Guest Post by Josh!

Today is a guest post by Josh.  He’s compiled a list of, well…inappropriate (?) songs that are surprisingly popular given their dark subject matter.  I suppose it could be titled, “Inappropriate Radio Jams: A Showcase of Josh Lemay’s Knowledge of Absurd Pop Culture”.  I am very grateful that he has provided me with some blogging material, because I’m up to my eyeballs in homework right now.  Thanks Josh!

Inspired by a conversation about Andrea’s favorite misinterpreted songs, I told her I was going to come up with a list and she could post it on her blog. I have a (however prone to data loss and corruption) veritable database of movies, television and music stored in those spaces where I should have kept the foreign languages and math I never learned. How many opportunities do I really have to put it to some (however trivial) use?

So, here is my list of commonly misunderstood/misinterpreted pop songs. Some are pop the genre and some are pop only by virtue of being popular. I don’t even recommend all of these songs, they just happen to be the best representation of this phenomenon I can think of. Without further ado, in no discernible order, I present to you, a list:


Norwegian Wood:  I thought I would start us off with something classic.  This massively popular Beatles track is remembered for being the first use of sitar in western pop music.  Frequently overlooked is the fact that not only is the song inspired by an affair John was having, but also that after the woman in question fails to give up the goods to our protagonist, he promptly burns down her house.  The name is a reference to the cheap pine that was evidently all the rage in decorating and the hypothetical girl whose home was adorned in it. Moral of the story: John Lennon is not the kind of guy to force himself on a woman when she says no, ’cause that would just be wrong.


She Bop:

You probably know by now, it’s about female masturbation.  Cyndi Lauper wants you to know it’s ok to double click the mouse.  She also wants you to dance about it.


Semi-Charmed Life:  Third Eye Blind bring us the first of our entires that I don’t really like.  Really, it’s not a terrible song, but it played day in and day out for all of the summer before I was in eighth grade.  So yeah, in case you didn’t get the memo: Crystal Meth is kind of a problem for people.  I suppose not everyone, but for many folks it’s a drug they will literally scratch their face off for (or is that figurative since the scratching is because and not in order to?  Hmm.)  Well, in any case, if you ever heard it on MTV or the radio, they censor entire lines of each verse due to drug reference. By the end of the song it all ends up sounding like O.D.B.’s guest verse on Blackstreet’s The Fix, where you sit there wondering what the hell he could have even said behind all the bleeps and blank spaces.


He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss): Ok, so maybe this one is less misunderstood as it is surprising that it was popular.  Anyway, this one time Gerry Goffin and Carol King (yes that Carol King) found out that singer Little Eva (who was the first artist to ever record The Loco-Motion) was being regularly beaten by her boyfriend.  When they asked why she was still with him, she replied that the beatings meant that he loved her.  They were thoroughly freaked out and proceeded to write a bitterly satyrical song about it.  The title really says it all, but if for any reason you are doubtful let me give you another quote: “If he didn’t care for me, I could have never made him mad. but he hit me, and I was glad.”  The popular cover by Grizzly Bear is worth your time, a less popular cover by Hole is not, and the original Phil Spector recording of The Crystals is possibly perfect.


99 Luftballons: Nena’s Cold War inspired song is about red balloons floating from Germany into Russia, being misunderstood as enemy planes and causing a nuclear holocaust.  I’m not even kidding, that is seriously what it is about.



So I could have included most of the hit songs recorded by The Police, but the obvious choice was Every Breath You Take AKA the stalker song.  Instead of that, I went with the love song about a whore.  Honestly I like the sentiment and I like that by now many people know what it’s about.  If you’re skeptical about its misunderstood factor, I can tell you right now people like my mother have no clue what Sting is saying and couldn’t care less.


Crash Into Me – It’s like a Prince sex jam written by an eleven year old.  Not only do I not know how it ever became popular, I can’t even figure out how Dave Matthews avoids having to pay for sex after people hear this song.  I imagine the way I feel when listening to this song is the way all those people on that boat felt when the DMB bus driver emptied the tour bus septic tank all over them.


