Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Favorite flicks in February

in no particular order...

The New World
Mirror Mask
Last Days
The Best of Youth

disappointed in...

The Weight of Water
Ten Tiny Love Stories

Monday, February 27, 2006

Seven Songs Meme

From the Fretful Porpentine (I got tagged.)
"List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now. Post these instructions in your blog along with your seven songs. Then tag seven other people to see what they’re listening to."

Miss Sarajevo - that one song over and over, from the Passengers cd by U2/Eno. Also, the live version from U2 Vegas, 11/5/05 when Bono absolutely nailed the Pavarotti part. Is it too soon to be nostalgic for November?

The Denial Twist - by the White Stripes - it's embarrassing how many times I have played this song. It's just so ... garage-y.

Wake Up - Arcade Fire - they should be way more popular. Like Radiohead crossed with David Bowie. OK, and their song opened every U2 show last year. I am pathetic.

City of Dreams - Marah - Dave Bielanko sings like an angel. But he's not, is he; he's a bit of a wanker.

Vorspiel - from Wagner's Das Rheingold -it's not James Horner's score that makes The New World so haunting - it's this Wagner prelude. So beware buying the soundtrack.

Gleaming Auction - on Snow Patrol's Final Straw - the whole album is wonderful, but this is the repeatable song this week. And of course, Snow Patrol opened the Dublin U2 show on 6/24/05. But there's no theme here.

Mirror Mask - the soundtrack is the background to the work day b/c it's hard to watch movies at work.

If you don't have a blog and want to post your list here - please do.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Bodies: The Exhibition

So Amy shows me a flier for this exhibit the other day and I experienced about a minute of pure nausea. Bodies: The Exhibition is currently showing in New York - it showcases real human bodies. At first I didn't realize from the photos that the bodies were real, and thought - wow, fabulous sculpture. The nausea hit when I realized they were real - I think it was the exposed brain that did it.

Now, I love art. I got hooked big time when I was 12, when on a field trip to MoMA I walked through a small door into a huge room in which the only piece displayed was Picasso's Guernica. It was overwhelming, to say the least. I knew nothing about art, nothing about history, but seeing that was like being totally awake for the first time. There were BIG THINGS out there that I had not yet been aware of. My enthusiasm was not dampened in the least when later that same day I got my hand slapped by a guard for touching Van Gogh's Starry Night. Dude, I'm 12. (It was really bumpy.)

Ever since, I have based vacations and outtings around museum exhibitions and pieces I always wanted to see. And these pieces are not Monet and Manet; but outsider art, Latin American art, and surrealism. Sure, I still liked Van Gogh, and got to see Sunflowers at the National Gallery in London (the yellows are just not the same in books). But only the out there stuff really gets to me.

So I was surprised by my reaction to this "art". Is it really art? Exposed musculature and skeleton? Maybe in the way they set the expression on the face, or the way the body is posed? The exhibition explains that it gives visitors the opportunity to see themselves in a fascinating way like never before, that it unveils the many complex systems of organs and tissues that drive every aspect of our daily lives and unite us all as humans.

I'm just not sure about it. Would we call it insider art? It's a traveling exhibition, with dates scheduled already for Atlanta and Tampa. I just don't know. If I do go, I will need to bring a Double Pepto Bismol Latte.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

30% Evil

This site is certified 30% EVIL by the Gematriculator Entertainment Cartridges is 30% evil. It could be worse - a Democrat who is a woman blogging as Moxie Girl about politics in Washington was found to be 70% evil. Well, of course! But hey - if the Gematriculor says it, we must just accept our rating and move on. It would be hard to describe this site so I'm just going to copy and paste the intro. Click on the image to link to it and find out how evil your site is. If you have a lot of time to kill, find a site or two that have ratings of 0% evil and send them to me, ok? I really want to know which blogs God really likes.

"The Gematriculator is a service that uses the infallible methods of Gematria developed by Mr. Ivan Panin to determine how good or evil a web site or a text passage is.

Basically, Gematria is searching for different patterns through the text, such as the amount of words beginning with a vowel. If the amount of these matches is divisible by a certain number, such as 7 (which is said to be God's number), there is an incontestable argument that the Spirit of God is ever present in the text. Another important aspect in gematria are the numerical values of letters: A=1, B=2 ... I=9, J=10, K=20 and so on. The Gematriculator uses Finnish alphabet, in which Y is a vowel.

Experts consider the mathematical patterns in the text of the Holy Bible as God's watermark of authenticity. Thus, the Gematriculator provides only results that are absolutely correct."

