28 April 2009

shout-out to J down South

Hiiiiii!!! No. I'm not dead. I've just not posted in a while.
Here's a random list of thoughts running through my head, in random order (natch):

1. Is it time for vacation yet??
2. My parents were in town a week-and-a-half ago and I think we ate our way through SF. Wait. I *know* we did - but we had some spectacular food. Really, really wonderful restaurants.
3. I want to go hiking this weekend if the weather is nice.
4. I'm babysitting a 6-week old this coming Saturday morning for 2 hours in the morning while her parents make the drive to report for drill weekend. I'm the bridge between the gap of them leaving and the grandparents arriving. Wish me luck! I think it's early enough in the morning that she'll just sleep!
5. I've been busier than I thought I would now that I don't have any rehearsing going on. Perhaps I'm just trying to fill the time...?
6. Good coffee is sooooooo good. There is no excuse for drinking bad coffee.
7. I can't believe it is STILL snowing in CO. Wild.
8. There are many places I would like to visit this year - it's just a matter of fitting the puzzle pieces together correctly.
9. Sibling is the BEST. BROTHER. EVER. For reals, yo.
10. "tweet" makes me think of rockin' robin...not twitter.

Hope everyone out there in cyberland is doing well!

16 April 2009

If you've not already seen it

....go watch THIS now.

Susan Boyle is *quite* talented. The song was a perfect choice (art-life-art connection); once she starts singing her presence is powerful and well...she just has a great voice! And I think part of the craze over her is the fact that we're so used to mediocrity (in the singing world) that when a voice like Susan comes along ... it's truly astounding.

I'm glad there is finally SOMEONE being acclaimed for having a great voice and NOT for being younger/prettier/richer/famouser/than [insert teeny bopper here]. Take a look at musical theater and opera stars "of yesteryear:" they had seriously great voices, and very few would probably have been considered classically "beautiful." But what they may have lacked in looks, they made up for in spades with stage presence, the ability to transform themselves into whomever they needed to be, and just plain vocal chops.
[Note: having a dose of God-given talent is only a start.]
[Second note: okay, okay, Kristen Chenowith can legitimately sing AND she looks like a Barbie Doll.]
[Third note: Maria Callas is an exception/anomaly. BUT she sounded a HELL of a lot better when she was...less cosmetically appealing, shall we say...than later on in her career after she got super skinny and just sounded like hell. I mean - sure, her acting was unparalleled, but - for my money? It's called opera SINGING for a reason, people.]
[Fourth note: too much snark - sorry. I'm done. Go listen to the clip up there. And share in the goosebumpy feeling taking over the world!]

I'm happy for Susan! I hope all of the sudden hubbub doesn't stress her out too much! :)

15 April 2009

Probably applicable to the Marines over in Bezerkely, too...

During my lunchtime meanderings today, I passed by the SF Armed Forces Recruitment office (hard to believe - but there IS one here). It's tucked away down a quiet street on the outskirts of the Financial District. I had been past there several times over the years, but today was the first time I actually saw someone who worked there. A solider was outside - presumably on break - using the phone.

I was horribly tempted to ask if the recruiters working here were eligible for Hardship Duty Pay, due to the hostile nature of most of the natives [/sarcasm]...but, seeing as he was otherwise engaged, I minded my own business and continued on my walk.

NEXT time . . .

14 April 2009


Shiver me timbers, indeed!

Pirates have attacked 78 ships this year, hijacking 19 of them, and about 17 ships with more than 300 crew still remain in pirates' hands, according to Noel Choong, who heads the International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur.

Each boat carries the potential of a million-dollar ransom.

WTF? How does this happen? How do little boats of pirates hijack ships much larger than themselves and which carry substantially more people aboard? I think it probably has something to do with the pirates being armed and the hijacked ships NOT being armed. It's an oversimplification to say that allowing ships and crews to defend themselves with firepower would sufficiently deter pirate attacks, but it might be a start.

Though the thought might be a tad far-fetched, I don't think it's *completely* unfounded to say that I hope we don't find ourselves engaged in another sort of war abroad (or aboard, as it were) Overseas Contingency Operation, not with our military already stretched as thin as it is. And while I am fairly certain that B.H.O. would not be the one to throw down his glove, I can't say the same for the pirates or the French for that matter...but maybe their bark is worse than their bite.

