Friday, July 27, 2007

Friday Random (a Few More Than) Ten

I stole this from Monica, and thought it might bring a fun little change to the Random Ten format. For this week only:

Put your music player on shuffle.
Press forward for each question.
Use the song title as the answer to the question.

Will I get far in life? "Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)" by the Eurythmics on Greatest Hits
I guess I'll get far by dreaming. And I always thought you had to act on your dreams to turn them into success.

How do my friends see me? "Fight" by PFR on Them
Oh, my, this is depressing. My friends think I'm just struggling to make it through life, unloved and overwhelmed? Maybe at one time, but not now. Keep up, people!

What is the story of my life? "The Scotsman" by Brian Bowers
I think this means I'm a drunk. Hmmm. I may have to work on that one. Nevermind. I'm heading to happy hour. I do promise, however, not to get so drunk that I fall asleep on the side of the road so two girls tie a ribbon around my male member. If you've never heard this song before, you should look for it.

What was high school like? "Morning Has Broken" by Cat Stevens on Greatest Hits
This appears to be the answer to why I'm a morning person!

How can I get ahead in life? "Anatevka" from Fiddler On The Roof
Apparently I need to move. Didn't I just do that?

What is the best thing about me? "The Keeper" by Geoff Moore and the Distance on Pure and Simple
I hope my relationship with God can be like the grandma in this song prays for her grandson's to be, who then grows up to pray the same request for his son.

How is today going to be? "Jesus & the California Kid" by Audio Adrenaline on Don't Censor Me
Well, I do live in CA, and Jesus did die for me, but I'm not sure how that describes my day today.

What is in store for this weekend? "Another Time, Another Place" by Sandi Patty and Wayne Watson on Another Time, Another Place
Maybe I'm going to heaven this weekend? Or singing a duet in pretty harmonies? Not sure, here.

What song describes my parents? "When You're Not Around" by Joe Jackson on Laughter & Lust
It would be sweet if my parents actually felt this way about each other. Sometimes, I think they just might.

How is my life going? "El Shaddai" by Amy Grant on The Collection
Not bad -- the first one that truly makes no sense at all with the question.

What song will they play at my funeral?: "This Land" from The Lion King
I doubt it, somehow.

How does the world see me? "There Is A Greater Love" by Wayne Watson on How Time Flies
I hope that I can show that purest of loves for people hurting.

Will I have a happy life? "Believe" by Elizabeth Donihoo on Believe
If I'm optimistic then I will. Or maybe, since she recently got engaged, I'm supposed to go with that general assumed good feeling?

What do my friends really think of me? "Gambler's Blues" by B.B. King on B.B. King Anthology
So, earlier I'm a drunk, and now I'm a gambler? Make up your minds people! Or, maybe my friends think I am that soulful bass player in the band. That's so nice of you!

Do people secretly lust after me? "52:10" by Rich Mullins on A Liturgy, A Legacy & A Ragamuffin Band
Isaiah 52:10 is "The Lord will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations,
and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God." I think that means no.

What should I do with my life: "Lady Of The Valley" by White Lion on Pride
What branch of medicine do I study if I'm supposed to figure out how to bring slain soldiers back to life? No doubt it would be valuable, but I'm not sure where to start.

What is some good advice? "I Can Be Friends With You" by MxPx on Never Say Dinosaur
It's good to be friends with God.

What is my signature dancing song? "The Other Me" by Joe Jackson on Laughter & Lust
Go look at my evil twin for dancing.

What do I think my current theme song is? "Wounds of Love" by Rich Mullins on Brother's Keeper
Not a bad selection for me, iTunes. And I wouldn't give back a single one of those wounds.

What does everyone else think my current theme song is? "One Brand of Truth" by Geoff Moore & the Distance on Pure and Simple
Prolly true.

What type of men/women do you like? "Here In America" by Rich Mullins on A Liturgy, A Legacy & A Ragamuffin Band
I'm not real picky, you know. Personally I wouldn't say I'd limit the list to Americans.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Is Heather a Mini Murderer or Just a Maimer?

"Heather, you are charged with the murder of a blue Mini Cooper, named Fred. How do you plead?"

"Not guilty, Your Honor."

"The prosecution may call its first witness."

"Sir, we would like to call the plaintiff, Heather, to the stand. Heather, how old is the vehicle in question?"

"Two and a half years old, sir."

"And how many miles does it have on it?"

"Just 25,0000."

"Whose car is it?"

"It's my husband's. I mean, we both pay for it..."

"Thank you! If you can answer only the question asked of you, that will do. Please refrain from any sort of extracurricular rigamarole. Do you admit to writing this account of a power steering problem that occurred in April?"


"Who was driving the car when this problem occurred?"

"I was."

"Where was your husband?"

"He was out of town on a vacation."

