Tag Archives: music

New Year’s Jam

I was having image hosting issues for, like, half a year, so this is just a touch late. We went to a fun party for New Year’s Eve, and shortly after midnight folks started jamming. That bloke rocking out on the bass in the center is my husband.

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Comic: Earworm

Special shout-out to The Awkward Yeti for the inspiration.

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Comic: Mondegreen

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Sketchbook Peek: The Studio

There’s a chance I might have mentioned, once or twice, that my dear husband is a musician. His studio is packed to the gills with equipment and toys and art, and I picked only a tiny part of it to draw. Pictured here: one of his many guitars, an amp, a tape deck, a reel-to-reel, a cabasa, a keyboard (in the foreground), and a record player, among other smaller items. It’s a study in black because 99% of modern musical equipment is black.

One day I hope to get back in there to sketch some more, but it’s not easy because he’s usually either working in there (in which case I’d be in the way), or we’re hanging out together (and it’d be a touch rude to run off). But that’s okay. It’s not going anywhere, and I imagine it’ll only get more packed with interesting things as time goes on.

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Takoma Park Folk Festival

A week ago, my husband and I attended the Takoma Park Folk Festival for the second time. We saw some really great groups: ilyAIMY, Lulu’s Fate, Urban Funk, 50 Man Machine, and others. I’m really bad at sitting still, so I brought my sketchbook and a regular #2 pencil and drew some of the musicians.

I think I don’t like drawing musicians. The hands are awkward (and hands are tough to begin with) and guitars defeat me. Still, I suppose this counts as urban sketching, which I’ve been trying to do more of in general.

Anyway, if you’d like to see photos from our day, my husband has posted a bunch here. Enjoy! Just don’t compare them to my drawings. I’m not so good at lifelike portraiture.

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September Creative Experiments Recap

As I posted at the beginning of the month, I decided to take part in the Creative Experiments for September over at Daisy Yellow. Let’s see how I did, shall we?

Carry a notebook with you for a month, adding notes, scribblings, to-do’s, sketches, doodles, coffee stains and whatever you wish.

I always drag a beat-up old spiral around with me, but I was only a few pages away from the end so I decided to finish up that one and start a whole new kind of notebook: a National Brand hardcover, quad-ruled Lab Book. It was certainly a new experience, but I felt more free to doodle and otherwise not just write one big, unbroken paragraph of rambling prose. (But I still did that too.) I also felt more compelled to fill the entire page, perhaps due to the lack of defined margins.

One day this month, write a thoughtful description of 5 sounds that you encounter.

I love this prompt. I’ve never encountered anything like it. Unfortunately, I kept forgetting to do it, even during the most perfect time for it (the Celtic Classic), so I just took a few minutes here and there during an ordinary Monday.

  1. My coworker talking on the phone in Persian. It’s so beautiful, and yet I’m so used to hearing him speak in English that it always takes me a second to realize I can’t understand what he’s saying. It reminds me of when I’d listen to another coworker at another job speak Polish on the phone. I swear it sounded like English backwards.
  2. The printer hums and ticks like a vacuum that just sucked up a pebble. It’s a happy noise – printing something out generally signifies completion of a task.
  3. The racket of the locker room at the gym: a child squealing, over and over again. There comes a point in every child’s life when they discover they can produce a high-pitched shriek that makes adult ears bleed and dogs take note. I guess the mother has learned the quickest route to quiet is to ignore the noise. Anything else will just encourage more. I’m not sure I can hear that sound without shutting my eyes and taking a deep breath.
  4. A cell phone ringing (jangling?) from inside a locked locker. Surprisingly clear, not muffled at all. Reminds me of a sound from an old video game, like a laser pistol on an old Atari or Nintendo. I’m positive I’ve heard this specific noise before in some game I used to play as a child, but I can’t place it.
  5. My cat’s strange, creaky greeting. Sort of a “meh-eh?” – like a question. Often she opens her mouth before speaking as if she has to force out the noise. It doesn’t sound especially friendly, but it’s one of her “I love you/pet me” meows. Over the years I’ve come to find it cute, even endearing.

