Choose Your Toppings

Monday, July 30, 2012

Music Review: Into It. Over It.

Artist name: Into It. Over It.

Album name: Proper (2011, No Sleep Records)

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Proper is cleverly titled, as it is the first proper full-length album from Into It. Over It., the brainchild of Evan Weiss. Weiss, who previously spent his time releasing the ambitious 52 Weeks, one song a week for a year, and the Twelve Towns series of 7”'s, is a bit of a departure from the typical boy with his acoustic guitar type songs you’d expect from a solo project. With Proper, Evan has created an album that would fit well next to Piebald in a record collection. Proper stands out from Piebald records though. Complete with distorted vocals, Proper starts out with the song “Embracing Facts”, which is rather gritty and dark, and stands out in a great way on this record. “Discretion and Depressing People”, a nod to Evan’s side project Stay Ahead of the Weather, would make sense playing on your iPod (or iPhone or iSomething) right before “American Hearts” or “Long Nights," but with lyrics more along the lines of Taking Back Sunday circa 2002 (you know, the good stuff). “No Good Before Noon” is the first of two acoustic tracks on the record, and it finds Evan lamenting that he’s “not built for nine-to-fives." It’s a rather amazing honesty that he shows that also helps to explain why he’s been such a prolific songwriter and touring musician since busting onto the scene. “Midnight: Carroll Street” is a bit more of a somber track, finding Evan working out his anxiety and dealing with lies and deception from those he chose to surround himself with. It fits more along the lines of “Embracing Facts," feeling a little darker and grittier than most of the album. “P R O P E R," the title track, is easily one of the more musically upbeat tracks on the record, ending with a repeating “whoa-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh-oh”. The last track on the record is the other acoustic one, “The Frames that Used to Greet Me”, a rather touching lament about seeing a former lover out and about and realizing that they still think about you. It’s a touching end to an incredible proper debut. Most of the record seems to fit in with bands like Piebald, Death Cab for Cutie and Taking Back Sunday, with some slight differences. The record has a similar risk-taking feel to it as most of the records from those three bands did. While some of the songs fail to stick out, the ones that do (particularly “Discretion and Depressing People”, “Midnight: Carroll Street”, and “P R O P E R”) are easily some of the best tracks Evan has ever written.

Sounds Like: Piebald, Death Cab for Cutie, Taking Back Sunday

Stand-outs: “Discretion and Depressing People”, “Midnight: Carroll Street”, “P R O P E R”, “The Frames that Used to Greet Me”

p.s. Check out his side project Stay Ahead of the Weather, especially “Impressions and Impressing People”. Love that Jawbreaker reference.

Photo via.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Flashback Friday: Caboodles!

Sorry boys, but you might not understand the obsession with this one!

Caboodles. Enough said, right? They were an adolescent girl's pride and joy back in the 90's. We used them to store everything from nail polishes to stickers to hair scrunchies. Anything girly could be, and was, easily stored in these travel-friendly, hard-plastic, pink treasure chests.

Image: Mirror80
Today, Caboodles are starting to make a comeback and are aiming at the same age group that once treasured the iconic pink boxes. Now Caboodles are hot and versatile and perfect for the fashion-forward, savvy young woman who is a serious neat freak.
Image: Kaboodle

What did you carry in your Caboodle as a little girl? Are you still carrying one today? What does your grown up Caboodle hold?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Prince Fielder: Fresh Prince of Detroit

This past March, I was able to have a one on one interview with Prince Fielder for Grosse Pointe Magazine. Fielder had just finished up his practice at Joker Marchant Stadium, the Tigers Spring Training facility, while half the team was playing on the road. I admit, I was a bundle of nerves before the interview began. Those nerves disappeared as soon as I met him. He was friendly, funny, and easy to talk to. It's been a pleasure to watch him tear it up this season and I'm excited to show you our interview below!

What are some of your memories of living in Grosse Pointe?
The city, you know, the house I lived in. I can't remember a lot about it, but I guess the house we lived in was pretty cool. My mom, she renovated it, so I liked that house a lot. What else, um, riding my biking around the neighborhood, things like that. You know, I had a couple friends, neighbors, and stuff. Just hanging out there. And snow on Christmas, that was pretty cool.