Born in the USA: If there ever was a contender for the “Every Breath You Take” misunderstood world title, it is this, the most famous of jams by The Boss.  I am including it in this list because: It is the only politically misunderstood song on the list.  Like many Springsteen tunes, I like the concept better than the execution (but boy do I like the concept.)  Lastly, because Andrea loves the Boss.  So yeah, a song about becoming disenfranchised and losing connection with the American dream became the theme song for Ronald Regan.  ‘Nuff Said.


M.A.S.H. Theme (Suicide is Painless):

“The game of life is hard to play, I’m gonna lose it anyway.  The losing card I’ll someday lay, so this is all I have to say: suicide is painless”.  Those are some of the lyrics from one of my mother’s favorite shows.  The thousand times you flicked past this on any one of the million channels that show M.A.S.H. reruns, you never knew that the song behind that instrumental is brutal (and well harmonized).  I told Andrea about this one ahead of the actual composition of this entry and she told me to profess her undying love of Alan Alda somewhere in the post.  I would like to qualify that by saying it is in fact our love of Alan Alda that is undying.  May he live forever, and may we both someday get to hang out with him.


Excitable Boy:  When I said there was no order I lied.  I saved the best for last.  This is the song I think of when I think of a list like this.  This is the tops for me.  It is my favorite song on the list and it is probably the most fucked up.  He rapes and kills his prom date, then he digs up her bones years later.  All the while thousands of fans do the classic rock bop in a sold out arena.  Warren Zevon is an un-neutered Springsteen.  While The Boss writes a dope lyric about Vietnam, he still shies away from songs about horrible murder.  Take away some of the epic grandeur of Springsteen and also remove any real sense that one could possibly give a fuck about selling records and you have Mr. Zevon. His most popular song is called Werewolves of London for shit’s sake, the man could care less if you listen or not.


Honorable Mention: Better Off Dead – Bill Withers writes from the heart, or the gut perhaps, if I’m honest.  Some of his lyrics are a bit simple, but they are never trite or disingenuous.  I include this track as a bonus because, much like He Hit Me, the song is not so much misunderstood as it is surprisingly harsh for a pop track. “Now I must die by my own hand, ’cause I’m not man enough to live alone” sings our protagonist, after his drinking damages his lover’s life enough for her to leave.  We hear the downward spiral slowly churn and the track ends mid line with a bang.


Thus concludes Josh’s guest post.  Walkabout Wednesday pictures will be posted tomorrow!

Where did all of our leftovers go!?

I’m still reeling from the amount of mashed potatoes and pie I gorged myself on during Thanksgiving dinner.  We had a very relaxed meal with just five of us: my parents, my brother, Teddy, and myself.  We certainly don’t stand on ceremony for our little gatherings, so you’ll notice paper napkins and buffet-style dining in the following pictures that chronicle my holiday.


1) My parents’ overly dusty record player spinning some Tony Bennett, chosen wisely by my brother.  2) Teddy waiting for food to “fall” because that is a phenomenon that happens quite frequently when he’s sitting at my mother’s feet.  3) The Tony Bennett record was to represent our Italian heritage, the Jameson celebrated our Irish roots.  4) See these dinner rolls?  They’re my new favorite way to eat butter.  5) We made Grandma’s delicious yam recipe, knowing it could never be as good as hers.  6) Our humble table.  7) Kazilionis chow-down!

I’m eternally thankful for the simple holiday celebrations that my family prefers.  There were once great days when we spent Thanksgivings crammed into my Nana and Grandpa’s stuffy, dusty apartment with aunts, uncles, cousins, et al.  I very much miss my days of being escorted to the Nathan Clifford schoolyard by my grandpa after Thanksgiving dinner.  However, seeing that I can no longer celebrate my holidays with my once-plentiful family, I’m content having small, relaxing celebrations with my parents and brother.  (But boy, what I wouldn’t give to nibble on chocolate pie in my grandparents’ kitchen while my grandpa washed the dishes in his khakis and a gray sweatshirt.  Those were some days).

“Looks like Neal Dow was just here!”

A few weekends ago, Josh and I took a docent guided tour at Portland’s Evergreen Cemetery.  The weather was idyllically cool and windy – perfect for a November stroll in the graveyard.  There were lots of brown leaves to crunch around in, and we saw a dog in a wheelchair (sort of like real life Cute or Sad? on  I was thoroughly impressed with the breadth of our guide’s knowledge – she had researched most of the stops on the tour independently due to personal interest.  Furthermore, several people on the tour offered up their own knowledge of local history to the group.  It was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.


