' and profilin' and playing New Orleans funky jams...during their cover of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy", I saw a cute little old grandma singing along. Niiiiiice! Can't wait to see Robert Plant and Allison Krauss again at ACL, they make great music together. By far my best Jazz Fest experience ever to date was skipping Sheryl Crow to see Ozomatli! The guys know how to put on a show! At the end, they second-lined into the crowd and everyone danced and sang together. I was speechless...

Humorous Happenings: Some chick asked me what I was eating...I replied, "A cochon de lait po-boy"...she replied " Uh yeah, I don't know what that is. Is it like pulled pork or something?"...Poor girl has NO IDEA how much better a cajun roasted pig is than plain ol' pulled pork. I hope she got her cochon-ON!

I witnessed a lady who was 60+ pop a squat on the urinal...in front of everyone. Now THAT's talent...

Day two was soggy, but I saw the Benjy Davis Project and Billy Joel. Both were stellar performances...I ate my weight in crawfish bread...and it rained so hard that my umbrella started dripping through the fabric. After 4 hours of torrential downpour, I surrendered, took off my flipflops and danced in the rain to Billy J! All that was missing was a Pat O's Hurricane.

Rave 2: The movie IRONMAN. Since he has sobered up, Robert Downey Jr. has become one of my top actors. His performance in the Elton John video "I Want Love" & "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints"he's come a long way. I won't go into details, but being both an engineer and a (dare I say it) Marvel comic dork....I had a huge grin on my face the entire movie. Can't wait for BATMAN!! Christian Bale...sigh....

Rave 3: Frozen Green Tea Matcha protein drink at Path of Tea. It's matcha powder, soy milk and soy protein....and it tastes like a dessert. The Path of Tea is a legit tea house on W. Alabama between Kirby and Shepherd. When you check it out, pop in to Field of Greens next door for some healthy grub. Not as good as Ziggy's Healthy Grill, but still rave-worthy!

Rave 4: Happiness! I'm currently reading the book, "Happy Yoga" by Steve Ross. You don't have to be a yogi or a yogini to reap the benefits of this book. In fact, there are poses at the end of each chapter...but it's not like you have to actually do them. Steve gives great insight into why there's nothing to worry about and brings to light the reasons why you can be happy. There are playlist suggestions (we all know I dig that), questions that you should ask yourself, and motivational quotes and funny stories.

My favorite quote thus far: "Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony" - Mahatma Ghandi

Monday, April 21, 2008

For the health food nuts...

I was finally in the Greenway Plaza area on Saturday and craving a cold sweet treat...so I stopped at Berripop.  The frozen yogurt tastes like actual yogurt and isn't loaded with sugar like TCBY.  There are four different soft serve flavors and more mixin's than marble slab!  Of course there are the unhealthy options like Oreos, Heathbar, etc.  There's also Cap'n Crunch and Fruity Pebbles to top your cup o' goodness.  I decided to go with the pomegranate and raspberry topped with almonds...delich!!  It reminds me of this place, Counter Culture, that I used to love when I lived in Baton Rouge. 

So far the only location is on Richmond @ Westlayan in the strip mall with about twenty other eating establishments....Oporto, Collinas, some Thai place...  The good thing is that its designed for franchise opportunities...so who's gonna open one in my neighborhood???



Tuesday, April 15, 2008

ACL 2008 Lineup!!

It's official and the countdown till 3 days of pure musical bliss is ON! Upon first glance, I was a little worried....but after looking at the complete list....I'm beyond excited!! Let's just hope that there are no stints in rehab, anxiety issues or illnesses during the last weekend of September.

Here's the lineup: http://www.aclfestival.com/lineup.aspx

And here are my "must sees":

  • Stars (My favorite band at the moment...love them LOOOOVE THEM!)
  • Foo Fighters
  • Beck
  • The Raconteurs
  • Gnarls Barkley
  • Conor Oberst
  • N.E.R.D.
  • Tegan & SAra
  • Iron & Wine (!!!!!)
  • Band Of Horses (Soooo excited about finally seeing them!)
  • The Swell Season (For those of you who have seen and love the movie "Once"...yeah...it's THEM!)
  • Okkervil River
  • HOT CHIP (I'm gonna dance my butt off just like LCD Soundsystem last year!)
  • Duffy (She sounds like Amy Winehouse, minus the crack addiction)
  • Jose Gonzales
  • Jamie Lidell
  • MGMT
  • M. Ward
  • Yeasayer
  • Louis XIV
  • CITY & COLOUR (Their live tracks rock...can't wait to see them in person!)