"So, while your husband was gone, you decided to take the opportunity to attack Fred and try to kill him?"

"No -- I didn't do anything -- it just happened! The shop says this sort of thing happens to these cars a lot!"

"After this attack in April, have you ever been driving Fred when other sorts of things happened to him?"

"It wasn't an attack in April."

"The witness is instructed to answer the question."

"Last week, I went to pick up my husband after he returned from Hawaii. I drove 10 miles to pick him up, and on the way back, the car started making funny noises. Within a block, there was white smoke pouring out of under the hood. I stopped the car and rolled it downhill to park it against the curb."

"While your husband was with you, he wasn't driving?"

"It was late, and he'd been traveling all day. He was tired, and it was easier for me just to stay in the driver's seat for the short trip home."

"Did you offer to let him drive his own car, his friend, Fred?"

"No. Didn't seem to make sense to do so."

"And how is Fred doing now?"

"Well, the serpentine belt went out. That was the noise that led to the billowing smoke. It was towed to the dealer, 80 miles away, and has been repaired. We're supposed to pick it up today."

(Gasps from the gallery.)

The judge speaks up, "It appears the charges brought here were faulty -- the car is fixed and working now?"

"It appears so. We won't really know until we get to the shop and drive it around a bit, but it should be fine. It was still under warranty, so the repairs don't even cost anything."

"So there isn't any lasting damage?"

"Well, you know how a repaired car is, sir. It probably will rattle or squeak or otherwise not still be in mint condition, but it should work just fine."

"That's good to hear."

The prosecution is still concerned, and says, "But what about the future of Fred? This murderer will continue her attacks on this poor car any time her husband goes away. She is obviously a danger to Fred, and he should be brought into protective custody for his own safety."

The judge, however, had had enough. "Go try a real case with a real live victim, son. Case dismissed!"

Friday, July 13, 2007

Friday Random Ten

The Friday Ten is back with a vengeance. Here is what iTunes served up for me today.

"Rescue Me" by Geoff Moore and The Distance*, Pure And Simple
"Hat Tamale Baby" by Clifton Chenier, Zydeco Essentials
"J'ai Deux Amours" by Madeleine Peyroux, Careless Love
"To Life" from the Fiddler on the Roof* soundtrack
"Didn't He" by PFR*, Pray for Rain
"You Are the Best Part of Me" by Neil Diamond, The Essential Neil Diamond
"A Whole New World" from the Aladdin soundtrack
"Prom Night in Pig Town" by Trout Fishing in America*, Truth Is Stranger Than Fishin'
"Daffodil Lament" by The Cranberries, No Need To Argue
"Tears In Heaven" by Eric Clapton, from the Rush soundtrack

It has been a tough week in Heatherville, so this was a great combination of songs, especially "Rescue Me", "To Life", and "Didn't He", to jerk me up by my bootstraps and keep going. It's funny how the iTunes library does things in cycles, and I ended up with three songs from movies this week. More exciting, though, is the debut of Trout Fishing in America on The Ten. I was introduced to these guys by an old boyfriend in college who took me to a concert, and I was immediately hooked. I love hearing a band for the first time in concert. It just gives you a whole different appreciation for the music that you don't get from just hearing the songs. They are so funny to watch perfom. The band is just two guys -- Keith and Ezra -- but they sound like they have a whole band playing with them. Keith is a short guy (5'5"ish) who plays the upright bass, while Ezra is a tall guy (6'8"ish) who plays electric guitar. The contrast of these two guys standing next to each other with their ill-fitting instruments made me laugh the first time I saw them. And then you listen to their music and you can't stop laughing. They seemed to load that concert with their kids songs, and those are all funny. Great mental images created, so much so, that I'd bet they'd make nice illustrated chidren's books. The adult songs are generally still funny, but in a drier and more subtle way, while some are downright poignant and depressing. The particular song that made The Ten this week is a recreation of a prom night as most of us are familiar with from high school. But here, the pigs aren't graduating from high school -- they are getting ready to be butchered. Not sure if these guys are vegetarians, but it does seem they are trying to tell us something here.

* Acts I've seen live. I counted Fiddler on the Roof because I saw a live performance of it as a kid. Not really an act, but live, nonetheless.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Coincidental Stranger Remeetings

I like James' suggestion that this could make for a good band or album name. Once I get to where I can play and am ready to do the band thing, I'll pull this little gem out of the recesses of my mind. Unless I forget, which seems to happen quite a bit these days.

I was traveling a bit recently, and ended up on a red-eye from LAX. I could start a rant now about how much I hate LAX -- how that was considered during our decision process on moving to Santa Barbara, because we'd have to use it as our primary jumping off point. We still moved here, but LAX was definitely on the "Con" list. But I won't do that. Suffice it to say it's one of my least favorite airports, and the lines are nearly unbearable. I was in the security line at 9:30 for a 12:30 flight, and it's a good thing, too. Took me 2 hours to get through that line.