1) Waiting for the tour to begin.  2) Hanging out near Neal Dow’s resting place.  3) This was our first stop on the tour, a headstone made of “white bronze” (zinc).  4) As we learned from our guide, the broken stem on this rose is symbolic of an infant death.  5) The massive Chisholm Tomb, complete with Tiffany stained glass window.  6) Apparently, the man buried here was exceedingly philanthropic and kind.

Today I baked Thanksgiving snacks with my mom and brother.  I’m pretty thrilled about all of the homemade food we’ll be consuming tomorrow (and the day after that, and so on).  I have pictures from the preparation, but will wait to post them with my Thanksgiving shots.  Hope everyone has a happy holiday!

How to Have a Cozy Weekend: Part I

I’m so busy with course work right now that I can’t seem to wrap my little head around anything else.  No cleaning, no cooking, no socializing: just homework.  Wuh-wuh, am I right?  But the semester is almost through, and I’ve been taking steps to make my academically infused weekends a bit more enjoyable.

Step One: Lots of Teddy cuddle time.  He’s the only dog I’ve ever known who begs not only for food, but cuddles as well.  Every morning he waits for Josh and I to wake up, then crawls up to the head of the bed for hugs and kisses.  I know that the majority of the world would be disgusted by how demonstrative I am with my dog, but he and I are two peas in an over-affectionate pod.

Step Two: Healthy comfort food.  I’m great at eating pizza until I can’t move, but food comas are no great help when trying to study.  I par-boiled this broccoli, then Josh made a light cheese sauce to accompany.  Delicious and much better for me than the chocolates I had been planning to eat for lunch that day.

Step Three: Perfectly appropriate music for the season.  Федор Шаляпин (Feodor Shalyapin) is my musician of choice right now.  I first happened upon him after my Russian professor asked our class to research Russian musicians.  His bass voice is phenomenally powerful and I want to listen to him sing all day, every day.  Шаляпин is ideal for listening to while doing Russian homework, as I’m very much motivated by my desire to know what he’s singing.

Speaking of excessive schoolwork, it looks like I’ll be keeping my nose in the books for a while longer than I had planned.  The big, exciting decision I mentioned?  I’ve chosen to leave my current major, history, to study Russian.  I had been planning to focus my studies in the history of Eastern Europe, but through taking a Russian language course have found that I want to explore so much more than history.  I hope to immerse myself in Russian culture, history, language, literature.  I’m not sure what this means for my studies at USM (my current school) because our Russian Studies major is self designed and there’s barely the department or faculty to support it.  I’ve been browsing college websites for the past several days and will soon be conducting research to find out what schools offer the best programs.  (Vladimir Nabokov founded the Russian Studies department at Wellesley!?  You bet.)

It’s frustrating to be getting such a late start on serious academia, but I’m less interested in the timeline and more concerned with eventual mastery of a subject matter that I’m passionate about.  I will spend every minute of the damn day practicing my cyrillic script and studying changing stress patterns if I must because, damnit, I want this!  I want it so bad, and it’s taken me years to find the drive I’m feeling now.

Phew.  Ok.  End nerd rant.  I am excited but now need to go study this stuff instead of writing about it here.  Thanksgiving menu post will happen in the next couple of days, and I have a beautiful walk to share for Wednesday.  Hope everyone is having a swell weekend and staying warm!

Finally Friday

After writing about the deliciousness of Bintliff’s yesterday, I woke up with an intense craving for their special brand of breakfast.  Josh and I headed there this morning for the first time in a while and, as usual, were not disappointed.

Later we went home and I played with the camera…

I made some important decisions about my education and life this week.  I’ll talk all about them tomorrow, because I’m really excited!

A Pause to Give Thanks

Sometimes I get pretty down on my home state.  When a person is stuck in any one place for long enough, it’s difficult not to get bored and frustrated.  I can’t step foot outside without running into a former employer, classmate, or teacher (occasionally these are fantastic occurrences and I am overjoyed to be reunited with a long-lost-whomever, but sometimes not).  I won’t even breach the topic of ex-boyfriends, because in a city this small mine are everywhere (as are the exes of all my dearest friends, creating entirely different awkward situations).  Is it obvious that I’m feeling a bit cooped up this supposed seaside haven?

