Thursday, November 29, 2007

My Christmas Wish List

If you've ever been to my house, you've seen how my fascination with outsider art has manifested itself. I have artwork not only on walls and over door frames, but also under beds and in closets. I've kinda run out of wall space, but you know... I can always try to squeeze more somewhere. The ceilings are bare... I need ceiling art.

In the early 2000's, I frequently visited San Francisco and would always stop by Creativity Explored. It's a non-profit arts center for developmentally disabled adults. The artists create some of the most amazing artwork I have ever seen. And their monthly gallery openings in that space are just phenomenal. The artists are more than willing to talk to you about their work and are always very excited to see folks buying it. The artwork is powerful and rich and emotional and raw. Creativity Explored is the one non-NC non-profit to whom I regularly send contributions.

Full Frame Documentary Film Festival screened a documentary this April called Cross Your Eyes Keep Them Wide about this facility, the artists and their work. I took Christa with me, who was quite impressed. This film won Full Frame's Jury Prize for Best Short.

This piece is by Andrew Li:

The last time I was in San Fran YEARS ago, I ate dinner at a restaurant where I struck up a conversation with some folks from the Black Rock Arts Foundation (the arts group who provide grants for Burning Man artists.) They were headed over to Creativity Explored gallery opening after dinner and invited me to tag along. I was more than happy to go! I had the best time meeting the artists and checking out their abundant masterpieces. I shipped stacks and stacks of artwork back to North Carolina. It was a great night.

This piece is by John McKenzie:

In the mail today, I received a postcard from Creativity Explored that their annual art sale is going on December 7-9. I really wish I could go. But there is no way that I could swing that. But if you happen to be in San Francisco looking for a Christmas present for me next weekend, Creativity Explored is where you should go. Whee!

Less Than Forty-Eight Hours

Holy cow! Holy cow! Holy cow! Wow! Wow! Wow! Wootie woot woot!

After finishing the really amazing "Cheese Pork!" and banana pudding at Crooks with Maggie and my parents, I jumped into my car and let out a little "woo hoo!" My meal was soooo delicious that I felt giddy. And then I realized, I am not going to work tomorrow and that just made me feel all warm and happy. I clicked around on my Ipod to pull up my Richard Hawley playlist and hit play. (Who am I kidding, I haven't stopped listening to him since this summer.) The beautifully dreamy acoustic version of "Darliin'" came on and I just melted and I just smiled and smiled and smiled. By the time I reached 15-501 headed back to Durham, I was listening to his song "Serious" and I started squealing in the car. I literally screamed at the top of my lungs all the way to South Square. I am so darn excited! I am going to see Richard Hawley perform on Saturday night!

I'm flying to New York tomorrow afternoon in time for supper with the Badgers. Before the show on Saturday, I am going to spend some time eating with Robert. I think I might have even convinced him to come with me to the show. I need to pack my elastic waistband pants so that I can eat alot. I really hope I can make it to Crif Dogs. I haven't been there in a few years and their bacon-wrapped dog is divine.

But the show is going to be great. Seeing Richard Hawley is going to beat watching Duran Duran from the fifth row in the Greensboro Coliseum when I was in middle school. I hope I don't act too freaky. I am going to take Hawley a copy of my hot-off-the-burner Food Mix. Is that weird? Am I being too weird and stalkery? I am a little bit crazy.

Richard Hawley is performing an acoustic in-store set on Monday in New York at Other Music. Should I call in sick on Monday and Tuesday and stay a couple extra days? I feel like this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see Hawley do this in-store show. I am seriously thinking about it. And who cares, really... I'm quitting this job anyway. Hmmm. What should I do?

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Melody Haunts My Reverie & I'm Once Again With You

Around ten years ago, I regularly hung out in the local record stores blowing entire minimum wage paychecks on music. There was one store on Franklin Street, that I thought was the coolest. The manager, Brett, was so nice and we totally clicked musically. We clicked on a old school level that no straight man had ever clicked with me before. He'd order things for the store with me in mind, especially western swing, vintage country and 1950s pop vocalists. When someone came in selling an old R&B CD or doo wop or some old vocalist CD, he'd save it for me. There was always a little Charlotte pile waiting for me each week.

And the music that he introduced me to was just mind-blowing to me: the harmonies of the Everly Brothers pop hits, the craziness of Billy Stewart's scat, and the cowboy tunes of Tex Ritter. He helped me get beyond the cheesiness of 1950s pop, too, which was no small feat.

