Wednesday, February 20, 2008

What do They Say About the Eye of the Beholder?

I have a new piece of art. It's jewelry, sort of. At least that's how I've decided to treat it. Here it is -- my new bracelet:

I know, it's a piece of bike chain. But you have to understand that it's not just any bike chain, it's the piece that caused so much fun a few weeks ago.

There's nothing like a bracelet with no opening requiring a person to slide it on and off to remind you that the right side of your body is significantly larger than the left side of your body. It's really hard to get this thing over the right hand, but on the left, I'm convinced it will slide off of its own accord. My right foot is half a shoe size larger than the left, and let's not even discuss what that means for brasierre purchasing. Regardless, do you have one side of your body that's bigger than the other? Which side is it?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

My Husband and Privacy

My husband (let's call him GB), has an overdeveloped conspiracy gene. I had a boss many years ago that woud spout off these theories from way out in left field (his one about how the sniper in DC some years back was actually a mercenary of the US government planted there so they could declare a military state is one that comes to mind). I would bring these home and share them, and GB would chime in, " know, that might not be that far off."

He is a technophile, but won't pay bills online. He's convinced that there would be a breach of security and our number would be used by everyone and their dog. He freaked out when I was buying things online before he'd gotten a chance to research a company and their security methods. Every once in a while he mumbles something about a manifesto and moving to Montana and living like a hermit.

When he found out that I use my real name on my blog, he lectured me on the need for anonymity in this internet world. Because there aren't, you know, a gazillion Heathers out there in the world. But see, he knows I have a tendency to share too much. Sure I've had bad experiences (stolen credit card numbers, threatening phone calls, house eggings, car keyings, attempted break-ins), but I've had significant good experiences in life to feel optimistic about what I share on the internet. Like the time I told a church member that I would love to play French Horn in the church brass group, but I just couldn't afford to buy one, and wouldn't you know she had one sitting in her closet at home waiting for one of her boys to want it. Or the time I shared I would cook something different every day for a month and got invited to write my first feature article for an actual printed publication. Plus, I don't generally think people are out to get me, which is likely the primary difference between GB and me.

Meanwhile, last year he saw his name in a couple of early posts, and nearly went ballistic. DIDN'T I UNDERSTAND THAT HIS NAME NEXT TO MY NAME NARROWED THE FIELD OF WHO WE ARE DOWN TO A MUCH SMALLER NUMBER??? Well, yeah, but most of the people that read this set of drivel are people I know in real life. Or at least the ones that comment. And others are such regular commenters that I feel like I do know them. But, since I'm apparently supposed to be afraid of all of you if I put GB's first name on here, I decided to come up with that nickname for him. See, typing the word "husband" is exceptionally tedious and lends to very poor sentence construction around any reference to him. So, I'm done with that. He will be referred to as GB, and for those of you who know his real name, I would appreciate it if you wouldn't cause panic in our household by using his actual name in the comments.

It took me a surprisingly long time to come up with a nickname for him, considering GB is short for the most common thing I call him. Creativity has never been something I've been particularly good at. I can brainstorm with other people towards a good result, but I can't really do it on my own. I've tried and it's always a really bad attempt. GB thinks all blogs should be completely fictitious. Or at least mine should, anyway (you know, so that way I don't give out any real details). Essentially, I should make up a persona and write entries from this completely other point of view that I should inhabit as wholly as possible. And that sounds much too much like a novel or creative writing or some other thing that sounds like a pretty daunting thing to attempt. How would I keep my lies straight? I've never been good at that. On the other hand, there are topics I could feel a lot more comfortable writing about if no one I knew was reading. So maybe it's worth a try. But if I do that, don't expect me to ever link off this one to the other.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Recommended: Speak

Periodically, people recommend books that actually sound interesting. More often, people recommend books that sound perfectly hideous, and I tend to smile and nod and forget the title and author as quickly as I can. Every once in a while, though, something strikes my interest and I put the book on my list. At the beginning of the year, I took my list and ordered them all. I thought I'd tell you about some of the ones I read and what I thought of them.

Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson, was brought to my attention by James, and sounded like an easy read, if not an easy subject. It only took a couple of pages to figure out what had happened at the party last summer. So, while the story seemed to be trying to accomplish some big surprise ending, that part of it didn't work. However, the rest of the story really gets you into our protagonist's, Melinda's, head, and that makes the whole read valuable and even enjoyable.

After the "party incident", Melinda retreats into her own mind. She loses all her friends and starts to fall way behind in school. She won't talk to anyone, not to peers, not teachers, not her family. She has no one that really sees or notices how much she's changed since last year in the "before". Her only sort-of-friend is a new girl who moved in this year. She has all new teachers. Her parents are much too self-absorbed to notice anything about her personality changes. So, she is left to her own devices, and they aren't really enough. Through some caring teachers and some well-placed graffiti, she finds that she must give voice to the secret she's carried all year, leading to a triumphant turnaround in her life.

It's an interesting read, especially since so many people are the victims of the myriad varieties of sex-based crimes. I would imagine that a lot of people would draw strength to share their own stories based on a book like this. The more stories people hear, the more likely they are to see the signs of such a sad situation for what they are. Not everyone reacts to such an experience in the way our character did here, but it's one more reaction to add to your known list of "symptoms" for the sufferer.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Interesting Movies about a Lack of Interestingness

This week, we went to a screening of Helvetica over at UCSB. My husband has an obsession with documentaries, so we've seen a lot of them. Some of them are beyond boring and some of them redeem the genre. I fully expected 80 minutes about a boring typeface to fall into the former category. And while it didn't fall into the latter category, either, I learned something, so I guess most documentaries would consider that a win.

The font ended up just being a starting point from which to examine the changes in the graphical design world over the last 50-60 years. Who knew people could get so worked up about how great or evil a font is? The whole film pitted the Helvetica-is-so-clean-there-is-no-confusing-what's-being-said folks against the Helvetica-is-so-regimented-it's-akin-to-"The Man"-keeping-you-down folks. You'd think a little conflict would make for a compelling story, but it barely made a story. At least they tried to have a plot, of sorts.

I guess there's a reason I'm not in graphic design, and I can't really recommend that you run out and watch this immediately. However, if you are interested in the design aspect of various printed materials, you could find this an enlightening little piece. I personally found this a perfect reason to dig up this old YouTube video about a different font. I found this a lot funnier, and it's certainly shorter.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Friday Random Ten

"Daddy" by Jewel on Pieces of You
"When I Get Home" by 4HIM on Face The Nation
"Cry the Name" by Rich Mullins* on Brother's Keeper
"Everything I Said" by The Cranberries on No Need To Argue
"Papa Loved Mama" by Garth Brooks on The Hits
"Fear" by Elizabeth Donihoo* on Dream
"A City on a Hill" by Patsy Moore on Regarding the Human Condition
"Say It All Again" by Wayne Watson on A Beautiful Place
"Heaven Knows" by When In Rome on When In Rome
"The Scotsman" by Brian Bowers

I can't find any kind of theme on this one, but any random ten that includes lines like these especially choice ones is okay by me:

"Papa loved Mama; Mama loved men. Now Mama's in the graveyard and Papa's in the pen'."
"I wonder if it's true what they don't wear beneath their kilt."

And so, I accept this random ten, even if it's too random to come up with anything to say about it.

*Acts I've seen live.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Friday Random Ten

This week appears to be an instrumental week. Normally I would mind, but these were good instrumental things.

>"Six Days At The Bottom Of The Ocean" by Explosions in the Sky on The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place
"Twisting By The Pool" by Dire Straits on Money For Nothing
"Oh, Boy!" by Buddy Holly & The Crickets on From The Originial Master Tapes
>"Linus And Lucy" by the Vince Guaraldi Trio on A Charlie Brown Christmas
"Cuyahoga" by R.E.M. on Life's Rich Pageant
"When You Called My Name" by the Newsboys on Going Public
>"Horn Concerto No. 2 in E Flat Major" by Mozart, played by Dennis Brain on Mozart: Horn Concertos
>"78 Eastonwood Green" by Rich Mullins* on A Liturgy, A Legacy & A Ragamuffin Band
"The Icicle Melts" by The Cranberries on No Need To Argue
>"Rainbow Chaser" by Hewlett Crist on The Rio Grande Songs II

The Horn Concerto would be the sleeper of the group, except that I played that as a solo for contest one year, so I know it very well. Mozart wrote annoyingly difficult pieces for piano (almost difficult for the sake of being difficult, rather than for a particular sound), but his pieces for French Horn really highlight the strengths of that instrument. I wish I still had one of those laying around to play periodically.

