Thursday, January 31, 2008

Me and my girl

Taken yesterday afternoon when we were goofing around with Photo Booth on the MacBook (again.) I just love this picture.

And because it's not a Photo Booth session without a goofball picture, here's what we came up with.

Shouldn't I have all of this

Prompted by my recent ranking of my top 5 albums, I was listening to Mary Chapin Carpenter in as I beautified myself this morning. "I Feel Lucky" came on and I was immediately reminded of the video, which I think was one of the first videos I saw on VH1 in my dorm room at Iowa. I was tempted to post it, just for the nuts of it, but then, I got to thinking, "I wonder if the video for 'Passionate Kisses' is on YouTube?" A quick search yielded this result.



What an amazing video, and not for the reasons you would expect. It's not loaded with special effects or celebrity guests. Mostly, it's ust MCC and a bunch of anonymous people. But for whatever reason, it really got to me this morning. Chapin almost always tends a bit toward the melancholy, but this song? Pure joy. A demand to the universe that she can have it all. I love how autumnal the video is, with the leaves whipping around her. An MCC is just beautiful - and not in the supermodel way that so many stars are. She's real. She's a WOMAN and not a stick insect as Bridget Jones might say. She's another one of those celebrities that I wish I could meet because they seem so genuine, but as always, it's a good idea to keep your distance from people you admire in that way lest they disappoint.

My favorite part of the song is this part:

Do I want too much?
Am I going overboard to want that touch?
Shout it out to the night
Give me what I deserve
Cuz it's my right.

I was doing some reading last night about that North Node in Capricorn thing that Heidi was blogging and I have to remember those last three lines. So frequently, I just sacrifice and sacrifice and sacrifice, hoping that someone will notice. Well, guess what? All that sacrifice is a cold consolation because I'm the only one that notices. And truthfully, that's also not taking very good care of myself because if I'm not taking care of me, I certainly can't take care of anyone else.

So anyway, off to work. And to think, I didn't even hear "Passionate Kisses" in the bathroom this morning.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Thus spake Zarathustra

In an attempt to prove that I did more than just hang out at the computer all day on my day off, I plowed through the final third of 3001: The Final Odyssey this afternoon. I have always loved the Odyssey books, having read 2001: A Space Odyssey during my last year of college. I watched the movie shortly thereafter. I recall journaling shortly after watching it that I wished I could have been one of those stoned out hippies that laid down on the floor of the theater during the final act when it was first released. Seriously, it's one bizarre film, critically maligned at the time only to be appreciated later.

Well, after I read that book, I inhaled 2010: Odyssey Two and 2061: Odyssey Three. 2010 is quite good, going a long way toward explaining the monoliths and what exactly their purpose was. Perhaps Arthur C. Clarke felt the need to be a bit more clear than he was in the original novel. 2061 is much more in the vein of a traditional sci-fi novel, only set in the Odyssey universe.

I don't know, I just think the Odyssey universe is so cool, and I'm not a huge reader of sci-fi. The concept of a Jupiter nova-ing into a second Sun (Lucifer) so that life could flourish on Europa is quite cool. The entire concept of the monolith as the providing the spark for human evolution, followed by the unearthing of the Sentinel monolith on the moon 4 million years later. It all just falls together so nicely. Clarke is quite a good author, although I will admit that I have not enjoyed any of his other books nearly as much as I have enjoyed the Odyssey series.

3001: The Final Odyssey came out not all that long after I finished reading the original trilogy. I resisted it, feeling like it really wasn't necessary, and plus, they were reviving a character that died in the original novel 1000 years after his death. It just didn't seem like a very engaging plot device, so consequently, I never read it. I bought all the other Odyssey books, but never even borrowed 3001 from the library. Having read it, my skepticism was not entirely reasonable. The story is quite serviceable and the revival of the aforementioned character from 2001 actually works out quite well for several reasons that revealing would spoil the story.

I felt like the book unraveled a bit toward the end, with the existence of humanity threatened for rather nebulous reasons with WAY too tidy of a wrap up, but still, it was more than worth the time to put a cap on the series.

And while doing Google searches for this post, I came upon this. Which just goes to show that there's a conspiracy theory out there for just about everyone. Of course, I couldn't stop reading that page as it was right up my alley. A real Lucifer? Surely not! And judging from some of the techheads on the net discussing it, it's not gonna happen.

High drama

Someone is obviously channeling Evanescence on their latest album cover.

Wow, could this cover be just a titch more dramatic? Although Sarah Brightman is quite pretty, she looks like she could sink her fangs into your neck at any given point.

The album itself is a bit of a mixed bag. I love "Fleurs du Mal" for the same reason I love the album cover. Plus Sarah Brightman, despite the fact that she is best known as the voice behind Christine in The Phantom Of The Opera, has undeniable vocal prowess and the ability to sing the hell out of a song without beating it into submission. But still, a little Sarah goes a long way with me.

They say it's your birthday

A big old happy 33rd birthday to my brother Ryan. 33 years ago today, the second kid in our family arrived, and well, he turned out pretty darn good! One of the highlights of 2007 was our trip to Phoenix to see him and his wife (and also get some severely discounted dental work done for Heidi.) Plus I got a free cleaning to boot.

So here's to the only brother I have. I can't believe you're 33, but to be honest, 36 is starting to freak me out just a teeny bit.

And in honor of his birthday, here's the R-rated 80s band from break.com. It's a video that Ryan showed me on one of their trips back to Iowa, and every time we watch it, it's like watching it for the first time. That's probably because Ryan wishes he had made this video.

The audio is NSFW unless you're the boss (like Ryan is) or you're wearing headphones.


R Rated 80s Band - Watch more free videos

Happy birthday, bro!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Five albums

My friend Matt recently posted (on his brand-spanking new blog) about the white board in his cubicle and how it serves as a bit of a water cooler in his office. Over the past couple of weeks, he and his co-workers spent time listing their top 5 favorite TV shows, and when this had run its course, someone came in and laid down a fresh gauntlet - the top 5 albums of all time. When I first heard this challenge, I winced a bit. How could I possibly narrow down the lifetime of music that really has helped shape who I am today to five records? Plus, I was immediately reminded of my sister's natural aversion to the phrase "best [blank] of all time" because seriously, have you seen every movie and heard every album ever made? Not likely.

So instead, it boils down to the top 5 albums of all time according to Dan or Matt or whoever is making the list. I read his post yesterday before work and I chewed on what my answers would be for quite a while. I knew that a Madonna album would certainly make the top five. But which one? Do I go for the critical acclaim of Like A Prayer? Or the edgy Erotica? Or do I give in to temptation and name Confessions On A Dance Floor to the list? Tough stuff. And then came the problem of what would round out the top 5? To make matters worse, another stipulation of the list was naming a guilty pleasure album, "an album that you would still defend to this day." Wow, was I up to the challenge?

After much deliberation, this is what I came up with. Of course, in a month's time, I may change my mind, and there were a couple that I completely forgot about (Bella Donna would have probably been number six), but FWIW, here it is.

1) Confessions on a Dance Floor - Madonna
What can I write about this record that I haven't already written before? It merits the number one slot because I am still listening to it like it came out last week over 2 years later. In my 25 years of Madonna fandom, there is not a single album that has been played as much as this one has. From start to finish, a tour de force from Madge and one hell of an album to have to follow up come April of this year.

