reileen: (Default)
I'm not sure that this is the complete list, since I can't seem to find the original list I made somewhere, but this is stuff that I've found by poking around on Amazon, Wikipedia, and other places.

Jan. 5 - Blood Cross (Jane Yellowrock) by Faith Hunter
Mar. 10 - Roadkill (Cal Leandros) by Rob Thurman
Apr. 6 - Changes (Harry Dresden) by Jim Butcher
May 18 - The Demon's Covenant (The Demon's Lexicon Trilogy) by Sarah Rees Brennan
Jul. 6 - Red Hood's Revenge (Princess novels)

Some Amazon reviews indicate that Jane Yellowrock seems to be less strong of a character in Blood Cross than she was in Skinwalker, but I'll see how it goes when I get it from the library. (The cover for it is just as smokin' hot as the first one, though.) I just finished the 4th Cal Leandros book, Deathwish, which I think has to be my favorite by far - I loved that Thurman included Niko's POV this time, and I hope she does it for Roadkill as well. Changes could be potentially absurd in a bad way (secret baby, WTF?), but I'm going to keep faith that it'll at least be an interesting ride that'll show off more facets of Harry's character. I'm a little disappointed that Nick won't be the main character of The Demon's Covenant, but I'll still check the book out because the world is potentially interesting. Finally, I am totally stoked for Red Hood's Revenge because I've heard that we get to find out more about Talia and see a showdown between her and Red Riding Hood. FUCK YEAH.

Feb. 14 - Auralei EP by Artemis
Spring - Body of Glass by Artemis
Spring - Tall Tales for Spring by Vanessa Carlton
Summer - Disturbed
Autumn - Within Temptation
Unknown - Weird Al Yankovic
Unknown - Evanescence

I was actually really disappointed with the samples I heard of the Auralei EP - it's a good thing I held off on buying the downloads. I'll see if there are any songs I might like on the actual album. I hope Vanessa Carlton includes a studio recording of "All Is Well", because I think that's easily her best song yet. Wikipedia says that the new Disturbed album is going to be even darker than Indestructible, but the musical style will be more reminiscent of their album Believe (which I've got somewhere but haven't listened to because I am so fucking bad with listening to stuff from the Music Fairy, ye-e-s). No clue what to expect from the Within Temptation album. Should probably listen to the Weird Al EP Internet Leaks to get an idea of what might be on the next studio album; I wonder if he'll do a Lady GaGa parody? That would be epic. No clue what to expect from Evanescence either, but here's hoping it's better than The Open Door.

Also, whatever happened with Ghost Orgy? I've been checking their MySpace and main website for news, and aside from an update on the main website about releasing an EP in early 2008(!!!), there hasn't been anything. I wonder what came up?
reileen: (music - piano & smoke)
I was psyched when I found out via Twitter and LJ that Emilie Autumn was going to be holding an impromptu, informal meet-up/book-reading somewhere near the Lincoln Park Conservatory & Zoo on July 25. She's been mostly performing in Europe for the past couple of years, and any US shows she might've had were either out of my way or I just couldn't go. So something like this was a real treat. Plus, it was free, so like hell I was going to miss out on this! There were some issues and annoyances, but otherwise I'm glad I made it out there.

I dragged Liz ([ profile] lysis_to_kill), Lauren ([ profile] bluemaiden88), and Melissa along with me. We met up at the Fullerton station and then made Liz lead us to the conservatory/zoo (she'd been to the zoo a million and one times for bio classes, so I figured that her knowledge of where to go was better than mine, which was only informed by two solo jaunts in the years I've been at DePaul). Along the way, we got stopped by two people who asked us if we were going to the EA meet-up, which I guess meant that we were clearly dressed for the part. (Me, my plans for finding the meet-up location once we arrived at the general area was to follow all the gothic people, so there you go.)

Once we got settled at the final location, we had to wait a bit for EA to show up. I think her friend fLee explained what the issue was, but from where we got stuck sitting we couldn't hear much (though once EA arrived she bade us to scoot closer so that we could hear better). Anyway, EA showed up fashionably late, in her steampunk-ish floofy dress and corset and wild pink hair, toting what looked like a nicely handmade big-ass storybook. She spent the next two hours and a half (or somewhere around there) dramatically reading excerpts from her upcoming book The Asylum For Wayward Victorian Girls, which seems to be half-autobiography, half-fiction. EA's a joy to watch; she's very theatrical, with enough stage presence and charisma to fill the Sears Tower. It made me miss my theatre days, even though in those days I mostly did crew work, not actual acting. (Kinda wish I'd done more acting, though.) The only bad thing about this was sitting on the bumpy ground with barely nothing but my black knit sweater between my ass and the grass.

After reading, EA performed "Fairweather Friend" and "The Art of Suicide", with her producer(?) accompanying her on guitar. And then after that came the Meet N' Greet, at which point me and my friends proceeded to be stuck in a near-dead line for nearly a half hour or more. The problem was that, once EA announced that she'd be doing autographs on your tits - no, for serious, she announced this, "LET ME SIGN YOUR BREASTS BECAUSE YOU ARE AWESOME", there was this blob of fans surrounding her that she had to attend to first, and then from that blob was this line (where we were at) that spun out from the blob like the tail of a sperm cell. But we got there eventually, so all was well. I had her sign a print of the picture used on her Opheliac cover (which I'd printed out on photo paper earlier in the day). I saw two people who'd brought their violins to be signed by EA, and wished that an 88-key weighted keyboard could be so portable as to easily tote to a VT show to be signed by Miss Teng herself. Oh, well, signed sheet music and a CD aren't bad, but I digress.

and here there be pictures! )

In conclusion, Emilie Autumn is made of frilly, insane, plague-ridden* win! She said that she was planning to do an official show in Chicago in November, so I hope to the Gods I can go see it. She is truly amazing.

pull me up, 'cause I am waiting

*I mean this in a very complimentary way. Anyone who's been following Emilie's recent posts on either LJ orthe main site will know why.
reileen: (music - piano & smoke)
I don't usually listen to J-pop star Utada Hikaru - my main exposure to her is though the songs "Hikari"/"Simple and Clean", which are, respectively, the Japanese and English versions of one of the main theme songs for the Kingdom Hearts video game. Also, I had some vague inkling that one of her songs off one of her North American albums had a line that went something like "You're easy breezy and I'm Japanesey", which just kind of made my mind boggle a little when I heard about it. (I eventually went and Googled the lyrics just to confirm my suspicions. Besides that ridonkulous line, the rest of the song is actually fairly standard-ish pop.)

Anyway, I don't listen to Hikki. But my gal pal [ profile] vyctori does, and she asked me last night to boggle with her over the vast difference in style and quality between Hikki's recent Japanese releases and her latest North American album, This Is the One.

First, let's take a look at "Heart Station", the title track of her most recent Japanese album, released in March 2008.

A gentle, sweet pop ballad, with lyrics that are just as sentimental (scroll way down to find the English translation).

