Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Great Music Trawl - December Edition

So tonight I did my monthly Internet music trawl and came up with some interesting things.  I come up with interesting things almost every month, and I guess I could make a note of them here, why not?

So what is the monthly music trawl?  I have a subscription to emusic, so I have 75 downloads each month (and I often buy extras - yes, I'm a junkie).  I have stopped listening to music on the radio, as the redundance of the music usually bored me to tears and morning DJs around here are loud and crude and I just can't get into that.   The last morning radio show I liked was Tim and Yvonne on 93.3 in Dallas - but that incarnation of that station has been stone cold in the grave for a long time now, along with the morning show.  So I very much listen to stuff I find on the Internet.  I have found some great stuff.  Here is what I found for this month:

The Magnetic Fields.  They issued 3 albums in 1999 called 69 (vols. 1, 2, & 3), each with 23 songs - love songs.  Ha!  And I figured the love song has been dead since at least 1993.  But apparently 69 of them appeared in 1999.  The song that made me know I would like this group is called "The Book of Love" and it's about being in love with a reader.  :D   

So that was 69 of the 75 downloads.  You can guess, can't you, that I had to buy extra tracks this month.

Next I found Langhorne Slim.  He is described as being sort of country/folk, but he's more folk than country, or at least most of his better songs are (other songs are more sing-along-with-your-beer-glass-swaying).  But he's acoustic and cool, and the killer song is "Restless," all about how one could blame one's screwed up inability to commit on lots of things, but deep down really you're just (you guessed it) restless.

So really, that should have been enough for the month, but it's December, and therefore it's a month for excess, so of course I ran up against The Cribs.  They are AWESOME.  They are the band tonight that I am the most excited about - sort of Killers, sort of really 80's pop, current album (Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever) produced by one of the guys in Franz Ferdinand (hooray!) so you can kind of hear them in there from time to time too, anyway, it's the album I'm listening to right now.  And did I mention JOHNNY MARR JOINED THE BAND???  Yeah.  Ok.  HAD to have it.  Here's the deal, though: for some reason, it wasn't currently downloadable on emusic, so I had to go to Amazon and buy it.  (The track Be Safe stands out because it's spoken instead of sung, but really the whole thing is fantastic so far.)

While on Amazon, a thumbnail for Weezer Chrismas caught my eye.  Couldn't be good.  But I gave the samples a listen.  Yeah.  Most of it wasn't good - let's face it, most carols just honestly sound bad when played by rock bands, especially rock bands as tied to a solid beat as is Weezer.  The exception?  O Holy Night - the complexities of the flowing accompaniament made it interesting enough that I downloaded that track.  Why not?  It's my favorite religious carol, and so I kind of collect versions of it, some better and some not as good.

So then I was done for the night.  Except then I was writing this post and clicked back over to emusic to check something and I couldn't help but start playing the sample that popped up and it was really good.  Best of Stereophonics.  Which is a band I've definitely heard of but don't know if I've ever really heard.  They are super good.  So I downloaded the Best Of album for a nice overview (some bands are too prolific to ever catch up with for real).

Anyway, so that is what happened tonight while I was trawling for music.  A nice evening.  And now there is stuff to listen to for the next month.  I'm such a geek, but I enjoy this way too much.  It's like I'm still twelve recording songs I like off the radio.  Yeah, I'll never grow up.

Monday, December 15, 2008

To be fair, Amilynne nails it here.





A bit of art history while we wait to go to the Uffizi in Firenze. Michelangelo greets Julius upon the former's return from Carrera on a trip to procure marble for the latter's amazingly grandiose tomb.

Brilliant.

Amilynne Gets It Wrong

Amilynne and I got in a discussion today over Christine's World. The discussion was prompted by my telling her about my trip to MoMA. I took the above picture just for her, but I guess now it's for everyone. Anyway. So here I am standing next to this amazing painting. And here's how Amilynne got it dead wrong.
You see, the painting is of Christine, who has fallen and can't get up, and is so dreadfully far away from the farmhouse, she could pull herself along with her hands, but that would really be a rough job, and by the time she got there, her pretty pink dress would, at the best, be grass stained, and at the worst, be torn to rags. How did she get there? Don't know. But the immensity of the space between her and the house shows that she's not getting back any time soon.
Amilynne about died when I said that she couldn't get up. She says that Christine chooses not to get up. She is just there relaxing.
Amilynne is usually right on mark, but this one she absolutely doesn't get. See how Christine is downhill from the house? See how there is almost a swirling vortex between her and the house? See how her hair has flyaways on the sides? See how the farmhouse door and the path to it point away from Christine and off the side of the painting? (There aren't even any windows facing Christine - the house is blind to her.) See how everything is late autumn dead and not early spring green and alive? She's not going to make it in before the first winter storm blows in and freezes her to death. She is not calmly relaxing. She is not at home in bed eating bonbons.
So free will or determinism? For once, Amilynne seems to be the optimistic one.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Election Politics at School

One of my students expressed yesterday that if Obama doesn't win the election, she figures she won't be at school for a couple of days after. I asked why, and she said (so matter-of-factly) that she expects her neighborhood (and mine) to erupt in riots "if they steal the election from Obama." Wow. The implications. The biggest to me: that a loss for Obama will be automatically seen by some as evidence of election fraud. So then the guys in the class chimed in about the constitutional right to overthrow the government if it fails us. Which of course implies that they feel that a McCain win would be a signal of the government's failure.