In the meantime? Thank Goodness for the Navy SEALS!

Check out this AFP article. Excerpt below:
[Defense Secretary Robert M.] Gates, emphasizing the limitations of a purely military approach, said some have suggested bypassing the central government of Somalia and instead establishing relationships with officials of functioning local governments there.

“There is no purely military solution to it,” he said. “And as long as you’ve got this incredible number of poor people and the risks are relatively small, there’s really no way in my view to control it unless you get something on land that begins to change the equation for these kids.”

Gates noted the four pirates involved in kidnapping the Maersk-Alabama captain were 17 to 19 years old, and he cited the dangerous combination of untrained youth and arms.

“Untrained teenagers with heavy weapons,” he told the group of 30 students and faculty members at the Marine Corps War College. “Everybody in the room knows the consequences of that.”

Gates underscored that the piracy issue will likely be an important agenda item in coming weeks.

“All I can tell you is I am confident we will be spending a lot of time in the situation room over the next few weeks trying to figure out what in the world to do about this problem,” he said.

Perhaps I was mistaken on the glove. Maybe it won't be thrown down, but I have a feeling the gloves are at least coming off . . .

La condition humaine

Ce que je voudrais te dire c'est que
'Le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît point.'
Mais je ne trouve pas mes mots (même si Blaise les a déjà dit, il y avait une fois…)
Ce que je voudrais te dire c'est que
je pense à toi -
chaque jour,
chaque nuit,
chaque instant.
Je me te sens proche à moi.
Je me te sens dans mes rêves.
Loin des yeux, loin du coeur (comme on dit)?
Pas pour moi.
En fait, c’est le contraire:
quand on se rend aveugle, les autres sens se renforcent.
Je me sens tes lèvres sur les miens.
Ton souffle.
Ton coeur qui bat si rapide quand je reste ma tête sur ta poitrine.
Je sens ton peau. Tes cheveux. Tes bras.
Tes mains qui cherchent les miennes avec l’audacité d’un connaisseur.
Tes mains me manquent chaque moment.
Loin des yeux, loin du coeur...?
Tes yeux qui sont si loin sont lesquels je peux toujours lire.
Tes yeux qui ont la capacité de dire plus qu’un dictionnaire.
Tes yeux qui me laissent entre dans ton coeur,
et qui me rendent incapable à defendre mon propre coeur.
...ah...c'est une torture exquise...

Tout cela - et plus encore - c'est ce que je voudrais te dire.
Mais je ne trouve pas mes mots parce que tu n'es pas ici pour les entendre.

12 April 2009

Christ is risen...on "high"....

This year, I spent Good Friday with family (Sibling and S), two of Sibling's Frat brothers, and hundreds of my closest friends happily dancing, hotboxing, hippies. in other words, it was spent in a cloud of contact-high haze, courtesy of The Fillmore Auditorium and Yonder Mountain String Band (from my home state!) I suggested we go to the concert, since Sibling, S, and I are all fans of bluegrass and it had been far too long since I'd been to any concerts. Lemme tell ya, it was AWESOME. You have not *experienced* dexterity until you've witnessed the flying fingers of Jeff Austen on mandolin, Dave Johnston on banjo, Ben Kaufman on bass and Adam Aijala on guitar. (They had a special fiddler in with them, but I forget his name right now - he was great.)

But I digress.

I had also not experienced puffy clouds of marijuana the likes of which existed inside the auditorium that night. Ten minutes into the concert, I turned to Sibling and said "Dude. Talk about contact high." Three and a half hours later, I was like, "Why do I feel so light-headed, I haven't been drinking...but, BOY oh BOY, do I want pancakes!" I have been to a lot of concerts, but I have never been to one with so many bongs - at least, no *indoor* concerts with so many. Outdoor music festivals? Sure, prevalent. But inside the windowless, airless, loud, hot, square-shaped venue-seemingly-custom-built to keep the smoke in? Yeah. That was a first. Even Sibling had to concur on that one.

