Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category (feed)

Regarding Chillwave

In early 2009 a new music sub-genre started taking over the blogsphere. It was a new and old kind of music: think of ’80s synth-pop, married with shoegaze rock and dream-pop haze, filtered through a more electronic sound, and adding lots of reverb to the (usually) lackster vocals/lyrics. It’s the perfect relaxing somewhat-dancy summer music. Just chill. It’s made by youngsters (usually) in their bedroom, using a Macbook (well, usually). The internet is the main boosting medium for the genre, with most new such (usually) one-man bands releasing their albums on BandCamp for free.

It’s name is “chillwave”. The HipsterRunoff blog invented the genre’s name, after “glo-fi” and “hypnagogic pop” didn’t stick online.

I first became aware of it last Summer, but didn’t really like what I was hearing. I felt that it was ambient hipster drivel, drone noise. Unformulated, uncatchy, unintelligent, boring. I was dumbfounded that Pitchfork was covering these bands so much.

And then, last Fall, Neon Indian’s debut album arrived.

The main track on the album, “Deadbeat Summer”, stroke homerun with me. It immediately transported me back to when I was a kid in the late ’70s and early ’80s (7-8 years old), living in the town of Preveza. It immediately gave me that feeling that it’s so hot outside, that I need to hurry to the beach, where it’s usually crowded every day during summer. I’d run around at the beach, looking at the breast-naked female tourists lying in the sun, and not understanding what their deal is. I’d splash around, and be care-free. And if I was a good girl, I’d be treated with an ice cream on the way back home. Deadbeat Summer’s sonic vibes accurately described my psyche and frame of mind of that time. It was like my soul was lifted from my current body and was put back to that time, at the body of the young girl I was.

That was the exact time when I “got” chillwave.

For people to really connect with it they must have the right life experiences, usually hot summers and outdoors play that involve water in some way or another, or for others it works if they feel nostalgic about the care-free era of the ’80s. For my husband though, the genre doesn’t work. He doesn’t understand the atmosphere this music is trying to create. He finds the music underwhelming, “unremarkable” as he says in particular. Maybe growing up in colder France makes it difficult for him to understand and visualize the music, however, I feel confident that if he will give it a chance he will enjoy it too — as it has happened with other bands that originally he disliked but later became a fan.

Since chillwave got somewhat established in late 2009, there have been a number of pro- and con- articles in the blogosphere. Most indie blogs support the genre and have been the driving force behind the explosion in the genre’s popularity, but know-it-all old-style publications like the New York Times don’t get it, and had it dismissed. Of course, that NYTimes article is mostly rubbish, written by someone who doesn’t get the whole idea, however, this and some other “hating” articles do ring true on a couple of points:

1. Translating this kind of music live is nearly impossible. The whole point of the reverb effects and dreamy sound is so that the listener can sit on a couch, close his/her eyes, and make the song his/hers, based on his/her own experiences. Having the same effect on a venue, next to people who smoke weed, shout, and drink like sponges, is just not possible. A lot of the magic is lost in live performances. What is needed is for the bands that want to take these experiences on the stage to also have their own pre-programmed lighting gear, plus a big screen with care-free beach-related footage. Or something.

2. Someone said that this music is the product of the economic recession in the US. Made at home, with laptops, spending no money on them whatsoever. And their care-free sound tries to make the listener forget his financial problems. There might be some truth in this, but then again, maybe not.

3. Someone else said that chillwave hasn’t been mainstream yet because the “ultimate” chillwave album has not been released yet. That the genre is still evolving, and it’s still expecting of its own “Nirvana band” to popularize the genre to the mainstream.

Wild Nothing – “Confirmation

Personally, I believe that the best chillwave album released so far is Wild Nothing’s “Gemini” (May 2010). Some people classify the album as dream-pop and only borderline chillwave, but to me it sounds like dead-ringer chillwave (plus, the band’s label page describes their sound as all things chillwave). For me, it’s one of the best albums released this year, regardless of genre. Every single of the tracks in there is amazing. There are no fillers in that album.

Other popular chillwave bands apart Wild Nothing and Neon Indian are Delorean, Small Black, Toro Y Moi, Memory Tapes, Teen Daze, Millionyoung, and Washed Out. Bands that are borderline chillwave: The Radio Dept, Real Estate, Best Coast, and some tracks by Bear in Heaven. Grandfathers of chillwave can be named the Animal Collective, Ariel Pink, Beach House among a few others.

iTunes created a chillwave sub-section on their Electronic section recently. Are you riding the chill wave too?

My own idea of a natural diet

Update: Obviously the following is not a great diet. Paleo/Primal is where real health lies.

