30.6.10

There's something about Amy

At last year's ALA conference, my friend Wendy introduced me to her friend Amy - and now Amy and I are friends.  Nice how these things work, right?  It was good seeing her at this year's ALA (even better that she reaffirmed that I was not - despite my fondness for, and knowledge of, Broadway tunes - a gay man [not that I normally worry about this, because I'm reasonably sure that no one looks at me and thinks "gay man" but when an actual gay man asks the question, you do get a little bemused, particularly when you've known said gay man for five years and have breakfast with him almost daily!]), doing the ARC ninja thing and then going to lunch.

It's the lunch part that makes me love Amy.  You see, earlier this year, at ALA Midwinter, Amy led Wendy and me on the Death March to No Dinner; while on this march, at one of the places at which we did not eat, we got carded.  Seriously.  The doorman would not let us in without checking our IDs.  Trust me, it made my night.  Heck, it made my year!

So this time, we went to lunch and when we ordered a drink, the waitress asked for ID.  I didn't have mine (I travel light during conference), but Amy did and mentioned that I was older than she (we're at opposite ends of our 40s).  This wasn't at night, I wasn't bundled up: I got carded in a restaurant in broad daylight. 

Wow.

And it only happens with Amy.  Of course, like the good daughter of a scientist that I am, I now need to test this under differing conditions: does Amy's magic only work during conferences? 

25.6.10

Links Galore

23.6.10

New Blog Alert

After bragging about my friend's blogs, the least I can do is promote my uncle's blog, Anchises - An Old Man's Journal. He's a wonderful writer (even his scholarly works are readable to a non-scholar like myself!), and this journal of his adventures in old age is filled with interesting insights and thoughts.

18.6.10

Six months of music

It feels like every time I start this post, another culture vulturing adventure is just on the horizon and, well, why not wait until that's done with before I post? But here it is, mid June and it's time to finally push the “publish” button on my activities over the past six months.

There's been a lot of music, some old... some new... In order:

Sybarite 5. (Full disclosure: one of the violinists was a student of mine) Taking popular music and translating it for classical instruments has been done before, but this quintet is fun and dipped into a number of different genres: Astor Piazzola, Radiohead and Led Zep. With the exception of the last, I'd never heard the originals (ok, knowingly heard the originals is perhaps more accurate) so there were no expectations. As for Led Zep, well, you'd basically have to have been dead for the past 30 years to NOT have heard some version of “Stairway to Heaven”. I mean really? Haven't they done anything else in their long, storied careers?

Jeff Beck/Eric Clapton. I've seen Clapton before (he did a month-long gig at Royal Albert Hall in the early 90s), and he was better then. According to Thing One, Beck was better during his earlier gig at Irving Plaza, but I dunno. He was pretty amazing here. As I told people, Beck brought 12 kinds of awesome to this show... Clapton not so much. Still not sure why Beck has felt the need to play “Nessum Dorma” on the guitar, but what the hey. The ending, with both playing on stage, highlighted the difference between them: Jeff Beck was playing, Clapton was mostly phoning it in. And when God phones... On the other hand, I recognized “You Need Love” (the precursor to “Whole Lotta Love”) well before Thing One did!

AIR. I'd heard their first album, which was pretty good, but the middle stuff was unknown to me. This was in support of their most recent album, which apparently has gotten the rave reviews that the first got. Live, on the other hand, was not an amazing experience. The venue was Montreal's equivalent of Roseland or Irving Plaza, and the oh-so-hip crowd was there (Thing One and I were among the oldest). Perhaps it was the set list, or the acoustics, but neither of us were blown away by what we heard.


Larry Coryell. Still around, still good, and touring with a couple of Indian musicians. Their influence on his music was interesting – still not sure how I feel about it. He ended the first set with a guitar version of Bolero, worthy of inclusion on the 10 soundtrack (yes, that's dating me; on the other hand, we were among the youngest in the audience, only one night after raising the average age at the AIR concert!). I'd like to listen more to his stuff before passing judgment.

Charlotte Gainsburg. So disappointing that the majority of the crowd was there to hear her do her father's stuff (she did one song) and not her own. She was stiff, and looked as though she was reading from a lyrics sheet – with only two albums, that didn't seem right. Her voice is also thin (just listen to the albums), and perhaps Webster Hall wasn’t quite the right venue; a larger Feinstein’s might have worked better. I was also disappointed in her choice of songs, because there were some on both IRM and 5:55 that would have been great in concert. IMVHO, if she’d added “Time of the Assassins” and “The Songs That We Sing” it would have been a stronger set list. “Trick Pony” got the most applause of her songs (possibly because it was what she sang on Letterman). It must be difficult being the daughter of such a musical icon, particularly since the crowd really didn't seem to want to hear her do her songs.

