Monday, January 31, 2011

Music Monday: First record I ever bought

Today I take you down memory lane. For some of you, I imagine you couldn't identify a 45mm record at all. I must have been about 13 or 14 years old and I bought this 45mm record with babysitting money at Record Land or Music Land at the local mall. (I think it is around here somewhere or I sold it recently. We don't have a record player, so it is rather useless to have laying around.) I missed the 8 track tape phase, neighbors had an 8 track player, but we never did. My parents when from a record player to cassette tapes to CDs.

I had a portable record player as a kid and I played it non-stop. In truth I bought only a few records before tapes took over. I had mostly tapes when H and I met and moved in together. He had the CDs and I eventually sold my tapes and either replaced them with CDs or did without.

Now we have iPods and download the music we want. I haven't bought a non-kid related CD in years.

I remember my mom had these inserts for the 45s, which made it easy to play them on the turn table. They were red and yellow and looked like poker chips with holes in the center. She kept them in the console record player in a baby food jar. I had a portable record player in my bed room. I listened to story records and music. When I was older it was audio books on tape from the library. Records from the library were a mixed bag, so often they were scratched.

The kids have CD players in their rooms. Once upon a time L wouldn't go to sleep without music, now she wants the room quiet. E loves his music. He won't go to sleep without it.

H refuses to have any music on when we go to sleep, I like to listen to audio books or music, so I listen to my iPod before bed. It works.

So here it is, the first music I ever spent money on. I still like this song, it makes me smile, for a variety of reasons.

Dexys Midnight Runners, Come on Eileen

Monday, January 24, 2011

Music Monday: I will Posses Your Heart

So - I could not imbed the video for this song. Death Cab for Cutie is one of my current favorite groups. I love the music (melody, rhythmn, ect) and I love their lyrics - or rather their lyrics often bother me.

I also happen to absolutely love this video. I love the imagery, I love the woman's presence. I also love the man's determination. The visual of this video is as moving as the music and the lyrics. If they didn't win an award, they should have.

So go watch and listen and hurry back: I Will Posses Your Heart, Death Cab for Cutie

This song also has the power to make me very angry. I wrote a series of poems in response to this song a while back. (Maybe I will repost them at some future date.)

So let's take a step back, because there are times when English, I find, is horribly imprecise. German is a language of precision. There is a word for everything and if there isn't they create a fantastical compound word, which is just the word. This is a moment, where I feel being bilingual both is helpful and a struggle.

The word that I like to describe how I feel when I hear or read certain things which simultaneous draw me in like a powerful magnet and repel me, make me angry, make me uncomfortable, edgy, angsty or otherwise is:

(From dictionary)

ADJ  unbequem | unbequemer | am unbequemsten
unbequemer | unbequeme | unbequemes
unbequemster | unbequemste | unbequemstes

SYNO  kritisch | unbequem | ungelegen ... 


inconvenient {adj} uncomfortably {adv} uncomfortable {adj} inconveniently {adv}

sehr unbequem

damned uncomfortable {adj}

sich unbequem fühlen

to be uneasy to be ill at ease


unintimate {adj} comfortless {adj} uncomfortable {adj} uncomfortably {adv}

ungemütlich [Mensch]

awkward {adj}

jdm. das Leben ungemütlich machen

to make life unpleasant for sb.
My mother in law would make a fantastical face when she used these words when speaking about the feeling I am trying to describe. It is a feeling which is bone, or I suppose soul deep. It is that squirmy feeling, which is not always a bad feeling, it can be good, but it is uncomfortable. It is well, squirmy. This song stirs just those feelings. For me this feeling is the marker of a good song, movie, book, poem. I want to feel something and not just the gushy, puppy and kitties, hearts and flowers swoony nonsense. I don't want to write Hallmark cards. I want to make my readers feel something. Confused works, go work it out. Angry, that works too. I want readers to have to think about what I am saying and then form their own opinions. Confront the face staring back at you in the mirror and engage, engage with the world around you. There is nothing wrong with being uncomfortable. There just isn't, other than that feeling forces you to confront something, to dig deeper and address the source of that discomfort. There are no free lunches in life and there are no short cuts either, the only way out is through and as a writer those are the things I want to write about, the stuff that makes you go, "Wow. Oh, Ugh, Eww." I am still not sure how I feel about this song on any given day, but it keeps me coming back, it keeps me thinking, as do most Death Cab songs and that my friends is the writers job. To write something that capatures your attentions and posses your mind for a long time to come. I will leave the hearts to others, but I want your mind, if only for the time it takes you to read to my words.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Sewing 201: Reversable Cape

When I was surfing during the holidays for sewing tutorials, I came across the blog, Lia's Crafty Journey and this tutorial. After making the gift bags, I felt like I could do just about anything.