Were you able to hear my voice as I spoke?
The Heart Station broadcasting at one o’clock in the dead of night
Requires no tuning on the dial as it lies
On a secret frequency.*

Were the radio waves of my heart able to reach you?
It’s broadcasting from the Heart Station of sinners
And only God knows
How much I miss you.

Not my usual thing, but hey, I can see why Hikki's a pop sensation to rival even homegrown diva Ayumi Hamasaki.

Okay, fine. Let's take a look at "Me Muero", the second track off her second North American album This Is The One, released March 2009.

I...I just...what? Vocals: Fail. Production: More Fail. Lyrics: COMPLETE FAIL">:

Everyday my life's in shambles
since you took your love away
I got nothing left to gamble
I've thrown it all away

Now and then I'm suicidal
Flirting with a new temptation
Happiness inside a bottle
is what I need today

Oh my lover's gone away, gone to Istanbul
Light as a feather
I lie in my bed and flip through tv channels
Eating Godiva
I'm smoking my days away reading old emails
In my old pajamas
What a day, me muero, muero, muero

what is this I don't even. And the thing is, this song might actually be tolerable for me if the lyrics were just simple, cliched, and bland, because then this would just be a fun piece of audio junk food.

This Is The One is apparently Hikki's specific attempt to appeal to the American mainstream and to finally have a "breakout" album here in the States, which is why she went for this R&B/hip-hop sound. Y'know, she might be Japanese-American, but the album sounds like something from a native Japanese singer who thinks that all American are "totally gangsta" or something. Seriously, she should've just stuck to her own style. If she really wanted to use R&B/hip-hop elements, she could fuse it with her usual sound and probably get something worthwhile. Because seriously, it's bad when I listen to a song (this song in particular) where I wouldn't have had any audio cues that this was Hikki's work because it sounds more like a generic song from an up-and-coming R&B singer. I'm not even a fan of Hikki and This Is The One makes me feel so embarrassed for her.


Need to get back on my school sleeping schedule so I have more time to be productive. I've been waking up at noon or later these past couple of days, and it's refreshing but also annoying. I had something else I wanted to write about but I've been finding lately that my writing abilities have been severely lacking. It's been nine years and I still haven't gotten the hang of this "blogging" thing.

when I'm drivin' in my car and that man comes on the radio
reileen: (general - strawberry)
Having finished my JPN106 final (likely got a few things wrong on it, especially WRT to the particles and conjugations for passive and causative-passive and blah blah, but I'm working from like a 95-96% in that class, so I'm not worried) and my ART264 project (presenting at the final critique tomorrow afternoon), I have some time to finally post something more substantial than whining and short links. :D?


Vienna Teng

Despite having a shitload of music that I still haven't listened to even once, I've been returning rather frequently to Vienna Teng's Inland Territory. It's basically the musical equivalent of comfort food for me at the moment, and healthy comfort food for me, at that. I'm still floored at how rich and full the songs are, and how, despite the title Inland Territory, it's actually the least introspective of Vienna's albums so far. No...that's a misleading description; if you looked up "introspective" in the dictionary you'd find Vienna's picture. What I mean to say is, when you compare the subjects and the handling of those subjects in IT songs versus her earlier songs, there's a stronger tendency in the IT songs to reach out beyond personal, interior experiences. Or rather, the IT songs are remarkable for this fusion of the external world of events that may or may not be beyond our control, with the internal world of emotions and thoughts. It's a skillful, refreshing blending of themes into an audiophiliac frappuccino.

One thing I didn't consciously notice about the album until someone mentioned it on the VT forums: it's framed by two songs that both have what can be referred to as "instrumental choruses". It's especially spine-tingling on St. Stephen's Cross. (Incidentally, both were songs that needed to grow on me for a while before I came to love them, in their own way.)

Vanessa Carlton

I was pleasantly surprised to find that Carlton has debuted two new songs, "Fair-Weather Friends" and "London". Unfortunately, the quality is so bad on these recordings that you can't understand what she's singing, but melodically it sounds like stuff that would fit in with Heroes and Thieves. According to Wiccapedes, she's apparently almost halfway done with the album and will release it later this year, holy shit.

My liking for Vanessa Carlton's music is mildly perplexing to me. She's not necessarily an excellent vocalist - I wouldn't care to hear her a cappella - but it's such a distinctive voice and it fits her songs. Similarly, I get bored real easily playing her piano arrangements because they're so simple, yet I haven't really figured out a good way to transform those arrangements into something more complex (and thus more interesting) for me to perform as a cover. And her lyrics didn't really become compelling to me until Heroes and Thieves, but they've always had a certain je ne sais quoi about them that was uniquely VC.

At any rate, I look forward to VC's new album.

Yousei Teikoku

With their latest release, the single "Gekkou no Chigiri", it seems like YT is moving towards a more pop sound, though they still retain their distinctive gothic, neo-classical, and electronica elements. I was actually underwhelmed by the three songs on "Gekkou no Chigiri", but then again I was also underwhelmed by the songs on "Irodori no Nai Sekai" and now I actually really like the songs for the most part. In particular, I keep on coming back to "Alte Burg" for some reason. I think I'm fascinated by the chord progressions and the melodic structure, the auditory tension pulled tight like a bow in the stanza melodies before being released in a graceful arc into more musically familiar territory for the chorus. They've done this on other songs as well (including other songs on "Irodori no Nai Sekai"), but for some reason the pattern really caught me in "Alte Burg". I'm not entirely sure that it's an effect of this song being necessarily better than their other songs; it may be that I was listening to the song at the right time and in the right mood.

Charice Pempengco

You can sample her music on her MySpace; her Wikipedia page is here.

I first heard about her through the Angry Asian Man. Charice Pempengco is a young Filipina singer who placed third in a Filipino talent show called Little Big Star, loosely patterned after American Idol. However, she only gained worldwide recognition after an avid supporter named "FalseVoice" started posting videos of her performance on YouTube, garnering millions of hits. Through a series of fortunate events, she eventually landed a performance spot on Oprah, which led to her being signed by music producer David Foster. She is supposed to have a US debut album sometime soon, though I'm not entirely sure how soon.

Charice really has an impressive set of pipes, but she seriously needs to learn how to control that voice. She's cited Celine Dion and Mariah Carey as influences, and boy does it show - and not always in a good way. I think it's great that she has such a good range, but I honestly despise it when singers "oversing" their melodies (see also: Christina Aguilera). It seems so unnecessary most of the time. I prefer her softer vocals in "Smile" and "Maalaala Mo Kaya". But hey, what do I know? I think that, with this style of vocals, she may actually have a chance to break into the American mainstream, somewhat. She's already got two albums released in the Philippines, and a single here in the U.S.


So cheesy! So retro! Yet so gloriously awesome and epic! I wanna write my own Dragonforce-esque song. Not that it would be hard, technically, but still.


I have some book discussion I want to do (namely, The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd and Tekgrrl by A.J. Menden - neither of which I was impressed by), but it may take some time for me to formulate coherent reviews about them, so I'll leave y'all with a long-overdue link-o-llection instead.

Jeff Yang: What Does It Mean to be Asian-American?

