Thursday, March 27, 2008

wow... this almost makes me wish i had seen the episode

So, I have a confession and a revelation to divulge. I work a boring (mostly) desk job that affords me near-continuous hours on the computer. I try to use this time productively, but sady, there are too many hours, and I am simply not that busy with my life. One of the ways I fill up time is to read my favorite sites on the internet, one of which is the always awesome, hilarious, insightful Television Without Pity.

I read the recaps on my favorite shows, the TWoP encyclopedia or cultural references, and both affiliated blogs. It was TWoP that encouraged me to try 30 Rock, Project Runway, even How I Met Your Mother [FYI on that show: it has its moments, but seriously, I have trouble understanding what TWoP sees in the program. Of the sample episodes I have tried, only one has been truly, consistently funny. And it involved slapping and 80's mall pop, which is hard to beat, comedy-wise]. I have TWoP to thank for hours of entertainment, saving me from long days and nights at work, and giving me ideas, not just concerning what to watch, but also how to watch. Before I took any cultural theory or criticism classes in college, I read TWoP, and it was one of the many outlets that taught me how to view pop cultural through a critical, theoretical perspective. Oddly enough, I've only ever really been a reader of the site. There is a vast, intensely-committed community surrounding the TWoP forums, but I prefer to watch from the sidelines. I feel there is a great responsibility undertaken when one becomes an active participant on the boards, and I'm just not ready...

Anyway, this is all background. My confession is that about two or three weeks ago, I started reading the recaps of American Idol, because it occurred to me that a) I had never, ever seen the show, b) I wanted to understand how it worked without having to actually watch it, and c) the possibility for hilarity seemed inevitable. Well, all three points have been hit. The two guys who recap AI, including Joe R., one of my favorites, are damn funny (despite actually being into the competition). As described, I can't imagine sitting down and watching an entire episode. So many cheesy songs, so many ridiculous judging sessions, so much ridiculous Seacrest. The recaps allow me to get a fix of just how insane the show is, to what extent its crappiness reflects the general crappiness of American contemporary culture, without ever having to rid myself of the memory of some eighteen-year-old slaughtering the Beatles.

My revelation came just a short while ago, while reading the recap for the latest episode. This may be one of the greatest paragraphs in TWoP history:

America is awesome. When you trot out this bullshit sentimental warmed-over brainless hateful crap, you are seriously disconnecting yourself from America and why it's great. It's like Hallmark cards: the opposite of caring. You cannot let somebody else tell you what your heart says. Just by singing this song, the Colonel is saying that she hates America. The real America that is made with blood and bravery and strength and love, the real America that demands that you draw your circle as wide as you can and spend every day serving it with your hands, that goes right out the fucking window when you pass the buck to some stupid shit song like this. And you know who eats it up, because it's always the same fucking people that eat this vomit, are the people who are too lazy to think about America or love her in the first place. I hate this fucking song, I hate this stupid girl, and I hate that this is happening, because my whole theory about how this show reflects the wider culture cuts both ways and I don't want to think about that. These are our people and they deserve to be loved, but I'll be damned if I'm going to let anybody tell me that this is the best that we can be. We are more than this.

Jacob has astounded me. In the midst of a routine, snarky recap, he pulls out this giant whopper of a cultural critique, and it left me reeling. I'm not going to say it's a perfect argument against "God Bless the USA" (the song he's referring to), although honestly, I don't need convincing, and neither do most patriotic Americans. Do you think the troops are listening to "God Bless the USA" as they remain (for God knows how long) far away from their home in a war-torn, chaotic unrest? You're fucking kidding if you think that's what is pounding through every tank and Humvee and military vehicle. And if the troops can't stand a song like that, what hope has it got to affect the rest of us? It takes a bottom-of-the-barrel, pop-star wannabe on the most artistically and culturally empty show on television to celebrate a song like that. And that it moved anyone to do anything besides use the toilet is a reminder that we are absolutely shit nowhere when it comes to the genuine belief in one's country. But you know, I can't put it anywhere near as well as Jacob has.

- Emily

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

playlist for 3/24/08

Here's the playlist for yesterday's (Monday, March 24th) show. As anyone listening might have noticed, DJ Kitten did the first hour, noon to one, and I did the second hour, one to two. Also, the theme of non-American music was scrapped for the noon hour, so anyone tuning in after one probably heard the strange sounds of Bollywood music, Krautrock, and the occasional nod to my Anglo-favorites.

I think we will be keeping with this method of splitting up the hours. The show remains "Afternoon Tea," but this will allow Kitten and I to do things in the way each of us pleases. I think it worked out fine yesterday, and should continue to work out.

Anyway, here's the playlist:
1. Buddy Nutt - "Ukulele Ballad" (And His Musical Saw)
2. Buddy Nutt - "Wilmerding" (And His Musical Saw)
3. Jens Lekman - "A Postcard for Nina" (Night Falls on Kortdela)
4. Foreign Born - "Union Hall" (On the Wing)
5. Los Campesinos! - "Dip It In Doe Eyes (Come on Now, Youngsters)
6. Les Sans Culottes - "Train a Grande Vitesse" (Fixation Orale)
7. Beirut - "Elephant Gun" (Lon Gisland EP)
8. Seu Jorge - "Life on Mars" (Life Aquatic OST)
9. Magnetic Fields - "100,000 Fireflies" (The Wayward Bus)
10. Essex Green - "Our Lady in Heaven" (The Long Goodbye)
11. Death by Chocolate - "While I'm Still Young" (Zap the World)
12. Pipettes - "Dirty Mind" (We are the Pipettes)
13. of Montreal - "Penelope" (Coquelicot Asleep in the Poppies)
14. Owl & Pussycat - "Don't Play Me" (s/t)
15. Belle & Sebastian - "Storytelling" (Storytelling OST)
16. Decemberists - "Myla Goldberg" (Her Majesty)
17. Peter Seastedt - "Where Do You Go To" (Darjeeling LTMD. OST)
18. Raincoats - "I Saw a Hill" (Moving)
19. XTC - "Wonderland" (Mummer)
20. The Go-Betweens - "Five Words" (Spring Hill Fair)
21. Shonen Knife - "Ah Singapore" (Let's Knife)
22. Can - "I'm So Green" (Ege Bamyasi)
23. OOIOO - "Jacksons Club Support" (Feather Float)
24. Ruby Suns - "Tane Mahuta" (Sea Lions)
25. Beach House - "Wedding Bell" (Devotion)
26. Kishore Kumar - "Mere Naina Dawan Bhadon" (Mehbooba OST)
27. Asha Bhosle - "Koi Shahri Bhadon" (Loafer OST)
28. Adhijeet & Anoradha Shriram - "Chunari Chunari" (Monsoon Wedding OST)
29. Gert Wildens Orchestra - "Blue Mood" (The Schulmachen Report)
30. Happy End - "Shinshinshin" (s/t)
31. Rita Lee - "Calma" (Build Up)
32. Le Orme - "Finita La Scuola" (L'Aurora)
33. Dani - "Fille A Moto"