Rachid Taha: Odd place (Highline Ballroom); odder crowd. The Highline is very much like the Supper Club in set-up, and not like Irving Plaza, which seemed to be a better fit for him. That night it was filled with a mix of Arabs; we were at a table with Moroccans, in between a table of Jordanians and another of Egyptians. His patter was mostly Arabic or French ("Fuck BP" being the exception), and he was seriously toasted. At this point in his life, he comes across as an aging Tom Jones, mixed with Gene Simmons (what was with the tongue wagging? Is it an Arabic thing I just don’t understand?), rather than the sexy Rachid of, say, the 1-2-3 Soleils concert. He didn't do a few songs I thought he'd do, given his political stances (with what’s going on in Arizona, why no “Voila, Voila”?), but did play a number of the songs from Bonjour, his new (and lesser) album. It was cool to see the crowd switch from the arab/belly dance style when he played "Habina" and "Ya Rayah" to punk dancing with "Rock el Casbah". It was a short-ish concert, about 90 minutes, and the audience clearly wanted more.

So that’s it for the time being. We’ll see what the rest of the year brings.

14.6.10

Making connections

This past weekend I spent all too short an amount of time with people I've known and come to love over the past 30 years: my prep school classmates. Back then, we were 105 disparate girls – some I liked, some not so much, some puzzled me, and some became close friends. In the intervening years we've become a real family. Like any family, we have our moments (come to think of it, back then we had our moments, too; the four-day battle over Spring Senior Dinner dessert comes to mind). But like any family, I know they're there for me.

One of them now works at the school. In an almost accidental fashion, at our 25th she started a conversation that was so intense, so powerful that many of us wished it could have gone on longer, and absolutely knew that we wanted to revisit at our 30th. This time it was no accident, but once again it was too short. The depth of sharing was incredible – each time, you could see that moment when the speaker decided that yes, in this group, with these people, it was ok to say these things. Some had such powerful stories it brought tears to our eyes, some talked about day-to-day frustrations with choices (or lack of choices); no matter what the tale, the sense that in that circle we were safe and with family helped us talk about things we may never have shared with anyone before. Friends, family, marriage, careers, health... all those themes ran through each of our “updates”.

At far too late an hour I retreated to me very small dorm room (seriously? did I ever live in such a tiny space?), my mind racing ahead five years to our 35th. What could I say to these women, these sisters, then? Not in one of those competitive ways – my path is one that none of the others have taken, although we've all, in one way or another, reached similar milestones. I wouldn't want to live their lives and they wouldn't want to live mine! But I think each of us laid out challenges for ourselves: a better, stronger, or new marriage/relationship... finding a way through those difficult parent/teenage child years... exploring what's next career-wise... coping with parental health (as one said “I'm the ham in the sandwich”)... dealing with our own health issues.

In five years, I want to be able to report better health. To be doing work I'm proud of, in a place I feel valued. To finally get over my speech impediment and say “no” in ways that are heard. To spend more time doing things I truly enjoy with people I truly love, and forging deeper connections to those that are important to me.

Does that sound Stalinesque, having a five-year plan? I know it'll be no Sherman's march on Atlanta – it'll be a drunkard's stumble home. Stay tuned.

13.6.10

Comment commentary

Every so often I see people posting on their blog's comment policy, and it's probably a good time for me to do so.

When I started, this blog was open to all. Over the past few years, I've blocked one or two IP addresses, and I started to ask for work verification for comments. Then I blocked another couple of IP addresses and started moderating comments.

Why? Because this is my blog. It's my personal rantings, ravings, musings and ephemeral thoughts. Some posts are more random than others, granted, but the important thing is that they're mine.

Some comments have been, well, mean-spirited. Being a Pollyanna, I'm glad that people are reading and participating, and perhaps they've meant something as a joke and I'm just missing that. But if a comment strikes me as detracting from the blog, it's not getting posted. Simple as that.

10.6.10

New Blog Alert

As my 30th Reunion (high school, not college) nears, I've been hearing more and more from classmates. Two of them have really great blogs you should be following:

The Cozy Path is written by a f/Friend, Nina (who lived in the room next to mine part of senior year!). She's dedicated her blog to "explo[ing] the daily practice of doing little things to make the people in our lives feel special."

Sunbreak Educational Adventures chronicles the adventures of the Porter family. They live in Baja, delivering school supplies to sea-only access communities; Allison homeschools their children.

Read and enjoy!

9.6.10

And if everyone jumped off a cliff...

Last weekend I was at Number Four Niece's Engagement Party and had one of those "we're not from different sides of the tracks, we're from different towns" moments.

The party was held on a Festiva boat - four hours of cruising around New York Harbor on a rather hot and humid Saturday night. It was really quite nice! Until... I was sitting there, and a groomsman (I knew that because he had a button that said "groomsman" on it) flicked a cigarette butt out into the water. Apparently I had my Librarian Face on, because he looked at me and said "c'mon, everyone does it".

Ahem.

Perhaps everyone does do it, but that doesn't mean that you have to. Or that you should. Or that everyone's right. As my mother and grandmother used to say, "if everyone jumped off a cliff..."