Thursday, January 29, 2009

the greatest picture in the history of the universe.

also, me in a nutshell.


sentimental quote of the day.

"I love sleep,
my life has a tendency
to fall apart when I’m awake."
-Ernest Hemingway
This entire post is quite beautiful. I like this part best:

"I often wonder,
is it really possible,
a certain place
can make you feel different?
When you look at that picture above,
you get a feeling,
a feeling of wanting to be there.
You don't want to be where you are now,
because you can't be in two different places.
I wish i was happy with the place
i am now.
I am not.
I already know this place.
I am dreaming about places
i've never been.
Places unknown,
places to discover.

If only i wasn't so afraid to fly."

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

who wants cheap designer clothes? you do!

I just wanted to let you all know in advance that I'm going to be selling a batch of never-worn (and new-with-tags) designer clothing on eBay. These are clothes I bought from online boutiques that didn't fit (or looked bad on my body) and I intended to get tailored, but wound up sitting in my closet for months. I'll let you know when I've made the listings. For now, I need to do some research on keywords and work on photographing the clothes.

Here's a taste of what I'll be selling:

Current/Elliot Tulip dress, size 0

Sophomore Button dress in orange, size S

Rachel Comey Triangle belt in brown, size S

Also: Elizabeth & James shorts, Devotte boots, a Diane von Furstenburg blouse, a Twelfth Street by Cynthia Vincent dress, a BCBG top, an Anthropologie dress, lots of unworn Urban Outfitters stuff...and maybe an Alexander Wang dress, too.

a no brainer.

If you haven't checked it out already, you should really listen to (and buy!) the new Animal Collective album, Merriweather Post Pavilion. Everything to say about it has already been said, so I won't bother. But really, it's fantastic. (This song might be my favorite.)

snow day.

I am not a cold-weather person. Actually, I'm not a hot-weather person, either. I like my weather in the mid-seventies and sunny. This whole winter, I've been downright hermit-esque and every day, I hope for spring. That being said, it snowed yesterday and everything looks lovely. I took a few pictures today (but not too many, because, like I mentioned, I'm a little baby when it comes to the cold!).

See more at my Flickr photostream.

oh hey, an outfit post.

I wish I had a cool studio setup like Lulu or Rumi. Instead, I have me, terrible lighting, and no decent full-size mirror. Sorry, y'all.

{Church & State top, Siwy jeans; not seen: Vintage brown boots}

Sunday, January 25, 2009

a driveway moment.

I heard this story tonight on NPR and had to look it up and spread the word. It's so amazingly touching. I highly recommend a listen:

"After the Forgetting"

Producer Erica Heilman brings us this story of how a Vermont family changes as the mother's dementia progresses. What happens to love when there is no memory? An evolution of relationships reveal themselves in these conversations between Gregory Sharrow, his mother Marjorie and Greg's husband Bob Hooker.

(I found this comment on the NPR page about Marjorie in her younger days: "I know (knew?) Marj...she is a friend of my parents. She always had the best stories about her travels with her husband, like getting attacked by monkeys while on a safari. I always liked going over to her house because she had drawer upon drawer of costume jewelry. She is also a terrific painter. I still have a note she wrote me about meeting Houdini when she was a child. I was so sad to hear about her memory loss, but I hear that it hasn't changed her attitude towards life. She has always been such an upbeat soul. Thanks to Greg for taking such good care of her.")

More information about this piece can be found at Transom.

beyond amelie.

I love Yann Tiersen. I don't know if it's still cool to do so, because I'm pretty sure everyone is all Amelie'd out, but he makes such pleasant "quintessentially French" music (accordions and toy pianos abound!). This song is one of my favorites. It's called "La Veillée".

Saturday, January 24, 2009

my wardrobe is complete.

I love sunglasses, but I always feel silly in them. I have lots of cheap pairs (H&M, Urban Outfitters) and a single expensive pair (Ksubi), but I'm always too bashful to wear them. I tried these on today in Forever 21 and it's LOVE. They're so stupid. I want to wear them everywhere. Best $5 I ever spent.

Friday, January 23, 2009

happy friday.