2) Savage - Eurythmics
Of all of Eurythmics albums, this is the one that has stuck with me through the years. I have never really wavered from it being my favorite of all of their albums, even though it was one of their least successful. Annie Lennox as the schizophrenic housewife-turned-blond-bimbo is just the perfect point to leap into the album. Fine songwriting, great production and wonderful vocals from Annie. A dark and enticing album if given the chance.

3) Come On Come On - Mary Chapin Carpenter
This was the album that got me into Chapin, and therefore, will always hold a special place in my heart. It was Chapin at the height of her commercial appeal, so some would argue that it should be demerited for that, but who says that a great album can't appeal to a large section of people? From the country-pop of "Passionate Kisses" to the somber "I Am A Town", there is simply not a bad song on here.

4) In My Tribe - 10,000 Maniacs
In one of my first forays beyond pop radio in high school, I came upon the Maniacs and In My Tribe hit me at just the right time in my life. Socially conscious thoughts set to a jangle pop sensibility. Arguably, 10,000 Maniacs never matched this record in terms of quality and consistency. And as I've written before, it contains the single happiest song ever written about seasonal affective disorder.

5) Stoney End - Barbra Streisand
Now, before anyone thinks that this is the guilty pleasure album, think again. Streisand has this enormous catalog that contains a lot of really good albums as well as some real stinkers. Her best albums are probably the hits albums at they extract the best songs from some ho-hum albums and put them all together, making them sound great. But Stoney End, for whatever reason, is an album I keep on coming back to. Streisand turns her back on standards and show tunes and embraces folk-pop-rock. Believe it or not, it actually worked, and it worked well. Riddled with memories of college for me, I am seriously considering getting a turntable just so I can play the vinyl copy I have.

And as if there weren't enough guilty pleasures in that set, my guilty pleasure album is...

The Sign - Ace Of Base
"All That She Wants" was inescapable during the fall of 1993. It sounded like nothing else on the radio at the time, but was instantly accessible. There is no better way to get your early 90s on than to pull out Ace of Base. And on those grounds alone, I will defend The Sign until my dying breath. It's an album not likely to make many best-of lists, but it sure makes mine.

So that's it. And head over to Matt's blog, okay? He's a cool dude.

Trash karma

So today before work, Heidi and I went out on a hot date to Panera for breakfast. It was not exactly budgeted and in light of how the bills turned out, probably ill-advised, but what the hell, it was loads of fun. That's one of the benefits of having Anna in school full time. When I work late, we can actually do stuff like that. Just like we used to before we had kids.

Anyway, we're sitting at the table, and Heidi says to me "Oh my God, bad karma! That lady just threw the trash from her car out her window and onto the parking lot!" I couldn't believe it and nearly didn't, until we saw her do it AGAIN. Now, I firmly believe that all things you do come back at you threefold, so this lady is going to have a lot paying to do later. Heidi said that she will probably spill something on her shirt later in the day and wonder why. My thought was to take my tray full of dirty plates and cups and ask her if she would mind if I dumped it in her car. To that Heidi says "Hmm...passive aggressive much? No, wait a minute, that's just aggressive."

As it turned out, there was a table of older guys a ways down from us and they were all watching the activities unfold with the same kind of astonishment that we were. It was kind of funny how this lady probably thought she was getting away with murder, but we were all watching. Or perhaps she didn't find anything wrong with what she was doing, which is a hundred times worse.

A part of me wanted to go out and pick up the trash she had chucked out of her car and tap on her window saying "Excuse me, miss, but I think you dropped this." However, the north wind was howling today so the trash was probably half way to Ankeny by the time I thought of it.

The things you see. Amazing.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Driving in your car

Happened across this tonight while looking to see if Darren Hayes has announced his US dates. It's the brand-spanking new video for "Casey." I could sing the praises of this video, but I'll let it speak for itself.



I just love it when artists make videos in the classic sense. It seems to happen so infrequently these days!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Friday is Monday

It's Friday morning, but as I mentioned last night, it feels more like a Monday.

I was reading Michael Lutin today, and if you lend any credence to any kind of astrological stuff, today could seriously be a humdinger. Here, read for yourself (courtesy of michaellutin.com and the only reason I'm not linking to it is because it will disappear before too long.)

tick freakin' tock tick freakin' tock tick freakin' tock
You may have n
oticed a change in tone and mood
it's getting serious now
no joke
there's a sense of urgency
to gather your nuts and store them in your nest
even if you can't move as fast as you'd like,
as if, no matter what hemisphere you live in,
it is becoming winter
no more jerking around
if you're ever going to do anything
it's got to be now
now that both Venus and Jupiter have moved into Capricorn
no more superficial nonsense
A celestial event far more rare than Halley's Comet, occurs
today
Friday, January 25th at 10:44PM EST
(saturday in Asia, Africa and Europe)
oh, it's just a little thing
Pluto, recently downgraded by astronomers from planetary status
moves into the zodiacal sign of Capricorn.
“This transit has not occurred since the time of Paul Revere.
Over the next 15 years all relationships, business and personal, for everybody will be transformed.”
Even though you can't see it with the naked eye, Pluto is sending you on a new course.
Whatever you've been doing up until now, it's over. So fasten your seat belt The ride is about to start.”
tonight
22.44 est
it may seem like a tiny change
but the events of this week are life-altering
in business and personal life


Whoa. That's all I can say. (plus, wouldn't "Hung Up" just that much better if she sang "tick freakin' tick tock it's a quarter to freakin' two"?) Y'know, I'm really torn on the whole astrology thing. It's yet another of those things that I so desperately want to believe, but the scientist and skeptic in me is having a hard time getting my head around it. I think there is so much more to it than the stupid horoscopes that you read in the newspaper that are so generic they could apply to anyone reading them. "Real astrology" is more concerned with seeing you live out your full potential. I have to say that it's all Heidi's fault that I'm even interested in it at all, that I'm giving more and more thought to spending 30 bucks to have a full chart done. Because seriously, if there's anything to it, anything at all, wouldn't it be good to know?

I think the thing that makes it hard, especially for me, is that there is no way to objectively measure anything involved with astrology. At risk of sounding all 70s and "what's your sign?" I am very interested in learning more about not only my sign (Gemini -which fits me to a bloody tee) but also my rising sign and my moon sign and what they mean. Get much past that and my eyes start to glaze over and I'm lost. Which is why I think that either having someone who does that kind of thing for a living would be a smart thing for me to do, so that it can be put into terms that I can understand.

It's really too bad that all that kind of stuff is written off as psychic mumbo-jumbo, even by me at times. I am just way too much of a science head in that "if we can't measure it, we can't prove it" is very much my mantra. But the Fox Mulder portion of me (which, despite what I say, is significant) is just dying for all that stuff to be true, to have something to believe in that is beyond the realm of science. It would be nice if all this stuff could be integrated. Heidi and I were just talking about this before bed last night, how nice would it be if your physical, mental, and emotional health were all under an umbrella of medicine, therapy, and metaphysical things like energy therapy and astrology and what not. As Heidi was saying, perhaps that's what the Age of Aquarius really is all about.

I know, I sound like I'm off my rocker, especially for someone like me whose brain is too analytical for its own good. But there are so many things in this world we can't explain through rational scientific method, that it's hard for me to write off.

