Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Please don't say you're sorry

I managed to get a copy of the Pet Shop Boys' remix of Madonna's next single "Sorry" and all I can say is that it exhibits everything that I love most about remixes. The structure of the song is not altered all that much, and it's still very heavy on Madonna's vocals. But they've beefed up the instrumentation plus added their own vocals to parts of it (Neil Tennant's very sorrowful "sorry, so sorry.." is just what the song needed.)

Overall, "Sorry" is one of my favorite songs on Confessions On A Dance Floor, and I think it has the potential to be a Madonna classic in the vein of "Vogue" and "Into The Groove." That's the trouble with evaluating Madonna's latter-day music -- it always seems to suffer a little bit in comparison to her early hits. (i.e., pretty much everything on The Immaculate Collection.) And admittedly, there's a lot of it that isn't as strong as those early, effortless hits. While Erotica is probably still my favorite Madonna album, it's not nearly as accessible pop-wise as say True Blue is. And perhaps that's why radio hasn't really latched onto any Madonna single since the early 90s ("Take A Bow" and "Music" notwithstanding) as they did instantly to anything she released during the 80s.

I think what I love most about "Sorry" is how dramatic it is. Actually, it's probably more melodramatic than dramatic, but that's good pop music for you. From the initial voiceovers of "I'm sorry" in several different languages, to the minor key of the whole dang thing, it's just so damn dramatic, it really appeals to my inner 4.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Puzz3D -- kicking my ass


I've always seen those Puzz3D things in Target et. al. and thought it'd be fun to give one a go. Don't get me wrong, I'm not ready for the nursing home yet, with puzzles on various card tables set up around the house, but I do enjoy a good challenge from something like that. I'm not as insane as to try those jigsaw puzzles where the print is on the back and front of the pieces and they've thrown in 20 some odd extra pieces to throw you off. I'm pretty convinced you take years off your life doing things like that.

So I got one of those Puzz3Ds for Christmas this year from Heidi who'd heard me talk about it some this year. And it's the John Hancock Tower in downtown Chicago. It's a building I am pretty well acquainted with as we seem to make it to Chicago at least every other year. We ended up going to the top of it on our honeymoon and Jeff always refers to it in some lewd way like the John Handjob Building or something akin to that.

But man, it's killing me. I've got the base done and the antenna on the top of the building, and I'm currently immersed in trying to get the sides of the building done. Thank God for the map of the pieces and how they fit together or else I'd be totally screwed. It's not nearly as big as I was anticipating, which is a good thing or else I'd probably die trying to put it together. It also comes with a bonus building -- the Tribune Tower -- which would have probably been the smarter one to start with as it's smaller and doesn't appear as complex. But it's too late now. The card table is covered with pieces from John Hancock and I'm bound and determined to finish.

Because, dang it, it even glows in the dark.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

SUCCESS!

After relatively little wailing and gnashing of teeth, my computer is back up and running again. I was correct in predicting that it definitely didn't follow the path of least resistance, but it wasn't as bad as it could have been. Actually, it was amazingly good for me to do that with Dad because I really learned a lot. The next time I have a major computer repair, I won't be nearly as afraid to attempt it myself -- which can be good and bad. You just have to know when you're in over your head and to call in the experts.

So tomorrow we're heading down to Ankeny for a much delayed Christmas get together with Mary. It'll be a good time. We're just meeting at Village Inn for lunch and then we're going to be on our merry ways. We also have to stop at Petsmart to see if we can find some more of those Comfort Zone plug ins for the cats so that Blair can stop peeing in inappropriate places -- and stop peeing blood, no less. He's not infected, just stressed out beyond words according the vet. So stressed that his bladder is inflamed and he's got blood in his urine. Poor guy.

I sure am glad to have my computer back. It feels good.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Close to my computer

My dad's coming over today to help me put my computer back together. I'm getting a new motherboard (faster), a whole gigabyte of memory, and new power supply (for fun, I guess, since that didn't seem to be the problem.) I'm half expecting it to not be up and running by the end of the day as assembling computers never follows the path of least resistance. In fact, if all went smoothly, I'd wonder what the trade-off was.

I'll be really glad to have my computer back -- it's been a long few weeks. It's not like there's a shortage of computers in the house (Anna's got one on her little table and Heidi has a laptop which I'm currently working on) but it'll be nice to have all my settings back. I'll be mostly glad to have my 10,000 song strong iTunes library back. There's nothing like not having access to it to wish you had something that is miraculously not on your iPod. And thank heavens for my iPod. Had it not been for that, I'd have been in a world of hurt as far as music listening goes.

So we'll see how it goes. I'm listening to the Evita soundtrack right now, which pretty much guarantees that I'll have the songs stuck in my head for the rest of the day. I'm betting I'll be putting the computer together and have "This has really been your year Ms. Duarte/Tell us where you'll go from here, Ms. Duarte" looping endlessly in my head.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Finally saw Brokeback Mountain

Heidi and I secured child care last night and went out to the Varsity here in Ames to see Brokeback Mountain. All I can say is that I hope this movie sweeps the Oscars, because it deserves to. I will stand by my original assessment of the story that while it is a "gay" story, referring to it as "the gay cowboy movie" is not only doing the movie a great disservice but also grossly understating its potential impact. Scenes like the one where Ennis breaks down and cries because he has no way of telling Jack how he feels as they leave Brokeback Mountain for the first time speak not only to a gay audience, but should also speak to a male audience in general.

