That falsetto though

Many of my favorite people (musical and otherwise) cite Prince as a huge inspiration. As in, “I based most of my songwriting career off of this artist” and “He changed the face of pop music forever.” Yet somehow, before this week, I had never listened to a full Prince album all the way through. Not acceptable. So obviously “a Prince album” was moved to the top of our Album of the Week queue. But which one? Purple Rain was a bit of an anomaly because it’s a soundtrack, and we wanted something relatively early in his career, and…let’s stop making excuses, it was the cover. It was the album cover all the way that made us pick Dirty Mind.

Unexpected bonus: when we picked up the record at Rasputin in Mountain View, we found this poster included:

It looks great in our living room.

The goal of these ‘Album of the Week’ (or Every Other Week, or whatever it turns out to be) posts are not so I can write album reviews. I actually really dislike the idea of doing album reviews, I guess that’s because I’m selfish and would rather make these posts more about my personal experiences than providing any sort of useful information.

So instead, I will focus on why we chose the album, how we obtained it, and what it was like listening to it for the first time. In this case, we popped on the record right after getting home from a weekend of beer-adventuring in Sacramento, and proceeded to boogie all the way through Side 1 while preparing a meal of Trader J’s tortellini and peas. Question: did Dirty Mind define the sound of the 80s? This album is from 1980 and while parts of it are distinctly disco-influenced, the rest is just SO SYNTHY AND FRESH. Makes you think about how much less fabulous the 80s would’ve been without Prince. Side 2 was spent eating the aforementioned tortellini and peas, punctuated by sudden, spastic head-bobbing and bouts of uncontrollable dancing.

A select few favorite parts:
Unfortunately there’s a severe lack of Prince songs on YouTube (copyrights and whatnot), so to listen to these I suggest just getting the album! It will be worth whatever you spend.
When You Were Mine. The backing vocals in this song are so OK Go (or should I say, OK Go backing vocals are so Prince). I’ve known for a long time that Damian Kulash is a major Prince fan (a relevant NPR article), so I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to listen to the man himself.
The transition between Uptown and Head. Uggghhhh, so SWAG.
Sister. This song reminds me of a Spencer Owen song, except it’s about incest. So there you go.

We’re off to find another album this weekend. Recommendations wholeheartedly welcomed.

Happy birthday, Bones!

Sometimes Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner’s tweets are incredibly silly (well, mostly Shatner’s)…but today among the silliness they also paid tribute to DeForest Kelley, which I thought was sweet.


DeForest Kelley was the rare kind of celebrity who was shy, attention-averse, owned a pet turtle, wrote poetry, and stayed married to his wife for 54 years. It’s pretty obvious why I love him. Happy birthday, De!

*PS – I considered making a tag called “aww” just for this post.
*PPS – This all started when Alex showed me this photo album, which made my heart melt. <3
*PPPS – Please go to Leonard Nimoy’s twitter and read his 15+ grandpa-themed tweets before it’s too late.

You’re always the dummy, Pete.

My last few posts have been very wordy. Not that there’s anything wrong with that (to quote Seinfeld)…but I’m here to mix it up a bit with these two photos of Stephen Stills and Peter Tork looking like the same person:

Let it not be forgotten that Stephen Stills did in fact try out for the Monkees, but ended up recommending Peter Tork for the role instead.

Micky, Davy, Mike, and Stephen?

I mean, can you even imagine?

No, that’s all true.

This past week, Alex and I developed an obsession with obtaining the album Rumours. For several reasons:

1. We both separately read the same Reddit thread, which was about albums you can listen to without skipping a single track. In addition to Graceland (I mean, duh), Rumours was at the top of the list. We realized we’d both never listened to it, despite knowing about half the songs for one reason or another.

2. One of my coworkers was raving about a Fleetwood Mac concert she’d gone to a couple years ago, and how Lindsey Buckingham was the sole reason for her wanting to learn guitar.

3. Fleetwood Mac also popped up in our trivia night (which we won, btw) and in a recent SNL skit in which Paul Rudd and Vanessa Bayer impulsively dance every time “I Don’t Want To Know” comes on.

How coincidental! After all this in less than a week, we decided we needed to own Rumours. And yes, I know it’s very easily done on YouTube or iTunes, but something about listening to an album for a first time on vinyl makes it so much more enjoyable. We’re not music snobs, I swear, it’s just that we happen to own a record player and live down the street from several record stores, so why not make the effort to listen to these albums in their original form?
Friday night we stopped at Amoeba and Rasputin, but neither had it on vinyl (weird, right?). We searched the new arrivals, the bargain sections, the new sections, and even the bins underneath where all the duplicates/hidden gems go. The next morning we went to Recycled Records and also had no luck, although Alex did get a Vangelis and a Donald Fagen album. After a short break of discouragement, we ventured into the Lower Haight to try out Groove Merchant (really cool place, but alas, still couldn’t find it) and Rooky Ricardo’s, where we finally had success. It was a fun adventure in record-hunting, and also just made it that much more rewarding to finally put the needle on the record.
And in case you also haven’t heard the album, it’s great. “Second Hand News” and “I Don’t Want to Know” make me want to dance every time I hear them. “Never Going Back Again” is my new favorite song to play on guitar. “You Make Loving Fun” is secretly my favorite. I read that Rumours was meant to be “no filler,” meaning every song could hold its own as a single. They definitely pulled it off.
Lesson learned: there are still so many classic albums out there that have gone unheard, by us and by plenty of other people. Our new goal is to unearth some of them, make good use of our record player, and share some of the results (via this blog). It’s also probably going to come in handy for trivia!
[Another lesson learned: if there’s a classic album from the 60s or 70s that you’re looking for, you will almost certainly find it at your parents’ house, which we discovered when we went to the Genco house today. We now have 2 copies of Rumours.]

