Honestly? I Still Wonder If The Aliens Brought Me Here.

Ooh NOOOOO I am neglecting my blog again!

Here’s what’s new in this neck of the woods: some cosmic combination of seasonal allergies and weird dreams caused me to wake up this morning feeling as though a truck had run over my face at some point during the night. I don’t remember the dreams well…I was with young peers trying to navigate my way through a very RPG-dungeon-like high school library that was something like five stories tall and with stair-cases you had to work to get to (by “work” I mean “scaling walls and stuff”). The park near my house was also mystically large with fountains and a band-stand with a live band, and sat on a hill which I’m pretty sure was proportionally impossible for Central Illinois.

In the meantime, I am nursing this stuffed head ‘o mine with COFFEE.

Oh. Right, have I mentioned that I now drink coffee?! My family members are celebrating very privately so as not to ruffle my sensitive feathers — I now regularly DRINK and ENJOY not only beer but COFFEE?! Maybe aliens didn’t swap me with their true daughter! Also, it means that I could actually go and live in Europe and survive as well as not get funny looks. Seriously. We went to visit my sister over there a few years back and stayed with friends of my parents, and in the mornings during breakfast our hostess would offer coffee, and would always be nonplussed with she got to me and I said “no coffee, please…” and then she would prod me for something I WOULD drink that wasn’t just water (Europe is funny and frustrating to me because I am a hydration-via-water person through and through, and maybe it’s just the fact that Europe is so old and spent so many centuries without clean water and drinking alcoholic things because they had little choice, but water is not the same there as it is here — it’s expensive! Maybe treated a bit as a luxury? And dammit, people! I am a picky, spoiled American and I need freaking constant hydration!), and ended up always making me hot chocolate in the mornings because I guess it is sacrilege to not drink a hot beverage of some sort at breakfast. And the thing I found a little hilarious was that our hostess, though married to a Hungarian and living in Düsseldorf, was a MICHIGANITE transplant! And yet she still looked at me like “water?! YOU SO CRAZY, YOU NAIVE AMERICAN PERSON!”

But yeah. I really really do suspect that I’m a little bit of a super-taster, because it’s just taken me so LONG and such repetitive actions to get into booze and caffeine. Beer was odd, I really was not a fan when I first started drinking it because, well, you know. Bitter things. But I kept making myself drink it when given the option, for like THREE YEARS. People would offer and share with me really amazing beers that I couldn’t quite appreciate because all I tasted was BITTERNESS. But somehow that has changed, and now I am a beer enthusiast. It is fun to try different things, and to observe and enjoys the myriad flavors and over-tones. Also, as a side-note, cask ales are…….wonderful. Truly, beer is for me a successfully acquired taste. I wish I could say the same for wine. I guess the shame of the situation is that now that I’ve found some alcoholic beverage that rocks my world, I am content to stick with that one beverage and not explore other possibilities. Maybe I should work at this.

Anyway. Coffee. I really enjoy it. I’m not sure how it happened. I think it had to do with a pretty great iced mocha and the small and insanely productive caffeine-high that came with it. The very next day I did half milk, half coffee with a good bit of sweetener in a small cup. And been going on something like that every since, with decreasing amounts of sweetener. So far, it’s an afternoon thing, and it’s been just a small cup for the most part. The few times I’ve accidentally managed to ingest crap-tons ‘o coffee have resulted in severe jitters or sleep issues, neither of which is fun for anybody.

So let us all cheer for me, and my overly-sensitive taste-buds. Yaaay!

Beat-downs: GO!

Hoooooooo boy!

Man. I came home exhausted by Eastman and the various beatings I went through of the self-esteem and ego variety, got back on my feet, started to regain some important and very vital confidence and then BLAM-O. Beat-down. I was dumb to think they would go away. I apparently forgot that beat-downs are a part of life.

It’s really, really hard. Because in order to sell yourself as a player, you need to walk that walk and have the confidence it takes to entice people. But on the other hand, you need to have humility and understand that you might not always succeed and accept that that’s life and that there is going to be failure. And finding the balance between those two things is TERRIBLE.

So, that’s that. I shouldn’t complain. I am getting the crap scheduled out of my fall for gigs. Which is good.

