Monday, June 23, 2008

Dispatch from the field


Monday, June 16, 2008

I thought I'd sound more like Lauren Bacall

So, some of you may know that I was invited last week to write, record, and submit a 60-second movie review for the NPR show The Takeaway. I did it--seriously, one of the most excruciating writing experiences of my life, plus the joy of recording what amounts to the world's most harrowing answering-machine message--and guess what?

I got on!

You can hear part of my review here (I'm the first voice after they say people had specific problems with the story--I start with something about the movie lacking a heart), and they'll be linking to my complete vocal review, as well as to Cinema Hype, later in the day. I'll let you know when that happens.

I am totally the next Sarah Vowell. This is so exciting.

Update: The full review and the CH link are now posted.

Update #2:: The streaming audio doesn't seem to be working; this may be a download situation. Sorry about that.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

12 of 12: June

Happy June 12, all. For explanation of the 12 of 12 Project and an index of other twelves, see Chad Darnell's blog.


Kidding. (This is how rumors get started.)

7:05 - For reals, waking up. Why 7:05 is so much more feasible of a wake-up time than 7:00 is beyond me.

7:52 - Too hot for pants; too bad I have ghost legs. Really, folks, this is about as good as it gets.

7:55 - A beautiful day in the neighborhood.

10:53 - It looks like I'm down to two piles of work, but that's an act. If there are only two piles, I can't possibly be that busy. Right? Right?

5:05 - Running thirsty...blenders and nutrition powders call.

5:30 - Traffic sucks, but at least there's frozen pomegranate juice.

5:40 - Fun mail! Wedding invitation! (If you're reading this, Tamah, I'll be there.)

6:40 - People are coming over. This is me, trying (with limited success) to make it look like my apartment hasn't been taken over by frat boys or wild dogs.

6:50 - Confetti salad. I got so jealous of the mangoes in the original chef's picture that I added strawberries. Super-delicious, raw onions and all.

7:01 - Obviously, "salad" = "vehicle for chips."

7:40 - My super-awesome church group.

7:41 - Luke and Stephen making short work of confetti salad leftovers. (Boys. They're like trash compactors.)

7:42 - The other side of the room. (Susan REALLY loves her Bible.)

9:50 - Elsa-Jennie is awesome for many reasons, not least because she stays after small group and lets me relive the first season of Lost.

10:55 - Ugh, so hot. And tired. But at least I'm reading Pamie's's book.

Good night, and good luck. See you in July.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Citizen Playlist

Tonight is Tuesday night, the only really free night of my week. I've already finished Cinema Hype for tomorrow and taken some time with the book I'm reading, with all of the windows open and the ceiling fan on and the sun finally, finally sinking behind the house across the street. Later, I might watch a little 30 Rock and try to write some fiction. Tuesday night is a long, good night.

It's also the day where all good things come to iTunes. It's new release day. It's free-music day. (Why don't I ever take advantage of iTunes free singles? Only an absurd creature of habit turns down this kind of deal.) It's the day where they update the celebrity playlists. Do you know the iTunes Celebrity Playlist page? Go to the iTunes Store and choose Music from the menu on the left. Scroll down a little, and you'll see it, again on the left. There you go: pages and pages and pages of celebrities' favorite songs, complete with little summaries and comments. Just in the last week or two, they've added the Sex and the City cast(!) and Alton Brown (who listens to exactly the kind of music you'd think. Heh). How great is this? Hours and hours of entertainment (and possibly some new music), I'm telling you.

There are really two kinds of celebrity playlist: the ultra-pretentious kind where the celebrity in question writes a whole paragraph on each song you don't know by each band you've never heard of, and the disappointingly/awesomely vapid kind where each song gets three words and an exclamation point [see Garner, Jennifer]. Okay, so maybe there are a few in the middle, people who listen to the same songs everybody else listens to, but I never remember much about those. Unless they're by America Ferrara, who is kind of my music twin.

In response to the celebrity playlist phenomenon, my friend Avery came up with the Citizen Playlist: the celebrity playlist for the rest of us. This is a playlist for today and not for forever, simply because "forever" playlists are far too much pressure. I would be here for days. Weeks. Months. And then new music would come out, and I'd have to revise the whole thing, wouldn't I?

So here is my citizen playlist for June 10, 2008.