Any restaurants that you remember going to?
Not in Grosse Pointe really, not around there. I mean, I liked Fishbone's, that was my favorite. That was in downtown Detroit.

I read about the time you were intentionally walked in a Little League baseball game and it was the first time that had ever happened.
I think it was like coach pitch, where the other coach pitched to you. It was weird. I was like looking around like, 'what? I don't get what's going on. Can you do that?' Nobody really knew what happened. I mean it's coach pitch, I was like, are we doing this?

How do you feel about raising your sons in Michigan?
They'll be there during the season but we live here in Florida. Yeah, I think it will be cool for them to be in Michigan as well, that way they can feel how cold it is, they can feel the difference between Florida [and Michigan]. In Milwaukee it was similar. It's just cool that they can experience a new state and stuff.

Did you ever imagine yourself playing for the Tigers?
I mean I did, in high school, but once I got drafted, you know, the team you get drafted by, your goal is to stay with them as long as possible. And then once they got Miguel here, there's no chance. I mean, what are they going to do, move him?

Which they did!
[laughing] They did!

What advice do you have for young baseball players and the minor leaguers in camp who want to
make it to the big leagues one day?
Have fun, not really worry what people might think about how you play or whatever. Just do what you want to do. Just do what makes you feel comfortable. Be respectful, but if it doesn't work for you then it doesn't work.

What was your first impression of this Tigers team?
It was cool, because you know, it's not every day you get to open the door and see the batting champion and Cy Young. So anytime people like that greet you to make you feel comfortable, it's a pretty good feeling.

What are you looking forward to for 2012?
Getting to the World Series. That's in the cards, that's what I want to do.

How did it feel knowing the level of excitement that took over the whole state of Michigan when
you were signed?
That's pretty awesome, because I haven't seen too many signings where people are happy [like that]. It was cool. It seemed as if they weren't really worried about, you know, unfortunately a lot of times people sign major deals and it's not a great deal and people don't tend to welcome you as much. “Well he better live up to it!” There was none of that. It's just an awesome feeling when people are happy and just wanna love you.

What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind in Detroit?
Oh, that's a good question. In Detroit, a winning one. I just want people to respect the way I play. I don't want people to look at me as if I'm 'that guy'. I don't want them to be like, 'oh this guy, he's a jerk'. I just want to be a human. I don't need to act like I'm special. I want to try to be as nice and normal to everybody as I can.

Fun questions!

If you could only watch one movie for the rest of your life, what would it be?
New Jack City

What is your go-to snack?
That's a good one 'cause I like 'em all! [laughs] Let me think. I'll be honest; graham crackers and milk. When you get the graham crackers soggy and BOW...that's a great taste.

What is one skill you wish you had?
How to play the piano.

Who is the funniest guy in the clubhouse?
I'm going to go with Austin and...I'm going to go with Austin Jackson.

What was your favorite TV show growing up?
I guess The Cosby Show. Actually, Fresh Prince of Bel Air was my favorite.

Interview by Lindsay Beaver

Friday, July 20, 2012

What It's Like When You Try to Die

Something happens. Or nothing happens. Perhaps you realize that he never loved you. Or you can’t possibly walk the halls of your school again. Or you refuse to listen to the screams anymore. Perhaps your sadness was something that had been swelling for years: you turned away in spite of it, but it grew nearer and nearer like waves approaching the shore. No matter what road you’ve traveled, you are here now. The thought has struck you suddenly, how unbearable it will be to face another day. You need help, but you don’t know how to ask for it. You cry and scream and the carpet snags underneath your fingernails as you fall. You need help so very badly. You find your way into the medicine cabinet, fumble your way to the aspirin, pop the cap. How many will kill you? Fifty sixty seventy eighty. How many will break you? Twenty thirty forty. You swallow big gulps, drink from the glass that has been sitting out since yesterday. You can’t breathe here, you can’t breathe on the floor.

