Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Stuffing: When Stale Bread Goes to Heaven




I know, I promised cookies and snowflakes, but here I am with stuffing. Such is life, as they say -- and it's a very yummy stuffing, too! Here's the recipe, originally from CountryLiving.com:




Sourdough Mushroom Stuffing

Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoon(s) unsalted butter
  • 1 pound(s) assorted wild mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 cup(s) (about 9 ribs) chopped celery
  • 2 cup(s) finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup(s) chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon(s) chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon(s) chopped fresh sage
  • 2 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 1 teaspoon(s) chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon(s) fresh-ground pepper
  • 1 loaf(s) (1-pound) sourdough bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 cup(s) low-sodium chicken broth

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 3-quart casserole dish with 1 tablespoon butter and set aside.
  2. Melt remaining butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 10 minutes. Add the celery and onion and sauté for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat, add the remaining ingredients, and toss to combine. Transfer the stuffing to the prepared baking dish and cover with aluminum foil.
  4. Bake, covered, for 45 minutes; remove the foil and bake for 20 more minutes. Serve hot.
So easy, right? I made this for Thanksgiving, and the Mr. liked it so much that I had to make it again (well, and still having a ton of leftover mushrooms probably helped make that happen, too). Any way, here are the results (and I do apologize for the picture quality; I couldn't find the charger for my camera so I used my phone.

It's all about letting it brown . . .

Having made it twice, I've learned a thing or two:

1) The taste is greatly improved by using really sour sourdough bread, and the texture is improved if the bread is stale and you cut it into smaller chunks than the recipe calls for.

2) Dried herbs will work just as well -- just keep in mind that 1 Tbsp fresh = 1/3 - 1/2 tsp dry. Otherwise you end up with rosemary stuffing, and not much else!

3) I really need to find the charger for my camera.

Yep, the 'manual macro' just isn't cutting it . . .

Until next time, Bon Appetite! 

On Friday, Mrs. will demonstrate her snowflake cutting prowess (probably involving a camera phone), and begin to stress about the fact that she hasn't even started on Christmas cards this year. Or sent last year's, for that matter.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Late for a Very Important Update! Or, Confessions of a Shopgirl, Day 1




I was supposed to publish this last night, as I know you are waiting with baited breath to hear the epilogue of "How I Lost One Job and Found Another," so I won't waste any time apologizing for my lateness. And sorry to be late posting this, by the way - by the time I got home, I was about ready to fall over, and Mr. was waiting to tuck me in before staying up too late studying for his exams. So, without further ado, onto today's topic: what's it like to be a shopgirl?




My first thought, given the infamous nature of the holiday shopping season, was that it would be like this:

video

Luckily, it wasn't a mad rush at all - I got to keep my coat, and there was even enough downtime for me to get a tour of the counter and see where everything's kept. Which was good - because up until that point, I had been almost entirely useless at the counter and felt constantly underfoot. Yet that's the learning curve, as they say, and if I'm honest with myself, starting this position is not nearly as terrifying as starting my last position - I have a better idea of what to expect, at least as far as being the "new girl," and that helps a lot. I even made a decent-sized sale, all on my own, without knowing a damn thing about what I was doing. A good way to start my first day, I will admit.

So if it wasn't a mad rush, what did it look like? As suggested by my previous post comparing my experience to Maribelle's in "Shopgirl," my second thought was that it would be like this:


Apparently with plenty of snobby customers judging you and white haired men leaving you in awe of their footsteps . . . though mostly what I saw was little old ladies stocking up on makeup and confused men trying to find the store's exit. There was plenty of standing around, trying to stay busy, and waiting for a customer, though -- which brings me to what I have concluded is the most accurate representation of working in a department store:


With wacky shenanigans and double entendres for all!

In all seriousness, being a shopgirl does not seem to be that far off from how pop culture's portrayed it - with one important exception. I wore flats yesterday, thinking I was being sensible and planning ahead, but after spending eight hours on my feet, the pain in my heels was so bad that I was standing on my tiptoes just to give my heels a break. I'm desperate to avoid repeating that experience. Keeping in mind that my uniform requires I wear "simple, fashionable black shoes," I am using my time off to go shoe shopping.

