Thursday, November 27, 2003

Where is the Love?

Here is a fresh song that I've been hearing more and more. Since today is Thanksgiving, I thought this would be especially appropriate for a day when we think about our lives.

Where is the Love by Black Eyed Peas talks about the general craziness in the world these days. It's got a groovy hip-hop beat to catch your ear but it's the words that I find so thought-provoking. In addition to giving thanks for the good things we have, don't forget to put some thought into doing our part to make the world a better place for everyone around us. Remember, it's not just in our words but our actions. Give to the things that are important to you. Stop and make conscious choices to lead by example. Vote every time, elections big and small. Let the people who represent you know how you feel about what is going all around us, the good things and the bad. We've seen how a small action can grow and multiply until big changes happen. So whatever you do, know that you can make a difference.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Martin Sexton and comfort foods

I was introduced to Martin Sexton by Karen S back when we were living in New York. She was born in Worchester, Mass just like the diner cars in this entry's song, Diner. But she not made of Aluminum Bakalite and glass, but sugar and spice and everything nice. It's a dubious disctintion to have spent any amount of time in "Woosta", but not so much to have spent time hanging out in diners. I bought his CD, Black Sheep, for the diner song, but grew to love his rich magical voice and clever guitar playing. If you have the chance to see him live, you too will see that his style is not made up on the mixing board.

I have a long and glorious history of time spent in diners. It started when I was a kid. My dad would take us to the Red Fox Diner where his friend Ari (we called him Harry) would serve us ice cream in ice-y cold metal parfait bowls. These types of experiences can have a strong influence. Years later when I was still too young to go to bars but old enough to drive around with friends, I would find myself looking for a diner to hang out in. Christopher and I would drive around listening to music way too loud on the stereo of the family Ford LTD Country Squire station wagon. He'd drive me crazy by quizzing me to identify the song after only a bar or two of music. And everytime I challenged him he would get it right. But I was talking about diners. The New York suburbs are filled with them. From the glitzy, neon-laced Greek ones to the quaint country-kitchen ones up near Albany where I went to college.

I have been blessed with friends who share my pleasure in the foods that you can get here. I still recall trying to get dry toast from the greasy one across the street from my first apartment in a slightly seedy neighborhood on Washington St. They were so damn efficient there (or else I might have been a little slow in my hung-over state) to catch them before they slathered the bread with butter.

Alicia replaced Chris as my regular diner companion. Often it was for a cup of coffee or a late night dinner of pancakes, because breakfast food always tastes better after a long day when you can really savor it. I'd love to hear about your diner stories. Oh yeah and if you think Martin rocks as much as I do, buy his CDs.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Another Year Older

Here it is another year gone by. Somehow it seems like they are going faster. I was off this week. Toby came to visit from Toronto and I finally have some vacation available after a year at my current job. I've been coasting by with overtime and floating holidays so it's nice to be able to use some of the days I've earned. Even though I was just off a few months ago in September to go home and see Mom and Dad, the last day or two of work were hard. All sorts of things are going on at work this week too. But it'll be just fine without me. This is my week of play. So far it's been so good, I may do this every year.

I woke up somewhat early for the first of many birthday phone calls. Aside from the nearly constant stream of calls and songs from loved ones, it was a fairly low-key day. We made some omelettes for breakfast, went by blockbuster to pick up something interesting to watch. We had been out and about for the majority of his visit so it was nice to just stay in and play. In the evening we met up with Karen, Jay, Betty and Esther to try to eat as much seafood at Todai. I'd never been there before but the food was good and the company was excellent. Birthdays can be these weird stressful things filled with awkward expectations. This year it was perfectly divine spent with great friends.

Here are some pretty flowers that Cat sent to me.

On Saturday I am taking a silk painting workshop. I've been dabbling again and working on some older pieces that have sat unfinished for way too long. I'll try to post a new update with a photo of how things turned out. I've admired silk paintings, similar to my admiration of watercolor, so that seems enough to give it a go.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Poe's got attitude

I have been reevaluating my music selections of my MP3 player. Some songs have a good tempo for aerobic workouts while others have the right pace and attitude for weight training.

I'm Not A Virgin by Poe has got attitude overflowing. At some points it's a little too quick paced but great for getting past the last few tough reps.

I heard Poe interviewed on the radio a while back. I was going to the Berkeley Bowl for a fresh produce run and sat in my car tormenting other shoppers keen on scoring my primo parking spot. You've probably heard her song Hey Pretty where her brother, Mark's voice tells the story about a seductive drive up Muholland Drive while Poe sings these haunting refrains. The album, Haunted, is the one I have and it's moody and intense. I also paint to this one, so I'm sure it will have some influence.

She's also got a huge fan club, even though she hasn't put out an album in a while. Give Poe a listen and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Get Those Poppies!

