Sunday, December 27, 2009

scruffily charmed.

Currently Listening To: When I Go by Slow Club
My Ichiban Fourtune from tonight said: If you stay on course, your plan will succeed. Trust the Ichiban! ;)

I just watched a great movie full of snow.* Real snow. Not fake Hollywood snow sifted over a set. In the special features, the actors were all talking about how the temp dropped to fifty below during filming. The guys in the crew were walking around with icicles in their beards. (Beardcicles?) The movie was filmed in Winnipeg, Canada. I know there are a few Canadian readers who drop in on the blog occasionally. Hear me out you brave, brave Canadians: The next time I complain about cold (which I don't do very often), I will think about you and how a below zero windshield factor {edit: my mother informed me it is called a "windchill" factor not a "windshield" factor and I was like, duh, of course it is, knew that. But the windshields in the movie were totally frozen ... I don't think she bought it...} doesn't rattle you in the least. I will think about how you live in a constant state of snow. And ice. And beardcicles. And I will shut my trap :)

I didn't get my white Christmas, but the movie put me in a snowy mindset. I was freezing by the time it was over. That's rare for me. I think I'm the only girl in the world who is almost never cold. As soon as the credits rolled, I jumped in bed and snuggled under the covers with a book. Then the book started to drag so I traded the book for a magazine. Paste, to be exact. Have I mentioned how much I adore Paste Magazine? Music journalism is one of my most favorite forms of writing. For an extended period of time during college, I wanted to be a music journalist. I was a little bit obsessed with the notion. Probably because I wanted a moment like William has in Almost Famous:

I studied music magazines** trying to learn how to do it right, but I could never quite get it right. A few years ago, a musician friend asked me to write some copy for his website (and new CD) and I shied away from it. I just can't do music justice. I think music journalism is it's own swanky genre. It takes a certain kind of talent. A certain kind of talent I'm pretty sure I don't have. I'm sort of jealous of writers who do it well but I'm more in awe. More thankful for the way they can wrap words around all the inarticulate squealy noises I make when I like a song.

So. I read Paste partially because I like music, but more because the writing is beautiful. Rachael Maddux tends to write my favorite pieces. This is from her "Just Peachy" article, which appears in the Dec/Jan 10 issue. The article is a review of the new Laura Veirs album "July Flame":

Still, it's hard to imagine a better soundtrack to the chilly months of wood smoke, crackling leaves, deep Vs of geese honking overhead and squash simmering on kitchen stovetops than this collection of heady, steady, pensive songs. Fall is a time to hunker down, to hoard warm memories of spring and summer as a balm against the coming winter winds, to sift through what's been and wonder what's to come, and Veirs does this better than almost anyone. (p.60)

Does it make you want to download some songs from July Flame? Because that's exactly what it made me want to do. I've noticed that the thing that separates music reviews from book reviews seems to be the focus on emotional resonance. I find music writers far more likely to talk about how songs make them feel. I like reading those reviews a lot.

I'll share one more quote and then I promise I'll stop. This is from Austin L. Ray's article "Fountain of Youth," a review of the new Tom Waits album "Glitter and Doom Live":

His gruff vocals give new life to tender ballads and increase the scruffy charm of his already-brutish selections. It's as if the perennially ornery songwriter has played the ultimate prank on Father Time. "You're going to try and take my voice away someday, huh?" he seems to say. "Well, I already took it myself!"

Scruffy charm? How fabulous is that word pairing? My favorite guys in books are the ones who have a certain scruffy charm. Also like the word "brutish." Last time I was at my friend Sarah's house, my ears were totally stuffed up (my sinuses have been revolting throughout the holiday season) and I thought she said something was "brutish" when she actually said something was "yellow." Or something. I completely misheard and it was quite comical.*** (Later on, she asked if I'd seen the movie The Blind Side and I thought she asked if I'd seen her bonsai, like maybe she got a bonsai tree.) Anyway, we started talking about how we should try to utilize the word "brutish" more, help usher it back into everyday vernacular. Good to see it in a review! :)

It's flat out nerdy the way I swoon over the writing in that publication. I know the brilliant people of Paste will never stumble over this blog. This blog does not put off cool fumes, even on it's most shiny days. But still, I wish I could hug them for the way they inspire me. Or just high five them because some people aren't into hugging. Or maybe offer a meager fistbump. Because high fives are so last year. I smile when I get my Paste because I know I'll be exposed to gorgeous writing and find some new songs to listen to. Win Win.

