The Hail Satan Network

Guys, Happy Halloween! I did…not really much of anything in celebration. Except watch this sort of appropriate Mr. Show sketch. Let’s watch, won’t we?!

Man. I love David Cross and Bob Odenkirk.


Ooh boy ooh boy.

In case you’re wondering, I’m fast approaching 3,000 published blog entries. That’s pretty ridiculous, right? It’s going to happen some time during the NaBloPoMo activities, so…watch out! In the past, I’ve celebrated these sorts of blogging milestones, such as Blog Birthdays (every time I used the term “blog birthdays” I think about the fact that it does in fact sound a little like a VD. Ex: “I got a nasty case of blog birthdays.” Thanks, Heather Armstrong.) with a new layout. But. I think I’m done with that phase of my life, the “serious web-designing” phase, especially when things like blog layouts are now easily generated by wordpress/blogger/etc or fancy pre-made layouts are so tweakable. So instead I might…post unpublished tidbits? Or highlights (excuse me but BAHAHAHAHA HIGHLIGHTS FROM MY BLOG).

Or I might just decide to screw all that and read more of jerkcity, which is…terrible. And horrible. And amazing. And I can’t stop reading it. And it’s all Jeph Jacques fault. AAAAUGH. Note: do not click this link to jerkcity unless you love crude, odd humor that does nothing else but assault your sensibilities.

That is all.

An Agenda Of Sorts

Next month is National Blog Posting Month (or NaBloPoMo, if you will), in which bloggers who commit will write a post every day during the month of November. Since my blogging skills have deteriorated so much over time, this is a fantastic opportunity to coerce myself into writing a daily blog post, something I probably haven’t done consistently for maybe two years (or since last November, anyway).

I think I know at least part of the reason that I suck at blogging, and it’s because I only consistently ever talk about the same few things, over and over again to anybody who will listen. And it’s always about stuff that I believe is not particularly interesting or moving to anybody but me. And unlike years ago, apparently I actually care about what I write here. Which is probably really just a shame and an unnecessary loss of ridiculousness.

Those few things I won’t shut up about?

1. Teaching
2. Cameras
3. Mad Men
4. Jeph Jacques, author of Questionable, who I am slightly, slightly enamored with at the moment. Slightly.
5. Politics, which…I already kind of mentioned, and I feel really don’t think need to beaten to death any further on the internet, least of all on my blog, but…I’m a little obsessed with what’s going on pre-election and have been reading up a storm, and as I am occasionally wont to say: my brain is full of THOUGHTS.
6. Cars, because all of ours are in some way or other hilarious
7. Music-making

Wait. That’s actually a lot of stuff to talk about, not all of which is entirely repetitive. So yes. Maybe we’ll cover some of that in the upcoming month of November.

I’m OCDelightful!

Completely irrational things I’ve worried about recently:

1. That I’m losing my hearing
2. That I’m actually a huge ass-hole
3. That I’m progressively losing intellect
4. That there’s actually something wrong with me that everyone else sees plain as day but evades my awareness

In other news, it occurred to me the other day that I might have some mild to moderate OCD going on. Like, for serious, in a way I had never considered diagnosable. And I don’t know so much about the compulsive, repetitive behaviors. But the obsessive parts? Whoa, man.

It’s also possible that what I really am is a hypochondriac, I know. But. OCD would explain things. About some of the social anxiety and anxiety in general and also completely stupid and irrational and incessant worries.

So. FOOD FOR THOUGHT or something clever like that.

Ladies And Gentlemen, The Easily Bamboozled Prince Of Space!

And just when you thought the world wasn’t ridiculously tiny enough. My Dad forwarded this email to me, and I am bamboozled enough that I need to share it.

Dear Professor Dicker,

My name is Marge [last name here]; I’m a writer and mathematician affiliated with the University of Iowa. I’ve been a devotee of the music of Prokofiev since my early childhood (the 1960s), and while I know a great deal of his music from records, there are many pieces I’ve never heard in concert. So when I learned that the Peoria Symphony would be performing Prokofiev’s Seventh—a symphony I first heard on records over 40 years ago—I made the 150-mile drive to hear this weekend’s performance, which I enjoyed tremendously. The Rachmaninoff was a spectacular finish, and I very much enjoyed your work on the bassoon.

When I sat down in my seat last evening and began to peruse the program, I learned to my delight that I would be hearing your daughter, Talia, on the cello. In the fall of 2003, when she was a freshman at the University of Iowa, she was a student in my 7:30 am Rhetoric class. Many of the students in that class were music majors, taking this required class early in the morning so that they could attend their ensemble classes in the afternoon. It was by far the most interesting group of students I’ve taught in more than 25 years of college teaching. Talia was an interesting, smart, and talented student—and, most memorably, she said then that Prokofiev and Shostakovich were her favorite composers!

Please do extend my appreciation to Talia, then. She left the University of Iowa after that first year, and I’m glad to see (and to hear) that she is still making excellent music.