I've been really digging on that Ruby Suns album. Obviously, it's a favorite among the DJs as well. The guy that follows us, Matt, played "Tane Mahuta" as the second or third track on his show. And a track off the latest Beach House, which I've also been very enthralled with.

I'm still working on my reviews of the Night Canopy debut self-titled album and the (woo!) newest Jonathan Richman album (yow!). Though really meant for station use, I will also post the full reviews here.

- Emily


The playlist will be up later today. I went out drinking with a group of friends to celebrate my birthday last night, and I didn't have a chance to post yesterday's show. I promise, I will get to it later tonight, tomorrow morning at the latest.

There is also an important change to announce, and I will get to that in a later post.

For now, just go download the latest album by Beach House, Devotion. It's so, so good.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

yay for tomorrow's show!

Just as a reminder, we'll be playing all non-American, potentially non-English-language music tomorrow. Although, I think we will be playing things recorded in English, just not American-derived, and by that, I mean... not from here, generally, I guess. It's difficult in a modern cultural landscape to really assign contemporary music with a specific place. A guitarist from Nigeria may be living and recording out of London for most of his life. He may release his music only through a small U.S. label, that then sends out copies of the album through a distribution agent in Canada. So, is this man's music Nigerian? British? American?

Not only the distribution distinction, but more pressing, what digital culture is doing to our cultural notions of placement. If we can send out music instantly to all corners of the world, then we have an infinite number of possible places that the music can end up. Can it rightfully be claimed by the country that seizes upon it the most?

Regarding something as non-American music is particularly tricky in the case of artists that come from one country and producers that come from another. If a Swedish artist is produced by a New York record producer, then is the album Swedish or American-derived? Simply put, how can we make sure that the music we play is non-American? Maybe its inspiration was American, or it has derived from a sound that is American. Is it American rock and roll derived? Or blues-derived? Is it a punk that is influenced by the Ramones or by the Clash? Georgio Moroder's production or Donna Summer's vocals?

Well, if you have thoughts on this, leave a comment or call in to discuss. I suppose I could take it as purely non-English-language, but that would cut out some of the U.K. stuff I desperately want to play.

Oh, my fingers are so cold. I've managed to keep most of my body warm, but my hands just refuse to stay warm, and the longer they stay at the keyboard, the colder they get. BRRRR!

It's my birthday tomorrow, so you can also call in about that. (412) 621 - WRCT. Or better, send me beers.

And, because I wouldn't want you to go without any entertainment during this Easter Sunday:

I never could figure out why the parents would separate in such a manner that they wouldn't tell the girls that they were twins. I mean, the girls are so forgiving, but if I found out after however many years that I had a twin sister, and my mother, simply out of spite and dislike for the father, did not tell me, I'd be pissed and raging, not simply looking for a way to get the two back together.
But, I suppose that kind of rains on the parade. This is such an awfully cute clip.


Friday, March 21, 2008

hey, i do like/do a lot of this stuff. i'm an example to my race

The ever-so informative Drudge Report brought this blog to my attention:

Stuff White People Like

That stuff includes:

The Wire
Bottles of water
Having black friends
Having gay friends
Expensive sandwich
Asian girls

For more stuff that white people like, click the link and realize your true feelings toward irony, t-shirts, public radio, and Barack Obama.

White people should also like Afternoon Tea, but I guess they've settled on coffee.

- Emily

Thursday, March 20, 2008

alienation's for the rich...

Oh, working week, how I loathe you. Today, upon waking, I lost it. I'm burnt out from my job. I've worked a week straight as of today. Yesterday, I was on my hands and knees, sorting, throwing out stuff, dusting (dirting is more like it), scrubbing, vacuuming... At one point, standing there, confetti from New Year's Eve stuck to the knees on my black work pants, dust and grime on my new blouse, dirt in my fingernails, all over my hands, on my sweater, on my face, a thought occurred to me: "I have a college degree. I have... a college degree."

I know it could be worse. I could be a real wage slave, slinging burgers for minimum wage, or back at my old job, where I got paid 5.15 an hour to take shit from customers and co-workers alike. No, no, this job has its cushy positives: Decent pay, sufficient down time, flexible schedule, understanding office manager, nice co-workers (well, most of them. The restaurant staff can be pretty vulgar. I try to take it in the right humor... except when they're trying to pull my skirt down... that's not cool.). But lately, I've just felt very done with my job. Look, it's an okay job. Just okay. No benefits, I've worked every holiday since I started, no hope for a salary increase or promotion. And now we're entering our busy Spring season, rung in by the screeching speeding train that is Easter Sunday Brunch. Some fifty reservations, and the owner is still complaining about how few people there are to fill those tables. He's kidding himself.

But you don't read this blog to hear about my job woes. (Well, you don't read this blog, but if "you" did, then "you" wouldn't be reading this to hear about my job woes... presumably.) In honor of my current complicated feelings toward my place of employment, and employment in general, I present a little mix of songs, dedicated to the service workers, domestic employees, and anyone who ever had to remember that he/she has a college degree.