Alrighty then.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Dear Bruce

I'm sorry - I have to say it: we're finished.

Sure, we've been through rough times before. There was that bad period in 91-92 with that other band. Shudder. And let's face it, one or two good songs every 3 years since is not enough to sustain a quality relationship. But I've been patient - after all, we had such a solid history.

But it's official - you are releasing an album composed solely of Pete Seeger cover tunes. I understand that you have respect for the man, and have been yearning to do something different. That doesn't mean I have to accept it. Why not just include a couple covers during a real tour - go ahead and yell Bring 'em home at the end if you want - but please don't venture down this most self-indulgent of paths.

Last year's tour was hard enough to tolerate. Charging full price admission for a solo tour to hear you perform a bunch of outtakes from the Nebraska album was not a way to guarantee our future. Sure, there were still some high points - I know you could still pull it off if you wanted to. But I guess yelling at the crowd to shut the f*%# up was a preview of more puzzling decisions to follow.

I will remember the good times. Hell, I have the videos. Nothing will top that Europe trip in 2003 - we'll always have Paris. And I will never forget when we first met. August, 1978 - you were so unbelievably funny and charming and talented, you just knocked me off my feet. I thought it would last forever.

Trust me, I've been thinking this over for 2 years. I am sure there is no future. 25 years is a good run. Don't be sad.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Work work work

I believe you are your work. Don't trade the stuff of your life, time, for nothing more than dollars. That's a rotten bargain. Rita Mae Brown

Personally, I have nothing against work, particularly when performed, quietly and unobtrusively, by someone else. I just don't happen to think it's an appropriate subject for an "ethic." Barbara Ehrenreich

I am somehow less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein's brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops. Stephen Jay Gould

If A equals success, then the formula is: A = X + Y + Z, X is work. Y is play. Z is keep your mouth shut. Albert Einstein

Kill my boss? Do I dare live out the American dream? Homer Simpson

I slip from workaholic to bum real easy. Matthew Broderick

All paid jobs absorb and degrade the mind. Aristotle (not Onassis)

One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important. Bertrand Russell

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Band Name Origins

If you know other trivia, send it to me and I'll add it.

The Beatles - a tribute to Buddy Holly and the Crickets. Beatles is spelled with an A because rock and roll was called "beat music" in England at the time. Also a reference to "The Wild One", in which one character confronts another after the latter's extended absence, telling him th at "the beetles [girls] missed you!"

B.B. King - originally Riley B. King, called the Beale Street Blues Boy, then Blues Boy, and finally B.B.

Backtreet Boys - named after a shopping area called "The Back Street Market" near Church Street Station in Orlando, Florida.

Coldplay - they took their name from a band they knew when the original Coldplay broke up. The band we now know as Coldplay was called "Starfish." The original Coldplay got their name from the poetry book "Child's Reflections, Cold Play" by Philip Horky.

Collective Soul - the name was taken from the novel "The Fountainhead" by Ayn Rand.

Death Cab for Cutie - the band takes its name from a satirical song performed by the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band on their album Gorilla.

Duran Duran - taken from the name of a character, Dr. Durand-Durand from the cult Science Fiction film Barbarella.

Fall Out Boy - suggested by a fan, from the name of a character in The Simpsons.

Fountains of Wayne - named after a Wayne, New Jersey lawn ornament store (right near my old house).

Green Day - singer Billie Joe Armstrong's high school principal told him it would be a "green day in hell" before music got him anywhere.

Iggy Pop - real name James Osterberg. Stage name derived from his first band The Iguanas.

Kings of Leon - derived from the band members father, Leon, a Pentecostal evangelist.

Pearl Jam - (1)Singer Eddie Vedder's grandmother Pearl used to make Eddie's favourite jam when he was young. The name was chosen in tribute to her. (2) The band almost named themselves "Mookie Blaylock" after their favorite basketball player, Blaylock protested and the band name turn on "Pearl Jam", Blaylock's nikname.

The Pogues - the band was originally called Pogue Mahone (a phoentic translation of the Irish Póg mo thóin meaning "kiss my ass"), but the name was changed to The Pogues shortly before the band's first record deal.

Radiohead - named after the Talking Heads song "Radio Head". The band originally used the name On A Friday, referring to the only time where all band members were able to practice.

The Ramones - refers to Paul McCartney's pseudonym Paul Ramone.