* Acts I've seen live
> Instrumental entries

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Jars of Clay in an Unlikely Spot

So, I admit it. I watched the pilot of "Eli Stone" that came on after "Lost" last week. Go ahead. Get in all the comments you know you want to make about me being sucked into the marketing monster.

I probably won't watch it again. I'm sure you don't need me to tell you this is no earth-shattering piece of television work. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't good either.

The thing that makes it notable was that while I was watching it, I thought I was going crazy. Just after the opening credits, I frantically looked to see why my iTunes spontaneously started playing. See, I heard "Good Monsters" by Jars of Clay, and who'd've thunk that would be in any mainstream TV show. But there it was.

And, of course, it makes sense. A song about people struggling to do the right thing in a world that expects the other (a big law firm in this case) would fit nicely into such a song. Jars had attempted such a foray into mainstream video media before, with a song they wrote for the movie The Long Kiss Goodnight. The scene the song was for was cut, but the song was still on the soundtrack for the movie. It was nice to see they didn't get cut this time, though I don't imagine it will be long before this show is cut. Unless the writer's strike lasts and this is all they have filmed.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Non-Standard Cell Phone Uses

I know cell phones are primarily for talking to people that are somewhere else, but golly gee whillickers, they have some fancy other uses. I'm sure others of you have used them for clocks (who wears a watch anymore?) and for alarms (who travels with an alarm clock or wants to depend on the one in the hotel room?).

But do you use yours as a flashlight? I do. Every morning I get up, get dressed in the dark, so as not to disturb the sleeping husband, grab my phone off the nightstand, and step into the dark house that exists outside of the bedroom at five o'clock in the morning. It's a scary place, and I don't keep it as picked up as I should. To avoid stubbing my toe and making all manner of loud noises that would undo all the quiet dressing I did moments before, I open my phone and let the soft blue backlight lead the way to my upstairs office.

Any odd uses you put your phone to?

Monday, February 04, 2008

Running Again

I've decided I'm done being a slacker. I haven't been running or doing much else in the way of exercise for a long time, and that's just not acceptable.

Today, I just got back from my 1-minute run. I know that sounds pathetic, and it is, but hear me out. There is a certain amount of aerobic exercise that is just there to get you going and warmed up and to remind your body how to burn fat and not just the easy glucose that hangs out in the bloodstream. Most everything I've ever read says that takes about 30 minutes. That means everything before that half-hour point basically is just the stuff you do before the part of the workout that actually does you any good.

And after months of no running, I'm just glad my run today actually counted.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Friday Random Ten

I think iTunes was trying to make me feel bad about not using the random feature for a while. It served up a lot of old favorites, and seems to nearly read as a "who's who" of bands I've seen live.

"Keeping My Eyes On Him" by Geoff Moore & The Distance* on Pure And Simple
"Peace (A Communion Blessing from St. Joseph's Square)" by Rich Mullins* on A Liturgy, A Legacy & A Ragamuffin Band
"Just Around the Riverbend" from Pocahontas
"One For My Baby (And One For The Road)" by Bette Midler on Experience The Divine
"California Girls" by The Beach Boys on The Greatest Hits, Vol. 1
"He" by Jars of Clay* on Jars of Clay
"Peace To The World" by B.B. King on Live At The Apollo
"No Holly For Miss Quinn" by Enya on Shepherd Moons
"When I Was A Dinosaur" by Trout Fishing In America* on Big Trouble
"Blind Man, Deaf Boy" by PFR* on Great Lengths

It was an excessively mellow ten, but it was just right for where I was today.