These are fashionable, right?

Tune in Wednesday to see the shoes, track Mrs.' decorating progress and examine the first batch of holiday cookies. Recipes will be included!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sunday Surprise! A Bonus Post

I know, we're not supposed to see each other until tomorrow, but I was too excited to let it wait -- I know what I want to do for decorating.

This excited.


Paper snowflakes!! They don't melt, molt, or die, and they're super cheap to make. Add some curly willow branches in a vase, some votive candles and some faux wrapped gifts, and voila! A fun, contemporary holiday feeling that won't cost too much money and will last well beyond December. Here's the inspiration board:

I <3 Picasa, 'nuff said.

I'll keep you updated as things progress. See you tomorrow!

Friday, December 9, 2011

TAMPONS! And Other Quirky DIY Holiday Decor



This year, the Mr. and I will be house-sitting all through the holiday season, for an adorable black lab and a cat who seems pretty nice as long as you never make the mistake of rubbing his tummy.



Never again, Mr. Snuggles. Never again.

However, our house will still need to get into the festive spirit, since a) What kind of aspiring 1950's housewife would I be if I skipped out on decorating duty? and b) We'll be hosting a party a few days after Christmas, and I'd hate for everyone to think we just kept things the SAME all the time (the horror!). Yet without being home for much of December, we can't justify buying a tree -- thus, goodbye to my Honeymooner's Christmas Eve episode reenactment, at least this year.


Instead, I'm going to do something fresh and original this year, something homemade, something non-traditional. Yes, I am going to put those six years of art school to work!

Luckily, I'm not alone in this quest - I have the Internet to help me figure out just what to do. And lo and behold, when I search for "non-traditional Christmas decorations," what to my wondering eyes should appear but TamponCrafts.com!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Confessions of a Shopgirl

That's right folks! Out of the apron, into the lab coat - the lab coat of a makeup counter salesperson, that is. Or will be, possibly starting on Sunday. I took the job, on the grounds that it's better to have a sure thing than to keep looking around in the hope that something I actually want comes up (so much for risking my talent, eh?).

Yes, there may have been some angry words, and tears, and a lot of grappling with that nagging voice that keeps suggesting I'll never succeed at anything -- but there's also the peace of mind in knowing that at least I'll have a job, that I won't be pulling down our finances, that I won't be taking advantage of anyone's generosity while I continue to search for my "real job."

Which brings me to Claire Danes. Or more specifically, Claire Danes' character in 'Shopgirl.' Yes, I'm comparing myself to Mirabelle, although thankfully I don't have the headache of a love triangle that she deals with over the course of the film. There are the easy comparisons: She's an artist! I'm an artist! She works in a department store! I'll be working in a department store! There are also the more subtle things, like how I can use her difficulty choosing Mr. Right as a metaphor for my internal debate regarding the question of my career(s). But the most important lesson for me to take away from the film actually relates to the secondary story arc. Along with getting a job in her field and becoming self-actualized in her relationships, Maribelle finally gets a solo show. Yes, this is an American romance - she gets the boy, the show, and the great job. But there is more for me to strive for in this end than cinematic cynicism. What if I can be Maribelle? I have the boy, now I need the show and the job. Surely this can't only be a Hollywood fairytale.

With this, Mrs. (hopefully) ends her series of posts on unemployment, job hunting, and the sturm und drang associated with the post-collegiate doldrums. On Friday, look for a new post describing whatever wacky and wonderful thing strikes her fancy at the time -- possibly, it will involve makeup.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Hark, a Quandry!

The good news: I got a job offer! The bad news: I don't want the job.

Yes, I am being a spoiled brat. Or at least I feel like one. I chose to get degrees in art and writing; what else do I want? It's hard to look at my friends who have graduated and have jobs they love; hard to look at friends who are in my field and going on to do things that I wish I was doing - it leaves me feeling like I'm slipping behind, and I can't see a clear path to joining them.

