When I still lived at home–especially in the summer–it was pretty common to roll out of bed and find Brandon out on the computer watching YouTube videos of Whose Line Is It Anyway? To the point that we all kind of tease him about it.

So then two of the show’s comedians, Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood, actually rolled into Pittsburgh, and of course it was all, “Well, we’ve got to take Brandon,” so it was kind of a late birthday present for him Saturday night.

Paul came over Friday, which is kind of a routine for us now when I don’t have any reason to go home, and I talked him into a trip to Sephora at South Hills Village for some moisturizer I’d fallen in love with, since I knew my free sample wouldn’t last me the week. We went to dinner at Max and Erma’s first, drank a little, then when we were done we came back here and drank a little more.

Somehow, we ended up having a relatively serious conversation in which I told him he keeps complaining about life situations like his job he hates but won’t actually do anything about it, which significantly upset him at first (and by that, I mean like a minute or so) before he admitted I was right and resolved to actually try to better his situation instead of complain. One of my consistent, semi-major complaints about him has been that this is pretty common–he’ll complain and mope about things he could change pretty easily, or at least take steps to change.

He ended up having trouble sleeping, though as far as I know not because of our conversation–he actually did stay in my room with me for most of the night, even though I was pretty soundly asleep. And the good thing was he’s on the 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. shift at work so he should be up all night and ended up falling asleep around 5. He made plans in town with a friend, so I had to wake him up around noon, especially since waking him up can be an arduous task.

He left me reading American Gods because he wanted to see my reaction (I’m at the end), and then I went off to drop off recycling and meet my family (plus Kelly) for dinner at PF Chang’s, which was a delicious and mildly drunken time for me.

Colin and Brad did put on a good, entertaining show, and it was filmed for a TV/Netflix release sometime this year. It was kinda neat to see how they actually go about filming those things, which includes bringing people up from the back to fill in empty seats and asking us to remove our winter coats. I’ll be interested to see what makes the cut.

And now we wait for more snow.

Top 5 on Friday: Thank

Top 5 artists/bands you would like to thank for their music.

1. Mumford and Sons For being talented and beautiful. One person at the Pittsburgh show called them the band of our generation, the one people are gonna actually remember and still love.
2. David Bowie For being such an innovative, badass icon who has consistently made different and good music throughout his career.
3. Buddy Holly For being one of the Founding Fathers of rock ‘n’ roll and one of the best songwriters this country has ever seen. And, duh, inspiring The Beatles. There are no words for how much I love you, Buddy Holly!
4. AFI For being the first band I fiercely, fiercely loved and truly changing my life, most notably by introducing me to music, ideas, and subcultures I’d never properly been exposed to before. And for providing me with music to move me through angry and hurt. And for reminding me of why you’re amazing and I love you when I forget, because I do sometimes.
5. The Beatles For being so iconic and beautiful and influential.
Five wasn’t nearly enough, guys. I could easily come up with five more. From the Music Memoirs.

Friday Five: Boring

  1. What’s the most boring television show? Anything involving gold mining or home renovation. Don’t get me wrong, I like seeing an impressive reno, but I like to see it in before-and-after pictures. Gun shows are boring, too.
  2. What’s a really boring movie? I know I’ve been bored by plenty of movies, but none are coming to mind!
  3. Whose music is really boring? I get bored by a lot of artists because so few these days are doing anything different. I find Lady Gaga to be boring because it’s the same old pop we’ve been getting for years. Most mainstream rock is boring because it sounds too generic and safe.
  4. What used to be interesting but is now boring? Given my previous answer, the music industry! The movie industry to an extent, too, because they keep doing remakes.
  5. Who’s the most boring person you know? Boring People, A Tale in Three Parts:

1. I was once told Paul was boring, which I think I’ve discussed before. Now, I was a little tipsy at the time, so I wasn’t bothered by it until the next day. And while obviously what matters is that he’s a good guy who makes me happy, being told he’s boring stung a little because 1) people don’t give him a real chance, not that he makes it easy because he can be very difficult to coax out of his shell, but he’s a lot smarter, funnier, more creative, and even bitchier than people realize and 2) other significant other are guilty are far, far worse things and no one thinks twice. The worst thing a person can be in the 20s is boring.