And then the mix tapes started. These were all cassettes of course. We traded like mad. And to this day, no one has made a better mix tape than Brett. There was one that contained the most heavenly selection of music that I had ever heard. I loved that tape. I listened to it constantly. Each 45-minute side was perfectly dreamy and pretty. And he made the tape just for ME! I swooned over him. I painstakingly tried to uncover hidden meanings in his song choices and song placement hoping to discover that Brett was in love with me. He wasn't. But we did have a small handful of dates, one of which ended with me dancing in his arms to "Since I Don't Have You" by the Skyliners. Ah...

After that date, things fizzled for Brett. We still traded mixes, but it wasn't the same. Soon the record store closed and Brett moved away. I have no idea what happened to him, but I will never forget him or that mix tape. To this day, it is my favorite mix tape ever.

His song selections included:
Night and Day - Fred Astaire
It's All In the Game - Tommy Edwards
You Belong To Me - Jo Stafford
Indian Love Call - Slim Whitman
Memories Are Made Of This - Dean Martin
Five Minutes More - Tex Beneke
Give Me More More More of Your Kisses - Lefty Frizzell
Wish You Were Here - Eddie Fisher
Book Of Love - Monotones
I'm A Little Mixed Up - Betty James
Tears on My Pillow - Little Anthony and the Imperials
Love Letters - Ketty Lester
Summer Place - Percy Faith

The tape is old now and very, very played. I am scared to listen to it because I don't want it to break. One day, I'll transfer it off the cassette and onto my laptop. Is there a USB cassette deck on the market yet?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Ella and Her Fellas

I needed an Ella fix this morning. About halfway through this, it gets really really nutty... a cappella scat and it just gets better. She is crazy brilliant.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Radio Show Thursday, November 22 9AM-Noon

Wendy Renee - Bar-B-Q
Cisco Houston - Beans, Bacon And Gravy
The Viscounts - Shortnin' Bread
Louis Prima & Keely Smith - Banana Split For My Baby
Frank Sinatra - The Coffee Song
Big Bill Schaeffer - I Hate Popcorn
Louis Jordan - Cole Slaw
Little Joe and the Thrillers - Peanuts
Little Eva - Let's Turkey Trot
Oliver Twist - Food, Glorious Food
The Ink Spots - Pork Chops and Gravy
Sweet Violet Boys - I Love My Fruit
Little Jimmy Dickens - Cornbread and Buttermilk
Lonnie Donegan - Ham N' Eggs
Roscoe Gordan - Cheese and Crackers

On Thanksgiving morning, I did a three-hour show on food. Nothing but food songs. I loved it. I searched hard to find songs just about food. Not songs that mention food or songs about food-named dance styles. I wanted to hear folks singing about food or eating. Chomp. Chomp.

I made two exceptions to this rule, due to the fact that I rediscovered how much I love doo wop while researching this show. One of these exceptions was "Peanuts" by Little Joe and the Thrillers, which I played at full volume ten times before leaving for work on Wednesday. I was dancing hard in the kitchen until I realized that I was late for my 8am meeting.

The other exception to my food rule was Little Eva's "Let's Turkey Trot" which is about dancing. But I thought that this song is just brilliant. Instead of the backing vocalists singing "doo wop diddy diddy" as you might expect in a standard doo wop tune, they were singing "gobble gobble diddy diddy." How cool is that!?!?! So I just had to play it for Thanksgiving.

I discovered lots of new-to-me food songs from folks I know like Little Jimmy Dickens, Louis Jordan, the Sons of the Pioneers and Anita O'Day. And then there were songs from folks I had never heard of like the Sweet Violet Boys, the Thrones, and Bradley Kincaid.

But I think my favorite was the Viscounts' take on "Shortnin' Bread." That song is so much fun. It's a high-energy rockabilly number that makes me want to put on a cowgirl outfit with lots and lots of fringe and rollerskate around my house and dance like a lunatic. Wheeeeeeee!!!!!!

You can see all seventy-two food songs here. Chow!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanks Mr. DJ!

I had the worst soul-sucking day at work. Dazed, I left work and headed to the Federal for a beer with Patty and Mary. But I felt like crawling into a hole somewhere and not coming out until spring. When I arrived at the Federal, I was surprised to hear them playing Neutral Milk Hotel over the speakers, but I am always pleasantly surprised by their music choices. While I sipped on my Duck Rabbit porter, Patty mentioned that she had listened to some Richard Hawley and liked it. And then it dawned on me that I will be in New York City seeing Richard Hawley one week from Saturday!

But I left the bar still feeling kinda foggy. It can be really difficult to shake off a mind-crushing day at work sometimes. Today was one of those days.