One of my friends who is succeeding in the art field, upon hearing that I was fired, told me, "F*** the nine-to-fives. You'll find something you love." Another friend, upon hearing that I had gotten a job offer, suggested I go ahead and take it, then keep looking for what I really want, thus "hedging my bets" in order to make sure I don't find myself in the panic I was in about three weeks ago. My grandmother told me a story about how when she moved to New York, things had gotten so desperate she was ready to take just about any job, and so when she got a chance to be a honey demonstrator at Altman's Department Store, she leaped for it, and her choice ended up putting her in exactly the right spot at the right time for her to move to her ideal job.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Chumbawumba


Why? Because, that's why.

Also because, as Gershwin put it, "things are looking up" -- I've had a couple interviews and am working on getting a third scheduled. Honestly, it's just nice to know I'm being noticed. Sitting at home all day, or driving around on various errands in town, is not all high heels and pearls and perfectly coiffed hair -- there's a distinct lack of purpose going on there, too.

More like the woman on the right, is what I'm saying.

Now, I know - in the grand scheme of things, I'm supposed to be setting up my art practice so I can one day be self-employed, and being self-employed would eventually mean spending a great deal of my time at home in my studio - but for now, the lack of a direct link between my making art and my making money (and my fears stemming from the threat of not making money) renders the whole process rather empty for me.

Nevertheless, just as I am starting to have some luck in the job market (fingers crossed!), I'm starting to see things turn around in the studio. I hadn't put pen -- or charcoal, or brush, or pastel -- to paper for over six months, and this past weekend, I went into the studio, hung up a sheet of paper, and started to draw. A big, giant, Christmas Card of an image -- not because I needed to do it for class, and not because I think I could sell it or gain gallery representation through it, but because I was feeling an emotion that I wanted to put on paper (maybe it's part of "risking my talent?"). I stayed up till three a.m. drawing, and as I shoved Mr. back onto his side of the bed before laying down, I felt better. Not automatically happier, but more like I'd just had a really good cry without smudging mascara all over my face. And it wasn't because I accidentally pulled his hair and woke him up as I fluffed up my pillow -- though that was pretty damn funny.

And if making art or tugging hair ever fails, there are always other options . . .

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankfulness

It's Thanksgiving, and in a few hours Mr. and I will be joining first his parents, then my parents, for a Thanksgiving meal. Yes, you read that right: Two Thanksgivings. The trick is small bites -- very, very small bites, and reminding myself that even though what I'm eating right now is so very scrumdiddlyumptious delicious, I SHALL NOT GET SECONDS, or else. Or else the night ends in me hating myself, my stomach waging full-blown overstuffed war on the rest of my body. Having made it through four of these already, I am confident in my ability to avoid such an unpleasant fate -- but I had to suffer through the first two to learn.

Which brings me to today's topic: Thankfulness. I'm running a little further with the 'blessings' idea today, trying to take a realistic look at all the good stuff I've got going on in my life that I generally take for granted, or at least don't think about all that often. Which is to say: I still don't have a job -- but things could be worse!

Ah yes, I could indeed be an artist.
I first saw this painting in The Artist's Guide by Jackie Battenfield, a professional self-help manual for artists. The painting is by Jim Torok, who is, of course, an artist. Entirely non-P.C., Torok's piece is a great reminder for me to find humor in the stereotypes that surround my chosen profession, as well as being a harshly truthful reality check. No matter how many problems I'm having or how concerned I may feel about the future, things are really not that bad -- let's title this version of thankfulness (NOTE: The following link is probably, unless your office is super chill, NSFW.) "Schadenfruede."

Yes, Schadenfruede - the very emotion I will be feeling tonight if I look across the table and see Mr. wallowing after too many scoops of stuffing, mashed potatoes, and those yummy crescent rolls sold by the Pillsbury Dough Boy - happiness in recognizing that he is far worse off than me. Yet behind the Schadenfruede will be a true Thankfulness; a thankfulness that we have so much food we can stuff ourselves into oblivion, that I am not alone in my journey, and that as bad as things might look right now, I really do have an awful lot going for me. Happy Turkey Day, everybody!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Risking My Talent

No, not this Jesus.

Heads Up: The following post involves a Bible verse, a sermon, and some personal theological contemplations. Although by my writing this, I do not purpose to convert or contradict anyone else, I realize that many people come here for the swearing and the feminist-co-opted-neo-sexism and that religious talk can be a very touchy subject. Therefore, consider this your heads up that things are going to get a little Presbyterian in here. I'm going to talk about the Parable of the Talents (or Matthew 25:14-30, if you prefer to look it up manually in Ye Olde Good Booke).

