Tuesday, January 27, 2009


I'm not going to use this platform to complain about my day. That would be too easy. I'll just say that it has left me drained, exhausted, a little frustrated and wanting to go to bed at 9:30. In other news, January is almost over. There is a teeeny tiny little light at the end of the bitter cold winter tunnel. I know it's not going to be 50 degrees again anytime soon, but I feel like the very worst might be over.

In case you haven't noticed, I've stopped posting pretty snow pictures. I knew I would become disillusioned by it eventually, and so I am. Now I'm ready to start taking colorful Spring pictures, full of flowers and pastels. Bring it on! Here are a few of my favorites from a time when the city was not a frozen tundra:

(*Sigh* proof that it won't be like this forever!)

I cooked over the weekend. I made a tomato and lentil soup, pancakes and eggs (breakfast in bed for Jon), and the oddest, flattest cookies ever (they resembled the pancakes more than they resembled cookies). I didn't take pictures of them because it was embarrassing. They were tasty, though.

So let's get down to it. Last Tuesday Jon and I went to see The Killers and M83 at UIC Pavilion. I've never been to the venue before and despite the negative things I've read about the sound quality, I thought it was a pretty decent setting for this particular show.

But let me start at the beginning! As we got there and attempted to find the right gate to enter, I saw a number of signs telling me that no cameras whatsoever were allowed inside. This panicked me slightly, because I can turn into a nervous hot mess at the drop of a hat. Luckily, they weren't all that thorough with the searching of my bag (perhaps because I stubbed my toe pretty damn hard on the guardrail right in front of the security lady and she seemed to feel bad for me) and I didn't get any crap about the camera.

We had General Admission tickets, which means this: 1) You have to get there early if you hope to get anywhere near the front 2) You have to be prepared to stand your ground when latecomers with hands full of beer cups try to stand right in front of you 3) You absolutely can't pee, so you best be ready to hold it 4) You have nowhere to put your coat and purse, so you either freeze your butt off on the way there or you deal with the extra bulk for the duration of the concert.

We got our spot, not too far from the stage. I made a deal with Jon that he would be the photographer for the evening and I would hold both of our coats and my purse. In hindsight, do I kind of regret making that deal? A little. For roughly 4.5 hours, I was on my feet with two huge winter coats tied around my waist, surrounded by big dudes with big flailing arms and their drunken, bouncy girlfriends. I'm mildly claustrophobic as is, and this just made me even more crazy than I already am. It was hard to move around, and I felt like I was in a sauna from the chest down. Other than that, the show was great! ;)

It really was an awesome concert, though, despite coat drama and general discomfort. I feel like they gave a lot, and the crowd (at least where I was) gave it right back. I was amazed at how much the band, especially Brandon, sounded exactly like they do on their records. I know some people find this to be a negative and feel as if there is no variety, no surprise, and no point in spending the money when they could just throw on a CD. I, on the other hand, feel like it's more a testament to their talent to be able to recreate such a full, clear, energetic sound. I don't know about you, but I want to be able to sing along. I don't want 15 minute jam sessions (I'm talking to you, Peter Frampton...) if I'm on my feet and packed in like a sardine. I read reviews of the show from a few people saying that they were boring. All I can assume is that those people were seated the whole time and were surrounded by a bunch of dullards. I felt such a great energy coming from the stage. The lights were spectacular, the stage decorations were campy and cool, and Brandon was running around like a wild man. He wouldn't stand still. He was the bus from Speed.

Speaking of Mr. Flowers...his feathery-shouldered jacket was a train wreck, but his hair was impeccable. He is also much thinner than I thought. Not that I ever thought he was heavy, but he is a twig. That is all.

(Ugly jacket for your viewing pleasure)

They played a great set. No one can ever tell me that The Killers don't have some kick-ass tunes in their repertoire. They finished about 10:30 and we were home at a respectable hour. What more could you ask for on a week night? The rest of Jon's pictures (the ones that aren't already posted above) are up on Flickr. They are stunning. Check them out. I sacrificed my dignity and comfort so he could have his arms free to take them, after all. ;)

At one point--I can't remember if it was before or after the gig--Jon turned to me and said, "I think I might be over the General Admission thing." I was grateful when he said it, because it's been something I've been feeling for the past five years, but am too stubborn to admit. I may, in fact, just be getting too old. Will this prevent me from buying GA tickets in the future? Probably not. I'm glad to see I'm not the only one feeling it, though.