In the hospital, your mother explains that you were confused, you didn’t mean to do it, and it’s almost funny how much work she’s done to convince herself of this. People move in and out, ask questions, take the blood from your body. You’ve lost everything else. A doctor gets close to your face and tells you that he knows it wasn’t a mistake, he knows what you did. He smells too clean and you never said it was a mistake. They give you a cup of charcoal to drink through a straw. This will save you. You are moved to the ICU for two nights because the levels of aspirin in your blood are still high. You drink charcoal again and again and you wear yellow socks. When you try to die, these socks mean that you’re not allowed to wear shoes. They mean that you are a suicide risk. You can’t be left alone, not that you’d get very far. You are tired. A nurse takes a blood sample every four hours. Another nurse puts a catheter in you. The aspirin level hasn’t gone down in the morning. It sinks in that you might actually die, now, in the ICU. In your yellow socks. A “sitter” stays in your room at all times, helps you to the bathroom and leaves the door cracked, just in case.

Finally, the aspirin in your system starts to disappear. The psychiatrist who will be treating you has not yet arrived in these two days. Is he busy? You watch television and sleep. Your mother never leaves your room. The psychiatrist comes. You explain to him that you didn’t want to die. You needed help, you called 911, you vomited into the sink. He tells you that this is what everyone says after they try to kill themselves. If you don’t willingly admit yourself to a mental institution, you will be forcefully admitted.

When you try to die, you spend six days in a mental hospital. You meet a woman named Storm with wild hair and wild scars. You meet people who are worse than you, you meet people who are better than you, you realize that it’s okay to be you. But what's a pretty girl like you doing in a place like this? You can’t sleep at night because the nurses are laughing outside of your door. Instead, you walk the halls in your slippers. You make paper cranes in the TV room with a forty-year old depressive who never recovered from a motorcycle accident ten years ago. You listen to reruns of SVU on the TV. You sleep, you wake, you dream. And it’s strange how quickly you adapt to this new routine: taking the pills, talking to doctors, sitting through therapy. You are visited by friends who are afraid of what has happened to you. But when you try to die, you’re not afraid anymore. You’re not afraid of living or trying or failing. You return home and what you are afraid of, finally, is what you’ve faced and survived. You are afraid of death. You are afraid of the end. So you begin again.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Book Review: Jellicoe Road

I'll admit that after a few pages of Jellicoe Road I wasn't dying to read more. I couldn't figure out how Marchetta was going to write 400 pages about the "war" happening between the Jellicoe School, Townies, and Cadets. It honestly didn't sound like much of a premise for a book. But after thoroughly enjoying Marchetta's Saving Francesca, I kept at it. And thank goodness that I did. 

Jellicoe Road tells two stories: that of Taylor Markham, a 17-year old attending the Jellicoe School, and a twenty-year old tale of a ragtag group of friends on the Jellicoe Road . Taylor never knew her father and was abandoned by her mother at a 7-11 when she was 11 years old. Hannah, a pseudo-guardian to the Jellicoe kids finds Taylor and takes her under her wing, providing her a place to stay until she was old enough to begin year seven. Soon after the story begins, Hannah disappears and Taylor is named leader of the Jellicoe School, thrown into "battle" with the Cadets' leader, Jonah Griggs (with whom Taylor shares an interesting past) and the Townies' leader, Santangelo.

Through pages of a manuscript that Hannah left behind, we are introduced to an entirely new set of characters from twenty years earlier: Narnie, Jude, Webb, Tate, and Fitz, a group of friends united by a tragic accident that become like a family to each other.

As Taylor's life seems to unravel, she discovers that the characters in Hannah's story are not just a product of her mentor’s imagination and that her own story intertwines with theirs in ways she never thought possible. Jellicoe Road is a heartbreaking tale of coming-of-age and coming to terms with the life we're given. When Taylor learns her own history, she finally realizes that she has never truly been alone.

At some points it seemed somewhat contrived how perfectly the pieces of the story added up (the mysterious Hermit, the Brigadier, etc.), but sometimes we have to suspend our disbelief in order to truly experience the magic of a story.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

It's no secret that I am a HUGE fan of midnight releases.  So last night where else would I be except seeing The Amazing Spider-Man (unfortunately not in costume)?

Now, I do not dislike the older Spider-man movies starring Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst.  They always did a good job of keeping me entertained, but as the movies went on the plots got progressively...less good. So the new reboot had me pretty excited, I love Emma Stone, Andrew Garfield is a babe, and after seeing the trailers I simply couldn't wait.  And let me tell you, it went above and beyond my expectations.

I'm no film buff so I am unsure of the fancy way to say this, but the camera angles over New York City were absolutely great; and the plot progressed well, I was never bored for even a second. 