We're doing a "mock election" at school Monday. I bet it goes 99.9% for Obama, and I know exactly which kid will break for McCain.

Well, I'm going to go Halloweening. It's nice to have one night of the year to pretend that what's really scary is vampires and mummies. Tomorrow I guess we have to face politics again.

It's Official...

October is the month of birthdays - dad's and Junior's. Junior turned 3. Anyway, in typical Melissa fashion, I got the box off late. It arrived this week, and Dad took it over to open with the Kiddo and family - and Junior was very excited by all of it. Apparently he kept saying "It's from Aunt Melissa. It's from Aunt Melissa." but then he capped it off with "She's a very good girl."

Ha!

Must be true.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I promise I'll eventually stop posting about the Quiz...

but Cutest finally found the post about her, so now I have to post how I see her...

Cutest seems darkslategray
#2F4F4F

Your dominant hues are green and blue. You're smart and you know it, and want to use your power to help people and relate to others. Even though you tend to battle with yourself, you solve other people's conflicts well.

Your saturation level is lower than average - You don't stress out over things and don't understand people who do. Finishing projects may sometimes be a challenge, but you schedule time as you see fit and the important things all happen in the end, even if not everyone sees your grand master plan.

Your outlook on life is dark. You're generally a pessimist and everyone knows it; you're the one the come to when they don't want the sunshine blown around, they just want to straight truth. You can miss good things in life if you make up your mind too early though.
the spacefem.com html color quiz


Thursday, October 16, 2008

And Amilynne Takes the Color Quiz About Me

Let me tell you what happens when you rent a funky bicycle for two in the Borghese Gardens in Rome. Your sister thinks you're a lot more fun than you really are.

(Borghese Gardens bicycles RULE!!!)

you are mediumorchid
#BA55D3

Your dominant hues are red and blue. You're confident and like showing people new ideas. You play well with others and can be very influential if you want to be.

Your saturation level is medium - You're not the most decisive go-getter, but you can get a job done when it's required of you. You probably don't think the world can change for you and don't want to spend too much effort trying to force it.

Your outlook on life is brighter than most people's. You like the idea of influencing things for the better and find hope in situations where others might give up. You're not exactly a bouncy sunshine but things in your world generally look up.
the spacefem.com html color quiz

Amilynne takes the Color Quiz.

She dislikes the fact that it is all yes or no. We also had a bit of entertainment when it became a challenge to express the "yes" or "no" in an adverbial manner to match the adjective described. More entertaining than the quiz itself, even.

So here is Amilynne:

you are aquamarine
#7FFFD4

Your dominant hues are cyan and green. Although you definately strive to be logical you care about people and know there's a time and place for thinking emotionally. Your head rules most things but your heart rules others, and getting them to meet in the middle takes a lot of your energy some days.

Your saturation level is medium - You're not the most decisive go-getter, but you can get a job done when it's required of you. You probably don't think the world can change for you and don't want to spend too much effort trying to force it.

Your outlook on life is very bright. You are sunny and optimistic about life and others find it very encouraging, but remember to tone it down if you sense irritation.
the spacefem.com html color quiz

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Cool Cool Color Quiz!!!

Here's what this ambitious little color quiz says for itself:

What color are you?

This quiz is simple: you check the box next to words describing you, and then get to see which one of the 144 named HTML colors describe you. The colors are found based on hue (how you think), saturation (how much you do about it), and lightness (the effect you think it has). Fairly simple, but fun in a way that other lame color tests aren't, because there are 140 possible results and it uses a lot more math. So, on with the checkboxes...

you are mediumvioletred
#C71585

Your dominant hues are red and magenta. You love doing your own thing and going on your own adventures, but there are close friends you know you just can't leave behind. You can influence others on days when you're patient, but most times you just want to go out, have fun, and do your own thing.

Your saturation level is high - you get into life and have a strong personality. Everyone you meet will either love you or hate you - either way, your goal is to get them to change the world with you. You are very hard working and don't have much patience for people without your initiative.

Your outlook on life is brighter than most people's. You like the idea of influencing things for the better and find hope in situations where others might give up. You're not exactly a bouncy sunshine but things in your world generally look up.
the spacefem.com html color quiz


I'm totally going to do it again, though, because I could see this turning out slightly different several times. Like you would need the average of all of the colors you end up with. So hang on. I'm doing it again.

OOOOHHHH. Ok. Get this:


you are darkredviolet
#600B40

Your dominant hues are red and magenta. You love doing your own thing and going on your own adventures, but there are close friends you know you just can't leave behind. You can influence others on days when you're patient, but most times you just want to go out, have fun, and do your own thing.

Your saturation level is high - you get into life and have a strong personality. Everyone you meet will either love you or hate you - either way, your goal is to get them to change the world with you. You are very hard working and don't have much patience for people without your initiative.

