Friday, January 30, 2009


(Dominican Republic, 2007)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Results Are In

So, it seems 15 out of 20 people read my blog the way I like! That's good news. So, suck it hard, Chad. However, I can't really get past the fact that only 20 people voted. I really thought I had more regular readers than that. I'm going to sulk for a bit.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Google Reader: An Act Against Aesthetics

I had a conversation with my friend Chad yesterday. He told me he follows literally hundreds of blogs and they all feed into his Google Reader each day for his perusal. I told him that every blog I read, I read as it was intended: from the comfort and personalized-beauty of its God given URL. I hate the idea that people only see my blog via Google Reader.

I spend a lot of time laying this mother out. I change my header on a fairly regular basis, almost always coordinating it with my most recent entry. I painstakingly edit photos and their placement on the screen. I, for one, think the way a blog looks informs the content. Like a magazine, the colour and the images, the overall aesthetic, requires that its seen in all its glory.

Please vote above, I am extremely curious to know if all my hard work is going completely unnoticed!

PS: I've become a Tweeter. Twitterer?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Super Downsize Me

So, the search is officially on. Looking to take advantage of Toronto's healthy buyer's market we're finally on the road to home-ownership. Jeff and I both moved out of our parents' houses nearly 10 years ago, and after all these years and all this money flushed down the rental-toilet (close to $150 000 between the two of us! Ack!) we've secured an agent and we're working on our list of priorities.

For me, and not yet in any hard-and-fast order:

1) Outdoor living space.
2) A designated dining room/area.
3) A secondary space to retreat to. A den, a solarium, a second bedroom-cum-office. We're used to a three-level row house with plenty of space to get the hell away from each other, when need be. So, any little corner or nook will have to suffice, but it must exist.
4) The fundamental finishes need to be acceptable. I am happy to paint, pull up some carpet, etc. but I'm not looking to renovate every element of a new condo. I have a real aversion to light floors and terracotta anything. Pedestal sinks annoy me and glass-fronted cabinetry irritates my OCD.
5) Some semblance of storage space.
6) And I really hate it when there's no natural foyer (however small) - Like the image below. It would make me crazy to walk immediately into a living room. I require a front hall closet.

That's it for now. I don't think these 6 things are too much to ask. If I'm going to live in 600 square feet, each inch must make me reasonably happy. The whole thing is terribly exciting - I can't stop daydreaming about decorating a new space. I can't sleep at night, instead I mentally hang silk eggplant drapes and lay FLOR carpet tiles and secure reclaimed wood beams to the walls and . . . I could go on all day. Stay tuned for all the developments.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Leave A Message After The Tone

The world of telecommunication has come a long way, even in my short lifetime. My first memories involve my Grandma's party line. It was the mid-eighties, but this archaic technology made my sister and me feel like Laura Ingalls Wilder. We'd pick up the phone to hear Mrs. Verdoodledonk (actually Verdoold Donk - crazy Dutch people!) chatting to a friend, like sleuths who might uncover a mystery. As I got older, my sister's phone habits were my main concern. I'd stealthily listen-in to her calls, less strategic than I thought, her voice peeling into a shriek from her bedroom. I'd quietly hang up and return to my Lego, as if nothing had happened. Her best friend, Leah, had one of those transparent phones that lit up when a call came in. Every component, each capacitor and wire, visible through the shiny shell. I was so jealous of that phone.

Times have certainly changed where phones are concerned. There was a time I'd leave the house and miss every call. Every invitation to appear on Oprah, every grateful call from Judith Light for my continued support. But this lack of contact didn't seem to bother me or anyone else. A mere 15 years ago we could all manage days and days without an ounce of correspondence of any kind. Now, of course, we can't go 15 minutes without some sort of exchange, an email being pushed or fetched.

We weren't even a Call Waiting household. I never knew the sweet pleasure of smugly telling a 2nd-tier friend: "Hold on, I've got a beep." My parents didn't have an answering machine until the year 2000. And it was just that, a machine. Garbled outgoing messages and a deafening beep! Somehow they've managed without Call Answer.

But I'm not really big into the phone. Once in a while my sister and I can have a doozy of a chat, logging a solid hour while her boys are sleeping. Mainly I use my phone to call Jeff when we're at the grocery store, I in the produce department, he wandering off towards non-perishable canned food items. "Where are you?" I'll ask, "Do we need carrots?"