All I can say is that I'm really glad I'll be at home at 22:44 EST tonight.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Accomplishing nothing

As I hinted in my previous post (and kudos to everyone who has participated!), I have not really accomplished anything of any real significance today. Even though tomorrow is Friday, it is really Monday as it begins a 5 day stretch of work. I'm working kind of crappy shifts but I traded into the evening shift over the weekend because of a previous commitment so I really have no one to blame but myself.

I got a Best Buy gift card from Heidi's grandparents for Christmas this year. Anymore, there is so little at Best Buy that I want that I'd almost rather have a Borders card, but beggars can't be choosers. So a while back, I bought an iTunes card with it and have been slowly whittling away at it. I always like to use those to buy a song here and a song there rather than whole albums. So far, I've bought 4 songs: "Ride The Ride" by The Bangles, "Freedom Dance (Get Free!)" by Vanessa Williams (*hangs head in shame*), "Nick of Time" by Bonnie Raitt and "Quiet Evening" by Carly Simon. It's just like buying 45s!

We're reading Beezus and Ramona to Anna at night. She's almost to the point where her attention span can handle chapter books. In any event, I was SHOCKED to find out that Beverly Cleary is still living. She's 91 and still kicking.

I have not broken the news on this blog (although Heidi has on hers) but come February 4th, we are entering the 21st century and getting DirectTV, complete with 100 hours of DVR. 200 channels, nothing but cats. Actually, 200 channels and there STILL won't be anything on. But the best part is because it's bundled in with our long distance and internet, WE AREN'T PAYING ANY EXTRA! We are excited though because there are so many things that I just don't get because I don't watch cable. It's part of why I let my EW subscription lapse - I got so sick and tired of it always being about TV!

Backwoods Barbie is coming out on February 26th, a mere two days before Heidi and I head to Minneapolis to see Dolly Parton. This is the album cover:

I'm not sure what to think. I do know that she covers the Fine Young Cannibals' "She Drives Me Crazy." It seems like a bad idea on paper, but so did her cover of "Stairway to Heaven" and that turned out quite fine and dandy.

It is fucking cold out tonight. And that's all I have to say on that subject. My folks are in Vegas and I bet they are glad for it.

Sicko is coming from Netflix tomorrow. Not that I'll have time to sit down and watch it till next Wednesday, but we'll see how it goes. I'll admit that I have shied away from it as I have had trouble with a lot of the sensational news and political stories these days (don't even get me started on the election!) but Matt watched it last week and was wondering what my reaction to it was as a health care person. I had to admit that I hadn't watched it, so I rescued it from Netflix-queue-hell.

So this has been 4 blog posts in one day. That will make up for the near certain dearth of posts over the next several days.

Song lyrics meme - part three

It's audience participation time around here! Yuri has been doing a great "mystery song" Monday feature which got me thinking about this again. It has been forever since I've done this, and because I've gotten absolutely nothing of any consequence done on my day off today, I thought I'd continue in that vein. It's time for another song lyrics meme. By now, you know the drill:

Step 1: Put your iPod/MP3 player or iTunes on random.
Step 2: Post the first line(s) from the first 20 songs that play, no matter how embarrassing the song. (I took out any instrumental songs, natch, as well as any song where the title is uttered in the first line, so it's not entirely the first 20 songs that came up.)
Step 3: Post and let everyone you know guess what song and artist the lines come from. (Those guessing the songs should post in the comments or shoot me an e-mail.)
Step 4: I'll strike out the songs when someone guesses correctly and post the title in bold after the stricken song when it is guessed.
Step 5: (for those guessing the songs) If you look up the lyrics on Google or any other search engine, that's called cheating, so don't do it!

So here are the songs:

#1 - Time, time, time/See what's become of me "Hazy Shade of Winter" - The Bangles (guessed by Yuri and Adem)

#2 - I don't know why, I don't know how/I thought I loved you but I'm not sure now. "Domino Dancing" - Pet Shop Boys (guessed by Lucas who was too shy to post a comment.)

#3 - I really should be saying good night/I really shouldn't stay anymore/It's been so long since I held ya/I've forgotten what love is for. "Trouble" - Lindsey Buckingham (guessed by Matt)

#4 - If you could be so kind/To help me find my mind/I'd like to thank you in advance. "Lost Mind" - Diana Krall (guessed by Paul)

#5 - There comes a time/When you should see things clear/Free from my innocence/There is no circumstance too severe. "Le Bel Age" - Pat Benatar (guessed by Paul)

#6 - Life is a moment in space/When the dream is gone/It's a lonelier place. "Woman In Love" - Barbra Streisand (guessed by Lucas and Adem)

#7 - Our step mom we did everything to hate her/She took us down to the edge of ********/We saw the lion and the kangeroo take her/Down to the river where they caught a wild alligator. "Decatur, or Round of Applause for Your Stepmother!" by Sufjan Stevens (guessed by Paul)

#8 - I walked into the club last night/I hadn't been there for so long/Thinking foolishly I might find you sitting all alone/But oh, how dreams lie "No Two Ways About It" - Pam Tillis (guessed by Paul)

#9 - Neon shines through smokey eyes tonight/It's 2 A.M., I'm drunk again/And it's heavy on my mind Grace Is Gone - Dave Matthews Band (guessed by ooshiny)

#10 - Dreaming/I must be dreaming/Or am I really lying here with you? "I Just Fall In Love Again" - Anne Murray (guessed by Randy. Paul came close, guessing the Carpenters who also did a version of this song)

#11 - Looking through my old drawer/Came across the letter you wrote/Said you needed time away/That was so long ago "Come Back To Me" - Janet Jackson (guessed by Lucas and Caryle)

#12 - Her hair is Harlow gold/Her lips sweet surprise. "Bette Davis Eyes" - Kim Carnes (guessed by Yuri and Lucas)

#13 - She was standing at the front door/When I came home last night/A good book in her left hand/And a rollin' pin in the right. One More Last Chance - Vince Gill (guessed by Heidi who had an unfair advantage because I was singing it while cleaning up the kitchen earlier.)

#14 - Lay a whisper on my pillow/Leave the winter on the ground/I wake up lonely. Is there a silence/In the bedroom and all around? "It Must Have Been Love" - Roxette (guessed by Yuri)

#15 - A prisoner of your love/Entangled in your web/Hot whispers in the night/I'm captured by your spell. "Better Be Good To Me" - Tina Turner (guessed by Yuri and Lucas)

#16 - Desperately seeking someone, willing to travel/You're lost in conversation and useless at Scrabble/Happiness will never last/Darkness comes to kick your ass "Your Disco Needs You" - Kylie Minogue (guessed by Yuri and Adem)

#17 - I feel a hunger/It's a hunger that tries to keep a man awake at night./Are you the answer?/I shouldn't wonder when I feel you whet my appetite "Take Me Home Tonight" - Eddie Money (guessed by Lucas)

#18 - Won't you come see about me?/I'll be alone, dancing you know it baby/Tell me your troubles and doubts/Giving me everything, inside and out. "Don't You Forget About Me" - Simple Minds (guessed by Yuri and Lucas)

#19 - Knew you'd be here tonight/So I put my best dress on/Boy, I was so right. Slow - Kylie Minogue (guessed by Daniel)

#20 - Sitting on the front porch on a summer afternoon/In a straight backed chair on two legs/Leaned against the wall.

OK, it's up to you guys from this point. I'll keep the post updated as best I can. These songs pretty much run the gamut across all genres and they all came from my iTunes, so that's pretty much no help at all when it comes to narrowing them down.