2. Brandon tells this story he loves where he claims I once bored myself to sleep, that I was talking and bored myself so horribly that I fell asleep mid-sentence. This is SO FALSE. He claims I was talking then closed my eyes, which may be true if I was sleepy or if my contacts were bothering me, but I certainly didn’t fall asleep and I certainly don’t bore myself.

3. So, that leaves who I genuinely think is boring, and I really don’t know. I honestly can’t say I’ve ever been bored by another person–conversation, sure. Circumstances or place, maybe. Actual person that is set in my brain as being 100% boring? No one. My dad’s a close contender, though, because he’s so predictable–you always know what he’s gonna say, he only watches Fox, and he only listens to music made in the ’80s or earlier.

From the Friday Five.

Booking Through Thursday

I decided I need a book meme in my life, so here it is.

Outside of books, what’s your favorite thing to read Newspapers? Magazines? Blogs? Fanfiction? Specific websites?

I’m not sure what my favorite is, but I dabble in most of the above and almost entirely online. I read the online versions of local newspapers, as well as Spin and Rolling Stone. Twitter makes it super easy to sort of curate what I want to read, so I also end up on AbsolutePunk.net and PasteMagazine.com. Of course, I read my own musical pseudo-employer, InYourSpeakers.com. I don’t read many blogs, aside from a few that’ll pop up on Twitter or Facebook, aside from ThatsChurch.com, which is pretty regular. As for short-form pursuits, TheRumpus.net and Brevity. I submitted a piece to The Rumpus like two nights ago and I have some ideas that would suit Brevity, I think.

And because I’m not content with just one reading discussion for the night, I’m hitting Booking Through Thursday’s archives.

  1. What kind of books do you like to read? I will seriously read almost anything. The only things I don’t seem to get as into are more academic writings, science-y things, romance, mystery, and true crime, but there are exceptions. For example, I’m interested in Richard Feynman right now, who was a physicist, and I want to read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. And I have read mysteries and true crime, it’s just that they tend to not interest me quite as much.
  2. Why? Provide specific examples. My tastes are very eclectic, and just in books. I’ve always loved reading, so as long as it sounds interesting to me, I’ll read it. I’ll even read things that don’t sound interesting to me if they get a lot of hype or I receive a personal recommendation, aside from when my dad and other ultra conservatives try to tell me to read Glenn Beck or Bill O’Reilly. I enjoy anything that tells a good story or is well-written, or even if one of those traits is lacking but the other makes up for it. My stack of what I’m reading now is pretty eclectic: Sandman, which is a comic/graphic novel, I enjoy because it’s Neil Gaiman and is dark an intriguing, though I haven’t fallen in love with it as much as I’d hoped and as much as some have. Anne Rice’s Called Out of Darkness because I like her and discussions of religion and spirituality very interesting, although her writing in this is lacking–I want her to show me rather than tell me, the way she does in her fiction. 50 Shades of Grey because I had to see what the hyper was about, and I actually like it so far, but Christian Grey is about to ruin it by being a possessive, controlling asshat. Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens, which isn’t engaging me much, which is weird because I generally get pretty into Dickens and this one’s all full of murder and swindles. Go Ask Alice, which is a total letdown because it’s surprisingly boring for being a fake drug memoir, but I suspect that’s because it feels so forced to me. Tess of the D’Urbervilles did not interest me at all but it was an old book of my mom’s, and I’ve fallen in love with it. I just want Tess to be happy and for Angel Clare to come around! The House of Mirth is interesting but not impressive. I’m still trudging through The Fountainhead after literally years–I hate it. It’s boring and poorly written. It got good for a hot minute but killed it again. I feel like I’ve read 500 pages of bad exposition with terrible characters. Seriously, these people all suck. Which leads us to American Gods, which is getting so epic that it’s giving me a mindfuck almost on Harry Potter levels. And then there’s Great Expectations lurking in my purse, which I liked well enough to start but shit just got real. I also realized it’s almost a less epic Bleak House. Shit, I loved Bleak House.