Your outlook on life is slightly darker than most people's. You try to see things for what they are and face situations honestly. You'd rather get to the point than look for what's good.
the spacefem.com html color quiz


Yeah. Gotta do it one more time.


you are teal
#008080

Your dominant hues are green and blue. You're smart and you know it, and want to use your power to help people and relate to others. Even though you tend to battle with yourself, you solve other people's conflicts well.

Your saturation level is very high - you are all about getting things done. The world may think you work too hard but you have a lot to show for it, and it keeps you going. You shouldn't be afraid to lead people, because if you're doing it, it'll be done right.

Your outlook on life can be bright or dark, depending on the situation. You are flexible and see things objectively.
the spacefem.com html color quiz


WHAT??? WHAT??? THIS IS ANOTHER PERSON ALTOGETHER. Gotta try again.

By the way, if you're bored or sick of this game, I don't mind if you don't read the rest of this post. I've got to get to the end of this, but I understand if you have better things to do.


you are darkredviolet
#600B40

Your dominant hues are red and magenta. You love doing your own thing and going on your own adventures, but there are close friends you know you just can't leave behind. You can influence others on days when you're patient, but most times you just want to go out, have fun, and do your own thing.

Your saturation level is high - you get into life and have a strong personality. Everyone you meet will either love you or hate you - either way, your goal is to get them to change the world with you. You are very hard working and don't have much patience for people without your initiative.

Your outlook on life is slightly darker than most people's. You try to see things for what they are and face situations honestly. You'd rather get to the point than look for what's good.
the spacefem.com html color quiz


Ha! Do you see that? Back to #2! I wonder if I can hit that one again.

Nope. Apparently not.

you are teal
#008080

Your dominant hues are green and blue. You're smart and you know it, and want to use your power to help people and relate to others. Even though you tend to battle with yourself, you solve other people's conflicts well.

Your saturation level is very high - you are all about getting things done. The world may think you work too hard but you have a lot to show for it, and it keeps you going. You shouldn't be afraid to lead people, because if you're doing it, it'll be done right.

Your outlook on life can be bright or dark, depending on the situation. You are flexible and see things objectively.
the spacefem.com html color quiz


So now I'm starting to wonder - have you noticed how they've all been dark dark dark since the first one? I must admit that I do see myself as being more dark, and I could very well be influencing the outcome by not checking off any adjectives that would point to a more positive outlook, even though really maybe I'm more positive than I think! Woah. So is the first one the more genuine one even though it hasn't been replicated yet, or am I really somewhere between the other two? One more shot, then I'll quit, I promise maybe.

you are darkcyan
#008B8B

Your dominant hues are green and blue. You're smart and you know it, and want to use your power to help people and relate to others. Even though you tend to battle with yourself, you solve other people's conflicts well.

Your saturation level is very high - you are all about getting things done. The world may think you work too hard but you have a lot to show for it, and it keeps you going. You shouldn't be afraid to lead people, because if you're doing it, it'll be done right.

Your outlook on life can be bright or dark, depending on the situation. You are flexible and see things objectively.
the spacefem.com html color quiz


Yeah. Brand-freakin-new result. Right. Bright or dark. Ha! It's in my mind.

I always wonder what I would be if someone else clicked the boxes. So now for sheer entertainment, I am going to do the quiz again but about Cutest. :) Won't you just wonder how it turns out.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Soundtrack To Your Life Game

So I am trying to play along with the game Cutest posted on her blog, which is to come up with the soundtrack to your life. Here is how it should be done:

If your life were a movie, what would the soundtrack be?

1. Open your music library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc).
2. Put it on shuffle.
3. Press play.
4. For every category (see below), type the song that’s playing.
5. When you go to a new question, press the next button.
6. Don’t lie and try to pretend you’re cool.

Right. So I opened up my most annoying player this morning and it refused to locate any of my music. So I unloaded all of the music from the library, and now I have reloaded all of the music to the library, and now it has frozen and given up on life. So hang tight another minute while I fiddle with it some more, and attempt to jimmy it into a state of functioning…

Now the rest of the computer seems to be freezing up…I know I have a lot of music, but COME ON!!! So I am actually writing this in Word so that I can save it periodically and hopefully not lose this, and then I will paste it into my blog. What a whole lot of bother to play a little game! My soundtrack had better be AWESOME. At this point, I may be willing to cheat to get it to be awesome. (No. I wouldn’t really do that. Not really. Yeah, I know it would be tempting…Really tempting…but you can trust me, right?)

Oi – we appear to be up and running. Here goes.

Here are the categories, and my results / responses:

Opening credits: Duemila- Massimo Priviero. Ha! It’s in Italian! BooYah! English translation: "There are two thousand nights / under my blue sky / there are 2000 streets / to breathe down below…" and it goes on and on with 2000 of everything, including "2000 years, if you want, (yours, for years, for us)", and 2000 jungles and 2000 bombs, and 2000 stars, and 2000 histories…so I guess that as far as being an opening credits number this tells us absolutely nothing about the life to follow, except that it’s in Italian! What a funny number 2000 is for everything.