Four decades later [after the late Ronald Takaki taught the first-ever Black Studies course at UCLA], however, it's worth considering how far the idea of Asian America has come, and how far it can go. Does Asian American identity still have meaning? Have prevailing attitudes towards race evolved to a point where the term "Asian American" limits us rather than lifting us up? Has the moment passed?

Truth be told, the current picture isn't pretty. Many prominent Asian American institutions, particularly those associated with arts, culture and media, have either shut down or are in danger of doing so. Some of this is due to the larger economic crisis, but if pressed, many of the former leaders of these organizations will quietly admit that the core issue they face is simple: Audiences and subscribers for their work have been dwindling, and without collective support from within the community, it's been an uphill battle getting support from outside of it.

On the political front, the vibrant grassroots movement of the '60s and '70s never produced a broad-based pan-Asian American advocacy organization along the lines of the NAACP and the National Council of La Raza. While reinvented old-guard institutions like the Asian American Justice Center (formerly the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium) and exciting new-school entities like Asian Pacific Americans for Progress offer hope, the history of Asian American activism over the past few decades is largely a mosaic of short-term coalitions that were built with a single issue in mind and vanished after that issue no longer seemed pressing.

And those issues are rare these days. It's hard to point to a critical political event that has galvanized pan-Asian communities since 1982, the fight for justice for Vincent Chin, the Chinese American murdered by laid-off Detroit autoworkers for being "Japanese." (Some might suggest the protests against the Broadway musical "Miss Saigon" fit that bill. Even so, those took place in 1991 -- nearly two decades ago.)

All of these factors point to the uncomfortable truth that bringing together Asian Americans has often seemed like herding cats, if those cats were randomly mixed in with, say, dogs, sheep and giraffes -- a metaphor that reflects the staggering diversity of our community, which incorporates dozens of nationalities, each with multiple linguistic, religious and ethnic subsets, and a varying historical record of immigration to the U.S.

Yes, the challenges are enormous. And yet, the stakes are high. Those who seek to suppress racial discourse have gravitated toward Asian Americans as the weakest link in the multicultural chain. They suggest that the successes some Asian Americans have achieved mean we no longer need the protection of a racial category; they point to the difficulties we've faced in organizing as evidence the category never should have existed in the first place.

Ray Fisman @ Slate: Want more women to study science? Hire more female professors.

The researchers also found that the influence of professor gender was even starker for the set of students who were math whizzes when they entered the Academy (those with math SAT scores above 700). For these students, a female instructor eliminated the gender GPA gap entirely—and solely because high-performing women did well in their classes rather than because high-ability men underperformed.

What's more, having a male instructor didn't just affect female cadets' performance in their first-year classes—ramifications could be seen throughout their undergraduate careers. Not surprisingly, students who did well in their introductory science classes were more likely to go on to obtain science degrees (and presumably go on to science-related professions). Among high-math-SAT students—those most likely to be the ones to go on to obtain science degrees—the authors calculate that having a women-only roster of faculty would create gender parity among science majors.

What is it about a woman instructor that is so important for female pupils? It's unlikely to be simply the sense of empowerment of seeing that women can in fact make it in science. If that were the case, then having all female professors should help their female students catch up to the men and having all male professors should cause the male-female performance gap to widen. Yet the authors found that, while female students perform better on average in classes taught by female professors, there are some male professors under whom there's no achievement gap between male and female students (and also some female professors for whom the gender gap is as big as that of some of their male colleagues). So some men are very good at mentoring women, just not nearly enough of them.

John Scalzi: The New York Times: We May Slide into Irrelevancy But At Least We Update Daily

The thing about this Times piece is that it feels almost endearing anachronistic; not to run down blogs, but they’re not exactly the hot new kid on the block these days, are they. These days it seems like the only people starting new blogs are laid-off journalists, which says something both about blogs and these journalists. Everyone else has moved on to Facebook and Twitter. Which is something I personally applaud; I like my blog, but I’m a wordy bastard, by profession and by inclination, and online social networks actually do a far better job of what people wanted blogs to do, which is be a way to act and feel connected online with friends and family. No one gives a crap if your tweet or status update is short and utterly inconsequential (”Hey! I just ate a hot dog!”) — indeed, that’s kind of the point.

[ profile] nonfluffypagans has a post discussing the idea of pagan community centers. It touches on a number of issues that PCCs face, including money, interpersonal politics, and the lack of support from the broader community.

I want this corset like burning.

Iraqi teen cracks 300-year-old math puzzle.

Tokyopop recently raised the prices on its individual manga volumes, but it looks like readers are actually getting less for their money.

And then finally, an article from The Onion that is sure to be a classic: Oh, No! It's Making Well-Reasoned Arguments Backed With Facts! Run!

fire's getting closer but I've got to stay calm
reileen: (Default)
Have been sick with flu-like symptoms over the past few days. No idea if it's swine flu. Am annoyed that I cannot be productive, but otherwise am not dying. I think. Been staying home the past two days anyway.

In the meantime, DePaul has had its first confirmed case of swine flu.


I also got a Dreamwidth account, though hell if I know what I'll use it for. I'm not really active in many communities yet on this account, and I really only got a DW because a lot of people I followed here ended up moving their primary posting platform to DW. Feel free to add me or not.


Quick notes on stuff that I've listened to recently.

Dragonforce, Inhuman Rampage: Wow, it's amazing how every song on this album sounds exactly the same! I mean, yeah, okay, I happen to really love "Through the Fire and Flames", which is the first song on the album, but I don't want 7+ iterations of it on the same album, okay? Maybe it'll grow on me after a few more listens, but the crazy guitar riffs, as awesome as they are, get tiring when you listen to them one right after the other.

Pentaphobe, A Tribal Metamorphosis: Nice atmospheric music, if you need something dark and primal.

Yael Naim, Yael Naim: A nice low-key serving of quirky folk/acoustic, with a wide sampling of musical tastes. It hasn't settled with me, but maybe one of y'all might like her?

Tori Amos, Abnormally Attracted to Sin: Reminiscent of To Venus and Back with its electronica elements and darker sounds. I actually prefer this kind of sound for her. My main gripe with this album is that it's too long - listening to it is like dealing with an overflow of tomato sauce in a cheese pizza. I haven't decided yet which songs she should've cut, though. My favorite so far is "Give", which is the first song on the album; will be giving this a few more spins once I'm actually conscious enough to pay attention.

the sound of evil laughter falls around the night
reileen: (glee - Bomberman)
Vienna Teng and her crew gave an amazing performance at Schuba's on Friday, as they always do. (I have video evidence of this fact, but alas, it doesn't even begin to capture the magick of the moment.) I stalked caught up with her later and got her to autograph my copy of Inland Territory - yay! She also thanked me for my review of the album, which I think she found through the forum - double yay! And I found out that the reason they haven't played "Augustine" live yet is because they haven't really found an arrangement that they really liked for it. So now I await with bated breath the fateful day that she gives a live performance of "Augustine."

The opening act, Ben Sollee, was pretty damn amazing too. I'm not sure if his music, which could probably be described as "country on cello", is my thing or not, but lemme tell you, he's damn good on the cello.

