The Great Philadelphia Earthquake of 2011

August 23, 2011 § 2 Comments

via A.V. Club

Shortly after 2:00 p.m. Eastern time, I felt a truck rumble past my office building in Northeast Philadelphia. A truck that started towing the very foundation while some morbidly obese maintenance workers fixed the roof.

Around the time the floor turned into a trampoline, my brain got wise to what was really going on: a 5.8 magnitude earthquake centered in Virginia. (Facebook and Twitter helped too.)

Ok, so it wasn’t really that traumatic, and Philadelphia hardly got the brunt of it.

But for this afternoon’s brave survivors cleaning up the aftermath (Straightening pictures. Setting vases right again. The rebuilding never ends.), here’s a playlist in our honor. A little bit of soul, a little bit of funk, a little bit of indie punk and a whole lotta shakin’ going on.


1. An Earthquake’s Comin’ / Black Velvet / Fallin’ off the Reel Volume 2

2. I’m Shakin’ / Rooney / Rooney

3. Emergency On Planet Earth / Jamiroquai / Emergency On Planet Earth

4. I Feel The Earth Move / Carole King / Tapestry

5. Shake! Shake! / The Subways / All or Nothing

6. Let Your Earth Quake, Baby / The Thermals / Fuckin A

7. Before and After the Quake / Oppenheimer / Take The Whole Mid-Range And Boost It

8. Earthquake Weather / Beck / Guero

9. After the Earthquake / Eels / Tomorrow Morning

10. You Only Live Once / The Strokes / First Impressions of Earth

You cool kids on Spotify can also subscribe to the playlist here.

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Press Release and Photo Essay: High Elven Special Ops Face-Off Against Rag-Tag Bretonnians in Fairmount Apartment

August 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

PHILADELPHIA, PA – A skirmish unleashed on Kitchen Table Plains in Philadelphia’s Fairmount district a few weekends ago when a company of High Elves clashed with a band of Bretonnians over a centuries-long dispute.

The Bretonnians’ land holds many ancient secrets. Allegedly among them lays hidden the crown of the great Phoenix King. After centuries of tension with their dwarven foes, High Elven officials received a tip from an anonymous source that the pilfered treasure might be buried somewhere in Bretonnia.

Military officials sent a small special ops unit to investigate, but they collided with a small band of Bretonnian peasants armed with pitchforks. Special ops easily overpowered the peasant forces, but made no further progress in locating the cultural relic.

The special ops general could not be reached for comment and it remains uncertain whether the Bretonnians will comply peacefully or not.

This Is Not The End: In Memoriam, LOST

May 23, 2011 § 2 Comments

It’s been a year since the greatest show in the history of television went off the air.

The Boy turned me into the biggest LOST fan ever when we started dating sometime before the start of the 5th season. He had watched earlier seasons with his college roommate, and now that he was out of college and out a roommate, he was also out a LOST fan to watch the new season with. He showed me the half-hour long recaps of the previous seasons and I was hooked from the first, “On the previous season of LOST…” I spent the rest of the season brain-boggled and mindfucked in the awesomest way possible. Time travel! Hydrogen bombs! The 70s! Space-time continuum! Daniel Faraday and his moleskine of scientific ramblings! I don’t think there was anything I didn’t love about the series as I experienced it thanks to The Boy.

I knew I only had one more season left to theorize and cliff-hang from week to week when season 6 started. And I knew that The End of All Things was going to be emotional and epic enough for me to need to process it all through song. This mix was born the week before the finale. At that point, no one knew how off-Island timelines would converge with on-Island timelines, how it would all inevitably come down, and how that crazy flash-sideways would resolve. I crafted the mix based on my ideas of where I thought the flash-sideways timeline was ultimately leading (which was nothing like the ending we were actually given). When I listened to the mix the day after the series finale though, I realized that my selections were even more appropriate than I first imagined. I tried to pick songs that fit the general mood of the final season with lyrical content that matched the storyline and overarching themes of the series as a whole.