Waking up: The Conqueror – Anne Dudley and Jaz Coleman. This is an instrumental from the album “Songs from the Victorious City” which I bought my junior year in high school and absolutely to this day still adore. Anne Dudley was half of Art of Noise, and I read a review of the album and saw she was involved and bought it without hearing any of it, which was absolutely risky for me back in the high school days when my music budget wasn’t what it is now. The album was done in Egypt and is based in Egyptian music (Jaz Coleman’s mother is Egyptian) and it is AWESOME. Plus, I’m waking up as “The Conqueror,” I guess. As long as I’m not waking up to face “The Conqueror…”

First day of school: Deliver Me - INXS. That is HILARIOUS because I STILL work in a school! Yeah. Really this song does not fit as it’s all about being fixated on somebody, and I just didn’t feel that when I was five. Fifteen, maybe, but not five.

Falling in love: Born of Frustration - James. Yeah. No comment. Except to say that you should get this song and listen to it within the context of me falling in love and you will probably laugh so hard you will roll on the floor while I try to evaporate into the paint on the wall.

I think my computer is laughing and in fits and it has just had a heart attack because the music player is frozen again. Really. Let me see if I can get it going…

I have rebooted the computer. It seems to be over its fit. Are you, dear reader? Can we move forward?

First love song: Radio Song – R.E.M. My first love WAS the radio.

Breaking up: Araku – Gervasio Martìnez and Mario Silva. This one is off a Smithsonian Folkways album called “Wood that Sings.” It’s a painful combination of a screechy violin and a strumming guitarish thing. Thankfully it’s only 2 minutes and 10 seconds long.

Prom: White Wedding – Billy Idol’s song covered by The Whip. OK. There was no prom at my high school. We had “Senior Ball.” I didn’t go. I went to a party instead and ended up spraining my ankle on a trampoline, then four days later I graduated from high school in a walking cast.

Mental breakdown: Deer-Ree-Shee – The Black Angels. So this is one of the songs on my computer that I don’t know if I’ve ever really listened to. I downloaded this album in May. It’s not bad. It fits here. It reminds me of Brian Jonestown Massacre meets a slightly softened Smashing Pumpkins. Lots of feedback and distortion, steady drums, and a sitar.

Driving: Palo Santo - Shearwater. This works pretty well. Sort of trancelike, though, so hopefully I’ve got a Red Bull handy, or I’ll end up in a ditch.

Flashback: It Girl – The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Yeah. When I think back over my life I realize that I have always been the “It Girl.” As those of you who know me well no doubt realize. Absolutely. No question.

Getting back together: A Survivor’s Tale – Anne Dudley and Jaz Coleman. 9705 tracks to choose from (I excluded the poetry) and here we are back in Egypt.

Wedding: Love is Blind – Annie Lennox. “Oh, Sugar! When ya gonna come?” …yep.

Birth of child: Miles Apart - Yellowcard. This has nothing to do with anything at all.

And the player is frozen again.

Final battle: Bend to Squares – Death Cab for Cutie. “Gravitated towards a taste / For foreign films and modern plays / But that machine could only / Bend to squares five to six times / Before your fingers came unwired” I don’t pretend to know what it means.

Death scene: Pilot Light - Mandarin. I’ll be right back. Got to check my stove and the battery in my CO2 alarm.

Funeral song: The Beekeeper (Live) – Tori Amos. Freaky appropriate for a funeral. Played on the organ and all. “Do you know who I am? She said / I am the one who taps you on the shoulder / when it’s your time / do not be afraid I / promise that she will awake / tomorrow, somewhere, tomorrow, somewhere.”

End credits: New Sensation – INXS. Funny, again, that of the 1017 artists represented in my MP3 collection, we are repeating anyone. But it’s a good way to end this. “You will find out / in the end / there really is no difference.” And that’s it.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fire

So I've been craving wings for a couple of weeks, and tonight set out to fix that. There is an awesome wings place here with this jerk sauce that is the bomb. They also used to make biscuits that were just like mom used to make, but they quit selling them about a year ago, much to my chagrin. It has actually been almost a year since we've gotten wings, so tonight was a nice treat.

Anyway, between 3 of us we ordered 5 kinds of wings, including "suicide." The orderer of the suicide wings is a recent transplant from New Mexico. I'm afraid I've lived in this all-too-blandly-palated state for too long, and suicide isn't up my alley like it might have been several years ago. The girl who delivered the wings saw fit to comment on the suicide wings: too hot! So hot that they made her mouth numb for several hours, or something like that... Anyway, so New Mexico bites into a hot wing and promptly starts to hiccup! I have never seen that reaction to heat before, and it was painful to watch, although sort of humorous, not to be mean, but it was funny. New Mexico got through three wings and he had to call it quits.