Heidi hates sad stories -- part of the reason she writes and reads romance (you can always be assured of a happy ending in romance.) And while I enjoy the catharsis of a sad story, this story just rips my heart out of my chest and throws it on the floor. And while it's a period piece of sorts and you couldn't reasonably expect a "happily ever after" ending, it makes me mad that we're living in a world right now where hate is an ok thing to feel for a group of people. It makes me all that much more committed to being a gay rights advocate in my everyday life.

Everyone needs to see this movie -- especially the bigots that are disavowing it. Of course, they won't see it, but they should. Kudos to everyone involved in the movie for making something so effective. If you see it and don't just feel for everyone in the movie, check yourself for a pulse.

In the meantime, here's hoping that this is the necessary first visit in order to get to the happily ever afters.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Odd iPod segue

OK, by now I've accepted the fact that I've just got some bizarre combinations when it comes to taste in music. But the other day as I was walking to work, listening to my iPod, minding my own business, I was witness to what was perhaps the most bizarre music segue courtesy of "Shuffle Songs" on my iPod. I was listening to "Just Lose It" by Eminem (which I still think is a bit on the lazy side for Eminem) when suddenly, I found myself listening to "Daddy's Moonshine Still" by Dolly Parton. So I went from Eminem making the crazy Pee-Wee Herman noise to Dolly singing about washing mason jars and hiding them from the cops when they came around, and even after all that, Daddy's moonshine still was good for nothing but to break momma's heart and to tear our home apart and make our lives a living hell.

Gotta love it. I think I was grinning ear to ear all the way to work.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Saving the world in his pajamas

Heidi and I just got done watching the Doctor Who: The Christmas Invasion episode thanks to our friends from Canada who were to have taped it, but for reasons I don't quite understand didn't, so they got the AVI file and made a videotape of it. And dang, was it something or what? Heidi was worried about how easily David Tennant would fill Christopher Eccleston's shoes, but in my opinion, he's a damn good Doctor. That's not to say he's necessarily better than Christopher Eccleston (OK, maybe I'd say that) but he's definitely different, and that's a good thing.

I never watched Doctor Who growing up, even though it was on PBS every Saturday night. It just seemed too weird to me. Which is why, when Heidi announced that she had the new Doctor Who episodes on tape copied from a Region 2 DVD, my response was a bit on the underwhelming side. Well, that and the fact that the dubbing was so poor that you practically had to have the volume turned up as loud as the TV would go in order to have a prayer of understanding what they were saying. Consequently, the TV was always louder than hell and I just wanted to go down to the basement while they were on. But she kept on me and talked me into letting her order the Region 2 discs from Amazon.uk and buying codes off of eBay that would turn our Region 1 player into a region-free player. Once we got those, I was pretty much hooked.

It reminds me so much in so many ways of Buffy The Vampire Slayer -- scary monsters and weird stuff going on every week, but the people are so genuine and real you just feel like you know them. And after seeing the preview for Season 2, or rather Series 2 after the Christmas Invasion episode, I can hardly wait for the new season, despite the fact that we really have no way to watch it as it's not on BBC America and well, even if it were, we don't have cable so that's kind of a moot point anyway. Suffice to say, I can't wait till those Region 2 DVDs of Series 2 come out. I have a feeling I'm going to like this next set of episodes even better than the first set.

Monday, January 02, 2006

2005 in a nutshell

Well, I can barely believe that 2005 is so much history. It seems like just yesterday I was spending New Year's Day 2005 sicker than a dog (not for that reason!!) and the year was an endless sea of possibilities spread out before me. And now it's gone.

It's been a good year for the most part. This was the first full calendar year I spent at my current job, coming up on 2 years in April. It's a good job and I enjoy it. There are days that I miss the relative simplicity of my previous job, but I realize that the cost of staying there were too high in other areas of my life. I've taken on more responsibilities at work, which is a good thing, but also a bit nerve-wracking because I don't always think that I'm the best person to do some of the things that I'm doing. But I'm learning. It's been a lesson for me so far -- I'm far too much of a people-pleaser (something I got from my mom) and part of some of my new responsibilities require me to jettison some of that and just do the job. So that'll be good for me to learn.

Anna's growing up so fast -- I can hardly believe it. It's funny to think back to June when she wouldn't stay at a play group while Heidi went just down the hall without screaming and crying at being left alone. Now, as I drop her off at preschool, she hardly even notices that I leave. While this is good and an essential part of her development, I can't help but miss the baby she was. However, the little girl she's become is so fantastic. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that my daughter would be singing along to Cher, Kylie and Madonna. I probably should have known though, because she was getting 50% of her genes from me. It's fun watching her pretend-play with her Barbies and Playmobil unicorn set. Sometimes I'm amazed at the fact that I've raised this little girl. While I realize that the job is far from done, it's reassuring to know that so far, so good.

I feel like I've grown a lot in the last year. Isn't that weird -- to be 33 years old and feel like you're growing? Although, on the other hand, I suppose if you stop growing you've probably stopped living. So it's been a good one.

As for changes for the New Year? Well, wouldn't mind losing a little bit of weight (not that I feel I'm overweight, but I'm certainly not getting any younger.) I also want to keep on working on the spiritual aspect of my life -- getting centered in my life and feeling comfortable with myself. That's kind of an ongoing process, I guess. I'm also mulling switching from Blogger to Typepad because, dang, they just have some of the coolest features. Anyone reading this with input, I'm all ears. And if I do switch, I'll just have to make sure I blog more because I'll be paying for the privilege.

So here's to 2006. Happy New Year to anyone who may read these words -- but especially to all the friends that I know will read these words.