Friday, October 22, 2010

Album Review: The Age of Adz by Sufjan Stevens

What's the occasion?  Robyn and I are seeing Sufjan live in concert on Monday in Oakland!

The Beatles are my go-to foursome, and Death Cab for Cutie will always represent my quintessential college semi-angst-filled journey, but deep-down, Sufjan may be my favorite.  From the moment I first heard Illinois in 2005, the man from metropolis may have stolen my heart (in a strictly plutonic way...don't worry Robyn).  I anticipate each post-Thanksgiving earbud session when I reward my year-long iPod discipline with a fresh dose of Songs for Christmas albums I-V (I hold that "Sister Winter" is the greatest Christmas song, ever).  Sufjan offers so much that resonates with me:  a slow musical build-up, simply gorgeous instrumental layers, ear-tickling lyricism, and deep, self-reflective, often spiritual themes.  And the whiteness in me cannot resist that banjo.

What do I think of The Age of Adz?

The album is certainly new ground for a Sufjan-gone-electronic.  At first impression, this album is more dirty, messy, and complex than the simple elegance of Michigan and Seven Swans.  While the album does not measure up to Illinois (and how could it?  Paste named Illinois the album of the decade), I am excited about Sufjan's experimentation.  Now having broken a mold he himself created, Sufjan has given himself new creative frontiers to explore.

Sufjan explores deeper and darker themes, both musically and lyrically, in this album.  I appreciate the honesty of "I Want to Be Well", gutturally crying the song-title statement as a plea each of us have uttered in the dark.  The Age of Adz has moments that remind me of the Postal Service or Bono (like in "Too Much" and "Age of Adz," respectively) and even verges on Hip-Hop (robot voice!  "Impossible Soul").  But of course it would not be Sufjan without the addicting repetition of happiness ("Vesuvius," the clear pop attention grabber of the album).  And perhaps the prophetic "Get Real, Get Right" is Sufjan's clearest expression of faith since Seven Swans.  All that said, my favorite track is "Impossible Soul," essentially 26 glorious minutes that showcase the breadth of Sufjan's talent.

All you Sufjan Steven's fans out there, I would love to hear what you think about The Age of Adz!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

2 San Francisco Dodger Fans...

The SF Giants hadn't been to the NLCS since 2002, so of course it figures they return to playoff excellence the first October we live here.

After two years of the Phillies crushing Dodger World Series aspirations and a disappointing 2010 campaign for the the boys in blue, I was hoping to put baseball aside for the winter and concentrate on more important things (like blogging).  But every Giant victory (as of now they lead the Phillies 2-1) reminds me that this year, my baseball team sucked.  And while the future for the Dodgers looks bleak thanks to a messy ownership divorce, I fear this Giant stroke of luck might linger.

It's not easy being a Dodger fan in SF right now.  While applying for jobs, I used my old work email instead of my everyday email (dandodger1, which I have had since I was 11).  EOE might hold a little weight when it comes to race, but I do not yet trust that phrase when it comes to baseball.

The hardcore Green Bay Packers fan in this relationship has it easier.  At least the 49ers suck, so Robyn does not have to deal with daily 49er propaganda handed out on the subway or 49er hats and jerseys everywhere she looks.

As for me, the only recourse I have is to wait for this fanaticism to pass.  And so I guess I must do what I always do:  Root for the Giants to lose.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Good Husband

I recently watched the movie The Dutchess with Keira Knightly and have realized two things: 1. How much I appreciate all the women who came before me who fought for our rights as women. 2. My husband is not just a good and decent husband, but he is caring, servant minded, and so patient. Not every husband is like this and I am so blessed to have a man who considers me his partner.

Both of these realizations make me thankful to be living in the time I am living, with the freedoms I do have, and with my wonderful man.

It is a good movie to watch for those of you who are fighting for women to have equity in society and you feel it is hopeless. Remember how far we have come.

-Robyn (duh)

Monday, October 4, 2010

My Big Question

Today, while reading for a class, I found the articulation for the internal dilemma I have felt since beginning my graduate program. It is the question of power. There is a definite code of behavior and language used  among those in power. As an advocate for oppressed people and a woman of color have felt that I would need to learn this code and language in order to bring change. However, can I really do this? Can I change who I am in order to climb the ladder of power?

This quote rocked me this morning and brought more questions to mind:
One of the basic principles of the new racism is that when nonwhites or women manage to "win" on the basis of existing rules, then the rules must be changed (Chan & Wang, 1991, p. 63).

Am I trying to fight the system by "winning" with the rules that the people in power have already laid out for me? Is learning to fight power with power going to be a major waste of time, because the power rules change? Or should  I work on changing the rules of the game, before the powerful people do? Or are the rules in society going to be in place to keep some people on the bottom?

Do I need to become more fluent in the language of power even if it means changing who I am or do I stay me and fight to change what the language of power sounds like?

I don't have an answer yet...