So tomorrow, we are going to see Spamalot. He is really excited about it. I know it will be a good time and I'll probably rave about it when it's done, but as of right now it's just a thing to do. Honestly, I don't know anything about it except that Clay Aiken was in it...I think...on Broadway, maybe? Anyway, it's at this gorgeous old theatre down the street from us, so it's convenient and all. I can even go home from work, eat and change before heading out.

It's been a while since I've posted, so I feel like I have more to say. I want to talk about Inauguration Day and how I felt choked up, how proud I am every time I see President Obama (the President that I voted for! My President, for once!) on TV, but that will all have to wait.

The moment may have passed to truly write about it with any raw emotion anyway. What more can I say? This picture says it all, in my opinion:

(More great pics HERE)

One last thing before I completely sign off. The boyfriend and I have been talking about moving. Not any time soon, mind you. Our lease is up in June and I can't imagine we'll want to move to a brand new city without jobs, cars, or stability in the shite economy of 2009. It's more like daydreaming of one day maybe moving somewhere else. I think we both want a big(ish) city with a better-than-decent music scene. He requires warm weather, because apparently he does not enjoy the below zero temps and highs of <20>

First, we have Austin. Jon enjoys the idea of Austin more than I do. I don't hate the idea, though. I choose San Francisco. I know it's expensive, but these are just thoughts, and those are free. I have also been thinking lately about Portland. I don't know a lot about Portland, and I think it may be too cold for his tastes, but it seems like a place I might find interesting (at least for a bit), and maybe I could entice him with a bacon and maple Voodoo Doughnut. So that's it. Short list, eh? Like I said, no plans--just curiosity. Could you see me living in any of these strange, new environments? Do you have another city I should be daydreaming about?

Ok, back to my real life, where I will watch A Double Shot At Love (I think it's the Finale!) and attempt to go to bed a little earlier than usual.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Lolz

I found this hilarious and just had to share! I wish I could pay my way through life with drawings. Everything would be so much easier, wouldn't it?

Just a quick post because I'm off to read this book for my possible (who knows if it will actually happen!) book club on Wednesday. Seeing The Killers tomorrow, so I'm sure I'll have all sorts of lovely things to talk about next time.

Oh, and speaking of the book I'm reading...the first few times I picked it up, I was amazed at how Curtis Sittenfeld was able to write the lead character. You can usually tell when a male author is trying to writing a female, even if it is relatively well done. I thought (and even said out loud to Jon), "This is the first guy I've ever read that really knows how to capture the essence and thoughts of a woman!" The next day, I found out that Curtis is a chick. Yeah. Less impressed. Still a fairly interesting read so far, though. Full review when I finish...if I don't get too lazy.

And since I probably won't get to post tomorrow: Bring on President Barack Obama! Woot!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Ok, I'm going to take this opportunity to shamelessly promote a band that you should be listening to. I first heard The Boxer Rebellion while I was in the FSU Study Abroad program in London in 2005. Nathan had apparently come to London to study a few years earlier and while he was there, was determined to join a band. Boy has pipes. He found a band. He ended up staying...and that band is The Boxer Rebellion.

My professor, who had taught Nathan before his exit from the program, told our class about the band. My flatmate, Megan, raved about them. One of the girls who helped run the office on our downtown London "campus" was dating the bassist. I was surrounded by them. I couldn't seem to avoid hearing their name. One night, everyone planned a trip to go to their show, so I tagged along. I have seen my fair share of friends' bands and friends-of-friends' bands play over the years, so I wasn't expecting too much. Not only did I enjoy the concert, I was blown away.

