Monday, December 31, 2007

I Have (Just) Settled Here

Being in London for Christmas is bittersweet this year, as I am aware that next year my time home may well not be as extensive; after all, I will be working and time off is a precious currency. Despite it being wonderful to come home, we will have to weigh up the consequences of taking a few days here and now rather than there and then. Which is always depressing, to go through the cost benefit analysis like that.

Nonetheless, it's been extremely enjoyable, albeit limited on the whole time spent in London with London. I love London for its own sake, not just the people I love who are here, although obviously that helps. I've not yet wandered through lonely streets, besides the Thames, which is something I miss passionately. I'm just drawn to the idea that proper city living involves life revolving around a river through the centre. Manhattan may be surrounded by water, but it's just not the same; Boston, obviously, fits that ideal a bit better.

Reading xopo's post about DF was a good reminder that our homes and first loves may be elsewhere, and how important it is to remember why you were in love. Catford may not exactly be glamorous, but London is a part of me and I'd hate to be one of those people who hated where they grew up, and are reminded of everything that constrained them when they go back.

London for me is, instead, somewhat liberating. It's where I formed; I can wander here anonymously, without my responsibilities, without being part of a couple. Not that I begrudge that, obviously, but my identity is different these days. So to be reminded of where I come from, who I am, and how I came to be that person brings back a little of the teenager in me when I was malleable, growing, hardening into who I am now. And it therefore frees me up a bit to stop being angry at the world, to see wonder and joy. St. Pancras station did that for me all on its own last week. Another reason why I'm glad to be back, and will hopefully return to NYC refreshed and ready for the next stage in life.

Saturday, December 29, 2007


It's that time of year when I think about what it is I want to achieve next year. Many of those things are things I always want to achieve - less body fat, less laziness, more organisational skills, more happiness, yada yada yada - but I really do want to do that. Maybe because this is my last year in which New Year will come and I will be in my twenties. I'm also graduating from an academic institution, quite probably for the last time ever, and therefore entering the unknown realms of being a grownup, having responsibility and being accountable. Ulp. and ugh.

I just looked at my resolutions from last year and, of course, I haven't really stuck to any of them.

Still, this semester promises to be a bit easier going than usual, and I really do hope to do more of the relaxing, exercising and so forth. Hence, in an attempt to make me accountable for my resolutions (last year's clearly having done so much good!):
  1. Keep track of my resolutions! Therefore, I will set a reminder on my computer so that every 28th of the month, I will take stock of what I set out to do this year AND will be forced to blog about it. Ha! Maybe that'll work.
  2. Get my body fat down to 25%. This is not merely for aesthetic reasons, but also because my family has a history of heart disease, high blood pressure, and so on; I would like to do everything possible to avoid that.
  3. Go out for a BIG night out every month - and I mean BIG. More dancing. That sort of thing.
  4. Work our way through the classic films. Using the IMDB's top 250, or whatever it is, and various more learned tomes, that's what we'll do. Netflix does make this all so much easier... and then I'm going to write about that on the sister blog.
  5. Read more classic literature. I talk about this a lot, but this year is the year I do it. Ditto with the sister blog, poor neglected thing that it is.
  6. Always have fresh flowers in the house. And maybe even not neglect a plant. Although don't want to go overboard, there, one step at a time. My propensity to kill plants is quite remarkable.
  7. Try a new recipe from our multitude of books every week.
  8. Go to one of: a museum, cinema, classical concert every month.
That's enough for now. Definitely. But it's a good start. Sort of. We'll see.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Live It Up

This year we went to a fair few concerts that were absolutely excellent. So here is my list of my favourite concerts of the year - and then that's it, dunzo with listmaking... until we get to the NY resolutions... and then I actually have to check how few of the things I wanted to do this year I actually achieved. Ulp.
  1. LCD at Webster Hall. Unsurprising, I know, given the last few posts, but it really was extraordinarily good. And, as some poor souls now know, is definitely in my top ten (if not five) of all-time concerts.
  2. LCD & Arcade Fire at Randalls Island. A perfect combination, although I was disappointed with the lack of dancing to LCD, but everyone raved about them afterwards... but I really enjoyed Arcade Fire, and grew a new love for their music.
  3. M.I.A. at Terminal 5. It was an absolutely rocking show - she has so much stage presence and it was utterly brilliant. Again, increased my love for her music even more.
  4. A Touch of Class at PS1's Summer Warm Up. Ok, so that shouldn't really count, but it was one of the best days out I've had in NYC, and certainly the best "clubbing" experience outside the first time I saw Optimo. A whole heaving crowd screaming along to Roxanne and London Calling... genius. And he played the song that is guaranteed to get me moving, one Flat Beat by Mr. Oizo... sigh. Genius.
  5. Richard Hawley at Bowery Ballroom. A late entry, but it was so beautiful, and his encore consisted of my two favourite songs. And we got in on the guestlist - sweet!