Since my husband lost so much weight recently by following a loose version of the South Beach diet, a lot changed: we planted a garden, trying to grow our own vegetables, and I started following a similar food regime as well: a lower carb diet, with more vegetables in it. Doing so even helped my health issue somewhat: instead of getting sick every second or third day, it was reduced to once a week. Obviously an improvement.

JBQ and I have been joking that the traditionally accepted food pyramid is one of the reasons that America is obese. Also, I was reading lately that the Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest in the world. Cretans are among the peoples with the best health in the world, apparently.

In fact, prior to 1985 (the ’80s was the decade that Greece became “modern”), I don’t remember anyone in my vicinity to die of cancer. And yet, as time goes by, I hear of cancer for people I know in Greece more and more. In the olden days, that was something very rare. I personally attribute a good chunk of the blame to the food changes. Back in the day I remember myself eating wild or other vegetables, and beans, 6 days out of the 7. We usually had meat every Sunday. Then, the ’80s came, a lot of the EU “free money” was spent (in good and bad ways), and everyone started eating more meat, and more junk products.

Now, don’t get me wrong. We probably had a protein deficiency back then (although some of the vegetables we ate, like wild amaranth, were rich in protein too). But the point remains, I feel that our diet back then was better than what it is now. Less crap in the shelves (hell, there were no shelves).

So in the last few days I tried to create another food pyramid, one that I personally believe is more proper for hommo sapiens (no, I’m not a dietitian or a doctor btw — just a good observer). A pyramid that takes into account the ancient people, and the way they evolved, the new theories about bad carbs (that now are getting proven, I was reading recently), the studies about how good olive oil is, and how I felt way back then, and now. Basically, this food chart is a mix of personal experience & knowledge — which could be way off, but so far, it works for me: I’ve lost weight, and I feel healthier.

Much healthier than my very-low-calorie diet (if you remember that one, which I blogged about it too). At the end of my VLCD I lost half of my hair. And I was always hungry throughout the 3 months I managed to live at 900 calories a day. With this new diet (which is not an actual weight loss diet, but a lifestyle change), I eat like a cow — and I lose weight.

Some clarifications:

– The basic principle is: don’t overdose on anything. Even when we have to eat vegetables every day, have a selection of veggies, not a full plate of the same vegetable. Our progenitors didn’t have a giant broccoli for lunch. They most probably had a bit of this, and a bit of that, whatever they could find. Therefore, we evolved in a way where overdosing EVEN for “good” foods is probably bad for us.

– You noticed that I don’t value wheat/corn products a lot. That’s for two reasons: First, flour products are not exactly natural. You can’t find flour in the wild, you will have to make it, after heavily processing it (and processed food is not very natural). Also, we can get their minerals and vitamins from other sources too. Plus, there’s a high-fiber bran cereal in my chart, which can offer all the vitamins and gluten one needs. I started eating this cereal. It’s very good, except the added aspartame. Alternatively, go for added-fiber wholewheat bread. But avoid pasta — wholewheat of not. Pasta is even more processed, and it’s impossible to eat in small quantities (spaghetti bolognese would look silly without enough pasta in it).

– Regarding animal meat, the best would be eating it only once a week. But I think my JBQ likes his steaks, so it’d be difficult to not cook it more for him. Fish 2-3 times a week is a must though, I’d say.

– Regarding sugary products, e.g. desserts, it’s best to make them yourselves, to ensure that you’re using the best ingredients. Use agave nectar instead of actual sugar, but still, not very often. There’s no better dessert than a fruit salad (add a bit of natural orange juice), or a smoothie (blend frozen fruits, with a little bit of natural orange juice — again, no sugar is required). All the sugar one needs can be found in fruits. So there’s no reason for a lot of added sugar, or its substitutes.

– Raw root vegetables are OK, e.g. carrots. Cooked root vegetables are ok too, but not too often, and not at high doses. E.g. a small potato is ok, but giant jacket potatoes twice+ a week are not. I admit, this is mostly a keep-the-weight-off tactic more than a healthy one though. Root vegetables are not “bad”.

– Dark chocolate is fine (75% of cocoa or above).

Who’s that fat cow on TV?

Last summer I was interviewed by the cable TV show “Visual Crunch” for the HIJK music video “Alibi” (the very first music video I directed, 2008). The show aired tonight, but I was a bit shy to let you know before I actually watched the show myself and see how I looked on it… Well, I looked as fat on it as I’m in real life, not much more, I think. Thankfully, my English panned out pretty well on (the HVX-200) camera too, another one of my fears.

