Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Some Things I Don't Understand

[Feel free to answer a question, or add your own!]

Things I Don’t Understand: These Are Things I Think About

1. Why can’t summer Fridays exist year-round? Better yet, why not add Fridays to the weekend, as part of a stimulus plan to help boost the economy? If I weren’t babysitting my office on Fridays, surely I would be purchasing something, or getting a haircut, or seeing a movie.

2. Why do we pay for Internet service? Cable and telephone companies had nothing to do with inventing the Internet; why are we paying them? It’s invisible, it’s in the air, it equalizes Americans—it should be free! [Note: I read somewhere recently, though I can’t cite the source, that George W. Bush had the opportunity to offer free WiFi in America and he chose not to. Another smooth move, ExLax.]

3. Why is health food (and healthy food) so damn expensive? Why should I pay so much more for groceries just because I don’t want artificial coloring, tons of sugar or dead animals in my body? Shouldn’t the piglets, I mean people, who buy unhealthy, fattening foods on a regular basis (because everyone needs some Mallomars once in a while), and then become a burden on the national health budget via diabetes and obesity-related diseases, pay more? I’m just saying.

4. Why aren’t apples free? Apples should be free.

5. How/why does someone acquire a pet (cat, dog, alligator, crazy-scary snake) and then decide, “Hey, I no longer want/need/can afford this pet. I’m going to drive on over to the dumpster/highway/Everglades and dump it!” I cannot understand it. If there were a punishment for abandoning animals, maybe fewer people would do it. Maybe.

6. Can Obama please regulate the price of movie tickets? Prices are a bit out of control, and it’s not fair to loyal moviegoers.

7. Does Ted Haggard now have a reality TV show of some sort? WTF is up with that? He’s being rewarded for being a bigoted, homophobic, hypocritical liar?

8. Why can’t moving be a tax write-off?

9. Why isn’t commuting a tax write-off?

10. How come men can pay for Viagra via health insurance (flex benefits or co-pays or both!) but these plans don’t offer women a way to buy tampons?

11. Whatever happened to ring-around-the-collar? When I was a child, it seemed like a national crisis, based on the number of commercials on television. Now I never hear about it. Did it just go away?

12. When are the Indigo Girls going to release another live album? They’re so due for one.

13. Why don’t the cable TV networks start selling single TV shows, a la ITunes? I would definitely pay 99 cents to watch “Flight of the Conchords” or “Weeds.” I don’t need (or want) to subscribe to the channel on a monthly basis, but I, and millions of other people, would buy one show at a time if it were possible.

14. Why are there so many Sleepy’s stores? How often do people purchase new beds?

15. When did it become OK to charge over a dollar for a pack of gum?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Random Greats

Remember Mix Tapes? I used to love making mixes, still do, in fact. Only now I make playlists for my IPod--much easier to create, that's for sure! Thought others might like to know what I'm listening to these days--feel free to copy this list--it's terrific music for commuting, but also for cleaning, writing, painting, whatever. I named this playlist Random Greats; it's a compilation of great songs that are on my IPod (but when they're all separated by artist and album I never remember to find them, and I forget to listen to and enjoy them). Here, they're all condensed in one lovely, easy-to-remember place, Random Greats!