A few weeks ago I got an iPhone. Nowadays phones can't be just that, they need to take photos, slot our appointments into tidy little calendars, direct us anywhere with their built-in GPS. Where would we be without these gadgets? What if I couldn't play Yahtzee! whenever and wherever I happen to be? I'm not being sarcastic. It is absolutely the best purchase I've made in recent memory. Intuitive and thoughtful, sometimes I think it might actually have a brain or a heart. As you tap on its tiny keyboard it guesses your words, but in a nice way. Not like Microsoft Word, all assumptions and distasteful formatting. And it gets a little warm after several rounds of Pacman.

* * *

One of my greatest memories is of crouching in the hallway listening to my Mom have her bi-monthly catch-up with a girlfriend. Moms are always different while reminiscing. An unfamiliar lightness to her voice, I secretly wished she could always sound so free and easy. I wished she could work less, instead, perhaps, spend a weekday afternoon huddled around a bistro table with her girls, like the cast of Designing Women. My Dad left alone to watch Murder, She Wrote, the kitchen dimly lit, she would laugh and then her voice would drop to a whisper, I'd crane my neck, straining to hear, perhaps I'd bravely peek around the corner to see her toss her hair and take a long draw from her cigarette, gently clinking her spoon against the Corelleware mug. She was unabashedly herself in these moments. I wonder if she knew I was eavesdropping, not really listening - certainly not understanding - only following the carefree lilt in her voice.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

My Playlist

I've been listening to just two things lately: Antony and the Johnsons and Fleet Foxes. I can't really get behind anything else. And I realized something last night: It's a return to musicianship.

I won't hit you over the head with Antony praises, so will focus on the warm and wonderful Fleet Foxes who performed on Saturday Night Live this past weekend. Aside from obsessively listening to everything I can get my hands on, I don't know anything about them. Watching them closely in their ridiculously taut turn on SNL, I imagined them as choir boys, combining their love of choral arrangements with their adoration of Bob Dylan and other greats of the 1970s folk-rock era. They crank out harmonies harder than a Beyonce loop and remind me of a bearded barbershop quintet. While the album is sweeping and rich, Fleet Foxes has gained a loyal following because of their incredible live performance. It's all effortless, headvoices erupting gently atop banjo licks and thumping drums. Click that link above to see what I mean.

Listening to them, I get the same feeling I do from Antony - a borderline religious experience, like church music. Typically lyrics are integral to my enjoyment of a song, but these two artists in particular create sounds that transcend words.

Their first full-length opens with a bluegrassy a capella introduction to the song "Sun It Rises". Vocals layer upon each other until the song ends up in some kind of gorgeous jam session. Each song has that live off the floor sort of feeling, not a series of private recordings mixed together on a Mac, but rather a performance caught on tape. Whether or not it is that, it reads that way, which is enough for me. Each song is dynamic and thorough, the forty minute album seemingly sapping every ounce of worth from every element on the record, each guitar and vocal scrutinized as if by a clever CSI. Because of this, you want to listen again and again to catch and absorb every tempo shift, every key change, every mid-song swell and every quiet whisper. Perfect for the deep-freeze, snag this album.

UPDATE: Jory brought this incredible performance to my attention. As he says, the real magic begins at about 2:30. Watch!

Trimming My Bush

The world officially changed hands yesterday. In the most charged-up inauguration I've ever seen, the man everyone feels comfortable calling "Barack" became President Obama in front of record numbers. It was all terribly exciting.

In recent years we've heard many exasperated Americans say they want to hop the border and become something better, something Canadian. Wrapped in Anderson Cooper's warm embrace, watching the highly-anticipated ceremony, I felt, for the first time, what they meant: I kinda wanted to be an American. Perhaps it's just pop culture run amok, but the Office of the President of the United States crosses borders; he's not just the Commander in Chief (god I miss that show; sweet, sweet Geena Davis) to a select few 300 million, but truly the leader of the free world. For the past 8 years or so, it's been a bone of contention, but today I feel very buzz-wordy. I feel very hopeful.

Not since JFK and Jackie stylishly ruled the roost has there been a young, vibrant couple in this position. And who doesn't like two beautiful first children in the White House? Malia and Sasha will grow up before our eyes, which we haven't really seen since Chelsea Clinton publicly shook the teenage-uglies. Unlike the former administration, these people actually represent something. They're not members of any old school boys' clubs, they're not old money. They haven't been groomed since birth to perform these duties. For all intents and purposes, they are normal people. They seem to share our values.