I’d like the thank the band for their kind words though. Meant a lot to me. We’ve already discussed shooting a new music video for their new EP, so I hope we will be shooting soon!

If you’d like to watch the show, here are the re-runs of the specific episode #5. Our segment is on the second part of the show. Check out first if you have access to the MYX channel btw (Channel #368 on Comcast, I believe):

– Feb 19, Friday at 1730 PT/ 2030 ET and 2100PT/ midnight ET
– Feb 20, Saturday at 2000 PT/ 2300 ET
– Feb 22, Monday at 1200 PT/ 1500 ET

My home

This is my mountainous village where I originate from, Skiadas. I lived there from the ages of 2 to 4, and 9 to 12. It’s what I consider home. My father’s house can be seen in the picture too. I can’t believe how easily I was able to run through the climbs to reach other houses when I was a kid. If I would try the same thing today I’d probably die of a heart attack mid-way. My 82 year old grand father doesn’t have a problem with the landscape though, he still pushes through like a teenager. Anyways, I miss my home, I’m just mumbling.

Click picture for a larger view. Picture by Kostas Dimeris

From Wikipedia: Skiadas took that name because the ancient Greek God of the dead, Hades, would sometimes come out of his underworld to seek for some daily light (which its supposed entrance is only a few miles away from Skiadas at the nearby Serziana village — that my mother is from). But because he was sensitive to sun light, he preferred to stay near Skiadas where sun doesn’t shine before 11 AM and there’s lots of shadow (because of a high mountain in front of the village). ‘Skiadas’ means “the shadow of Hades” (in Greek: Σκιά του Άδη).

Skiadas is part of the Souli region, a collection of mountainous and hard-to-reach villages that never succumbed to Turks during the 400 years of Turkish occupation (well, not until a Greek traitor showed the Turks a secret passage). Interestingly, my grand-mother on my father’s side had the same surname as that traitor — a shame that we try to not think too much about in my family. 😉

Music Tastes

Dreaming of a labyrinth

I had a 3-hour nap yesterday, and during that time I had the weirdest dream ever (although I’m known to have adventurous dreams). I saw some gangs that some of its members were hideous monsters, I saw my mom telling me that the little girl that’s part of one of these gangs was my twin sister that I never knew I had. While trying to free her (with… Adam Lambert’s help), I got chased and I had to swim away and fight the bad guys like a ninja.

By the time I got out of the water, the gang boss, none other than Samuel L. Jackson, took away my mother and my sister and he wouldn’t tell me where they were. Myself and some ex-gang members… tortured him, to no avail. Then, another monster comes in, and told us that Jackson has a secret place in his basement, a labyrinth. To get in and out of there without getting lost, you need to be accompanied by a kid that was a twin (and that was the reason he had kidnapped my supposed twin sister as a baby). I decided to go in.

It was an amazing place, and for the first time in a long time I did not realize that I was dreaming. It felt real. Some of it had places where you fall “up”, some of it had floors that would break apart and re-arrange itself, some of it had corridors with doors that monsters would come out and bite you, and the rest had a lot of stolen art, technology and what not. Even Adam Lambert was stashed there, and couldn’t find the exit. I asked him if he saw my mom and sister, he led me to them, and with my excitement for finding them, I woke up. I guess we’ll never know if I was able to lead these trapped people out.

Another weird dream

I had a weird dream this morning (not my first, not my last). I spent the first part of my dream trying to protect a massive octopus, who was apparently a God. He had a book that I kept for him while he was captured by bad humans. There were pictures in it from my genealogy and my village in Greece. I tried not to read its text, but my eye did caught a prophetic verse that was something like this:

10:25 AM to 11:00 AM: Humans are standing up
11:01 AM to 11:04 AM: Humans’ best times
11:05 AM to 11:07 AM: The end of the humans

I felt the need to blog about it, and profess my belief for this octopus God, but at the last moment, my atheist self won out. In fact, my brother could not see him earlier, while I could. I thought that I might be getting crazy, so I gave up to the whole octopus God thing.

I then found myself at my village, between my father’s home and my uncle’s. I was in the middle of the street when I noticed that the sun had become huge, and there was another planet behind it too. It was burning and I could visibly see the fire around it. Suddenly I saw my mother, and I told her to run towards our house to protect ourselves from the solar flares. I tried to find my brother, but there was no time.

Just as we were running towards home, I stopped under a bridge. My mother continued running. I shouted at her to come back, but she continued running. I saw her bursting in flames.

At that point I lost all hope, and I prepared myself for the inevitable. I took some big stones tried to build a quick wall around me, under the bridge. Suddenly, this 40-something guy walks in under the bridge, and unlocks a door that have been there, but couldn’t see before. I followed him in, and there were some stairs, going deep underground.