But then, at 11:55pm, my melacholy was lifted. Bill played "Tonight the Streets Are Ours" by Richard Hawley. I squealed at the top of my lungs and ran into the kitchen and turned up the volume and pogo-stick danced all over the kitchen. I knocked some of the kinder egg toys off the windowsill during my shrieking dance fest. I think that if I made a top ten list of all my favorite things in the world, one of them would be hearing my favorite music randomly on the radio.

I cannot wait to go to New York next weekend. I am so excited.

But right now, I am afraid to go to bed. I am scared that I am going to have dreams involving Yo Gabba Gabba! I think I might love that show. It's now being recorded daily on my DVR. It's a kids show with wacky life-sized, brightly-colored creatures and psychedelic cartoons and kids dancing and indie rock. I swear one of the songs they played was sung by Dominique Durand of Ivy. But I couldn't find her listed in the credits anywhere. If you haven't heard of this show, here's a sample:

(Thanks, Skip!)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Thanksgiving Radio Show

I won't be on the radio this Friday morning due to the holiday schedule, but I will be on Thursday from 9am to noon eastern standard time. I just got the motherload of crazy old food songs all of which I hope to play on Thursday. I even have some new hot dogs songs!!! Heaven. And wouldn't you love to hear Sammy Davis, Jr. singing "Plop Plop Fizz Fizz" or the Andrews Sisters' take on "One Meat Ball?" Well, I got 'em!

I just have to figure out how to get these songs off my computer onto a CD. I cannot seem to burn CDs, but I am hoping that I can burn through Itunes.

I hate my new computer.... it is so frustrating and depressing. This is part of the reason that my blog posts have been less frequent. If you are interested in a fancy new laptop running Vista, let me know. I'll give you a deal.

But tune into WXYC on Thursday. Food songs always improve my mood. Even if I don't get this new crop of food songs off my laptop, I still have lots to play. I wish I could find a song about bacon-wrapped hot dogs. Yummmmmm. My next mix CD will definitely be a collection of meat songs focusing on pork products.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Radio Show Friday, November 16 8-10AM

Astrud Gilberto - Beginnings
The Brothers Dimm - To Oblivion
Keren Ann - Between the Flatland and the Caspian Sea
Clare & the Reasons - Track 1
Arizona - Midday Midnight
The Silver Seas - The Country Life
Ikettes - Doo Ron Ron
The Coasters - Yakety Yak
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss - Gone, Gone, Gone
Loudon Wainwright III - Valley Morning
Clyde McPhatter - Come What May
Everly Brothers - Kansas City
Magic Apron - Tender Ghosts
The Bird and the Bee - How Deep Is Your Love

At the beginning of my show, a woman wandered into the station because she loved the song that I was playing, "Beginnings" by Astrud Gilberto. She looked about my age and was in a professorish-looking suit. She said, "This is a Chicago song. It is music of my generation." She then asked if I was studying djing in school. I can't decide if it is cool or depressing that this woman close to my age thought I was a 20-year old college student. She then asked, "What kind of music do you normally play on your radio show?" (As if I don't listen to Astrud Gilberto on a regular basis.)

I played mostly stuff out of the new CD bin and there were some great things in there this week! The Brothers Dimm, Clare & the Reasons, The Silver Seas, Arizona... I hadn't heard of any of these bands, but I loved what I heard. I really liked the Clare & the Reason's track.... great indie pop with her beautiful voice and nice harmonies.

My entire playlist can be found here.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Musical Horrorscope

Sammy Davis, Jr. - Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone
Robert Crumb & His Cheap Suit Serenaders - Sing Song Girl
Tom Waits - Come On Up To the House
Donovan - Riding In My Car
Billy Stewart - I Do Love You

I haven't gotten my musical horrorscope in awhile. I can't really read too much into this, except for maybe the first song.

I have my last board presentation tomorrow afternoon. I have only 6 more weeks at my current job! I am very excited about the change. At my new job, I'll have the joy to work around music, while still crunching numbers. It is so exciting and I am extremely happy. So, when that first song came up on the Ipod, I thought about my board presentation and telling the board goodbye and then jumping on the conference table and in my best Sammy Davis, Jr. voice, singing:

"You go your way, I'll go mine.
It's best that we do.
Here's a kiss - I hope that this
Brings lots of luck to you.

Makes no difference how I carry on.
Please don't talk about me when I'm gone."