Okay...so I know that I probably won't be able to see every single act, but I'm going to give it a shot. Last year I thought I would be the only crazy one with a highlighted & printed out schedule...nope....there were lots of other crazy people there doing the same thing. Now I just need to book our awesome hotel that supplied us with candy to take to the fest....and fresh baked cookies for us every night when we got back! Best hotel ever....

Who are you looking forward to seeing....and who's comin' to party with the Brandie, Richie and Jesse crew??

"Ain't no party like the ACL party, cuz the ACL party don't stop!" - The Gospel Singers at the 2007 Fest

Monday, April 7, 2008

ACL Lineup Preview

Every year the folks at the Austin City Limits festival find a creative and exciting way to give a sneak peak at the lineup. I love it, but it drives me a little crazy every time... This year is a mashup of tunes from 29 of the 130 artists that will perform: http://www.aclfestival.com/mashup/

So far I've noticed the following acts:
Hot Chip
Duffy (yeah!)
Siversun Pickups
Gnarls Barkley
NERD
Neko Case
CSS
The Raconteurs
Jamie Lidell
MGMT
Del The Funky Homosapien
Okkerville River
Octopus Project
Heartless Bastards
Robert Earl Keen
Kate Nash
Man Man

Take a listen and let me know if you hear anyone else!! I was really hoping to hear Radiohead....twice in one year...amazing! Coldplay's new album comes out in June and it would be pretty terrific if they joined the lineup.

I'm pretty psyched about MGMT, Del, Gnarls, Hot Chip, DUFFY, and NERD!!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

You've Got The Right Stuff...Baby!!

Yes Donnie...drugs DO suck!

Gents, please skip this column and turn your head as you roll your eyes.

Ladies...it IS official and it is also my Friday off, so no worries that I will be watching the Today Show this Friday, April 4th to see the New Kids On The Block hangin' tough!!! Who knows what the announcement will be....and so what if it's going to be a disaster...I'm still excited and will be cheering on any comeback. http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20187202,00.html

The NKOTB website also has a countdown, but nothing else. http://www.nkotb.com/ For some reason this countdown has me almost as excited as the countdown till the ACL lineup is released this month.

OMG...I still can't believe the Joey, Jordan, Jon, Danny and Donnie are going to make a comeback. It's like a dream come true....and completely nostalgic. Speaking of nostalgic..."Alvin & the Chipmunks" comes out on DVD today! Maggie and I watched it on the plane ride back from Paris and we definitely were the only people LOL'ing in our area....and the guy in front of Maggie may have looked back to watch me laugh every time there was a joke :) "Ooooh eeee oooo ah ah...ting tang walla walla bing BANG!"

Monday, March 31, 2008

For My Fellow Friends of the Bottle

The first quarter of 2008 was full of binge drinking for me: New Years, LSU's National Championship Victory, Post Houston Marathon Party, Super Bowl, Mardi Gras, Sunday Funday's, kickball rainouts, PARIS, any event involving the video game Rockband, relationship drama and other forms of unnecessary stress.

So 2Q08 is off to a new start for me....I started yoga and I love it (www.joyyogacenter.com Joy is the owner and an ex-engineer who promotes fitness, wellbeing, and living stressfree..fantastic), I'm going to cutback on the binge drinking considerably (no worries Jazz Fest companions...I said considerably, not completely), and I'll start my marathon training in the next couple of months!

I did find this article for those of us who find ourselves sitting around the table on Saturday/Sunday afternoons saying one or more of the following:
  • "Gawd, my head is pounding"
  • "Bloody Mary please"
  • "I'm never drinking that much AGAIN...and I mean it this time"
  • "Should I get a burger, pizza, or fried chicken fingers to settle my stomach?"
  • "Ugh"
  • "How did I get that wine stain all over my shorts?"
  • "I can feel my pulse in my toes"
  • "Who's idea was it to buy those shots?"
  • "I can't believe I was dancing with that Rastaman! He was diiiiiiiirty!"