This past weekend, I spent a lot of time soul-searching, and a lot more time looking around for a clue of what I should do. A quick explanation of my relationship to Faith: I believe there is something beyond the world we see and touch everyday, and I believe that conceptions of God(ess)/Allah/Buddha/The Universe* are all human attempts to comprehend something that defies comprehension. That said, I was also raised as a dyed-in-the-wool Protestant, which means I grew up with a lot of ideas about God being immediately accessible - if I want to talk to God, I can, directly and without a lot of hassle, although I might not always understand what I hear back. Therefore, when I say I was looking for a clue, I do mean I was looking for The Universe to provide an answer to all the questions whirling in my head - why did I lose my job? What does it mean? What am I supposed to do now? Where should I start?

Counting My Blessings


I've been thinking a lot about this song this week.

One week ago, I received some unexpected and rather shocking news - I was fired from the full-time position with benefits that I took five months ago, after I graduated with two degrees that I had always assumed consigned me to either a life in retail or food service until I "made it big." To have actually found gainful employment and a steady, good-sized paycheck was a source of tremendous pride for me, even as I struggled to find a balance between my job and my ultimate career as a writer and artist, and to lose that job meant a major blow to both my self-esteem and my sense of self-sufficiency. As I try to keep the job-hunting blues at bay, I've started counting my own blessings:

1) My long-time weekend job has graciously allowed me to pick up some extra hours to help fill in the gaps until I find a new job.

2) My family and friends have been nothing but supportive, and I can't stress enough how great it's been to have such a solid backing, especially when I have trouble hearing anything beyond that inner voice shouting, "You suck! You suck, you're never going to get another job, especially during this recession. You might as well sign up for unemployment now and just give up."

3)  I have a partner who still has a great job, and although it's not enough income to support us both comfortably, it's a lot of more than many people in my situation can count on.

4) I've turned in five applications to places that are hiring over the past three days, and just had my first interview today.

Ultimately, I tell myself that Mr. is right, that things are going to work out, and that I'm not going to be unemployed forever. That, and counting the blessings I do have in my life, is helping me sleep at night -- but I am not going to feel at ease until I've signed a hiring offer along that dotted line.

Friday, November 11, 2011

What Rejection Means, Part 2

First, a note from Mrs.: I know, you're probably thinking: "Wait, another downer post about not getting into grad school or something? Geez, what's with this broad?" You're probably right to question my choice -- after months of publishing silence, I really shouldn't kick this off with the kind of post with "rejection" anywhere in the title. But, I started this blog with the intention of writing from my heart, and that's what I'm going to do. Thank you for being willing to walk alongside me.

Coming to theaters everywhere.
Losing a job feels a lot like getting dumped. Sorry, not losing a job - getting fired from a job. Getting fired from a job feels a lot like getting dumped. There's the desperate need for closure, the endless loop of wondering, 'What did I do? How could I have made it last? What's wrong with me?' Because of course something must be wrong, if I didn't even see it coming.

Then there's the anger, the accusatory thoughts and sharp-edged feelings, the glancing around for something - anything - to blame. Outside the self, inside the self, everything becomes shattered glass. And then there's me, stuck in the middle and trying to find a way out without getting cut.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A New Post Over at Recap Attack, by Yours Truly

A new podcast is posted at RecapAttack, and I'm guesting again, so go on and check that out here.

To go along with it, I've cooked up one of my usual blog-essays especially for Recap Attack. Here's the teaser:
I skew to the left on most political issues, from your garden variety hot-button issues on down. I believe in a woman's right to choose if her body will carry a pregnancy to term; I believe that guns should be legal but tightly regulated; and I believe that taxes are the bread and butter that keeps my roads paved, food fecal-matter free, and my house from burning down or getting burglarized -- generally, I wholeheartedly support paying them.