In all likelihood, I won't do this, as our board is comprised of a bunch of really nice folks and the words of that song are a bit harsh. But that certainly would make my presentation less boring.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Radio Show Friday, November 9 8-10AM

Manu Chao - Tristeza Maleza
Lightnin' Wells - 12th Street Rag
Beirut - In the Mausoleum
Caetano Veloso - Irene
Two Loons for Tea - Monkey
Georgie James - Henry and Hanzy
A Girl Called Eddie - The Soundtrack of Your Life
The Drifters - Save The Last Dance For Me
Unrest - Make Out Club
Imperial Teen - Do It Better
Euros Child - Horse Riding
Helen Forrest - Bewitched
Jose Gonzalez - Time To Send Someone Away

It had been three weeks since I had been on the air. I felt a little rusty. I had no idea what to play and just wandered aimlessly through the stacks before my show trying to find things to play. Some Fridays I feel inspired and others I do not. This past Friday, I was not. All I could think about was how much I didn't want to go into work after my radio show was over.

Although I didn't have a very good idea of what I was going to play, it didn't really matter since there was so much good NEW stuff in the goodie bin: Manu Chao, Beirut, Two Loons for Tea, Georgie James, Imperial Teen, Euros Child, Jose Gonzalez... It was great.

I don't really know anything about Manu Chao. When I told Craven this a couple months ago, he said, "REALLY!?!? Gosh. Where have you been?" Maybe I'll go out and get his new record, La Radiolina, and try to figure out what I'm apparently missing.

On Friday, I played a track off Beirut's new one, The Flying Club Cup, that featured a ukulele. So, of course, I ran out yesterday to buy it. It is going to require some serious listening (i.e. not in the car) as it sounds dense and complex. It's a big oompa-oompa orchestral sound. I really like Zach Condon's voice, too.

Friday night, I went out to the General Store Cafe in Pittsboro with Mark to check out their food and to see Lightnin' Wells play. Good golly. What he can do with the guitar and the ukulele is mind-blowing. We were both impressed. The General Store Cafe is a weird place. There are chatckies on every surface, which is kinda distracting. Unfortunately, I wasn't too impressed with my Mayan burrito. But the music was wonderful. Lightnin' even played the "12th Street Rag" which is one of my favorites. It's a fast-paced poppy song that seems impossible (to me) to master. But Lightnin' rocks it. Not too long ago, I put that song on for an evening of wig-wearing, rollerskating and cake-baking. That was a great night.

I gotta get back to practicing my uke. It's been weeks. The past week, I've been still trying to get over this Maltese cold which has made me feel like doing absolutely nothing. I am better today and I know I should get some practicing in before I attempt to play with the Durham group on Wednesday. They're good enough that they can just choose a new song, print out the music and just start playing it. Heck, one guy can just play any song without any sheet music at all. It's intimidating.

My entire playlist can be found here.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Guess Who's Going to See Richard Hawley!

I AM!!!! ME!!! ME!!! ME!!! How about you?

Saturday, December 1st at the Bowery Ballroom in NYC. Woo hoo!!! His other US Tour dates are here.

Run. Don't walk. Get your tickets. Book your flights.

Oh! I almost forgot my Italian Richard Hawley story!! While Ross, Maggie, Chris and I were waiting on the ferry in Pozzallo to transport us to Malta, we killed time in a little cafe eating gelato, drinking espresso and playing scrabble. The cafe was playing the radio over the speakers.. Italian and American pop songs. And then to my surprise and excitement, I heard Richard Hawley! He was on the radio!!!! (On something other than my own radio show!) Unfortunately, the gelato man turned the station about halfway through "Tonight The Streets Are Ours." But with the energy I got from hearing that song on the radio, I creamed my scrabble opponents. Go Triple Word Score!!!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

My Favorite Things About My Vacation

Besides being away from work for two entire weeks, which is wonderful on a whole different level, these are the things that I loved most about my vacation:

1. Pupi. This is the Italian plural for puppets. We saw a puppet show in Siracusa which delighted me to no end. There were pupi for sale in every chatckie shop and tourist stand. In Taormina, we saw giant pupi. And I just love saying pupi. Pupi. Pupi. Pupi.

2. The seafood. It was the best. Robert, sent me a newly published book of slow food restaurants in Italy. We tried a couple of them and we scored. I had tuna tartare at a restaurant called Metro in Catania that blew us all away. I don't have a picture of that, but here are sea urchins from the market in Siracusa.

3. Mdina at Night. We arrived in Mdina, Malta, very very late and had a tiny bit of trouble finding our hotel at first. So, we ended up walking around Mdina, (The Silent City) in the middle of the night. It was gorgeous and quiet. This is the entrance to Mdina (a medieval fortressed city) as we saw it after being dropped off by our driver.

4. The Opera at the Teatro Massimo Bellini in Catania. I know bits and pieces about music here and there. But opera is a genre that I know little about. I think I have only seen two or three operas in my lifetime. Ross, Maggie and I saw Tosca at this opera house in Catania. There was a part in the opera that made me tear up a little. It was beautiful and sad. And the opera house was jaw-droppingly beautiful. And they served corn nuts.