{via camp comfort via the sartorialist}

{via six impossible things}

{via the huffington post, originally from AP/Getty}


thank you, mr. president.

the chain letter of blogs.

The lovely Penny tagged me for this whole "fourth photo of fourth folder" thing. Here are the rules:
  • Go to the forth folder on your computer where you keep you photographs.
  • Choose the 4th picture.
  • Explain it.
  • Tag four other people.
This is what I got:

I keep loads and loads of picture folders. Interior design, streetstyle, MORE streetstyle, fashion editorials, photography I like, etc., etc. This picture comes from the blog of a delightfully charming Scandinavian (I think?) blogger. I'm awful, because I forget her name. I know she's popular on the blogosphere, but I did a (painful) cull of fashion blogs on my RSS reader a few months ago and hers was one that I got rid of. Eeep! Can someone help?

Anyway, I saved this picture because I really love full skirts of all kinds. I also love the mix of colors within and between each outfit.

I tag:

Tenacious Dee
My Style Lounge

Thursday, January 22, 2009

this happens to me all the time.

"It is strange how a word transforms when you look at it closely and read it slowly. After a while you are not sure if it is a word at all."

Monday, January 19, 2009

dudes and dudettes.

I went to Richmond today to look at apartments and found the most amazing one. It's in a safe, convenient location, it's not-too-expensive, is on the same street as my best friend's place, has a huge bedroom/back porch/front porch/huge living room/nice kitchen/dining area/allows pets/includes utilities and is all around amazing.

It's not so cheap that there must be something wrong with it, as my two best friends who lived/live in Richmond had equally amazing places for comparable prices. Richmond is cheap because the career market sucks, but I'm not looking for a career at the moment. Actually, that's why the current tenant is leaving. (She's moving to Charlottesville for work.) I'm not too concerned with that because I'll be looking for a mundane job that pays rent while I work my ass off on the GREs and possibly get some internships.

I know I was sort of torn about Richmond vs. Portland, but for now, it seems like a good intermediate step before moving out west. The thought of lugging everything (my car, my whiney cats, my furniture) across the country and then schlepping back here for the GREs makes my head hurt. I kind of love the idea of being close enough to go home but far enough to feel removed, at least for a year. Then I can go to grad school in New York and on to bigger and better things!

I'm cynical enough to assume there will be some major roadblocks, but for now (and with the inauguration tomorrow), I'm feeling pretty wonderful.

happy MLK day.

I highly recommend listening to this interview with John Lewis, a Democratic congressman and civil rights activist. He describes his experiences during the Civil Rights Movement and draws a parallel to the gay rights struggle of today.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

all is not right with the world.

This movie topped the box office this weekend. A movie about a mall cop. A movie starring one of the least funny comedians I know (who is also, surprise surprise, a Republican!). It's beating Gran Torino, a movie I saw last night and thought was fantastic. Clint Eastwood is also a Republican (well, he claims to be a Libertarian but supported John McCain), but I don't hold that against him because he seems like a good guy. Kevin James is a Republican who made a stupid movie about two dudes who pretend to be gay for the benefits. Clint Eastwood is a Republican who made an intelligent movie about race relations. I love the Dollars Trilogy, too.

I loathe you, Kevin James. LOATHE. YOU ARE AWFUL.

draw rings.

Katey Jean is my new favorite artist. Her stuff reminds me a bit of Carson Ellis (artist for the Decemberists and wife of Colin Meloy) and Denise Ann Simon* (now Denise Ann Holmes). You know when you find a band who can do no wrong? Sure, you have favorite songs, but their general aesthetic just meshes so well with your taste that it's scary? Katey Jean is like that for me.

From her site:

"My name is Katey-Jean Harvey, I'm an illustrator and painter currently based in Liverpool, UK. My work is often narrative based, creating a world where my grumpy girls in cute dresses can sulk about boys and hang out with skeletons and sausage dogs. I am very fond of thin paint brushes, grey paper and sneaking cats into all of my pictures. I graduated from Liverpool School of Art with a first class degree in Graphic Arts and have made pictures for Amelia's Magazine, Hot Club de Paris, Puzzle and Meshuggy."

Katey Jean's site
Katey Jean's Flickr
Katey Jean's blog

All pictures are from Katey Jean's site, with the exception of the first, which is from her Flickr.