Ten Songs for Employees Everywhere
1. "Welcome to the Working Week" - Elvis Costello (My Aim is True)
2. "Minimum Wage" - They Might Be Giants (Flood)
3. "Working in a Coal Mine" - Lee Dorsey (and try the Devo cover)
4. "Lazybones" - Shonen Knife (712 OR The Birds and the B-sides)
5. "TGIF" - Le Tigre (Feminist Sweepstakes) (Especially the line "All my friends are fucking bitches, best known for burning bridges. Do you need a character witness?")
6. "Don't Worry About the Government" - Talking Heads (Talking Heads 77)
7. "Government Center" - The Modern Lovers (Modern Lovers)
8. "Money (That's What I Want") - Barrett Strong (or any cover there of)
9. "9 to 5" - Dolly Parton (Dolly's coming here in April!)
10. "Working Class Hero" - John Lennon (Plastic Ono Band)

In other news, we are playing non-American music this week. Save us from ourselves and our extensive obsession with French sixties pop music by making a request that is a) not from America and b) not from France.

You can request here, in the comments section, or by calling 412.621.WRCT.

- Emily

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

other voices, other rooms

as per usual, there's a ton going on in the 4-1-2.
(Tuesday) tonight (was): AIR open workshop (bring your own image to silkscreen, there's some ink and pre-emulsified screens; $5 a screen, $1 to print out your acetate there)
event is weekly, 7-11pm

tomorrow: check out NCECA exhibits.

during the day-
Mister Rogers' Birthday, which means:
FREE admission at Mattress Factory and the Children's Museum!! Don't believe me? Check their websites.
at night-
Body on Body (electroclass/jazzercise pop) night at brillobox, bi-weekly bi-social at your inner vagabond, 80s night at Belvedere's.

friday: choose your own adventure (ie up for grabs; I don't know what I'm doing friday, either)

saturday: coffee tasting & pillar of fire purim party at your inner vagabond

we're still looking for decent pgh indiepop. if you or someone you know suffers from indiepopdom, don't send them to IA (indies anon), send them our way.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

why do i think it's wednesday?

So, I'm at work from 8 am to 4 pm today, so my main relief from both the stress of the job (five checkouts, seven breakfasts, awful toddler, phone ringing off the hook...) and from my consistent temptation to nap is random internet surfing and posting here at the Afternoon Tea blog. It would be pretty presumptuous to assume that anyone, ANYONE reads this blog. No one does, except for me, when I'm proofreading for errors in spelling and grammar, and Kitten, and possibly my house mates just out of freak curiosity. My mother maybe reads this blog... But as for non-biased, unaffiliated unfamiliars, not really, no... Anyway, no one really reads this blog, which is fine, because its primary use is as a dumping ground for all of my bored, desperate musings. Sort of...

Anyway, for some odd reason, I woke up early and went to work today and all day, I've been struck with the odd sensation that the day is Wednesday, but it's Tuesday. As much as I remind myself of this fact, my brain can't seem to grasp the simple concept of Tuesday. Just then, I went to type Wednesday into the last sentence. I got two or three letters in before I realized what I was doing and hit the backspace. I wonder if there is a name for the condition of constantly thinking it's one day when it's actually another.

Ooh, yesterday evening there was a special treat on the Lifetime Movie Network. In case you don't know, the Lifetime Movie Network is on the extended digital cable package. I almost never view this channel, but it pays off in unexpected ways, like when I spent a lazy summer afternoon shunning the outdoors and instead watching a young Julia Stiles kill her mother and seduce her father in Wicked or the possible increased chances I have of finally getting to see Dying to Belong again, hands down the best TV movie about a sorority, starring Hilary Swank, Mark Paul Gosselaar, Six from Blossom, and the second Becky from Roseanne [also, for you L Word fans, Laurel Holloman] - this movie includes some of the best bitchy hazing stuff I've ever gotten to see in a TV movie, plus completely unconvincing villainous performances all around from the sorority sisters, who all look like they'd rather be shopping. Not that it's the best TV movie ever, but it's one of my favorites, and it's never on television save for once or twice a year on a channel like LMN.

Anyway, so I don't really bother with LMN, but last night was a one-two classic mid-nineties' TV movie knock-out, starting strong with another one of my all-time TV movie favorites, Friends 'Til The End, followed by the anorexastic A Secret Between Friends. I won't really discuss ASBF, because I actually didn't stick around to watch it (um, the Most Evil episode on at 8 pm was "Partners in Crime" covering the Moors Murderers, Paul Bernardo and Karla Holmolka, and Lake and Ng. I couldn't pry myself away). But I know Friends 'Til the End like the back of my hand, and because I was with someone that a) writes and plays music & b) only had a vague recognition of the film, we watched all of it, aside from a block of minutes at 7:00 pm, where we watched Jeopardy instead, switching back to FTE during commercial breaks.

Alright, how to put this mildly... Friends 'Til the End is so mid-nineties, it actually burns my soul a little bit. It came around in that pre-Charmed Shannon Doherty era, the era of her terrible TV movies, but FTE is special, because so few of the mid-nineties bad TV movies capture the bad mid-nineties musical-landscape. I could go on and on to you about the lasting effect of the musical years of 1994 through 1996, but basically, this movie was made in 1996, and there's no mistaking that Shannon Doherty and her "bandmates" in "Dead Pink" are alterna-rockers, kind of a Mazzy Star without the eyeliner and nuance. Um, actually, Dead Pink is a shitty shitty college band that play terrible songs, and at even one point, make a video that features each band member in a phone booth in the middle of a desert-like landscape... ooh, very "standing outside a broken phone booth with money in my hand."