Before they'd gone on stage, I had been chatting to them about music in general and their influences as a band. I wanted to gauge what I was in for and how drunk I should get. They talked about their love for Radiohead and I was intrigued. Radiohead isn't an easy band to channel and still sound unique, so I really wanted to see what they'd do. Though you can definitely hear that they are a band that may enjoy Radiohead, they don't come across as a copycat act or like they are trying too hard to be anyone but The Boxer Rebellion. That's a good thing. I saw them a couple more times while I was in London, and every time was great.

They aren't simply a good live band, though. On record, they sound crisp, clear, moody, cocky yet sensitive, and absolutely beautiful. I've listened to Exits again and again and it never loses its shine. I haven't heard their newest offering just yet, so I can't comment on it specifically, but I know it's worth the $5.99 price on iTunes right now. That's right...it's only $5.99. And so is Exits. Even better, their new single is FREE. Why? It's the "Global Single of the Week", that's why.

"In an unprecedented move, iTunes have awarded the band a “Global Single of the Week” spot on January 13th for the track “Evacuate”, which will run across every iTunes store on the planet.

Mixed by Chris Sheldon (Foo Fighters, Feeder) and mastered by Kevin Metcalfe (U2, Prodigy), ‘Union’ has also been awarded the Editor’s Choice album slot by iTunes US which will see it receive main page and front page coverage."

So here's the deal, if you're afraid of spending the cash, get the free single, but do yourself a favor and check out some of their earlier songs (some of which can be found on MySpace -- try We Have This Place Surrounded and thank me later).

This is one band I believe in, people! Not just because they are great guys, but because I think you'll still be hearing about them in five years. And can you believe Nathan is American? From Tennessee?!? (edit: I've seen them compared to Kings of Leon in the past couple of weeks, possibly due to the Tennessee connection.)

In other news, Ryan Adams is apparently quitting music. For now. First Joaquin Phoenix quits acting for music and now this. Stick to what you do well, boys! C'mon now. How long do I think this impromptu retirement will last? I give it less than a year. If Mr. Adams is known for one thing, it's being prolific. He can't stop making music. It's in his blood. Mark my words.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Inspired by all of the recent techy conferences and weight loss New Years resolutions

So after initially wanting a pedometer and never getting one, signing up for SparkPeople and only using it for a couple of weeks, getting a WiiFit and immediately not being able to use it (due to injury and resulting lack of balance), I've decided I need another motivational fitness gadget. I may or may not get it, but here it is in all its glory:

I had never heard of BodyBugg or GoWear Fit before this week, when the former was mentioned on The Biggest Loser, but I've been eyeing the FitBit for a few months now. After seeing the price of the others ($200-$250 and an additional fee of roughly $100/year to use their website and track your progress), I'm starting to think that $99 is probably the best deal I'll ever find (no additional fees for using the website either, apparently).

They say they'll start shipping them sometime in early 2009 and there will be a limited number. Part of me is tempted to order one now to ensure I'll get one when they do come out. The other part of me wants to see what others have to say about it before I actually throw the money down. In the end, $99 is not a ton, but I'd rather not waste it.

I don't really even need it, if I'm honest. I want to be in slightly better shape, yes, but I can do that on my own if I put my mind to it. I'm just hoping something like this will provide that little extra push? Decisions, decisions...

Thursday, January 08, 2009


I know my fellow FSU alumni will disagree with me, but seriously...does anyone deserve it more? I mean he's a quarterback and he had over 100 yards rushing. That just opens it up for the offense so much. It really is an asset to have a running quarterback. I admit it, finally.

So Florida lost a heartbreaker early on in the season and bounced back more than I ever thought they could. I gave up on them, but they didn't give up on themselves. That, my friends, is a lesson. Good on the Gators. Shame on me. I am such a baby when it comes to "my teams"...I've been an emotional wreck all night. Up and down based on the score. The Gators technically never trailed, but I am a football pessimist, so when it's tied, I fear the worst. It's just in my nature. Blame decades of being a Dolphins fan. But for the record, Jon is totally right, I AM scary when I care. I like to think it's part of my charm?