Just a sidenote, but I can't stress how great Denise Ann Holmes's work looks in person. I have this print and it makes me giddy:

{Katey Jean discovered via Design for Mankind}


I've been really into fiber arts lately and fortuitously discovered a bunch of great artists at once. Here are some of my favorites:

Sandra Sheehy

{photo credit}

"Sandra Sheehy was born in Norfolk in 1965 and studied illustration at Maidstone College of Art but never pursued this career. She began making embroidery pictures in 1988. When she begins a new piece, she has no plan in mind: 'I start at the centre and the work unfolds to me... the constant feeling is of the repeating patterns of life that range from the microscopic to the ever-expanding universe.'" (from England & Co.)

Aya Kakeda

{photo credit}

Aya was born and raised in Tokyo Japan.

She now works and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

She likes Cats, seals , and receiving postcards and she has ever changing weekly obsessions, now it’s the French language and star nosed mole." (from flux factory.)

Aya draws and paints in addition to embroidering.

Jenny Hart

{photo credit}

"Jenny Hart (b. 1972) is an artist based in Austin, Texas. She is also the founder Sublime Stitching, a design company launched in 2001 to revitalize the craft of hand embroidery. Jenny's work has appeared in publications such as Spin, Nylon, Rolling Stone, Venus, The Face, Bust and Juxtapoz. She is the author of three titles for Chronicle Books (San Francisco) and her design work won PRINT Magazine's Regional Design Annual award (2005). Jenny has worked with The Flaming Lips, collaborated with The Decemberists, and comic artists Dame Darcy and Mitch O'Connell. Her work is in the collections of Carrie Fisher, Tracey Ullman and Elizabeth Taylor. Jenny was a panelist at the 2007 SXSW Interactive Festival and a featured speaker at the 2007 Maker Faire Austin." (from her website.)

Sandra Golbert

{photo credit}

"This artist creates sculptures, collages, quilts, watercolors and artists' books. She makes her own handmade paper and paints silk with cold water dyes, using these materials to construct her artwork. Several major hotels display her fiber art murals and installations. Her work is also exhibited in galleries and museums in the United States and the Caribbean." (from her website.)

{discovered via Little Yellow Bird, another great fiber artist}

Sarah Illenberger

{photo credit}

She mostly works with paper and other materials (food included), but her stuff is too good to exclude from this post.

"Defining one category for all the work of Sarah Illenberger is no easy task. The forms the visual translations of her themes assume are far too diverse. What initially sounds quite abstract, in reality, is mostly practical in that her creations are not generated on a computer but rather by meticulous handwork, sometimes incorporating the most mundane materials. A story about love-sickness is visualised through an embroidered design. Variously coloured tablets are used to compose portraits for a magazine. And in Sarah’s hands, beauty products are given new life by being transformed into tourist landmarks. Whatever she creates, it is done with a humorous touch and a great love for detail. Each assignment leads to a unique work of art, sometimes visually enhancing the content of a feature, sometimes to be considered a work in its own right. In her Berlin studio, Sarah Illenberger develops concepts for editorial as well as commercial clients. She mostly works alone, but occasionally teams up with a photographer." (from her site.)

Special thanks to Christos for telling me about Aya Kakeda and Jenny Hart.

make me up.

I'm kind of obsessed with makeup. I don't wear it every day, but I try to at least wear some blush and mascara when I have the time. The key to purchasing is to have a strategy, because makeup is often ridiculously overpriced and once you buy something, there's usually no going back.

When I get the hankering for a product (a foundation brush, for instance), I go to Makeupalley first. Registration is free, and there you can read hundreds of reviews on thousands of products. They cover everything from cosmetics, tools and hair products, so it's a good all-purpose beauty site. The reviews can be sorted categorically or by brand (or both), but many brands make pages of products, so you can choose to have results arranged by "best value", "top picks" or "most reviews".

Another helpful aspect is that each reviewer can choose to make a "skin profile", so you can get an idea of how different skin types respond to different products. Foundation in particular can be extremely temperamental depending on how oily or dry your skin is.