There were times when I relished the natural beauty and ease of living in Maine.  Most of those times were directly following the year I spent living in Boston – because Massachusetts smells bad and geese shit all over literally everything there.  It’s Thanksgiving time and I’m supposed to recall all that I’m grateful for.  My list is pretty straightforward – Josh, Teddy and Milo, family and friends, pizza, the right to an education, miniature animals.  (Y’know, the important stuff.)  But I was somehow prompted to start considering things that I take for granted – and Portland, Maine is certainly one of those things.  Our license plates claim this to be “Vacationland”, and while the current politics and economy are lousy, I can still appreciate what it means to be from and live in the state of Maine.

So here it is, my absolutely random list of ten reason I love my home:

1) Big Al’s Super Values: The Odd Lot Outlet

I’m starting this list off by getting real about the best thing in Maine.  Big Al – and yes, he exists – is notorious in Southern Maine for presenting his formidable figure in a white tiger t-shirt and giant suspenders for the store’s commercials.  Big Al’s is like a mini-Marden’s (another local purveyor of items that likely fell from the backs of trucks).  There are lots of Maine-centric items, but also several aisles of discount greeting cards, craft supplies, and toys.  You can find oddities ranging from holiday themed housewares to singing, pizza-whirling figurines of Italian men in aprons.  The spread at Al’s is remarkable.  It’s not far from Portland – a short drive up Route 1 to Wiscasset – and there’s a worthwhile diner nearby that serves giant pancakes.  Absolutely worth a trip (or ten), and a place I’m entirely grateful for.

2) Haven’s Candies

So, Portland’s food is kind of a big deal.  We have all sorts of restaurants that collect flawless reviews and the seafood here is special, or something.  I appreciate the variety of local food options, but when I desire sweets it’s Haven’s I head to.  I grew up on their locally-made candy canes and nonpareils, each of my Easter baskets filled to the brim with Haven’s chocolates.  The place is pretty important for someone with a sweet tooth like mine.  Recently, Josh and I attended the Haven’s Open House, held at their retail store/factory combo on Route 22 heading towards Westbrook.  We, with about 50 school-aged children, got to watch how certain confections are made and were sent home with lots of free treats.  Whenever I move away from Maine, I will sorely miss my favorite candy shop.

3) L.L. Bean

Obvious and not original whatsoever, I know.  That’s irrelevant because L.L. Bean is great.  The mammoth outdoor living compound stretches across downtown Freeport, Maine.  People from all over the United States (and perhaps all of the world!!?) order products from the company’s famed mail order catalogue.  I wonder how many of those customers know that the L.L. Bean store is open 24 hours a day?  For young Andrea, the option of having anywhere to spend my insomnia-riddled nights was a triumph.  Friends and I conducted lengthy games of hide-and-seek there and marveled at the indoor trout pond in the middle of many nights.  I live in a place where every single store is closed by 9:00PM, so having an enormous indoor playground be open all of the time is a big plus.

4) Portland Trails

I can’t speak to the trail systems in other cities, but the people of Portland Trails provide Teddy and I lots of options for local walks.  There are so many winding paths in the hidden parts of Portland.  I would lose my mind if I didn’t have access to some wooded places to explore.  The group has 30 trails listed on their website, and I think I’ve traversed almost all of them.

5) Portland Metro Route #4

Oh, #4 bus, how I love you.  I once resided just outside of Portland in the town of Westbrook.  Out of boredom and curiosity, combined with a desire to cut down on personal vehicular travel, a friend and I would hop on the #4 bus and venture into Portland.  I have overheard some pretty racy conversations on that bus (“…and I told him I was gonna burn his fuckin’ house down if he didn’t buy me that beer!”).  It’s also quite slow, because it makes so many stops and takes such a circuitous route.  Perhaps because I’d never really ridden busses before the #4, or perhaps because the characters encountered on each ride were so hilarious and talkative, but either way I have never had as much fun riding the bus as I have on the #4.  Firstly, the route is actually quite scenic in parts.  Secondly, it stops at one of my favorite places in Greater Portland: Westside Lanes.  Which brings me to my next item…