Not everyone feels the way I do, and I can accept that. Hell, I can even embrace it -- this is a complex world, and it takes more than one viewpoint to create a rich and varied culture like that of our U.S. of A. What I cannot accept is the level to which our intolerance of opposing viewpoints has risen in recent years. More specifically, I cannot believe that in the pantomime of our soundbite-ready political system, we actually permitted ourselves to come to the very brink of default. Funny money or not, there were real people with real paychecks and our credibility as a nation at risk, and our elected officials could not manage to step down from the grandstand long enough to do what had to be done -- at least not soon enough to save us international embarrassment and a whole lot of freaking out -- and raise the debt limit so our city on a hill could pay the electric company and keep the beacons lit.
Read the rest on Recap Attack's page, here. And check back on this blog on Monday - there will be a piping hot post, fresh out of the oven just for you.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Behind the Pantomime, A Genuine Possibility for Change

I skew to the left on most political issues, from your garden variety hot-button issues on down. I believe in a woman's right to choose if her body will carry a pregnancy to term; I believe that guns should be legal but tightly regulated; and I believe that taxes are the bread and butter that keeps my roads paved, food fecal-matter free, and my house from burning down or getting burglarized -- generally, I wholeheartedly support paying them.

Not everyone feels the way I do, and I can accept that. Hell, I can even embrace it -- this is a complex world, and it takes more than one viewpoint to create a rich and varied culture like that of our U.S. of A. What I cannot accept is the level to which our intolerance of opposing viewpoints has risen in recent years. More specifically, I cannot believe that in the pantomime of our soundbite-ready political system, we actually permitted ourselves to come to the very brink of default. Funny money or not, there were real people with real paychecks and our credibility as a nation at risk, and our elected officials could not manage to step down from the grandstand long enough to do what had to be done -- at least not soon enough to save us international embarrassment and a whole lot of freaking out -- and raise the debt limit so our city on a hill could pay the electric company and keep the beacons lit.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Google PLUS

The Future.
I'm guessing that you've probably heard of Google at some point in your life -- and if you're a regular reader of this blog, you should have also heard of the very, very exciting Google+ -- that, though still in beta, has basically been released into the wild and has been very busy kicking ass and taking names (at least in my opinion -- check out Recap Attack over the next few days for an opposing take from my pal Amir). Here's why I'm on board:
  • FINALLY a way to set people's privacy that doesn't make me hate myself. Seriously, the Groups feature is fun, easy, and straightforward -- although I'm still waiting for Privacy A.I. to become part of my social networking experience. The day Social Networking Site X knows that any posts with swear words in them aren't intended for my mother will be a truly great day indeed (and will spare my !@#$%^&* keys from all the undeserved abuse).
  • It's PURTY. Facebook has nothing on the chic, modern design of G+, especially since Facebook clutters itself up with all those ads. Now, I'm sure Google+ will eventually add advertisements to its hallowed walls as well, but I'm hoping they have an algorithm smart enough to figure out that when I mark my relationship status as "married" it doesn't automatically mean I'm ready to start popping out babies or that I've already popped a couple out (Seriously, most annoying ads ever - and I'm pretty sure this is a nearly female-exclusive experience).
  • I love Google. Check the podcast if you don't believe me. Also I love that although Google does make some anti-user calls, generally I feel like their company politics are more in my corner -- and in a world where almost everything seems owned by unscrupulous people (hi, Rupert Murdoch Scandal, it always makes me feel good to be able to back someone who at least tries to not be evil.
  • As more and more people hop on board, G+ is becoming the fun-filled place Facebook was before Zynga came along -- only with a much more cleverly integrated toolbar in the form of the black bar now appearing at the top of nearly all of Google's sites. Being able to see notifications of all the cool stuff going on in Google+ without having to either clutter my inbox with notification emails or actually go to a different website is so very sexy to me.
All these things said, however, there are some definite issues in Google+ that I would like to see addressed:

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Podcast is LIVE!

All right, I know you've been waiting with baited breath, and it is FINALLY HERE -- go check out the new Recap Attack podcast, and listen to me and a bunch of other cool dudes butcher any serious discussion of recent news with questionably-thought-out jokes and plenty of attitude.

For a direct link to the podcast, go here.

Stay posted for my personal take on Google+, a creative portrayal of just how disgusting the infamous baby shower "Diaper Game" can get, and why I think I'm giving up on superhero movies. Unless they come out with a Wonder Woman flick, in which case I'm in. Totally in.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

My First Podcast Discussion, and Wally Wally Wally Wally WORLD!