And dream of semis

I stayed up too late last night and then had a hard time falling asleep once I finally did go to bed. Once I fell asleep, did I dream or what? Usually, I have a hard time remembering my dreams, but I woke up from this one in the middle of the night and now I wish I had written it down because I only remember parts of it now that morning has arrived. All I can say is that it was bizarre in the extreme.

What I do remember is that somehow, for some reason, I was part of the orchestra pit in the musical version of Convoy. I know. I need therapy. I've never even seen the movie and haven't heard the song in an age! At any rate, it was me and my buddy Yuri. (sorry, Yuri, not sure why you were dragged into that insanity!) We had signed up for this, but as we got involved in it, we realized that there WASN'T a musical version of Convoy, and that it was up to us to get the songs written and the plot developed and hire the actors and everything because they had booked a world tour of the show! With none of the particulars figured out! And they expected us, measly members of the pit, to come up with this.

Well, the next thing I know, the shows are being put on, but instead of being put on in a theater or an auditorium, but rather, they were all roadside on various interstates. What I remember are hundreds and hundreds of semi trucks lined up on the side of the road. And the orchestra pit? Well, it was a hole dug in the shoulder of the road. I was on the piano and I was not in the pit, for I distinctly remember the rush of the semis as they tore past me at 70 miles an hour just inches behind my back while the song "Convoy" was playing. I was nervous for my hearing as well because it was so damn loud.

And hanging on all these trucks were rednecks of every shape and sort. Yuri and I had to try to fit in with them, which got increasingly difficult as the dream went on, but we were making great money because the show was a huge hit, despite the fact that I felt like I was in extreme peril every night and a hair's breadth from being creamed by a semi.

I remembered so much more about it in the middle of the night and I'm kicking myself for not writing it down then, but then I probably would have been awake for the duration and, contrary to what I like to believe, I do need sleep to stay alive. But what an odd mess of imagery. I'm one of those folks that believes that your subconscious can speak to you through dreams, but I'm a bit baffled by this one. I can't stop thinking about the trucks being so close and although I was scared, it was also exhilarating. Food for thought, I'm certain.

So if my subconscious was speaking to me last night, it certainly was speaking in tongues. But Yuri? Nice to see you. :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The limit of our sight

A bit of a new look tonight. Not really new, but it is blue and chilly and very winterlike, no? I also updated the blogroll and alphabetized everybody so no one can accuse me of playing favorites. Of course, Heidi is still at the top of the list because, well, that's just how it is.

Tonight, I had this huge hankering to listen to an album that I have not pulled off the shelf in probably 10 years. It's so strange when things like that happen, and it happens very frequently to me. Perhaps I should think about therapy. Or perhaps it's just an attractive little quirk. I prefer to think that it's the latter.

Anyway, the album in question was Carly Simon's Have You Seen Me Lately? It's from 1990, my first year of college and it was her pop/adult contemporary/soft rock follow-up to Coming Around Again, an album that is widely regarded as her comeback. I run very hot and cold on Carly Simon. She has an aggravatingly uneven track record when it comes to her music. Her albums are either completely aces or complete duds. There really is no in between for me. Coming Around Again falls in the former category, as does Letters Never Sent and Have You Seen Me Lately? Carly Simon albums in the latter category include My Romance, The Bedroom Tapes, and Spoiled Girl (double yuck to that last one.) So I'm hardly a dyed-in-the-wool Carly Simon fan. Mostly, I appreciate her.

But Have You Seen Me Lately? crept back into my consciousness for reasons I can't fully elucidate. I think, for whatever reason, I was thinking of one of my favorite lines in the last song on the album, "We Just Got Here." In the song, Carly writes that "Hugo is twisting his way up the coast." I've always liked the picture that lyric gives me. It calms Hurricane Hugo, which at the time was the costliest hurricane in U.S. history. Instead of the fury of a category 5 hurricane, I get this image of a slow, almost lazy rotation. Kind of a strange thing to think about when thinking of an album, but what can I say?

Listening to the album now, I really had forgotten how good it was, even though I distinctly recall not liking it as much as I had Coming Around Again when I first got it. I remember my friend Kelly mocking the album cover, teasing me about how Carly had definitely hired a personal trainer (probably true.) It has a very "midlife" vibe to it and considering she was 45 at the time of its release, there is probably some validity to that theory.

There are some really good songs on here, notably "Waiting At The Gate" and "Holding Me Tonight." But the song that really got me tonight was "Life Is Eternal." I remember this being one of those songs that I didn't really get at age 18, but now, at age 35, I am starting to see it. The chorus sums it up.

Life is eternal, love is immortal
And death is only the horizon.
And the horizon is nothing
Save the limit of our sight.

This is something that's important for me to bear in mind, especially in light of the events of the last few days. Not that there have been earthquakes here or anything, but let's just say that I had a figurative wake-up call from the universe today - a few of you know what I'm speaking of. Many would accuse me of reading too much into it, but the universe has odd ways of getting your attention when the conventional ways fail. I'm very fond of wiping the slate clean and starting fresh with a reboot, only to descend back into old patterns 35 years in the making. So tonight is another of those points of reboot. I'm prepared to be back here in a day or a week or a month saying exactly the same thing, but the thing is to keep on getting back on the horse.

This 18 year old Carly Simon album was a perfect companion for this. What an unexpected pleasure.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Parental rites of passage

So it's Monday night, I've had a hell of a day at work (nothing serious, just the usual) and Heidi has also had a trying day. What I'd like most to do is collapse on the couch with a Stella Artois and wait for sleep to arrive.

But no, I have to go to a school concert.

I will probably go straight to the bottom circle of hell for this, but I would rather be beaten senseless than go and listen to grade school kids sing about Martin Luther King, Jr.

However, I will do it, because this is what parents do for their kids. I remember my parents dutifully going to every school function of mine when I'm sure they had about the same level of desire that I have for the program tonight. I will say that I spared my parents having to go to sports events because, well, I pretty much sucked at all sports and still do to this day. But my folks did have to sit through piano recitals which has earned them a spot in heaven.

It won't be that bad because it's only an hour long, it's just kind of a bad night for it. The snow's coming down and I work early tomorrow so I have no idea how I'm going to get the driveway cleared. I could go out now, but I liken shoveling the driveway while the snow is still coming down to drying off in the shower before you turn off the water. It just doesn't make any sense. I love the snow and all, but seriously, this is getting kind of ridiculous.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

How can you not love this?

Heidi has posted the Barrowman-Marsters kiss a few times, so I don't feel so bad about going on and on about Rose McGowan and her machine gun leg! If you can't see the coolness in this, well, I'm not sure that there are words that will convince you.

So I managed to finish Grindhouse: Planet Terror this afternoon on the laptop while I was waiting for the car's oil to get changed. There was so much to like about it, I'm not even sure where to start. It wasn't a perfect movie, that's for certain, but it really spoke to my inner 12-year old boy, the part of me that just wants to see zombies get killed and people blow shit up.

The short version of the plot is as follows. Release of poisonous gas has deleterious effects on people exposed to it, turning them into zombie-ish, flesh eaters. As the trailer for G:PT states, "They're not living! They're not dead! And they're NOT STOPPING!" Rose McGowan plays a stripper go-go dancer who, along with her boyfriend Wray, leads a rag-tag band of survivors in an attempt to stay alive. And at risk of sounding completely shallow, Rose McGowan was simply HOT in this movie. I think I could have used a cigarette after watching her on the screen for just over 90 minutes. And surprisingly, her acting was not all that bad either.

