Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Rediscovering Some Old Friends

In this time of an unstable economy, it becomes more difficult for me to justify spending money on entertainment. I still do but I feel increasingly guilty about it. So I've taken to digging back into my collection to see if that would lessen this constant desire to find something "new."

I'll admit, at first I wasn't so convinced. I have often, on my way out the door, rifled through my CDs to swap out a few mixes that I've gotten sick of playing. Once I'm in that mindset it's hard to be satisfied - No, no, no... Sick of that, reminds me of that person, or that time, or.... on and on.

But. Last weekend, while cleaning my house for guests coming this weekend, I was able to slow down and come across some disks I'd forgotten I loved. Because I had the time, I made a little pile and have been incorporating them in the rotation.

Sheryl Crow's self titled album is at the top of that list. It came out in 1996 and features her big hits "If It Makes You Happy" and "Everyday is a Winding Road" but, I swear I love every single song every time I play this disk. Beyond being well-crafted, there is a deliberately controlled yet highly vulnerable emotional thread that runs through the whole thing that appeals to me. It confirms the notion that even though craft is essential to a good product, artists use their life-experience as raw material.

If you like Sheryl Crow, but are a little sick of seeing her in the news talking about toliet-paper squares (an out-of context criticism, but still it distracts..) or hanging out with her celebrity friends, you should pick this up. My favorite tracks are "Sweet Rosalin," "Hard to Make a Stand," "Ordinary Morning," "Oh Marie"... (did I mention I love the whole thing?) Getting caught up in the whole essence of a complete piece of work is what I live for (and strive for as an artist in my own right...)

Willie Nelson's "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" is another re-find in heavy rotation on the turntable in my household. This was an impulse-buy as I was walking out of a record show several years ago. The ablum cover shot of Willie in his signature bandana and braids combined with a promient pair of early-eighties tennis shoes amused me. And it was a dollar.

But I'd never listened to it, not once. Until last weekend.

Willie sings a worthy cover of the title track, as well as "Mona Lisa," "Who's Sorry Now," and "Won't You Ride in My Little Red Wagon." This may be harder to find, but totally worth it.

Hard to say who's next, perhaps that Kajagoogoo cassette has some hidden gems after all...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Kind of Another Cheater Post

So my mom had her hip replacement surgery two weeks ago (second hip, she had the right one done in May.) Things started out okay, she got through the surgery and first half of the rehab pretty smoothly.

Then things went rather wrong rather quickly. She started experiencing pain in her knee which, over the course of a few days, escalated into intense pain and imobility.

To make the story of two incredibly long days short, the hardware has slipped, fractured her femur, and she's about to go into surgery again to have it corrected.

What makes this a "cheater" post is that, while I had thought I'd get to a few of the ideas in my queue, anyone who's been in this "wait and see" mode with a patient (and I've had my share) there is an inclination to not want to do anything.

Still. I'm still committed to posting at least once a week.

Blog geek... who knew...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Experiment is Over

So I was a kid who grew up watching televison. Okay, so it's not like that makes me so unusual; that's almost like saying I was a kid who grew up liking candy...


Our family was one that revolved a fair amount around the events on television. My brother and I watched Batman and the Brady Bunch every day between school and dinner and the four of us settled in each night from 8 to bedtime. On family vacations, the Today Show was the first thing we heard in the morning and The Tonight Show was the last thing we heard before falling asleep.

Then we got QUBE, Columbus' first cable. That was the beginning of the end. I suspect a good 70 percent of my waking hours between the ages of 10 and 14 were spent watching either The Movie Channel or MTV.

So many would be surprised to know that I have never had cable in my home in my adult life. Part of that decision was restraint - I didn't quite trust that I would go to bed at a decent hour if there was a Behind the Music episode or Golden Girls rerun to be found. Another factor was cost - when you're intermittenly employed as I am, it's good to cut costs where you can.

I've also always had "issues" with most of the actual television sets I've accumulated over the years. Fifteen years ago, when I went to live in Rochester, New York for a year, my parents bought me a nineteen inch color set. It was great for a while, until I permanently lost the remote (how that happened is still a mystery), then it got banged around in the move home and the on/off button no longer recognized "off" so I had to unplug it from the wall to turn it off.

A few years later, I obtained a bigger model, with its own built-in swivel cabinet from a neighbor who failed to sell it at her garage sale. This was nice, until something went wonky with the contrast function and half of the scenes on any given show are too dark to see.

Which left me with the nine-inch portable DVD player I got for my birthday a few years ago. I love this thing, I can carry it around with me and listen to movies while I clean out the garage, make dinner, or put it on my nightstand for a late-night flick before I fall asleep. But then the switch to digital came around. That's where the "experiment" comes in.

We all knew it was coming, we were bombarded with commercials for a solid year, and then they extended it for an additional four months. I planned to ride it out, put off getting a converter box and wait until I couldn't possibly stand it.

And I made it through the whole summer, priding myself on not watching re-runs, not brainlessly watching something I didn't deliberately pick. I still watched, but documentaries, whole series of shows I'd been meaning to catch (or couldn't see because I don't have cable.)

But now I'm coming to the end. I've fully scoured the shelves of my library, I've about flushed out my queue in NetFlix. I'm eager for a little mindless veg in front of the tube. My birthday is around the corner. I want a brand new, digital, flatscreen televison. Perhaps even a Blue Ray player.