Standing in line for 2 hours gives you a lot of time to people watch. Late at night, most of the people you have available to you to watch are the folks in line around you, especially when you are traveling alone and have no companions to talk to nor your iPod to listen to.

There was the girl who had decided she wanted to visit all the places she wanted to go by the time she was 30. She was probably 25, from New York. She was headed to China this trip and had gotten back from New Zealand on her last trip, or vice versa, but she had 10 more places she wanted to go before that self-imposed deadline. After that, she figured she'd make a new list of places she wanted to go or go back to the places she especially liked. Nice goal, I figure. The world could use a few more people that are knowledgeable about other cultures, and what better way to learn about them then to go there and experience them?

There was the 40-ish lady with her daughter and the daughter's friend. The kids were probably 8 or 9, and they were playing the one-up game. Each was trying to show how they, or someone they knew, were better. Everything from boys they thought liked them to how many DVDs they had to how expensive their cell phones were to what their dads did. I never did figure out where they were traveling to, but I did wonder how long a combative friendship like that can last.

There was the family with two small kids, probably 1 and 3. The parents spoke Spanish or Portuguese -- couldn't really tell since they talked so fast. Well, that, and the fact that I don't speak either language. The older boy had obviously been asleep for a while, but the crying of his younger sibling woke him up and then he was cranky. The younger kid was hungry, so the mom was breastfeeding him there in line. As they got closer to the screening station, she tried to stop, but the baby became hysterical almost instantly. So the father and the older boy put the stroller and luggage through the machine, while the mother kept feeding and stepped out of line for a while. What shocked me most was that while they were obviously stressed they weren't fighting. If it were my parents with my sister and I at that age, they'd have been out of control.

Right in front of me were two couples that didn't really talk about their destination, but did talk about small towns and how backward they can be. For close to two hours. Except when they were laughing and pointing at the poor family struggling with their little kids. I would have thought they were terrible people, and ignored them for the rest of the line time, but one of the guys looked so much like someone I knew that I remained interested. I knew it wasn't the person in question, but I really admire the guy this stranger reminded me of. The guy I know is a customer of ours, with 5 kids where the oldest is 6. There is a set of twins there, but he is so jealous that his wife gets to stay home with the younger ones. His oldest goes to 1st grade across the street from his office, and he eats lunch with her at least 4 times a week ("Sometimes I like to go out with the folks in the office, but not too often."). Just a great guy with his priorities straight. He's very short with glasses and a shaved head. So, to find a guy in line that looked like this had me thinking about the other guy. Don't bother me with the irony that a make-fun-of-the-family guy reminded me of a real family guy. Whatever -- purely a physical likeness.

Regardless, because I noticed this guy while in line, I noticed him again when I got to my gate. Apparently he's on my flight to Minneapolis. And because I noticed him there, I noticed him again after we boarded, as he was sitting on my row. It made me wonder how often we re-meet strangers but never know it because we didn't notice them the first time or even the second or subsequent times. It was a very it's-a-small-world moment for me. I'm sure this happens more when we're involved in other stuff at the time, but it has to happen quite a bit when we never notice it. Especially, it would seem, in airports.

When I got back from my trip, we had a new movie in the mailbox (I love Netflix). It was called 11:14, and it tied into this whole thought process so nicely. This is a story about 5 different story lines that all come together at precisely 11:14pm. Sort of a similar vein as Babel, except this movie was less about the far-reaching impact of one's actions, and more about pure coincidence. You've got the drunk driver, the protective dad, the desperate boyfriend, the joyriding teens, the harried policeman, and they all keep running into each other, but not knowing that their paths will ultimately cross in a way only we movie watchers may really ever know. It is a brilliantly done movie, with spectacular attention to detial, and I'd defintely suggest it. Nice thought-provoking cinema on a story line I'd just started to really think about.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Trader Joe's Isn't All It's Cracked Up To Be

As we started telling people we were moving to California, the unsolicited commentary seemed to be that we were embarking on the coolest of grocery-ing phenomena: Trader Joe's. After a few brief months in this state, I can safely say I don't get it.

I will admit that they have one of the most extensive and tastiest selections of dried fruits and nuts. I think I'm already addicted to the black pepper cashews and the granny smith dried apples. But beyond that, I don't see much reason to shop there.

The produce is of poor quality and overpriced. Similarly, the meat (unless you need kosher meat -- I guess they have a decent selection then), is of poor grade and too expensive. The selection of general grocery needs is minimal. I walked over there one day because I really wanted to bake cookies, but I needed baking powder. After staring at the baking shelf (they had flour, sugar, etc.), and giving up, I asked someone, and they told me they don't carry baking powder. Really? So, I walked back by a drugstore, and bought my baking powder there and baked my cookies anyway.