The movie was gory with a capital G and some of the deaths and splattering and grossness made even me turn away from the screen. It basked in its political incorrectness (although probably not nearly as much as the trailer that preceded the film for Machete which I thought for certain was fake.) The zombies were relentless and disgusting and made mincemeat out of the living characters, only to be splattered all over kingdom come by machine gun fire and rockets and other such stuff later in the picture. Basically, it rocked all over the place.

But my favorite part of watching Planet Terror was how it was filmed. Actual grindhouse theaters usually possessed second or third generation copies of the exploitation films they showed, the films often showed significant signs of wear and tear, with dialogue cutting in and out and scratches on the surface of the film. Through the miracle of modern technology and visual effects, all these things were put into Planet Terror, much to my great delight. That attention to detail really enhanced the viewing experience for me.

Exploitation films are certainly not something to be proud of, but they are an undeniable part of cinema's past. While I'm certain that these kinds of movies are bound to offend a lot of people (but please, when was the last time something Tarantino had a hand in DIDN'T offend someone?), Planet Terror was still a fun throwback to a day gone by. Perhaps we should be thankful for the fact that those days are gone by. But still, Planet Terror did not disappoint me in the slightest.

Now, I just need to get this:My birthday is in June. It's never too early to start shopping. ;)

62

I would be remiss if I let today go by without doing a small birthday tribute to the First Lady of country music, Dolly Parton. She is 62 years old today and still doesn't look a day over, well, I'm not sure what. Anyway, I just love Dolly and have since I was a young kid watching the Dolly Live in London concert on HBO a hundred thousand times.

So in celebration, here's a couple of YouTube clips to enjoy all the greatness that is Dolly. The first is from The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas which I watched ad infinitum as a 12 or 13 year old on HBO as well. Not a great movie by any stretch of the imagination, but I do love this song, especially the part at about 2:50 that starts "And as for pimps!"



And just because it is Dolly at her campiest, here's "Potential New Boyfriend," a song that is in serious need of the remix treatment. I can hear it at The Garden now.

Friday, January 18, 2008

So close yet so far

According to Darren Hayes' MySpace blog, he's going to be doing a handful of U.S. dates in March. What I would give to be able to go to one of those concerts! It's funny, I was never wildly crazy about Savage Garden. I mean, their stuff was pleasant enough and certainly appealed to my pop ear. But I never really liked "Truly Madly Deeply" mostly because I heard it a million and one times on the PA at work when I worked at Drug Town in Iowa City, but songs like "I Knew I Loved You" and "I Want You" are still endearing today despite similar levels of overplay.

Anyway, I have been quite fond of Darren's solo work, especially his last album This Delicate Thing We've Made which is probably tied with Mary Chapin Carpenter's The Calling for the best album of 2007 (according to me which is all that matters here.) I admire him for taking chances and doing music the way he wants to do it, rather than the way a record executive thinks it should be done. In so doing, he has made some memorable music and a near perfect double album, which is no small accomplishment. Sure there are a few songs that don't appeal to me, but how can you dislike an album with a song that manages to work laws of physics into the lyrics? ("If I have understood correctly/velocity equals the distance traveled divided by time.")

So one of the cities that is likely to be announced on this mini-tour of the States is Chicago, which is a drive from Ames, but doable. The thing that makes it not doable is my severe lack of funds for this kind of thing. It costs money to drive to Chicago and I'm sure the tickets won't be free. Plus I am not likely to be able to get the time off of work to do such a thing. I am fond of saying that if I lived in Chicago, I would surely be broke because I would constantly be going to live shows. The biggest reason I am not constantly going to live shows now is because, well, how many of the artists that I really like and want to see are likely to come to Iowa? We get our share of country artists at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines and at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, but the artists I like are either too big to need to play the Midwest or are not big enough to guarantee good sales in a rural area like Iowa. So I'm equally screwed from both sides.

Still, it would be fun to see Darren Hayes. But not likely to happen.

Positively Hitchcockian

This was the view out the back door of our house the other day.

Perhaps a little bit of a close-up is in order.

Those birds roosting in the trees are crows, although if they were ravens it would be even cooler. As you can tell, there are just a ton of them that land in the trees from time to time, although they are showing up more frequently these days. Heidi has taken to feeding them, throwing the crusts to Anna's toast out every morning, as well as any bread that goes stale among other things. So I guess they just know where the food is. Still, it was unnerving to see so many of them congregated in one spot.

Plus, I was amazed to find out how closely related crows and ravens are. Seriously, I had no idea.

I may have to Netflix The Birds because of this. God, I'm so suggestible (but Heidi already knew that.)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Bits and pieces

Some random updates:

It's Thursday night and I've worked early for the last three days. I have never been more excited to sleep in than I am tonight for I don't work until the afternoon tomorrow. Of course, that means I will stay up way too late and it'll all come out in the wash anyway and my general state of sleep deprivation will go unchanged.

Heidi was going to straighten my hair again tonight for it's been about 3 months since I last did it and the curl is definitely starting to come back. However, I was looking in the mirror tonight and thought that really, my hair is really straight despite all that. So we're putting it off for now. This is probably for the best as we really should buy new relaxer and I am too cheap to do it. When I was talking to Jill (the lady who cuts my hair) she says that the relaxer just doesn't work as well if you save it. I'm convinced that my hair will either fall out or turn purple if I use it.

I'm thinking about watching at least part of Grindhouse: Planet Terror tonight either before bed or on the laptop in bed. It arrived from Netflix yesterday and I am excited to watch it. I don't know if it'll be any good. I've been told that Grindhouse: Death Proof was only okay, so I'm not sure how good Planet Terror will be. But it's a zombie flick (sort of), and have I mentioned that Rose McGowan takes off her leg and REPLACES IT WITH A MACHINE GUN??

If you'd like to see Heidi go all drooly over guys kissing guys, head over to her blog (but don't read the text if you don't want the first episode of the second season of Torchwood completely spoiled.) First she's kissing Dr. Who in her dreams and now it's Captain Jack and Spike from Buffy kissing each other. Where will it end?

D'Luv and XO helped me locate a blast from the past the other night. I've been looking for the Bizarre, Inc. song "I'm Gonna Get You" because I have this memory of my college roommate singing along to this song in a most hilarious fashion back in the day. And besides, one rarely needs an excuse to, as D'Luv put it, get one's early 90's on. Anyway, they located not just one but two versions of it. Heavenly.

It snowed last night. Again. I got the snowblower out after work tonight and it nearly didn't start. I was about to give up and get out the shovel (a Herculean task with the size of our driveway) when suddenly, the engine turned over and we were in business. The snow was annoying as fuck though. It is that powdery shit that blows all over the place no matter which way you aim the chute. So it only sort of looks like I did something. I, however, was a popsicle at the end of the job.

I have been totally into the Bangles these days, especially their 1988 CD Everything. I'm not sure what prompted it, but there it is. I always friggin' hated "In Your Room" and "Eternal Flame" but there are some great songs on that record. I'm thinking specifically of "Make A Play For Her Now." Yet another pop song in a minor key and I go all melty. Sometimes, I'm just too easy.

And I say that like it's a bad thing.