It became obvious that this was a shelter: there was food, lots of water. Soon, more people arrived. I asked the guy who was he and how did he know about the flares and prepared himself. He said, he was the Octopus God, saving just a few of us. He said that the people that were going to be saved, will instinctively find the door under the bridge.

At this point I started begging him to save my brother. He said that only the chosen ones will be saved. I knew that there was no point arguing about that, so I gave up, and tried to help a few half-burning people that were coming in.

I tried to help a guy lying on the floor, who had been protecting himself with some cloth. I took the cloth away. And it was my brother! He had passed out, but he was not visibly burned. I started shouting at the octopus God to help him!

My heart started pounding fast, and I had trouble breathing seeing my brother lying there not moving. That was when I woke up.

Bigger and better

I just heard Madonna’s new single, “Revolver“. It’s a good song, but it’s not as smart as it could have been. Upon listening to it, I immediately imagined it with a cleaner electronic sound, reduced auto-tune, with traditional Chinese singing/sound at places, and even with some hard guitars at some other spots. In other words, I needed a “bigger” tune that the one released, one that’s more complex musically (one that had many genres combined). Same thing as I like TV shows and films to be like.

And this made me think. What’s with me and “bigger”, “grander”, “more”?

Really, this is a problem. Why the hell I can’t be happy with whatever is being made available to me? Why am I after “more”? Is it because most of the available products/art are indeed “cheap/easy” and mediocre? Or is it because I am thinking too much about the whole thing and don’t let life just flow?

Maybe the answer is in both. Truth is, I am difficult to please. And I just can’t change that. I don’t think I will be finding nirvana any time soon.

A discussion with my husband

JBQ: I am sorry I woke you up this morning, I just wanted to kiss you and tell you that I love you before I leave for work.
Eugenia: Oh, I don’t remember waking up, just very faintly… What did I do?
JBQ: You kissed back, and you told me that you love me too.
Eugenia: Hmm… I didn’t call you Eric or anything, did I?
JBQ: No…
Eugenia: Good.

Regarding weddings

We got married in a French castle. Lavish and all. I am very grateful to my parents in law who paid and took care for everything. That was really amazing on their part, and I can’t thank them enough!

If I could go back in time though, and if it was my decision alone, I would just do the town-hall wedding, with 5-6 of the most closer-to-us guests and be done with it. I just don’t see the point of expensive weddings. “Γαμος τρικουβερτος” my mother says to describe big weddings. And I ask you, why? Why spend a fortune for such a thing, when you can keep the money and educate your future children in a better college? Or buy a house, or a new car?

Sorry, I just don’t see the big deal over the whole wedding thing. I was never one of these women who dream of their wedding day: I picked my wedding dress within 10 minutes, 1 week before the wedding (because I had just arrived in France). Heck, my mother and my mother in law, present at the store that day, couldn’t make their own minds which wedding dress they wanted for me, rather than ME having such a hard time deciding. I just find all that superficial. What really mattered to me was to find my one true love and be with him (which I did). I guess, I like things to be simple, I don’t particularly like formalities.

Then, there’s the other thing: many parents (like my own parents for my brother’s wedding) are pushing for a big wedding because it’s a social status thing. The bigger the wedding, the more “respected” you are as a family man (let alone that my parents divorced 2 years later 😛 😛 ). Well, yeah, that’s cool and all, but thing is, why should the couple be your sacrificing goat? There were people at my brother’s wedding that the couple never met before (e.g. the elected senator for our periphery, that my father invited). At the end, in many such weddings, it’s the parent’s party rather than the kids’.

Some will bring the “have a celebration, bring the two families together”, argument, but I don’t buy it. I had a good time at my wedding, sure, and I am sure the guests did too. But it’s not something I would want to spend thousands of dollars/euros at. Even when calculating-in the wedding gifts, you’ll still be at a great financial loss. Heck, most of the guests are probably going to get so drunk, that they wouldn’t remember whose wedding that was. Case in point, we haven’t watched our wedding video more than once, and I have no clue where our wedding pics are located in our house.

So my advice to you youngsters out there: don’t do a big wedding. Go marry in a town hall with up-to-10 of your closest friends/family, and then, during the next months, just invite over on weekends the rest of the family/friends for barbecues or dinners at your home. This way you will get more personal time with them to talk about your plans and your life together with your new spouse, rather than one big crazy party where everyone’s drunk. That’s what I would do now that I am older and wiser (and if it was my decision, JBQ likes the formalities of a big wedding for example).