After the performance, I crashed at [ profile] lysis_to_kill's place with Lauren and Melissa. We watched Crash, which isn't exactly a "fun movie night" kind of film, but I'd heard about it back in HON301 and Lauren had brought it with her, and no one really cared which movie we watched so I just took charge of the viewing materials. (I'd say that this is such a typically Leo thing of me to do, but then, Melissa and Lauren are both Leos too...) Crash is an incredibly uncomfortable film to watch because of the way it takes on a lot of major racial issues in America, and the characters of the large main cast fall into a lot of grey areas. Some are more redeemable - or redeemed - than others.

By the time we finished this movie, it was getting kind of late, but somehow we decided that we wanted to watch something else, so we popped one of the DVDs I had for the first season of The Big Bang Theory and watched the first episode. Much lulz were had. I seriously need to watch the rest of this series; it's flippin' hilarious and I love all the geek jokes even if I can't understand half of them. (Tangentially related - I also need to finish watching Firefly - I think I'm on the second DVD of the boxset that I got for Christmas two years ago. I'm so bad with sitting down and just watching shit.)

Despite the late bedtime, all of us were up before 8:00am, WTF. However, the early wake-up was sweetened - literally - by a pack of cook-it-yourself Cinnabons that Liz managed to pick up in the fridge aisle at Jewel. OMG SO GOOD AND SO UNHEALTHY FOR YOU. I'm afraid to find and buy these for myself, because I'll probably be eating them all. The. Time.


So, the final chapter of Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro was released on Friday. I'm sad that MTNN has to end, but if we had to get an end, this was a pretty good end to get. And Matsui is supposed to be releasing a new series this July - I'm not sure if it's a new ongoing series or a one-shot, though.

These minor spoilers are on the tip of my tongue. )

Fare thee well, Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro. It was sweet while it lasted. Now if only someone would pick up the tankoubon for English localization!

I run but it stays right by my side
reileen: (music - piano & smoke)
Sarah Slean is a Canadian singer-songwriter, whose piano-based music tends towards a jazzy cabaret style. Or at least that what it sounds like on her fourth studio album, The Baroness, and its subsequent EP of non-album tracks, The Baroness Redecorates. I actually prefer the songs from the EP over the studio album. In particular, "Parasol" is my favorite. I have an urge to write a song called "The Stack in My Rack" in this style.

Priscilla Hernandez is a singer-songwriter (and illustrator!) who hails from Spain. Her songs from Ancient Shadows sound like a more gothic version of Enya's work. Here's "The willow's lullaby" and "Away". I'm fascinated by the music, though I need to look up the lyrics 'cause I can't understand anything she's singing (and I'm pretty sure that, despite being Spanish, she's singing in English).

The Veronicas are an Australian pop-rock duet of twin sisters whose music from their second studio album, Hook Me Up, is also strongly techno/house-influenced. I first heard part of their music two days ago, and was intrigued by the techno to go check them out, but found out that I didn't like them as much as I thought I would. I don't know if it was the music or if it was the cliched lyrics. Here's part of the song I first heard, "Untouched", which has a really nice strings arrangement in the opening. The songs reminded me of Lady GaGa's work, whose music I actually did like to a certain extent, so if you're also a fan of Lady GaGa (and perhaps Katy Perry?), you might like The Veronicas.

Finally, I swear that one day I will cover Andrew W.K.'s "Ready to Die" in the style of Yousei Teikoku. ONE DAY. *shakes fist*


Goodbye Tsugumi is a contemporary Japanese novel by Banana Yoshimoto. Maria Shirakawa is the only daughter of an unmarried woman who has lived most of her life in a little seaside town alongside her invalid cousin Tsugumi Yamamoto, who despite being an invalid has enough energy to cause grief to those around her through her abrasive words and frequent temper tantrums. Maria and Tsugumi are close friends, and when Maria's father is finally able to bring Maria and her mother to Tokyo to live there for good, Tsugumi invites Maria to spend one last summer by sea with her and her family.

I enjoyed this one, although the translation was clunky in some parts, especially for Tsugumi's really rough way of speaking. I was also pleasantly surprised that SPOILER ). Overall, it's a very hopeful novel, though I have to admit that at this point (having sped-read my way through the thing a week ago) I'm not entirely sure what the message was supposed to be.

Piercing by Ryu Murakami is another contemporary Japanese novel. The story revolves around Kawashima Masayuki, who is a successful graphic designer living Tokyo with his lovely wife Yoko and their newborn daughter Rie. All is not well with this family, though, for Kawashima has this overwhelming desire to stab his newborn daughter with an ice pick. (YAINORITE BEAR WITH ME, OKAY???) In order to face down this destructive desire, which has its roots in childhood trauma, Kawashima makes plans to take a solo vacation so that he can go out and kill a prostitute instead. Little does he know that the prostitute he's chosen, Sanada Chiaki, has some destructive impulses of her own that just may thwart his plans.

So, in case the whole "I WANT TO STAB MY BABY WITH AN ICE PICK" thing didn't clue you in, this is a really fucked up novel. It's sort of like the Japanese Chuck Palahniuk novel, although I'm not familiar enough with Palahniuk's work to say which one it most resembles - I've only read Haunted and Rant. But based on that, if I had to make a comparison to those two Palahniuk novels, I'd have to say that Piercing is 1) a lot more focused in its narrative (both Haunted and Rant had multiple characters and multiple layers and layers of narration going on) and 2) derives most of its visceral squick factor from copious amounts of blood, as opposed to body fluids in general which may or may not include blood (which is what Palahniuk had an affinity for doing in the two novels I read).

The other part of the book's squick factor is, of course, the fact that Kawashima wants to stabbinate his kid. But I think that the overblown treatment that this book gives to Kawashima's destructive impulses nevertheless speaks to something that we all have in us: the desire to completely destroy anything good we've built. Or hell, to destroy anything we've built, good or not, since with Sanada Chiaki, she focuses her destructive tendencies on herself. The two of them eventually recognize that they are similar people, not that either of them specifically admit that to each other. All in all, the novel ends kind of ambiguously, albeit with a very obvious reference to novel's title. I'm really kind of ambivalent about this book; I appreciate the unorthodox structure and the story that Murakami set up, but have my doubts about the resolution of it. Overall, uh, if you like/can stomach Palahniuk's work, you may want to give Piercing a try. It's short enough that I was able to get through it on a one-way train ride from Midway Airport to the Western stop on the Brown Line, which was about an hour and a half long, but I'm a decently fast reader.

Zahrah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu is a YA fantasy novel set in a magical Nigeria. Taking the summary from the inside cover flap because I'm lazy:

In the northern Ooni Kingdom, fear of the unknown runs deep, and children born dada are rumored to have special powers. Thirteen-year-old Zahrah Tsami feels like a normal girl - she grows her own flora computer, has mirrors sewn onto her clothes, and stays clear of the Forbidden Greeny Jungle. But unlike other children in the village of Kirki, Zahrah was born with the telling dadalocks. Only her best friend, Dari, isn't afraid of her, even when something unusual begins happening - something that definitely makes Zahrah different. The two friend determine to investigate, edging closer and closer to danger. When Dari;s life is threatened, Zahrah must face her worst fears alone, including the very thing that makes her different.