This article is for you friends: http://www.slate.com/id/2187387

My personal remedy for the hangovers-from-hell are a BC Headache powder, bloody mary, sleep, and lots of carbs and grease! Works like a charm...EVERY time. Things that don't work include water and driving from New Orleans to Houston.

Please feel free to share your personal remedies!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Jazz Fest Cubes Are Set!

http://www.nojazzfest.com/music/april-25-wide.php

Billy Joel and O.A.R. are at the same time on the first Saturday! How disappointing! Those were my top two for the weekend...c'mon Jazz Fest people.

Anyone else want to start a petition to switch Cowboy Mouth and OAR??

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Photoblog of Paris

I decided that it would be way too much to type about everything that happened in Paris and think that a photoblog would be much more entertaining. Enjoy!

Maggie standing outside of our fabulous hotel suite upon arrival!

Confections at "Lenotre", a ridiculously priced and delicious patisserie around the corner from our hotel. The cakes were upwards of 35 Euros! I'd pay it though.





Maggie and I couldn't believe that the upside down pyramid was so easy to find...silly Da Vinci Code. I had to go along with the Asian tourists and take goofy pictures.





Maggie posing with one of the sculptures outside of the Louvre. I will have you know that there were multiple people taking much less tasteful pictures with these statues.





So apparently my hair was 'tres grande' in Paris...the combination of their water and the weather made for perfect hair days. I think I'm being a little sassier than the statue...aaah oui!








My artsy pic of the Louvre. A place that I will most likely never go again...The Louvre was my least favorite of everything that we did. Too many crazy people and kids...it was like Disney World times five! We did meet this sweet little old Frenchman just after taking this. He didn't speak much English and surprisingly I could understand that he was telling us what we should see and that we should come back in the summer. After a 15 minute convo, I attempted to tell him that "We need to leave now"...instead I said "You go!" Whoops...thank goodness he understood though.



This is Cafe AND Restaurant Voltaire. Maggie and I stopped here based on a rec from a friend. We intended to go to CAFE Voltaire and instead stepped into RESTAURANT Voltaire. We saw white tablecloths and people who clearly had much more money than the two of us. After looking at the menu and seeing the cheapest app was 35Euro...we told the waiter there was a mistake. He said..."Oh you want a snack". Yes sir we did...and our 'snack' was quite yummy! We met a college kid from NJ and the waitress tried to play matchmaker...aw how cute!



Oh the Pompidou...it was as strange and impressive as I had remembered from the pics in my high school French book. Lots of performance artists in the plaza too...it reminded me of Jackson Square in New Olreans. The museum was very interesting as well...I think it would've been better if I weren't completely hungover at the time..ugh, roughest day in Paris.


Maggie and I seriously need one of these in the states! MONOP was a little shop across the plaza from the Pompidou with premade lunches, salads, sandwiches, desserts...along with the wines and all kinds of super cute things that we really wanted to spend our money on. But instead we got salads and a baguette and sat in the plaza trying to make our hangovers go away. Tom was approached by a crazy Frenchman, who asked him, "Do you like question marks?" (Note: Sounds much funnier with a French accent...try it) Tom's reply was something along the lines of, "Question Marks? Uh...yeah man, I like 'em. I use them in questions and they're a great form of punctuation!" Bizarre...



The view from the top floor of the Musee D'Orsay. I couldn't stop staring...Sacre Coeur is the highest point in Paris and is a spectacular church. It's in Montmartre, which was very unspactacular and it was the only time I feared for my life.


Sacre Coeur much closer! Maggie and I were brought to tears..but she thinks now that it was from climbing all of those stairs in the cold rain and finally reaching our dry destination. Either way, we were moved.