Then, I'm a scotch snob. I'll readily admit it. And more than that, I'm a fan of Macallan, as you'd be able to tell by the 4 bottles of various years of the stuff in my liquor cabinet. Trader Joe's seems to be in some sort of bottling agreement with my favorite of whiskies, and they bottle 12 year old Macallan in Trader Joe's bottles. I can't bring myself to buy one to see if it's the same stuff on the inside of the bottle as they seem to claim on the outside of the bottle, because it costs exactly as much as the real thing! Honestly, why would anyone buy a "Rolex" from a street vendor in NY for the same price as a real one? Obviously, someone (or a lot of someones) are doing this, since they seem to keep having this stuff on their shelves.

Anyway, just seems like a lot of hype for something that, like a lot of other hyped things, isn't all that.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Why I Shouldn't Have to Ever Attend Another Family Reunion

Last weekend I attended a reunion of the Johnson side of my family. That would be my great-grandparents on my mother's maternal side and all their kids and their kids and their kids. This is the only family on either of our sides that still holds family reunions, and they do them approximately every 3 years. The last one I attended was in 1990, and seventeen years later seemed an appropriate amount of time to be skipping them. Also, Grandma is my last living grandparent, and her health seems to be getting worse all the time. I thought it was a good chance to see her for her birthday, stick around for the reunion, and then not be expected to be seen at one of these for a while.

Of course, the great-grandparents are dead. Great-grandfather came over on the boat from Sweden in the early 1900s, and great-grandmother had 11 kids in 12 years -- go figure she died young. Of the eleven kids in my Grandma's generation, only 5 are left. In my mom's generation, there were 75 cousins. Who knows how many they are in my generation. Here's a picture of those of us (just in my generation) that were at the reunion this year:
Even if you know me, good luck finding me in that pile of people. The vast majority of the families still live in Minnesota, with a few that have branched out to North Dakota, Wisconsin, or (gasp!) Iowa.

I give you this background, not because I think you will want to know it for some reason, but to give you an idea that this is a large family. And there are a lot of them I just don't know, since we haven't lived in the midwest in years and years and years. Of the tiny fraction of the family that came to the reunion (150 people), I knew a grand total of 14 of them, including my mom, dad, and little sister. And that's if I really stretch my memory back a long ways. All that family does is drink and play games, so that's what we did all weekend long. Yowsers. Well, I drank. If anyone offers me one more Windsor and water ("your grandma likes 'em, so you must, too"), I'll smack 'em. Oh, and quit acting like you're telling me some big secret when you point out my grandparents anniversary date and my mother's birthdate. Really? You think I didn't figure that out when I was ten? We played a trivia game, and my mother had submitted trivia about me, and I couldn't even figure out which statement was supposed to apply to me -- lotta help I was to my team.

Anyway, it's a special family, and they have some plusses somewhere (give me a second while I dig for them -- oh right, that's where I got my ability to hold my liquor). I just figure that if I wait another 17 years before I go to another one, all the members in my grandmother's generation will be dead, and they won't actually still be holding these things anymore. And that would be fine by me.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Explaining the Unexplained Absence

I kinda fell off the face of the blogosphere for a bit. I apologize, wholeheartedly. I know that now that I moved halfway across the country, this is one of the only ways most of my friends know what's up with me. I've spent all day trying to explain why I've gone missing of late. Here are some of the stories I came up with.

-- I threw myself into bass playing, joined a band and started touring. I'm thinking about quitting my job and doing this full-time.
-- My job has gotten so busy that I'm working 18 hours of every day, and I don't have time to do anything except sleep and work.
-- I died. Wait -- who'd be writing this post, then?
-- I got pregnant, and the morning sickness has me hiding in my bed in a fetal position all day long.

But of course, all of these are completely bogus. Not even a shred of truth to any of them. The truth is that I got sucked into an online game, and haven't hardly surfaced in a long time. Pathetic, isn't it? Aren't those for 15-year-old boys or older guys with no ability to interact with the real world? Why yes, yes they are. You'll have to decide which of these I've become. I haven't completely crawled into a hole to die, though. These are some of the posts that I will be writing up and posting over the next few days as I extricate myself from this crazy game.

Is Heather a Mini Murderer or Just a Maimer?
Why I Shouldn't Have to Ever Attend Another Family Reunion
Comparing Santa Barbara to Austin, From a Cyclist's Perspective
Trader Joe's Isn't All It's Cracked Up To Be
Heather is a Heathen
Coincidental Stranger Remeetings

Please let me know which of these you'd like to see me write up first. I will do my best to comply. Thank you in advance for your forgiveness for my lackadaisical attitude. I do hope not to repeat it. At least for a while. Or if we go to war in my game.