Tuesday, August 31, 2010

tunes i like tuesday: city noise

Late last week Countrymouse and I had a wonderful evening out at NightCat listening to the very lovely Jill Andrews. Before embarking on a solo career, Jill made up one half of twang/roots/rock group, the everybodyfields. I still love the music they made together and thought it was a sad day when Jill and Sam Quinn went their separate ways. Thankfully, what they each brought to the everybodyfields lives on in their solo careers.  Thursday's performance was a pleasant reminder of that.

On her own, Jill's music is less twang and more alt-country.  She combines her brand of deep, soulful music with a pure, clear voice.  The result is a little bitter, a little sweet and downright soothing.

In an interview with Jeff Kollath, Jill Andrews was asked about her writing process in putting together her self-titled EP...
"Honesty is always my intention. It is what draws me to music in the first place . The songs on the EP were written over a year’s worth of time. This year held moments of love, compassion and enlightenment, and heartache. As a songwriter, it’s a privilege to process the experience of emotion through your art. Sharing it with others is the most rewarding part."
I think listening to Jill Andrews is the most rewarding part!

Have a listen to Jill's song, City Noise (which can be found on her EP) and tell me what you think.

Monday, August 30, 2010

what is beautiful?

Several people I know have posted this on Facebook and I've been wanting to share it too.  I thought this would be a good morning.  I was out until 2:30 this morning with Pup #4 in the Emergency Department.  Guess who thought he was a cat and perched himself on the deck rail, only not to be cat-like at all and fall four feet to the lower deck?  Yeah... that would be my son. He's quietly sleeping now (while I am up for work...ugh).  He had a mild concussion but is better.  I'm letting him stay home from school.  It's only the 4th day of school and already things are not going smoothly.

Back to the video.  This is a few years old now but it quite good.  It shows what can be done with makeup and PhotoShop, etc. These are the images we are bombarded with every day and what form the basis of our standards for beauty.  In this video, the end result actually looks very little like the young woman who sat down.  After watching this, you can't help but wonder what kind of effect this altered state of reality has on our young women and men.  (And maybe those who are not quite so young anymore.)

Take a look.  What are your thoughts about the images our culture promotes as beauty?  Is this too much?  What's the tipping point?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

the house of spiders

Over a large header in my kitchen I have the saying, "Benvenuti a casa di segreti", which is Italian for "Welcome to the House of No Secrets".  This was in part because our house is so old, you really can hear everything and in part because I don't think families should keep secrets.  What we almost had written there was "Benvenuto nella casa dei ragni"...  Welcome to the House of Spiders. I thought that might freak out some of my guests, so I opted against it.  

The truth is my house is the spider house.  Everywhere you look there are spiders or spider webs.  I am amazed at how a gigantic, intricate spider web can seem to appear overnight (and almost always in my back door way).  I actually like spider webs and my father assures me spiders are my friends, so I never harm them (I just wish they'd find a less obvious place to hang out). 

I've grown an appreciation for how beautiful spider webs can actually be.  I love being able to step back and see the natural beauty in things.  How about you?  

"Experience is never limited and it is never complete: it is an immense sensibility, a kind of huge spider web of the finest silken threads suspended in the chamber of consciousness and catching every air-borne particle in its tissue".  
~Henry James

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

the wizard of oz never gets old

Children's television in the 60s and 70s was not even almost the same creature it is today. We had very limited options, and quite frankly, watched whatever was available because we were simply happy that something was on.  Around my house, one of our perennial favorites was The Wizard of Oz.  It came on once a year and it was a really big deal.  (Meaning, my parents let us stay up late to watch it.)  I don't think any of my siblings or I ever considered it an "old movie", but the truth is, it was.  (It shares the same birth year as my father, so there's no way it wasn't old.)  I'd love to say the movie is timeless, but it isn't.  Maybe the story is, but there's no comparing the movie to what we've become accustomed.  (If you don't believe me, watch the tornado/spinning house scene again.) That's okay.  A lot of things from my childhood have gotten old... I think that's part of life.  The movie will always have a place in my heart, no matter how old it or I get.

Though L. Frank Baum's novel was published in 1900 (now, that's old), most of us became acquainted with Dorothy and the Follow the Yellow Brick Road Gang through the motion picture (and it's subsequent television broadcasts starting in the late 50s), which today, celebrates it's 71 birthday.  

The film has seen it's share of the spotlight over the years and has been called "the most watched film in history" by The Library of Congress.  I love all the different movie posters produced to advertise the film and thought sharing them would be a fun way to celebrate the movie's birthday.

(Probably my favorite.)

And I would be remiss not to mention one other important birthday that happens today... My own Pups 4 and 5 turn 15 today.  These are my babies, who too soon will be men.  It's a bittersweet day, but we celebrated with ice cream birthday cake for breakfast, so that's not too shabby!  (Oh and it's the first day of school here too.  Talk about bittersweet... this time for them, not for me!!)