Once you make a short list of products you'd like to try, go to a department store (or Sephora, or Ulta) with a clean face and ask for a sample application. I've done this at Nordstrom and even snooty places like Neiman Marcus, and as long as you seem like you're keen on eventually buying, they're pretty accomodating. With foundation (and other products), it's not just about how it initially looks, it's also about lasting power and skin reaction. You also can't rely on department store lighting alone, so it's best to go in the daytime so you can see how everything looks in natural light (and other types of lighting).

It's sort of a long, annoying process, but I'm extremely picky with just about everything, so I find it works for me. Here are the products I adore:

1. Primer: Yves Saint Laurent Matt Touch Primer

My skin tends to get oily within a few hours, especially during the summer. This little product amazingly combats that while helping foundation go on smoothly. It has a silicon base so I suppose it also fills in fine lines, but I'm too young for those (I hope!). Its main virtue, which I can't stress enough, is the fact that it prevents the face from getting shiny. I'm talking day-after-you-forgot-to-wash-your-face-before-bed-after-coming-home-from-a-disgusting-dance-party effective.

However, I always recommend sampling first. I googled the primer to figure out its full name and found this review, where the author recommends "Make Up For Ever HD Primer" instead.

2. Foundation: Laura Mercier Oil-Free Foundation

This foundation has been named the best oil-free foundation on InStyle's Best Beauty Buys list for as long as I can remember. The colors are yellow-based, which means they match skin tones more closely (supposedly), but there really is a wide range of colors. It's very sheer and glowy. The proper shade will match your skin but make it look not just uniform, but healthy. I've gotten compliments on this foundation from people my age and little old ladies. It's matte, but not too matte. It's glowy, but not dewy or greasy. You can use it sparingly for sheer coverage or layer it without it ever looking cakey. My one complaint is the fact that though it's oil-free, my skin still gets oily while using it. Thus the primer above. I also find that blotting with a kleenex before applying powder soaks up any oils sitting on your skin from moisturizer or foundation.

3. Foundation Brush: Ecotools Foundation Brush

So I never thought brushes mattered much. I just used my fingers like every other non-celebrity and had no problems with it. But while watching makeup tutorials one day (I have a lot of free time, you guys!), I noticed the woman using a foundation brush and raving about how it leaves the skin with an airbrushed quality. So I went to my trusty Makeupalley and found that the highest rated foundation brush retailed for about $5 at Walgreens. I was skeptical but intrigued, so I decided to buy it. It felt weird at first painting your face like a canvass, but it really does make a difference. I always found sponges wasteful (because you're constantly throwing them away but also, because they absorb much of your foundation), but this just needs a little soap and water after each use and it's fine. I've never purchased a super expensive brush, but from what I've manhandled in stores, the quality is just as good as brushes that retail for $50 or more. It's also made from synthetic fibers rather than animal hair.

4. Translucent Powder (tie): Laura Mercier Translucent Setting Powder and Shu Uemura Face Powder Matte in Colorless

They're both velvety and really, honest-to-god translucent -- you won't look like you just put corn starch on your face. They both minimize pores and set your makeup. They do a good job with shine control, though I would give the edge to Laura Mercier's. As always, loose powder can be a pain to apply. I still don't know how to reduce spilling powder everywhere, but I just clean up after application. Both have very pretty, minimalist packaging. Both are also too expensive for simple powder.

5. Blush: Laura Mercier Face Tint in Apricot

I think this product has been discontinued. I bought it from Nordstrom, but it isn't widely available anywhere else, so they might be getting rid of their last stock. It's a translucent loose powder, but a little goes a long way and it's easy to blend. The color is extremely flattering and was developed to "recreate a natural blush". The color is apricot without being too orangey. It's not like Nars's Orgasm, which I find to be too beach bronzey for me. It works on a variety of skin tones and is shimmery without a trace of glitter.

6. Mascara: Yves Saint Laurent 'Volume Effet Faux Cils'

My lashes are pathetic. They're short and fine and I'm a child of the 80s. I love big, thick hair, whether it's attached to my scalp or my eyes. So I OD on hairspray and mascara. This stuff is like crack. The 'faux cils' means fake lashes, and it really does deliver. I'm generally not a fan of very "wet" mascaras (like Maybelline's Great Lash) because they clump easily, but this one is worth it. I just wipe off all the excess, on the bottle and on a kleenex, and then apply layer by layer until my lashes are long and thick. I guess some people prefer modest eyelashes, but I love the lush, doey look of big ones. This stuff gives you the illusion of good genes without a hint of the spider effect.

