Thursday, August 28, 2003

Songs with Two Contractions are better than just one

Okay for those of you that have never heard They Might Be Giants (TMBG) before here is the first TMBG song that I heard on the radio, Don't Let's Start.

I was discovering the eclectic joy that is college radio and my initial reaction was was horrified delight. Huh? Their songs are weird. Really weird and calling them quirky isn't strong enough. But they are also so damn catchy. Go ahead and try to listen to this without finding a snippet of a song stuck in your head long after you heard it. This is from their first album, They Might Be Giants and I have it on vinyl. (Okay Mom and Dad have it on vinyl in the basement, next to the utility sink on the laundry room which is probably ruining the records, but I digress.)

I'm linking the lyrics of this song because it's only fair to give you the opportunity to avoid Two Line Syndrome. Two Line Syndrome can best be described as the tortuous realization that you have a song in your head but can only remember two lines. You sing those same two lines again and again until it is hopefully replaced by something else. I still remember standing waiting for the elevator in Mohawk tower my junior year of college with Marcia Ryder. She was singing, "Woke up in my clothes again this morning. Don't know exactly where I am." She would stop and then start again and the beginning. After about 5 minutes I yelled at her to stop for The Love of Mike before something bad happened to her. I did end up buying the album so that I could get closure on that damn song. So don't blame me if people start threatening you. You've got the lyrics. Oh and if you like this and want more, see the links on the sidebar for purchasing opportunities.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

End of the Week of Sheets

Tonight is a normal San Francisco summer night. The fog has been rolling in from the west and swallowed the peaks and valleys all evening. A few hours earlier you could feel the chilly dampness as the fog mists over the peak of the hill I live on. Since I live near the top I can watch it slip around the North Slope as it continues west into the bay and Oakland. On the right sort of night it’s downright creepy. Ah, nature’s air conditioning is working again.

The past week I’ve been sleeping in sheets and fending off the new generation of mosquitoes that have been eating me alive every night. It was cool enough to sleep if I left the window open but then the critters get in. The next night I tried to sleep with the windows closed and ended up waking up in a sweat. Both stink. Before you, non-San Franciscans tell me about screen windows, let me explain why there are few of those here. According to the locals, there are no bugs here. And mostly they are correct.

Growing up in New York where summertime meant moths, Japanese beetles and june bugs hugging the screen door trying to get in, crickets and cicadas making their own special kind of white noise to fall asleep, fireflies lighting up the early evening hoping to pick up a firefly chica with their seductive glow. Here those bugs don’t really exist. I read something about insecticides being sprayed in the Bay Area and as a result there aren’t really any bugs here. Or maybe they just hate the fog? So as a result when you open the window, there is no mesh screen to keep things from flying into the house.

During the day it’s been hot, which is good for my tomatoes but bad for the rest of us who would prefer something less balmy. Saturday Cat was up and we went down to Palo Alto to stroll through their Art Festival. It was a nice drive down in the convertible and aside from the constant need to rehydrate ourselves it was a nice day. On the way back we got caught in traffic around candlestick park. At one point the driver in the car in front of us put something on his head that looked like horns.

We gave him the thumbs up since it seemed like a cool thing to do when bored in traffic. As we passed him we were able to get a quick glance at his horns before he took off for the 49ers game.

Sunday we met up with a bunch of friends in Napa. Ordinarily Napa Valley, like all valleys in California, is nice and warm. Great for the grapes y’know. But today it was unbearably hot. It was fun to see everyone and meet Kris, who is back in the area but working her tail off, but damn! it was too hot. It did allow us the opportunity to go back to San Francisco and feel that it was substantially cooler since we did have a somewhat cool breeze blowing.

Of course now that it’s cooler I’m losing all of my heat acclimation. I’m getting ready for a trip home to New York and a few days of cool weather may totally throw me off. I hope that this heat-wave thingie will sweep across the country before I get back East.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

How Annoying

This week has been a moderately annoying work week. It seems that I am dealing with more people who take a simple task or procedure and make it complicated. I am actually going to attend a meeting to discuss how to contact my group in the event of an outage. Because it seems that a written note that says email this address or call this one phone number is too complicated. I wonder if Mars has anything to do with this?

So this has brought out my defiant side. See me here sneaking a ride in the ever so convenient freight elevator.