What I like most about President Obama is the sarcastic glint in his eye. I bet he's an eye-roller in meetings. I bet he'll sigh impatiently when someone is wasting his time. Not that he doesn't seem like a decent and lovely man - I, for one, enjoy a well-placed and biting flash of arrogance. His inaugural speech was cutting in all the right ways; he raked Bush over the coals by way of subtle and passive aggressive implications. I love the boldness in standing three feet from the man who dug America's grave, stating that his administration will allow America to "lead once more". If CNN had been more vindictive, they might have cut to Bush squirming in his chair.

And I love the new First Lady. I love how she's a bit awkward in a skirt, a little uncomfortable in a gown. I like that you could see her biting her cheeks when Chief Justice John Roberts flubbed the Oath of Office, trying not to laugh out loud at her husband's floundering, a clenched smile forming. She's not a wall flower, not a mindless figurehead interested only in hosting brunches. She's a modern woman, seems a bit brassy, down to earth, no one's political accessory. And what a couple. Equals, even in physical stature, they probably have giggle fits in bed watching their TiVo'd 30 Rock, the girls asleep down the hall.

In his speech President Obama spoke of "the price and promise of citizenship", calling out for a renewed sense of individual responsibility to the nation and to our fellow Americans - Oh, wait, I did it again. There's just something about him, something so diametrically opposed to the hooligan we've dealt with for these many years, something that makes him everyone's leader, a man who makes me proud to live in this time in history. The world changed hands and I feel hope.

I've Got It!

Since the birdcage is finished, I need a new project. I have a thing for warm grey (sorry, Benjamin Moore, I'm Canadian.) Give it to me in a sweater, a slim pant or a chalky wall paint. I'm thinking a wall in the living room could handle a sprucing-up. Being a rental, the entire house is the same shade of beige. Thankfully, it's a very liveable, warm beige, not verging on peach or yellow. But it's certainly not dramatic or particularly interesting.

Gettysburg looks like it'll play nice with the existing colours, especially the yellow tufted chair. I've never been one to experiment with paint colours, having not yet owned any property, but I think it's something I could really get behind.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Damaged Goods, Indeed

Much to my disappointment, Season 2 of Damages aired on Showcase this week. Yes, I said disappointment. I've written about the show several times. How water-tight and gripping it is. How well-written and brilliantly performed. Glenn Close, I mean, come on, she's a genius.

But something has happened. I won't give up easily, let me tell you, but the premiere episode was appallingly bad. From a technical standpoint, they've changed the way it's filmed, which would be fine if it was an improvement. It's not. It's flat and cheap looking. The storyline was slower than former president George W. Bush (I just wanted to say former! Tee-hee!!) and the writing was cheesy and predictable.

What has happened?!

Could a show that literally blew my mind have been a one-hit wonder? Is it hitting the skids, a sophmore slump the scale of which not seen since MC Hammer? I have to wonder: Is something that good impossible to repeat? Can lightning only strike once?

A couple of years ago Jeff and I spent these cold January nights watching Season 1 of 24. And we got wrapped up in it. We'd watch four or five episodes in one night, like a good book, impossibly hard to put down. And everything seemed fine. Until hour 23.

I'm a stickler for accuracy. I can suspend my disbelief with the best of them, I mean, James Bond movies are some of my favourites. But I can't stand faulty storylines or implausabley-plausable situations (See: M. Night Shayamalan's entire body of work). If it can't work, it just can't work. And in Hour 23 of 24 the whole thing fell apart.

Nina Myers is that leaky linchpin. If she's the secret bad apple, please don't show us scenes throughout hours 1 to 22 of a seemingly good Nina in private moments. In them we are sure to see the truth, no? NO ONE ELSE IS THERE! Why would she continue to play the part of loyal and trusted ally to no one?! It makes me crazy! The Oliver Stone School of Filmmaking is a crock! Shut it down!


I'm afraid of this kind of disappointment. I want Episode 2 to turn on its heels and get back to business. No more hacky writing, no more lifeless cinematography, and if there's any goodness in the world, there will be no more Regis and Kelly! My final plea: Enough with hair growing at the rate of a pregnant teenager! How many times can Glenn Close tell us its been "a month" since the last season ended, and yet, her hair has grown 9 inches! Patty Hewes is post-menopausal, she's lucky she's not bald!