Friday Five: Signs

  1. Who is the most unyielding person you know? I’m not really sure. Probably my mother. And Terra. Terra just does not give in easily.
  2. Where did you last experience an unexpected soft shoulder? Hmm. I don’t know.
  3. What’s something you wish would just stop? Paul’s mother. For the love of all that is fucking holy. She’s basically emotionally wrecked her kid and then when she realizes it and apologizes, she just makes tons of excuses for why she does it. Just stop fucking doing it. If you know you’re being an irrational harpy, then think before you open your fucking mouth and hurt basically everyone that hears you rather than speaking first then backtracking and more or less saying, “Feel bad for me, I had it worse.” Shut the fuck up. You’re a rude, inconsiderate bitch who’s going to drive all six of your children to leave you in the dust.
  4. What’s a recent decision you wish you could make a U-turn on? I REGRET NOTHING.
  5. What mundane task do you think most people do the wrong way? Driving. Son of a bitch. No, tailing someone because your an impatient asshole is not a legitimate or legal driving maneuver. Neither is high-beaming someone for the same reasons. Neither is texting/drinking and driving. Stop signs and lights are not optional, and I get if you don’t want to speed like a mother fucker, especially since I recently got a speeding ticket, but that doesn’t mean you can drive 10 below the speed limit. And you don’t need to slam on your brakes because a cop has someone pulled over. That cop doesn’t give two shits about what you’re doing unless you’re doing 90 while hanging out of your car shooting people or something.

Well, the psychic that told me I’d win a couple hundred bucks gambling wasn’t too drastically off–I won about $100 and not the maximum of $500 she predicted, but my damn brother won $600.

We did have a fun trip, though. We did our usual buffet trip and slots. Paul insisted initially he didn’t want to gamble but gave in when I was doing well on a Princess Bride slot, and he ended up actually doing well enough to play all night until he ultimately lost it all. I was up to over my $100 but didn’t play below that, so we cashed out and went on a brief South Side stint, since Brandon and Kelly have never been.

We didn’t want a crazy, late night, so I limited us to two of the more entertaining bars–Jekyll and Hyde and Bar 11. Rachael and her roommates met up with us and we chatted and hung out for a bit. I need more Rachael in my life. We’re the kind of friends who don’t see each other often at all or even stay well in touch beyond social media, but when we get together we hold just about nothing back and can talk for hours. So we discussed our mutual distaste for rude people and what social media has become. I’m interested to hear if one of the roommates, Kassie, says anything–she once texted Brandon and told him none of their friends like Kelly, which isn’t true, but it sounds like she gives most of her friends a hard time when they’re in relationships. Brandon was frustrated enough with her that he was texting me earlier in the week saying he’s debating whether or not he even wants to continue to be friends with her, and I gave him the words of wisdom that if you have to ask yourself that, as a general rule, you probably shouldn’t be friends with the person in question.

We did have a good time, though. Bar 11 was a lot of fun and Brandon really enjoyed giving people name tags and drawing on them. I was dubbed Barry Fucking Gibb, Beware of Dog, Sketchy Sea Beast, For a Good Time Follow, Fun Hole, Pocket Rocket, and The Bearded Lady. Unfortunately, about that time, Paul got considerably cranky because of what I’m guessing was a combination of factors: tiredness, a headache, distaste for bars, feeling left out, and residual mother angst.