Happy birthday Ethan and Andrew!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

tunes i like tuesday: breathturn

Sometimes there are groups that make music that is just plain pretty. This is the case with Hammock, who consistently produce albums full of beautiful music.  Their latest album, Chasing After Shadows...Living with the Ghosts, which was released in May of this year, doesn't disappoint.  While many post-rock (also known as ambient or shoegazer) tunes can be uninspired, their combination of ethereal vocals and reverb-laden guitars grabs hold of your ears and imagination.

The song featured today is Breathturn.  There is no question that the song is musically gorgeous, but David Altobelli's video is amazingly beautiful in it's own right and adds an additional depth to the song. It's a tad long at 6 minutes, but worth the watch.  Let me know what you think.

Hammock - Breathturn from David Altobelli on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

fairy tales

I love fantastic photography.  I know from my limited experience behind the lens that it's really hard to take a photograph that conveys your artistic ideal.  Photographic artist, Eugenio Recuenco is considered to be one of Spain's most creative photographers. His style is often defined as cinematographic or pictorial. Present in much of his work is dark, exaggerated edginess. 

In an interview with Bak magazine, Eugienio Recuenco was asked what he thinks of “darkness”. He replied, “I feel darkness more attractive than night. For darkness I understand [is] craziness not detectable at first sight.”

Some of his portfolios are not for everyone's liking but his series of fairytale inspired photographs are both thought provoking and beautiful.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

tunes i like tuesday: angel dance

Ever have one of those, "What the...??!" moments?  

That was pretty much my reaction when I read that Robert Plant (yes, the Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin fame) was putting out an Americana album.  Now, you all know I love me some Americana/Roots music... I just never thought I'd see the day when I'd be loving me some Robert Plant Americana/Roots music!

The truth is, as odd as it may seem initially, it really isn't that much of a leap for Plant. In spite of the fact that much of Lep Zeppelin's music drew from a roots base, it was always considered Rock and Roll. Here in recent years Plant has collaborated with Alison Krauss and was a huge hit at the Americana Conference in Nashville in 2008. After attending the conference, he was quoted as saying, "It's great to be considered to be part of the movement that is healthy and has some discrimination."  Plant's new album, Band of Joy, promises to run the whole gamut of Americana, from rockabilly, to country, to soul and R&B.  The album is available via pre-order here or you can wait and buy it live and in person on September 14th.  

Featured here today is a cover of the Los Lobos song Angel Dance, which happens to be the album's lead track.  Have a listen and let me know what you think.

Monday, August 16, 2010

hermione grows up

There are a lot of Harry Potter fans out there. I know there are. I like old Harry, but I never quite caught the bug. The Mousehouse's #1 fan isn't one of our pups, it's actually Countrymouse. He's read all the books (several times) and of course, has seen all the movies, both in theaters and at home (because you know we own them all thus far).  I haven't read ANY of the books, except the last half chapter of the last book, because I wanted to know how the story ended.  I think this one single act perhaps shocked Countrymouse more than anything else I've ever done. (It's been a few years now and I still don't think he's gotten over it.)  It's a strange thought to think Hogwarts and the gang have been part of pop culture for well over 10 years now.  My littlest pups were just 2 when the first book was published.  Harry Potter has grown up with them.

Today marks 95 days until Part 1 of the final Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, is released.  (No, I am not that nerdy. Yes, I looked it up.)  By this time next year, we will have all seen the last half chapter of the last book on the big screen.  I think I'm going to miss Harry and his friends.

We've come to "know" Harry, Hermione and Ron.  You often hear a common problem child actors have is breaking away from the roles that made them famous.  At this point, I think I would have a hard time seeing Dan Radcliffe in something else and not think, "Oh there's Harry". Time will tell.

One way to separate yourself from your character is to reinvent your appearance.  I've seen Radcliffe without glasses sporting a spiky hairstyle, but that only goes so far.  I think the lovely Emma Watson has a much better chance of finding her street cred. This is how we first met Emma...

No wonder we all thought she was adorable.

Now meet the new and improved (and dare I say sexy)  Emma Watson...

All I can say is WOW!  (It's almost enough to make me want a pixie.)  As for being stuck playing Hermione her whole life?  Not a chance!

And because, yes, I am that nerdy, here's a teaser of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Trailer - Watch more Movie Trailers

Friday, August 13, 2010

intentional blindness

Italian sculptor, Willy Verginer, offers his compelling installation entitled, Cecita Voluta, which in English means Intentional Blindness.  I find the title of the work almost as intriguing as the work itself.  I think there are times in each of our lives we choose to be "intentionally blind"... some times it's for convenience, other times out of love.  Is it ever the right way to handle a situation?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

wordless wednesday: thankful

I don't typically do Wordless Wednesday posts, and this one isn't exactly wordless.  (No surprise there.)  This is a picture of the blackboard in my laundry room.  Countrymouse wrote this list earlier in the summer.  I haven't erased it yet.  Maybe I never will.  I found it there one day.  It made me smile.  It makes me fall in love with him over and over every time I see it. (Thanks for the photo, Jess.)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

tunes i like tuesday: i know

Although Monday nights are not generally thought of as big nights on the town, Countrymouse and I headed out last night to Night Cat to see singer-songwriter Madi Diaz.  Madi's indie/folk/pop sound is strong and flirty and reminiscent of Liz Phair or a young Sheryl Crow. She typically tours with her band mate, Kyle Ryan, but last night's show was a solo performance.  It was a great chance to see an artist Paste Magazine has called one of the "buzziest acts of SXSW".  

