Prince Pelayo

Sometimes inspiration can come on so strong I feel stifled. The sheer power of the inspiration breaks my bones and crushes the more gentle organs, and leaves me feeling empty and unimportant. I am so many things, but so many things I want to be I am not.

Now is the time for change, and I'm going to fight through the oppression of observed brilliance to make my own.

And if you're in the mood to be destroyed, just take a peak at Kate Loves Me.


A Single Man

Too many heavy movies too close together. Recently, all movies about love seem heavy. First, Up In The Air, and now Tom Ford's A Single Man, a truly heartbreaking story about a British professor whose partner of 16 years dies in a car crash. And, of course, it being set in the 1950s, our Single Man, named George, (an impeccably dressed and tender performance by Colin Firth, looking more handsome here than any man his age) cannot be open about his love, nor is it considered legitimate by even his closest friends, even after Jim, his partner, is killed. So when Jim dies, not only is our Man shunned from the funeral ("family only") but must suffer entirely within himself. In one striking sequence, Firth seems to literally crumble under the vacuum-like force of George's loss.

Of course, Tom Ford throws in his own delusional group of youngsters, all doe-eyed and strikingly similar to those in Ford's fashion campaigns, as potential distractions for our Man, but it doesn't matter one bit, ultimately: Jim's death signified the end of all importance on Earth for George, as his love was the most intense and sincere feeling he's ever experienced. The world of George is muted and lonely.

Love is so rare. And love is the greatest thing in human life, but also the most painful. And sometimes, a life without love is no life at all.


10 Happiest Albums of the Decade

Two-thousand through 2010 was a thrilling decade for entertainment. Videogames continually defied storytelling expectation, film delivered both brains and brawn (albeit more clumsily), television consistently impressed both the public (the behemoth that is American Idol) and critics (Big Love), and novels like and Away and The Post Birthday World proved great authors still exist. The most creative growth, however, took place in the realm of music. From the anthem pep of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Stadium Arcadium (2006) to Britney Spears' darkly futuristic pop in Blackout (2007), Shania Twain's genre-bending Up! (2002) and the solemn free-by-download In Rainbows by Radiohead (2007), music in the 2000s was as diverse as it was frighteningly similar. Shimmering electro-pop (Madonna's Confessions on a Dance Floor, 2005) and slinky throwback (Solange's Sol-Angel and the Hadley Street Dreams, 2008) were trends both widespread and pervasive, from superficial pop to underground hip-hop. But ten albums stand out in my mind as excellent, innovative from a creative standpoint and, as is most important to The Happiest Activist, a hell of a fun listen.

10. Kings of Leon, Only by the Night (2008)

It's rumored Caleb Followill wrote Only in a single night, beginning with the haunting, desperate "Closer," about a vampire looking to feed. This is not their Happiest record of the decade, but the general tone and musicality of the album wins with major style points.

Happiest Track: "Revelry"

9. Sam Sparro, Sam Sparro (2008)

Sparro's debut is unabashed 80's-style pop, but occasionally-deep lyrical content appears when least expected.

Happiest Track: "Too Many Questions"

8. Robyn, Robyn (2008)

Simple, perfect pop.

Happiest Track: "Handle Me"

7. Feist, Let It Die (2004)

Happiest Track: "Inside and Out"

6. Lady Gaga, The Fame Monster (2009)

I was tempted to rank this higher on the list--no other female pop record was quite as fun in the 2000s--but the album is still fresh.

Happiest Track: "Bad Romance"

5. The Postal Service, Give Up (2003)

Possibly also the Happiest Album Art Award?

Happiest Track: "Nothing Better"

4. Lily Allen, Alright, Still (2006)

Lily Allen was and still is the most believable pop music brat. And her brand of humor has been copied again and again...(Katy Perry, Ke$ha, Kate Nash...lot's of K's, for some reason)

Happiest Track: "Knock 'Em Out"

3. Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine (2005)

Happiest Track: "Better Version of Me"

2. The Killers, Hot Fuss (2004)

There are a lot of faux-Brit rockers in the music world, but none as slick, sexual or pared down as Brandon Flowers and his less-relevant band members.

Happiest Track: "Smile Like You Mean It"

1. Amy Winehouse, Back to Black (2006)

Cutting selections from this list--which began much larger than the ten you see here--took a lot of careful consideration and research. I wanted to include a Madonna album, simply for the impact she's had on my life in the past decade, but no single album is better than the above ten (2000's Music came close). I also wanted to throw in Rihanna's Rated R (2009), which is altogether a better record than The Fame Monster but, let's all be honest, the Lady deserves a spot here. There were a hundred others--Shakira (for She Wolf, 2009) and John Mayer (Continuum, 2006), M.I.A. (Kala, 2007) and even electro-pop goddess Annie for the dazzling, whirling disco of Anniemal (2004). But when I had to make a choice for Happiest album, there was no doubt in my mind. Amy Winehouse is a legend in the making. She has a voice without peer and an ability to write lyrics as sharp as shattered glass--and as heartbreaking as the worst breakup you've ever been through. Paired with Mark Ronson's addictive beats and as-of-yet-unmatched talent at mimicking the rasp of vintage recordings, one can only hope her heart is broken again. And that's black.