7. Eyeliner: Mac Fluidline

I love a good, simple cat-eye. Liquid liner is a bitch. I thought it impossible, until I found Fluidline. It's a gel liner that is best applied with an angled brush (I use the 266), and blotting the brush on the cap of the liner makes applying it a cinch. Watching this video on how to do the perfect cat-eye helps a lot, too.

So, that's my makeup post. If I wasn't so lazy, I'd post pictures of the products on me. Maybe someday!

{image credits: 1, 2, 3, 4a, 4b, 5, 6, 7}

you ever drunk bailey's from a shoe?

The "Sunday Funnies" Jezebel thread reminded me of the glory that is The Mighty Boosh. I don't know why I needed reminding, because I watch the DVDs every night before I go to bed. Here's a clip from one particular episode. (Note: it's written for and probably by people on drugs, though I enjoy it completely sober!)

Friday, January 16, 2009

“One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. 'Which road do I take?' she asked. 'Where do you want to go?' was his response. 'I don’t know,' Alice answered. 'Then,' said the cat, 'it doesn’t matter.'"

- Lewis Carroll

my last purchase ever.

i miss taking pictures.

Winter is so scary for me. I'm already constantly cold, but now it's legitimately frigid. Today the high was 20 degrees, I think. I never went outside. All day, I've been wrapped in my fuzzy robe, in a down comforter, with my cat snuggled up beside me. I STILL froze.

Everything is grey and ugly, but I feel like I could take some good pictures if I wasn't so cold-blooded.

the elephants of style.

Do you see what I see? I was in the supermarket the other day when I came across this ghastly cover. I don't care about the Britney story, I care about the headline: "What price fame?" At first I thought I was just daft and couldn't figure out its meaning. I tried to look at the three words from a variety of angles. It took me a few minutes before I realized the error was theirs, not mine -- it was simply lazy prose. Obviously, a magazine like OK! is not known for its quality of writing, but the lack of a coherent cover headline should be considered troublesome. If someone was fired for spelling dear Ashlee Simpson's name as "Ashley", surely someone deserves censure for forgetting the remainder of the sentence? Perhaps they meant, "What price for fame?", which isn't the nicest of sentences but at least conveys a shred of meaning. I guess I'm just bitter, but really? Every unemployed writer I know is better than this.

So I googled the phrase, and it's supposedly an idiom. Forbes used it to title a piece about Heath Ledger, it's the name of a book, and there's even a page about it on the Free Dictionary. I still don't like it. It's messy and unclear and not popular enough to fly, in my opinion. I know not every idiom makes sense, but this one is worthless.

I'm becoming very self-conscious about my writing. I've been reading "The Elements of Style" by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White. It's a great little book full of useful guidelines and stylistic advice, but it makes me nervous. Now, I question every comma and adverb I use. I realize I'm too "uncertain" in my writing, needlessly dropping in "sort of's" and "I think that's" when what people prefer is confidence. But scrutinizing every word makes me even less so. There are so many things I did not know, and I feel like every editor I have sent my resume to has cringed at its mistakes.

Did you realize, for example, that "hopefully" should not be interchangeable with "I hope", or "It is to be hoped"? I didn't. I still don't even fully grasp the difference between "lay" and "lie". I know writing isn't supposed to be easy, but I bog myself down with messy sentence structure that I'm unsure how to fix. Strunk and White make it seem so breathlessly easy. They do to writing what French women do to style. To them, it's effortless. To me, whether I'm writing an informal blog post or a professional-yet-creative cover letter, everything feels clumsy. I guess you could say I feel hopeless.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

if I had the bills to pay the, uh, bills...

I'd totally rent this little cottage in Portland. I found it on Craigslist and I can't imagine it looks this good in person because it isn't even all that expensive.

the tyranny of choice.

