Intrepid Girl Reporter

Thursday, 12/18: the strange tale of Robert Barisford Brown
December 18, 2008, 11:27 pm
Filed under: blogz, design, holidays, IGR Recommends | Tags: ,

It is not Christmas in the IGR household without the dulcet tones of New Edition.

“Ha ha!” you are thinking. “She likes it in an ironic way because it’s kitsch! And because of the nostalgia it induces! Look at their pseudo-Motown styling, complete with sequined tuxes!”

You are wrong. I really like it.

Believe it or not, this is the one album that I can remember being played every holiday season, without fail. My uncle Pascal, a quiet computer programmer with a secret passion for dance music and techno*, sent us this some time before my memories begin. It’s the kind of disc that has the songs printed on the CD itself, along with the label (RCA). My father, who likes to compare himself to attractive black men**, fakes a microphone every year in order to sing along. Which is how Bobby Brown has become an inextricable part of my holiday season.

This is not, like most Christmas albums, a series of covers. Rather, it’s a group of originals – including “Give Love On Christmas Day” and my personal favorite, “All I Want For Christmas Is My Girl.” One might think that this makes this easier to judge them, as one is not faced by the twinges of conscience that would occur with a condemnation of “Silent Night.” Conversely, it could also be postulated that it’s harder to judge these songs, because there’s nothing to compare them to, with the possible exception of that song from Love Actually. Truthfully, it’s neither. I don’t even know if these songs are good or bad anymore, just like you probably can’t give an opinion regarding the objective merits of “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.” They just are, and they always will be, now and forever. Amen.

I’d like to change the subject briefly and highlight a few discoveries I’ve made lately, as well as provide more life updates.

First off: Logo Design Love and The Lovely Package. Font lovers’ dream.

Next, a series from the magazine Format that speaks for itself:

Thirdly, DCist, which may or may not make me give up my beloved Daily Intel. Via Iris, who is my new friend and whose blog should probably count for #4.

Fifthly, the group I work with in Johnson City gets on TV…when I’m out of town. Fortunately, they uploaded the story, because I guess TiVo doesn’t work on local channels. Thx TiVo.

Sixthly (good God): a book whose illustrations are entirely made out of letters. Could not be cuter.

LAST OF ALL! I have housing, although I’m sort of crashing for the first month, which means I can’t decorate, but I’m going to start reading Apartment Therapy anyway.

*He looks and sounds like a taller version of Eugene on Top Chef: New York. I am not the only one to notice this.

**He likes to compare himself to Denzel Washington, although he once got compared to Arthur Ashe by a childhood friend of mine who didn’t have a lot of exposure to minorities. This is actually not a bad comparison.

Wednesday, 12/17: John Mayer, thy name is Phi Kappa Tau
December 17, 2008, 9:42 pm
Filed under: cultural theorizing

More quantification of what I’ve always known.

Monday, 12/15: like you and me
December 16, 2008, 1:20 am
Filed under: history, I am not cool, IGR Recommends, life progress, meta, music | Tags: ,

I thought I only had one thing to write about, but actually I was wrong.

1. You probably have (not) noticed that my avatar has changed. Tricia Takanawa seems to fit me, since we’re both essentially Connie Chung 2.0. Given the fact that I do have a job that will be starting soon, I need to make a much stronger effort towards anonymity. I’m also going to try to sort of consolidate my internet identity in the new year, because I have so many damn projects going on. I need to make sure that everything is identifiably me, where “me” is “anonymous” (unless you already know me). At least that’s what I’m thinking right now.

2. I lost my watch. I really hate losing things, which is strange, because I do it so often that one would think I would have established some sort of fail-safe by now. I know it’s in my room somewhere, and what I’m inclined to think happened is that I probably left it out on my dresser and the cleaning people MM hired to come every couple weeks put it somewhere I can’t find. (I don’t think they took it, because there are a lot of other nicer things they could have taken.) At any rate, I am usually okay with trying to find things over the course of time, but occasionally I lapse back into my old panic mode, which usually involves me blowing the whole thing out of proportion (i.e.: this means that I am forever irresponsible, that I have no appreciation for the nice things my parents have provided for me, therefore that I am a bad daughter, etc., etc.). All of which means that although I sound calm, I am secretly freaking out. I am reminded of a story I never liked about my father: when he was little his grandfather gave him a piastre and he lost it and went ballistic, so much so that his grandfather tried to give him another. “No,” he said. “I want THAT ONE.” I hated it for two reasons that should be fairly obvious: 1) even as a child I was concerned with the prospect of buying love and wanted my parents to know that I would never be so materialistic that I would care what they got me (yes, I was the most neurotic six-year-old on the planet); 2) I totally sympathized with my dad and knew that he never got that stupid coin back.