Sonic Youth - supposedly an ironic reference to community youth clubs and groups, by applying the term to an intense underground rock band. According to Thurston Moore, the name is derived from combining the names of reggae artist Big Youth and MC5 guitarist Fred "Sonic" Smith, to reflect two of their major influences.

The White Stripes - the band was named after the peppermint candy, which to members Jack and Meg White symbolizes childhood and innocence.

The Who - after being called The High Numbers, adopted new name because on posters of the time, each band got a single line, so they would get the largest type, no matter how low the billing.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Everyone's a critic

Aliens attacked my blog yesterday but I got it working again.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Whittington causes wave of apologies

As reported on cnn.com, Harry Whittington apologized for having been shot by Vice President Dick Cheney last weekend, saying "My family and I are deeply sorry for all that Vice President Cheney and his family have had to go through this week," Whittington said.

In response, Cheney, who grew up in Casper, Wyoming, said returning home was "a wonderful experience" after a "very long week." Cheney received a standing ovation from the state Legislature during his first speech since the shooting.

Encouraged by this deeply affecting statement, the Boston Red Sox issued an apology to the citizens of their fair city for breaking the curse of the Bambino, and leaving Bostonians with nothing to commiserate about.

Not to be outdone, media pundit Rev. Al Sharpton apologized on behalf of all African Americans, for causing "all that white liberal guilt".

A short time later, the returning residents of New Orleans issued a statement apologizing to FEMA for the current state of the city, and the fact that recovery was costing so much money, adding that they felt bad for tourists because "Mardi Gras will probably really suck this year."

President Bush is currently meeting with Iraqi citizens who are developing a plan to decrease potentially embarrassing casualties for this administration by staying out of the way of U.S. tanks and bullets between the hours of 3 and 5 p.m. while the country is being liberated from terrorist control.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Al, the Cat

Elegy for Al the Cat

In the end your nine lives
were not enough.
One by one they reduced you
to the final one
against which there was neither
cunning nor wisdom enough
to protect you;
there was only your last life left
to be taken.

Al Roskoski

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Best Quiz Answers

1. What is your favorite noise? Purrrrrring.
2. Have you ever bought a cd by Cher?
No - absolutley not - why what have you heard?
3. What was the best birthday present you ever got? It's o.k. if you want to talk about sex. A bright yellow Shaun Cassidy T-shirt.
4. Name one thing you really miss about the 80's.The ballads.
5. Have you lived up to your SAT scores? I've exceeded them, baby!
6. Did you ever write a love letter? Many. The first was not well received, I was in junior high.
7. What was your first concert?
Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions - I was 10.
8. What is your argument style? Razor sharp remarks designed to make you cry.
9. What character do you really like about yourself? My ability to use hilarious typos.
10. If you were 18 right now, what would you do with your life? Paleontologist.
11. Do you write poetry? I am a professional haikuer.
12. What do you do when you hate someone? 50% bitch about them; 50% ignore them.
13. Have you Googled yourself? Yes but I found everyone else instead.
14. Are there pictures of you on the internet? Unfortunately.
15. If you have an extra hour that is not filled up with responsibility, what do you do with it? (I'm looking for suggestions.)
I take quizzes.
16. Which movie character do you relate to the most?A cross between Peter from Office Space and Mel Gibson from The Road Warrior.

17. If you are sitting around with your closest friends, what are you most likely discussing? You.
18. What was your favorite summer job?
Working at a Photolab. There are some sick people in the world and they are compelled to take pictures of themselves.
19. In high school, were you a cheerleader/jock type, artsy (code word for stoner), or a nerd? Jock-ish (not to be confused with Jock-itch)
20. Do you like talking on the phone? More than I like quizzes!
21. What is your main fault?
It's all my fault.
22. Did you ever cheat on a test? Of course.
23. Was it this one? How can you cheat on this one? you can lie. I've lied on math tests before. I knew the answer was cosine pi but i lied and said tangent.
24. What is your battle cry?


Monday, February 13, 2006

Interesting new web sites

The DVD Ideas site makes purchasing suggestions based on topics of interest. Their focus is independent films and their prices are reasonable. They also have great lists, such as Best of 2005, Extremely Relevant, and Budget Films. Heading the list for last year is Turtles Can Fly, which Terry Gilliam raved about in an online interview. It was one of my favorites, but did not show up at the theater here.

Another new site, Squidoo, is not functioning at full capacity yet; it promises to pay its 'lensmasters' for click-through advertising based on Google-type rankings in the near future. It also gives 5% of each payment to charity. According to the description on the site, "A lens is one person's (lensmaster's) view on a topic he cares about. More specifically, a lens is a single web page filled with information and links that point to other web pages, to continually updated RSS feeds, or to relevant advertising." It's a good place to go for information, such as how to upload a podcast, or how to find software to enhance iTunes.