So, in place of this week’s Song Mix Sunday installment, I present my mix for the final season of LOST, in memory of some of the best television drama I have ever watched. Fellow fans of the show should easily be able to discern the reasoning behind my song selection for this mix. For anyone who’s curious, the songs all focus on the themes of memory, reconnecting, fate, and rebuilding that featured prominently throughout much of the final season. Without further ado:

1. The Ocean – The Bravery, The Sun and the Moon (2007) “I climbed off a mountain and looked off the edge / At all of the lives that I never have led / There’s one where I stayed with you across the sea / I wonder do you still think of me // …Sixes and sevens we live on jet planes / So many faces and I don’t know their names / So many friends now and none of them mine / Forgotten as soon as we meet // All of these moments are lost in time / But you’re caught on my head like a thorn on a vine / To forever torment me and I wonder why / Do I wish I’d never known you at all? // …The sun and the moon, an ocean of air / So many voices, now nothing is there / But the ghost of you asking me why, why did I leave?…”

2. Black Tables – Other Lives, Black Tables – Single (2008) “When the whites of your eyes come through / You’ll see something new / With your body and mind restored / It’s good to see you back home…”

3. Brotherhood of Man – The Innocence Mission, We Walked In Song (2007) “We are in the wind planting the maples / We meet an older man who seems to know I miss my dad / And he smiles through the limbs / We talk easily with him until the rain begins / This is the brotherhood of man… // Waiting at the airport on my suitcase / a girl traveling from Spain became my sudden friend / though I did not learn her name / And when the subway dimmed , a stranger lit my way / This is the brotherhood of man…”

4. Transatlanticism – Death Cab for Cutie, Transatlanticism (2003) “The distance is quite simply much too far for me to row / It seems father than ever before // I need you so much closer…”

5. person person – Mirah, You Think It’s Like This But Really It’s Like This (2000) “You talk fast, steady, and say, ‘Howdy do’ / Take a nap on the sandbar / Know we’re dreaming of you too / Yeah we’re dreaming of you too // …Oh person, person, we’re really missing you / It breaks all of our hearts to know / That you just want to come on home / So come on home…”

6. Blue Lips – Regina Spektor, far (2009) “He stumbled into faith and thought, ‘God, this is all there is?’ / The pictures in his mind arose / And began to breathe / And all the gods and all the worlds / Began colliding on a backdrop of blue / Blue lips, blue veins…”

7. The Seer’s Tower – Sufjan Stevens, Illinois (2005) “In the tower above the earth / There is a view that reaches far / Where we see the universe / I see the fire, I see the end… // Still I go to the deepest grave / Where I go to sleep alone…”

8. 42 – Coldplay, Viva la Vida (2008) “Those who are dead are not dead / They’re just living in my head / And since I fell for that spell / I am living there as well // Time is so short and I’m sure / There must be something more…”

9. This Is Not The End – The Bravery, The Sun and the Moon (2007) “Tell me / Come on, tell me what you can / Even as you wait for death / You’re wiser than I am / Tell me, what does it mean to exist / I am not a scientist / I must believe we’re more than this / I cannot accept that everything that’s real / Is only what our eyes can see and our hands can feel // Not even earth can hold us / Not even life controls us / Not even the ground can keep us down / The memories in my head / Are just as real as the time we spent / You’ll always be close to me my friend / This is not the end // …I don’t care what you believe / As long as you are in my heart / You’re just as real as me / Maybe even more / Someone who’s touched so many lives / Can never, never die…”

10. Everyone’s in Everyone – Patrick Park, Everyone’s in Everyone (2007) “We are blessed / We are loveless / We are cold and we are kind // …We go on / to loving families / And we are sleeping in the cold // …We are lost / And we are found / We are saved and depraved // We are poor and rich / And we are sure that it’s / Of love that we are made // Everyone is in everyone…”

11. Recessional – Vienna Teng, Dreaming Through the Noise (2006) “But she’s looking at me, straight to center / No room at all for any other thought / And I know I don’t want this / Oh, I swear I don’t want this / There’s a reason not to want this, but I forgot… // …And the words, they’re everything and nothing / I want to search for her in the off-hand remarks / Who are you, taking coffee no sugar? / Who are you, echoing street signs? / Who are you, in the stranger in the shell of a lover, / Dark curtains drawn by the passage of time?”