With all best wishes,
Marge [last name]

I mean. BUH. Shock’n’awe.

Setting aside the fact that it met four days a week at 7:30am, this was a pretty great class, as far as gen. education courses go. A lot of really cool, thoughtful students. A lot of discussion of science, politics, not to mention some pretty great reading material. I think it was one of the few classes that really kept me sane during my two semesters at the U of Iowa, the other being Year II, 2nd Semester Japanese. Furthermore, I credit my writing skills, critical thinking and self-questioning capabilities to this T.A. She truly helped me to become a better writer (though I’m sure she’d be appalled at my poor blog-editing skills…). I mean. Come on. Did you read that email?! You want this woman teaching your kids to be independent word-machines.

I just never thought she’d come to a Peoria Symphony concert, see my name in the program and DISTINCTLY REMEMBER STUFF ABOUT ME.

And speaking of remembering stuff, man, Iowa City. I still kick myself a little bit, now and then, for leaving so suddenly and abruptly. It was a very cool place, and I got to see Stuart Davis perform FIVE TIMES IN ONE YEAR. It’s hard not to wonder how it would have been if I’d stayed there.

Also, it’s true. Shostakovich and Prokofiev were my favorites when I was 18. They’re still my favorites now, but in different ways, and with the addition of many, many composers from the 20th century including but not limited to Britten, Ligeti and Messiaen. Just. In case you wanted the 7-year-later update.

In any case, this has made for a delightful evening.

Blog About Something: Check

Today I…..

– Voted. Good times.

Ugh. Things like politics don’t need be discussed here. Ever. But, I will say that these political ad campaigns in the papers and on the internet and on tv and on pre-recorded PHONE MESSAGES are driving me up a fricking WALL. Next politician I see I’m going to kick in the knee-caps.

Honestly, I’m not even sure how much I CARE about the gubernatorial election. I mean, neither candidate makes me crazy, and this corrupt Chicago political bullshit keeps happening. I just. Durr. If the next governor of Illinois can avoid going to prison or ending up on a reality tv show or BOTH, it’ll be an accomplishment.

– Went down to Champaign with my mom and saw The Pacifica Quartet perform Shostakovich Quartets 1, 2, 3 and 7 as part of their complete Shostakovich cycle. And. Fan-fucking-tastic. I had forgotten what it’s like to see such an enthralling performance of the classical-music variety. I mean, I know they were my teachers and I’m kind of what you could get away with calling a “fangirl” of theirs (not in the sense that I write fanfic about them or anything. pshaw. I’m not creepy) but…I do think I lucked out being able to study with a group of musicians who not only understand and convey music beautifully, but know how to put on a show — nay — a string quartet rock concert. That’s what these things are like. And I missed that a lot. I don’t think I saw much of that kind of concert while I was at Eastman. I mean, maybe it happened a lot but I just didn’t try hard enough to catch the really great concerts. I was pretty crotchety and hermity and generally no-fun through most of that experience after all, so…oh well.

This concert has also really motivated me to go get my freaking cello adjusted and bow rehaired, because crap, it is NOT GOOD.

So yes.

This Just In

I think I’ve pinpointed what causes me to have panic attacks, based on the two serious panic attacks I’ve ever had, and it is a perfect combination of a) mirror neurons and b) low blood sugar. Mirror neurons are STUPID.


Emphasis On “Freaky Sounds”

So remember how I’m in a band? Playing bass? And that it’s actually really cool when I overcome severe moments of not remembering how to play the bass? Well, they wanted a bio. So I gave them a bio. And now I give you a bio.

Coming from a diverse musical background, Talia is a classically trained cellist by day and electric bassist by night. She has had playing opportunities on both the bass and cello in jazz, acoustic, experimental and rock settings. She continues to enjoy collaboration as a focus of her musical pursuits, along with the search for new, stimulating and sometimes freaky sounds.

That last sentence is 120% accurate. And with that, you understand the two things I value most as a musician: 1) collaboration and 2) freaky sounds.

Freaky sounds, my friends. Freaky sounds.

Things Of The Moment:

1) This quote: “Be regular and orderly in your life so that you may be violent and original in your work.”— Gustave Flaubert, French novelist

2) This song:

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Bike? Or Camera? Which do I want more? Which can’t I live without? Halp?

I must confess, I think the State of Illinois is pretty cool. Like, extremely cool. Like, if I could live in any state in the U.S. due to sheer amount of cool historic stuff alone (…maybe also corrupt government officials), it would be Illinois (I mean, don’t get me wrong. There’s also Massachusetts. And New York. And every other original colony state. And various Southern States). Why Illinois? Well, first of all, Abraham Lincoln, who is my favorite of the United States presidents. You can’t get much more legendary than Lincoln. And this is the LAND of Lincoln, in nearly every sense. I mean, you can’t get away from the dude here if you wanted to. There is so much stuff dedicated to him and so many interesting things to learn and, just, Lincoln. He is the man in these parts.