Zahrah the Windseeker has all the charm and structure of a timeless fairytale, which makes the book somewhat predictable but very satisfying. What makes the book stand out is the non-white heroine and the non-Euro-centric worldbuilding, which is very well-done. Zahrah and Dari are likable, relatable characters as well. Highly recommended.

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer I really need to summarize this one by this point? It's about a whiny whitebread American girl named Bella and her sparkly vampire love. Oh, and there's some semblance of a plot crammed into the last 100 pages that doesn't really make any sense and serves no purpose other than to underscore how ~*~*~special~*~*~ the girl is.

Two things that mildly - emphasis on mildly - redeemed the book for me:

*Bella apparently likes to read. One of the (million and hundred) things that she hates about Forks is that their local library has a poor selection of books, so she makes plans to head out of town and hit up some used bookstores in a bigger town. Not that Bella seems to read anything besides what appears on high school reading lists, and since those are classics I find it difficult to believe that even a small town like Forks wouldn't have those in stock at the library. And she loses points from me for passing up the metaphysical bookstore.

*Edward's a pianist and composer, who wrote a song for Bella. Not that this hobby of his comes up ever again in the series, based on what I've read of [ profile] cleolinda's recaps.

*For some reason, despite so many people saying that this actually happened, I didn't really notice gratuitous overusage of the word "chagrin" in Twilight. (Not saying that it didn't happen; just that I didn't notice it.) I did, however, notice gratuitous overuse of the word "smouldering", usually used to describe Edward's omgsodaaaaark eyes or his gaze or whatshit.

[ profile] vyctori: Only use the word when something is actually on fire?

*You know what makes Edward really creepy? (Besides the obvious things like following her home and watching her sleep without her knowing about it, etc., etc.) The fact that he seems to have this dual...personality or mindset or whatever of being both a creepy old guy (where he constantly claims that he knows what's best for Bella and basically condescends to her) and a typical emotionally constipated teenager ("WE SHOULDN'T BE FRIENDS BECAUSE I AM TEH DANGEROUS BUT LET'S BE FRIENDS ANYWAY EVEN THOUGH IT'LL TOTALLY BE BAD FOR BOTH OF US BUT YOUR BLOOD SMELLS TASTY LIKE FLOWERS (wait did I say that out loud O SHI)~").


Shoulder-A-Coffin Kuro by Satoko Kiyuduki is - okay, can I just pause here for a moment to tell you how much I loathe the title? Most awkward translation ever. The Japanese is fairly straightforward, y'know (棺担ぎのクロ) - they could've called it Coffin Carrier Kuro, which has the benefit of alliteration. True, it's still a bit of an odd title, but it sounds more standardly manga-ish.

Anyway, Shoulder-A-Coffin Kuro is about a tomboyish girl named Kuro, who travels the world looking for a particular witch. She dresses in black and carries a coffin as large as she is, with the knowledge that she may have to use it by the end of her journey. She's frequently mistaken for a witch herself, as well as a boy, a vampire, a reaper, and other spooky things, but she has a good heart and leaves an impression wherever she goes. Accompanying her are: Sen the talking bat, who tends to be the snarky and slightly irresponsible, and the mysterious catgirl twins Nijuku and Sanju, whom Kuro found one day on her travels.

Lydia lent me the first volume of this series on Friday and I read it on the train home. I really like the art, even though it's kind of generically cute. I'm less fond of the fact that this manga is done in 4-koma format, which I feel really restricts the narrative possibilities of this work. Did Kiyuduki just not want to deal with large backgrounds or something? Which I can totally sympathize with, but she draws backgrounds nicely and I don't, which makes all the difference. The chapters themselves kind of skip around in terms of story time, going forward and then backward and then forward again, but I didn't find it too hard to follow. I'm intrigued enough that I'm going to bug Lydia for the second volume - I wish I knew how many volumes there were in total of this manga so I could figure out whether I'd be left on a cliffhanger or not.

Speaking of Lydia, I was discussing the latest manga developments of Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro with her. She's a fan of the anime, but gave up on the manga partway through the current story arc with Sicks and the New Bloodline. I was way more enthusiastic than her about the Bloodline story arc, but now that we've reached chapter 198, with Matsui stating that MTNN is definitely ending soon...I'm actually finding myself increasingly dissatisfied with the way this series has gone. I'm not sure if it's a legitimate gripe or if - due to reading fanfic or just too many discussions with [ profile] kiirobon or something else - I just wanted something different.

A minor part of my gripe has to do with the fact that it seems like Matsui's art has gotten worse at this point in things. Matsui was never a technically spectacular artist, which he himself has admitted, but the story and characters were compelling enough that one could overlook some of the weirder (or scarier) depictions and regard it in the same way as one would regard a beloved, intelligent, well-spoken friend who had a tendency for wearing things like stretch velour leopard print pants with a pleather lavender faux snakeskin jacket. (Disclaimer: I actually own both of these items, but despite my leanings towards bold fashions, I have enough sense not to pair the two together.)

But with the story now smack-dab in the middle of the Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny, the emphasis has to be on the visuals on the fight scene. This means that distortions and wonkily-drawn parts stand out more, and potentially distract the reader from the scene. And if my shoddy memory serves me correctly, I'm not remembering any visually impressive panels from this recent fight. Usually with major fight scenes in MTNN, you get a panel or two that's drawn awesomelikewhoah and it basically encapsulates that particular fight in a nutshell. (My favorite examples include Neuro using Evil Aqua in the fight against a mind-controlled Higuchi near the end of the HAL arc and Neuro using Evil Torture against DR near the beginning of the Bloodline arc.) But that doesn't seem to be the case with Neuro vs. Sicks. It's disappointing, especially because he gave us awesome demonic weapons like Evil Aqua and Evil Torture, but now all we've got is this thing that is minorly spoilery so it's going under a cut. ) Is Matsui just kind of rushing to be done with this series? Or have we just not seen the best that Neuro has to offer for this particular fight?

The other problem I'm wrestling with for MTNN is the progression of the various thematic elements in the story, the "evolution" of humans and where such evolution places them in relation to a demon like Neuro. But my thoughts are still kind of scattered on this one, and I've spent enough time typing up this long-ass entry, so I may just return to this particular theme once MTNN finishes its Shonen Jump run.

and lying to your own reflection, you thought you could hide
reileen: (glee - Bomberman)
Writing this while taking a break from attempting to make sense of the cacophony of my room (spring cleaning, what), eating a bowl of Apple Jacks with milk. Even though it's 6:30pm. Ye-e-s. And I kind of have a craving for chicharron again, too.

I uploaded a new icon (see this entry) and replaced my music one. Yay? Still haven't figured out my tags - I've only been tagging lately for link-o-llections and not content. I'm also thinking of adding a section for links to various online stores in my profile, since I seem to have accumulated a decent amount of them. (Plus, it also makes it easier for me to get to those links, haha.)