Oh and here is that picture of the new blue furniture I got from Anne. I swear I know someone who looks like the woman in the picture. I love the fact that this was taken in someone's real home (see the real sofa in the background?) They should have put this in the rec room or in the kids room to make it seem more realistic. Once I get them out of the box and inflated in real life I'll update the pictures on this site. The color looks better inside the box than outside.

But I haven't been piss and vinegar all week. I did a good deed and supported a couple of web journallers I have read for years along with the Oakland Public Library. Pamie heard about how the Oakland Public Library has lost their funding and started a campaign to get some books out there. Having lived in Oakland for years, I knew where all these branches were and spent many a day distracting myself from the unpleasantness of unemployement. Nothing like a good book to get your mind off of things. I was going to send them Pamie's book, but they have a bunch. I just got another book by another web journaller, Fred Anderson, who wrote a book, From Chunk to Hunk, about how he lost a considerable amount of weight without any freaky diet plans, drugs or surgery. He published the book himself so I thought it would be apropos to send a few copies of Fred's book to Oakland. So I did.

Still cranky but feeling good.

Friday, August 15, 2003

Don't be so serious

Once I decided to start doing this, I realized that the first song carried great importance. You see I knew that you would listen to this song and read this entry and wonder. So I stopped and realized that often in life I would catch myself taking myself way too seriously.

So in that vein, I am offering my first song in a lighter and sillier vein. This song is called 10 Puppies by Deborah Pardes. I first saw her at a Viva Variety and fell in love with her songs and style. She's funny, quirky with a quick wit and great songs and showmanship. On top of that she also involved in community issues like the SIBL project , which uses music to inspire low-level readers to read. Plus she's a local artist, so I never know when she'll be playing some place nearby that will make my day.

I love all of her songs, but this is my favorite. Listen to 10 Puppies and tell me what you think. Seriously.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Welcome to Tunes Talk

Hey welcome to my latest little procrastinational device. I often find myself so easily influenced by music. It can make me happy where I want to sing out loud and dance around the room. If I'm sad or mad, there are tons of tunes that can be my personal soundtrack for my own pity party. Some songs have memories attached to them. Like a shadow they are there lurking. So in the spirit of sharing and starting interesting conversations, I've started this music blog.

I'll include the song so that you can listen to it along with links for more information on the artist or band and places you can go to buy a copy of your own. Please don't ask me to post the entire CD. I don't intend for this to be a place to download CDs. If you like what you hear, buy the album and support that artist.

I like all sorts of music, so you're bound to get a taste of things you like and things that will cause you to question the strength of our friendship. From time to time, I may have some guest posters talk about their favorite songs.

Drop me a note if you'd like to post something.

They Might Be a Documentary

I'm all hyper and in a good mood tonight. It might have a lot to do with the fact that dinner consisted of popcorn and cherry coke. Maybe. I went to see the 7 o'clock show of Gigantic: A Tale of Two Johns. It is about the band They Might Be Giants, a quirky alternative rock sort of group. I thought about who I knew that might actually be interested in going with me. As far as I know, the only person who would be as equally jazzed about this is Brian, but he's 3000 miles away in NY. Anyone who's had the domain Blue Canary is a fan. It seems Betty would have gone if she and Jack hadn't already seen it last Saturday when it came to the Castro Theatre. So I went tonight by myself. Just as I expected there were a bunch of other fans who had no friends to drag along, and why would you do that when you could revel in their coolness without having to explain stuff like the Dial-a-Song. Even the snitty guy in the box office who somehow interpreted, "One please" to be "Two Adults" and they gave me attitude because he screwed up (or perhaps he just got distracted by some cute hunk walking behind me) couldn't ruin my good mood.

I first discovered They Might Be Giants (TMBG) back in college at the record co-op at SUNY Albany. I bought their eponymous album, They Might Be Giants after getting hooked on Put Your Hand in the Puppet Head and Don't Let's Start. It was so weird yet so completely catchy I couldn't stop playing it. I bought it as an actual LP, vinyl, the big round black thing when cool album art meant something and when a CD was an investment instrument. I bought a bunch of their records. There was this cool guy who worked there, I think his name was Jeremy, who would stop me if there was a new album out because he thought they were the best and loved talking to anyone about them.