Aside from that, you’ve got prohibition, Mormons (Nauvoo, IL, anyone?), Chicago-gangsters, aforementioned corrupt politics, fires, slavery, coal-mining, Native Americans, insane weather (there was this thing called the “Deep Freeze” of 1830), Civil War (which I am ESPECIALLY fascinated with), railroads, agricultural socioeconomic STUFF, all wrapped up into a neat little package of insanity.

I mean. Seriously. We’re not just talking Chicago history, here. Central and Southern Illinois have some amazing things to offer. Behold, a previous post about the fuck-upped-ness of Decatur, Illinois. I’m serious. Decatur, Illinois is right on top of a hell mouth. And Springfield must get some over-flow because YEESH.

That said, I’m happy to be here again, and I’m trying to soak up and appreciate the history of this town, because some of it’s cool. And so I will say that the Evergreen Cemetery in Bloomington (where both Adlai Stevensons and quite a few other important people are buried)’s Discovery Walk was pretty dang cool. I’ve been on this walk at least three times now, both times before now while I was in high school or younger, and I guess since then I’ve become an even more intense nerd. We won’t go too much into that. But here! Here are things I learned about my hometown:

1. There was a giant pork packing plant. In Bloomington. And people complained about the stench of dead, dead pigs.

2. Cigar making was a THING and a big one.

3. There were crap-tons of Germans here but you wouldn’t know it after everyone including themselves balked and changed their names right around/between World Wars I and II.

4. The area was inhabited by tons of resolute Protestants for much of the past few hundred years BIG SURPRISE AMIRIGHT.

5. The David Davis Mansion, which is huge and Victorian, contains lots of those portraits made of real human hair of a deceased loved one and…I really don’t need to revisit that Archaeology of Death class and the things I learned about Victorian-era funerary customs, so let’s move on.

6. Other things.

I should have taken notes, really. There were lots of cool things.

I’m realizing, though, I’m downright fascinated with the history of all the places I’ve lived. Certainly one of the things I loved about Rochester was how much of a treasure trove of historic JUNK was lurking in every nook of that city and even in the school I attended. If you were able to look past the dingy, crime-ridden, growth-lacking aspects of that place and enjoy what had been once upon a time, there was a lot to be had.

Count Five Or Six

Here is an unordered list of things. Let’s get down to it!

1. I cannot. Cannot. CANNOT stop listening to Röyksopp. It’s like a disease. Or a drug. HEY.

The Drug from Röyksopp on Vimeo.

Their latest release, Senior, is meant to be the more mature response to their previous album, Junior, which killed my brain in such a good way. And it’s true, this album is a little quieter, a lot more introspective. Which I like. But sometimes I just prefer a little of the

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yeah. It’s the bass.

2. I got a haircut. Which was expensive. But great. Hair-types are confusing, and it was exactly the right thought to have someone cut my hair who has at least kind of similar hair to my own. The haircutting person even said so herself. It’s nothing exciting really, pretty much just the crappy layers were de-crappified. It looks a little something like this:


3. I am experiencing a camera lust so intense that I don’t know what to do with myself. It’s rough, I tell you.

I bought my D40 nearly 3 years ago, and man, it and I have had some good adventures. But I’m ready! I’m ready to move forward! And I knew I would be, but I hadn’t anticipated that my moving forward might coincide with the release of another “mid-range” Nikon DSLR. I’ve been eying D90 for maybe a year now…it seemed perfect for me. A completely appropriate upgrade, and the next logical step up in the Nikon world and definitely the most bang-for-buck at this level camera. I’d also prepared myself for the major up in price…$800-850? I could swing it. So to discover a few weeks ago that there was a refurbished model offered through Nikon’s website for a mere $700?!? It couldn’t be true.

And then came the news. Nikon was releasing a new camera, to be either a predecessor of the D90 or an additional mid-range dSLR. Called the D7000. And then I started reading about it, and…by god. It’s $1,200, but the features compared to the D90 completely 120% justify that up in price. This was no real “predecessor” to the D90 but instead a completely new, amped up camera that would have a lot of appeal to more than mid-range users. In fact, it seems that the D7000 is a camera that is stuck just between the D90 and the D300s, which is marketed as a “semi-professional” model and runs for I think $1,500.

And I know. I know I have been working with an “entry-level” camera. And I know that I haven’t earned a penny via my camera, which is fine by me (“thank-you” dinners or outings with friends don’t count, though they’re way more fun and much preferred to money as I’m by no means a “skilled” photographer). But dagnabit, if I’m not going to take that jump to the D7000. It just seems that…photography is such a perfect union of a creative eye and FANCY TECHNOLOGY. Whether I end up taking photography gigs (or even SCORING photography gigs) or just enjoying photography on my own time, taking that extra leap will be worth my while.

4. In other porny-technology, I’ve also been scouring vintage keyboard sites. Is severe technology-lust this common in most girls? Because addawibba!

5. I can’t remember what I was going to put under 5.