This is exactly why I can't watch important games around other people. I don't like to let strangers see me cry. On another note, the commercials during the game tonight were 100 times funnier than the ones during the last Superbowl. Go figure. And look at me blogging about something in a timely manner! Maybe I will be able to preserve some of my current life for posterity after all. Thanks, Blogger.


This is the last time I will blog about football until September*, I promise.

*Not including generic Superbowl chatter, mostly concerning the commercials, and possible draft stuff (especially if Tebow decides to go pro for some bizarre reason).

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Like, duuuuh?

My day in a nutshell:

I spilled coffee on myself and when I went to clean it off, I noticed that my shirt was inside out. It took me until after 4pm to realize this. I think I need to start going to bed earlier!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

A New Year and a Look Back

The start of 2009 officially marks the end of my first full year in Chicago. Continuing with a little something I began last year on Facebook (which was interesting to read again and see what has changed!), I present you with 2008 through the eyes of Alissa:

Favorite Albums

Ok, I’m not going to lie to you. All of my top albums this year are by bands that I have already loved for ages. This means two things: 1) I am becoming less adventurous the older I get. 2) I am lucky, because the musicians that I respect and adore continue to create beautiful, progressive, and poignant collections of tunes.

Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – Cardinology

Last year and throughout the first half of this year, Easy Tiger was in pretty constant rotation on my iPod. I worried that I would be disappointed by his next endeavor. I had nothing to worry about. While still slightly below Easy Tiger on my love meter, Cardinology flows beautifully and is easy to listen to all the way through. Perfect as background music while writing, as zone-out music at work, and as I learned today, a shower sing-along jam.

The Charlatans – You Cross My Path

If you ask me to choose my favorite band, I will tell you every single time, without fail, that it is The Charlatans. They have been around since 1989. I have been in love with them since 1995. With the exception of two songs, their last album was bordering on atrocious. I had no hopes for this one. They were giving it away for FREE online, for fuck’s sake. How good could it be? The answer: BRILLIANT. This was a return to former glory if I’ve ever seen one. I cried the first time I heard it. No joke. Actual, salty, warm tears. I was filled with the joy I felt when I was 16 and I heard a song that changed what I thought about music. Don’t get me wrong, this is not necessarily groundbreaking or innovative. It was just the most pleasant surprise I’ve had in a long time, musically.

Oasis – Dig Out Your Soul

Though not as good as their last album, Don’t Believe the Truth, it’s good enough for a band I thought wouldn’t make it past 1996 with all of the in-fighting, personality-clashing and general big-headedness. I’m happy to say they have survived and they continue to make songs that I enjoy listening to. I also got to see them play live with Ryan Adams & The Cardinals this year, so I have a special place in my heart for this album.

The Killers – Day & Age

Jon believes that Spaceman is their best song yet. I don’t know if I’m willing to go that far, but it’s nice. I’m glad to see them returning somewhat to the cocky, dancey form that made them the huge success they were after their debut album. As part of my Christmas present, I also get to see them in concert on January 20th. I’ve never seen them before, and I’ve heard mixed things about their performance level, but I’m sure it will be a good time no matter what.

Super Furry Animals – Hey Venus!

I could have sworn this was released in 2007, but Amazon claims it was January 2008. Who am I to argue? This means I can include it in my list, so I’ll take it. As with all SFA albums, there are some real gems on this one. Run Away, The Gift That Keeps Giving, Into the Night, etc. are just perfect and so different from anything else out there. SFA are not for everyone, but they are most DEFINITELY for me.

Death Cab For Cutie – Narrow Stairs

I’m starting to see a theme emerge here. I got to see all of these bands in concert in 2008 or will do in 2009 except for The Charlatans. Hmm…curious. Something about hearing an album played live may just make it that much dearer to me. Narrow Stairs is also not as good as its predecessor, in my opinion, but it has a couple of gorgeous songs. Grapevine Fires is one of those that I could put on repeat and never tire of.

