Saturday, December 20, 2008

Strange Fruit, indeed

Instant tears of hilarity, every time.

You can hear the whole essay, along with pieces by Anne Lamott and Sarah Vowell, here.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Stay inside 'til somebody finds us, do whatever the TV tells us

I recently bought a new album, Boxer, by The National. I thought about it for a long time--I acquired their song "Fake Empire" awhile back, and then Chuck used it once this season (along with Bon Iver's "Skinny Love," which is another story altogether, and a perfect confluence of totally different but totally complementary songs), and I found myself listening to it all the time. I decided a mental monopoly was worth $9.99, and bought the album.

First of all, I think I've figured out why I love "Fake Empire" so much. It starts out with this line: "stay out super-late tonight, picking apples, making pies." And, you see, it is exactly the kind of music I would like to listen to as I stay up super-late, picking apples*, making pies. Family and friends will tell you that I am not a late-night anything, and that is mostly true, except: I am a late-night baker. There's something hugely relaxing and hugely satisfying about mixing up some sweets after bedtime (and eating them warm, whatever they are, immediately prior to falling into bed). For this weird ritual, only the best music will do: the most singable, the most groovable, the most a part of me. This album is midnight baking music already. See how cool that is? It's like a little onomatopoeia of life.

Second, I once had a conversation with a friend about the absence of non-tenor pop stars. He was right: the lower registers get the shaft in the pop recording world. Which is why I love The National's frontman's voice: he's a deep, deep baritone, and it's always simultaneously surprising and strangely comforting. I feel like I will listen to this album next time I'm feeling sad, or when I'm trying to sleep in an unfamiliar place. It's a nice feeling, having it even when I'm happy at home, just in case.

You can watch The National on Youtube ("Fake Empire," "Apartment Story," etc.), but I almost think it's better if you can't see them. Turn the videos on, then turn around or something. Then stay up and make a pie, just because.

*Why one would stay up super-late picking apples is unclear--wouldn't they be hard to see?--but I'm going to just go with it.

Friday, December 12, 2008

12 of 12: December

Merry and happy 12 of 12, everybody! This project is the brainchild of Chad Darnell; I just participate, along with lots of other people. Let's ring out the old year with 12 final photos, shall we?

6:50 - Conscious, even though it is dark outside, which seems like an obvious clue that being awake is unnatural. Who's with me?

7:43 - N4 bus to Farragut Square. Friday is a good day to try out new public transit routes (the "where does this bus go?" game): less traffic and less chance of being catastrophically late. I try to take advantage of this.

10:25 - Hopping back on the Metro to run a work-related errand.

10:45 - Foggy Bottom is a funny name, and always makes me think of woot canals. Aaron Sorkin ruined me for this city before I even got here.

10:51 - This is the thing about suddenly living in our nation's capitol: you're walking along, minding your own business, and suddenly, Washington Monument! Right there! And this is the thing about being new: you still notice.

11:32 - I am a now badge-carrying employee of the U.S. government. You can only know how exciting this is if you've ever been escorted everywhere for three weeks of your life.

11:48 - Celebratory pumpkin bread on a celebratory trip to Starbuck's, because I can.

2:44 - This is "Liz takes pictures of her thumbs" month, apparently. I don't care if you're doing work in the middle of a long, dreary Friday. Just put on "Christmas Time is Here" and TRY not to feel a little festive. You can throw your head back and sing with your half-circle mouth, if it helps. (Oh, Vince Guaraldi and Charles Schulz. I heart you guys.)

5:35 - Math problem: I know one person, other than my coworkers, in DC. What are the odds that we end up in the same Metro car at rush hour on a Friday evening? And yet: here is Sarah on the freakishly tall Dupont Circle escalator, wishing she knew how to follow her own directions. She is less blurry in real life.

7:22 - You know, I think that if I had the head-size-to-body-size ratio that Giada DeLaurentiis does, I would go for smaller hair. I'm afraid she's going to tip over, you know?

7:53 - I was going to have pasta with tomato sauce and all of its lycopene-induced benefits. But they were CALLING to me, I swear: "Cheese and garlic! Cheese and garlic!" So, yay, white food?

9:59 - My evening in a nutshell: top-secret (oops!) Christmas knitting, my favorite monkey slippers, and Bridget Jones's Diary, which will never leave me or forsake me. (Hey, I'm exhausted and in a new city, and anyway, nobody gets handknits if I'm out being normal and sociable with all of my nonexistent acquaintances. Friends in 2009, I say!)

Happy 2008, everybody. Thanks for letting me share it with you, and I'll see you in the brand new year.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Just another Monday night

Yep, definitely Monday night. I checked. Just finished Monday. Tomorrow's Tuesday. Sounds about right. And yet, so many moments of happy, all in one night! Only the bullet points can contain my joy:

- Home, clothes changed, and to Whole Foods and back by 6:45

- Whole Paycheck carries both (1) bratwurst AND (2) kale, unlike Giant AND Safeway some grocery stores I could name. (Jimmy Dean's does not a sausage section make, my friends.) And they have a parking garage, and even a left-turn arrow to get you across the scary Wisconsin Ave. rush-hour traffic. It's a wonderland!

- Sweet housewarming present from dear friend Stacy waiting in my mailbox. A much-loved book from a kindred spirit is heartwarming, indeed.

- Downright swoony Bratwurst with Creamy Apple Compote. If I die an early death, people, you will know it was the German food.

- Knowing the answer to Final Jeopardy, for once.

- Chuck. How is one to contain oneself with Bruce Boxleitner, Morgan Fairchild, and Dixon from Alias all appearing in one big three-ring circus of geek? I propose an entire episode dedicated to the Elder Awesome dinner party. Here, I'll say it: the Awesome/Bartowski clan eating dinner is plot enough for me. Subpoint: Sarah and her feelings, "whatever they may be," kill me. Sub-subpoint: This show is the best iPhone ad ever. What if someone chains me to the counter of a frozen-yogurt store, huh? What'll I do then? Call for help like a big noisy dork? THAT'S IT. I'M GETTING THE PHONE.

- Having a hotshot techie friend who is not only knowledgeable enough but nice enough to fix your wireless internet over the phone. Thanks, Luke. I would say, "You have no idea what this means to me," but I know you do.

I am warm and happy. Of course, that could also be the wine. Either way, yay.