So, the reason I haven't been posting isn't due to any exciting news on the job front. It's been a combination of insecurity and lack of direction and/or motivation. (Yes, this is one of those self-important posts you should probably skip.)

I went to New York last week and found myself talking to two people living in two cities I adore. They are both unemployed. One, my friend John, lives in Brooklyn in a great, cozy (yes, that's a euphemism for small, but it's so damn nice!) apartment. He graduated from UVA, is an accomplished writer -- WAY more accomplished than I am -- and is jobless. How can it be? He lives in the media capital of the country. His rent is doable, but the prospect of being unemployed in New York City terrifies me. I thought it'd be a place where I could certainly get a job, albeit a low-paying one. The reason I wasn't rushing to move to New York was the weather, the harsh competition, and the rents, not the prospect of unemployment.

My other friend, Alex, lives in Portland. He's been unemployed since August. Again, he went to a good school, has had two prominent internships working with places like Yellowstone National Park, and he cannot find a job. What gives? If they can't do it, how can I? I've had one good internship and a tiny handful of jobs that are semi-relevant to media (though more geared towards web design, which I'm trying to get away from).

Moving to either place (or anywhere) is making me flutter with insecurity. With my luck, I'd be doing the same thing I do now: applying to jobs all day, every day, to no avail, only with the additional stress of rent. I'd be in a cool city, yes, but if I'm spending most of my time on my computer, is it really worth it to pay so much for ambiance? I thought moving to the physical location I wanted to work would surely get me a job, but my friends show that's not the case. But then I think of the alternative: living at home, for not-too-many-months longer (my dad is moving to Florida soon), and maybe getting an internship (unpaid of course) in a place like DC, which I hate.

For now, I want to go to grad school. "Want" is perhaps not the correct way to put it, but I feel it's a viable alternative. Plus, now I have to go, because I paid $140 to take the GREs in April and spent an additional $90 on practice materials. (I have to admit, while I'm giddy at learning new vocabulary, the prospect of doing math sends my anxiety through the roof. I get nervous enough writing, and I'm pretty confident in my spelling abilities.) But most of the grad schools I'm looking at (The New School, NYU, Columbia, CUNY, Berkeley) have admissions deadlines in December and January. If I take the GRE in April, what do I do after that?

I was thinking about getting a sublet someplace cheap, like Portland or Richmond or, yes, maybe Brooklyn. At least that way I would have my sanity and could potentially find a job, either short- or long-term. But that requires spending money and I'm terrified I'll blow it all. My parents are no help, either, at least when it comes to emotional support. I'm supposed to have known better than to get a degree in a social science. I "should have" been an engineer.

My original point of this post was not to bitch and whine about not having a job. It was to bitch and whine about being so awkward. While I was in New York, I had a good time, but I felt so anxious. I do not do well around "new people", even if I've known those people for several years. I just didn't know what to talk about. Do I bring up being unemployed for the millionth time? Do I talk about music or politics or whatever and risk embarrassing myself with misinformation or plain ignorance? Do I talk about fashion and risk looking entirely vapid? I am socially inept.

My problem is that I think too much. I'm no genius, but I worry worry worry, think think think, ruminate on all that could go wrong, in life and in simple conversation. If I could just take some chances (like my friend Amalia, who just up and moved to San Francisco), things would be a lot easier. I make things complicated. I'm a product of my generation, because it's not like there's a clear-cut answer here. We're told we can be whatever we want to be, do whatever we want in life (as long as we're law-abiding. My mom's response to this, "But I was told I could do what I wanted" is that I should have known better.) Now that I'm wishing I had a simple clear cut path, but if there was simply one clear, viable, appetizing option, I'd suck it up and go for it. I like having choices, but it's paralyzing. I promise, this is not going to go on much longer. I'm going to make some decisions. I just don't know who to talk to about my predicament. (Can anyone recommend a free life coach? Oprah, I need your help.)

This post has no direction and, while sloppy, is a pretty good metaphor for my life.

all eyes on you now.

I’ve been gushing about Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter Ivana XL for well over a year now, so I figured it was about time I haul my ass up to everyone’s favorite borough to see her play. Technically, Ivana played in the LES of Manhattan, at the uber-hip bar and venue Pianos, but I spent the majority of my three-day trip in good old BK (not Burger King) thanks to the hospitality of my dear friend John. Ivana was the opening act of a four-band line up, and she quietly took the stage at 9 and began playing without much introduction.