Seacrest, out.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Not Starring Robin Williams

The birdcage is done. It went from a spinster's honey-coloured dream to a quirky and elegant fixture in a boring little corner of our dining room. While we were in New York, Jeff spotted a lighting shop with all the things we needed. At the corner of Broadway and Broome in Soho this place has every bulb option you could ever want. We got two Edison bulbs, a fanastic chrome socket, a plug and several feet of black braided wire that hides within the intricate metalwork. We picked up some shiny greenish-brass chain from our local Canadian Tire store and threw the whole thing together last night. It casts lovely shadows on the walls and adds a certain warmth and organic quality the room was lacking before. (Full disclosure: Photoshop was used to eliminate a dangling wire below the cage. The lamp couldn't be hardwired so it's a necessary evil, but not one that needed to be showcased here.)

And so another little project is done. Which means I'm hot on the trail of a new one.

Obsessed With Yellow Trench Coats

(Image from

My One Year Blogiversary

It's been one year. I started this blog on a whim, anxious for a place to churn out some thoughts. The idea was to focus on lovely things: interior design, food, clothes, pop culture. I've been fairly loyal to that notion, going off-topic here and there. I've received nearly 10 000 hits from all over the world: Spain and Portugal, Australia, China, Brazil, bits of the Middle East and all parts of the United States. Someone who works at TV Guide in New York and someone at Coca Cola in Atlanta. Stranger-friends from Utah and Washington D.C. have come out of the shadows while others lurk quietly, some logging hours in the middle of the night, according to my trusty Site Meter. But then there are things Google Analytics can't tell you. My life partner has recently admitted to "skimming" and my dear Natasha stated boldly: "Well, if you think there's something I'd be interested in reading, let me know." I'm glad my nearest and dearest find me so compelling. Anyway.

My first post was all about my living room. The things I hoped to change, the things I liked. It hasn't changed too drastically, but I've refined the room and it makes me happy to walk through my front door. I'll call that success. I've acquired new chairs, new lamps, new accessories. I've moved things around a bit. The white rug expired after a run in with a muddy stilleto-clad low-budget background performer (don't ask) and the CDs are neatly catalogued. Two new chairs and various lamps you've heard enough about round it out. I'd hoped to lessen the Ikea effect: mission accomplished.

There are other bits and bobs accumulated this year I'm particularly pleased with. A few new globes (the most recent on the far right, even smaller than the others, its metal base different too. $10 at the St. Lawrence Market) an old photo of Jeff's Dad we acquired from the house and Jeff's complete set of Shakespearean dramas. They're tiny, like Beatrix Potter books, and a deep orangey-red. The yellow chair still makes my head spin ($30!) and the coffee table has been well-worth the $6.29 we paid for it last summer. I found the kitchen stools at an antique shop in Collingwood, all four for $50. A real steal. (Click to enlarge the image.) All told, the things that have made our house a home haven't cost much at all. As much as I love logging hours and days on high-end design sites, it's the cheap little treasures that really make the difference.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg

Molly Wizenberg, blogger and all-around delightful human, is living the dream of many. She parlayed her online musings into a book deal and is set for release on March 3. I've mentioned her before and have been an avid reader for quite some time. Her recipes are high-impact and delicious, her stories too. This book would be a great gift for your technologically-retarded mother, aunt, gay uncle, or anyone who doesn't frequent the blogosphere. Wholesome without being saccharine, she warms the heart and the stomach.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Clothed for Business

I'm a bit obsessed with clothes since being in New York. I'd like to offer a couple of fantastic websites for your perusal. I love the newish trend of shops having blogs - They can keep things up-to-date and fresh all the time. These two are particularly well-managed with great content, photos and lots of detail.

The images above are from the first one: It's more of an editorial blog, culling together trends and designers and boutiques from all over the world. Be warned: It's gonna make you want to redefine your personal style with each and every click. This site also includes bits on music, art and pop culture in general.

The second is a men's clothing store out of Seattle, Washington called Blackbird. They hock their own goods from a variety of designers and sources in their online store and also have a really great blog, showcasing new items all the time with lots of detail shots, so sharp you'd think you were feeling the material in the showroom. The yellow trench to the right makes me quiver. I want it so bad.