Easter itself today was wonderful (even if I did lose it during church) and spent with Sibling and AZ. We had a tasty brunch at 1300 Fillmore (Bellinis, shrimp & grits, and gospel music); enjoyed sunny weather; I had nice long phone calls with my parents and P; and all was capped off with a trip to see Fast and Furious. (Admittance: I irrationally love action movies. I can't put my finger on why...though it probably has something to do with all the testosterone. And Vin Diesel. But anyway. AZ does, too, which is one of the reasons we're friends. HAHA!) All-in-all a lovely, if non-traditional, celebratory day.

Italian pop, anyone?

For some reason, I am LOVING Lara Fabian right now - great songs and very powerful singing.

Holy Communion

I started cracking up during the communion prayer at church this morning because Sibling, sitting next to me, came *thisclose* to dropping his church bulletin on the floor. Which, out of the corner of my eye, looked as if he almost dropped his wine and wafer on the floor.

In my head, I was thinking: "OH MY (literally) GOD, DO NOT DROP JESUS ON THE FLOOR!!!"

Not so totally appropriate, but the combination of needing sleep and hilarious inner-monologue caused me to crack up, and suppress said laughter, thus shaking in my seat with tears (of laughter) rolling down my cheeks. (Which, of course made Sibling laugh, and even managed to crack up AZ a bit, too).

Happy Easter, all.

10 April 2009

Friday Five - Fork in the Road

For today's Friday Five, share with us five "fork-in-the-road" events, or persons, or choices. And how did life change after these forks in the road?

1. Losing my first major audition taught me that I can't and won't always get what I want. I was not accepted into a certain prestigious Children's Choir for which I had auditioned. But - in all honesty, and in retrospect - I think that that was harder on my mom than it was on me. But I learned a great deal about competition and what it meant to lose gracefully - especially when my brother was accepted to that same choir a few years later and spent years performing and touring with them.

2. Losing my first major High School audition taught me that there was more to "it" than just being talented - I had to put some effort, as well (a lesson frequently repeated since that time.) I auditioned for the 10-12th grade honors girls choir and didn't get in. I was devastated, because it lowered my chances of getting into Meistersingers - the honors 11th/12th grade mixed choir, which was a BIG deal. I learned though, and started taking voice lessons after that failed audition. The next year, I got into Meisters, which leads to . . .

3. Going out of state for college. I knew I wanted to get away from my home state of Colorado, and that I wanted to study music (thanks to much encouragement from my choral teacher in Meisters), but also wanted to study abroad in French. And, it was strange, I had had no desire to tour the undergrad school I ended up choosing. We randomly drove by it one day, after having visited Baylor, and stopped to tour the arts school. As soon as I stepped foot in the door, I knew that's where I was going to go for college. And I loved it.

4. Studying abroad in Paris was life-changing in the sense that everything was different: the culture; the language (even though I spoke French before I went); the transportation...everything. The only thing that remained a constant for me was God - He really used that time to teach me that He would have to be the rock upon which I built anything. For when the world swirls around in a foreign accent and smoke swirls, I had to have a solid place on which to stand.

5. Moving to San Francisco for grad school was an easy decision...as soon as I stepped foot in the school, I knew it was where I was going to be. However, my three years there were very difficult, and, though I wouldn't change my experiences, sometimes I can't believe I survived the amount of stress packed into those three years. Going to music school - even on the "friendly" West Coast - is very competitive, challenging personally and add in the midst of that the pressures to be perfect (from myself) whilst completely overhauling my vocal technique...I started having panic attacks, no wonder! But the silver lining is that I have the most amazing voice teacher and mentor from the school, and we're still working together all these years later.

(I see a theme ... music and travel...thus mirroring the narrow path I walk everyday, trying to decide which way to jump - more towards music? Or language? Or travel? Or both? But how...? There are so many more people and events in my life which have shaped me and changed me...but for now? These will do...)

07 April 2009

I think it's weird

Well, weird may not be the right word. Insensitive. Crazy. Ridiculous. Those are sounding about right.