I'll be back later this week. I just wanted to have a music moment :) If you have a bit of time, you might want to pop over to Emily's blog and send her some happy vibes. Emily is a friend of the blog, who had some serious-major-massive surgery (what a way to spend Christmas!) on her jaw. I kid you not, the girl is as tough as they come. If I had serious-major-massive surgery on my jaw, I would go diva and be like "NO CAMERAS!". But Emily documented the experience. And wrote sweet things about what she's learning through the process. I hope you feel better soon Emily! I can't wait for the day you finally get to eat a cheese burger either. You deserve it :)

How was your Christmas? Did you lucky snowbirds get to sled and make snow cream and all those exciting things? :)

* New in Town with Renee Zelwigger and Harry Connick Jr. Have you seen it? I thought it was great.
** Which is how I discovered Paste. My second favorite music mag, No Depression, is no longer available in print form. Breaks my heart all to pieces.
*** I pretty much misheard everything she said that night. Do you ever have those moments, when you can't hear but you're embarrassed to keep saying, "Wha'd you say?" so you just nod? And then it becomes obvious a nod is not the appropriate response? That's how my night was.


  1. New in Town always makes me feel cold, too - I could never do it. We have only really had a month, maybe a month and a half of temperatures below 60, and I am already sick of winter. And of course Conway, AR didn't get snow... although Fayetteville (where I go to school) woke up to two inches on Christmas morning! I was so jealous and sad that I wasn't there!

    And those excerpts from Paste warmed my heart! I wish I could write like that.

  2. I love articles that make me feel that way. That's how I felt with Brio Mag (your articles actually). I loved them. :)
    I got to play in the snow! I went sledding and did all that fun stuff. I even shoveled my porch when the snow was up to my waist :) Now, I'm ready for it to be gone. It's at that slushy, gray, hal-icy stage. Yuck.

    Have a good week!

  3. I meant to say half-icy :)

  4. I <3 Almost Famous.

    And New In Town.

  5. I absolutely love the Paste reviews. Good writing is my favorite--words are such a beautiful thing! :) Oh, and as far as mishearing what people say as something completely ridiculous? Story of my life. At least it provides for some laughs, I guess?

  6. Hey, Natalie!

    Thank you so much for coming by Write in the Way! I feel like I know you because of all the years you wrote for Brio. It's great to finally "meet" you! Definitely a huge thrill for me!

    So, I feel like we're soulmates because I rarely get cold too. Granted, I live in Ga, but still. Everyone else complains about cold and I'm walking around in flip flops. :0)

    See you around! I look forward to getting to know you!

  7. Almost Famous is one of my favorite movies. Music and writing is a powerful combination! Especially when it's done well. I love that it's based on Cameron Crow's actual experiences. Just too cool.

    Also, I'll definitely have to check out Paste. Sounds fantastic!

  8. Samantha, this is the second time I've heard about snow in Arkansas and the second time I've been jealous. :) I feel your pain.

    Steffanie, thank you for pulling me back to reality. Sometimes I want snow so bad I forget about the icy gray slush that comes a day later. Definitely not pretty. :)

    Ashley, I concur. I'm glad you told me to give Elizabethtown another chance HOW DID I MISS THAT MOVIE?! I would fangirl Cameron Crowe.

    Ellie Jordan, so glad you can relate. I don't think my hearing is going but I feel like I always misunderstand what people say. Then again, my family is kinda loud so it probably just takes me awhile to acclimate to normalcy :)

    Kristen, loved your blog. I'll definitely drop back by! My niece is a Georgia girl who also wears flip flops all year long. I admire your bravery :)

    Lisa and Laura, I would love to know what band Stillwater is based on! I thought the movie was beautiful too. My other favorite scene is when Zoe D. puts on the Simon & Garfunkle record and doesn't say anything - like the song says what she wants to say. Love it.

  9. Natalie-we are twins or something! Loved New In Town-sooo cute and funny. And Almost Famous is a favorite. I was a Communications/Radio major in college (now a librarian, makes so much sense, right?) and wanted to go into music biz. I wanted to be in AR or PR but didn't think I knew enough-or was music snobby enough-to really do it. Then I realized I loved libraries and books and that was my life's calling!:)