On amendments

Yesterday, the conservatives came out in what they hoped would be droves but what ended up looking like far less than they probably hoped for at the Iowa Statehouse to demand that the Iowa legislature debate an amendment to the Iowa Constitution defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. This is in response to the decision late last summer by a judge that the state's marriage law was unconstitutional.

I have mixed feelings about this rally and the people involved in it. While I don't even remotely begin to agree with these protesters, I have to respect their right to speak their minds and feel as they feel. As much as I just wish they would shut up and keep their bigoted opinions to themselves, they have the same right that I do to speak what they feel. But what is the cost of their rhetoric? At one time, it was completely acceptable to speak in a racist fashion, now that can land you in exceptionally hot water. When will this day come for gays and lesbians? I feel like the tide is turning, but that day may yet be a long way off.

I don't know. I don't think that a constitutional marriage amendment in Iowa will gain a lot of traction unless the Democratic majority we have now is somehow voted out. What I think is quite funny is the use of a simple demand "Let Us Vote!" to sum up what is really a very complex issue.

The last thing the world needs is me spouting about it, but I will anyway because it's my damn blog. The Des Moines Register has a bunch of photos of the rally posted. I can't believe these people would allow themselves to become the "face of bigotry" but I suppose they don't really see it that way. Despite the serious nature of the story, this one made me laugh out loud.

I mean, seriously! Start over if you screw up that badly!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Bathroom music

While I was getting ready this morning, I was listening to my iPod on the stage and heard a song I have not heard in forever! It is quite a random song, that's for sure, but it was "Never (Past Tense)" by Roc Project featuring Tina Arena. It is from the third season soundtrack of Queer as Folk and it is so damn dramatic I can't even begin to articulate it. Anyway, it sounded so good this morning in the bathroom (doesn't all music sound better in the bathroom? What's up with that?) I may just have to queue it up again and listen to it on the way to work.

That and "Us Amazonians" by the late Kirsty MacColl which I also heard while I was getting ready and never fails to remind me of my lovely wife.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Canadian songbird

Everybody has those artists in their collection that they just can't bear to reveal. For some, it's that secret copy of Britney's first album. For others, it's a Barbara Mandrell album they can't bear to part with. Yet other choose their guilty pleasure to be Dionne Warwick singing "Theme From Valley of the Dolls." Most of my music collection is one big guilty pleasure, although I once read somewhere (sorry, can't remember where) that the term guilty pleasure implies that there's something to apologize for. I am so far past that point that I can, with great pride, reveal one of my guiltiest of all guilty pleasures: Anne Murray.

I don't know what it is about Anne Murray's brand of 70s not-quite-country, not-quite-pop that I like so much. I have my mom and dad to blame for it, without a doubt. I was raised on a steady diet of this kind of stuff. Heidi once teased me, when labeling Anne Murray one of my guiltiest pleasures, by saying "are you an old lady or what?" Point taken. I actually attended an Anne Murray concert a couple years back and it was very enjoyable. She knew that she was a nostalgia act and played it for all that it was worth. While she played a few songs from her current album, she also knew that people had come to hear the hits, the comfortable songs that feel familiar and cozy.

I don't have every Anne Murray album known to man, only a hits collection and that suits me just fine. But when I found out that she was doing one last album, an album of duets with other female singers, I just had to bite. And I knew just what to do. I sent my mom the link to the album on Amazon.ca (not released in the US yet, and not sure when the US release date will be) and asked for it for Christmas. And sure enough, I got just what I wanted, although it took two shots to get the CD as the first one was mortally wounded in transit from Canada. But it finally arrived about a week ago and the good news is that it is VERY good.

Most of the songs are tried and true Anne Murray staples. This both works for and against the album. It works for it by being those comfortable songs that everyone knows, reworked a bit into duet form, with Anne doing completely new vocals for all the songs. It is this familiarity that also works against it, as Anne does not quite have the vocal chops she had 30 years ago. She is a bit of a warbler now, although, as Mary's friend's uncle or dad or whoever said, "that broad can sing!" As is the case with so many of the artists that I follow, they are headed into their autumn years and, let's face it, a 60 year old voice just doesn't have what a 30 year old voice does. So there are some scratchy moments, especially on "Daydream Believer" and "Snowbird" but we'll forgive her because, well, we just will.

That having been said, the standout tracks for me are "Daydream Believer" (recorded with Nelly Furtado of all people!) and "Snowbird" (recorded with Sarah Brightman of "Phantom of the Opera" fame.) I think what I like most about those pairings is the contrast of the voices, Sarah with her classically trained soprano against Anne's alto. Similarly, Nelly Furtado's voice complements Anne's well on what is probably one of my favorite Anne Murray songs (I remember hearing this song on AM radio when I was a kid riding home from the grocery store with my mom.)

Dusty Springfield also shows up, quite an accomplishment considering she's been dead for nearly a decade. Although the thought of a zombie Dusty Springfield is certainly a thought to ponder, it is purely studio magic that allows Anne to duet with her on "I Just Fall In Love Again." I also really enjoy Martina McBride's performance on "Danny's Song." The addition of the rest of the verses helps a lot. I keep getting that part with "Pisces, Virgo rising is a very good sign" stuck in my head! And of course, there's Dame Livvy (not really a dame, but that's how we refer to Olivia Newton-John around our house) who duets on "Cotton Jenny" which is a song I had never heard before, but is written by one of Caryle's most FAVORITE artists, Gordon Lightfoot. ;)

Not every song works - there's a French language song that I frequently skip and I just don't get into "When I Fall In Love" with Celine Dion. Some of the songs make me really want to hear the originals again, most notably "Time Don't Run Out On Me" featuring Carole King as the duet partner never really seems to get started and plus, I have never really been all that keen on Carole King's singing voice.

So who knew that Anne Murray could crank out an album that would be so appealing to this 35 year old guy? Considering she's the guiltiest of all my guilty pleasures, it's not too terribly surprising. And considering her recent comment on Madonna, which Matthew Rettenmund described as not quite a compliment, not quite a slam, I have a newfound respect for her.

"She doesn't sing like Barbara Streisand...(but) she dances like a son of a gun," Murray says of the Material Girl.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Man's best friend

The Sunday night ritual of getting the garbage out is complete. We are leaving a gigantic size carbon footprint because all the carpet we tore up this last week is now sitting on the curb awaiting the trip to its final resting place. And I moved all that carpet myself, thankyouverymuch! I hadn't intended for it to be that way, but I started with "oh, I'll move the small pieces and then have Heidi help with the one really big mother of a piece." Before I knew it, I was dragging the large piece up the driveway (a task made MUCH easier by all the ice on the driveway) and it was all out there. So YAY!

Earlier today, while Heidi was writing and Anna had a little friend over to play, I watched the movie Fido on the laptop. I remember hearing about this movie earlier this year, and since it was a zombie flick, I knew that I would be seeing it eventually. I'm not even sure that it even made it to the theaters here in Ames, for if it had shown up at that dollar theater, I would have undoubtedly gone. The basic premise of the movie is that sometime in the early to mid-20th century, a radioactive cloud from outer space reanimated the dead, leading to the Zombie Wars. Unlike in most of zombie lore, the humans actually are victorious over the undead, after they figure out what all us zombie fans know: Kill the brain, and you kill the ghoul. But armed with that knowledge, they take it a step further and develop the "domestication collar" which turns the zombies into manageable monsters capable of doing the tedious work that no one else wants to do. So they become household servants, paper boys, milk delivery men, garbage collectors, etc.

