Gloomy Thursday (The Grumpiest Monkey’s Breakup Song of the Week)

Let’s face it — breakups make for bad times, but really good music.

There are so many great breakup songs out there that your humble Monkey narrator is feeling compelled to set aside some time each week to share some of his favorites with you.

We’ll start the series with this depressingly lovely gem from the Civil Wars.

As anyone who has been in a relationship that has proved to be both loving and toxic can attest, love can often be like poison and wine. 

Shameless self indulgence, Writing

The Grumpiest Monkey’s Guide to Life Part II

More of the wisdom that I have picked up on the highways and byways of this great land of ours. Feel free to use this advice yourselves, or pass it down to your children during one of those tender bonding moments I’m always seeking on old eighties sitcoms.

  • Renting a vacation home with your parents is a good way to feel like you are 12 years old again (even if you are a full grown Monkey)
  • No matter how close you rent to the beach, the walk back is still too far if you have sandy feet
  • People exercise much soooo more when they are on vacation then when they are at home. Everyone is up and out early jogging, taking walks, riding bikes and doing all sorts of stuff that they must never do the rest of the year. How else can we be the fattest nation on earth?
  • The following activities start off with the best of intentions and a solid game plan, but soon turn into a tangled mess of awkward angles, desperate thrusting and the vain hope that you’ll get the job done without embarrassing yourself 1.) eating a chocolate chip muffin 2.) vacuuming out your car 3.) making love to a woman
  • A car vacuum will be 10x more effective at sucking up the things you don’t want removed from your car (seatbelts, loose change, plastic bags) then it will be at getting up dirt
  • People who drive with their hazard lights on will try to get away with anything. Hazard lights are the roadside equivalent of diplomatic immunity. Need to double park and block in a school bus? Throw on your hazards. Drunk as hell and looking to drive 35 on the highway? Use them hazards. Just shot up some sweet lady H and need a place to nod off? Get behind the wheel and set them hazards a-blinking. No one will bat an eye.
  • Having a $100 a day heroin habit makes it tough to get dates on OK Cupid. Having a $100 a day heron habit, on the other hand, makes you exotic and interesting.

My Top Musical Discoveries of 2012 Thus Far…Or Where Were You When Dubstep Met Kung Fu?

Let’s face it–not all of us can raid the record stores every Tuesday looking for the hottest new releases, nor can we absorb every new album that we hear right away and judge for ourselves whether it is worthy of a top 10 list.

Sometimes we miss a great album when it first comes out only to discover it six months down the line, or stumble across a lost classic that immediately grabs us and becomes part of our everyday listening routine.

So I guess what your humble Monkey is saying is that the following list may not technically qualify as a “best of” list for releases in the calendar year 2012, but a list of the good stuff I have come across this year thus far.

1. The Lumineers, “The Lumineers”

Your Monkey is so glad to see this band’s debut album sitting close to the top of the listening charts on both Rhapsody and Spotify. (Not so glad, however, to have both of their Boston-area concerts sold out before he even knew they were coming).

But this band deserves all the success and respect that they are getting. They crafted an amazing album of American folk music that is timeless and uplifting.

Like Mumford & Sons’ “Sigh No More”, the Lumineers’ self titled debut has enough variety between the songs that they never get repetitive, and yet they all tie together nicely.

To be honest, the one song that clogs up an otherwise superb album is the aptly titled “Slow it Down,” which is the slowest and longest track smack dab in the center of the album. If they had taken a few minutes off of that song and added them to the first track, “Flowers in Your Hair,” we might be talking a Mona Lisa-esque masterpiece.

But enough splitting hairs. Here is an amazing rendition of “Submarines,” the third track on their debut.

2. Plan B — The Defamation of Strickland Banks

Is it a bad sign that the best soul albums that your Monkey has heard over the past few years have all come from white British artists?

Like Amy Winehouse’s powerful debut “Back in Black” called to mind the best of the Supremes, Plan B’s “Defamation of Strickland Banks” has this Monkey thinking back to Marvin Gaye.

But even though it comes from an unexpected source, Plan B’s smooth soulful falsetto, great storytelling and tasteful blend of straight soul and rap/soul hybrid songs make this 2010 album a must listen.