Happiest Track (of the Decade): "Back to Black"


Best Friend Needed

I am tired of guys. Guys from a distance, that's fine, (Yes, man walking his dog outside Neiman's, I'm referring to you.) but guys up close and personal? The kind you've gotta talk to? That's rough.

Exhibit A: Shopping today with a friend--got a fantastic "Magic Mouse" but also found out my iPod is just barely past it's warranty and has a fatal hard drive error--I walked past one of my Exes. (I tend to call them Awxes.) He said nothing, I said nothing, and I walked on by. At first, I was amused. This had been a guy who'd begged for a few more dates after I lost interest. Literally harassed me for an Italian dinner, and I of course said no. And no, and no and no. But something didn't feel right, walking by without saying hello. So I did what felt natural.

I texted him, "LOL!"

And, being just as smart a communicator as I, he quickly responded, "eww lol." I, for one, find it even more directionless than my lonely acronym, which at least had a sense of humor. The addition of "eww" has completely mangled whatever meaning the LOL would have otherwise had. But that is beside the point.

Exhibit B: Old guy. Back in the picture. Still kind of charming, but I accidentally dissed some of his creative work (it was bad. Real bad) and thought I'd be spared his further interest, thereby letting me off the romantic hook without having an actual discussion. But no. He tells me "Good seeing you" via (SURPRISE!) text, and I respond in kind. And he finishes it with, "Let's hangout soon". No period. And no, period.

And people ask me why I don't have gay friends. Here's (/are) the only requirement (/s) for Dustin C. O'Neal:

When we sit down for dinner and talk, do you turn me on? If you had a bag over your head, would I still want to sleep with you? When I text you LOL, do you smile and respond in a way I understand? Can we, ya know...and then play eight nonstop hours of Super Smash Brothers? And, on a separate but entirely relevant note, are you less than double my age? If so, call me. Call Me 4 Dat Good.


Tiny White Shorts

A lot has happened in the past two weeks. Namely, a trip to Miami.

Miami is a great city. I've been twice before, but I'll always remember this time: wandering down South Beach with over a million other humans from around the world, waiting for the close of a decade. And being on the East Coast, we were also the first part of the country to stumble into 2010, and I didn't use the word "stumble" just because it sounds cute.

New Years Eve was a mess. I won't go into long detail (storytelling of this magnitude can be a laborious process, especially when combined with weak attempts at redeeming my popular respect mid-paragraph with exclamations like, "But I wasn't THAT drunk! Hahahaha LOL!"), but at 4:30 a.m. I was wandering the streets of South Beach barefoot and likely beyond recognition, prompting at least one onlooker to mouth her astute observation of my evening. "There's someone tragic on every corner!"

I try not to linger on those moments--the first moments of 2010. A total mess. But I was having a great time, and except for the mild alcohol poisoning, totally healthy and happy!

But aside from Miami and the drama that, none of us can truly deny, made the trip much more fun, I had an amazing week back home and with my best friends who came to visit. I've had a great week since. Saw Avatar in 3-D, and I'm dying to see it again.

Oh, and if this particular post hasn't made me look shallower than a toilet bowl, I have also started Twilight. As in, started reading the first novel when I returned from Miami and am already on the third. That's nearly 1,500 pages of romantic goop, packed with metaphors that will you give you stomach aches and sentences so badly written you may be tempted to suck your own blood and die than continue the mental humiliation.

A few of my favorites, italics and grammar Meyer's:

"I felt well. Whole."

[Bella, spoken to her father] "I...am a...virgin!"

"I love you."

Meyer's a Mormon. I disagree with the Mormon faith wholeheartedly, and her agenda (no cursing, no sex, no pesky colored folk) is painfully transparent. Of course, if Bella wants to commit suicide because she can't live without her twu wove, it's like, SO totally okay for Bella to jump off a cliff and die for him. Like, right?! College is for women who HAVEN'T found the everlasting love of an immortal vampire who suffocates all ambition from anyone he meets. So are friends who have opinions. And if, one day, you have to give up everyone who loves you in your entire life to become a vampire and live out eternity with your lover, that's fine, too. Because Mom, Dad, your friends, extended family and future are worth nothing compared to a permanent seventeen year-old with a control complex who already dumped you once and, when threatened by you visiting an old friend, disabled your vehicle. Because that's healthy, Meyer.

And there's obviously the whole Edward (Vampire) versus Jacob (werewolf) argument. Which is a total joke, because anyone with an ounce of self-respect (and therefore not a reader of Twilight) would choose Team Jacob. Would you rather cuddle up to someone with "skin like cold marble" or "hovering around 103 degrees?" Of course, that doesn't really matter, because you...are a...virgin!