The actual plot of the movie goes something like... [deep breath] talented, beloved Heather meets Zanne, an awkward outsider who seems in desperate need of a makeover and some gal pal sorority friends. Zanne wins Heather over with sob stories of dead parents and childhood abandonment, and the two become close. Zanne gets into the sorority, is in Heather's writing class, and even gets to join Dead Pink when it's proven that having two foxy ladies might better distract from the doofus-patrol backing them up, one of whom happens to be a London (Oh, and it's Jason, known forever in my heart as Randall "Pink" Floyd from Dazed and Confused. One day I will chart up how to tell if you're watching a Jason or Jeremy London movie. It's harder than you think). Oh, and then things start going downhill. Zanne has a weird run in with someone from her past, giving the movie permission to no longer pretend to build any suspense by confusing us in regards to Zanne's true intentions -Bitch is crazy, we know it, and then we spend another hour and a half waiting for the rest of the characters to catch up. Zanne wins over Heather's friends. Zanne takes Heather's spot in the band. Zanne steals the London away from Heather. Zanne has the band all to herself, and what with the big upcoming "Battle of the Bands" just around the corner, looks like Zanne's gonna get to taste that glory all on her own. Because she likes to win, as Heather finds out while talking to Zanne's creepy (but sympathetic) mama. Turns out, Zanne probably killed a thirteen year old ballerina when she, herself, was only thirteen. Her mama insists that she didn't, but as an audience, having just watched Zanne beat a guy to death with a brick, our only response is "riiiggghhhttt. she didn't kill that girl. and this music is awesome."

Everything that is delightful to revile about the mid-nineties, this movie has in lethal doses. Heather drives a yellow VW Bug. How retro! Zanne wears barrettes in her bleached blonde hair. Whoa! So many short-sleeved velvet turtlenecks and tank dresses and combat boots and plaid flannel, my nostalgic self is reeling. But you know, it really comes back down to the music portion of this saga. The music is just so generically awful, it, at points, passes for stuff that could have been on the radio. The last, impactful song, at the very end, is all about contemporary disillusionment. Do you know how funny mid-nineties disillusionment as sung by Shannon Doherty is? Well, let me give you a sampling of lyrics, as procured from

"Lies on the TV, Lies on the movies, Lies on the billboards, Nobody tells the truth, I'm going deaf, Does anybody hear me? Does anybody hear me? Does anybody hear me? Does anybody hear me? Because I don't, no, no I don't, because I don't. Tired of all the violence, We've lost lives enough, And I'm tired of all the nudity so much sex without love, And I'm tired of all the smokers blowing smoke in my face, And the same old boring models decorating every fashion page, I don't trust the politicians, Or the movie ratings board, And I'm tired of fighting all these inner and outer wars, I've got bullets in my eyes, Got blood in my ears, And the world could drown from the truth I take, or tears...

Uh, yeah, it's a classic. Someone has actually posted videos from the movie on YouTube.

in case you are confused as to the presence of the little girl, that's crazy bitch momentarily freaking out. i can't get over how dumb the dudes are in that band...

For a while, VH1 was playing this movie has a part of its "Movies that Rock" collection. I think I probably saw the movie around that time. If you ever see it running on Lifetime, Lifetime Movie Network, Oxygen, WE, VH1 or any of its branches, etc., definitely watch it. Oh, and if you see that "Dying to Belong" is going to be on television, at any point, on any channel, CALL ME.


Monday, March 17, 2008

playlist for 3/17/08

So, Kitten was absent today, so I did a show all by my lonesome. I think it went alright. I had some nice calls in to the studio. Someone specifically stated that the name of the show is very appropriate for the music we play, and I liked that. He said the show had a perfect afternoon-y feel. Hopefully he will visit the blog so that he can see that I appreciated his nice comments.

Okay, busy day for me today, so finally, here's the playlist:

Intro - "Heinz Baked Beans" - Petra Haden (Petra Haden Sings 'The Who Sell Out')
1. "Former Hero" - Heikki (2)
2. "I Am Curious Partridge" - Bunnygrunt (Action Pants!)
3. "Gin and Platonic" - The Smittens (Gentlefication Now!)
4. "In the Backyard" - Tender Forever (Wider)
5. "California Girls" - Magnetic Fields (Distortion)
6. "Earthbeat" - The Slits (Return of the Giant Slits)
7. "You Deserve More Than a Maybe" - St. Christopher (You Deserve More Than a Maybe 7")
8. "Aftermath" - Primal Scream (Sonic Flower Groove)
9. "My Darkest Light Will Shine" - Felt (Absolute Classic Masterpieces)
10. "Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth" - Sparks (Propaganda)
11. "Anyway That You Want Me" - Spiritualized (Complete Works Vol. 1)
12. "Seems to Be On My Mind" - Suburban Kids With Biblical Names (#3)
13. "Flying Jelly Attack" - Shonen Knife (Let's Knife)
14. "Penelope" - Casper and the Cookies (Aluminum Plums: 10th Anniversary Tribute to Of Montreal)
15. "The Kids Don't Stand a Chance" - Vampire Weekend (s/t)
16. "Original Love" - The Feelies (Crazy Rhythms)
17. "Spend Spend Spend" - The Slits (Cut)
18. "Warrior In Woolworths" - X-Ray Spex (Germ Free Adolescents)
19. "Money" - Think About Life (s/t)
20. "Lately" - Helio Sequence (Keep Your Eyes Ahead)
21. "Rue Des Cascades (Remix)" - Yann Tierson (La Vie Revee Des Anges)
22. "Shared Islands" - High Places (3/07 - 09/07)
23. "Little Trouble Girl" - Sonic Youth (Washing Machine)
24. "Tempo Nublado" - Rita Lee (Build Up)
25. "Leave All Your Old Loves" - The She-Brews
26. "I Should Have Known Better" - She & Him (Volume One)
27. "How Did We Forget" - El Perro Del Mar (From the Valley to the Stars)
28. "You're So Cute" - Cars Can Be Blue (All the Stuff We Do)
29. "Hand Clappin'" - Dub Narcotic Sound System (Hand Clappin' EP)
30. "Go Fish" - Cub (Mauler)
31. "Disco Song" - Au Revoir Simone (Verses of Comfort, Assurance, & Salvation)
32. "B612" - (CRACKER Compilation for a Bittersweet Love Story)
33. "Falling Through a Field" - Black Moth Super Rainbow (Falling Through a Field)
34. "14th St. Break" - Beastie Boys (The Mix Up)
35. "Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes) - The Siddeleys
36. "Pauvre Lola" - April March (Paris in April)
37. "String Bean Jean" - Belle and Sebastian (Push Barman to Open Old Wounds)

So, that was the playlist for this week. Thank you to anyone who tuned in. I will write more about the show tomorrow. I've got to get some sleep. That's it for now.