Thanksgiving was a sight for sore eyes!! The sign on the right says "Cuisine de Louisianne" and this was right around our hotel in The Marais. Of course we went inside, and the shop owner was delighted to meet some people from New Orleans. He said he loved the city and couldn't wait to go back again. The place was streaming Zydeco and the shelves were stocked with Zatarain's, Tony Chachere's, and Abita Beer!!! How cool?? All Louisianians who visit Paris, should stop by and tell this gentleman hello.

If anyone knows what this place is a cover-up for, please let me know! Nespresso is on the Champs-Elysees and was the creepiest place I've ever set foot in. There were people getting consultations on coffee, crazy little espresso accessories, candles.....just weird. We would've taken a picture of the inside, but were a little scared. There was even a "Gold Card Member" section with posh seats and desks to speak with associates....it was like being in a Porsche dealership. I'm still creeped out.

Gotta love modern art. Excited little Mickey Mouse was in the Palais de Tokyo. Don't really know what else to say...

I'm squishing you with my fingers! I have definitely left a lot out...like the time I asked the lady for an umbrella and then realized that I asked her if she WAS an umbrella...or the time I fell at the Bastille, in the middle of the street...Tout va bien!

I can't WAIT to go back!!! A bientot Paris!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Run for The Hills

Thank God the season premier of The Hills starts today! I am in serious need of watching the lives of LC, Heidi, Spencer and the gang....at least it keeps me grounded to know that as crazy as my life is, they have much more drama to deal with.

3/28 UPDATE: This article is highly entertaining...check it out! http://www.slate.com/id/2187036/

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Music Report 3/19/2008

It's been way too long since I've posted a music report. I promise I do have a legitimate excuse. Uh...I spent a fabulous week in Paris. Not to worry, I have occaisionally had the opportunity to fill my addiction to good music.

New tunes to check out:

Hey Willpower! - Their cover of Architecture in Helsinki's "Heart It Races" is poppy and fun. How can you NOT love it??

Duffy - No not Hilary Duff, she's a clean and hot version of Amy Winehouse. Too bad the girl didn't get her start first, I love her! Maggie introduced me to the tunes in Paris....and there were advertisements for her everywhere. What is it with all of the British chicks singing Motown?

Deathcab's new single "I Will Possess Your Heart". I heard it for the first time on my commute home yesterday. I need to listen to it again....it was super dark, which is odd for a first single. Even more bizarre is it's one of their songs that is instrumental for like 3 minutes and then Ben sings the same lines over and over again... I liked it, but another listen is necessary. "Transatlanticism" is one of my fav DCFC tracks, and it was very similar. New album Narrow Stairs drops in May. Yay!

The Avett Brothers - They're indie-country? Too many sub-genre's for me to keep up with. If you like good lyrics and the banjo, check 'em out.

Vampire Weekend - So I know that MTV has put us all on Vampire Weekend overload, but it doesn't change the fact that everyone needs a little reggae in their life. VW puts a great new spin on it.

Coconut Records - Jason Schwartzman's new band. They're fun! Thanks for the rec Jesse!

Others to check out are "How I Became the Bomb" (I love the name) and the track "Serpentine" by Chris Bathgate...thanks for the recs Ry!

UPCOMING SHOWS IN HOUSTON!!

3/31 - Tokyo Police Club @ the Meridian
4/8 - Say Anything & Manchester Orchestra @ Warehouse Live
4/13 - British Sea Power & Film School @ Numbers
4/22 - Cat Power @ Warehouse Live

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The week that Paris got GOT by Brandie, Maggie and Tom - Part Un


Finally...item numero un of my bucket list, done and done! I went to Paris! Who better to complete the top item of my life to-do list with than Maggie. Yaaay! Maggie's hilarious and fun brother Tom also made the journey across the pond with us. There are so many things to blog about...it has to be done in segments.


We look so Euro chic!


Day 1: Parlez vous Francais?

After an exhausting 9 hour flight from Houston to Paris, we arrived to Paris feeling the affects of sleep aids and in serious need of showers and a change of clothes. Our amazing airport shuttle picked us up within minutes and drove us through the districts of Paris one by one on our way to the Marais. Our hotel was the Hotel Castex about a block from the Bastille...pretty much the perfect location for Paris first-timers. Tons of restaurants, boulangeries, patisseries, clubs, a nearby Metro station...fabulous!