In other news, I have a bass-line stuck in my head and it won’t get out and I think drastic measures need to be taken. I need to infect my brain with another, more clever ohrwurm. Halp?

Happy Birthday To Me

Since today I am officially a quarter-century old, I thought it would be a good time to share with you one or two (or even three) fascinating tidbits about myself that perhaps you were not aware of! Let’s start here:

1. I am allergic to eggplant. And by “allergic,” I mean “it makes me ill,” usually starting with some stomach annoyance and ending in flu-like aches and chills.

2. I prefer military time on my digital time-telling devices. I’m really not sure why.

3. Two years ago on this day, I had been in Rochester for perhaps a week’s time, and decided to go for a birthday run. Out on East Ave. and just about 1.5 miles from where I was living at the time, I fell, out of nowhere, grazed my elbow and busted open my left knee. To add insult to injury (HAH!!! GET IT?!!!!), there were two girls that had been walking behind me and had to have seen me fall, and they walked right past me without even once inquiring after my well-being, as I was still lying on the ground checking out my bloody knee. JERKS!! I then walked the entire 1.5 miles back to my apartment whilst oozing blood. I held up fairly okay for the walk, but the moment I walked in the door and my roommate asked what had happened, I totally burst into tears because it was obviously the best response at the time.

And this all on my Golden Birthday (turning 23 on the 23rd)?! I have to be honest, I’m pretty sure my Golden Birthday year was ASS. It was hardly Golden.

I did take some sweet photos of the wounds, like this one of the knee:

Gross.

Good times. I don’t think that photo does justice to how much it bled or how painful it was before, during and after cleaning out. I guess it did leave a pretty cool scar, though, and one that’s not actually too noticeable…

Anyway. I’m 25 now, and I think I’ve mostly successfully moved on from those bizarre, discombobulating times in life. So I guess….here’s to 25 more!

So What If Sometimes I Also Really Like Steely Dan? So What?

Hey there I did not mean to get all indignant and righteous about liking certain music. It’s just that, believe it or not, there have been people in my life who have actually given me honest-to-god flack for liking certain music that perhaps they do not share a taste for. And that’s never fun, feeling judged, especially for something you can’t really help. And so sometimes I get a little…uh…defensive, usually out of ear-shot and at a later time. And…it’s rare to find a person who is not at least a little bit judgmental sometimes, but I’ve actively worked very hard to free myself from that kind of thinking over the past several years, and by god, there is just no point, especially with something as intangible and multifarious as music. Why? Just why?!

That’s all I wanted to say.

That and I missed Mad Men tonight. Damn me.

I Love Toto! And Am Still A Curmudgeon!

I definitely did not proof-read or even bother to look over that last entry before (or after) publishing. That is how ambivalent I am about blogging, or at least how ambivalent the part of me that is usually horrified at the idea of the universe reading my typos is about blogging.

And yet, here I am.

Apologies for typographical and grammatical horrors in that last entry. I think I fixed them all.

It is Saturday, and I know I have designated certain days to share or talk about music, but man, who needs that. Every day should be Cover Monday or Better Live Than The Original Saturday or whatever else I’ve said in the past.

But anyway. Jeph Jacques, the author of Questionable Content and someone whose taste and opinions about music I respect a great deal and think are in some ways pretty similar to my own, recently did a comic with a punchline involving a song by Toto. And…Toto? Pshaw. Me, like Toto? Yeah right and stuff! Except for the part where I secretly really love Toto but tend to never tell that to anyone, ever.

How in the heck did I discover Toto? My favorite Japanese crazy off-her-rocker multi-lingual and multi-talented musician, Shiina Ringo, did a cover of the song Georgy Porgy and, heck, I’m just gonna post it here.

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This sounds like an exact copy of the original, but I’m okay with that. The biggest difference is probably just that the production is a little more current-sounding (2001 I think) and the piano has more sustain. I’m not sure who is singing the male vocal part — it might actually be Shiina Ringo’s brother Shiina Junpei who has frequently collabed. with Shiina Ringo. Here is the original.

I think it’s something about rhythm sections that totally does me in (since that’s when my listening-habits changed, after being the bass in a rhythm section for a number of years), and in turn, a really tight band, and in turn, certain 80’s pseudo-jazzy progressive-rock groups like Toto. I mean, come on!!! That syncopated piano bit! And that slide-guitar solo?! COME. ON. I ask you to please explain to me how this is not the best song ever.