And that should have been enough. Let's face it. I just don't eat heat like I used to. But no, no. All of that pain that I witnessed was not so much that curiosity didn't get the best of me. I grabbed a suicide wing and dunked it into a cup of blue cheese. Then I took a bite. Everything was ok for a deceptively long time, really, and then it started to burn. I did not hiccup. I died. The pain was so crazy. I picked up a fresh cup of blue cheese and went for a spoon, causing serious laughter from the others. It just hurt. Finally it started to abate, and I chased it with a "sweet & tangy" wing, and after a long long time I was breathing normally again. I did not finish the suicide wing. One bite was enough.

So I was driving home later and thinking about ice cream, which made me think about chocolate, which made me wonder--what would the suicide wing have been like dipped in chocolate syrup? I mean, dark chocolate with peppers inside is crazy yummy. So I wonder...

But until somebody new with a daredevil mouth moves to the region, I don't see any more suicide wings being ordered, so the experiment is on indefinite hold.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Hey, Johnny Park!

No, it's not in chronological order, but here is the first installation from our trip. Can you believe it? These are some of the pictures that we took at the monumental cemetery in Genova. More pictures of the cemetery and of Genova at large will come later, with stories and in who knows what format.

Anyway. Today's selection. The music is Foo Fighters (thanks, Daryl) and the poem is Salvatore Quasimodo, a Nobel laureate active from the 1930s to the 1960s.

Staglieno cemetery is huge - the largest monumental cemetery in Europe - and I figure that front row tickets to watch the Resurrection happen there will be hard to come by. The show will be absolutely overwhelming and cool.

(I am trying various incarnations of the video - right now I'm trying YouTube, which is less choppy than just uploading the video straight to Blogger - it just is so choppy choppy. Sorry!)


Friday, September 19, 2008

Arrr!

Cutest says it be Talk Like a Pirate Day. I'll not be havin' much to say, but there be some divertment to be had on such a day, and here it is:



My pirate name is:


Bloody Bess Kidd



Every pirate lives for something different. For some, it's the open sea. For others (the masochists), it's the food. For you, it's definitely the fighting. Even though you're not always the traditional swaggering gallant, your steadiness and planning make you a fine, reliable pirate. Arr!

Get your own pirate name from piratequiz.com.
part of the fidius.org network


And, me hearties, ye'd best be alert, for me pirate job be the Quartermaster. I'll be watchin' ye, I will....

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Insanity

Crazy morning. I woke up to my alarm at 4 to write a test for my 3rd years for this morning. I didn't do it last night because I knew I would concentrate better at 4 and the test would turn out better (something about me being the craziest procrastinator in the world and me not being able to accomplish a thing unless I feel the pressure of the clock chasing me down). Anyway. I woke up, and seriously one of my first thoughts was that my jump drive was still in the computer at the university from class last night. It was the most rational thought. I hurried and looked for it in the obvious places here at home, then pulled on some sweats, ran a comb through my hair, and raced back to the university. Mind you, it's 4am. On a logical level, I knew the building would be locked, but there was just no way I wasn't going straight down to get my drive.

So I get there, and the nice thing about 4am is you can get parking right in front of the building, and of course the building is locked up, but sitting at some tables outside are the custodial crew, and they let me in, and I ran up to the 3rd floor and voilà! there was my dear little jump drive.

So now I am at home and the adrenaline means that really I am writing the test even more quickly than I would have written it otherwise. I do need to get back to it now. So everyone have a nice day with little happinesses of your own.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Addio


So it's been a quiet day and a quiet little evening. Which should make it the best of days and evenings, but it hasn't been. A couple of days ago on Facebook I got up the guts enough to ask a friend about the health of one of the most dynamic and amazing women I've ever known, not just in Italy but anywhere, and I have been walking on beds of nails anticipating the response - because on my trip to Genova four years ago when I saw her last, she was undergoing some serious treatment for cancer, and at that time her husband told me that the prognosis was short.

So this evening I got the message that she succumbed to the disease a few months ago, which meant that she lived longer than I had believed that she would, which makes me very happy for her wonderful family, but still I am mourning. Everything about her made you think of the sun, from her so-very dark, loving-that-time-at-the-beach summer complexion to her jumping eyes that matched perfectly her radiant smile. She was warmth in human form, so full of compassion and joy, and I am sad to note that for now she is gone from us.


So I have been doing quiet things - reading some poetry (That Kind of Sleep by Susan Atefat-Peckham, one of the books I picked up Labor Day weekend at the Freer), not about death, but about a loss of cultural identity that happens in one generation when a family immigrates to another country, and a short story by Italo Calvino, Pesci grossi, pesci piccoli (Big Fish, Little Fish), in which (spoiler ahead) a woman whose heart is broken stops crying after being saved from an octopus that was squeezing her neck with one of its tentacles. Sorry if I ruined that for anyone. Poetically (more spoiler) the man who saved her from the octopus hacked it up and gave it to her to take home and cook for dinner. So I liked that story, because I would like to feast upon the dead remains of the things that trouble me, especially if that meant eating octopus.