We got the key to the room, walked in and saw a front room with two arm chairs, a roomy bathroom, and a bedroom with a king bed. Nice...but for three people, we were expecting the room we saw online with at least two beds. I wasn't exactly cool with sleeping in an armchair for a week. A little upset, I went to the front desk and tried to sort things out. The attendant told me that they upgraded us to the biggest room since we were there for so long and that it was for four people. Huh? Four midgets that want to share a bed maybe.... Then she explained how the arm chairs were actually "beds"..kinda like little futons. After Maggie and I took a while figuring it out (I'm blaming it on the Sudafed)....everything was tres bon.


Tom locked himself in the bathroom at one point...I think he was in there for ten minutes. We couldn't get the lock to budge, but finally I pulled my best McGuyver move, grabbed a penny and set him free. Then it was on to the week o' feasting!


Cafe Moderne was our first intro to French cuisine and my first chance to test out my high school French. Amazingly, I was able to get us a table and interpret the menu. Thanks Mademoiselle Guy (my HS French teacher)!! Maggie had her first of 10 salmon dishes and everyone else had a pretty delicious meal. Mmmm!


Then it was on to wondering the streets of the Marais and the Isle de Citi to see the Notre Dame Cathedral. It was breathtaking and much more elaborate than I had imagined. The island that it is located on should be named the dessert island. The only thing there are creperies, ice cream shops and gelato cafes. How the French are fit...I have no idea. It must be all the walking and smoking. We got some gelato at one of the places and Tom met a french ladyfriend. Go Tom!


That night we ate dinner at La Petit Chaise. It means, "The Little Chair" in French and the food there was superb! I got the soup l'oignion (aka French Onion Soup), duck with an apple chutney accompanied by some of the best mashed potatoes ever and a baked apple, then dessert was a mousse with a warm chocolate/hazelnut sauce. It was a party in my mouth. Tom's soup came out cold, he told the waiter so, and fifteen minutes later his soup returned piping hot and he had to wait like ten more minutes to eat it! Ha! Lesson one...don't complain about your food in Paris...you'll pay.



After downing lots of wine, we walked off some of our grub and found the Eiffel Tower. Anyone who knows me, knows how OBSESSED I am with the tower. It's kind of ridiculous actually... When I saw it twinkling for the first time, I was in complete awe. I was speechless....drunk, but still speechless.

On the way home, we got lost and couldn't find the metro station (in what we later found out wasn't the safest area at night..whoops!). We eventually found a station, but the train stopped and let us out before we reached the Bastille. Kinda scary, but we managed to grab a cab. What a good day....

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

13.1 Miles: Half the pain, twice the fun

Last weekend I went home to New Orleans to run the Mardi Gras Half-Marathon on Sunday 2/24. I love going home...the older I get, the more I miss New Orleans. Sigh.

So on Friday, my brother and I went to the Hilton to pick up my race packet from the expo. Past experience with expos is that they are huge...there are vendors from many various health food companies and athletic outfitters. I always stock up on discounted energy gels and bars, as well as peruse the workout gear. Not at this expo....I was actually embarrassed that this was my hometown's representation of an expo. There wasn't even a protien bar to be found, I had to stop at GNC on the way home. Other runners were just as dissappointed. People were walking around saying, "Is this really it?" Unacceptable.


Saturday I was forced to turn down a family crawfish boil (if you know me, you know that this was an extremely difficult task....). Consuming a week's worth of sodium the day before running 13.1 miles might lead to a painful run down St. Charles Avenue....and possibly death. So instead my parents were gracious enough to treat me to the uptown Louisiana Pizza Kitchen (LPK to us regulars). It's nothing like Cali's CPK...so much better! I got my carb load on, and stayed true to my healthy diet, with the Rosemary Chicken with pesto whole wheat pasta. It was delich!! Knowing that I was going to run most of it off the next day made it even more enjoyable. Mom got a yummy kitchen sink pizza and dad got this calzone with some bad ass sausage.