And I did!

I made this cape with some fantastic fabric I found on sale at JoAnn's before Christmas. I have enough left over to make a dress with a short skirt or a skirt with an above the knee length. I am pretty happy with the results.

This is the back view. I made the cape slightly wider and longer than the patter calls for, as I am tall and my arms are longish. I wanted it to hit just about the waist of my pants.

The sleeves hit just below the elbow, which is perfect, I am glad I added a bit of length.

You can adjust the cape using the buttons, it has endless possibilities.

I used very flat pewter buttons, so that they would lay flat, since you sew buttons back to back on either side of the fabric. This project had me re-learning how to use the button hole presser foot and I still had a few false starts (hint: practice a few first on scrap fabric.) but all in all it worked out well.

I would sat all in it took me an hour and a half, but I never to work straight through on these projects, so I have been 15 minutes here and there.

Lia's down-under so her pattern is in metric measurements, but you can adjust to Imperial measurements or JoAnn's can cut in metrics if you ask. I have both sets of rulers and just worked in metrics.

Happy sewing!

(photo credits go to L, my sewing and creative partner in crime. At 8, she is all about crafting and photography.)

Goodreads: The Bronte Project

Bronte ProjectBronte Project by Jennifer Vandever

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved this book. The prose is easy to read and very engaging. While one must not be a Bronte scholar, some understanding of the Bronte sisters, their works and their lives is helpful, to really grasp, how clever Vandever was.

I enjoyed some of the absurdity in the story, it was delightful and clever and while some of her characters are stock archetypes, it works. This is as much parody of literature as it is a love story.

At first the ending brought me up short, I will say I did not see it coming, not really, even though perhaps I should and it in some ways reminds me of the final scenes of the movie The Piano, not only in drama but in terms of rebirth and the claiming of personal power.

This book is worth picking up and at 288 pages - it is a quick winter read.

View all my reviews

Monday, January 17, 2011

Music Monday: Sweet Dreams

So I am stealing this from LP the spinning instructor, she had a wonderful Dream Themed Spin today in honor of Dr. King and this song stuck out to me.

This is a song that made an impression on me as a younger person, for all kinds of reasons, but the goal of these posts is to focus on me as a writer, so I am going to talk about why I think writers are so important to society and why I think, it is the writers we come to study years and years after their deaths. There are reasons we read books written by people long dead.

Let's take a look at the lyrics to the song Sweet Dreams by Eurythmics

Sweet dreams are made of this
Who am I to disagree?
I Travel the world and the seven seas
Everybody's looking for something

Some of them want to use you
Some of them want to get used by you
Some of them want to abuse you
Some of them want to be abused

Sweet dreams are made of this
Who am I to disagree?
I Travel the world and the seven seas
Everybody's looking for something

Hold your head up, Keep your head up, movin' on
Hold your head up, movin' on, Keep your head up, movin' on
Hold your head up, movin' on, Keep your head up, movin' on
Hold your head up, movin' on, Keep your head up

Some of them want to use you
Some of them want to get used by you
Some of them want to abuse you
Some of them want to be abused

On one hand life is mundane. I think the writer of this song has captured the reality of the human condition. Some people want to use or be used and so on and so forth. I also think there is the tendency to fall into ruts and we just keep doing what it is we are doing. We identify with a side and stick to it, unlike Madonna, very few of us actually reinvent ourselves all that often.

I think the writers of the world, the dreamers are hell bent on finding the magical in the mundane and they are seekers. They are dreamers. Culturally speaking there are all types of writers. There are historians, memiorists, journalists. They keep the facts, the chronicles, the stories that are happening now. One could say that some story tellers also serve this functions, you can learn many things about a culture by its stories.

Then you have the creative writers, the dreamers, the thinkers and the puzzlers. Some may be gifted story tellers and others may have a deeper purpose, they are the fablists and the myth keepers. Then there are the poets. Ah, the poets. The writers of music without sound.