Have a listen and let me know what you think.

Madi Diaz "I Know" from American Songwriter on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

eleven little bits of randomness

With the big office move this weekend, things at home are still a little topsy turvy.  (Now that’s a term you don’t use every day, but it works.)  I’m trying to reclaim the house from the mountain of laundry and stacks of dishes that accumulated over the weekend. (I actually got a little pissy last night and refused to cook dinner in protest.  I told the pups if they couldn’t act like they were part of a functioning household and do their share, neither could I. The truth is, that was okay when I was mad at them, but then I felt pretty guilty, like I was being a bad mom. Needless to say they had a proper dinner tonight.  I’m such a softy.)

So I thought it’s be a good night to do a random thingy post.  (Besides, I haven’t done one in a while.)

  • I’ve been really loving Tröegs Sunshine Pils this summer.  It’s a little citrusy with a nice clean finish.  It’s quickly becoming one of my favorite beers.  
  • Pup #1, Thomas, is home visiting for a few days.  Can you say awesome!?
  • Something has pretty much killed all my squash plants. I think the squirrels keep nibbling on them. I thought they were butternut but they looked more like green pumpkins, but I was still happy to see them grow. I was so looking forward to making soup. This picture was just from a couple weeks ago. All the plants are shriveled up and brown now. (Although everything else in the garden is fine.)
  • My Jeep caught on fire last week.  Countrymouse was driving.  Have I ever told you he gets kinda spastic in those types of situations?  (In his defense, I suppose if I was driving with flames shooting out of the back of the Jeep, I’d probably have a kitten too.)  Apparently the catalytic converter gave up the ghost.  Yeah... I wouldn’t recommend driving a vehicle in that condition.  You know ... live and learn.  
  • Speaking of Countrymouse, for once I got to give him the, You’re So Cute When You’re Dumb look he often gives me.  After countless hours spent on the web, he thought “LOL” meant “Lots of Love”.  (Glad it’s not just me that has those moments.)
  • I want to make Angels on Horseback.  I have seen this recipes at least 3 times in the past day or two.  Just thinking about it makes my mouth water.  Have you ever tried it?  Was it as good as it sounds??
  • Maryland is known for it’s oysters... and it’s blue crabs.  I haven’t had any steamed crabs since 4th of July weekend, which is pretty much criminal in these parts.  Must. rectify. immediately.
  • I was walking down the hall at work the other day and a woman I didn’t recognize said, “I know you”.  I didn’t know her. She’s friends with my brother’s widow and apparently reads my blog.  She even referenced the Mouse House.  It was kinda cool and kinda weird at the same time.  I did feel slightly famous for 60 seconds though.  (Oh and Krista, I hope you keep reading.)
  • Got a few new photos of Matt from Iraq.  Here’s one for you guys to see. It's nice to get a glimpse of life there (and see his smiling face). Countrymouse says pictures with your "fire power" go along with the territory and date back to the Civil War, where whole groups of men would pose with their guns.
  • I want to paint a harlequin pattern on the floor in my upstairs hall.  I think it will look pretty cool, I just haven’t had the energy to get it done (or to try to keep kids and cats downstairs a day or two while it dries.  Maybe they can stay at your house for the weekend?  Nah... a weekend without the pups? Then I wouldn’t paint, fo’shure.)
  • For the record, I didn't make the peanut noodle dish on Friday. (I know, no one is surprised.) But I also didn't get pizza or beer. Looking back on Friday, I'm not even sure we had dinner that night. (The weekend is a big blur now.)
This is probably a good place to stop... it's late and my mind is full of random thoughts. If I keep going, I may be up all night.

LOL (and I do mean Lots of Love),

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

tunes i like tuesday: brooklyn blurs

Everyone wants a do-over at some time or another.  So it is with Grace, the fictional character who is the star of Alex Wong and ambeR Rubarth's CD, Safe in the Sound.  When Grace decides maybe her life could have been different, she becomes the master of her own destiny in a self-penned novel entitled, The Paper Raincoat.  The rest of us end up with a lovely musical collaboration by Wong and Rubarth, with help from Adam Christgau on drums, as The Paper Raincoat.  

Both ambeR Rubarth and Alex Wong are thriving musicians on their own.  I had the pleasure of seeing Wong perform with Vienna Teng about 5 years ago. (His percussionist skills were one of the show's highlights.)  Their effort here is a charming offering with a sound for those who like The Postal Service, The Beatles or maybe Simon and Garfunkel.  I hope they continue to work together in the future, but they're so busy independently, this could end-up being their only collaboration.  You can download your own copy of Safe in the Sound free on their website. (Click on the link above.)  Don't miss this opportunity.