"More Adventurous" - Rilo Kiley
Picking a favorite Rilo Kiley song is kind of Sophie's Choice, so I had to include two. This song is lovely, singable, and packed with mostly good advice about risk and love and accidental pregnancy. So, all the things I like in a good pop song.

"Tonight is the Night I Fell Asleep at the Wheel" - Barenaked Ladies
I have spent basically a decade trying to decide on a favorite BNL song, and I think I've finally settled on this one. (Because it totally matters in the long run.) It's about exactly what you'd think it's about. I always get this one phrase in my head, "in all the confusion, there's something serene--I'm just a posthumous part of the scene," and then there's this little instrumental thing, maybe an oboe?, that goes boop! boop!--I can't really explain it, but once that starts looping around in there, it's all over.

"This Modern Love" - Bloc Party
This song is super-rhythmic and super-catchy, with super-jangly guitars, and I like singing, "This modern looove....BREAKS ME!" just like the guys in the band.

"Somewhere North" - Caedmon's Call
This is from the only album of the only Christian band I have left over from my early days of DC Talk and the like. It is wonderful and sounds like driving at night with the windows rolled down.

"The One I Love" - David Gray
I don't really think I understand the details of this song--she's telling the repo man she's the one he loves? And yet. I always play it twice in a row.

"I Will Always Love You" - Dolly Parton
And don't even think about substituting Whitney or anybody else. It's got to be Dolly, or it wouldn't be the saddest song in the entire world. Complete with monologue of acceptance in the middle.

"You Are What You Love" - Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins
The Jenny Lewis album Rabbit Fur Coat is probably my most favorite album this year so far; I listen to it FAR more than is really normal, and am not even a little embarrassed about it, because it is catchy and lyrical and wonderful every single time. And this song speaks the truth: you are what you love, not what loves you back. I feel that this is a Life Lesson. (Fun fact: Jenny Lewis is the frontwoman for Rilo Kiley, so this is almost like choosing a third RK song. Scandal!)

"The Bleeding Heart Show" - The New Pornographers
This is, by far, not the New Pornographers song I listen to the most--it's not even on my favorite album of theirs--but it has the infamous "hey la hey la" segment at the end, which I can never get enough of. I love the NPs for sounding like they're in a high school rock musical 100% of the time.

"Feeling Good" - Nina Simone
My brother got me into this song, and let's just say that I'm saving it up for a particular day that I hope will arrive any day now. (No, not THAT day. You'll know, trust me.) It is exactly, exactly right.

"Sunday Smile" - Beirut
I've just discovered these guys and know practically nothing about them, but they use a lot of accordion and a lot of harmony, and I am fully convinced that they have handlebar mustaches. Listen and you'll see what I mean.

"Walkin' After Midnight" - Patsy Cline
I went on a major Patsy Cline thing earlier this year, and this is my favorite, favorite song from her Greatest Hits (except maybe "If You've Got Leaving On Your Mind," but whatever). Imagine living in a place where you can walk around after midnight (in search of your lost love, which kind of makes the whole thing less fun)! I think I'd be afraid of being mugged, but that's just me.

"Heart of Mine" - Peter Salett
This is a perfectly ordinary pop song that I love more than it could ever deserve. It plays in the movie Keeping the Faith, and that is basically all that is special about it, except that it SPEAKS TO MY SOUL. I don't know why. This is another back-to-back song.

"The Angels Hung Around" - Rilo Kiley
Rilo Kiley's most recent album is kind of a concept album about the sex trade in L.A.--just a little light listening, right? But it's actually fantastic and only minimally depressing, and I love the things Jenny Lewis sings here about her (long) life in L.A. She has a relationship with that city. Plus, I like singing along with the bridge.

"Walk Away Renee" - Vonda Shepherd
Yes, I could also go for the original by the Four Tops--it's a great song either way--but this is the version I have. It's Vonda Shepherd, and it's from the Ally McBeal soundtrack, and I do not appreciate all that snickering over in the corner, you.

"Hotel Yorba" - The White Stripes
I once saw this song on a sample playlist of songs about monogamy, which made me smile, even though it's accurate. Mostly I just like singing/shouting along.