The next morning, I was up and at 'em for 4:45am for the race! The weather was absolutely perfect. About 55 degrees, overcast, a little humidity (but not too much)...optimal weather for the avid runner. This race was the first that I did not have a running partner, so I opted to bring the iPod along with a super sweet playlist. (Thank you Hey Willpower, Chemical Brothers, Postal Service, The Bravery, and Lupe Fiasco...just to name a few) I wished some friends good luck, stretched, the sun came up and we were off!


The first two miles consisted of running down Bourbon and Toulouse Streets. Bad idea. Sure, in theory you think, "How entertaining!" Not so much. When you're trying to pace yourself for either the full or half race, seeing vomit and smelling that wonderful Bourbon St. stench doesn't really help. Besides that, the street slopes down from the center and there are cars parked along the narrow street, which makes for shin splints and lots of obsticals. Me and some others decided to take to the sidewalks and dodge the drunkards. It felt like I was on American Gladiator!


The rest of the race was along St. Charles, around Audubon Park, and back to the dome. I was hoping that since uptown is highly populated, especially post-Katrina, that there would be a lot of spectators along the course. Not the case. There were a few people lined up, but most were only cheering for their loved ones. A bit of advice from a runner: if you're there to spectate, cheer for everyone! We need it...it keeps us going....and most of us will return the gesture with a greatful, "Thank you!" Sorry...enough ranting, on to more uplifting topics!


As I ran past every timekeeper, I noticed that my pace kept picking up. At mile 8 I knew that I was going to beat my 2:10 goal considerably....so I pushed myself harder. My parents were at the turn before the finish line where I was about to give out (thank goodness for Bloc Party at that point) and my dad took this beautiful candid (and why are those people standing in the middle of the street behind me?):




A few seconds later, I made the turn to the dome and saw the finish line and race clock. 2:02!! Oh my goodness...I would have never thought that I would be able to finish with a pace faster than 9:30 minute/mile. Unbelievable....I'm still in shock actually.

After downing lots of water and pigging out on bananas and king cake (mmmm!), I drank my celebratory beer at 9:30am...on a Sunday! Most people are just getting up and going to church...I was already drinking a beer. Fantastic.


Next race....Crescent City Classic 10K 3 weeks and counting...

Saturday, February 23, 2008

G. Love's Got Sauce

Thursday night some fellow lover's of live music joined me for the G. Love show at Warehouse Live in Houston.  This includes Charlie who had no idea who G. Love was, but took my advice that this was a yearly show that you simply do not miss.  Of all of the concerts I attended in 2007, G. Love definitely stands out as the one that I had the most fun at.  I think Charlie was happy with his decision...even if it meant paying the not so "convenient" charges from T-Master.  

Tristan Prettyman opened for the Philly freestyler.  I had heard some of her tunes on XM and remember liking them, but I definitely could not name or pick out any of her tunes if I heard 'em.  I distinctly remember thinking...hmmm...Tristan Prettyman?  Name sounds like a dudes and she's obviously a chick.  Cool name though.  Her voice was amazing and I'm always impressed with (and slightly jealous of) any cute chick with a guitar.  She has a voice similar to that of the poppy Colbie Callait (who I also am a fan of...can't get tired of that "Bubbly" song) and the looks of Jessica Beal.  Charlie did not have his glasses...but when I threw out J. Beal's name...he said, "Ooooh!  Tristan's hot!"  Lucky for him, he got to meet her after the show and actually see her up close.  She was a sweetheart and was dressed totally cute...I'll be checking out her music and wardrobe choices in the near future.

After singing along with some Modest Mouse and Beck between sets, G. Love and the Special Sauce was ready to jam.  I think I was the only one in our group who had seen him live and warned everyone that they had better get ready to shake their booties.  We all did...and had a blast.  G played all of his good stuff...Rodeo Clowns (sans Jack J...boo...but still good), Baby's Got Sauce (in true jam band fashion), and Cold Beverages (it just cracks me up).  He also did some sweet freestylin' and I love his harmonica and beatbox skills!  Great great show!!  

The only rant that I have was that it could've been a little louder.  One of the guys in our crew was talking (mind you, we were VERY close to the stage) and some rude chick said, "Hey can you keep it down, I can't here the music!"  Chill out sistah!!!  

