A Few of My Favorite Things
Here are a few things I’ve really been enjoying lately.
I was out of the habit of going to the movies for awhile—even when I was unemployed I hardly ever took advantage of empty, unscheduled middays—but since I’ve established my Oscar challenge I am back. Seeing an average of 2-3 movies a weekend I have rather easily dispatched of the ten Best Picture nominees. Now I get to spend the few three weekends seeing stragglers like Mike Leigh’s Another Year (the only Best Picture non-nominee for screenwriting), The Illusionist (from Best Animated, the newest film from Sylvain Chomet who did the outstanding The Triplets of Belleville a few years ago), as well as the programs for short films.
And they’ve all been good! Not a single one of the ten gave me a minute’s worth of regret. On the contrary, I would say I loved the majority of the movies I saw. Really enjoyed them. Either it was a great year all around for movies, or the Academy just picked extremely well. Can’t wait for the actual awards!
I’ve been hooked on podcasts for awhile—it started with NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, which led me to try out Extra Hot Great and AV Club Talk—and then I thought I’d see what else NPR had to offer. It turns out that not only does NPR regularly broadcast live concert events on their site (and presumably on their radio stations as well, not that I’ve listened to real radio in ten years), but they archive the concerts so you can listen to them FOREVER. And if you subscribe to the podcast (I just did it through iTunes), then they all appear right there on your computer and you can click ‘play’ and spend an hour or two hours listening to the live album NPR was so generous to produce for you.
The sound quality is excellent, none of that feedback or echoing or flatness that you sometimes hear in live recordings. Some of the artists are big names, too, at least on an indie rock scale. I’ve listened to some really excellent concerts recently—a low-key affair from Iron and Wine, and a rollicking concert from Neko Case on tour for her last album, Middle Cyclone. Someone makes an offhand remark early on about fearing the Reaper, and from then on she builds on this running joke about how the Reaper is her boyfriend. It’s totally goofy, and just the kind of between-song patter that you don’t usually hear unless you’re there. And here it is, totally free, totally accessible anytime. Magnificent discovery!
Speaking of music, I’ve got to recommend Songkick. I signed up there last fall. The site’s got a lot of utilities that I don’t use, but at its most basic level, it lets you ‘like’ artists and set one or more locations for yourself, and then it notifies you via email when the artists you like are going to play your area. For a long time, I heard nothing from them, but then—as spring springs eternal!—suddenly I got four emails in one week about artists I like who are hitting venues near me. Artists I like! Having concerts near me! That I know about ahead of time instead of reading about a week after the fact!
It’s so cool that it’s February and I’m already tentatively planning on The Walkmen in April and Adele in May!
I just discovered this on Cleveland.com and I eagerly tune into it every Thursday to see what kind of petty crime my pathetic neighbors have managed to get caught committing this time. I love that Walmart features every week, no fail. People love to steal from, and/or get into physical altercations at, Walmart. This week featured the shoplifting of bizarre items from both Walmart (5 baseball caps) and Zagaras (beer and cat food). I hope the Walmart guy was trying to walk out with all 5 caps stacked upon his head.
(Also, having spent more than some time there, I can say assuredly that there would be fewer laptop thefts at Lee Road library if people would learn not to leave them unattended while they use the bathroom. Just because it’s a quiet and wholesome environment doesn’t mean you’re at home.)
And, speaking of libraries…
This is an online cataloguing site for books. My books are in no way so vast in number that I need a system to keep track of them all, but I joined and started uploading titles anyway, because it’s super fun. For real, I am HOOKED. I spent forty-five minutes this evening copying down ISBNs for some of my more obscure titles that I had trouble searching on. Soon I will get the pleasure of systematically entering them all, choosing the correct cover and tagging them by era, region and topic. And then I’ll have the continuous pleasure of scrolling through them online.
My books are sort of my pets, I think. I like to gather them ’round me and revel in their companionship. Now I can do it virtually! Practically, it’s also going to be convenient for my friends and family. It’s a good record for anyone looking to buy me gifts (woo!) as well as anyone who might be looking to borrow something.
Skylar’s new best bud Cecil
And, speaking of pets! Skylar has met a boy. His name is Cecil and he’s an English bulldog, I think. And, according to his owner, he is a fairly recent rescue and generally quite prickly around other dogs. But for some reason, he has taken to Skylar in a big way.
We happen upon each other on the sidewalk 2-3 times a week and the two nuzzle and sniff and wag their tails. Best of all, Cecil seems to have intuitively picked up on Sky’s favorite game (which could be adequately described as “you chase me, and I’ll run in circles, and you keep chasing me”) and is happy to indulge her. It’s just nice to see my girl have fun.