6) Candlepin Bowling

Until adulthood, I was unaware that other areas of North America were deprived the sacred right of candlepin bowling.  Hell, until junior high and the local popularity of late night “Galactic Bowling” (aka: we covered everything in glow-light paint and turned the lights off, c’mon and bowl, kids!), I didn’t know there was a form of the game that didn’t involve thin pins and 4 1/2 inch bowling balls.  When I first played 10-pin, I couldn’t believe that people preferred that to my game.  Candlepin bowling alleys often have carpeted walls and legions of little old ladies playing in leagues.  There’s nothing hip about candlepin bowling alleys, the game rooms are full of antiquated machines with chipping paint, and there are rarely automated scoring machines.  They seem to exist solely for my old-timey bowling pleasure, and I couldn’t be happier that I live in a place that appreciates such a sport.

7) Architecture and History

Portland is without doubt one of the best places in the US to experience history.  Despite burning multiple times (yep, the entire city) throughout its existence, Portland still manages to house some of the most remarkable structures I’ve seen.  While unfortunate new hotel developments seem to be popping up and replacing some local landmarks (was I the only one who appreciated the worn visage of the abandoned Jordan’s Meats?), I still think that Portland is noteworthy for its buildings.  I took a Maine Studies course in high school that involved several walking tours of this area and am thus fortunate enough to know where to find the working horse troth in Portland, and which buildings in the Old Port were once “houses of ill repute!!” (direct quote from my beloved high school history teacher).  For a girl who gets her kicks reading history textbooks and decorating her house with anything old, Portland is aesthetically perfect.

8 ) The Coast

This is about as cliche a choice as L.L. Bean, but the shore is just different in Maine.  I should know from my current geology course (but don’t) what causes Maine to have such rocky beaches.  I’m just glad we do.  I don’t care for sunbathing by the ocean, but I do like to examine the tide pools that gather on our rocky coastlines.  The sea water is terrifyingly cold here most of the year, with late-July through mid-August being about the only decent time for ocean swimming.  But to me, the Atlantic is best enjoyed on a foggy weekday in November by climbing out onto the slippery rocks that jut into the sea.

9) Bintliff’s American Cafe

If you live in Portland and haven’t eaten at Bintliff’s, you’re doing something wrong.  I will personally buy you breakfast there.  I can’t advocate enough for this place.  I love the staff and the inappropriate conversations we conduct together in hushed tones while wholesome middle-aged couples enjoy omelets.  I love that every single thing I’ve eaten from Bintliff’s was the best version of that food I’ve ever had.  Their waffles?  Best I’ve ever had.  Eggs benedict?  More impressive than other any egg dish I’ve ever consumed.  There’s also a full bar for those of us who feel compelled to imbibe before noon.  I routinely hear friends complaining about the lengthy wait times for tables at Bintliff’s, but if you stop in between Monday and Thursday, you’re sure to get a seat quickly.  They serve CBD coffee and I just love them, that’s all.

10) Maine Hospitality

Hospitality is not quite the right word, but what I’m referring to is the unique camaraderie that exists between Maine residents.  We tough out the worst winter weather together, suffer waves of tourists every summer, and are often dismissed by the rest of the country.  (People from other states have actually asked me if Maine is part of the United States or Canada.)  We commiserate about potholes, bad local politics, and the price of heating oil.  I may not have much experience elsewhere, but I know enough to confidently assert that Maine residents have a special neighborly way about them.  Every time my car has broken down, I’ve had no less than two people stop to help.  I’m greeted with pleasant small talk at my neighborhood market.  The owner of my favorite local farm stand gives Josh and I what she calls “the friendly neighbor discount”.  Not every interaction is full of niceties here in the frigid northeast, but lots are.  Maine isn’t a bad place to call home.

I suppose this concludes my list of local treasures.  I do love my home state, and taking a moment to remember why has been nice.  I’ll try to keep these positive thoughts in mind as Portland turns into madness for the holiday season.  Good thing my family doesn’t exchange gifts because I hate shopping in our crowded downtown this time of year – but I’ll write all about my holiday traditions some other time.

Walkabout Wednesday: Lost & Found Edition

I go on so many walks with Teddy and Josh that I’m a bit behind in sharing pictures of them.   These were taken a little over a week ago at Portland’s Fore River Trail, which connects to the Thompson’s Point area I mentioned in a previous post.  There are lots of off-shoots from the central path, and one of them connects with dead end Hobart Street, where there is a mysterious abandoned house (accompanied by an abandoned boat!).  I tried to dig up a little information on the place but came up short, save for this fantastic photo by Portland blogger, Corey Templeton.  I recently e-mailed the head of the neighborhood association for the area where this house is, but haven’t heard back.  Perhaps it’s time I head to city hall and ask questions?  We’ll see.