A relevant clip to end this post:

The band leader has a sneaky feeling for the hat check girl

A piece of trivia for Sunday morning: 2014 is the 100th anniversary of Charlie Chaplin in film.

His first appearance as the Tramp, 1914

Like everything else in the last century, the film industry has progressed by leaps and bounds in 100 years. Crazy to think that back then, cameramen had to constantly crank their cameras and editors literally edited film with scissors and tape. Watching some of these early movies, 1914 really does seem like a whole different world, where cars and electricity were a luxury, and films were accompanied by live music because records weren’t even a regular thing.

Because I couldn’t go to the Chaplin Centennial in SF yesterday, I celebrated instead by watching some of Charlie’s very first movies, which luckily are on YouTube in abundance because they’re all public domain. [Important to note: these were before Chaplin started writing/directing his own films, so by default they are super silly, what with the slapstick and Keystone Kops and all.]

Making A Living – this was Charlie’s first starring role, in which he plays swindler instead of the Tramp. It’s pretty ridiculous, but there are some cool shots of early LA!

Kid Auto Races At Venice – the first movie where Charlie appeared as the Tramp. It almost seems like an extended screen test…no real plot to it (basically just the Tramp being attracted to the camera) but funny nonetheless.

Tango Tangles – I just love this one, because it features adorable little Charlie without the mustache and baggy clothes. Also starring Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle. This was the best quality I could find on YouTube, although the title cards are poorly re-written. My favorite part is definitely the coat-flailing fight scene from 8:15 to the end. I’m almost positive that the term “kick your ass” comes straight from these silent movies, in which there was a lot of literal ass-kicking.

In all, Charlie starred in something like 25 movies in 1914, which is a lot even considering how short they were. Maybe if I keep up my blogging I can use this year to do some more in-depth posts about Charlie’s movies, year by year. It’s cool to see how they went from slapstick to motion picture.

Got to run now…but I’ve got some more posts queued up so hopefully I’ll be back soon!

January 10th Resolutions

I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions. I like the idea, but it never really makes a difference in my short- or long-term goals. I guess that could be said for a lot of the things I try to get inspiration from (womp womp).That said, I still made plenty of resolutions this year (because I guess I never learn!). Many of them don’t really pertain to this blog. But, there are a few that I think are relevant, and I’m listing them here:

Read more. Somewhere along the line I lost the attention span for reading, which is a huge bummer. But I’m determined to get it back, coupled with my “spend less time mindlessly browsing the Internet” attempt.

Reading is important simply because: without a constant input of words, I lose inspiration and stop writing. And I don’t want that to happen! It doesn’t matter if it’s novels, short stories, biographies, news…I just want to read more, learn more, know more.

On that note, I recently used an Amazon gift card to get Mark Lewisohn’s Beatles biography, Tune In, and it has been amazing so far (944 pages focused ONLY on the Beatles before they were famous). If you ever wanted to know every single ailment Ringo had as a child, this is the book for you.

Listen to more records. Exactly what it sounds like, records being the key word. Alex and I have lived in 4 apartments together and each time our poor record player seemed to get less and less use (actually, in the last apartment it was never even set up; there was no room!).

But that ends now! We just recently put the finishing touches on our new system and finally pulled our records out of storage, and re-listening to all my favorites on vinyl has been one of my favorite ways to unwind after a long day.

Our trusty record player

Re-do the blog. I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time, but didn’t know exactly how to go about it. But now I have some concrete goals.

The first is to come up with a new name. “Electric Kool-Aid” is 60s psychedelia at its finest (look up Tom Wolfe titles if you are unfamiliar), but it’s a name that I picked over 5 years ago without too much thought. I’d like to find a name that’s a little less wacky, a little more relevant.

The next big step is to move to WordPress (sorry, Blogger!). Over the years I’ve found that Blogger is limiting in a lot of ways (mostly layout and formatting for me), while WordPress allows for much more versatility. Plus, WP is more sleek and sophisticated overall. I have no doubt it’ll be a tough move, but hopefully the end result will be much better!

And lastly, I want to write more in this blog, which is something that will happen if I succeed with all the above goals. I guess that gives you guysmy two/three readersa way to track my progress. Feel free to keep me in check! I hardly ever get comments on this thing, so even a “HEY WHY DON’T YOU UPDATE ANYMORE” is welcome.
Happy (belated) New Year!