Biggest Disappointment

Breaking my leg. It happened in early April. I didn’t have insurance until June. I walked on it for two months with no cast and no diagnosis, and had to wear a big huge walking cast on it until late July after I finally did see a doctor. I got it off a few days before my birthday. It was a giant hassle and I tried not to let it get me down, but it did. I felt defeated. I felt helpless in certain circumstances (like going up or down a large flight of stairs at the train station, with people behind me urging me to hurry or trying to clean our apartment after we moved out, unable to bend my knee to pick something up). It’s not the worst thing that’s happened to anyone, and it could have been worse, but it did make things more difficult. I stayed inside more than I would have otherwise, maybe because I felt bad for myself or because my hip hurt from lugging around the big thing on my leg. Jon was patient with me and helpful and I thank him for that. I know I will be a lot more careful in the future and I will always appreciate being able to walk just a little bit more than I ever did before.

Biggest Achievement

This is hard. Compared to graduating last year and moving to Chicago, this year has been a bit lame, achievement-wise. I have the same job I had last year (though I got hired officially, instead of remaining a temp). I want to skip this question, but avoiding the hard things in life never builds character, does it? If I’m 100% honest, I’d say my biggest achievement has been coming out of my shell a little bit more. It may not seem like a big difference to the casual observer, or even to Jon, who sees me every single day, but it’s more of an internal thing that can’t be measured. I just know that I feel slightly more confident when I’m about to enter an unfamiliar social situation. I’m still a work in progress, though. This year will be even better. Oh, and I’ve conquered my fear of dentists and doctors! We’re BFF now. Not really, but they don’t scare the crap out of me anymore.

Favorite Discovery

I’m going to go with Twitter. I certainly visit it more than most other sites. It’s become such an excellent way to communicate with people I know and miss, meet new people, and keep tabs on people I find interesting. I found out it was snowing the other day not by watching The Weather Channel, checking weather.com or even looking out my window, but by reading someone’s latest tweet. Yep, Twitter has the goods, I think.

Best Time-Waster

Television has been a giant downfall for me this year. Since the writers’ strike ended, there has been too much to watch. The DVR doesn’t help. It just means that when there isn’t something good on, there’s a whole long list of stuff I can watch. Podcasts still help me through my workday. I listen regularly to about 20 different ‘casts. Maybe more. Writing has also taken up a large chunk of my time lately. Between my occasional contributions to Gapers Block (which need to be more frequent, honestly...I smell a New Years Resolution!), this blog, and a few other things I have done, I’ve been a typing fool. I still don’t consider myself a great writer, but I’m working on exercising the muscles so one day I may just be.

Things I’ve Learned

I apparently grind my teeth when I sleep. A LOT. Like to the point where I fractured my front two (yes, 2008 was the year of stress fractures for me). I not only dislike the cold, but I officially hate it. Having a full gym downstairs, that I can use for free almost anytime I want is not necessarily enough to motivate me to go regularly. I can’t go longer than a week without coffee and not be grumpy. The sole purpose of Christmas decorations is to keep people from winter-induced depression by distracting them with shiny objects. I take way too many pictures for someone with an 80GB laptop and no external hard drive. I want a Mac more than I’ve ever wanted a new electronic-type toy before. I have too many clothes for any number of closets, but I only wear about 20% of them (mostly due to fit). Living in a city with this many concert venues is financially dangerous. I absolutely cannot sit still anymore. Even though I’m a cat person through and through, I’m not totally opposed to having a dog…one day. Girly-sized concert t-shirts, Threadless t-shirts, and all other brands like Threadless, do NOT agree with my body type (or any female with hips, really).

Shows I Look Forward to Watching Every Week and Miss the Most When They’re Gone:

Dexter, The Soup, Survivor was really good this past season, Psych, Chuck, Top Chef, House, 30 Rock, Pushing Daisies, Flipping Out

TV shows I’m a Little Embarrassed to Admit I Watched and Enjoyed:

Anything related to Rock of Love and I Love Money, Bad Girls Club, Rehab: Party at the Hard Rock Hotel, Baby Borrowers, ANTM, A Double Shot at Love (oh the HO-rror)

Best Book

I actually did read quite a few things this year, so hooray for being in a book club! The new Irvine Welsh novel, Crime, was quite good and different from anything he’s done before. Sin in the Second City also really made me think, and helped me learn a little bit more about the seedy side of this city I now call home. Gangsters and brothels and crooked cops, oh my!