How much I would like to float a candle on a little boat out to sea tonight, or let a lighted paper lantern rise into the air. How much I would love to gather in at Genova with all of the people I love there. Someday. Speriamo.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

The Downside of Pictures, and the Silver Lining

So last night I stayed up late working on the pictures from Staglieno Cemetery in Genova. Yes, I AM trying to get my Europe pictures up! But I want them to be cool so it is taking some time! Anyway, now it's 5:20 a.m. and I just woke up from VIVID dreams of being in Europe. Not of being in one specific place, it was just Europe, and so very Europe, and I was looking at a map figuring out my day and running out of time to see everything, and then I woke up. Mercifully, it's Saturday so I don't have to face going in to work with my heart torn out and stomped all over with disappointment - the letdown I'm feeling is seriously and truly painful. Maybe I will try to go back to sleep and see if I can go back - or at least give myself the morphine of distance from reality!

Now that I'm thinking, though, today we should experience some hurricane rain - so today has its excitement too. It's not Europe, but it's Saturday (THANK HEAVENS) and a good storm is a fun thing. So today I guess the clouds are the silver lining. Maybe I can face reality after all.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Mahler story

So here's what's on my mind.

I spent the day ripping my classical music to my computer. I started off with Mahler. And here is the story of the 2nd Symphony, Resurrection.

Once upon a time when I was in college, I worked near the Grand Canyon. And for my 20th birthday, Nathan, a classical music devotee, decided to introduce me to the 2nd Symphony. We took my big huge early 90's CD player and trekked down the highway at some hour that should be unheard of, climbed a fire watchtower, and listened to the symphony to watch the sun come up over the forest. Nathan wanted to have it timed so that the 4th section with the oh-so-soft soprano would be starting just as the sun came off, but I think we were a little late. Anyway, it was a glorious morning, with the horizon starting off cinnamon-brown and moving its way through all the pastel bandwidths until morning had come.

I honestly wonder if that was the last time I purposely did anything to greet the sun in the morning. I am, after all, a night owl.

Anyway, today I have had a classical music day. I discovered that Dvo
řák wrote an opera, Rusalka, and so far it's pretty good. I downloaded it - it's a lot like the Little Mermaid, except tragic at the end (no sea foam, though). (Of course I just know what it's about from the synopsis, as I don't speak Czech.) I listened to my favorite Chopin piece, and to The Moldau by Smetana and the Hungarian Dances by Brahms. It's been restorative. Not quite the walk in the woods of two weeks ago, but nice nonetheless.

Something to See

So Hooray! The networks are finally doing something good. NBC has episodes of the old Alfred Hitchcock TV show on its site for online viewing. CBS has Perry Mason and The Twilight Zone. So there IS something good on, it just happens to be on a different screen than we were used to. Who ever said we should work on computers?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

And Now, For Your Viewing Pleasure

I took these when I fled to the hills today. Needed a break. Enjoy.






this last one's my favorite...


(Yeah. Check out me and my superbad photographer skills. It's a wonder what you can learn in a book on exposure...)

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Entertainment

So once upon a time, about six years ago, Christian said, "Let's watch Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street." and I said, "A musical?" and Christian said, "Not just any musical - it's bloody and it has meat pies made out of people." and Elizabeth said, "I'd be down with it." and I said, "Sounds like I should make sausage." And so we watched it, and so I made sausage the whole time, and it was funny and strange (and the sausage was pretty good!).

So tonight Thomas says, "Let's watch Sweeney Todd." and I knew that Tim Burton had gotten his hands on it, so I didn't say, "Sounds like I should make sausage." And I'm glad I didn't. Yeah. Wouldn't have been able to eat that.

Wanderlust


So I'm not a huge Björk fan or anything, but the Wanderlust Video is so cool! Watch it!

(Yes, this is the 2D version. It would be cool to see the 3D version, but somehow I don't know that I will.)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Reconnecting with lost family?

So spring break ended and yesterday in one of my classes we were talking about what we did over the break, and so I told the class that one of the things I did was buy tickets for my sister and me to go to Europe this summer, and without missing a beat, one of the girls says, "I didn't know I was your sister!"

Funny. I was cracking up for five minutes. This is my class of seniors, and they are hilarious. I love teaching seniors--they are so funny, and the world is theirs. Kind of the onset of the golden age of young adulthood. And the bunch this year is such a great group too.

Amilynne and I keep singing "I've got a golden tick-et" to each other... The passport application is in (so sad, because really my last passport had the BEST picture I've ever had on an ID!), now I've just got to do taxes so I can apply my economic stimulus money toward Italy's economy. (I'm sure I'll buy a couple of things here getting ready to go... So certainly China will get its share of it too.)

I was about to start ranting about this whole subprime mortgage thing. It makes me so mad! I don't think I will. Serenity now, 4 months to Europe, deep breath in and out.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Tickets? Czech.

Amilynne and I have tickets to Europe this summer!

I now need to get some sleep, so I'll post more later, but hooray!