Some writers do it for money. Popular fiction anyone. Understand I am not mocking, I think they have their role in society, I think it is important for entertainment to come in all forms. Shakespeare was an entertainer. He was not revered in his day. In many cases it is the popular fiction, which hundreds of years later has such relevance. We would know very little about the common man, had it not been for Shakespeare and his stories.

Poets write to inspire, they paint pictures with words, they write grand epics, they often die penniless and troubled. It is troubling to be blessed with a gift for words and images. The gift of dreams both while asleep and awake.

As is so often the case for many writers, when there is time to write there is a complete emptiness, the world is colorless and dreamless and when one is crushed with "busy work" or other obligations, the dreams flood reality like a raging river.

Sometimes the darker realities of life are best expressed, explored in words, in stories, than in personal terms. Sometimes it is easier to allow the brain to work with the material provide in fictional terms. Some messages are heard better in the form of a story.

Censorship is one of the strongest means of social control as is propaganda. Is it any wonder then, that the written word is such a powerful and important tool to society? Writing is a tool which informs, inspires, records, exposes and conceals. Those who write inevitably seek, looking for and find something.

While the press can be controled, books burned, and poets ignored, no one can stop a writer from dreaming.

They are always looking for something.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Music Monday #1

It is no secret, writers and musicians have alot in common. Classically I think you see writers and musicians hanging out, getting drunk, creating, sharing their artistic angst. Certainly there have been some fantastical writer musician combos. Some musicians are amazing writers and some writers are well, like me, tone deaf. I hear music in words... the poetry is a music all its own.

It is not uncommon to see writers write about music which has influenced something they have written. I am not any different. Certain music sets a tone. Sometimes music I hear on the radio sparks an idea. Sometimes music makes me angry. The words, the beat, all of the above. When I get angry, I often write.

I have decided to start a blog feature called Music Monday. I will post a video of a song, which has caught my attention, made me think or influenced me in some way. I might explain it or I might just post it.

Today I am posting one that E commented on this morning. I will say, I refuse to limited their musical exposure and perhaps this is the wrong choice, but since I am not listening to explicit RAP, we listen to the radio, I will defer to the judgment of the FCC. I have spoken about my thoughts on language and with rare exception, I think all words have a time and place. Bitch is just such a word. He hasn't asked, but if he does we will talk about it, how it is used and why some people object. I in general am more irritated about the causal use of the word "hate" than I am any other four letter word. Words are not naughty. Words have power, learning to harness that power is what I want my kids to understand.

If someone is motivated to call me a bitch, I have either a) really done something to deserve such title, b) written something that needed written and someone who should learn something is resisting and projecting, or c) being called "bitch" reflects less on me more on the person doing the word selection. (I have no illusions, I can be and am sometimes a bitch.)

This song came on CD101 this morning as we went to school and E said, "Man, I like this one."

I happen to like it too. I suspect he likes the beat, he is very much tuned into rhythm. I like the rhythm and the sentiment.

Hugo - 99 Problems

Monday, January 3, 2011

Favorite 20 Songs

The other night at swimming, the musak was playing Deacon Blue by Steely Dan and I tweeted that it was on the list of my favorite 20 songs. I thought as 2010 comes to a close, maybe I should really put just such a list together.

 I am not going to put them in order, in general, where music is concerned, I like something or I don't.

So here they are in no particular order. I also am pretty sure this list is fluid - but this is a fair representation of 20 songs, which always speak to me. (The genre diversity should speak for itself.)

1. Steely Dan - Deacon Blue

2. James - Laid

3. Barbara Streisand and Barry Gibb - Guilty

4. Modest Mouse - The Float On 

5. Modest Mouse - The View

6. The Moody Blues - In Your Wildest Dreams

7. Kate Bush - Running Up that Hill

8. Tori Amos - Cornflake Girl

9.REM  - The One I Love

10. Feist - When I was a young girl

11.NIN - Head Like a Hole

12. American Music - Violent Femmes

13. Dave Matthews Band - American Baby

14. Cat Stevens - Peace Train

15. Crosby, Stills, Nash et al. Wooden Ships

16. LIVE - Lightening Crashes

17. The Church - Under the Milky Way

18. Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen

19. Matthias Reim - Verdammt ich lieb dich

20. The Rolling Stones - Paint It Black