I think everyone's familiar with the "make your prom outfits out of duct tape and get a $3000 college scholarship" contest. It sounds silly, but you'd be surprised with the awesome shit that people come up with, such as this steampunk-esque pair. I mean, that would be amazing with justregular fabric! (In fact it looks like PVC at a glance.) Be sure to check out the other outfits through the official site (linked in the entry).

Via [ profile] vyctori, my fellow musicslut, I bring you a cover of The Offspring's "Pretty Fly For a White Guy" sung in bad Engrish by what sound like pre-teen Japanese schoolgirls but which are actually anime voice actresses. OW. OW OW OW. I resolve to inflict this on the otaku corner when I get back to classes.

5 Awesome Sci-Fi Inventions That Would Actually Suck.

Dragonshit: De-Evolution Dragonball: Evolution was reviewed in advance over at Anime News Network. Part of me wants to go see it for the lulz and sneak in some Mike's Hard Lemonade, but then I remembered that getting into the movie theater would require money, which could be better used to pay off strippers.

What really sucks about Dragonball: Evolution - I mean, besides some obvious points like the fact that GOKU AND CHICHI ARE WHITE WHAT THE SHIT - is how it turned the original story, which was based loosely off one of the four great classical novels of Chinese literature and originally featured an innocent, childlike protagonist, got mutilated into loser fanboy wish fulfillment crack. And it's not even the good crack, it's the kind of crack where the dealers mix in three parts baby powder and two and a half parts Chlorox bleach to make their original crack stock last so that they can con more suckers out of their greenbacks. Lord Almighty on a hellbound moped, after reading this review I think I'd rather watch the Twilight movie multiple times for 24 hours straight than subject myself to five minutes of Dragonball: Evolution.

I have to say, though, that while Dragonball: Evolution sounds bad (HA UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE EON), I'm not sure that I'd pass on it if given a choice between watching it multiple times for 24 hours straight, or either piercing my cervix, piercing my ass crack, or tattooing my eyeball.

Relatedly, here's an interview with the cervix-piercer, who is interested in the dynamics and implications of post-gender existence. It' interesting read, to say the least.


Talking about school: winter quarter grades, spring quarter musings )


Talking about life: 3/20 celebratory dinner at a Korean BBQ place with the folk from Japanese class and their pals, with a hefty appetizer of introspective teal deer ('REAL TEAL DEER') )


Aaaand this post took me longer than I thought, so I'll post more stuff about music, reading, and manga in my next entry tomorrow or something.

through the fire and the flames we carry on

*There's a whole spiel I could go into here about why I tend to produce more fanwork for smaller fandoms than I do for larger fandoms, but the basic gist goes that, in larger fandoms, there are more people doing more things, so I have less of an incentive (personally) to do what I want to do.
reileen: (Default)
Just a quick post before I have to work on my HON301 paper, which, uh, I still have no idea what I'm going to write about.


I must express my annoyance at the Jordin Sparks song "No Air". The lyrics are dumb, and it feels like the entire second half of the overblown song consists of Sparks ad-libbing with Chris Brown. I first heard it on 101.9FM The Mix while driving and was thinking to myself: "Dear Gods, does this song ever end?"

(For some reason I find that I'm also annoyed with her song "Tattoo" as well. Not as much as with "No Air", though. For one thing, the lyrics to "Tattoo" are far better than "No Air.")

At the moment, I'm listening to the album Harper's Bizarre by the harpist Sarah Marie Mullen. She was performing at the Bristol Renaissance Faire when I went last year, so I snatched up this album, which she said was the most musically varied of the three she had out. I love this one so much, though, that if I go to RenFaire again this year, I'm totally buying her other two albums. I really love the delicateness of the harp work and the whimsicality of the tunes. (Some songs remind me of tracks from the Game Boy Advance RPG Golden Sun, which is one of my favorite games of all time, so that's another plus right there.)


[ profile] erl_queen posts about spiritual specialists in the neo-pagan community and why most members of the vast neo-pagan movement can't seem to accept the idea that not everyone can be priests/priestesses, shamans, or seers. There's some interesting points brought up in the comments as well.

Six popular fashion trends that killed people. Holy crap, the picture of the "healthy" lotus foot is insanely wrong.

I was informed by lttlpcfyrsng on Twitter that I was name-dropped in a national Borders press release about the closing of the Borders store on Michigan Ave. (I wonder if that means this store is going to have storewide clearance sales soon...? Heeeeeee, books.)

[ profile] wintermoonsnow directed me to Gaijin Smash, a blog featuring the experiences of an American JET Programme participant over three years, as well as his post-JET life in Japan. I spent the entirety of Saturday reading through the archives and felt bad afterwards 'cause I felt like I wasted the day. Then I justified it to myself by saying, well, it's pretty much a definite by now that I'll be applying for JET next year, so maybe I can just count this as "research" for the job. Yeah, that's it, I was researching for this job!

petrify, thoughts are far from me
reileen: (Default)
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I took the Myers-Briggs for a high school leadership conference something-or-other and I was classed as an INTJ. It describes me rather well for the most part, although I think my personality bleeds over into INTP territory as well.

I actually still have the booklet from that leadership conference that summarizes the different personality types, so here's what it says about INTJs and INTPs.

Have original minds and great drive for implementing their ideas and achieving their goals. Quickly see patterns in external events and develop long-range explanatory perspectives. When committed, organize a job and carry it through. Skeptical and independent, have high standards of competence and performance - for themselves and others.

Seek to develop logical explanations for everything that interests them. Theoretical and abstract, interested more in ideas than in social interaction. Quiet, contained, flexible, and adaptable. Have unusual ability to focus in depth to solve problems in their area of interest. Skeptical, sometimes critical, always analytical.


I realize I've been slacking on the link-o-llections lately, but I hope this latest edition makes up for it!

Kit Whitfield has two interesting blog posts up about fictional villains: one on how she personally conceives of a villain/antagonist and one on various categories of fictional villainy. Writers on the flist, hop on over!

[ profile] vyctori sent me this one a while back - the 10 Most Insane Child-Warping Moments of '80s cartoons.

XKCD exposes the truth of Amazon's Kindle 2!

The blog of a Las Vegas escort girl who actually does not hate her lifestyle! Obviously NSFW.

[ profile] wadewilson presents "an instructional discourse on how best to avoid being petty, divisive and annoying to other people when enjoying an online role-playing game of any sort. For I have grown tired and weary of seeing people I like behave like unpleasant high-schoolers, and I am also weary of trying to stop foolish misconceptions from growing into utterly inane enmities".

Got some time to kill? Have some free sci-fi short stories.

This has to be one of the most amazing things from nature I've ever seen lately - a fish with a transparent head with eyes that rotate around inside the head. Holy shit, that is so cooooool!

[ profile] eyecatching_art brings us the Stooge Lanterns. I would totally watch this show!

Finally, you don't Twitter about ongoing secret negotiations while they're in progress. You just don't.