Honorary mention to Jamie Lidell (whose gig was my favourite of 2006), who I love dearly but think I should branch out and therefore try not to choose him two years running.

And those concerts that were cancelled and would possibly have made it in:

  • Genius supported by Jamie Lidell - a very strange but compelling combo - sob!
  • The Long Blondes supporting The Gossip - that would have been so so so good. Sob again!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Air on a G String

That surely would require putting a Snoop Dogg tune in for song of the year, yes?

But that's not going to happen. This Songs of the Year* may feature many of the artists from the previous "Albums of the Year," but I will try to diversify. No guarantees, mind.

  1. All My Friends - LCD Soundsystem. It defined this year for me in a way that nothing else has even tried, really. It was utterly glorious both times we saw them live, and it sends chills up my spine just thinking about it. Love it.
  2. Keep the Car Running - Arcade Fire. Another spinetingler... and live it was utterly amazing.
  3. Body Baby - Pharaohe Monch. Fun, dirty, and very gnarls barkley-ish - which is only a good thing in my mind.
  4. The Beat That My Heart Skipped - Dan Le Sac v. Scroobius Pip (or whatever the hell they were). It's funny, and the line "good gosh gracious and other such phrases" has entered the domestic lexicon.
  5. Song 4 Mutya (Out of Control) - Groove Armada. It's funny, self-deprecating and a diss to the now very annoying sugababes - sweet!
  6. Bitter Sweet Love - Kyza. The whole album's excellent, but I love this the most.
  7. 20 Dollar - M.I.A. Because any sample of the pixies is grand, and this was brilliant, and is my favourite off the album.
  8. Merrymaking at My House - Calvin Harris. The album's pretty repetitive, but I just really enjoyed this.
  9. Hustler - Simian Mobile Disco. Because if I had the money, I WOULD go to the record store. I would. Just ask the other half.
  10. Someone Great - LCD. Because it's gorgeous and sad and shows just why LCD are so much better than anyone else.

Here, far less importantly, is what someone else thought.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


It's getting to that time of year where I announce my much-anticipated albums / songs of the year lists. I know, you've been waiting with bated breath all year, just to find out what could compete with last year's choice selections.

For some reason, I decided to only do five top albums last year. Ulp. I will be very brave and try for five here. Ulp ulp ulp. Drum rolls please!

1) Sound of Silver - LCD Soundsystem. To anyone who knows me, this comes as no surprise. Or who has read this blog in the last month. It was the best album by miles - inventive, sweet, touching, jump up - it had it all. As the Observer put it, too, it sounds even better as a whole album. The tunes don't just stand alone - almost all of them are a 5* on my 'Pod - but as an album it truly shines when listened to in its intended order. That's rare these days, and another reason why I love it so. Also, anyone who can write a song as beautiful as Someone Great about a dead hamster deserves even more credit than I've given James Murphy.

2) Desire - Pharaohe Monch. Although the reviews raved about this album, I only really started listening to it a couple of months ago, ages after purchasing it. And they were spot on. It's funny, gnarls-barkley-ish in places (like Body Baby); in others, like What It Is, it's bleak and sparse, sort of like a much better eminem (I don't like him very much despite acknowledging his talent and the genius of Dre's production). The production values also have the Kanye-influence, and sound much like Common's Be, which was glorious. Excellent from start to finish.

3) Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release - Simian Mobile Disco. Although there was a lot of (rightful) praise for the Justice album, this I think is a better overall album. It is funny, makes me want to dance, and is just excellent all the way through. It's been a good year for them, too, as one of them produced both the Arctic Monkeys' album, and the Mercury-winning Klaxons', too (although I really think they are massively overrated).

4) Kala - M.I.A.. Inventive, unusual, and a banging live show which made me appreciate the variety, musicality and innovation behind this. I think it's even better than Arular, which has grown on me an awful lot over the last year. She's excellent.

5) Experience - Kyza. While it seems wrong to mention him in relation to every UK rapper, I do miss Roots Manuva; for me he was the best by miles. However, I am now a huge convert to Kyza, and have been trying to appreciate more British hiphop. This was funny, wry, well-observed and the tunes were excellent. Big big fan of this. Hope he doesn't go the way of many British rappers and go slowly a bit loopy (Matty from Credit to the Nation, Roots himself). Maybe it's our chronic underappreciation of British hip hop talent that has such a damaging effect on them. That's my theory, anyway.

That's enough for now - I have to go and do something about my tubbiness at the gym. Songs of the year and gigs of the year also coming up at somepoint soon when I need distraction from my Securities Regulation studying (or lack thereof, to be more accurate....).