Oh what a beautiful day today was. It was even more beautiful that I was off today. I slept in. Oh c'mon you all saw that coming. I rolled out of bed and went to the gym. Usually I am one with my own sweat but this morning this woman got on the machine next to me reeking of coffee. I like coffee. When I am feeling well, I drink it daily. But it was horrible. I only had about nine minutes left, but it was hard to concentrate on what I was doing. I wonder if everyone smells like that when they drink coffee (I only drink water before I work out) or perhaps this woman bathed in it (or dumped a cup on herself) before she arrived. Whew!

I had an appointment to do some PC support for a couple getting DSL and hooking up and showing them how to use this new printer/copier/scanner/fax machine. She wants to get away from AOL (she may be calling them to cancel her account right now) and move on into a new era of computing. Since I don't do a lot of PC support outside of work anymore I have noticed that the people I still support coincidentally happen to be people I enjoy spending time with. So it was a pleasant afternoon for all. Even the cable guy had a laugh as we showed them the new baby goldfish that have managed to survive for the week or so they have been alive.

Nothing like a couple of baby anythings to amuse you. I have been googling images of things I want to paint and poppies have been in my head. So you could imagine how after the first hour, I was getting a little punchy. The phrase, "Get Those Poppies!" kept dancing through my brain. I couldn't get Cruella De Vil out of my thoughts. I stopped cruising for flowers for my idea box and did a search for puppies. Oh my God! If you are down or feeling blue do this search yourself. I challenge you to not cheer up after a page or two of cute puppies.

This evening I was conferring with Diana. We are doing the Body For Life program together. So now our frequent calls include how well we ate that day and if we did our cardio or weight training for the day. Even though we don't work out together, I am finding having a buddy to talk to (or whine to, on occaision) a huge help. I suspect most of you really don't care about our in-depth conversations about flax oil research and which "nutritional" bars are not just shots of protein with a sugar chaser. One web site that Di found is great - both entertaining and informational. Renee is a self-professed freak. Her last post shows off her kick ass biceps. I especially love her What I Eat page. Aside from the reassurance that I am NOT a food obsessive person, I enjoy her obsession photographing her various meals. Most of them are healthy, but a couple are less so, like the protein shake/cadbury cream egg combo. Whoa! But at least she is honest.

Wednesday, November 5, 2003

No Rain

** This entry's song has been pulled. You guys are blowing my bandwidth quotas. Go hit a used CD store and buy the CD. It's all good and worth the money **

Well the rains of winter have begun. Unlike last November where I was tormented by rain pouring into my freshly slashed convertible top, this one was less traumatic or dramatic. Sure with the rain comes the little things like the leaky on the left side of my truck and weird no-radio-on-wet-days problem. Both of which are solvable given a recent cruise on the Internet.

But all these thoughts of rain, got me thinking about a favorite song. The song, No Rain by Blind Melon, was on the radio a lot a few years back. I know all the words, the timing and odd filler noises just from their copious play time. This song reminds me of my Blue Amigo mostly. I have this clear memory of Fid, Scott and I driving crosstown after an evening of sushi indulgences. I was singing this song out loud and joking about how I managed to do more offroading in Manhattan's urban pothole-filled roads than anywhere else. I loved that car especially when I drove to the Catskills in the middle of a snow storm, then up to Toronto with Toby and West (I still love you guys for suffering through the bad heat circulation and truck-like suspension for hours) and then home.

I don't have that car anymore, but I love this song for a variety of quirky reasons; certain lines in the song, and the way lead singer Shannon Hoon sings the song. Unfortunately Shannon died in 1995, you can still enjoy his music.

You've all been kinda quiet out there, so please send me or post some of your music memories. What songs make you think of different times in your lives?

Tuesday, November 4, 2003

Here for now

Ani DiFranco has gotten a reputation as an angry young girl. I remember a few years back listening to an Ani tape that someone made for me as I drove to Lafayette for my job. It took me about 3 weeks to realize that the music was responsible for some serious mood modification. I was a little more aggressive than the reverse commute traffic warranted and I had attitude with a capital A in the office. Luckily I was seen as being a hard worker meeting my deadlines and not a something worse. I did swap out my music to something a little more suitable for my mellow persona. Of course if you hear me pull up behind you blaring old Ani, do me a favor and let me pass, okay?

Well, Ani's not really a girl anymore, maybe still a grrl, with her alternative punk rocker sensibilities and she's not as angry as she used to be. Her sound has matured and now she is playing with a band. If you were an old fan, don't worry, she still tells it like it is. It's just that years of singing and performing do make a difference. This entry's song, Here for Now, is from her latest album, Evolve. It's got a chunky mix of different sounds - jazz, funk, folk, latin rhythms. And to quote the the man at the counter of the It's All Good bakery in my old North Oakland 'hood, it really is all good.

I keep trying to work this music into my workout routine, but it's just not quite right. At best I can clean and fold laundry while listening to CD. Most likely this will end up in my painting music play list and that's all good too.

Listen to the song, one of my favorites, listen to the others she has on her site, and buy it. It's All Good.