Saturday, May 28, 2011

Oh Give Me a Home Where the Buffalo Roam

I love westerns.

Not exclusively. But let Gary Cooper or Clint Eastwood gallop around on a horse with a cowboy hat and a pistol hanging off his belt - let the good guys be good and the bad guys be ruthless - I'd hate it in real life, but I love it in the movies.

Wednesday afternoon I turned on the radio, which I usually listen to mainly in the mornings, and on NPR they were reviewing the new album by Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi, Rome. The inspiration? Ennio Morricone. Che bello! The samples they played were very nice - Jack White sings on the album (Yay!) as does Norah Jones (meh - Ok voice, but usually boring - I've never really warmed to her, but she really sounds all right on this album). So I've had westerns in my head for a few days. My only complaint now that the album is downloaded is that it's way too short (35 min). But if that's what they had, everything else seems pretty tight. Better 35 tight minutes than 50 minutes with 15 of filler.

This week I also got an email from a friend with some music to listen to. One of the songs got me poking around YouTube to hear more by the artist, Lykke Li. And one song, The Only, sounds so much like it belongs on the soundtrack of a western - maybe because I was already in that mindset because of the Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi album, or maybe I would have heard that in it anyway. Anyway. Downloaded that album too. I actually had to do some poking around to find The Only because it was a bonus track somewhere along the way, but I did find it.

So you know I can't listen to all this music and then not watch a western. This afternoon I watched High Noon. I haven't watched it since my freshman year in college. It was required for the civics class all freshmen had to take. I don't remember liking or disliking it then, but I was probably more concerned with passing notes with my two friends with whom I was taking the class, and besides, when you are one of 900 in a big auditorium watching a movie in class because it's supposed to teach you something about your civic duty, well - let's just say maybe that it is less of a good movie in freshman civics and an awesome movie for a Saturday afternoon when you get to care more about the story line, gape at how gorgeous Grace Kelley is, wonder if that bad guy is Jude Law's father (of course not, but hey), and figure out what makes the High Noon ballad so cool (the underlying beat is like a souped-up tick-tock as we roll ever forward to 12:00). It's a great movie.

Anyway. Hooray for westerns. I think I'll move The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly up to number one in my Netflix queue.

Here is my favorite western-themed song of all time.

Mirah - Cold, Cold Water

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Cover Hits It Right On

Here is something delightful I have come across.

Beck's Record Club - Mystify

Would you like to compare it to the original?

INXS - Mystify

One after the other, back and forth - both very nice. I must say that there is one on YouTube with INXS with the replacement lead singer, and it's just not worth listening to. The cover above is much better. I don't blame INXS for wanting to go on, but Michael Hutchence was one of a kind.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

So Very Awake

I was lolling off into the wonderful folds of sleep tonight when... gunshots. Summer must be approaching. The first few times this happened, I rolled out of bed and onto the floor, terrified. That was a long time ago.

Now I'm just awake.

My apartment complex is so stupid. I used to keep a really great patio garden, but about 1 1/2 years ago they made me get rid of it. So now I have no reason to go out on my patio. Well, when I used to go out on the patio, I was visible and it was visible that I was around. More than once, people who I suspected of acting shadily disappeared when I went out to water the plants. Not like that ever stopped nighttime shots from going off, (nor did it stop the Sunday afternoon shooting four or five years ago), but I think it did make some difference. Now I don't have much reason to do much outside of my apartment. Stupid management decision.

When I die, I hope there are sleep-like waves of peace before the bright light of whatever happens next. I'd like to pause and catch my breath before rushing into my fate.

I really wish I were asleep right now.

Coldplay - Death And All His Friends

Friday, May 20, 2011

Head in the Past

So I have spent the last month being kind of wrapped in this sorta-90s nostalgia. And it has left me wondering if I really have any idea of what the 90s were about. It was kind of an excellent decade in many ways - book-ended largely by the fall of the Berlin wall on the outset and 9/11 as it faded into memory. And what was in between? The Internet and cell phones and PowerPoint and grunge turning to indy.

My students asked me this week how apartheid could have lasted so long. I didn't know what to say. I told them about how exciting it was when Mandela got out of prison, and I told them that up until just before then, the Cold War really took up all of our attention. I tried to tell them that growing up in the Cold War meant we really were afraid of nuclear bombs being launched. I suppose that it's like when my parents tell me where they were when Kennedy was shot, and all I can do is nod my head.

I don't understand my wish to revisit the 90s beyond that - it's not like fashion was great or anything - but it was the reprieve when a lot seemed possible in the world. And whether that was a function of the age or of my being younger I don't know. The acid-burned edges of globalism in 2011 mean that hope rises in one spot and leaves another altogether.

So here is some music. From the 90s of course.

Counting Crows - Recovering the Satellites

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Sometimes a song just grabs you...

...and so you get the music first today. I really haven't listened to anything else since one of my friends posted it on Facebook a couple of days ago. Blow the video up full-screen because the sculptures are soul-smashingly beautiful.

Duran Duran - Before the Rain

Shivery lovely, no? Here's your test. Did you see the sculpture with the lightest, most subtle line of stars in the most soft bas relief in a band like a necklace hanging from her neck? If not, stop reading, blow the video up to full screen, and watch again. Once you've seen it, you can move on. Or not. I can't stop listening to this song, and maybe you'll be trapped in it too.

Would you like more cemetery? Here is my favorite. Please excuse the jerkiness of the pictures. It really wasn't like that when I made it, but it's something I've noticed about work from Microsoft's PhotoStory 3 when posted on You Tube. The cemetery is Staglieno in Genova. The music is Foo Fighters.

I cannot believe we are looking at the midpoint of May. May is the most glorious month of the year, and yet the workload is so intense that I always feel like I'm missing it. I love the spring when it can still be a little chilly-to-fresh and before the humidity sets in! I need to go find a mountain trail to wander or something. Actually, I need to catch up on my correcting and make some lesson plans for next week. Hmmm. And therefore miss May. Actually, I am at least going to get out of the house today and go see Van Gogh on IMAX. Should be delightful. You have a delightful day too.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

How to Mosaic Like a Ravennan in 8 Simple Steps

Today I got to tell one of my students about the mosaics in Ravenna. We were doing this exercise that mentioned them - something about "How many tiles might there be in the mosaics of Ravenna?" And the answer would be millions and millions, of course. Ravenna. What a wonderful city. Seriously. Glazed tile mosaics. I don't know how to improve on that idea. What a glow.

Would you like to know how to make a glazed tile mosaic? Here are instructions, straight from Ravenna. First, your tools and materials:

Now, the eight easy-to-follow steps:

And when you're done, it should look like this:

or this:

or maybe this:


I bought a scarf with the pattern of the arch on that last one. Gotta love a good gift shop.

Wow. So Ravenna is definitely a city to visit. Shed a tear for Dante's exile, see some amazing art, ride a bicycle around the city center for free, and maybe if you're lucky the woman selling candied almonds that are so very fresh and tasty will be out by the piazza when you are wandering around at night.

Must finish my plans for discussing some Hobbes in class tomorrow, so again I leave you with a referential song of the day.

Midlake - Head Home

Monday, May 02, 2011


Let's remember where we are tonight as vividly as we remember where we were on the morning of September 11th. Because we shouldn't only remember the tragedy.