And then Jeph Jacques mentioned the song Africa and oh god.

So I’ve been listening to a lot of Toto via YouTube, and man, I can’t help myself. I can’t hide it anymore. I really freaking like Toto, and this sort of music. And not “ironically”. Somebody out there recently said that life’s too short to like things ironically, and I must agree. A person likes what they like, and it really can’t be helped and it shouldn’t be hidden away in Guilty Pleasure-ville. Something else is that, god I’m sick of all this Indie Rock that’s everywhere. It all sounds so much the same to me, and it’s all becoming so much more widely commercially used…and I’m not saying that bands like Vampire Weekend, Grizzly Bear, MGMT aren’t truly really wonderful and talented — I’ve really gotten some good listening out of those bands and I thank them for that — but I find myself AMBIVALENT about these artists now that they’ve circulated through my regular listening routine in a way that surprises me and doesn’t usually happen with other music I’ve discovered and also loved off the bat. Maybe I’m tired of these same pastich-y sounds that you hear again and again and AGAIN (same issue I take with Sufjan Stevens), or how commercially used so much of this music is becoming (it’s terrible — I can’t even deal with that song Two Weeks by Grizzly Bear anymore. Such a great song, SO overplayed). And I don’t know, I feel like this music has something missing, something I can’t even quite put my finger on yet. I’ll put words to it when I find them. And these bitches and moans of mine make going back a few decades into some music that is so different from what normally surrounds me so refreshing and worth it.

I realize this rant makes me sound like a crotchety, old music-listening person. But I’ve been needing to get that out. I suspect this kind or rant is just my way of saying “okay — this music is great! But not for me.”

I guess I could have just said that.

Anyway. My original point was that I love Toto and I am not ashamed of this weird love, and I hope other people will love Toto and other bands they might not normally like without having to hide it behind a title of Guilty Pleasure.

The End.

How YOU Doin’?!

You would like a blog entry! I know you would, I just know it!!!!

What can I say? Well…

Some people might be wondering two things: 1) is she being a total lazy-ass bum living at home? and 2) has she thrown her cello out a window and ceased to play since whenever the hell it was that last happened? and the answer to those two questions, respectively, are yes and no. I mean. I’m totally being a lazy-ass bum. But I’m also not!!! I’m doing things, for sure! I think it’s just weird to not be in school and not have any really awful horrible PTSD-inducing deadlines…it’s weird not to be stressed out and anxious all the time. Perhaps I believe I’m being a lazy-ass, but I am beginning to realize what I really am is at ease. Who knew those weren’t the same things?!

Anyway, here are some things you might be interested to know…

1) I have started teaching cello lessons! To a handful of kids ranging in age from 10-15! Which is CRAZY! I totally used to say I didn’t want to teach. And I think that of course I knew as I was saying that I would end up teaching anyway, but I never figured that all of a sudden something would change, some switch flipped so that I would wake up some morning in July and go “holy crap teach cello!” Anyway. It’s pretty cool. I really haven’t taught much before, and certain things freak me out, like the idea that I might scar a young person for the rest of his or her life. But hey, irrational fears and all that. I think teaching is just as much about learning things as a cellist and teacher for myself as it is showing other people how to do it, which is perhaps good for me right now as I have no regular teacher of my own.

2) I have not only been playing the cello, but even gigging and taking auditions of sorts. One thing I want to comment on before I go off on another blabbering ramble is my GOD, how warm and friendly and really amazing all of the people who gig around these areas have been. I honestly couldn’t believe it. Eastman was such a weird, cold, competitive and socially inept place that I never really felt comfortable or welcome when it came to playing the cello, and I think one of the reasons I needed a bit of a cello-break after school had to do with that. I suppose I had forgotten that by JOVE, not every place is like that. I thank Central Illinois for reminding me of this very thing.

I don’t think I have plans of staying around here forever, but for now I am simply peachy to have the time and leisure to enjoy music I make and listen to, as well as explore other creative venues.

Also, Black Dog Smoke and Ale House is just down the road, and words don’t even come close to describing…everything that goes on in that place. I’ll just utter these three words: Pulled Pork Burrito.

Groooooan

Rough day at the office, kids.