I read this article tonight about a forthcoming video game. Not just any video game, but one which recreates the Battle for Fallujah in 2004. Now, maybe it's just me - I don't know nothin' about nothin' - but I think that it's a *little* too soon to be turning OIF into a video game. Ya know, considering that Iraq is still a major combat zone in The Global War on Terror our Overseas Contingency Operations.

I don't know. What do ya'll think?

06 April 2009

Very Ivesian

The American composer, Charles Ives (1874-1954), was not very popular during his lifetime. Only after his death - like so many other artists before him - did his music start to get the recognition and reputation it deserved. Rather than go into a boring Cliffs-notes version of a paper I wrote in Grad School, though, I'll just get to my point.

Ives' music is recognizable and different from his predecessors' for a few main reasons, all centered around his fascination with contrasts: he'd write a song in two different and simultaneous keys (polytonality); in another piece of music, half of the orchestra played the music backward, concurrent with the other half playing it forward; Ives used lots of polyrhythms and was a big proponent of aleatoric/chance music as well as traditional Americana songs and hymns. He was a prolific writer (about his craft) and wrote about what it was like to say stand in the street and hear one thing - a parade for example - in one ear, whilst hearing a completely different kind of music in the other ear. Those are the types of experiences he recreated in his songs.

All that being said, it is to Charles Ives that I dedicate yesterday afternoon's walk through my neighborhood:

SCENE: A sunny Sunday afternoon, 73 degrees, middle of my San Francisco residential neighborhood. I stepped outside to take a walk

The second story windows in the house across the street are open - white, filmy curtains bellowing in the breeze; country music BLARES, uninhibited, from them.
Clearly, someone is enjoying their Sunday afternoon chores, or delight?, to the twangy-pop sounds emanating from above.

In the adjacent house, the second floor windows are open as well. An elderly man sticks his head out of one, clutching a mechanical fan.


No response from the Country Music Listener. The volume of the music neither rises nor falls.


Again, no reponse from the Country Music Listener.

"BLAAAAAAAAAAH BLAH BLAH BLLLLLLAAAAAAAAH! BLAH BLAH BLAAAAH BLAH BLAAAAAH BLAH BLAH BLAH...." etc, ad nauseum. [note: he was now singing the word "blah" in time to the Country Music.]


As I walked down my street, in one ear I heard fast guitar and a woman singing with a country twang. In the other ear, the angry neighbor's "blahing" song cut through the bass and drumming of the Country Music to mix with the woman's voice. The whole cacophonous melange cracked me the hell up, and I continued on my way, reveling in the wacky and wonderful Ivesian moment I had just had.

04 April 2009

Thus far

We are having springtime here in the Bay Area. It has been absolutely gorgeous, and I've been taking as much advantage of the weather as I possibly can, walking during lunch hours and/or after work and before rehearsals...just soaking up as much Vitamin D as possible before the summer fog starts rolling in.

Today, AZ, Ty and I met up with the fantastic T's and went wine tasting in Livermore Valley (East Bay as opposed to Napa/Sonoma area). DELICIOUS wine out there, people! And beautiful vistas. And bocce. And an amazing picnic by our hosts with the most. All-in-all, a perfect Saturday.
April is turning out to be quite a good month, I think, though...I feel as if I'm juggling several things at once, and would just like to escape for a bit. Today was a nice chance to do a little of that. In any case, I'll have one less ball in the air come April 17 (post-show), and then I'll probably be bored. Go figure.

I'm looking at this year as a time to celebrate turning 30. Even though by birthday is in July, I'm gonna celebrate all year. I've been planning my vacation days out, and so far have blocked out the time and purchased my ticket to visit friends in Europe in September. And, thanks to an early bday gift from Sibling, I'll be going to see U2 in October down in SoCal. Also? AZ is *finally* going to come with me to visit CO. YAY for all of that!
I hope to visit CO when P gets his vacation time in June and will be there, too (of course, if I can, I'll try and convince him to spend a few days out here with his West Coast Fan Club!) but not sure yet when those dates are. Also? My mom is chomping at the bit to go to Branson. And I promised I'd meet her up there one weekend. Good thing airfares are low right now (and that I've got a ton of FF miles to use!) If only I got paid to travel . . . hmmmmm gotta figure out how to make that happen . . .

01 April 2009

BBC April Fool