...by the way, completely off subject, but I did try the herring, and liked it all right.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Way too much excitement about good food

A Lebanese restaurant opened up a few weeks ago very near the school. Yesterday I was on my way back from a training session and I was going to swing by Arby's or somewhere in search of a chicken breast when I saw the Lebanese place and I did the fastest U-turn you've ever seen. I went in and ordered some chicken shawarma to go. While I waited, I was chatting with the owner. Apparently he got here from Lebanon about 20 years ago. I told him how excited I was to see the restaurant and how much the area needed something beyond Chinese and fast food. We also got to talking about languages and how hard it is to keep up with a language you just don't use much (I do still wish I could pick back up on my Arabic studies someday!). Anyway, I got back to the school just in time to teach my last class of the day, so the shawarma had to wait a little while, but when I finally got to it it was fantastic. The best was the hummus--I've been eating stuff out of the refrigerator section for so long (and that's not horrid) that I really had forgotten how great a fresh batch can taste.

The thing I'm most excited about is that going into state testing season, I have a restaurant like this so close that I can call and order something to run pick up after school before my all-nighters so maybe I won't have to subsist on fast food and granola bars for two months starting in mid-April. There is a Santa Claus!

Anyway, since I'm food blogging at the moment, I might as well fess up that here it is, 12:15 am, and I am currently prepping pork roast for the crock pot. I decided to try my Chinese/Indian Pork Chops in slow roasted form, i.e. not hacked into chops but rather kept more like roasts and pre-browned in a sauté pan then thrown into the slow cooker. I'm doing that with about half of the pork loin; I'm still trying to figure out how I want to cook the other half--traditional rosemary and garlic, or maybe curry? I don't know what I'm in the mood for. And let's face it. If I were really in the mood for any kind of roast pork at this time of night, that might be a sign of trouble. Anyway. Some version of the rosemary theme will probably win. Maybe cooked with some lemon teabags? Who knows.

Today the coolest package arrived from Amazon. Last week I read about and instantly purchased The Silver Spoon - an Italian cookbook translated into English (with American measurements and suggestions for American ingredient equivalents--sounds lame, why don't I just get a cookbook in Italian, but really, this will be much more usable). The whole thing is just a testament to how bipolar Italian cooking is--either it is simple, and absolutely beautiful and flavorful in its simplicity, or it is complex and (dare I say?) weird, and (even?) overdone. Thankfully, most of it falls in the simplicity category.

Last word on food for the evening: If you haven't yet, and if you're the least bit interested in history and food, a must-read is Salt: A World History. One of the top three books, and certainly the funnest, of the books I read last year. The book even prompted me to buy a can of herring. Not that I have dared to open it yet. But it sits there, waiting for me to engage in the miracle that is tinned herring in salt...

Yeah. It's late. I'll shut up now. Good night.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Annual Oscar Post

Oh, the Oscars.

Here is the menu for the Oscar party that Amilynne and I are not throwing, as we live on opposite sides of the country:

Appetizer: 7-layer Tex Mex dip (No Country for Old Men)
Drinks: Sunny Delight and Blue Slurpees (Juno)
Main dish: Beef Wellington (Atonement)
Side: Baguettes. Or anti-depressants. (Michael Clayton)
......You come up with something for Michael Clayton. Yeah. Nothing? Right.

Dessert: Blood Orange Sorbet (There Will Be Blood)

And maybe some homemade sausage for Sweeny Todd, just because that's fun.

Amilynne has seen all of the nominees for best picture. I have only seen Michael Clayton. Amilynne predicts that No Country for Old Men will win. I predict that Michael Clayton won't.

So far they have only performed one musical number, from Enchanted. It hurt. Bad. Amilynne predicts that if we really fall into a severe recession, we will see more musical numbers as integral parts of movies. It has something to do with the 1930's and Little Orphan Annie and well-fed people not putting up with such a lapse from reality. If that isn't a good enough reason to strengthen the economy, I don't know what is.

And yes, I continue to be happy that John Stewart is hosting. Enjoy the show.

p.s.-- Oscar's Tribute to Binoculars and Periscopes. 'Nuff said.


Update: Go Ami! She definitely won the Oscars pool this year. I think the only one she guessed wrong was supporting actress, because all Oscars should go to Cate Blanchett. Or Helen Miren. There should really just be a big show where they give each other Oscars. That would be nice.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

No eres mujer. Eres hombre.

So I've found this fun new site, www.livemocha.com. It's a free language learning site. So far they only offer Spanish, French, German, English, Hindi, and Mandarin, so I am working on my Spanish. And I just had to practice the phrase "No eres mujer. Eres hombre." (You're not a woman. You're a man.)

I don't even want to picture the scene in my future where I actually need to use that phrase. It sounds so telenovela. You kind of even have to say it with a little shake of your head, leaning forward, touching his arm: "No eres mujer." Now, with conviction, and a coy straightening of the back: "Eres hombre." Growl.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Needed: The Next Great Development

There needs to be an audio Google just like there's a Google for typed words. Here's the deal.

As I have said before, I've been spending way too much time ripping CDs to digital. Fun and games, except that there are some mix discs that I've gotten my hands on to which I don't know the names of all of the songs. So I'll play the disc and type a google search for the lyrics as fast as I can type.