3. I will hopefully write a series of entries re: my favorite Christmas CDs, and I would like to start by discussing a set we listen to with some frequency every year:

We actually have 1 and 5 as well, but they never get as much play. It should be unsurprising that as a middle/high school student, I was far more taken with traditional songs covered in a way that could be construed as “edgy” (well, if you’re thirteen) than anything else. Also that I’m a big fan of what was considered cool in the mid-1990s. NONETHELESS: AVSC2 has an absolutely incredible cover of Bob Dylan’s “I Believe in You,” by Sinead O’Connor, as well as an awesome jazzy version of “What Child is This” by Vanessa Williams (yes, that Vanessa Williams). Meanwhile, 3 features the Smashing Pumpkins’ “Christmastime,” which makes wonderful use of that joyous thing the Pumpkins do so well when they want to, as well as “The Christmas Song,” one of my favorite Dave Matthews songs. SHUT UP. Also “Christmas is Now Drawing Near At Hand,” which is probably the best and weirdest thing that Steve Winwood (!!!) ever recorded.

4. I went to look at house shares in DC this weekend, which was for real almost as difficult as trying to get a job. Demand > supply. Fortunately, I managed to meet a lot of really cool people whom I would like to see again, even if I don’t live with them. Still, though, I got to experience the open house, which is basically like a co-ed Greek rush in which everyone is desperately trying to convince the current tenants that:

  1. they are the most fun person there, except
  2. that they are totally cool and already have friends and thus are not doing the housemate thing to make friends at all and that it doesn’t matter if the housemates want to hang out with them or not, and
  3. that in addition to being fun they are also responsible and employed and
  4. will simultaneously be really clean and not care at all if anyone else is dirty.

FUN STUFF. I will have housing updates by tomorrow at the latest.

We stopped at a Vietnamese place in Arlington on the way out, and it had canh chua tom, which is probably one of my favorite Vietnamese soups ever and is often absent from restaurant menus. I think it’s kind of a pain to make. The walls were lined with pictures of American military officials, all of whom had written notes for the owner. During the meal, I think I asked MA who used to cook for the family when he was a kid, and he started telling us about the nannies and the cook and the chauffeur/bouncer (“He was like a cool uncle”), none of whose whereabouts are currently known. At least not by us. Later he said, “The owner probably knows my mom.”

“Why?” I asked.

There’s a large Vietnamese community in NoVa, and apparently it’s full of ex-military officials and high-ups – which makes sense when one considers its location. Which is the circle my family would have been in. “You should ask to see him,” I said, and he shook his head.

For whatever reason, I’ve been thinking about that man a lot, and how young my father was when he lost all of that – a loss for which most people probably wouldn’t have much sympathy. No one has any love for the bougie.

Monday, 12/1: onward and upward
December 2, 2008, 1:35 am
Filed under: life progress

Being without a job has meant watching more television in the past six months than I have in probably four years. Maybe five. Which means, in turn, that I now have opinions about things I never have before: Dancing With The Stars (weirdly, I sort of liked Lance Bass, and I definitely liked Warren Sapp, but that is only because of my family’s long history with the Bucs), Jon and Kate + 8 (just watched the show where they go on GMA, and decided I am over them – I am not interested in how they are famous, and I’m a little weirded out), Top Chef (better than Project Runway, and the Hawaiian former busboy looks and talks like my uncle).

But this state of affairs is about to change, because I tentatively have a job. Although I’m still planning on making time for Top Chef.

More details as things get more definite. In the meantime, I’ve still got a few side projects going. Things are getting exciting, my 친구.

Also, I have a few important questions, totally unrelated to the above content.

Q: Rock Band or Guitar Hero?

Q: What is this song? It’s driving me crazy. I keep thinking it’s something by the Cure, but I’m not sure. This clip is from This American Life, so just listen to the music in the background. I tried to use Audacity to fade out the voice, bu even after I split the tracks it didn’t work, probably because I know nothing about audio engineering. Edit: I had to use Garageband to clip it to a decent size and it took me almost an hour, so please help me out.