In any case it was neat to see that there were a lot of younger fans there too. I mean, these guys are 39 and 40 years old and married and still just as geeky as they were back in 1986 when I discovered them. Sure it didn't stop me from trying to decide which one I liked best in that fantasy date/fuck/new best friend way. Yeah, well I still can't decide. The documentary would have been boring if you don't like them, so don't go and see it and then complain to me. Come borrow a CD or something. Hmmm...maybe I better go grab those old LPs from Mom and Dad's basement.

Speaking of Mom and Dad, I was talking to my mom the other day. Dad's been reading a lot lately in an attempt to fill his crazy days of retirement. It reminded her of a day when my father "punished" me. It was a Sunday and I was sitting around reading when he came in and found me lounging about. "Is that all you can do - sit around and read a book?" he said. "Well you can stay in your room and read then." I suspect he was planning on doing something fun, but making me stay and read was hardly a punishment. I'm afraid it didn't make a lasting impression on me. Of course any Go-to-your-room punishment was anything but punishment since there was always something to do.

Well anyway, I've been fussing with the idea of a place to talk about music and maybe even give you a little taste of a group or artist that you probably wouldn't know about. Music is such a powerful thing and on a really bad day, I can always count on a good song to remind me that it's not that bad and that things will get better. Or that I'm not alone and someone else is there with the soundtrack for my pity party. Rather than intermingle the tunes with my written, ahem, pearls, I'll be setting up a link on the side which will point to the sub journal or blog. I've got an introductory page up and you can join the notify list if you want to get an email when I post new songs.

Thursday, August 7, 2003

Oh Can't Complain

Today is my older brother’s birthday. For a change I was aware of its approach and I pre-purchased and sent out a card well in advance. I even remembered to call him and we talked for hours. While this isn’t an unusual thing for me, some people might find it for him. As a kid, Jerome was the one who always managed to find something interesting to do and didn’t mind if I watched or tagged along. Granted he often got into trouble with his thinking outside of the box activities (I think Dad still has pieces of that lawnmower you disassembled.) I know I’m probably repressing some of the torturous moments, okay I’m not, I still remember being locked into the tire well of the family station wagon. I still don’t like tight spaces.

But I mostly remember the fun times, like sneaking off on a Saturday morning to take a bus all the way to Yonkers to see the latest James Bond movie. Of course we would stay in the theatre all day long, y’know because they wouldn’t kick you out if you were behaving yourselves. And the sledding ramp he showed us how to build was great. I can remember taking pitchers of water outside so that we could ‘set’ the ramp. Setting meant going out after dinner and pouring water over hard packed snow in the shape of a ramp until it froze solid. So now we could careen through the air into the piles of snow the plows left at the bottom of our dead end street.

He also helped me to be more self-sufficient. In high school if we missed the school bus, rather than going back home to incur the wrath of Dad and have to listen to him yell at us for the entire 20 minute drive to school, we’d walk into White Plains and catch a bus to school from there. Sure it would take 40 minutes, but it was a peaceful 40 minutes and at most I’d miss 1st period, which was usually band or a science lab. By the time he graduated, I was able to get around most anywhere by bus. This is a good idea when there are so many kids vying for the keys to the car.

But with all of these things, chatting on the phone for hours is not something Jerome is known for. This seems to be a late-in-life trait he’s developed. I can’t even tell you all the things we talked about, although talking about work or computers is a good bet. Otherwise it could be anything. I totally forgot to ask how his bees are doing.

And just as I was thinking about how much I appreciate and enjoy my brothers and sister, I get an email from my s-i-l, Hyunjoo. It’s a great newsy letter that just made me grin. So I suppose I should expand my thought to include my sibs-in-laws too. While they don’t have all those weird idiosyncrasies you get when you grow up in the same house, they are still pretty damn cool. Not everyone is so lucky.

In general, life’s been good. I’ve been procrastinating about things I want to get done. But things seem to get done eventually. I guess a better way to look at it <watch for the spin> is that I am enjoying the summer more by doing things I enjoy with people who are fun. If that means that I drive around another two weeks with my funky taped up top and primer grey fender, then okay. I can deal with that. I’ve seen some great movies, had engaging conversations, and seen vistas of San Francisco that would take your breath away. Oh yeah and all this at the lowest stress level in years. So you know when you ask someone how they are doing and the respond, “Oh can’t complain.” Well they really mean to say things are good and I’d like it to stay that way for a while.

Got any complaints?