Talking about music I've been listening to lately: Memoira (gothic symphonic rock), Karl Sanders (ambient rock with heavy Egyptian influences), Versailles (visual kei) )


Talking about music I've been working on: Like the Dew on the Leaves, Gospel of the Shadow of Nobody, Regretfully Yours/No Longer Yours Truly (Written Letter #2) )


HON301 paper due date got moved to next Tuesday! Rawk.

no creation without destruction, no destruction without creation
reileen: (Default)
Thanks to someone ripping the mp3s off a site that was streaming the album days prior to the Germany release (which it turns out was not supposed to have happened...), I've had a lot of time to really listen to Vienna's new music and formulate semi-coherent thoughts on it. I almost thought about posting a review as soon as I gave the album a full listen from the mp3s, but for some reason I felt it would be more, uh, "ethical" for lack of a better term, to wait until I received my hard copy, which happened to be today. (I also feel the need to disclaim that by the time I downloaded the mp3s, I'd already ordered the album off

Absolutely astounding. Brilliant. Completely blows away her first three albums - and those albums were good. I think this is also the first album of hers where I've actually actively liked every song on it. What I mean by that is, while I consider nearly anything Vienna puts out to be extraordinary, there were always particular songs on her previous albums that didn't connect with me as much as other songs, and they tended to be ones I skipped over in replays of the albums. (However, a couple of songs, especially from her third album Dreaming Through the Noise, were redeemed through the energy and exuberance of her live performances, and I'll talk more about musical energy later.) With Inland Territory, there was no skipping of songs - I listened closely to the whole thing completely multiple times. I certainly prefer certain songs over others, and so some songs took more listens for me to appreciate, but the musical makeup and arrangement of this album really works for me. It truly feels like a full, complete album - whatever the hell that means.

In the EPK for this album, Vienna mentions that, as a result of moving from the West Coast (where she's from) to the East Coast, and bringing in some NY-based musicians to help out with the album, there's a certain "restlessness" to the music from Inland Territory. There's definitely a lot more uptempo songs on this album, and I think that - in addition to any emotional displacement brought about by moving - having Alex Wong of The Animators as her co-producer and, in live performances, as her percussionist, really lends a lively energy to these new songs that wasn't quite as strong in her previous studio efforts. Although the material from Inland Territory is still mellow in a way (sorry, VT, I know you said you were trying to move away from that, but...!), this time 'round, you can actually hear and feel the heartbeat of the music.

Vienna's also branching out in terms of her usual musical genre for this album. We actually get, of all things, electronica on a couple of songs: it's most prominent in "White Light", but you get a bit of it in "Stray Italian Greyhound" and "The Last Snowfall" as well. She also goes blues (...I think that's the right genre) for "Grandmother Song", and I have no idea what genre you'd put "In Another Life" in (someone mentioned "honky-tonk" over at the forums, but I have no idea if that'd be correct or not). Despite these genre shifts, though, the songs are all recognizably Vienna, and I'm really happy with seeing how she's developing as a talented singer-songwriter-musician.


1. The Last Snowfall
I find it kind of amusing that this album starts off with a song that's entitled "The Last ____". This was one of the songs that I didn't really like much at first, because I found the rhythmic static effects kind of distracting. It does give the song an interesting low-fi feel, though, and the melody is simple but beautiful.

2. White Light
Holy crap! An angry song from Vienna! With electronica! This song is like if "Whatever You Want" from Dreaming Through the Noise had a daughter with "Changing Sky" by Artemis from her Undone mini-album, and then that daughter grew up and was going through her angry rebellious teenager phase. This could totally be a radio song for Vienna - much like "Whatever You Want", incidentally enough. Easily one of my favorites from this album.

3. Antebellum
Another album favorite - I loved it when I first heard it at Schuba's back last August, and the album version is just as amazing, although I miss the prominence of Vienna's piano work. Still, the strings arrangement is lovely. Musically and lyrically (have I mentioned that I really, really love the lyrics from this song?), it's similar to "Gravity" (Waking Hour). To steal a joke from the VT forums: "Your 'Gravity' is evolving! 'Gravity' evolved into 'Antebellum'! Give 'Antebellum' a nickname?"

4. Kansas
This was another song that took a while for me to get into. The overall melody progression reminds me of "Nothing Without You" (Dreaming Through the Noise), although lyrically speaking those two songs are like polar opposites. Beautiful, but sad.

5. In Another Life
Another song I heard at Schuba's. I like the clarinet work in the studio version, which was performed with melodica in the live performance. I can't describe the feeling I get from this song, but when I hear it, I think of the weight of history, of sepia-toned pictures, of vintage objects and other such things of the past. Which, I suppose, is all appropriate for this particular song.

6. Grandmother Song
The last song from this album that I heard at Schuba's. I love the witty grace of the lyrics, the subtle shift from caricaturing timeless worries of family matriarchs everywhere to fully understanding why, exactly, said matriarch has those worries in the first place. I love this distinctive departure from Vienna's usual style, and I think it's a very clear indication of how far she's progressed with her already amazing musical capabilities.

7. Stray Italian Greyhound
Album favorite. I have to admit, when I first saw the lyrics on Vienna's scrapbook, I was skeptical about what kind of melody they'd be fitted around, but hearing this blew all those worries away. The vocal crescendo at "what to do with a love that won't sit still" is epic (oh, and the imagery from the rest of the bridge lyrics is epic too).

8. Augustine
Another album favorite, almost instantly. I love the drums and the melody. In some ways it feels like a descendant of "Harbor", or maybe a relative. I'm fond of the lyrics here as well.

9. No Gringo
Yet another album favorite. I heard the proto-loop of this a while back from Vienna's scrapbook, which impressed me even back then. The key signature has shifted from B-minor to C-minor, which I think improves on the original loop immensely (as beautiful as it was). The lyrics have an element of speculative fiction to them: they tell the story of a family forced to leave Chicago (for an unspecified reason), so they try to immigrate across the southern border to Mexico, where they find that they're not welcome (hence the title of the song).

10. Watershed
This song? Is the return of "Pontchartrain", bigger and more badass. No wonder Vienna said that she'd been having trouble trying to figure out how to capture the scale of this song in a live performance. The lyrics, the bells in the background, the vocal layering...everything is just amazing. Like "Pontchartrain", this can be a difficult song to listen to all the way through because it's so slow and so dense, but it's totally worth it.

11. Radio
Another song featuring a bit of a speculative story to it, told from the POV of someone who's listening to the news on the radio about a suicide bomber attack, and then tries to imagine such a thing happening closer to home. This is a penknife song, for realz - it disguises its unsettling subject matter with an uptempo beat and a very catchy chorus. I love the musical structure shifts.

12. St. Stephen's Cross
This song takes some time to get going, but when it does, hot damn. This one must be so amazing live. A beautiful end to a beautiful album.

but if I were that kind of grateful, what would I try to say?
reileen: (music - proofread score)
One Day [rough]

One Day

I know you feel the storm that brews beyond that sky
I know you fear that help will pass you by
But this path you walk is your own
So even if you fall, stand up and move on
Because I know

One day, one day
You'll reach your El Dorado
Where all is as it seems
One day, one day
You'll find the Shangri-La
Of your fevered dreams
One day...

I know you fight to keep control
I know it feels like the trail has gone cold
But just take the detours and see
That you're going where you need to be
Believe me when I say

One day, one day
You'll reach your El Dorado
Where all is as it seems
One day, one day
You'll find the Shangri-La
Of your fevered dreams
One day...