And if I get a job soon, I just might even get cable...

Friday, September 11, 2009

Holding Hands

I was driving down Broad Street yesterday, and passed a family (or at least two adults and five children) walking together. They were in two rows, each adult on the side closest to the street, with a chain of two and then three children. What struck me about the scene (admittedly, a passing glimpse) was that two of the boys in the back row were shirtless and kindy stompy in their gate. They looked like that could be, perhaps, tough little kids. But that image was immediately softened by the image of them holding hands with each other and their mom.

Which got me to thinking about holding hands.

I had my first boyfriend when I was fifteen. He was six-foot-four and my whole hand could almost fit into the fleshy palm part of his. I liked holding hands with him and feeling small. Often, while holding hands in the movies, he would run one of his slender fingers through the center of my palm or stroke the outside top of my thumb. If I'd known about this earlier I would have, perhaps, tried a little harder to be less awkward around boys. This was something.

There is also something undeniably instinctual about holding hands with children. I am continually amazed at how the smallest gesture of merely opening your hand and moving it slightly toward a child can cause them to grasp onto yours. Except when they don't want to. And I get that. Sometimes I am even especially proud to find that a child is expressing their independence by declining the hand. Although it is a little sad to discover, even if you do see it coming.

Most of the kids I spent the most time with these days are moving out of the hand-holding stage. One of my best friends lives across the street and I've taken probably hundreds of walks with she and her family. On many of them, I have held her son's hand. I have teased him about having "sticky and/or sweaty boy hands." Of course it doesn't bother me enough to let go. But he, too, is eight and I suspect we are the beginning of the end...

I recently came across a photograph of my family at Kings Island. I am probably eight and I am holding my father's hand. Despite his seeming discomfort in being dressed in brown polyester slacks and matching polyester shirt-sleeve leisure shirt, and the existence of my side-ponytail, our holding hands looks like the most natural thing in the world.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

My First Vogue

Growing up, I was a voracious reader of magazines - Dynamite, Rolling Stone, 16, then 17, the occasional Marie Clare and Cosmo for the horoscope, perhaps a tip or two... But I was never much of a fashion mag gal. To me, then, high fashion was something to be mocked ("Look at the sleeves on that thing... do they really expect real people to wear that?")

I didn't ever consider that, no, no they don't, and that that's hardly the point...

Any peek at any photograph of me pre age-thirty will reveal I had little to know fashion sense. It's not that what I wore wasn't in style, it might have been, but only on a middle-aged JCPenney model. It wasn't like I suddenly "discovered" a sense of style in my thirties as much as I got smarter about wanting to look better and realizing I could look at friends who I trusted to be stylish and paid closer attention to what they were wearing (it also helped when women's casual fashion stopped defaulting to frumpy, thank you 1994.)

All of this lead up to simply say I finally purchased my very first issue of Vogue the other day. I will have to admit, the impulse was driven by more by my love for film than budding love of fashion. There is a new documentary coming out called "The September Issue" which is about Anna Wintour, the legendary editor of Vogue (for anyone who's seen "The Devil Wears Prada," she is the basis for Meryl Streep's character.) Anyway, I recently saw a trailer for the doc (as well as a 60 Minutes interview with her back in the Spring) and was very intrigued.

So I picked up a copy of said issue on impulse on afternoon while browsing through Barnes and Noble. A couple of days ago, I poured myself a glass of wine and started browsing. What I love about flipping through the pages is how each designer has his or her own distinct style (you can put a Dolce and Gabanna photograph next to a Marc Jabobs without the label and you'll definitely know who's who) there is a cohesiveness to the whole issue. This is cutting-edge style as it's being defined right now.

I still don't know how it all works, what makes something a trend while something else fall flat, but I feel better about depending on my smarts to help compensate for my inherent lack of fashion. I can tell you heels on shoes are now straight sticks affixed into the center of a heel, and most of the models resemble the lead singer from Missing Persons, sans the electrical tape. I'm not saying this to mock, honestly, I think it's kind of cool.

I just hope to God big, puffy sleeves aren't coming back into style. Seriously.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Foot Heater Weather...

Some people just know - creepy old ladies with one glass eye who, in psychological thrillers, can accurately predict the coming of winter by merely squinting their eyes (or eye...), war vets who can predict rain by a slight tingling feeling around the piece of shrapnel lodged deep in their thigh.

For me it's my feet. My feet can tell me, no matter how much warmth I've generated overnight or how many layers of socks I stuff them in, that Fall is here.

And Fall seems to have officially ascended upon us, because I woke up this morning compelled to dig out my seven-inch square ceramic heater. While I'd rather not have to use it, I love this thing. In the winter, it follows me throughout the day. Sitting at my desk, checking emails in the morning, eating meals at my kitchen table, to work (depending on the place), and, finally, stretched out into the plug closest to the chair where I watch television.

The worst are times when I am working somewhere where, understandably, having these devices hooked up en-masse creates an enormous fire hazard. Then I'm just extra careful in my smuggling.

I'm sure we're still due a few Indian Summer Days, those don't-waste-em-let's-get-outside-quick delights, but I'd say you're pretty safe to change out the wardrobe and let the kids bust out the Grannimal corduroy combo.

(Do they still make Grannimals?...)