Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Day 2 of 3

So, here I am....half sick to my stomach after a mere two drinks of Captain' and Coke last night. With the amount of cigarettes I've been inhaling, combined with junk foods, spicy foods, and my inept ability to make any night off a night for "a drink or two" of Captain Morgan...I'm thinking a great change is in order.

I've still got loads of cigarettes left in this pack. I smoked two in a row just now, something I almost never do. I've been going through [almost] a pack a day, which by my history is almost a ridiculous thing to even comprehend. I've never been a big smoker, but I can feel the addiction more than I ever have in my life. Not good. As for the Captain Morgan, he hasn't really become a problem in regards to the 'frequency' of drinking, but rather, just that my stomach cannot handle the spiced rum like it used to. Belly aches are almost inevitable, even after a few drinks. The cap'n is not nearly as kind to me as he's been in the past year or so since we 'met'.

In other news, we finally got our Christmas tree. This is the latest I ever remember getting one, as we typically get it by the first Saturday in December. This year, we're 10 days late.

The tree we got we cut down from my grandparents. (They have bordered their field edge with varieties of blue spruce, norway spruce, and douglass fur. There are benefits to all, and downfalls to each as well. The Douglass has limp branches. Heavy Christmas ornaments won't hang properly, and often weigh the decorated branches down, causing (often times) the ornament to plop to the floor.

The spruce is my favorite due to strong branches, and a lovely piney-citrus odor. However, it is not without it's vices! The spruce has shorter, sharper needles, and is a big pain (literally) to get into a stand without hand protection. The needles prick you from all angles, and the odorific bastard of a tree even has needles on parts of it's beware!

So, we went with the blue spruce, the variety with a bluish 'frosted' tinge to the needles. It's my favorite. The individual tree itself is pretty tall, and was one of the skinnest we could find in the bunch. While we typically go for monstrous trees, our spruce this year looks as though it's been put on some sort of unGodly Hollywood diet. It's tall, thin, and very streamlined. That said, we went for this look because it looked "old fashioned".

Enough about my flesh puncturing pine....and on to other bigger and better things. I'm on day two of three days off from the j-o-b. It's kind of nice, as I gathered time yesterday to get my haircut (finally) and get our Christmas tree. That aside, we also went to hear the Allegheny Chorale sing at the Prespeterian Church down by BiLo. It was pretty cool stuff, with some very talented people. My grandma is one of the sopranos. In any case, she's been trying to talk me into joining ever since she has. And now, since I saw it in person, she has OTHERS in the chorale telling me to join. I might do it just for the sake of having a new, fresh, extracuricular activity that involves something I love to do. In this case, singing.

I'm not sure if I mentioned this or not, but one of the head-hanchos from Outdoor Times called me back finally (he'd been on a hunting trip) and seemed very enthusiastic about me sending in a portfolio of writing, artwork, and photography for a position he has open in the publication.

"I wish I'd known about you sooner" he exclaimed. "We just hired a full-time illustrator."

Well...that sucks, but he ensured me that if I would get the position that my artwork would still be used, particularly in my article. So...we'll see what happens. If I can just get my foot in the door...that'll rock enough. And maybe more doors will open for me. Maybe even the full-time illustration position? Then again, I think I'd like writing about nature AND drawing even more than just drawing by itself. Can you even imagine how happy that would make me? I mean, it would be my JOB to go out and frolick amongst trees, mushrooms, and wildlife!

I'm going to write the cover letter later today, as one of the ladies from the Allegheny Chorale wants to review it for me and make sure that I include everything that they would want to know. I want this bad, and it seems a lot of people want it for me almost as bad!

Well, aside from a review of Gwen Stefani's new "The Sweet Escape" album. That's all I have to say today really.

The Sweet Escape (released 12/5/06)

The Sweet Escape finds my favorite female artist Gwen Stefani getting a little greedy. As a No Doubt fan, I'd be ommiting the truth about how I feel if I failed to say that these "solo albums" take me back to the "Don't Speak" era, where Gwen gets all the attention and people try to get her to make her a superstar as her bandmates live in her shadow. Essentially, THAT has come true, minus the band actually breaking up.

That said, Gwen's allowed to be greedy. Love Angel Music Baby sold 7 million copies, and her tour was "almost unenjoyable" because she was pregnant with her first born Kingston James. According to Stefani, she was constantly running out of breath, and the only thing that kept her going on the tour was the vast sea of amazing fans supporting her.

Well, now there's going to be another tour. Initially, "The Sweet Escape" was going to be released as an album of leftovers LAST Christmas, with no tour. However, when you sell 7 million solo albums, and have a tour that you didn't fully enjoy, things change. In other words, the men in suits talked Gwen into yet another tour, and making even MORE new songs for The Sweet Escape, pushing the release date to 12/5/06. That said, it seems Gwen is keeping her fingers crossed that No Doubt is keeping their patience with her, and that they will understand.

In some ways though, The Sweet Escape is only a few cries short of a true No Doubt album. No Doubt bassist, and ex-boyfriend Tony Kanal penned (along with Gwen) a few of the tracks, making them in some way, No Doubt songs. "Don't Get It Twisted", "Four In The Morning", and "Flourescent" are three of those very songs, with Twisted and Four In The Morning being two of the best songs ON the album.

So let's talk about Wind It Up, the first single. Not the most obvious choice considering the entire backing track is ripped directly from The Sound Of Music, and the fact that Gwen sings about three notes during the entire song. (Beat that Janet Jackson!) However, in due time Gwens infectious yodeling, and the irresistable foot-stomper of a drum/bass line has made the track grow on me, making it a favorite, following up where Hollaback Girl left off.

The next single is the title track Sweet Escape featuring hip-hop newcomer Akon. (Not sure if it's even worth a featuring considering he has two lines!) Sweet Escape is kind of old fashioned, cheesy, like some sort of commercial where people dance around wearing poodle skirts and drinking soda pop. It IS a great track though.

It's hard to tell what will happen in the future. No Doubt (the band) is writing songs, and has been going into the studio with Gwen's blessing. The plan is for Gwen to record and write her tidbits after the 2007 Sweet Escape tour, and rejoin her ska/new wave No Doubters for a world tour, and new studio album.

Here's hoping.

I would give this album an overall rating of 4 out of 5. The highlights are definitely in the heart wrenching ballads which outdo Gwen's last solo album, with the footstomping club-songs falling a bit short of Love Angel Music Baby. At the end of the day, it all evens out.

Until next time...