Unfortunately, these sources don't offer much in the way of cheap, so I won't be doing any online shopping, that's for sure. The inspiration and sartorial eye candy are enough to satisfy. For now.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Antony and the Johnsons: Furthermore

"The Crying Light is dedicated to the great dancer Kazuo Ohno. In performance I watched him cast a circle of light upon the stage, and step into that circle, and reveal the dreams and reveries of his heart. He seemed to dance in the eye of something mysterious and creative; with every gesture he embodied the child and the feminine divine. He's kind of like my art parent." - Antony Hegarty

I'm beside myself with excitement. On February 17th we'll see Antony and the Johnsons in concert for the first time. Their new album, The Crying Light, has played constantly since I got it two weeks ago. I can't wait to hear these songs live. A perfect next-step, the album carries on where I Am a Bird Now left off, though from a slightly different perspective. Less introspective, more epic, the new record covers a lot of terrain, both thematically and sonically. Each song told like an old-timey fable, there's something very Creature From the Black Lagoon about it.

In fact, at times, the album sounds like a film score. Through headphones you hear all the sweeping strings and grand arrangements, particularly beautiful are the clarinets, an instrument so rarely featured. Countering the opulence of the music, of course, Antony's intimate vocals cruise along the top. As it does, in small doses throughout their catalogue, his voice grows and gets real big on a couple of tracks, notably "Aeon", a personal album highlight. It's reminiscent of an 80s era Sinead O'Connor song I can't quite place, and, if you know me, that's a very good thing. Hot on the heels of this beauty is "Dust and Water"; one blends into the next, becoming almost a prayer. A gentle drone beneath Antony's gorgeous, flitting vocals. I find the entire thing extremely hypnotic and can't help but track back to the beginning to hear it all again.

There's nothing quite like undisappointment. When new work comes but every three years, the chance that it won't live up to the expectation is high. But when it does, when it exceeds those hopes, you realize another album has made it into the slow-growing pile of music you'll be listening to forever.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I Heart NY

I'm back from a fantastic mini-break in New York City. There's really something about that place. Just saying the words "39th and Lexington" makes my heart skip a beat. Walking the aisles of Saks 5th Avenue causes my breath to shorten and my vision to blur. Brunch on the Lower East Side, dinner in midtown, drinks in the Meatpacking District. Every moment is magical as if plucked from the movies.

In an effort to be fiscally responsible, Jeff and I drove while our friends flew. Engine lights and snow squalls notwithstanding, the journey was good. I didn't even fall asleep! I stood by my man, the only one in this marriage with a valid drivers' license, and kept the music and audiobooks flowing. I organized the strangely embossed coins for the various tolls and had our passports at-the-ready. I, for one, enjoy a road-trip. Staying on the ground gives you a real perspective, unlike flying or getting on a subway. Watching the GPS system weave and dip through upstate New York, a corner of Pennsylvania, and a hint of New Jersey creates anticipation. Eight hours worth of it.

After checking-in at the lovely W Tuscany, our first stop was a taping of David Letterman. The guest: Kate Winslet. OMG. The whole experience was odd, to say the least. A bit of the television magic goes away when you see everything happening there before you. And the only thing I could think was: "How offensive that this woman holds the ill-begotten title of World's Fattest Hollywood Actress." She is this big. Teensy tiny. Petite and fine-featured, whispy, even. How very dare we, as a people, pin this to her! Outrageous! Anyway, the whole thing was clearly business, a real lack of connection between the two when cameras were off, all PR and contractual obligation. At the end of the interview, Letterman said his charming good byes, kissed a hand, threw to commercial, then turned away from her to flip through some papers as she scurried off stage alone. It just seemed so icy. I guess I was naive to think it was anything else.

Another spectacular outing was a performance of Spring Awakening. Closing on January 18th, Hunter Parish (from Weeds) took over the lead role a few months back. He's magnificent. Not pretty-good-for-a-TV-actor good, but legitimately, impressively good. I've known the music for quite some time, but was surprised by a lot of plot points avoided on the cast recording. It was moving and hilarious and exquisitely performed. The touring production opens here in March - get tickets, you won't be disappointed.

Really putting things over the top, a disaster turned into magic. On Friday afternoon we heard a strange dripping sort of noise from our hotel washroom. The ceiling was leaking, more rapidly by the second. The manager of the hotel moved us to a suite (700 square feet, a living room, spacious closets! A dream!) across the hall. What luck that the woman upstairs had let her bathtub run over!