He came over Friday night and got a text after a few hours from his dad saying his mom thought he doesn’t like her because he didn’t get her a birthday present. For one thing, that’s quite a conclusion to jump to, and for another, it’s not completely true. He’d actually be deliberating over a gift for her for weeks because he had no idea what to get her. Apparently, she’s really hard to shop for, so he settled on an Applebee’s gift card. But when he got home and told his dad that’s what he decided, he told him not to give it to her because she’d received a few gift cards and complained they’re too impersonal.

Now, Paul of course took this all very hard and felt like shit. I’m trying this new thing where I try to get him to realize that some of the issues with her are her–sure, he should’ve probably jumped on getting a replacement gift sooner than he did, but her jumping to conclusions about it is on her, not him. It’s sort of the same reasoning my therapist worked with me on: how you think about things dictates how you react to them. I’ve kind of used this in two different ways. The first was pre-therapy realizations that things that the way people were treating me, especially to the extent is was taken, reached a point where it stopped being about me and what I might have said or done and started being about that person taking out their own issues on me. The second was taking the damage that did to me emotionally and turning it around and saying, “Nope. This blows, but I can deal.” Now that I think about it, I should probably give him the sort of handouts my therapist gave me and explain all this to him. It proved to be a very useful tool, and the only reason I plan on going back within the next month or so is because I want to address potential holiday stress before it becomes an issue, not ride it out and go after I’ve had a good cry.

Anyway, the point is Paul was moody most of the weekend. He’d snap out of a funk for a few hours–or maybe he was just faking it–then go right back into it, and of course he was in usual cranky Sunday mood where he doesn’t want to go home or go to work and the weekend is over.

We’ll see if an expensive coat, candy, and alcohol fix the problem, but I’m not counting on it. As helpful as therapy has been for me, sometimes I feel like the people around me are the ones who need to be going.

Top 5 on Friday: New Releases

Top 5 recent new releases

1. Burials by AFI I’m not sure if I would say this is the band’s best album, but I’m also not sure if that’s because I’m so partial to Sing the Sorrow or if Burials really just isn’t quite on that level. But Burials is certainly the band’s most mature album, and it’s some of their most straightforward, gritty rock. They feel a lot more like a grown-up band now and not a band for teenage goth girls. It’s still very much AFI in that it’s dark but at times incredibly catchy. And Jade Puget’s guitar riffs are some of his best ever.
2. Small Little Pieces by Blue of Colors Solo projects sometimes have a way of actually sounding a lot like the bands they originated from (one of my favorite examples of this is Queen’s Brian May’s Back to the Light, which sounds a lot like pure Queen, but I also cite this as an example of how collaborative the band’s songwriting efforts were). Blue of Colors, though, Punchline singer Steve Soboslai’s more indie-oriented solo endeavor, isn’t one of those. Some songs do sound like a subdued Punchline for sure–“Goodbye Stranger,” for example–but overall, Small Little Pieces is a different, solid indie record. Even though I admittedly overplayed some of the songs released in advance.
3. Matangi by M.I.A. I’ve always liked M.I.A., but I’ve only really been a casually listener–Matangi is the first of her albums I’ve ever listened to in full, which was a good decision because it’s excellent.
4. The Next Day Extra by David Bowie The Next Day was a nice surprise release from Bowie anyway–and I’m still pissed that I never found the Record Store Day vinyl on my pilgrimage–but the bonus material on the Extra release only makes it better, even though I strongly dislike bonus rereleases with a year or so of the original. That said, I’m a big fan of “God Bless the Girl.” This is definitely the best of Bowie’s most recent releases, too, so that’s a huge plus.
5. Reflektor by Arcade Fire I’ve been meaning to pay proper attention to Arcade Fire since I caught their SNL performance awhile back and really liked it, but other than happening upon a few songs on Spotify, I never really did. Then IYS started covering single releases and the album leak, and the Sirius satellite radio Paul had (has?) in his car had “Reflektor” on heavy rotation on all the alternative stations. And here we are.