12. Blue – Yoko Kanno, Cowboy Bebop: BLUE (1998) “Asked myself what it’s all for / You know the funny thing about it / I couldn’t answer / No, I couldn’t answer // Things have turned a deeper shade of blue / Images that might be real, maybe illusion / Keep flashing off and on // …Free / Got to know free / Please, don’t wake me from the dream / It’s really everything it seemed / I’m so free / No black and white in the blue // Everything is clearer now / Life is just a dream you know / It’s never ending / I’m ascending…” Remember the final scenes of the final episode when you play this song and just try not to cry.

13. A Dance ‘Round the Memory Tree – Oren Lavie, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian Soundtrack (2008) “Said I forgot / But I did not / Dreams we have had / Played in my head // Did we believe / the cry of the wind? / Did we regret? / Would we forget? // Winters have come and gone, you know / Winters have come and gone, you know / But I’ll miss you young and sweet / For a dance round the memory tree…”

Download the full mix here. The .zip file contains all 13 songs, album art, and a text file with playlist order and lyrics.

The Rapture 2011: This Time For Real!

May 21, 2011 § 2 Comments

Judgment Day 2011. It’s been kind of a bust so far, with an astounding lack of worldwide earthquakes.

At the time of writing, I still have about 12 hours before the predicted “rolling earthquake” brings rapture and destruction to the City of Brotherly Love. What better time to throw together a compilation of appropriately-themed songs to groove along to in glorious anticipation? Here I present my soundtrack for The Rapture 2011: This Time For Real! 16 songs ranging from the campy to the thought-provoking, all entirely self-indulgent. Play it loud when pillaging vacated McMansions of raptured believers after 6 p.m. local time.

via Google Image Search

1. Cemeteries of London – Coldplay, Viva la Vida (2008) “Through the dark streets they go searching / To see God in their own way / Save the nighttime for your weeping / Your weeping… // God is in the houses and God is in my head / And all the cemeteries in London / I see God come in my garden but I don’t know what he said / For my heart it wasn’t open / Not open…” [download]

2. The Execution of All Things – Rilo Kiley, The Execution of All Things (2002) “Oh God come quickly, the execution of all things / Let’s start with the bears and the air and mountains, rivers, and streams…” [download]

3. Mrs. Jesus – Tori Amos, Scarlet’s Walk (2002) “The Gospel changes meaning if you follow John or Paul / And could you ever let it be the Mary of it all? / And even as I’m climbing up the stairs / I know there’s heaven there / And then empty arms / That comes with the Morning Star // Well, lifelines and suicide crimes / There’s something every day / And there’s someone always paging my Mrs. Jesus…” [download]

4. Act of the Apostle – Belle and Sebastian, The Life Pursuit (2006) “The lesson today was Acts of Apostles / The crazy hippies, they’re running scared / She shut her eyes and imagined the desert / No cars, no mobiles, just sun and bread / What would she look like standing by the well? / More like a woman and less like a girl // Oh, if I could make sense of it all! / I wish that I could sing / I’d stay in a melody / I would float along in my everlasting song / What would I do to believe?” [download]

5. Jesusland – Ben Folds, Songs for Silverman (2005) “Town to town / Broadcast to each house, they drop Your name / But no one knows Your face / Billboards quoting things You’d never say / You hang Your head and pray / For Jesusland…” [download]

6. Abraham – Sufjan Stevens, Seven Swans (2004) “Abraham / Put off on your son / Take instead the ram / Until Jesus comes…” [download]

7. Hell – Tegan and Sara, Sainthood (2009) “No we’re not ready for Hell, hell no! / For Hell, hell no!… // Four days to remove all the bad that we do / From the heart and the soul of the city, sad and cold / Four ways to collect what we say and what we save / To discard and discover a brand new way…” [download]