Five hours after the show, I was prepping for my flight to New Orleans for the Mardi Gras Half-Marathon on Sunday.  Yes, I know it's not Mardi Gras anymore...but the race is already titled as such and the actual holiday was abnormally early this year.  I'm getting nervous about my 13.1 mile trek through the streets of the Crescent City....wish me luck!!!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

OBAMApalooza

This past Saturday, I happened to be fortunate enough to get a ticket to Barack Obama's rally at the Toyota Center. I knew it was going to be a big deal and that I was super excited about it...within 15 minutes I had purchased Radiohead tickets and obtained my free pass to hear 'the man' himself speak. I was completely beside myself and almost started doing laps around my living room. But really...I had no idea how huge this event was actually going to be.

Monday I started getting my Obama-mail about how people were going to get there super early to stand in line (of course it was general admission) which made me start to get slightly paranoid. So my work day was slow and I made a game-time decision to take a couple of vacation hours to hold my spot in line. Luckily, my friend Jordan managed to get a ticket from a very gracious person...so not only did I have someone to go with, but Jordan LOVES Barack and is extremely fun. I knew that good times were ahead...

I pulled up to the Toyota Center about 4 and yelled to the cabbie, "Yo holmes, smell ya later!" Okay, so I'm not the Fresh Prince...but I did decide to cab it for sanity purposes and the place was ridiculous. It was like the Superbowl...every media truck was lined up outside, helicopters were circling, tents were set up for radio stations, food vendors, THOUSANDS of people....madness. The demographic was all over the board...every color and age...there were hippies sitting next to young professionals in suits. I was fortunate to be towards the front of the ticket holder line and had the pleasure of standing by the Praise 92.1 tent for 2 whole hours. When Jordan texted me to find out where I was, I replied "Just follow the soulful sounds of DJ Revelation"...his reply "I'll bring booze!"

So we entered and I'll spare the details, but two hugs from J to random event volunteers and a couple of little white lies later, we were sitting in the VIP section! We decided to forego the crazy food lines and go straight to the bar, where we obtained our libations of choice...doubles of course. I have to say, the pre-rally events were not at all what I expected. There was a band playing with the most fabulous costumes I've ever seen...they were covered in sequins and played the best KC & The Sunshine Band hits. So for over two hours, we danced, made some friends and found out that Obama had won Wisconsin! (Thanks Francis!!) Then...it was show-time!

Once Will.I.Am's "Yes We Can" video started playing and the lights dimmed, we definitely got FIRED UP! Then he took the stage. Barack's speech was as eloquent as ever and I'll spare the details and my opinions, because no one really cares what I think and you can watch for yourself on CNN.com. I will say that he was so passionate that I damn near yelled out an "Amen", but perhaps that was just the Praise 92.1 talking.

I now understand why all of those people are so excited for rallies. When everyone is sitting around basically "tailgating" for hours before the actual speech, you tend to be a little more excited than usual. Hey...it works for sporting events!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Houston + Beautiful Weather = Patio Dining

The weather in Houston on Friday and Saturday was by all means, less than desirable. Rainy, disgusting, depressing...the kind of weather that makes you want to stay inside and watch movies. Mallory the Pup is not a fan of rain, so she was going stir crazy and I had the feeling that the two of us had probably spent too much quality time together. So on Sunday morning around 7am, when she was tapping her tail impatiently on the kennel floor, I was beyond irritated. I got up and reluctantly took her for a walk. I'm so glad I did...the weather was absolutely GORGEOUS! The view looked a little something like this (although this picture was taken from my apartment on a similar day a couple of months ago).

I already had plans to have lunch with a couple of girlfriends, so during my lengthy ten-mile training run I kept thinking about where we could go. Being that the weather was amazing, it would have been completely unacceptable to sit inside for lunch. Houston has so many wonderful patio cafes...Onion Creek, Brasil, Empire Cafe, LaFendee, Dry Creek, Teala's, Grappino Di Nino...I could go on. I've already been to all of those places, numerous times, and wanted to try something new. Then it hit me...during the Houston marathon, we ran past the King Biscuit Cafe. Cute, outdoor dining, Heights...and the fact that 'biscuit' is in the name just makes my mouth water. Mmmmm!

