February 27, 2009

Jack Peñate! Spicy!

I've been listening to his cd Matinée lately and it's very satisfying. Very upbeat with some interesting ska beats every so often. Me likey. Also, tell me if the video is too big... I tried putting it bigger, just for skuz, and I don't know if it looks dumb or not. Personally, I prefer bigger, but that's just me.

February 16, 2009

On the dashboard

Here's a screen capture of my dashboard this morning. Got a little "daily history", got a little calculator and weather. Also got a zoo live video widget, so I can see all the furry animals whenever I want.

Now let's do a nice little close up of my favorite part:

Look at that big squishy momma panda!!!

February 14, 2009

Tribute to Blossom Dearie

First off, let me just say that I would kill for a pair of glasses like that.

Blossom Dearie has always been one of my favorite jazz vocalists... her voice is just so unique and delicate, the timbre so lovely, that I can't help but be drawn into her songs. It's almost like she's whispering, even though she's not. It has that effect. Like you get a little quieter, you strain your ears a little more, just so that you can catch it all.

I love the way I found her, too. Nobody told me about her, nobody gave me her cd or told me she was famous. I bought a used jazz compilation when I was a kid - probably 12 or so - and she sang a song on it. I can't remember the name of the cd, or even any of the other songs that were included, but she sang "Someone to Watch Over Me" by Gershwin, and it was perfect. I listened to it all the time. I sang it. I didn't get it, but I knew it was sad.

And I've loved her music ever since. The way it moves, the feel of it, is so perfectly aligned with my emotions that it's shocking. She's been one of those musical love affairs that I'll never forget, and I am truly, deeply saddened by her passing.

And to lighten the mood, here's a great, funny song, "I'm Hip":

February 4, 2009


Hard to pick one answer for each. Got this from Sheila.

One book you’re currently reading: The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat: And Other Clinical Tales, by Oliver Sacks.

One book that changed your life: Calico Palace, by Gwen Bristow. It was my first real adventure into adult literature. I want to say I was 11 or 12? I can't for the life of me remember what I'd been reading at that age, but after this I was hooked. It was one of my mom's favorite books, and Bristow is one of her favorite authors. She'd wanted to share it with me, whether I was ready or not. I learned about the Gold Rush, I learned about hookers, I needed to use a dictionary. Helped to validate my desire for adventure.

One book you’d want on a deserted island: The Complete Works of Jane Austen (including Love & Friendship, which is hilarious). Is this choice an authentication of my feminine sensibilities? I'd certainly hope not, but I'm sure there are people who'd disagree. Austen is one of those tremendously celebrated authors who, by a miracle of Literature, was left off of my summer reading lists for all of high school. She became my rebellion, something that I could read (and subconsciously probably knew was good for me) and not have to rip to shreds during 4th period. Some of my most heartbreaking moments of academia during those tumultuous years were when teachers tore apart some of my favorite characters from literature. (Such as George, from A Passage to India, by EM Forster. I loved him. Still do.)

One book you’ve read more than once: Celia Garth: A Story of Charleston in the American Revolution, by Gwen Bristow. Obviously, Bristow has had kind of a large impact on my life. I first read this book, like Calico Palace (and Jubliee Trail, for that matter), before I could really grasp what it was all about... but that really didn't matter. It was all about the characters for me - I cried, I laughed, I fell in love. Although I read Calico Palace prior to this (and had subsequently had my eyes opened to adult lit), it still changed me. I didn't just admire the time and the place and the history of it - I wanted to BE Celia. I wanted to be able to express just half of the confidence and gumption (yes, gumption) that she had. Amazing, truly. On another note: since then I've had the chance to look up many of the historical aspects of it and she really is impeccable with her research.

One book you’ve never been able to finish: This is going to be really embarrassing, but there are actually several books that I haven't been able to finish, for some reason or another. Usually, I'll start one, get bogged down with school work, and decide to stop. It's too emotionally wearing to try and read something super involved while also trying not keep my spirits up at school. But, since I can only choose one I'm going to have to put Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy. I wasn't far in, but one day I just put it down. And that's actually happened a few times, like 3 I think. And what sucks is that every time I want to try again I have to start over because I can't remember what had happened up to that point. But I will prevail! Some day...