8. City with No Children – Arcade Fire, The Suburbs (2010) “You never trust a millionaire / Quoting the Sermon on the Mount / I used to think I was not like them / But I’m beginning to have my doubts, my doubts about it  // When you’re hiding underground / The rain can’t get you wet / Do you think your righteousness / Can pay the interest on your debt? / I have my doubts about it…” [download]

9. In the Devil’s Territory – Sufjan Stevens, Seven Swans (2004) “Be still and know your sign / The Beast will arrive in time / We stayed a long, long time / To see you, to beat you / To see you at last…” [download]

10. Heaven’s Gonna Happen Now – The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Belong (2011) “Come on, nothing’s gonna turn us down / So don’t stand there like you don’t care / Cause heaven’s gonna happen now…” [download]

11. Only the Good Die Young – Billy Joel, The Stranger (1977) “They say there’s a heaven for those who will wait / Some say it’s better but I say it ain’t / I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints / The sinners are much more fun / And only the good die young…” [download]

12. Always Look on the Bright Side of Life – Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979) “For life is quite absurd / And death’s the final word / You must always face the curtain with a bow / Forget about your sin, give the audience a grin! / Enjoy it, it’s your last chance anyhow!” Because there’s nothing like some good old-fashioned blasphemy to ring in the Rapture, Monty Python style. [download]

13. We Will All Go Together When We Go – Tom Lehrer, More of Tom Lehrer (1959) “And we will all go together when we go / What a comforting fact that is to know / Universal bereavement / An inspiring achievement! / Yes, we will all go together when we go! // Oh, we will all burn together when we burn / There’ll be no need to stand and wait your turn / When it’s time for the fallout / And St. Peter calls us all out / We’ll just drop our agendas and adjourn!” Tom Lehrer is a mathematician-pianist-satirist-songwriter who recorded various comedic tunes in the 1950s and 60s. Other works of his include “The Masochism Tango,” “The Vatican Rag,” “National Brotherhood Week,” “The Elements,” and this lovely little apocalyptic ditty. [download]

14 . In Our Bedroom After the War – Stars, In Our Bedroom After the War (2007) “Lift your head and look out the window / Stay that way for the rest of the day and watch the time go / Listen, the birds sing / Listen, the bells ring / All the living are dead, and the dead are all living / The war is over and we are beginning…” [download]

15. Sheep Go to Heaven – CAKE, Prolonging the Magic (2007) “Now I just want to play on my panpipes / I just want to drink me some wine / As soon as you’re born, you start dying / So you might as well have a good time // Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell / Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell…” [download]

16. See You in Heaven – Elliott Smith, Grand Mal: Studio Rarities [download]

Accepted.

May 5, 2011 § 2 Comments

“Rebekah:

I like this and I will accept it. I did have reservations. It approaches on the border of being treacly[…]

I will email you when it is posted and a check for $50 will follow[…]

Thank you for thinking of Metropolis.”
So reads my first official letter of acceptance for publication. I had to look up the word “treacly,” and my tender writer’s ego was bruised by its definition, but I’ll pay for publication with a bruised ego any day.

After four years of working on a degree, two years of attempts to write for hire, and a lifetime spent honing my craft, I’m getting my first legitimate credits. It’s the most exhilarating feeling in the world.

Number 4 is 1/3 of the way completed.

10 Years of Remembering

May 2, 2011 § 2 Comments

I was 15 years old when the Towers went down. Bleary-eyed and eating a bagel. My mom didn’t let me sleep in that morning. I had too much school work to catch up on.

The phone rang. A message from the local homeschool group: “The World Trade Center has been hit by an airplane and the Pentagon is on fire.” I stopped chewing my bagel. My parents and I crowded around the phone, waiting for the punchline: “Coming up in Tim LaHaye’s new Left Behind book!” But it never came. Instead, the TV went on, just in time for us watch the south tower fall live on ABC.