As for the actors, Andrew Garfield plays troubled and quirky extremely well.  Not to mention he can be quite funny.  Perhaps it's just because he is ridiculously attractive but I personally felt that he was perfect as Spider-Man. Emma Stone likewise did a fantastic job as Gwen Stacy.  It was really a different type of role for her.  The comedic actress usually has awkward rambling monologues that have me shaking with laughter.  They sort of threw one of these in, in the form of a semi-uncomfortable father-daughter moment, that was in fact pretty funny. Overall I have to give many kudos to Emma and look forward to seeing her in more roles like this.

The supporting cast, including Sally Field, Martin Sheen, Denis Leary and Rhys Ifans, add to the awesomeness of the new Spider-Man movie.

It seemed that in the weeks leading up the the July 3rd release, The Amazing Spider-Man took a backseat to all the hype surrounding The Dark Knight Rises (to be released July 20th, 2012). And what a mistake that was.  I have no complaints about this movie; to The Amazing Spider-Man, I give you five stars.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Uncertain and Unconcerned: Life in Your Twenties

As a teenager, I had this idea that when I reached my twenties everything would suddenly make sense. Who I was and who I wanted to be would finally align. My life plans would gently click into place like a ridiculously simple 9-piece puzzle. And I would be happy, genuinely happy. I guess I can’t blame myself back then. I was something of a mess in high school and desperate for the hope that things would, some day, get better.

Needless to say, things haven’t worked out quite the way I imagined. I’m finding that my life is more like a 500-piece puzzle of the White Album, nothing fitting together and half of the pieces scattered in unknown locations. Of course, some things have fallen into place: I finished college, started grad school, and I have a job (though part-time) that I love. 

And though I’m nowhere near having it all figured out, I have learned some important lessons in my twenty-three years. This is what I know for certain:

  • Cherish your friendships. Stay in touch with the people who matter. Some friendships are always easy. But sometimes, the longer you go without talking to someone, the harder it is to jump back into the comfort of your friendship. So make the phone call or send the e-mail or show up at someone’s door unexpected. You won’t regret putting in that effort.
  •  Don’t waste your time on things that you don’t love. You’re young; you have plenty of time to be miserable further down the road. This is the time to figure out what makes you happier than anything else and pursue it with everything you’ve got.
  • For every curveball life throws you, for every awful day, for every morning that makes getting out of bed seem absolutely impossible, you will also experience moments of overwhelming, sublime happiness. And the best part? You never know when these instances will arise: laughing at nothing with friends, jumping off of a roof into a pool, getting caught in the rain. Soak in this unexpected glory, because you’ll need to draw on these moments when the next curveball heads your way.
  • Take risks. Take little risks and big risks. Ask your crush out, apply for the job that you’ll never in a million years get, go skydiving, get a tattoo, climb a tree, share something you’ve created. Don’t leave yourself looking back and wondering what could have been.
  • You are stronger than you think you are. When you have no other choice, your mind and body will endure much more than you ever expected. And once you’ve experienced something truly harrowing, you’ll begin to understand the extent of your own strength.  

It’s funny how we always seem to believe that the future holds the answers. We tell ourselves that if we can just get through this week or this month or this year, things will get better. And sometimes that’s true. Sometimes things do improve after time. But the fact is that there is not a magical age at which we abruptly morph into whole, happy robots. And maybe that’s a good thing. Not knowing what to expect means that we can live lives full of surprises. We can find pieces of our puzzles unexpectedly, in songs and books, in conversations with strangers, in new discoveries and unfamiliar places.

So far, my twenties have been an amalgamation of the great and the not-so-great. I’ve fallen in love and had my heart unceremoniously smashed to pieces. I’ve clawed my way, very slowly, back from rock bottom. I’ve felt both irreparably broken and happiness to the point of effervescence. And I’m only twenty-three. I mean, what’s in store for me over the next seven years? I guess that’s the point I’m trying to make: we have no idea where we’ll be ten years from now or a week from now or even a few hours from now (what am I going to eat for dinner?!). We can’t expect to magically reach a place where things fall together. All we can do is buckle our seatbelts and raise our glasses because we’re looking at another 60 years of all-out confusion, frustration, exuberance, and at times, great joy. And I’ll cheers to that.