If you are incensed about the news that Netflix pushes its customers to the back of the line if they are frequent renters, this is your site: HackingNetflix.com. The site provides information on Netflix services and gives customers a chance to vent, as well as praise the premier DVD-rental company.

Let me know if you come across any good sites.

Sunday, February 12, 2006


Normally I don't like the kind of quizzes that people email you. I fill them out as Silvia, my alter ego (she is a heavy smoker and has 9 cats), or sometimes as me but with not one straight answer. Why fill them out? To be social. So I decided to write one myself. Copy and paste it in an email and send it to me, ok?? I'm too lazy today to make an html form. I am going to post the best answer for each question.

1. What is your favorite noise?
2. Have you ever bought a cd by Cher?
3. What was the best birthday present you ever got? It's o.k. if you want to talk about sex.
4. Name one thing you really miss about the 80's.
5. Have you lived up to your SAT scores?
6. Did you ever write a love letter?
7. What was your first concert?
8. What is your argument style?
9. What character do you really like about yourself?
10. If you were 18 right now, what would you do with your life?
11. Do you write poetry?
12. What do you do when you hate someone?
13. Have you Googled yourself?
14. Are there pictures of you on the internet?
15. If you have an extra hour that is not filled up with responsibility, what do you do with it? (I'm looking for suggestions.)
16. Which movie character do you relate to the most?
17. If you are sitting around with your closest friends, what are you most likely discussing?
18. What was your favorite summer job?
19. In high school, were you a cheerleader/jock type, artsy (code word for stoner), or a nerd?
20. Do you like talking on the phone?
21. What is your main fault?
22. Did you ever cheat on a test?
23. Was it this one?
24. What is your battle cry?
25. Do you love or hate quizzes?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Family Stone: Keep Sly Home

I never watch the Grammys - they are boring, the performances forced, and in the end, are just a recognition of sales. But Bruce and Bono in the same show? What am I, made of wood? So I flipped it on, figuring I would just do other stuff and run into the room when I heard them. And I love the Kanye West/Jamie Fox Goldigger song.

Apart from some uneven performances and definite sound troubles, I enjoyed the parts I saw. Madonna appearing with Gorillaz? Great stuff - probably less tension in rehearsals - fewer dancers to yell at.

And U2 never disappoints. After a kick ass version of Vertigo, Bono basically served as back-up singer to MJ Blige, who really should be on at the end of the show, b/c it is unfair to make anyone follow her.

And Bruce? Well... did he piss off both the lighting and the hair guys before the show? Not a fan of the song but it's always great to see him perform. But who could predict the debacle that would come later? Was anyone else scared to see like 15 people on the stage before Sly came out? Were they there in case he became a human pinball, to bounce him back into the playing area?

Sly's new look. Frightening. (The only thing more frightening was Sheryl Crow's visible sternum.) Was his neck surgically removed so he could better watch his own hands not play the keyboard?

I remember seeing Sly and the Family Stone in the mid-70's. I was away at school and my brother came up for the weekend to visit and to see his first concert. Back then, Sly was so great that he could show up an hour and a half late, play for 45 minutes, and still get a 10-minute standing ovation (which he did that night). He was so popular that he got married at Madison Square Garden to one of the "stars" of the movie Soylent Green (soylent green is people!), and people actually cared.

But why would his family allow his bizarre behavior to be witnessed by millions? It seemed like his mike was not even turned on until the end. Did he leave prematurely? I couldn't tell. Apparently there is a documentary in the works about his departure from the public eye. Maybe they thought this would help sales. It might, but for the same reason people slow down to look at car wrecks.

So glad they ended the show with the Wilson Pickett tribute. Watching Sam Moore and Bruce kick off Midnight Hour was like having a lemon sorbet after a really awful second course. I wish there was a palate cleanser for my brain.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Return of the King!

The King and his minions were returned today. Still no chicken.

Thanks, Teresa! And by the way, there was an eye witness.

Return of the King? Please?

I work in an office where the group favorite movie is Office Space. This is both good and bad. It's entertaining, they're clever, but you have to watch your back. This week, my favorite toy - my stand up Aragorn from Lord of the Rings - was stolen.

OK - I may have started it by conspiring to steal a chicken, who has since joined a gang and may not be heard from again. He flew the coop.

