Saturday, January 29, 2011

Cover songs, classically done

I love cover songs.  Something about a person taking an established work and putting their own spin on it really attracts me.  I have a huge playlist on my iPod that is solely covers and remakes.  I'm always looking for more; the odder, the better.  That's why I started listening to the Coverville podcast two years ago--Brian Ibbott collects cover songs too, and twice a week he puts out a podcast--usually themed--that's 45 minutes of cover song heaven.

Coverville is how I found Janice Whaley's The Smiths Project (she's done, by the way, and now getting ready to release everything in a CD box set).  It's how I found Pomplamoose, that duet that was all over the TV this Christmas with Honda ads.  Cool thing about that?  The camera crew came to their house to film.  How'd you like to see your garage on national TV?

I love strings as well.  I played viola in third grade for a few months, until I couldn't stand the noise I was making any more.  I sounded like I was hurting the cat.  I gave it up and decided to sing instead, because at least I could control my voice.  What those few months did do for me was instill a love of the string section, probably because I know how difficult it is to do, and how much time and patience it must take to become an expert.

So when Coverville played Elton John's "Little Jeanie" by the Vitamin String Quartet, I immediately went looking for them. They're a group of session musicians in LA who remake popular music into string quartets in their "spare time."  They are very prolific, and they play anything from Elton John to Pink Floyd to Oingo Boingo to My Chemical Romance to Madonna, and all the spaces in between.  Here they are doing Lady Gaga's "Telephone:"

And this is their version of  "Grand Theft Autumn" by Fall Out Boy:

Good, no?

Here's one more string cover song.  This was tweeted to me by a friend.  It's dueling cellists performing "Smooth Criminal."

And there's your musical interlude for the morning.

Saturday, January 15, 2011



She showed up on a Thursday evening in mid-July.  There she sat in my flowerbed, meowing up at my living room window--lost, hungry, unarmed, afraid.  I let her in for what I thought would be a couple of days while I got her back to her home.

I told myself not to get attached.  She belonged to someone.  She had to.  She was declawed, after all, and spayed.  Those are alterations you make to a cat you're planning to keep, right?

I told myself it was too soon.  Delilah hadn't even been dead six months yet.  I wanted to wait at least a year before even thinking about getting another cat.

Then that Sunday I looked at her, and the name "Sophie" came unbidden to my lips.  And she answered to it.  And I realized that when her owner answered the ads I just put in the paper I would be really sorry to see her go.  It didn't occur to me at first that no one would answer.  She's a sweet-natured little thing, of course someone was worried and missing her.

Fast forward six months--she's still here, and here for good.  She has settled in.  I believe she thinks of this as her home.  We're past the getting-to-know-you phase, working on the this-is-our-routine phase.

She doesn't like:
  • Being alone for any length of time
  • The sound of tinfoil rattling
  • Water in her bowl that's over a couple hours old
  • Being carried around
  • Dogs (yet.  I have a sister with a cat-loving dog named Daisy. I'm sure Daisy would love to win over Sophie)
  • Sitting on my lap
  • Static shock (well, who does?  I'm sick of the snapcracklepop that goes on all winter too)
She does like:
  • Cardboard boxes (empty or full)
  • Having her face and/or belly rubbed
  • Yarn (if it's animal-based)
  • The round ends of knitting needles
  • Pretending to scratch the furniture
  • Mouse-shaped cat toys
  • Kneading me anywhere she can (arm, leg, chest...)
  • Sitting in a fleece bed by the sliding glass door to watch the world go by
  • Smacking little fuzzy balls under furniture for me to fish out and give back to her
  • Sleeping on my furry red bathrobe (provided it's folded and lying on the rocking chair)
  • Me.  
At bedtime she prefers to sleep next to me rather than on me, which at first hurt my feelings but now I find I like.  This way I don't have to worry about disturbing her if I change position.  Also?  She's not completely settled for the night until she has her face resting in my cupped hand.  All together now, "Awwwwww."  I know.  Precious.

She's talkative.  I think she may be even more talkative than Delilah was, if you can believe it.  She doesn't have the Siamese yowl, though.  When she meows, it's like she's asking a question: "Meowwwooo?  Meowwooowoo?"

Six months already.  Hard to believe.  Even harder to believe that someone abandoned her, discarded her like a toy that the novelty had worn off of.  I do not understand people who act like that.  As far as I'm concerned, when you take on a pet you are making them a promise that for as long as they live they can depend on you for protection, food, warmth, and love.  It's a long-term commitment, a contract.  It looks like these people (whoever they are) dumped her because she was no longer convenient to keep.  It makes my blood boil. 