Fido is the zombie that the Robinson family brings into their home and unlike any zombie I've ever seen, he has a heart of gold. That is not to say that he does not have a few human snacks, but he develops a special relationship with little Timmy Robinson, a boy whose father is largely absent and whose mother is a bit of an enigma. They live in a typically idyllic 50s neighborhood save the fact that the walking (domesticated) dead are all around them.

What I liked most about this movie was that, for a zombie movie, it was actually kind of cute. That's not a adjective that is frequently ascribed to zombie flicks, the only one that even comes close is Shaun of the Dead, and I still wouldn't call that movie "cute." The relationship between Timmy and Fido is so endearing, and even though the movie breaks a few of the zombie rules, I can forgive it for it helped bring out the heart in the monster.

It was also fun watching zombie carnage set against a backdrop of 50s America. Every time I watch a movie that is set in the 50s, with its clean streets, white picket fences and all those other things that make up the popular conception of the 1950s, I always wish that I could live then rather than in our troubled times. Of course, the popular portrayal of the 50s as a time of carefree existence is completely and utterly false, plus there'd be no antibiotics save penicillin and sulfonamides, so no thanks, I'll stay here in the early 21st century. But watching the bloody-mouthed, shuffling zombies attacking their human counterparts during this time period was very Stubbs the Zombie and a interesting take on the genre.

The movie had a lot to say about the humanity of the monsters (specifically Fido) when compared to those that were actually living and while that was an overriding theme of the movie, you didn't feel like you were being hit over the head with it, which was a relief. I mean, after all, it is a zombie movie.

Next up from Netflix is likely Grindhouse: Planet Terror which is another zombie movie (I know, I need professional help.) That movie had me in the trailer when Rose McGowan took off her leg and replaced it with a machine gun. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is at the top of the queue, but it says "very long wait" so it might be awhile before we see that one.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Ambition of the blond (and the non-blond)

I'm sitting here in my fantastic looking new TV room listening to one of several bootlegs of the Blond Ambition Tour on my iPod while Heidi gets Anna settled in bed. The one I'm listening to is the one from Dallas. I have absolutely no idea how they got this near-soundboard recording of the tour. It must have been simulcast on the radio or something because there's no way on God's green earth it's an audience recording. Anyway, I really like this recording of the tour. Her voice was not completely shot yet, and it lacks the "dress rehearsal" feel of the audio from Yokohama. So it's a bit of a happy medium.

Now, if I really wanted to punish myself, I would listen to the Barcelona Blond Ambition where she sounds absolutely awful. There is no apologizing for that vocal performance, it just scraped the bottom of the barrel. Granted it was toward the end of the tour, so there's that. It is sometimes fun to listen to because it's clearly in an outside arena and Madonna complains about the heat all the way through the show.

Anyway, so today was a good one. We got our room done (for the most part) which is a major accomplishment for something that we didn't even set out to do until January 2nd. Heidi already blogged it, but here's a few pictures of what we did (for those of you that don't read both of us.)

That Anna, she's such a ham.

It feels good. I'll admit, I wasn't sure the red couch would work, even as I was plunking down the money for it, but I do believe it works. It's so nice to have a room that we actually enjoy rather than one that we just kind of ignore the really old and bad parts of. And what's even better is that we did it OUR OWN SELVES. There is so much satisfaction in that, I can't even begin to articulate it. There is nothing like a lot of hard work and then being able to bask in the fruit of your labors.

So on to the next thing, right? Who knows what that might be. I will say that I haven't seen Heidi so full of energy and vim and vigor for I can't tell you how long, so that's a definite plus! (I love you sweetie and am so glad you're feeling better!)

"Hanky Panky" is playing right now. Talk about a song that I thought I'd never hear live again after Blond Ambition.

Anyway, a weird entry, I know. My state of mind is a bit weird, but there are two constants despite it. And they are the love of my girls and my constant slagging on the quality of Madonna's vocals on Blond Ambition. It's how you know I haven't been replaced by a pod person.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Ma premiere disque

Gakked from Heidi who gakked it from Caryle:

1) Go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Random
The article title is the name of your band.

2) Go to http://www.quotationspage.com/random.php3
The final four words of the last quote on your page are the title of your album.

3) Go to http://www.flickr.com/explore/interesting/7days/
The FOURTH image on the page is your album cover.

4) Design your cover. Layout and presentation are up to you.

5) Post your cover, along with these instructions. In the comments your friends will tell you what kind of music you play and the name of the album's single.

OK, so here it is.

I had a different album cover the first time around, but my download of the picture didn't work (damn it!) It was a picture of a purple flower. The trashed umbrellas make it just SLIGHTLY less likely that it's me playing the singing crystal bowls.

Hole in my heart chakra (all the way to China)

So on Monday, I had the day off after working the weekend. The weekend was the first weekend I have worked in probably 2 years, so it was a bit of a shock to be back at work on Saturday and Sunday. But it was a good weekend and there are pluses about working weekends, one of them being days off during the week. They are great opportunities to get to places that are difficult to get to during the week when you work and impossible to get to on the weekends.

In any event, on Monday, I went to see Heidi's energy therapy lady. The last month or so has seen less-than-optimal management of my SAD. The lack of light this year has gotten to me even more than I am used to. Part of the reason for this is that I have not been as diligent about doing the things that I know keep it all at bay. But the new year has seen a new resolve and Heidi has kind of been on my case to go to this energy therapy thing. Well, I'll try (almost) anything once, so late last week, she kind of forced the issue and I got an appointment for Monday morning.

I'll admit that I was skeptical. The funny thing is, Heidi said, you don't even have to believe in it for it to work. Having been trained to think in a traditional Western medical way, I always view such things with quiet skepticism. But there is a part of me (a part that I think might be bigger than I want to admit) that desperately wants to believe in all that. It's the same part of me that wants ghosts and UFOs and all that X-Files stuff to be real. And seriously, there is probably something to it because people chewed on willow bark for no apparent reason long before we discovered aspirin in that willow bark. So I went, and despite my skepticism, I was determined to get the most out of it.

Honestly though, I was amazed at what it accomplished. I won't go into exactly what she did although I will say that it involved both touch and working above my body while I was laying on the table. I am afraid that I might have drifted off to sleep while she was doing it, but Heidi assured me that was okay because everyone has a different reaction to it. It was funny, there were times that I was like "this is all so weird!" and then times when I was totally into it and I really seemed to be "feeling" something for lack of a better word.

What I will say for the experience is that after she was done, she told me that I had not one but FOUR of my chakras blocked. The chakras that were blocked - the result of emotional upset, conflict, loss, etc. - were chakras one through four - the most basic of all chakras. I told her going into it that I felt like my heart chakra (number 4) was blocked. I had determined this based on some conversations Heidi and I had over the last month or so. So I wasn't surprised to hear about number four, although numbers one through three surprised me.

The goal of energy therapy is to unblock these chakras and get them functioning more normally again, put a hole in them so-to-speak. To do that, you need to get the energy flowing through them in a more natural way, and I do feel like that happened. The trick is to figure out how to do it myself. I was impressed with her in that she didn't do the chiropractor sell and say "well, you need to come back twice a week for the rest of your natural life." According to Heidi, she is very into teaching you how to keep your chakras unblocked. But you have to do the work. You have to meditate (which isn't as daunting as it sounds) and you have to be cognizant.