And OK, OK, I was also in on a conspiracy to steal the Yankee bear - but I DON'T HAVE THE BEAR OR THE CHICKEN!

And adding insult to injury - Aragorn apparently had a much better weekend than I did. I saw a movie (a great one, but still). Aragorn went to Starbucks, a video store, the gym, and a Super Bowl party. Sure, he still had to run some errands, like get gas and buy beer, but he has this whole new circle of friends. I don't know any of them. It really sucks.
Aragorn's Weekend

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

No snakes, much sun

I went hiking for the first time this year - no snakes! I took a popular trail behind Squaw Peak, or rather, Piestewa Peak. Double-checked under rocks going up and down; didn't see any, didn't hear any.

Poor Bella though. She is so out of shape that she had a hard time keeping up with me. She goes for walks all the time, but not up mountains. She was even too fat for her harness.

The downside of taking a popular trail is... other people. One guy walking quickly toward me down a very steep trail announced, "We're all friendly here". I said, "OK, great," wondering how friendly he meant. What he meant was his dog and my dog - his dog was so small that she was invisible behind him.

The temperature is 10 degrees above normal - Phoenix can be so weird. You turn the heat on in the morning, and by 11 it's almost 80 degrees. This is the best time of the year though. Snakes or no snakes.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

The electricians are coming!

I never thought I'd be so happy to part with 2 grand.

My house has a guesthouse attached at the back which I rent out. It's been vacant since June, when I booted out the tenant for almost completely totalling the place. If it was a car it would have been totalled by the insurance company. Here are some pictures -guesthouse.

Since then I've been slowly remodeling it. It needs to be rewired to add a new stove, an air conditioning unit, and just in general, to keep the breaker from kicking when anyone has the audacity to turn on a blow dryer while they are running the space heater. It needs new plumbing, a new floor, new drywall in 3 rooms (including the ceiling - it takes effort to wreck a ceiling!), new bathtub/shower/toilet, new kitchen cabinets and appliances, and a new door. It's amazing how much damage one person can do.

Everything came to a standstill in September when I found out how hard it was to find and keep an electrician. The first one took 2 weeks to show up, 3 weeks to call back, and 2 more to let me know he couldn't do it - too big a job. I asked everyone I know if they knew any good/available electricians. Finally, I found a pair who showed up when they said they would, and called when they promised.

Problem is they have a waiting list. I have been waiting since November. It's ok though. Because now I'm just waiting for the work and not the phone call.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Ophidiophobic and yet going hiking

One of the best things about living in Phoenix is going hiking in the mountains in the middle of the city. At the top of Camelback or Squaw Peak you get a 360 degree view of the valley. The best time of the year to hike starts now and runs through May.

In February the cactus and wildflowers start to appear, and they will be in full bloom by the middle of March. It's cool yet, and the days are getting longer. If you brave rush hour traffic and find a parking spot near a good trail, you can still hike for an hour before dark.

So I'm going with my friend Amy in a few days. Normally I would have been going all through the fall and winter, but I haven't been since last May. On a really hot day last May Bella and I hiked a trail up behind Squaw Peak that looks like Hobbiton, with vivid green grasses and a wild array of flowers. There's even an old wooden bridge that spans a wash - just perfect. Halfway up I heard a sound like a cicada, and didn't think much of it. Half an hour later we were coming back down. Bella was walking ahead of me and I heard the sound again, on the other side of the trail. Louder this time - I looked down just in time to see a small rattler about 6 inches away, heading for my left foot with its mouth wide open.

Now, I am very afraid of snakes. Afraid as in, see snake - legs may not work properly. Maybe even, see snake - pass out. If you live long enough in the desert, you're going to see a snake or two. I had accidentally run over a snake on my mountain bike. I had swerved to avoid rattlesnakes while driving up the desert roads to Crown Junction and Apache Lake. Earlier last spring, I was hiking with some friends in Cave Creek when we heard a sound so loud it may have been a jet engine. 5 minutes into our hike my dog and I must have startled a snake, which then started rattling so loudly the sound was unidentifiable at first. But when you hear something like that, you don't stop to investigate; my friend pushed her husband out of her way and ran. We all ran. We ran all the way back to the car.

But I had never seen a rattler, up close, already striking. At me. I didn't even scream - no time. I just leapt forward down the trail, and luckily, Bella started running when she heard me lunge - she was getting out of the way... We ran down the trail to the car. She thought it was great fun. I thought I was going to be sick.

Two close encounters in one season inspired a very lengthy break from hiking. But there is just nothing like the mountains in the spring. Wish me luck.