No kidding. I wish I could kid about that.

Do you have enough vocoder in your life? How about unsettling music videos? No? Here you go.

You’re welcome.

Yeah. I’m pretty in love with Black Moth Super Rainbow. I can’t help it. I apparently really dig the psychedelic things. Their lead vocoder-dude has also released two solo albums which have been pretty ridiculously amazing. Just. In case you were wondering.

I haven’t been blogging much. I can’t help it. Sometimes blogging is fantastic and I can’t get enough of it, but other times I just don’t really feel the need to share here. I used to think I should definitely blog every day, but now it just doesn’t seem as vital as it did when I was 17 or 21 or whatever. I DO, however, think I should do the hand-written thing a little more often, as I’ve almost forgotten what it’s like to write anything substantial in that manner.

Hokay. That’s it for me.

Photos Photos And More Photos

I do believe my condition has been upgraded from “crotchety” to “kind of sick.” I don’t know what’s up with that, but I suspect it might have something to do with the insane heat.

In the meantime, though, I took these photos back in June, whilst in Madison, and only just now uploaded them to Flickr. Maybe it was worth the wait? This is the point in the summer where I truly began to understand the “manual” setting on my camera, and I believe it shows. At least, from an exposure/color point of view, anyway. Check it!

Biocore Prairie
Of Madison’s Biocore Prairie

Look At Them There Storm Clouds
Hell if I know what those flowers are, but they are a lovely foreground to a pretty dramatic backdrop.

Lake Mendota Sunset
Lake Mendota at Sunset…right on the Northern shore of the peninsula.

Lake Mendota Sunset
Another Lake Mendota Sunset from just off the U of W campus…and holy crap. I did nothing to the colors in this photo as I was editing. This photo honestly didn’t really need any editing, honestly.

Bird Silhouette
More silhouettes! This? I think has to be one of my favorite photos that I’ve taken. Ever. Taken either in the Biocore Prairie or the Community Gardens in Madison…

Hey, yeah, in case you weren’t aware, I have a Flickr page…which has…THOUSANDS…of photos. Which is ridiculous. You can also keep up with the 365 Days Project over there, if that kind of thing tickles your fancy. I’ll post more of that later, but nothing terribly interesting has occurred at this point. It would HELP if I could find my freakin’ flexy tripod anywhere…

A Summery Tune For You

I been feelin’ a little crotchety these past few days. More crotchety than is normal for me, anyway. Not even my new, fancy and compact blog layout seems to be helping. I’m not really sure what the deal is. I think I’m tired of the hot and humid weather and maybe just need a few days of pure alone-time which I don’t foresee having in the relative future. Or maybe it’s the weird dreams about zombies or time-travel preventing me from obtaining truly restful nights of sleep.

And so I think a jaunty, summery tune is in order, one of Shibuya pop origins. Yeah!

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Aaaaah, I love it.

A Ninja Of Sorts

Take that, raccoons! We cut down your damn step-ladder to the roof.

I’m sad. We planted that redbud tree on my Dad’s birthday when I was I think seven…the tree is still mostly intact, but it’s split at the base and leaning like crazy, especially now that we rid it of what was half its weight and throwing it even further off balance. I honestly don’t think it’s going to make it though the next bout of severe weather. But OH WELL. It sounds like we’ll plant some kind of Japanese maple in place of the redbud, the varieties of which are endless, as well as not susceptible to Japanese beetles.

Man. Things I am also an expert in besides weeding hundreds upon hundreds of maple saplings: killing Japanese beetles. They are such horrible pests! And if a few of them start feeding on certain types of plants, they only attract more. The solution is to go out in the mornings while the tiny beasts are still sluggish, with a bucket full of water with a little soap and then knock them into the bucket. We have a bucket for this very specific purpose. I actually find some odd satisfaction in this kind of pest control.

That’s right. I am a pest warrior. Or, a Japanese Beetle Ninja, if you will. Do not mess with me or my bug-whacking abilities.

What else is new? I guess I am settling into this layout. I’m still not sure about the header text, or the content font. I’ve been playing with other fonts, but can’t seem to find something I like better. For now, this masthead stays. But do not be surprised if you see a number of different mastheads before one sticks. Pretty much, this is turning into the font experiment blog. Watch out!