"Pressed in a Book" - The Shins
Choosing just one Shins song is another hopeless cause, so I picked this one because I love it. I know it so well, I don't even really hear it, but then I sometimes play it twice in a row. And it melts into the song that follows it, "The Past and Pending," which is incredibly comforting. But, you know, that could be any Shins song. They're just that much a part of the woodwork of me.

So that's the soundtrack of me, circa now. Go forth and sample music!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The quiet house

This week has been awfully quiet at my place. Last Thursday was the official end of my 2007-2008 TV schedule, and now...summer.

My Tivo is basically full--I sacrificed almost everything else in order to keep the full season of Lost intact, because that's what you do when you're scatterbrained and compulsive about the most complicated show on the planet--but it's okay, because there's nothing on the Season Pass horizon until September. (When that day comes, though, watch out. Did you know that both Joss Whedon [Buffy, Firefly] and J.J. Abrams [Alias, Lost] have new shows premiering next season? And not a single one of my current shows has been cancelled. OY.)

It's nice, kind of. I can write. Read. Knit. Enjoy the psychic space of my quiet apartment. Listen to the guy across the street with the outlandishly loud voice when he talks on the phone. But I'll admit that after awhile, psychic space gets kind of dull (same with the neighbor; he sounds like Louis Armstrong on HGH, but I can't actually understand what he's saying), and I know I'm going to be trolling the universe for something to occupy that part of me that's always hunting for a good story.

I've declared this hiatus the Summer of Battlestar Galactica, which I think will be a Thing when I get there, but I'm still too close to the Lost finale to even think about something so brain-intensive (to say nothing of the aforementioned full Tivo, which I will eventually need to watch through and/or delete--it's a closure thing, since we won't see the island again until January). In the interim, I've got Freaks and Geeks coming up on Netflix, which is supposedly brilliant and not too long, and I'm trying to figure out whether I can find and finish the first season of Mad Men before the second season premieres in July. (The DVDs come out July 1. Why do they do this, not give us catch-up time between DVD releases and premieres? Maddening.) And then there are the other, smaller shows just starting to tap at my consciousness--How I Met Your Mother and, secretly, Dr. Who--which I probably won't get to anytime soon, but am sort of wondering whether I should. Right now I'm taking it easy with old episodes of Gilmore Girls--the first season is just like perfect old pajamas, I've seen them so many times--and random run-ins with What Not to Wear. Which is nice, and doesn't tax the brain too much, but at some point I will have recovered from 2007-2008 and be ready for sucking-in. And when that time comes, I want to be ready. What to watch, what to watch?

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

London calling TO MY SOUL

Today, right at the end of work, I suddenly couldn't believe I was in Emeryville and not in England. I'm not sure what brought on the sudden bout of Anglophilia; it might have been the realization that it's been almost a year since I visited, or the sight of Heather, who just got back from Scotland. Maybe it was the English "summer" weather we're having. Anyway, I suddenly wanted to be in London, at this one pub Christine and I went to, or in the Lake Country, where I didn't even get to the other side of Windermere, and can't believe I didn't go to Beatrix Potter's house (though I did hit up both of Wordsworth's, and I don't even like Wordsworth all that much).

As a compromise, to make myself feel better, I felt like going home to watch Pride and Prejudice, listen to the Clash, read Cold Comfort Farm, and drink tea, all at the same time. (Instead, I went home to watch the 5:00 ABCFamily rerun of Gilmore Girls, knit on the baby blanket, and eat Ginger Cats, all at the same time.) I did manage to track down some pub food for dinner, sausages and mash and cider at Kensington Circus Pub, though who makes sausages and mash with a) no gravy, and b) a side of black beans and salsa? (Oh, California. You kill me.) It did in a pinch, I guess. It was cheaper than a plane ticket to Heathrow, anyway, as well as practically everything else of the British/travel/money-related persuasion. I guess, once the price of gas goes down enough that I can afford to go anywhere farther than Walnut Creek, I'll have to go back. After all, I may have been to the lame faux Jane Austen Centre in Bath, but I totally missed the real Jane Austen house in some out-of-the-way Home Counties place, and I didn't even buy any yarn when I was there. Or books. Clearly, this must be remedied. What kind of tourist was I?

Anyway, until then, I'll be in my corner with some Blackthorn and, I don't know, some Bronte or another? I'll let you know how it turns out. (Hint: Crazy wife in the attic. Duh.)