This wasn’t a promo for apocalyptic literature. This was real terrorism in my lifetime on American soil. Surreal. I watched hours of coverage of New York as an ash-covered ghost town. The last television image I remember is the twisted iron rubble of Ground Zero with a tattered but intact American flag on a bent and crooked pole in the foreground. The flag was still there… I called my high school boyfriend who lived in Oregon and we talked about how the terrorists finalized their plans and were flying on airplanes to their destinations while we had talked about school work, our future, and other trivialities at the same time the night before.

I was 17 years old when George W. Bush declared war on Iraq to take out Saddam Houssein. Fifteen minutes outside of the White House at a 4H camp for the National Young Leaders Convention. We were learning about government operations through mock Congress exercises while the real government declared war a few minutes down the road from where we thought we were safe.

The former President “interrupted this scheduled programming” during our ice cream social. Amid air hockey, pool, sundaes, and small talk in the rec room, someone changed the channel from a re-run of Friends and the room went silent. There may have been an announcement made over the din first. I recall the words “President” and “war” shouted by someone before the national address took over. All several hundred of us crowded around the biggest television in the room. I got a front row floor seat and hugged a girl I had just made friends with the day before. I don’t remember President Bush’s address because the whole time I was thinking, “Fifteen minutes away. This is all happening fifteen minutes away.” I thought about calling my parents. Maybe I did.

My roommate and I kept the television on in our room, falling asleep to coverage of air strikes in Iraq lighting up the screen, both of us joking about Saddam getting stuck in the bathroom while a bomb drops on his head, that bastard.

Tonight, I sat on the couch in my Philly apartment with my boyfriend, using our laptops side-by-side. I gave up television for Lent this year, then canceled my cable subscription to save money. I haven’t had the TV on in my apartment for over a month.  Three consecutive Facebook posts told me something was going on:

“It’s about time.”
“Osama bin Laden is dead. What this means for YOUR gas prices, tonight, on the news at 11.”
“‘merica.”

I clicked “Like” on the second one, turned to my boyfriend and said, “Osama bin Laden is dead,” into the otherwise dead air of my apartment.

Someone posted a link to the White House stream for President Obama’s announcement. I loaded it and waited and Googled news sources and waited. I read the Facebook reactions of my friends while we all waited.

Now it’s after 2 a.m. MSNBC has been streaming on my laptop since the President’s announcement that Osama bin Laden is dead and we have his body. The Boy went to bed, then got back up again. I’m still glued to the streaming news analysis. And I remember. I will always remember.

“Where were you on the day…”

Being the Resurrection

April 24, 2011 § 1 Comment

In the spirit of Easter, I’d like to share a poem by Victoria Weinstein that was printed on the back of our bulletin this morning, which I found moving, relevent, and poignant. Alleluia, Christ is risen.

Being the Resurrection
Victoria Weinstein

The stone has got to be rolled back from the tomb again and again every year.
Roll up your sleeves.

He is not coming back, you know.
He is not coming back unless it is we who rise for him
We who lay healing hands on the reviled and rejected like he did
on his behalf–
We who rage for righteousness in his insistent voice
We who love the sinner, even knowing that “the sinner” is no farther off than our own
heartbeat

He will not be back to join us at the table
To share God’s extravagant banquet
God’s love feast, all are invited, come as you are
And so it is you and I who must feast for him
Must say the grace and break the bread and pass it to the left
and dish up the broiled fish (or pour the wine) and pass it to the right.
And treat each one so tenderly
as though just this morning she or he made the personal effort
to make it back from heaven, or from hell
but certainly from death
to be by our side.

Because if by some miracle (why not a miracle?)
He did come back
Wouldn’t he want to see us like this?
Wouldn’t it be a miracle to live for just one day
So that if he did, by some amazing feat
come riding down
He could take a look around and say
“This is what I meant!”

And we could say
it took us a long time…
but we finally figured it out.
Oh, let us live to make it so.
You are the resurrection and the life.

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