Her set opened with a new one, “Mud”, which is a dreamy little ditty about a forgotten friendship. I was immediately taken by the power of her voice, which is strong on recording but even better live. Her presence was quiet and unassuming, and she claimed to be nervous, but her the strength of voice suggested anything but. It's marked by a kind of wavering softness and intentional fluctuation that lend it a cooing quality (John gets the credit for that one). Friends have told me her voice reminds them of Mirah or Emiliana Torrini, but those comparisons still don’t quite capture it. It’s smooth and silky, but she delivers her lyrics with a punchy emphasis that keeps things interesting.

Ivana followed her opener with “Stelluh”, “Sundowner”, “2043” and “The King”, a few featuring additional lyrics from their demo versions (if this was a fancy review, I would have bothered to remember which). Ivana is rightfully applauded for her brevity and bucking of conventional verse-bridge-chorus-repeat song structure, but I appreciated the added length. Her songs always end before I’m ready, and I often listen to one on repeat several times before moving to the next.

Lyrically, Ivana is raw, biting, and self-deprecating. You generally get what she’s singing about, but that’s not to say her songs lack poetry. It’s just that they are supremely relatable, and, while there’s a time and a place for esoteric symbolism, the bluntness of her lyrics hits me in a way that most others don’t. In "Black Eye", she reveals her insecurity: "I dyed my hair black like the girl you first loved, now you're gonna love me too, you'll love me just as much." I love this. I love her honesty. She often sings about failed love but, rather than choose between the “Take me back” or “Why did I ever love you?” false dichotomy that too often exists, she recognizes a third, more realistic option: messy ambiguity. In “Sundowner”, about a guy who wants to “bang the whole wide world”, she teeters between claiming that a "look at what we have" could be enough and dismissing the whole thing with an “oh, fuck it, it was nothing”.

Ivana rounded out her set with a reworked version of “The News”, which contained the same lyrics but a slower, more intricate structure. Her latest songs, including “2043” and “Mud”, have a bit more complexity than the rough demos I first heard on her myspace. Her guitar skills have improved, her melodies are dreamier, and there’s a bit more polish to everything she puts out. That's not to say that her sound has become over-produced, as one of her greatest charms is the imperfection of her delivery, but there's a real maturity in her latest songs. She chooses emotion over slickness, which is apparent when she strikes a guitar chord with such power that you can hear it buzz. I liken it to listening to an LP, where the scratches provide an authenticity severely lacking from digital files.

All in all, it was a fantastic performance from one of my very favorite artists. My only disappointment was the modest showing. It’s clear that she has a lot of support from her friends and family, but it wasn’t the turnout I expected at all. Ivana is incredibly talented, but I guess her obscurity is symptomatic of our country's taste. (Two and a Half Men is one of the most watched sitcoms in America. 'Nuff said.) Ivana closed the show with these lyrics, from “Room with a View”: “It’s all for us, it’s all for us.” I just wish more people came to listen.

Ivana XL’s complete show schedule is available at her myspace.

{picture from her myspace}

Monday, January 12, 2009


I'll be posting again in a bit. Sorry I've been such an ass.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

i unintentionally did good.

According to this article from the Wall Street Journal, being a sociologist is one of the best jobs to have. Does this mean anything? Probably not.
" at the top of the study's list include actuary, statistician, biologist, software engineer and computer-systems analyst, historian and sociologist.

"Mark Nord is a sociologist working for the Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service in Washington, D.C. He studies hunger in American households and writes research reports about his findings. 'The best part of the job is the sense that I'm making some contribution to good policy making,' he says. 'The kind of stuff that I crank out gets picked up by advocacy organizations, media and policy officials.'

"The study estimates sociologists earn $63,195, though Mr. Nord, 62, says his income is about double that amount. He says he isn't surprised by the findings because his job generates little stress and he works a steady 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. schedule. 'It's all done at the computer at my desk,' he says. 'The main occupational hazard is carpal tunnel syndrome.'"