- Emily

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Dance Party Out Your Angst

So, kitten did not get her northeast corridor tour...
but she DID find a way to danceparty out the angst for a three-day stint. and there are even more dance parties in PGH that she did not know about, as well as a thing called "Solution; the new sunday night dance party." (to be discovered and documented, of course)

Now, you may not be a dancer (and you may have some issues with hiphop/funk and soul)
but pgh is full of great non-judgmental dance spaces where you can shake it OUT.

This week is/was about:
Classic Material @ brillobox (thursday) ($4)<--next week is The Big Throwback,
which is AMAZING
Raise the Roof to Raise Some Loot @ Belvedere's (friday) ($5)<-- fundraiser for the Thomas Merton Center. There was a rep from Planned Parenthood there, so we got to finger PP mint chapstick (seriously) and try to guess the flavours of the "Taste" condoms.
Operation Sappho @ Remedy (tonight!) ($4, $3 if you're in 'costume')<--this week's theme is "Isle of Lesbos"-- the idea is to dress in Lesbo theme. Togas? Mullets? Go to people-watch, if nothing else.

in addition, Your Inner Vagabond has a bunch of evenings with live music. You can hear music leak through if you're sitting in the front (free), and to be a part of the action in the back is usually a $7 cover.

Also- I have heard tell of a Roller Rink night DJ'd by PFUNKT. This is such an exciting prospect; I can't really contain myself.

if you are not a member of and live in PGH/surrounding areas, you really should get on that asap. [you'll thank me] and never be bored again! there is a TON to do in this city-- the trick is simply to be in the know.

Upcoming this week (my personal plan):
Monday: St. Patrick's Day for you shamrockers
Tuesday: Screenprinting @ AIR, 8pm to 11pm
Wednesday: NCECA [].. the CERAMICISTS are coming!!
Thursday: The Big Throwback @ brillobox


Friday, March 14, 2008

Smithereens, slits, and sonic youth

So, first of all, I apologize for the span between entries. I've had a busy few days, so this was the first time I've had since Tuesday to write a new entry. Plus, I'm trying to keep the filler from overflowing this blog, so it's a good thing I happened upon some good topics today.

First off, at random today, around 11:30 am, I stumbled upon the movie Smithereens showing on one of the Showtime network branches. Without anything else to do, I relaxed on the couch and enjoyed this ninety-minute time capsule of early 80's-era Greenwich Village and its punk and new wave denizens. Directed by Susan Seidelman (of Desperately Seeking Susan fame), the film feels so fresh out of film school, but in a very good way. It's not without its technical difficulties (a mic appears in the shot more than once, and the sound is uniformly too low and of poor quality), and absolutely derivative of about ten French New Wave films, but this is a film that is clearly being made by the swayed friends and families and followers of a filmmaker hellbent on telling a little moral play about an ambitious, but talentless punkette attempting to break into the music business by shunning the true passions of a sweet portrait artist from Montana in favor of a callous, self-involved musician with a possible music deal in L.A. I had difficulty with the film for the first half-hour or so, because I was convinced I was supposed to like Wren (the girl), even as she dismisses poor Paul (the artist) despite the fact that he's the only person that doesn't want to use her. Sure, she's a cool girl, and I can certainly identify with her tendency to ramble when nervous or excited, but damn... the girl makes one bad decision after another, seems to be unable to manage true sympathy or empathy besides an adoration for those who have more talent to achieve what she aspires to. It took about twenty minutes for me to realize that despite all of Wren's talk of starting a band, getting famous, etc, she actually can't do anything besides occasionally manipulate those around her into providing her some kind of assistance. She uses Paul, she even uses Eric (played by Richard Hell, who provided several songs to the soundtrack, as well as being surprisingly one of the better actors in the film), the manipulative and amoral star-to-be. What he provides her is a place of importance, but only fleetingly, a fickle interest that leads Wren to ruin.

As mentioned, the film is perfectly made, and the acting ranges from good to passable, but it's an affecting film, at points even intoxicating in its realistic stagnancy and inevitability. I've known a fair amount of people in my life who, beyond all reason, seem to make choices that negate the good that other people do them and emphasize the bad that they receive from others. Wren's naive trust in Eric is contradictory of the skepticism and disbelief that is her response to Paul's earnest interest. She sabotages herself by wanting the wrong things from the wrong people. At the end, when the man that is following her in his car asks, "Do you have somewhere better to be?" Wren stops walking away. She doesn't. Left without anyone to use or even be used by, she is in a nothing position. The film freezes, as Wren is caught and identified in her frozen, forgotten spot.

The film has a great soundtrack going for it, and of course New York in the early eighties on film is always one of my great pleasures to behold. I love the look of a city still dirty, still celebratory in its grime and shabby edges. My housemate pointed out that Wren, at various times, dresses exactly like hip girls are dressing all over, and it's true. To the extent that contemporary fashion has gone backward never ceases to amaze me. The film is kind of worth watching for its music and look alone.

Anyway, that movie turned out to be a satisfying ninety-minute diversion. The rest of my day has been rather slow moving, despite the appearance of Hillary Clinton on my street. My housemate came in and said, "Hillary Clinton is down the street if you're interested." What sounded like a prank turned out to be all too true, as the Hildawg herself was at the Gulf service station on the corner of Liberty in Bloomfield. So, even in the rain, I went over there, to basically stare at the back of her head for twenty minutes in a crowd of wet, irritated and sometimes mocking locals. The highlight? A school bus of children driving past, with every child's voice ringing out, "O-BA-MA! O-BA-MA!" Har har... Seriously, though, the Secret Service guys were kind of creeping us out, so we left and went to the Attic in Millvale, the second-best (sorry guys) record store in Pittsburgh. I got a copy of Remain in Light, so it was a pretty decent trip.

In other news, the other big arrival to the city, on Friday, The Slits are playing the Warhol. I want to go, but I'm not sure if I can. If you're interested, however, go to for more information. Only $12, so the tickets are probably near gone. Darn...