One day, one day
You'll reach your El Dorado
Where all is as it seems
One day, one day
You'll find the Shangri-La
Of your fevered dreams
One day...

One of the things I try to keep in mind as I compose the piano for my songs is that I want it to be as distinctive and interesting as the lyrics and vocal line, and not "just" an accompaniment to those things. Ideally, if you played just the piano part of my songs, it should sound like an almost complete instrumental piece in and of itself. Part of it is just that it sounds better to me - it's one of the many things I love about Vienna Teng's music, even when she's already advanced enough in her music career to be able to allow for other instrumentation when composing her songs. (Just wait 'til y'all hear the piano for "Antebellum"! Lovely, lovely song.) Part of it is also feeling self-conscious about the vast difference in ability between my piano performance skills and my vocal skills, hoping to make up for my lack of vocal skills at the moment with some interesting piano work. Unfortunately, then you have to take into account that my actual composing skills are even worse than my vocal skills, so now here I am, a bit of a trainwreck of musical (in)ability...

At any rate, this is, I suppose, one of those "writer's block" songs, which would explain why the lyrics are simpler and shorter than usual. I was just tired of playing my usual songs, and I was stuck on my unfinished songs, so I threw this one together the other night when I probably should have been doing homework. I'm not entirely sure what to do with it now; as usual, once I get the vocal melody and the chords down, I'm at a loss for what to do for the piano accompaniment that isn't just the same shit over and over again.


Also, the Gods help me - I ordered Inland Territory straight from the German Amazon website. The album can't arrive fast enough. o_o!

Also also, there's finally a clip of the song Vienna wrote for a singer-songwriter "reality show" called Sagebrush Valentine, in which a group of musicians were given a title and had to write a song based on that title in an hour. You can see Vienna's version of "Nothing Left For Us to Find" here on Vimeo.

I am left silent here, trying so hard to understand
reileen: (music - proofread score)
Vienna Teng's music video for Gravity is - much like the song itself - beautiful, haunting, and not the same love song we've seen before. (I'm not even sure it would actually qualify as a "love" song, but it can be argued either way.) Gorgeous atmosphere, and Vienna herself looks mighty fine in that burgundy ballgown. I'm not entirely sure what to make of the video's seemingly straightforward-but-not storyline. My pet theory is that Vienna is just so damn good at what she does that *POSSIBLE SPOILER?* even the dead sit up and listen when she plays. (Vienna Teng: Necromancer! There's a music video idea. Everyone knows that everything is better with zombies!) *END POSSIBLE SPOILER?*

Meanwhile, the German Amazon page features a promo video of Miss Vienna for her Inland Territory album, which features short little samples of the songs from that album. I don't even know what to say - this new material is simply breathtaking. You thought Vienna Teng was amazing before? If you didn't, don't tell me, so I don't have to put you to death for blasphemy, 'cause I like y'all. This is where the really good shit is at. One of my main nitpicks with Vienna's albums (if you can call it a nitpick) is that the album recordings never seem to capture the energy of her live performances. From what I've heard of Inland Territory so far, however, it doesn't appear that I'll have a problem with that. (Though I don't doubt that, as amazing as these sample clips sound, seeing her perform these songs live will be even better, as it usually is.) If you have RealPlayer, you can also download 30-second samples of all the songs here.

Inland Territory will be seeing a February 6 release over in Germany. If I can spare some money, I'll probably try to get the downloadable album from the German Amazon website while I wait to buy the real deal on April 7, when it comes out in the US. I'm really, really excited to finally hear Vienna's new songs. I suspect I will end up crying upon the first full listen, both at how incredible the album is and how much farther I have to go before I can even hope to match that in my own music.


I've also been enjoying Yousei Teikoku's Iro no Nai Sekai mini-album, released on January 14. It includes five new tracks plus an off-vocal version of the title track. I hadn't been impressed with the song "Iro no Nai Sekai" when I first heard the TV-size version of it (it's an ending to an anime called Kurokami), but it comes off better in its full-sized version. Still, when it comes to the quiet tracks, I prefer "Tooi Maboroshi". "Destrudo" and "Alte Burg" are more along the lines of the previous singles "Schwarzer Sarg" and "Hades: The bloody rage", while "Valtica" sounds like a descendant of the techno/electro sensibilities of "Chinmoku no Mayu" and "Kikai Shoujo Gensou". Although I do happen to like "Valtica", it unfortunately also sounds almost a little too much like any generic electropop anime song - the gothic edge that's very much honed and sharp on most of their songs is a bit dull here. Still, overall, I'm pleased with this latest installment from Yousei Teikoku.


2009 is looking to be a good year for my music library. In addition to Vienna Teng's Inland Territory and Yousei Teikoku's Iro no Nai Sekai, I can look forward to:

-Alestorm's Black Sails at Midnight: Scottish pirate metal. Scottish pirate metal. That should be all I need to say about this. I mean, c'mon.

-Ghost Orgy's currently titleless album: This is such an epic band. They're like if you mixed together the best of Disturbed, Rasputina, and Evanescence. Their songs are perfect for rocking out to during Halloween, but if you're looking for a twist on gothic rock, check out Ghost Orgy. I really love Dina Concina's alternately sweet and screechy(...?) vocals; maybe someday I'll get that vocal versatility as well. (It also helps that she's Filipina(-American?) and smokin' hot.)

-Kanon Wakeshima's Shinshoku Dolce: Wakeshima's music, based on what I've heard from her two singles, is a little like Yousei Teikoku's, except that, musically, it comes off more neoclassical, probably because Wakeshima is also a cellist and the cello lines figure prominently in the songs. Wakeshima's vocals are also lower on the vocal register, which is quite well-suited to her cello work. She's produced by Mana, the guitarist for the visual kei band Malice Mizer, so I expect to see some interesting stuff from her.

-Lacuna Coil's Shallow Life: I wasn't really wowed by their most current album, Karmacode, but I still like this group enough that I want to hear what they've got lined up for Shallow Life. I admire Cristina Scabbia's vocals (even if sometimes I can't understand half of what she's saying - although the Wikipedia page for the upcoming album states that the band is working on making the English lyrics more intelligible this time around), and enjoy the dark, gothic sensibilities of their songs that doesn't rely on orchestral elements.


I've accepted, mostly, that I do not have the time or the money to be able to study abroad in Japan, like I'd dreamed for years. The Japan CTI winter trip doesn't look like it's happening, and it's really not feasible for me to do a summer study abroad trip. I cried for a good while when I realized this, but being able to complete my bachelor's degree by spring 2010 is top priority right now. I can travel to Japan (and to other places around the world!) later. Now probably isn't a good time to do any heavy traveling anyway, the economy considered. I can only hope it'll be better by the time I decide that I want to embark on a transcontinental trek.

I have had luck with contacting a second A&D advisor about my major requirements - I'm scheduled to meet her at the art building at 9:15am on Tuesday. Hoo boy.

it's just the radio, darlin'


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Reileen van Kaile

April 2010



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