Whoo-hoo! Last night, I got to take part in a podcast discussion on Recap Attack, hosted by my friend and local technophile Amir Muntasser. While wading through the week's news, we got sidetracked into impassioned discussions of men versus women's bathroom cleanliness, the possibility that it was Osama bin Laden's beard that put him out of touch with the younger generation, and the reasons why only Amir is privilaged enough to refer to Justin Timberlake as "J.T." I think they'll be posting the podcast this next week, so be sure to check back here or on the Recap Attack blog for updates, sometime around next Wednesday -- I'll keep you updated as I know more.

In other news, here's my new favorite YouTube video -- immortalizing the mezmerizing keesters of the women of Walmart:



You're welcome.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Boobs on a Billboard!

Last semester, while driving to and from my music theory class at the local community college, I would pass what became a familiar sign: Two smirking men's faces, pasted on either side of two words in extremely large font: "NICE PAIR." Ah yes, the gorgeous wit that it my local talk 'news' radio station. Observe the sign:
There's something about it that makes me just want to slap someone . . .
Yes, that there would be two of the most irritating political commentators on the airwaves, Mr. Glenn Beck and Mr. Sean Hannity. And no, it's not that I don't like them because they're Republican or because Fox News provides them with an irresponsibly loud megaphone through which they can blast their utter cow pucky - although I do take issue with that second little detail (more on that some other time). In this particular moment, they are irritating me because they are the stars of a billboard advertisement that uses a pathetic sexist pun in order to pass itself off as clever.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

What Rejection Means

I remember reading a short fiction piece in Seventeen magazine (when I was fourteen, of course). In it, our hero goes to the mailbox to check for a letter from the college he applied to and finds a small, thin envelope decorated with official school insignia.

At the end of the fifth week of compulsively checking my mailbox daily, sending up little prayers to the mail gods that something, something would be there, I turned my key in the lock yet again, almost on a whim. It had been nearly three months since I turned in my application, and not a word. I started to imagine wild possibilities -- maybe they never lost it, maybe they think since I turned it in late I actually meant to apply for next next year's program, maybe my letter got lost in the mail, the way emails disappear into an internet void - only this was a dead letter closet or worse, simply the wrong mailbox.

But yesterday, when I swung back the little gray door of my mailbox, there was a letter. A real, tangible, school-insignia letter, and the words of that short story ran through my mind the moment I saw it:
Too thin to be an acceptance letter. Rejection.
It was indeed too thin, a single piece of paper folded business style inside the envelope. Even so, I held my breath a little as I opened it, then unfolded the paper. Maybe grad school doesn't send big giant acceptance packets; maybe I got in after all.

Nope.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Music Videos and Silent Films: A Match Made in Movie Heaven?

If you haven't already figured it out, I'm a pretty big fan of music videos as a genre - when done well, they have all the entertainment value of a feature-length film distilled into three minutes of sold gold goodness. They also, more often then not, bear a certain resemblance to ye olde silent films of yesteryear, telling stories that exist outside the lyrics and allowing the music to become an accompaniment to the action of the film.

Unsurprisingly, some videos have taken this comparison even farther. Two examples stand out in my mind immediately, the first being the video for "Tonight Tonight" by the Smashing Pumpkins.



A fun story, right? Boy and girl go up in a rocket ship to the moon, beat some aliens with umbrellas, take a dip in the sea to hang with mermaids, and live happily ever after. Seems like I've seen some of this imagery before . . .

"Voyage a la Lune" by George Melies is the first-ever movie made with an actual plot - before that, it was all movies of people sneezing, horses running, sunrises, trains, etc. Here, we see true theatrical mastery: a storyline and special effects, with lots of women in short pants thrown in for kicks. I believe they call it "cheesecake."

A final note: My apologies for the distracting voiceover, it was better than some of the ridiculous soundtracks I found out there, but still it's very distracting.




From the more recent end of the musical spectrum, we have "Living Dead Girl" by Rob Zombie. In the video, the mysterious Doctor reveals the 'Living Dead Girl' to the carnival-goers, to varying degrees of horror and amazement. When she escapes, the townspeople chase him out of town.