So time will tell, that was my energy therapy experience. If you're reading this and thinking "Dan, that sounds way too new agey for you!" you're probably right, but I did get something out of it. And that's the most important thing I guess.


(the song from which this post dervied its name)

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

What about the Gentlemen?

Heidi forwarded this to me, and it is just perfect. It's the GOP presidential contenders if they were Buffy villains. Too classic.

But perhaps the best one is in the comments (where several try their hand at the Democratic candidates):

Hillary Clinton => Buffy Summers
Her choice of gentleman companions leaves something to be desired. Struggles with her demons. Portrayed by a not terribly likeable actress. But you know that when the chips are down she will kick serious ass.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Heart failed at the top of the staircase

...instead of in the back of a taxi.

Those of you keeping up with Heidi's blog have seen the transformation of our TV/family room from a 70s hell with dark wood paneling and stained carpet to a fabulously painted room with sealed hardwood floors. The sealing has been a tricky in this house of many cats. It has pretty much required us to seal the cats in different parts of the house. The three young men - Walter, Bingley and Sidney got the basement. We sealed the cat door at the top of the steps so as to prevent their escape onto the sticky floor above, but this did not stop one determined Walter from nearly clawing through the door in an attempt to escape his prison.

Between plaintive meows, we heard frantic scratching and clawing at the door, desperately trying to remove the cat door as if THE most exciting thing in the world was happening on the other side. Seriously, it sounded like he was going to drop dead from heart failure in the next minute if we didn't let him out.

I am happy to report that he is still alive, ready to annoy and slobber another day.

It's been a really good remodel of the room. It's been difficult, but I think we're really going to like it once we're all done. And unbelievably, it has not been all that expensive. It helped immensely that we didn't have to rent a floor sander (although when we do the floors in the back bedroom, there is no doubt in my mind that we will be renting it for that job.) We only have several more coats of polyurethane to put on the floor, a job that is proving to be more difficult with each subsequent coat because it's harder and harder to tell where you've already been and where you have yet to go.

But it's very satisfying because it's something we've wanted to do since the day we moved in, and it is finally happening. So YAY for that.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Darling, just be yourself tonight

Every now and then, I wonder what it was like to listen to one of those "classic" albums before they were classics. For instance, I wonder what Rumours sounded like before it sold a bazillion copies and had spun off 4 hit singles. As a long time Madonna fan, I've had the opportunity to do this with her records before the albums became collections of hit singles. But recently, I've come across an album that I really wish I had been able to do the "virgin listen" with.

On the whole, Eurythmics albums are rather hit and miss for me. For every classic album they have (Savage), they have one that doesn't really do it for me (Touch - I know! Heresy!) I'm not sure why this is, as I really do love Annie Lennox and the production is right up my alley. But for whatever reason, some of their albums really appeal to me, and others, I can leave with no problem. Be Yourself Tonight, which I have just recently listened to in its entirety, falls into the former category.

Be Yourself Tonight
is probably the Eurythmics album on which there is the largest percentage of recognizable hits. At only nine tracks, that doesn't take much, but almost half the songs were released as singles, those being "Would I Lie To You", "Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves", "There Must Be An Angel (Playing With My Heart)" and "It's Alright (Baby's Coming Back.)" Listening to the album now, there's a sharp demarcation between those famous hit singles and the lesser known album tracks. Oh, here's a hit single! Oh, here's a song I don't know. I really wonder what it would have been like to listen to this album when the only song that you knew going into the listen was "Would I Lie To You."



(To this day, I still think it sounds like she's saying "I'm naked! Naked!" instead of "I'll make it, make it!")

As an album, it ranks right up there with my all-time favorite Eurythmics album Savage. A bit more pop-rockier than the previous efforts, it does have some ace songs, and I'm not even talking about the singles. "Here Comes That Sinking Feeling" is a personal favorite as it served as a bit of a "personal work theme song" when I was working retail pharmacy in Iowa City nearly a decade ago. The album is a perfect example of how less really is more. The CD age has seen artists feel compelled to fill up every single minute of the CD, compromising the integrity of the album in the process. Be Yourself Tonight clocks in at a tight 43 minutes and is intriguing and appealing for all 43 of those minutes.

Annie Lennox is in such fine voice on this album and it is immaculately produced, however, the Eurythmics' fortunes would start to fail with their next release (Revenge) and fall even further with Savage. But for what it's worth, Be Yourself Tonight is a classic album of the 80s and one even casual Eurythmics/Annie Lennox fans should give a spin from start to finish.

The remastered version released a few years back has 6 bonus tracks, including two remixes, a live track and some unreleased stuff from (one assumes) around that time, including a killer cover of The Doors' "Hello I Love You."

Friday, January 04, 2008

He's here again

I am not what one would consider a Kate Bush fan - not by a long shot. I admire and respect her as an artist, but I just don't much care for her music. Most of the time, I find her voice rather grating and not very appealing. She is, I believe, an acquired taste which I have not really acquired. However, I was mentioning to Heidi the other night that the one Kate Bush song that I really have latched onto is "The Man With The Child In His Eyes." I'm not sure why, but I think it's just gorgeous.



Now there are some other Kate Bush songs that I do like - "The Red Shoes" and "Rubberband Girl" but none, in my opinion have the beautiful simplicity of "The Man With The Child In His Eyes."

I think, as artists go, I have to take Kate Bush in very small servings. But like I said, I do admire her body of work and her bravery in going her own way.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Caucus insanity (not so much)

About 4 years ago, I wrote this post about the 2004 Iowa Caucuses and our experience there as Dean supporters. It was, in effect, what made us leave Washington and move to Ames. It was not the only reason, but it was definitely the straw that broke the camel's back. I'm happy to say that our experience caucusing this time around was nowhere near as stressful and was actually a bit of fun.

With the caucuses a thing of the past and the results on every news channel known to man, we all know that Barack Obama won. He was the clear favorite at our caucus site, with fully half the room supporting him. 228 people showed up to our caucus site - we had 10 delegates to divvy up. Obama got 5, Edwards (who Heidi and I were both unswayably supporting) got 3, and Richardson got 2. To my great shock and surprise, the Hillary group was not viable (i.e. did not reach the 15% of caucus goers in the room) so they had to realign with other campaigns. I felt bad for her in a lot of ways, mostly because the Clinton precinct captain is a neighbor of ours who has had her Hillary sign up for a damn long time and was obviously very passionate about it. I think ANY of the Democrats will make a good president, and I was nearly swayed to Obama by an article in The Atlantic that I read a month ago. It was that article alone that made him my strong second choice. But ultimately, it was Edwards, who was my second choice after Dean in 2004 that got my caucus vote this time around.

It's kind of fun - because it's cool to see democracy in action, no matter how antiquated and creaky the caucus version of democracy is. It was fun this year because I was just a body to be counted, and not someone who had to work the floor and try to get people to come stand up for our candidate. I am not cut out for that kind of life.

After all is said and done, any Democratic candidate is better than ANY of the Republican candidates. Huckabee will lead the Republican party to an electoral disaster. Although there is a lot of time between now and Election Day. And if there's one thing I've learned, it's that anything can happen.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

RIAA update

So the RIAA hasn't gone completely over the edge yet. As it turns out, that Washington Post article that I linked to yesterday was not the best researched bit of news in the history of the world. I'd detail it here, but really, someone else has already done a better job.