This was especially a problem when it came time to rip the Jerry the Vegan disc. Jerry the Vegan is one of Amilynne's old Starbucks customers. He made the Jerry the Vegan mix for them to play at work. The Jerry the Vegan disc is pretty cool, but it contains a lot of music that I have only ever heard on the Jerry the Vegan disc. So I developed my Google search tactic, paired with some intuitive Yahoo Jukebox work, to find the songs. Then I got to my favorite song on the disc and there just aren't enough lyrics to Google it. It's an astronaut drifting away on a spacewalk watching the sun light up the horizon of the Earth and the majority of the song (besides the dialogue to mission control) is "Beautiful! Beautiful! Beautiful! Just Beautiful!" It's the BEST song, but I have no idea of its real name nor of the person/group who made it. Repeat today - I'm ripping a mix disc from Frank, and there was an instrumental jazz piece that everyone would know if they heard it, but who knows its name?

So what is needed is a Google where I can upload the song and it tells me what it is. Verizon has a thing like that on some of its phones, but I don't use Verizon. What to do? It's really not worth changing phone companies over.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Basia Bulat and the Return of the Headphones

One of the toys I saved my babysitting money for when I was in seventh grade was a Walkman. It took a long time to amass the $33. I read the sales ads every week hoping for a break. Finally, the day came and I had my very own portable music device and it was the toy I was destined to own. As long as I could afford batteries, the Walkman gave me the freedom to listen to music anywhere. Some of the bands I remember listening to specifically on the Walkman in the early days are Bon Jovi (riding across the Nevada desert on the way home from California), Glass Tiger, and Europe. The summer after 7th grade my cousin came to visit and brought with her Sting's Dream of the Blue Turtles. She went to bed and I stayed up listening to it a couple of times. It was a revelation. The next year this guy named Ryan who rode the same bus as me loaned me his Art of Noise tape (In Invisible Silence) and I listened to that on the Walkman a lot, especially since it wasn't necessarily music to Amilynne's ears. (I just got a copy of it on CD, and since it's out of print and not something everyone is looking for it cost about as much as that first Walkman...) When my 9th grade art class kept me up all hours painting, it was Def Leppard, always on the headphones. I remember working on notecards for debate my junior year and in the midst of my cutting and pasting snipping through the cord of the headphones I was plugged in to. I might have been on my second Walkman by then.

With college, music became more social. Why hide in headphones when your roommates were up and everyone wanted to listen along? CDs made it harder to do headphones too--yes, there were portable CD players, I went through several, but they were prone to skipping no matter how well they claimed to be engineered.

Now the MP3s. And I finally joined the ranks of people with an MP3 player. One would think I would have been a little bit earlier of an adapter, but there were things to get into place first--a computer that could handle the volume of music I would need to have available (and the external hard drive because the computers just weren't doing a good job of keeping up). Plus the reality of every day life and the fact that it just wasn't a priority. So the long and short is that now I'm back to running around with music attached, and it brings me to the point of all of this:

There are only two ways to listen to music. One is in the car, and the other is on headphones. I spent some time this summer setting up speakers so that the music on the computer would pump from the den to the kitchen, and I do enjoy that. But the reality is that only in the car and even more so on the headphones are all of the layers balanced to create the music as it should be. And hooray for the MP3 player for bringing me back to all that.

So much so that I just yanked the speakers out of the headphone jack on the computer and put the headphones in. Yesterday I downloaded Basia Bulat's debut album and it is AWESOME, forgive me for saying it like that, but it just is. I've listened to it four or five times, but I just wanted to really hear it, and for that, headphones were the only solution. Hooray! The music just crystallizes differently when the stereo space is your frontal lobe.

So if you would like to try Basia Bulat, her myspace page is here, and you can download some of her songs, and I really suggest In the Night and Little Waltz, and all the rest, maybe you'd want to get the whole thing somewhere, but I'm telling you, you won't really hear it until you plug it the headphones.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

How to keep busy

Today I finished ripping the music from another of my books of CDs. What a geek! you say, and I'm sure I am. But I want my music digitized, and I have a nice collection of music, so I've been working on this since July or so, off and on, when I have time, and today I finished another book, so I figure I'm a little more than halfway done. Or maybe just halfway.

The other part of this project is scanning photos. That's the real chore--it makes ripping discs a cakewalk. Not the least reason of which because the scanner is buried under paper and other things. So that part of the project is momentarily on hold.

Here is how else to keep busy. I made this for Amilynne as a preview for our trip this summer. Yes, it's amateurish, yes, it's not at all cool like a computer savvy friend might be able to make, but here it is for your own joy.

Another way to stay busy is to finish the set of cities we will be visiting. Venezia took a large chunk of Christmas break to do. We'll have to see about the other parts.

video

Friday, February 15, 2008

Cheese Crab

Here's the Cheese Crab video. testing, testing.

if this works, it will only be available for about 2 months. we'll see.

I'm playing with a new toy--Jing. This bit of video is short and it takes forever to load to play. Flash 9 required. I'm not keen on the timing, but I'm having fun and working out some applications to apply this to school.

Anyway. Isn't that fun and games. And in the mean time, hopefully they will have some new Pushing Daisies episodes by the time my free hosting for this clip of Olive Snook expires. Cheers.