Pretty old fashioned looking stuff -- so old fashioned looking, in fact, it shouldn't be a surprise that the video's imagery is taken almost verbatim from an original silent film called "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" directed by Rober Weine. The highly stylized sets seen in both films come out of German Expressionism, an art movement that sought to manifest psychological moods in environment. The film is nearly an hour long, but if you have the time to watch it, I promise you won't be dissappointed -- but if you don't and just want to see the carnival scene, the fun starts around 7:56.





Good times, right?

Everything I need to know, I learned in Master Class

When I started college, I wanted to major in three things: Creative Writing, Art, and Vocal Performance (singing opera professionally, for those who haven't wandered into the world of music degree titles).

Sadly, that was not to be - I realized that although singing will always be something I love, I simply do not love it enough to give up everything else. Yet even as I've left the world of professional singing in my past, the lessons I learned there continue to resonate. The most important of these lessons came from a guest speaker in my master class.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Pop Music Contemplates God

I like music, and I like religion. No necessarily for the same reasons, but there is some interesting crossover. Particularly when music contemplates religion without preaching it, as in Regina Spektor's song, "Laughing With."




Between the M.C. Escher -style backgrounds and the (as always) truly lovely vocals and piano, this one never stays buried in my YouTube playlist for very long.

Another favorite, a little older (okay, more like a lot older, in pop years): Joan Osborne's "One of Us."



Interesting how Ms. Spektor and Ms. Osborne both use the close-up face shots - maybe to show off their luscious lips? Maybe it's just me, but it certainly seems like there may be a trend in lady musicians with prominent mouths singing about religiosity (okay, yes I know that's too specific to be a trend) -- after the jump, consider Tori Amos, with her song "Crucify."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tucson's Own

I waited a while before making this post. I wanted to let myself process things, let the emotions play out a bit, get some distance from what happened Saturday.

I'm referring to the shootings in Tucson on January 8th, 2011. We were driving back from a ski trip, and my husband turned to me as we walked back to the car at the rest stop.

"Did you hear Gabrielle Giffords is dead?"
"What?!"
"Yeah . . ." And then he made a sound like a laugh, at the shock of it all.

Thankfully, that turned out not to be true. Gabby Giffords survived being shot in the head and was taken to UMC. Her truly incredible recovery and the outpouring of support from all over the country and the world has been inspiring and a comfort to me over this past week or so. Whether or not she'll ever fully recover is unknown, but there is good cause for hope.

Not everyone there was as lucky as Gabby, while others were far luckier. Nineteen people were shot in all, and six of those people died:


Judge John Roll

Chrisina Taylor Green

Gabe Zimmerman

U.S.District Court Judge John Roll

Christina Taylor Green

Gabe Zimmerman


Dorwan Stoddard

Phyllis Schneck

Dorothy Morris

Dorwan Stoddard

Phyllis Schneck

Dorothy Morris






Thirteen others survived: Susan Hileman, Mavanell Stoddard, Pamela Simon, Ronald Barber, James Tucker, Kenneth Veeder, George Morris, James Fuller, Randy Gardner, Mary Reed, Kenneth Dorushka, and Bill Badge. 


The twenty-two year old gunman was Jared Loughner:
 




A yearbook photo.

On the U of A campus.

Being booked for the shooting.













How does one begin to process this? How does one young man -- the same age as my sister, a friend of a woman I work with -- undergo such a horrific transformation? What does it mean for those who were there to be a survivor, to be a victim? What does it mean to see my city and my state receive national wall to wall press coverage - to recall the newspaper I saved when I was twelve, its pictures and headlines telling of a massacre at Columbine and see the parallels - what can one possibly pull from this? Why do I stay away from my favorite news websites - is it to avoid more news of the tragedy or to pretend that the world hasn't nearly forgotten it, moving on to another day, another tragedy somewhere else?

In my coming posts, I'm going to attempt to answer these questions, if only to add my voice to the already hashed and rehashed version of events we've heard echoed across these last eleven days - if only to try to make some sense out of the non-sense that was Saturday. Please, feel free to add your comments, questions, suggestions for where this discussion should go - this should be a community thing.