- Dear Prudence, originally by The Beatles - this version is from the film Across the Universe, which is a good movie with an unique soundtrack (all Beatles songs, sung by unknown actors/singers). Love this version.
- Fidelity, Regina Spektor - funky song with cheeky lyrics.
- I Take You With Me, Melissa Etheridge - from Boys on the Side soundtrack. Have loved this song since I bought the CD soundtrack while at U of M. I have vivid memories of walking around Ann Arbor, blasting this song in my yellow Sony Walkman.
- Can't Find My Way Home, Blind Faith - love Blind Faith, love this song.
- For What It's Worth, Buffalo Springfield - have always loved this song and never get sick of it. If you have the Forrest Gump soundtrack, you own this song. Not that I possess the Forrest Gump soundtrack. :) Terrible movie with a kick-ass soundtrack.
- Peace Frog, The Doors - one of my favorite Doors songs. Off Morrison Hotel album.
- Solsbury Hill, Peter Gabriel - Enough said.
- Key West Intermezzo (I Saw You First), John Mellencamp - yes, I still listen to John Mellencamp. This song rocks! Off his semi-recent album Mr. Happy Go Lucky.
- Hey Jack Kerouac, Natalie Merchant - one of her best; keeps me connected to my undergrad days when I was blown away by On The Road and a little obsessed with The Beat Generation. My literary tastes have progressed, but this song is still great.
- The Entertainer, Billy Joel - I'm in the midst of a Billy Joel renaissance, for some odd reason. As a child I loved him (one of my first music-related memories is me sitting on the red carpet of my bedroom, reading the lyrics (in the record sleeve!) to Big Shot and trying to sing along with Billy), and I saw him in concert quite a few times in high school (Yankee Stadium was my favorite). For the past ten or so years, he's irked me; I couldn't even tolerate hearing him on the radio. Then a few months ago I heard The Stranger on the radio, and now I'm all into Billy Joel again, but only certain songs--the great ones that never got overplayed (or any play) on the radio.
- You're the One, Paul Simon - I need more Paul Simon on my IPod; he's incredibly talented. This song wakes me up and puts a smile on my face every time I hear it.
- Iris, Goo Goo Dolls - great song, great lyrics.
- All Along the Watchtower - Bob Dylan's amazing lyrics, Jimi Hendrix's amazing version. I will never tire of this song.
- While My Guitar Gently Weeps, originally George Harrison - also from Across the Universe. Stellar version.
- Shelter from the Storm, Bob Dylan - this song slays me every time I hear it (and I hear it a lot)
- Scarlet Begonias, The Grateful Dead - classic Dead. Excellent Dead.
- Try a Little Tenderness, The Commitments - it's a ballad, it's a love song, it's a rock song! I once lip-synced this entire song to my campers (at sleepaway camp), using a broom as my mike.
- Wild World, Cat Stevens - grew up singing this song at camp (same sleepaway camp as above), and still love it. It was a toss-up between Wild World, Peace Train and Cats in the Cradle--any and all are great songs.
- Delta Dawn, Bette Midler - a great ballad, but not in the Wind Beneath My Wings kind of way; it's jazzy and full of heart (and soul). This is from a live album, Live at Last, but the studio version is good, too.
- Gold Dust Woman, Fleetwood Mac - perfect pairing of music and lyrics. Never tire of it.
- Shape of My Heart, Sting - from his album My Funny Valentine, which contains all his songs used on movie sountracks. This is a beautiful song, originally from the film The Professional.
- Hey Jude, originally The Beatles - sung by the lead actor in Across the Universe. Reminds me of a perfect glass of red wine.
- Someone Saved My Life Tonight, Elton John - no description needed, right?
- Mr. Blue, Yaz - yes, I loved Yaz as a teenager. And a young adult. And still do, as an adult. This is from their second album, not Upstairs at Eric's, but you can find it more easily on The Best of Yaz. Great song!
- The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy), Simon & Garfunkel - classic. classic. classic.
- Suite: Judy Blue Eyes, Crosby, Stills & Nash - I listened to CS&N obsessively my senior year of high school; I even saw them in concert at that cool, small outdoor venue the Meadowlands used to set up every summer. Then, in college, Our House entered my life, and I never put them on again. 14 years have passed--time to groove to CS&N again--and this song is all about groovin'.
- Red Rain, Peter Gabriel - I own every Peter Gabriel CD. One of my most perfect, cherished memories is hearing, seeing and feeling him sing In Your Eyes at the Capitol Centre in D.C. The entire concert was amazing, but I definitely had a transcendental experience during In Your Eyes. Red Rain is, well, it just is. This is the live version, from Secret World Live.
- Miami 2017 (I've Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway), Billy Joel. See above, in regard to Billy Joel. This is the live version, from 12 Gardens Live. I love hearing the crowd roar when he says "Brooklyn."
- The Time of Your Life, Green Day - I was long past proms when this song was released, so I never got sick of it. And I don't own any other Green Day songs. i love how life's progression is illuminated in this song.
- Kind & Generous, Natalie Merchant - another one of her best. This song should be shlocky and cliche, but it's Natalie, so it's not. Off her album called Ophelia.
- Dreams, The Cranberries - have always loved this song. Great walking song.
- I Need to Wake Up (theme from An Inconvenient Truth), Melissa Etheridge - I loved it before she won the Academy Award for Best Song. Only Melissa could rock the hell out of an environmentally-conscious warning song. Buy it as a single on ITunes.
- If God is a DJ, Pink - this song *&%#ing rocks! No idea what album it's from--buy as a single.
- Proud, Heather Small - I have now loved this song, and failed to get sick of it, for almost 10 years. It is one of the most inspiring, uplifting songs I've ever heard, and it also happens to be a fantastic dance song. If you're having a &%itty day, listen to this. From the first Queer As Folk (US version) album.
- Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It), Beyonce - What can I say? I spent my 20s in NYC gay clubs, dancing until 4 AM. It's fun, it's cheesy, it's a great walking song. And it makes me smile.
- Come to Me (Peace), Mary J. Blige - oh how I love this song. Off her album Growing Pains (terrific album). Powerful, aching song.
- Smooth, Santana Featuring Rob Thomas - Guitar + guitar + simple lyrics = new classic.
- China Grove, The Doobie Brothers - everyone needs a little Doobie every now and then.
- Summer of '69, Bryan Adams - love it. Always have, always will.
- Hard to Handle, Black Crowes - admit it, you love trying to master the lyrics on this one. It's OK, we all do. I used to listen to this album, Shake Your Money Maker, ten times a day.
- We Didn't Start the Fire, Billy Joel - see above, plus history lessons!
- Wonder, Natalie Merchant - from Tigerlily, a luscious album. Great song.
- If You Want to Sing Out, Cat Stevens - from the soundtrack to Harold & Maude, all of which is sung by Cat Stevens. If you haven't seen the film Harold & Maude, you are missing out on one of life's treasures.
- Allison Road, Gin Blossoms - my sister's name is Allison. We used to hear it together, when it was popular. Reminds me of my simple, fun city years. From New Miserable Experience.
- Slide, Goo Goo Dolls - where are the Goo Goo Dolls these days? Great song.
- One of Us, Joan Osborne - I'm not a huge Joan Osborne fan, but have always loved this song. Plus I think I'm programmed to like whatever the Vatican bans. From her album Relish.
- It's Probably Me, Sting - an awesome Sting song from one of the Lethal Weapon movies.
- In My Life, Bette Midler - lovely version of a John Lennon original. Sweet, sweet song.
- Live To Tell, Madonna - even if you don't like Madonna's music (which I'll ignore so I can still talk to you), you must admit this is an incredible song, lyrically and musically. This is the Live Edit, from Ciao Italia. You could substitute with the Instrumental Edit, featuring live violins.
- Romeo & Juliet, Dire Straits - while I adore the Indigo Girls version, I felt obligated to choose the original, which I encountered first, in D.C., a million years ago. I actually feel a pain in my chest when I listen to this song. From On the Night, Live.
- The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys, Traffic - I must have listened to this song a thousand times my senior year of high school. I have no clue what it's about, but I love it, still. From album of the same name.

