Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Lost Albatross 2009 Year in Review

Can you smell that? It's the sweet n' sour aroma of change. The turning of the year is technically an arbitrary milestone, a mere turning of the Gregorian calendar and an excuse for manufacturers of cheap eye wear to peddle, in this case especially, some painfully tacky gear.

But in my case, the end of '09 and start of '10 really does mark a major shift, something worth noting, and (hopefully!) something worth celebrating.

Thing is, I can't tell you why just yet. But trust me when I tell you that it's going to mean a serious shift in focus for myself and for The Lost Albatross - and I'm crossing my fingers and working my butt off to see that it'll all be for the better. The "official announcement" should come mid-January, so please do check back. In the meantime, let's get to that time honored tradition of mixing navel-gazing with list-making and enjoy THE LOST ALBATROSS YEAR IN REVIEW ('09):

Quick Stats
  • Total site visits for the year: 22,843
  • Most clicked post: "Big losses for progressive talk radio in Madison" (494)
  • Top keywords: "emily mills" and "lost albatross" (people got here because they were actually looking for me - crazy!)
  • Weirdest keywords: "clever name calling," "norm fjelstad" (who?), "emo techno bands," "huffy albatross"
Personal favorites

2009 wasn't the kindest year on record in general, but for me personally I really can't complain too much. I joined/helped start a new band that's been nothing but awesome thus far, self-published by first novel, increased my freelance writing work, went on a fantastic mountain biking trip to Moab, threw two successful burlesque events, and hit the vaunted five year milestone with my fella. Not bad, I'd say.

The uptick in activities meant a falling off in blog content, though, which certainly isn't the end of the world (and you can actually expect a significant uptick in content next year, oddly enough). Still, there were some fascinating and infuriating topics covered this year.

The year started off with major shake-ups at Madison's progressive talk radio station, The Mic, including the loss of Lee Rayburn and serious public discontent. Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, self-professed hater of government, officially decided to run for governor - a saga that will continue to play out until the elections next year. In April, the hilariously named Teabaggers descended upon Madison to wave grammatically and historically incorrect signs around for a little while. Wisconsin then (finally) passed a state-wide smoking ban, which goes into effect in July 2010. Major changes gripped the Common Council, and everyone marveled at Thuy Pham-Remmel's thoughtful, well-worded, and surprisingly concise speeches.

In August the bikes took over the streets for the first annual Ride the Drive event, which was, quite frankly, pretty cool. Throughout the latter half of the year, we watched as the Edgewater Hotel redevelopment process began to dominate public discourse--strange lobbying practices, immovable neighborhood associations, a mayor's single-minded quest. In the end, that particular proposal was cock blocked by both the Landmarks Commission and the Common Council, but it remains to be seen if its deathly specter might rise again.

At the beginning of November I began my tenure as the Isthmus Daily Page's newest regular blogger, something I'm hoping to continue in the new year. I also went to my first opera, where they forced me (OK, asked nicely) to sit in the lobby and blog for all the gawking masses to see and be baffled by.

So like I said, I've been pretty damn fortunate in that the Great Recession and general decline of the Roman...err...American society (due to all those people gay marrying terrorist abortions) haven't taken quite so terrible a toll on me. Which is to say, I've never had money to begin with, so there wasn't much for me to lose. But I'm also blessed with amazing friends and family, a great town, and relatively decent health (ulcerative colitis be damned).

I'd be a fool to complain.

Here's wishing you all a happy, safe, healthy and productive new year! Thanks to everyone who's been on this crazy blogging journey with me--really and truly, thanks--and I hope you'll stick with me as I enter what promises to be one wacky, eventful period of my life.

Friday, December 18, 2009

A taste of current projects

Just in time for Christmas, it's the newest teaser trailer for "The Girls," a film by Rob Matsushita and featuring a cameo by yours truly! Fair warning, this may not be something you should go about watching while at work. Unless you work someplace awesome.

This is part two of the "Wasted Youth" project that includes the film "High School Sweethearts," in which I had a very bloody starring role. That movie also served as part of Will Gartside's (the director) graduate thesis, which I was very proud to see him defend and have approved just last month. Ah, beautiful synergy between horror films and academia! The whole thing should be released for public viewing in the early part of 2010, and you can be sure I'll pimp its release here.

In the meantime, here's wishing you all a very merry Christmakwanzikkah and a happy new year!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Snowpocalypse '09

Technically it's still autumn here in the Northern Hemisphere, so yesterday's blizzard that dumped something like 18 inches of snow on my fair city could be considered a late fall storm. Which is weird, but hey, this is Wisconsin.

I woke up yesterday morning to a back door that wouldn't open more than a few inches due to a drift but also the happy news that my place of employment had decided to shutter its doors for the day. Others were not so lucky. The neighborhood was filled with the sounds of neighbors shoveling and snowblowing their way out of the massive piles of snow. I was grateful to spend the morning indoors doing various chores and taking it easy. I even ventured out once to take pictures of the muted world.

But alack, it was not meant to last. My dear sister needed to be at work that afternoon and, being that she normally bikes in, I volunteered to drive her there lest she be buried by a passing plow. She has terrible luck with the things. When she lived in Chicago, a city plow once rammed the car in front of hers and literally pushed it onto her roof (thankfully while she was not in it). So we can't take any chances now.

To accomplish that goal, however, I needed to dig out a car. Back-breaking and obnoxious as the work was, I had help from two kindly friends and the silver lining of it not being crazy cold out (yet--today is another matter entirely). And the whole of the 'hood seemed to be alive with people. It was the rare winter occasion for residents to meet each other in the streets for a chat. Dogs played in snow piles, children built forts, and some folks could be seeing skiing down the middle of the street. It was strangely idyllic.

I got sis to work safe and sound and decided to head down to campus for a planned snowball fight on Bascom Hill, thinking I would document it for posterity. You can read my write-up of the event over at Dane101 and check out the video I took of the shenanigans. Or watch it below:

It was a trip. I'm just glad I managed to get out without taking a snowball to the eyeball.

Now there just remains the actual winter to get through. I'm determined to be as active as the weather allows--get back to snowboarding and sledding, and break out the snowshoes again. But I think we're good on the snow count for awhile, don't you?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Diane Savino tells it like it is

The outcome of the same-sex marriage vote in New York state was majorly disappointing, but we got one good thing out of it: Sen. Diane Savino's off-the-cuff speech in support of the bill. Let's hope we hear more from her, and people like her, in the future. The tide is still on the side of equality, and history will look all the more kindly on folks like Savino who spoke out loud and clear well before the law caught up with what's right.

The Lost Albatross