One more thing before I return to my relaxing Friday (oh, and it's super relaxing right now, because I've got the She & Him album Volume One on, and despite my misgivings about M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel pairing up for a bluesy and folk-inspired album, I'm finding it quite pleasing. Also very relaxing, El Perro del Mar's From the Valley to the Stars. That's on next), a video treat for all those Sonic Youth Washing Machine-era fans out there (I know you're out there. It can't just be me...)

- Emily

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

i'm a little radio-ed out...

I was on the radio for about five hours yesterday, from 10 am to 3 pm. Yes, it is just DJ Kitten said on-air, I am hardcore. Because of WRCT Random Schedule, there are tons of open time slots this week. Any DJ can sign up for whatever open slots, and believe me, the temptation to sign up for a bunch of open spots tormented me. In the end, however, my five hours of radio time convinced me that unless I really get the on-air jones later on this week, that's enough for me right now.

Anyway, Afternoon Tea went on, as normally, from noon to two. Kitten and I managed to squeak out something like thirty-five to forty songs in those measly two hours, but of course, it's quality, not quantity. We did, however, get a very nice caller telling us that we were better than Automation (the lovely WRCT music-library robot - I call him "Auttie"). So, we're better than robots. That's a pretty nice compliment, to be honest, because that robot does a hell of a job for a soulless music-playing machine.

I will have the playlist up in another day or two. I'm already thinking about next week. A bunch of new stuff. We worked the sixties and seventies stuff out of our system, and now we can mesh everything back together, the way it's supposed to be. I know I want to play something else off the new Magnetic Fields album Distortion, as well as new Russian Spy Camera, more off that Ruby Suns album, and maybe some j-pop. We ye-ye-ed a lot on this past show, so I feel like maybe I'll take a week break from the French pop stuff. I'm still trying to obtain more Italian pop music from the sixties. If anyone has any good suggestions, post them here.

Oh, and a reminder, if you're free on Friday, check this event out:

Should be a good time, and it's for a great cause.

Okay, more later, I promise.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

some cute random video posts

france gall is adorable and underrated. this track has a really pretty chorus, and this video has a ridiculous dance party at the end. i love the sight of awkward mod french boys trying to move in their stiff, tight suits.

ye-ye medley! francoise hardy wipes the floor with sylvie vartan and petula clark. her songs are better, and she looks badass in all leather. those other ladies don't stand a chance. at one point, they look bored stiff while she tears up the joint, all while never leaving her stool.

this song actually kind of rules, but the ridiculous shoplifting/keyboard rock out in the grocery store is distracting fun. "hey, you know how we disco? hey, you know how we disco dancing!" all that, and spanish rapping!

this is too funny. patty duke does her twist on "england swings..." on the perry como show. it's very, very perry como. i love the dancing british royal guards. to be honest, i really like what she does with the song. i think patty duke has a really nice, plaintive girly voice, a little hysterical, a little childish, kind of perfect for the material that she sang so early in her career.

So, maybe that's it for now? oh, no, wait a moment, this little video is too good to keep to myself. um, i'm going to let it speak for itself:

- Emily

Friday, March 7, 2008

sometimes, i miss "Book-It!"

Oh, Book-It!... Despite hating Pizza Hut pizza, I LOVED Book-It as a kid. For the unfamiliar, the program was designed to motivate kids to read more. Usually sponsored by your school, kids earned coupons for free pizza for every book they read. I believe there were other benefits too, including t-shirts and one of the best nostalgic items of our generation, the Book-It! official pin. How I yearn to find my old Book-It! pins, if only to prove that yes, sometimes reading pays off in very concrete ways.

Lately, I've been missing Book-It! for the same reason I kind of, sort of, maybe miss college classes. I miss having this goal and obtaining it, especially when that goal is geared toward reading. I've found that my current reading has fallen off quite a bit, and I'm not entirely sure as to why, although I think it's mostly because I'm around a computer so much at work, and I'd rather gaze vacantly at Go Fug Yourself than read a piece of literary importance. (That being said, GFY is a great time-waster, and not entirely devoid of literary or cultural importance. Television Without Pity is completely valid as well.)

Of course, I am completely aware of this dwindling book count, and I have been seeking to make amends since New Year's, to mixed results. I bought a copy of David Copperfield, with the firmly stated belief that I would read it. It has since remained on my dresser, with the store sticker still on it, and I pass by it every day, momentarily considering its presence, before continuing on my way out the door.

Now, I may have made a mistake by choosing DC as my great return into reading. After all, climb a mountain when the hill will take you to the same place? In the interest of keeping my mind somewhat sharp, I've been trying to read the paper every day, which I mostly keep to. I've been trying to watch less trash television, with the exception of ANTM drinking nights and the occasional Project Runway (okay, no, frequent PR, but it's over for the season as of last Wednesday... sigh). I'm also re-reading parts of Simon Reynolds' excellent Rip It Up and Start Again: Post-Punk 1978- 1984, as it is not only an interesting, compelling book, but is also an excellent reminder of bands and labels that I have yet to hear. I recommend pretty much anything Reynolds has written, and check out his blog if you have a minute, because it's brilliant, funny, and well-written. All the things you'd want in a music writer's blog. (It's a featured link on our sidebar section of links)

Anyway, I've been reading bits and pieces of that book, bits and pieces of others, but sooner or later, I'm going to have to read an entire book, for the first time, to consider myself still a reader. And it's important to me to consider myself a reader, because... well, I use to love to read. And I still do. My mind is just a little lazier than it used to be. I refuse to succumb, however, and I will not let myself mentally slack off, simply because I'm not currently in school. A bachelor's degree does not equal a pass at thinking, and a large part of feeding my thought process is actively reading.

I thought that maybe someone else reading this (either one of you) might be going through something similar, or maybe you just need a few reading suggestions. Following are a few music-related book options to make you feel (at least) that you're being a good reader. Who knows? Maybe reading these will somehow obtain you free pizza. Or maybe they can just help to pass the time while you're waiting for class to start to sitting on the bus or lazing about around the home.