Create an itunes playlist or mix CD with 15 songs that make you feel just right.

This was by far the most difficult. I almost never listen to music anymore: in the car it’s audiobooks, and it’s rare for me to spend enough time in my study for listening to music to even occur to me.

  1. “Time to Start” by Blue Man Group
  2. “Sin” by Pet Shop Boys
  3. “Send Me an Angel” by Real Life
  4. “It’s Good to be Alive” by DJ Rap
  5. “Running in the Family” by Level 42
  6. “Mess” by Ben Folds Five
  7. “Magic” by Ben Folds Five
  8. “Blue” by Eiffel 65
  9. “Asshole” by Jim’s Big Ego
  10. “Lifeline” by Copper Sails
  11. “Ana Ng” by They Might Be Giants
  12. “Never There” by Cake
  13. “Anna Begins” by Counting Crows
  14. “Always” by Erasure
  15. “Puttin’ on the Ritz” by Taco

Read four (4) books this month, fiction or non-fiction.

The books I read (and reviewed) during the month of September:

  1. Foundation by Isaac Asimov
  2. The Immortals by John F. Ferrer
  3. Time of the Twins by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
  4. Moominland Midwinter by Tove Jansson
  5. Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi
  6. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

That’s fewer than usual because Crime and Punishment took roughly half the normal human lifespan to get through. Holy crap that’s a long book!

This was lots of fun, but I wish I’d put more concentrated effort into it instead of just signing up and then promptly forgetting all about it. Maybe next month, eh?

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Busy Busy Weekend

This coming Saturday, September 25, is the annual National Book Festival, put on by the Library of Congress on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., each September. It’s tons of fun and every year they attract loads of marvelous authors. This year’s line-up includes Elizabeth Kostova, Suzanne Collins, Katherine Paterson, and so many others. In addition, they’re reprising their Pavilion of the States, where the public library systems from every state and territory have tables and information (and free stuff).

On top of all this fun, that day is also the annual cross-site meet-up for BookCrossing and LibraryThing, many of whom are members of both sites. We’re meeting at 2:00 PM on the steps of the Natural History Museum. It’s always a great time with lots of chatter and laughter. Please join us!

I, however, will not be attending this great yearly event. I will be off in Pennsylvania at the Celtic Classic. We used to go every year, but it’s been a while. (I think the last time we went was in 2006.) It’s a gigantic free Celtic music and games festival. It’s full of bands, games, parades, dancing, competitions, and other entertainment, and best of all it’s free admission. I’m really looking forward to it.

By the by, if neither of those are your bag, the Maryland Renaissance Festival is still open every weekend till late October. Go ye, and be merry!

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This is It

This is It: I didn’t expect to find rehearsal footage from a Michael Jackson concert to be all that interesting. I wouldn’t consider myself much of a MJ fan – I like his Big Hits like “Thriller” and “Beat It”, but I’ve never owned an album (until a recent acquisition of Thriller at my husband’s urging) and never even had a desire to attend a concert. I hadn’t realized what an amazing concert it would have been. The new video footage, the amazing dancers, the fact that every song was performed completely live – it was almost breathtaking. I loved seeing all the details that went into putting together such an elaborate show. And watching MJ himself was amazing, especially considering he could still move like that at 50 years old. Make no mistake: Michael Jackson was a weirdo. And because of this weirdness, it’s easy to forget that he was also extremely talented and a consummate performer. This movie is a solid reminder of that fact.

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MAGFest 2010

Ring in the new year with video games, music, and general geekery at MAGFest in Alexandria, Virginia. I’ll be there with my dear husband and a bunch of folks from OverClocked Remix. Should be good times.

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New Moon Soundtrack

My sister, upon hearing me (affectionately) describe the sound of Alice in Chains as an acid spill slowly eating through the floor, told me I should write more music reviews. The fact of the matter is that I don’t listen to much music these days. When I’m in the car alone I listen exclusively to audiobooks, and when there’s anyone else in the car we’re usually talking, which means I’m not really listening to the songs.