According to the British rock press, Plan B came up as a rapper who wrote about the same frustrated British youth that were behind much of last year’s rioting. The word on the street is that he is planning to return to those roots his next album, the soundtrack to the movie “Ill Manors”, due to be released this month.

(Though again, to be honest, the first single from that new album, “Deepest Shame,” seems a little disappointing. More like watered down r&b than anything else).

But forget about the new album, let’s celebrate the last one.

Dig on this track, which is a good representation of Plan B’s excellent ability to blend rap and soul into one smooth mix.

3. Bassnectar — “Divergent Spectrum”

OK, your Monkey will be the first to admit that he is one of the last primate bloggers to jump on the dubstep bandwagon.

This most recent monkey-music love affair began with the downloading of a few Skrillex tracks, and continued with the discovery of Bassnectar.

Bassnectar is the performing name of DJ and Producer Lorin Ashton (thanks, Wikipedia). His music consists of the high intensity soundscapes that you’ve come to expect from the dubstep genre, but Bassnectar distinguishes himself by being super prolific, making a lot of great sounding noise, and just coming off as a really cool guy.

His Facebook posts are very down to earth, he takes a moment in the middle of each show to take a picture of himself with the audience, and he just seems to be happy with making music, playing shows and discovering the joys of coffee-flavored coconut water.

Compare this easygoing nature to the ridiculously morose look that Radiohead’s Thom Yorke wears during the entire documentary “Meeting People is Easy” and you’ll find yourself liking Bassnectar more and more.

“Divergent Spectrum” is a 2011 album that includes, among other things, a remix of the Gogol Bordella song “Immigraniada” and a remix of the increasingly popular Ellie Goulding dance track “Lights.”

Here is a decidedly non-official video for the “Immigraniada” remix that matches Bassnectar’s remix with classic kung fu footage.

Kung fu and dubstep? It’s like someone sawed open your Monkey’s head and saw exactly what was going on inside.

Shameless self indulgence, Uncategorized, Writing

Do You Suffer From These Embarrassing Conditions?

LST (Low Stink Threshold) — This term applies mainly to t-shirts and towels. It’s a condition where the fabric has taken such a physical beating (either through exercise or frequent wear) that it takes only the slightest bit of moisture, heat or activity to bring out the stink that hides inside like an unwelcome guest.

You can wash the t-shirt or towel and it will smell fine to the untrained nose, but the moment that you put it into action, the stink comes right back out again.

Once a shirt or a towel has developed an LST, I’m afraid the only thing to do is put it out of its misery.

ABS (Adult Onset Awkward Body Syndrome) –-This is a troubling condition that begins during adulthood in which your body develops a permanent awkwardness.

A young man suffering from this affliction finds it very difficult to purchase clothes that fit in the way clothes are supposed to.

Pants tend to sag at the wait, droop in the butt and drag on the ground, or else be too tight at the waist and too narrow at the ankle.

Shirts are too short at the sleeves, too big at the neck, or as long as a tennis dress. Tucking anything in is impossible because the waist is not a static object but a constantly shifting mix of ill-matched skin, bones and fat.

Those who suffer from this condition will often see a new shirt go from fitting properly to looking ridiculous with one washing.

An afflicted person can leave the house in the morning with clothes that fit suitably, only to arrive at work to find that his body has been altered in new and cruel ways during his commute.

What looked like a perfectly fine combination of khakis and a polo shirt back at home now looks more like a halter top and beige tights.

Sadly, there are no charity runs, candy bar fundraisers or weekend-long telethons for Awkward Body Syndrome.

But if we can at least get people talking about it, maybe things will change.

Awareness is the first step toward understanding.


Great Moments in Laundry History

Great Moments in Laundry History

On July 31, 2012, ten pairs of brand new socks gathered for a group photo before their maiden voyage into the washing machine.

Some of them, they knew, would not survive the that first cruel trip into the turbulent waters.

Others would stagger out of the dryer alone and confused, or turn up weeks later wrapped up in a beach towel with no memory of what happened.

All that was clear is that all 10 pairs would never be seen together again.