33 1/3 Series
I won't bother listing every title available, but if you're looking for easy, but addictive reading, you can bet these pocket-sized works will fit perfectly. Short in length, focused on one "classic" album at a time, the series is especially good for those who seek to know a bit more than basics about their favorite albums. The premise is simple - each book is a writer discussing a particular album. What the book ends up being is entirely up to the author. Some are straight journalism in the approach, like Jim Fusilli's Pet Sounds, some are autobiographical stories, like Colin Meloy's Let It Be. Others, like Michaelangelo Matos's Sign 'O' the Times defy straight categorization. Carl Wilson's take on Celine Dion's Let's Talk About Love picks up where his 2006 EMP Music Conference presentation left off, and if ever there was a reason to read about Celine Dion, this would be it.

Anyway, the series is fantastic, filled with great, easy-readers. Also, you'll look really cool reading one. It's a proven fact.

Nick Hornby's odes to 31 of his favorite songs and song moments is more than simply a fleshed-out list. Songbook is part cultural commentator, love-note, and autobiography. He has a decidedly rock canon-centric list, but it's appropriate, and he writes lovingly about each track, giving you that "just heard this song one moment ago" feeling that leaves goosebumps on your arms and a tune in your head. I even forgive the fact that he pushes the band Marah, despite the fact that I really do hate Marah.

The book inspired McSweeney's online to feature articles about writer's favorite songs. Check them out here.

Cinderella's Big Score
Maria Raha's exploration of women in music does something that most books about women in music fail - she explores outside the canon, with particularly good results concerning women in punk, post-punk, and new wave. She relies a little bit too much of Gillian Gaar's She's a Rebel, but as that book is kind of the textbook of women-in-rock books, that's fairly forgivable. Also notable: lack of cringe-worthy feminist-music sloganeering. I refuse to read a book with the word "herstory" in the title. Just saying...

Any Sarah Vowell
Look, if you love a mix of humor, history, pop culture, and self-deprecation in the essays you read, then you should check out any of her books. If you don't, well, I'm not really sure what I could recommend to you.

Stranded: Rock and Roll for a Desert Island
Writers writing about one album each. Sounds familiar, right? Well, take the fun of 33 1/3, cut the length to essays, and put twenty of them into a book compiled by Robert Christgau. Good for perusing before trips to the record store.

Any DaCapo's Best Music Writing
Any edition of this annual compilation of the year's best in music writing is worth picking up. Also, they're all available used for cheap on

Okay, that's enough for now. As for me, I should probably pick up David Copperfield... off the floor...


Thursday, March 6, 2008

A rare Jerry's find, a free album to download, and other miscellany...

Yesterday, at Jerry's, I got a near perfect promo copy of the first Tubeway Army record:

Some of you (and by that I mean that maybe one of the two readers of this blog) may know Tubeway Army, but in case one of you is unfamiliar: Tubeway Army was Gary Numan's band before his proper solo career. Wikipedia reports them as the first post-punk band to have an electronic hit with "Are 'Friends' Electric," and if you haven't heard them, just imagine the Gary Numan you know, but with a little cred. Actually, if you've heard Pleasure Principle (the one with "Cars"), then you've basically heard Tubeway Army, and some people are even of the persuasion that believe PP is better than either TA release, but I don't agree. Tubeway Army was basically Gary Numan, and because of this, his musical transition into his proper solo career at least begins gradually.

During my last trip to Washington state, I picked up a copy of Replicas, the follow-up album, for twelve bucks, which is still an alright deal. But the self-titled debut, and a promo nonetheless, I got for four dollars. Four freaking dollars. Sometimes, I think the price tags at Jerry's are just for laughs, like you're going to take the record up to desk, and he's going to hold it up, tell you its real price, and laugh heartily as your face falls and your hopes are crushed. But he's a good man, that Jerry Weber, and if he wants to sell me a copy of the first Tubeway Army record for four dollars, then I will buy it from him. Actually, I could only pay him three dollars and sixty-five cents. So I owe him thirty-five cents. I'll put it in the mail today.

Other business: Athens, GA-based band, Russian Spy Camera, is has put their latest album up for free download on their myspace. Click the link, then just click the giant picture of the new album to download the zip file. Totally worth it, especially if you haven't heard the band yet. I believe they are properly on HHBTM records down there in Athens. I've actually gotten to meet them a few times, having traveled down to Athens Popfest several years in a row. Ryan is an absurdly nice person, which I believe I countered with my usual mix of fetching grace and terrible, binding awkwardness. The band is awesome live, and although RSC isn't doing anything terribly innovative, they play it better than almost any other band with a similar sound. Dancey, driving rock, but not harsh or overly electro. A blog post on the Three Imaginary Girls site mentions Pinback, and you know, it's kind of true. They don't really remind me of any specific Pinback song, but more of the general tone.

You can find out a little more about Russian Spy Camera here, including a personal tidbit that you may not expect.

Oh, and, duh, go to their official website.

no, wayne coyne is not in the band, and ryan is not possessed by satan. this is how nasty rumors get started, people.

So, a reminder, we're going to be playing all pop stuff from the sixties and seventies. If you're just dying to hear something, whether it be some "Yummy Yummy Yummy (I've got love in my tummy)" or maybe that Badfinger song you can't shake out of your mind ("Day After Day" is on permanent rotation in my brain. It happened in the summer of 2005, and, well, I can't do anything about it now...), then leave your request in the comments section.

Oh, or call us, cause we get lonely during the show. 412.621.WRCT.

- Emily

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

New links section added. Also, listen to more Bow Wow Wow!

The first part of this is explained in the title. To the left of the page, folowing the description of the site, is an in-progress list of links. I just started on these, so if anyone is reading this blog, and wants something added, either out of self-promotional needs, or perhaps a philanthropic need to spread the word to the masses, leave a comment or send a message this way.

Also, I've been listening to a lot of Bow Wow Wow recently, and not simply because the chapter concerning them in Simon Reynold's "Rip It Up and Start Again: Post-Punk 1978 - 1984" is so morbidly curious, what with Malcolm McLaren's Machiavellian/emperor capitalist-cum-pedophile approach to building the band, and the seeming puppets that the group played to McLaren's vulgar puppet master.