One book that made you laugh: Can I put Julie & Julia, by Julie Powell? I spent almost the entire time laughing, I kid you not. This woman could be me. She's an easily provoked, underpaid temp at an unnamed government agency in NY during the years immediately following 9/11, who loves to cook, talk trash, and drink anywhere between 2-5 gimlets per night with her funny husband, Eric. Okay, so not me exactly, but somehow this is what I see when I envision my future. Maybe you don't think I'm aiming high, but just read it - you'll change your mind.

One book that made you cry: Asians. For a culture that traditionally lacks in emotion, books by Chinese authors make me cry like a mexican baby who accidentally rubbed chiles in their eyes (not that I ever did that). Anything by Amy Tan will set me off, but, although I loved The Hundred Secret Senses, I'm going to have to go with Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, by Lisa See. I cried... for DAYS. Not to discourage you because it's a fantastic book. So, chances are pretty high that I'm just a big baby and will cry whenever I read anything even remotely sad.

One book you keep rereading: Ella Enchated, by Gail Carson Levine. I can read this book a million times and never get bored with it. I'm not sure if it's because of how old I was when I first read it (10?) or because of some pre-pubescent hormonal imbalance, but whatever the reason, I don't care. I think I fall a little more in love with Char every time I read it, so that's why I still do.

One book you’ve been meaning to read: Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card. Bethany has been trying to get me to read this book forever, but I've just never gotten around to it.

One book you believe everyone should read: I'm not sure if I believe that's possible. Or even that it's a good idea. Even if they did, would they all like it as much as me? Would the mass reading begin to diminish the way that the book makes me feel? I want to put Pride & Prejudice, just because it's divine and it's one of my favorite books, but I don't think I can. Instead I'll put His Dark Materials, by Philip Pullman. I felt like these books were excellently written and had a very careful way of explaining a complex subject matter. I didn't get a chance to read these until high school (they were recommended by a friend), but I would argue that they're just as important, if not more, for a child's education.

Grab the nearest book. Open it to page 56. Find the fifth sentence…

If the baked pastry shell is no longer hot enough to set the egg white, return it to the oven for 2 to 3 minutes or until the egg white layer is dry and opaque.

February 1, 2009

Now what?

Now that I'm done (as of this morning) reading Julie & Julia, I feel a surge of ridiculously misdirected motivation. Yes, the whole point of it was that the woman was looking for a purpose - a reason to keep getting up in the morning. She was a temp, for christ's sake. She really needed a reason. I really didn't expect to see that much of myself in her, but I did. Like we were the same person.

"But you're a college student going to school for a specific purpose", you might say. Allegedly, I say. I should want to get up in the morning. I should already be motivated. I should have a plan. But I don't. Well, in a loose sort of sense I do. For school, for work, for my career. Now, I know that those are all big things, but they are somehow belittled by the question of what I want out of life in a more metaphysical sense. Not just what I'm doing physically, but what I'm thinking, what I want to feel about myself.
And what I've learned from Julie Powell (and especially from Julia Child) is that I want Joy. It seems like such a stupid sentiment when you write down (even more ridiculous when you say it out loud), but it's true. Joy. I really want it, and I'm not sure how to get it, but I want to try.

And... well... it worked for Julie. Could it work for me? I'm not sure I could handle Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and I'm not sure I could do it all in a year, but I do have a book that's been staring at me rather pointedly these days, and I've been wanting to hear that spine creak the way it always does when I open it. The Pie & Pastry Bible. Not unlike MtAoFC, The Bible is not viewed by the culinary world as the Cookbook to End All Cookbooks. It does not contain every recipe ever. But it is essential. The pastry world would not be the same without it.
Julia didn't take her first cooking class until she was 37. Julie knew that joy was a hard thing to find. Together they inspired me to do something totally ridiculous: bake my way through The Bible. I don't know how long it will take, and I have no idea how many times I will want to cry and quit, but I really want to try. I'm going to give myself until graduation.
I'm sure that's way less time than I'll need. But I'm doing it, not just for Julia, but for me, too.