Their loss is my gain.  Big time.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Come out, come out, wherever you are!

Average Jane pointed out that it's Delurking Day.  If you do pop by today on the off-chance that I may have actually posted something, please do stop and leave a comment.

I am writing something that will hopefully go up before I get too much older. 

I was going to find a clip of Glinda the Good singing, "Come out, come out, wherever you are..." but I can't find it at the moment.  Hard to do when you're at work, pretending to do your job.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Plinky prompts

A while back I signed up for something called Plinky, a website designed to help people write more by giving them a new writing prompt every day.  I haven't used it much because most of their questions I don't really have answers for, or don't want to write about.  I've been noticing lately though that I don't have much to say over here.  My story-telling ability seemed to desert me right about the time I started NaBloPoMo this year.  Oy, what a slog that was.  I think I may be done with that for a while unless I can get some zing back into my writing.

So this morning I wandered on over to Plinky and looked at some of the recent prompts:

"Share a memorable job interview."  Um.  The jobs were memorable, but the interviews all seemed to blend together.  Though here's a question I have vowed to never ever ask: "What's your greatest strength?  And what's your greatest weakness?"  Oh, come on.  What does this tell you about the person you're hiring except that they're really good at BS?

"What are you looking forward to this year?"  I haven't really given it much thought.  It's only 6 days into January.  I don't have plans yet for anything special this year.  I'm kind of looking forward to next Christmas, provided I get all of my projects done.  I'll bet by November I'll be shaking my fist at the calendar, wondering why I ever thought giving everyone a handmade-by-me present was such a bloody fantastic idea.  I think my mother's going to teach me how to lay tile this year as she finishes their upstairs bathroom, I'm looking forward to that.  I'm already trying to plan the garden for this spring.  I'm sure as the year progresses there will be more planned things to look forward to, but at the moment the calendar is wide open.

"What does your home say about you?"  Bwahahaha!  My homes says that I'm scatterbrained, untidy, that instead of putting things away when I'm done with them I leave them right where I last used them, and that I'm not all that bothered about living from boxes.  I have some furniture, but not a lot.  I need shelves and cupboards and more comfortable chairs (for company.  We can't all sit on the sofa at once, you see).  I clean in spurts, so the place looks great for about a week and then slowly devolves into the Trash Heap from Fraggle Rock before I wake up, look around in surprise, and have another mad cleaning frenzy.  It'd be easier if I just kept on top of it, doing a little at a time.  I've tried that and I can't make it work.  I'm not built that way.  Lucky for me I live alone.  I don't think a roommate or spouse would put up with this.

"Would you ever get an e-book reader?"  A few years ago I would have said, "no."  Now I'm not so sure.  I think if I did, I'd probably get a Nook, not a Kindle, and that's mainly because of the little trick Amazon played with, of all things, 1984.  They promised never to do it again, but still.  Sellers can't do that with a paper book.  Once you buy it, it's yours.  I don't understand why they thought it was different with an electronic version.

Nothing will replace the feel of a book in my hands, though.  And?  If you put a regular book down on a table in a restaurant and go up to pay your bill (which is what I do to signal to whomever was waiting on me that I haven't left without tipping them), you won't find it missing when you come back.   I wouldn't ever try that with an e-book reader.

Apparently there was more on Plinky that I wanted to answer than I thought.  I guess I'll keep subscribing.  It doesn't cost me anything, and it does occasionally give me something to write about.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Project 365

Thanks to Dana at Feast after Famine I just bumped into a website called Project 365, dedicated to these 365 photo projects.  I'm still going to put my photos on Flickr, but I've also started one on this site.  Go take a look if you'd like. 

While you're there (if you go), take a look at some other people's albums.  There are a lot of really good pictures.  I'm trying not to be intimidated by them.  I always thought my eye was pretty good, but yowza.  That site really points out (to me, at least) how much of an amateur I am.  I think this project will improve my photography quite a bit--partly from looking at everyone else's work and partly from the constant use the camera will be getting this year.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

So I found my camera charger...

And a good thing too, since I just (as in just 30 minutes ago) decided to do the 365 challenge: one picture a day for the whole year.  Let's see how long this lasts before I forget to do it.

Here's the first one:
1 of 365

Also, I went downtown yesterday and took some pictures of the ice sculptures they were making as part of the First Night activities last night.  Here's a good picture of the rooster in front of a local bar:


There are more over on my Flickr page, if you'd like to look at them.  That's where the bulk of my 365 project will be too.  I may occasionally drop a photo from that into the blog, but I won't be putting them all on here.  That'd get old quick. 

Happy New Year, everybody!  I suppose by now some of you are working on 1/2/11, aren't you?