Academia: Round II

It was back to school for me yesterday, following my week of absences due to headaches.  I’m buried with homework, but should be caught up in the next couple of days if I can manage to stay inside and study even though it’s unseasonably warm out.  Portland’s Time and Temperature sign read sixty-four degrees earlier today, and I can’t quite believe I’m going without a jacket in mid-November.  Perfect weather for traipsing through the less-traveled paths of Portland.  Tomorrow I’ll post lots of pictures from one of our recent walks, but for now here are some photos of my triumphant return to school this week:

This lovely little photo shoot degraded into madness when Josh decided to chase me to my car with the camera…

This entire outfit, save the boots (a DSW present from my mom – thanks, mom!), was thrifted.  I just found the skirt yesterday and it may become my new favorite piece of clothing.  I’m lucky enough to be well-versed in the backroads of Maine and thus have found some of the best hidden thrift stores in the area.  Some time I’ll do a post on my favorite ones!

How Knitting Will Save My Brain: An Experiment

I’ve spent most of the past week in bed with one of the worst migraines of my life.  It hit me last Monday night, and hasn’t entirely left my silly little head.  I managed to watch Scooby-Doo cartoons on the internet by turning the brightness on my laptop down, but otherwise spent the time pacing my dark apartment, unable to sleep.  I sought medical attention via the hospital on Thursday but the only advice they could provide me called for aspirin and rest.  My migraines are mysterious – it seems that sometimes my brain is too overwhelmed to function, and thus forces me to take a break from life due to achey-head.  No doctor has ever been able to provide me with any leads as to the culprit of my headaches.  Each time I wind up back in the hospital, jacket over my head to shield my irritated eyes from the devil fluorescents, complaining of a pounding head, the doctors shrug and tell me it’s probably just stress.

When I returned home from Brighton Medical, I took the recommended amount of over the counter medications and tried to rest.  I was far too anxious about the state of my head to get any sleep, and was struck with a sudden urge to knit.

I am not a skilled knitter.  I am not a knitter at all!  Aside from a handful of lessons from my grandmother and my friends, I have no ability with yarn whatsoever.  I have an entire suitcase of knitting projects that I started and never finished.  But for some reason, on Thursday, I picked up one of my incomplete scarves and began to knit.  I utilized youtube to find some instructional videos, and have been a knitting fool ever since.  I purchased new needles and yarn at the craft store and am quite close to finishing a scarf for Josh.

The point of all this is that the very zen activity of knitting seems to be alleviating my migraine.  The severity has lessened and the past two days have been almost without pain.  Stress does wretched things to a person, but hopefully this little hobby which I’ve rekindled will help relieve a bit of my tension.

Here’s proof of my progress:

I feel quite accomplished!  I’m working on an exceedingly simply pattern right now – alternating rows of knit stitches and purl stitches.  Still, this is my most successful knitting venture yet, and if I work hard enough I might have an arsenal of wool socks by the end of this winter!

Walkabout Wednesday

The only thing I can seem to do with any sort of consistency is take walks, so I’ve decided I’ll be posting photos from one of my adventures each Wednesday.  I was torn between the titles “Take a Walk Wednesday” and “Walkabout Wednesday”.  I ultimately chose the latter because 1) Josh really liked it and 2) John Locke, anyone?

Earlier this week, I meandered around my neighborhood.  It wasn’t particularly exciting, but I am still quite enamored with November’s colors.

I’m beginning to get pretty excited about Thanksgiving!  We’re having a very small gathering at my parents house (just four of us plus Teddy), but my brother and I are making quite the event of it.  We’ve got an entire day of preparation planned that includes something like six pies, a couple loaves of bread, and a trip to the New Hampshire liquor store.  Though the numbers have dwindled at our yearly holiday gatherings, we can’t seem to prepare a Thanksgiving meal for any less than ten people.  Lucky for me, this means weeks of delicious leftovers.  I’ll attempt to compile a Thanksgiving recipe list and post it on here soon.