So since I’m pretty much completely out of touch with modern music, I figured the best way to dive into the music game was with a movie soundtrack. Mashable gave the heads up that the New Moon Soundtrack was available in its entirety for streaming from the Twilight MySpace page. I was curious, so I swallowed my distaste for MySpace and gave it a listen. (And coincidentally, it comes out in stores today. How uncharacteristically timely of me!) Overall, it’s a little heavy on the slow songs, but still a marked improvement over the Twilight Soundtrack, which featured way too many cringe-inducing vocalists. (Robert Pattinson, for example, sounds like Tracy Chapman on barbiturates.) I mean, wow. There were a lot of really bad songs on that soundtrack. Anyway, without any further ado, here are my thoughts on the songs from this soundtrack.

Death Cab for Cutie – Meet Me on the Equinox: Gets stuck in my head a lot. Good but not spectacular.

Band of Skulls – Friends: A fun little ditty. Lame, but in a cute way.

Thom Yorke – Hearing Damage: Very reminiscent of the techno songs I enjoy listening to as background music. I really like it, but it’s not the sort of thing I’d expect from the frontman of Radiohead.

Lykke Li – Possibility: Pretty, but very boring. Something about her voice bugs me. I can’t put my finger on it.

The Killers – A White Demon Love Song: Pretty typical Killers. Not bad, but not something I’d go out of my way to listen to. Reminds me a little bit of The Beta Band.

Anya Marina – Satellite Heart: A sweet little song about unrequited love. Not a huge fan of her voice, but it’s an okay song.

Muse – I Belong to You: Sounds like it could be a fun tune, but only the first thirty seconds were available for streaming. So I got sneaky and found it on YouTube. And you know what? I like it. It’s catchy.

Bon Iver & St. Vincent – Roslyn: Mellow. Lovely acoustic guitars. Too bad the vocals are so obnoxious, but I think it could grow on me with repeated listens.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (BMRC) – Done All Wrong: A good addition to this soundtrack, which is pretty much a breakup album anyway. I like the simplicity of this one.

Hurricane Bells – Monsters: Kinda fun. Makes me bob my head. Not bad, but pretty generic.

Sea Wolf – The Violet Hour: Reminds me a little bit of The Killers. I like this one. It’s interesting, catchy, something I wouldn’t mind hearing repeatedly on the radio. Probably my favorite on the entire album.

Ok Go – Shooting the Moon: I dig the weird electronic sounds and harmonies. A very sweet song; I like the dichotomy between the heavy bass drum and the quiet vocals, as well as the instrumental madness at the end. Man, I heart Ok Go; I can’t give an impartial review.

Grizzly Bear with Victoria Legrand – Slow Life: I like the chorus, but the verses are a little too stark. Makes me sleepy.

Editors – No Sound but the Wind: Very old-timey, like a lounge singer. A beautiful song on its own, but this rendition comes across as a little cheesy. The singer sounds like he’s wearing a toupee and a sparkly suit jacket, and I just can’t shake that mental picture. Which is a shame. It’s quite a lovely ballad.

Alexandre Desplat – New Moon (The Meadow): A little bit of the score, I assume. Gorgeous solo piano piece. A nice close to the album. Very quiet, peaceful, hopeful – as should be the aftermath of any breakup, once the tears and heartache have passed.

So there you have it.  I guess it’s more of a “thoughts while listening to the songs” than an actual review. Overall, I kinda dig it. Sure, it’s likely that big names like Thom Yorke attached themselves to this soundtrack because of its guaranteed success, but I’m not complaining. Think of how many people will be hearing great bands they never would have otherwise discovered. Though not strong enough for me personally to purchase it, I can see this soundtrack having something to appeal to even the most die-hard of Twilight-haters. After all, none of the songs are bad. At worst they’re generic or kinda meh. Definitely worth a listen.

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