I'll resist a weekend play-by-play, but do want to leave a few strong recommendations. We did more shopping than we'd planned. It seems Canadian retailers are clinical hoarders - we don't want to let anything go. But America knows how to mark shit down. They want it gone so slash the prices by (sometimes) 75%. I bought the ties pictured below for $8 each at a New Jersey J.C. Penneys. Doin' it right, indeed.

The Stanton Social
99 Stanton Street 212.995.0099
A cool lounge with great tapas and cocktails. Make a reservation. Open late.

The Smith
55 3rd Avenue
A relaxed, trendy eatery. We had Sunday brunch. Fast, excellent service. Make a reservation.

85 10th Avenue 212.400.6699
I missed this meal due to an under-the-weather situation, but the five others we traveled with agreed it was the "best meal they'd ever had". Tom Collichio (of Top Chef) offers impeccable service, great atmosphere, and brilliant steak.

Spice Market
403 W. 10th Street
A really cool place - huge! - with great food. Our group did the 6 course tasting menu, which was incredible. At only $48 per person, a ridiculous deal too. The beef skewers were worth that much on their own.


89 Spring Street

I got the shoes pictured below at this little shop. Because I'm deeply in love with the shoes, I must recommend the store. You might find your own sole-mates there. The 50% off sale didn't hurt and these teal-leather-lined beauties were a steal.

Ben Sherman in Soho

96 Spring Street

If you like Ben Sherman, you must go to this location. The staff is amazing and the sales are better. Jeff replaced his wardrobe for next to nothing.

34th and Broadway
This tacky store offers some great deals if you feel like searching. I got two pairs of adorable PF Flyers for almost nothing.

The best and cheapest time to go to New York is now - Not only are hotel rates rock-bottom, but the post-holiday sales are crazy. Sure, it's cold, but you hardly notice when every moment feels like b-roll footage from the Sex and the City Movie.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Out of the Office

(Broadway and 34th, January 2007)

Friday, January 2, 2009

A Change Would Do You Good

Lots of designer-types recommend some sort of change-up throughout the year, be it seasonally-appropriate throw cushions on the sofa or the occasional art swap, keeping your walls fresh all year long. I've always been the type to work a room until it's perfect, have it hermetically sealed to maintain said-perfection, and change it only when I move. So, let's call it a New Year's Resolution: I'm going to loosen up and change things on a whim! It's mostly because I've accumulated too much stuff, too many treasures. Simply too many chairs and lamps and decorative baubles; I can't give any of them up, so must find a way to enjoy them all.

Since playing around with my new lamps it seems I love them with the shades I bought for these lamps. The new ones feel a bit wintery, a bit moody. The greenish-grey (technically "Silver Sage") shades play well with the worn brassy finish. The new lamps are quite a bit taller which divides the living room from the dining room even more dramatically. And my monkey finials work perfectly! Alternately, the lovely white marble lamps feel fresh and summery. So why not switch them out? Below, for your interest, a comparison image. For now, the brass will stay. When the winds change, so will the lighting!

The same goes for my table tops. I recently accumulated an assortment of balls for Christmas. Miniature globes from Restoration Hardware, various others from a friend. I found this giant round basket in a junk shop a couple of years ago and have never really found a great use for it. It's mostly been employed as a bread basket for summer BBQs. It deserves more than hamburger buns. So, here it sits on our dining room table, but only for a while. When the mood strikes I'll take it to another room and replace it with something else. A change will do me good.

The Crying Light

I'm having one of those moments that happen just a few times a year. The utter excitement and anticipation of a new release from a favourite artist. The kind that makes your stomach hurt, knotted and twisted wishing you could have the whole thing in your ears immediately.

Antony and the Johnsons release their new album, The Crying Light, in just a couple of weeks. A few days ago, while I was off the radar with the family, the album leaked but was pounced upon by record executives. I missed my chance. After endless searching, I found a place to stream clips of the new songs, but this only makes it hurt worse. Take a listen and let your anticipation build.

What I can tell from the clips is that we're in for the same lush and spooky arrangements we're used to but something I can't quite put a finger on. too I think it's commercialism, but in a good way. A&tJ's first album was a crazy musical romp with songs like "Hitler in My Heart" and "Cripple and the Starfish". It was loud and wild and mildly unfocused with ultra-creepy cover art. With growing fame, maturity, and a Mercury Prize under their belts, their work has settled into itself leaving behind some of the flagrant quirkiness and affectation but maintaining the artistry and integrity.

Look into it. I know I won't be disappointed.