Favorite Film

As I did last year, I’m going to break this into categories because it’s hard to pick just one and because I can.

Overall: The Dark Knight

This is the only movie I saw twice in theaters, so how could it not win? Also, holy crap did it have me on the edge of my seat and nervous for 2+ hours.

Surprised-the-hell-outta-me-good: Iron Man

I didn’t even want to see this. I thought it was just another superhero movie when Jon dragged me to it. Boy was I wrong. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that Robert Downey Jr. is witty, charming, hunky, and has an impeccable sense of comedic timing.

Animated: Wall-E

If you know me, you may know that I’m not a huge fan of animated films or television, but I have to admit, this was really good. Touching, heartwarming, nicely paced and beautifully made.

Funny: Role Models

This is the film I remember laughing the hardest at, anyway. Considering the lack of promotion for it, I was shocked at how good it was. I guess it didn’t hurt that I got to see an advance screening with Paul Rudd actually there, doing a Q&A. He is kind of dreamy and all. Pineapple Express and Forgetting Sarah Marshall (Veronica Mars as a complete bitch! What?) were great too, but in a more predictable way, if that makes any sense.

Least Favorite Film

Burn After Reading depressed the shit out of me. Maybe that was the point, but why do I want to pay to feel sad for two hours? It just seemed like a lot of bad stuff happening to people who had no control over anything in their lives. Maybe it was a bit too real for my tastes.

Also in the mildly disappointing category:

The X-Files – very little remains of the show that I loved for so many years. Too preachy and not enough weirdness or aliens. Indiana Jones – A little too campy and too many aliens? The Happening – What can I say about M. Night? He finally gives me an R-rated experience and blows his load in the Red Band trailer. I’d already seen all of the good parts before I bought my ticket. And whatup with Marky Mark in the main role? M. Nizzle, you KNOW homeboy can’t act. *sigh* Cloverfield – I did like this one, but I had built it up so much in my head, that nothing could have lived up to my expectations. It was much better than the other three films, though. There weren’t really any outstanding sci-fi flicks this year, which is incredibly sad.

Biggest Surprise

Where do I even start with this? The presidential election, any number of unbelievable things I’ve gotten to do this year, having the opportunity to interview Irvine Welsh (the 16-year-old Alissa would have DIED knowing that this would happen), the Miami Dolphins winning their division after being beyond awful last year (less surprising was their loss in the first round of the playoffs today –ughhh!), the Florida Gators in the National Championship again, I could go on forever…

Best Decision

Moving into our new apartment, despite the always-scary rent increase. This move has changed my view of Chicago, literally and figuratively. Cutting 40 minutes each way off of my daily work commute has also given me more time to play around with my computer and write, write, write.

Worst Decision

Running to the train in my work shoes, leading to the aforementioned fractured leg. That ate up a good portion of my year and prevented me from doing quite a few things that I could have otherwise done (though not everything, luckily). Lesson learned!

Favorite Place Visited

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the opportunity to travel all that much this year, so it’s between Florida and Iowa. Probably no surprise here, but I choose Florida. While in Orlando for Jon’s brother’s wedding, we took a day out and went to Animal Kingdom. It was such a perfect day from start to finish. If I took this question a different route, I might say Grant Park (because of Lollapalooza and the huge Election Night shindig with Obama) or the Metro (because of all the fantastic shows/events I’ve seen there and the wonderful people I’ve met), but I’ll just stick to the more literal answer.

Things I’m Looking Forward to in 2009

Springtime in Chicago, new possibilities, President Barack Obama, exploring the world around me, travel, new computer (please???), more concerts, new friends, seeing old friends more often, getting better at keeping in touch with people, spending more time with my wonderful boyfriend, documenting more momentous events in my life, being healthy, being happy, being outgoing and fearless, taking better care of my apartment (cleaning, yuck!), National Champion Florida Gators, saving some money, enjoying the good and forgetting the bad, learning everything I can, and as always, becoming a better person.

Happy New Year everyone!