All of this aside, however, if you can, get a copy of Bow Wow Wow's "Your Cassette Pet," "See Jungle, See Jungle..." LP, even the "I Want Candy" LP, that features a lot of repeats from the first two releases. The polyrhythms and beat-oversaturation is the initial draw, but as I listen more and more to the band, I find that Annabella Lwin's yelpy, but powerful vocals keep the music glued together. The sound is all girlish heaving breaths and over-exuberance, and it sounds so good piled on top of that rhythm section. The band never did craft a perfect album. Select tracks are better than the whole, so if you can find a really decent best-of collection, go for it. One I found that isn't bad is "Aphrodesiac: The Best of Bow Wow Wow," which features mainly older material.

And if you simply must, you can google image search Bow Wow Wow to salivate over young Annabelle's sex-kitten posturing. I'm sure it's nowhere near as salacious as McLaren had planned.


Cat and Girl Are Looking to Exterminate Our Kind

Because Kitten brought the marvelous Cat and Girl web comic up, I felt inclined to post this particular C&G comic:

Har har, but seriously, people, this comic undermines the endangered status of our kind. The death of the cassette culture rocked our little worlds, and we really haven't been quite the same since. All of you reading this (hello to both of you) should donate to your nearest cassette-only indie pop label. I think Popgun is still in business.

Please, they can't hold out forever. And once indie pop kids become disillusioned, it's only a slippery slope to emo-land.


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Kitten's alter ego

Because everyone loves a ginger. Actually, I would love to learn to spin.
Anyone in need of an apprentice?

Also worthy of note: Cat and Girl webcomic

Cat and Girl

Both Emily and I enjoy this comic.


Bonjour from Kitten!

Hello everyone! I am so excited about our show; if yesterday was any sign, we are certainly off to a good start, and hopefully will get better acclimated with the Pittsburgh indiepop scene
(I have high hopes about its existence... you're out there, somewhere, popsters, and I will find you!)

Our first show was mainly working out our vibe; I discovered that I happen to like electropop more than I ever thought I did, and Emily supplied some great dancey beats and indiepop. Most things were Americo/Anglo for the first show, but we definitely plan to mix it up....the goal: consistently "beat and upbeat."

In case you're curious, here was Monday's playlist (albums in parentheses):
1) Intro- Petra Haden - Heinz Baked Beans (Petra Haden Sings "The Who Sells Out")
2) David Candy- Play Power (Play Power)
3) Tammys- Egyptian Shumba (One Kiss Leads To Another - Girl Groups Volume 2)
4) Stereolab- Tomorrow is Already Here (Emperor Tomato Ketchup)
5) Pulsallama- Devil Lives in my Husband's Body (East Village Sound Gallery)
6) B-52's- Song for a Future Generation (Whammy)
7) Le Sport- Your Brother is My Only Hope (Tell No one about Tonight)
8) Barry Louis Polisar- All I want is You (Juno OST)
9) Bow Wow Wow- Fools Rush In [Kevin Shields Remix] (Marie Antoinette OST)
10) The Blow- Parentheses (Paper Television)
11) Datarock- Fa Fa Fa (Datarock Datarock)
12) Howard Hello- And You Said Robots Weren't Sexy (Greenness)
13) Bearsuit- Itsuko Got Married (Cat Spectacular)
14) Polysics- New Wave Jacket (Polysics or Die!)
15) Ladytron- Playgirl (604)
16) Freezepop- Shark Attack (Fashion Impression Function)
17) Anna Oxygen- Aviva (All Your Faded Things)
18) Robots in Disguise- Don't Copy Me (We're in the Music Biz)
19) Dear Nora- Since You Went Away (We'll Have a Time)
20) The Go! Team- Wrath of Marcie (Proof of Youth)
21) St Vincent- Paris is Burning (Marry Me)
22) Au Revoir Simone- Fallen Snow (The Bird of Music)
23) Dionne Warwick- Wishin' and Hopin'
24) The Bangers- Baby Let Me Bang Your Box
25) The Octopus Project- Bees Bein' Strugglin' (Hello, Avalanche)
26) Shocking Pinks- Yes! No! (s/t)
27) The Plastics- Cards (Welcome Back, Plastics)
28) Prince- Private Joy (Controversy)
29) Vampire Weekend- Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa (s/t)
30) Ladybugs- How Do You Do It (Girls in the Garage, Part I)
31) Barcelona- 1980-1990 (Zero-one-INFINITY)
32) Solex- Shady Lane (Everything is Ending Here, a Tribute to Pavement)
33) Beck- Go It Alone (Guero)
34) Patty Duke- Whenever She Holds You (Patty Duke's Greatest Hits)
35) Saint Etienne- Lose That Girl (Travel Edition 1990-2005)
36) Electric Six- Down at McDonalz (I Shall Exterminate Everything...)

Next week's theme: Poppy '60s/'70s
If you have any requests, the best thing to do is post a note to the blog; we check it daily. If you are a local band, please also post here. We may make a myspace page for the show; we'll let you know if we do. Then you too(!) can follow the exploits of Emily Fear and Kitten as they create their virtual footprint on "teh internets."


Monday, March 3, 2008

Our First Day!

Okay, so this is a brand new blog for our brand new show, "Afternoon Tea" on WRCT 88.3 FM.

So, chances are, no one is reading this right now. In fact, no one will be reading this for quite a while. But that's cool, you know, we're patient, we'll wait.... totally patient...

Oh well, so when you do start a) listening to our show (Mondays, from noon to two, by the way), and b) reading this blog, you will be treated to some oh so nice features, such as a weekly playlist (which, yes, you can also get at and comments about the show. Who knows, with both Kitten and I writing entries, you're bound to get some silly stuff on this page. I excell at blogging random comments, thoughts, tidbits, and pictures, so if you enjoy reading funny nonsense, then this is probably the page for you.

And if you are an avid listener of Afternoon Tea, or maybe just a casual drop-in, this is the best place to make requests, as I will have a chance to track down any of the tunes that may not already be in the WRCT library.

I will also probably be using some of this blog space to brag about my Jerry's Records finds. Today I got:


I'm always a little peturbed by the expression on this woman's face. Desirous snarl?

Two awesome records for under ten bucks. You can't get a better deal anywhere else on the planet.