Random Greats should yield over two hours of pure listening pleasure. The order of songs is not at all random, so if you're building the entire playlist, stick with the same order--it was well-planned! Enjoy! Any suggestions for songs to add? Comment!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Other People's Words


"All sentimental people are betrayed so many times." - Ernest Hemingway ("Fathers and Sons")

"Until one has loved an animal a part of one's soul remains unawakened." - Anatole France

"The events of our lives happen in a sequence in time, but in their significance to ourselves, they find their own order...the continuous thread of revelation." 
- Eudora Welty

"When the most important things in our life happen, we quite often do not know, at the moment, what is going on." - C.S. Lewis

"Experience is not what happens to you; it is what you do with what happens to you." - Aldous Huxley

"A day is never wasted if a memory is made." - TS Eliot

"We do not see things as they are. We see them as we are." - The Talmud

"Out of intense complexities intense simplicities emerge." - Winston Churchill

"There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness." - Nietzsche  

"I can resist anything except temptation." - Oscar Wilde  

"What we become depends on what we read after all the professors have finished with us. The greatest university of all is a collection of books." - Thomas Carlyle 

"The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated." - Gandhi  
"There are years that ask questions and years that answer." - Zora Neale Hurston (Their Eyes Were Watching God)  

"We have to allow for contradictions in ourselves. Nobody is just one thing." - Christopher Durang (Beyond Therapy)