The King Biscuit is a very laidback establishment and make sure you're not in a hurry, because the wait staff definitely isn't. The menu had a wide-variety of selections, but the $3 Bloody Mary caught my eye. Although there were no olives, limes, beans, or celery (all things that are essential to a BM) it was very spicy and it WAS only $3. The ten-mile run had me in the mood to devour something of substance...my usual wimpy salad was not going to cut it. My girlfriend and I went for the California Eggs Benedict...fresh english muffin, turkey, avocado, w/ creamy hollandaise...served with hash browns and fruit. It hit the spot and was quite tasty! The prices there are very reasonable and there was no way I could finish all of the food....and I pigged out.

I'll definitely be back there...but I will have to bring Mallory, since the four-legged friends are allowed. I love this time of year in Houston...get out and enjoy a patio, the park, or a friend's backyard before the heat wave comes!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Music Report 2/14/2007

Another week and more music recommendations free of charge! Think of it as my Valentine's present to you. These are not necessarily new, just what I'm listening to and loving at the moment.
  • Stars - Everything...I mean EVERYTHING of their's is stellar (pun intended). The new album, In Our Bedroom After the War, is one of those that you can listen to all the way through. Pop Quiz - What Canadian group are these two folks also members of?

  • Ryan Adams, Follow the Lights EP - Ryan has covered Alice In Chains' Down In A Hole on this EP and it's a lot less hateful (but it's Ryan...so its still hateful in his own way). The last track is a cover of the song, Dear John, that he dueted with Norah Jones. Best track, in my opinion, is My Love For You Is Real.

  • Band of Horses - EVERYTHING

  • The Moldy Peaches, Anyone Else But You - It's from the Juno soundtrack and the lyrics are hilarious and romantic at the same time! And anyone who can throw the "up up down down left right left right B A select start" into their lyrics, gets mad props from me.

  • Broken Social Scene, Hotel - I love this song...it came on twice the other day and I thought my head was going to explode. Note to self...download soon

  • Lemon Jelly - Electronic, mellow...great stuff to run to

  • Herbie Hancock - The guy did win best album of the year and he is terrific....you have to give him some cred! Second not to self....buy this also.

Happy listening!! Don't forget, this is a two-way street...leave me some comments if there's something you think that I should be listening to!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

NEWSFLASH!! RADIOHEAD CONFIRMS HOUSTON SHOW!!

Saturday, May 17th @ The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in The Woodlands!!!!!

On sale THIS Saturday 2/16 @ noon!! This girl is going to be on the computer at 11:30am SHARP!! Who cares how much the ticket prices are...

Concert Calendar

Here are some shows that are currently on my concert radar. The Rodeo acts aren't included in this list, but if you are a John Legend fan, I highly recommend that you are in attendance. I saw him at Verizon Wireless in May 2007, the man knows how to entertain.

I have to say that I am a little disappointed that there aren't many bands making stops in Houston to/from SXSW....but maybe I'm just jealous that I don't live in Austin.

2/14 - Bob Schneider @ Warehouse Live
2/21 - G. Love w/ Tristan Prettyman @ Warehouse Live
3/3 - Built to Spill @ Warehouse Live
3/7 - Wilco @ Verizon Wireless Theater
3/7 - Louis XIV @ Warehouse Live
3/9 - Bone Thugs N Harmony @ Warehouse Live (If I weren't in Paris, I would be at this show!)
3/12 - Sia @ Warehouse Live
3/15 - Hotel Cafe Tour @ Meridian
3/31 - Tokyo Police Club @ Meridian (It's a Monday, but I am SOOOO there!!)
4/29 - O.A.R. @ Warehouse Live (My dad is on their email list and sent it to me..thanks Pops!)
6/7 - Datarock & Ladytron @ Meridian

I can't complete this post without telling you that you NEED to go to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival this year. It's two weekends long, so there's no excuse.... check out the lineup and see for yourself. http://www.nojazzfest.com/