5. Dwejra, Gozo. As I said in a previous post, the Mediterranean is so blue. It was thrilling to take a little boat ride out into the ocean and around the enormous rocks.

6. The Cardinal Visiting the Antique Car Show in Mdina. We got back to Mdina after doing some sightseeing and walked into the Cathedral Square to find hoards of people and rows of antique cars. We had so much fun looking at the cars. And then the cardinal arrived. Whee!

7. The Hike to Castello Saraceno in Taormina. I was sick at this point of our trip. And I am embarrassingly fearful of any sort of heights. The hike was steep with overlooks that made me dizzy. I wanted to give up about 1/5 of the way there. But Ross and Maggie encouranged me to continue. We hiked from way down in Taormina toward our destination which was the Castella Saraceno. Here is a shot taken during our hike. At this point we were 3/4 of the way there.

But dagnabbit! We were denied! The gate to Castello Saraceno was locked!

8. Mgarr Harbor in Gozo. It was just beautiful and we drank beer and ate malt balls as we overlooked the harbor.

And then we saw a horse swimming in it.

9. Mt. Etna. Hiking along snow-covered craters of an active volcano felt like walking on the moon. The lava rocks were extremely hot to the touch in some spots. It was so amazing up there.

10. St Paul's Cathedral in Mdina. I don't think I have ever seen anything quite like that. It was beautiful in there. There was different kinds of marble everywhere. Every surface was covered with some sort of decoration. It was just stunning.

11. Francesco, Our Taxi Driver. He was just supposed to take us from our hotel to the bus stop in Siracusa, but he ended up driving us all the way to our destination in Pozzallo. He gave us a tour of Noto on the way. He was such a nice man. I sat in the front seat of the taxi with him and he played music for me and I wiggled and danced in my seat in appreciation. That is Francesco in the lower right corner.

12. The Good Graffiti in Catania. I wasn't all that impressed with Catania. I thought it was smelly and dirty and there was graffiti everywhere. Most of it was really really lame. But then I discovered this one artist. I found a couple of his works in the city. I thought it was really amazing stuff. If you're going to do graffiti, do it right.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Sick Day or Vacation Day?

I decided before leaving for my vacation that I would take an extra day off after I returned from Sicily just to rest. Sometimes you really do need to rest after a vacation before jumping back into work. I haven't done much today, but hang out in my pajamas, try to pop my ears, catch up on my finances (vacation and computers are expensive!), cough up a lung or two and tackle laundry.

I would really like to get my hearing back sooner rather than later. Tonight, I am going to venture out to see a super dooper show at the Cradle: Josh Ritter, Maria Taylor and Eric Bachmann. I love all three of these folks and they are playing at the Cradle. I am too excited. And with my ears stopped up as they are, I won't need any ear plugs.

Oooo, the show starts at 8:30 and I am still in my pajamas. I should go shower. It's so exciting.

As soon as this show is over, my vacation will officially be over. That is so sad.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Where Am I?

So, after two weeks of vacation, I am home. It's very disorienting: I've got jet lag; I'm back in the states; it's cold here; I have mountains of work; I have mountains of laundry; I'm failing at getting my new computer set up; and I have a terrible head cold.

First of all, let me just say that Windows Vista SUCKS. I will spare you a lengthy rant about how much I despise Vista and just say that I am really disappointed in this dreadful operating system that NOTHING WORKS ON!!!! I have wasted a good portion of the evening trying to get my old programs and files on here and I swear, giving a bath to a dozen feral cats all at once is probably less painful and easier than this is.

My frustration is only exacerbated by one of the worst head colds ever. Or maybe what I've been suffering from is the flu. It wasn't much fun to be sick while climbing Mt. Etna as the change in atmospheric pressure made my head want to explode. But holy cow, Mt. Etna was gorgeous. It helped me temporarily forget about how sick I was.

I haven't posted all my vacation pictures yet on flickr, but you can view the photos of my travel companions, Ross and Maggie. Ross took that photo above. I have dozens just like it, because it seems impossible to take a bad picture on top of an active volcano covered in snow. Maybe I'll get to posting the rest of my vacation pictures tomorrow. I miss being on vacation: crazy cab drivers, Gozo, Siracusa, the opera, Mdina, and the seafood. Oh. My. God. The seafood in Sicily is amazing. The best I have ever eaten. Tuna Tartar. YUM!!!!

But my cold is killing me. I have been taking so many drugs over the past few days: antihistamines, decongestants, cough suppressants, and pain killers. It was absolutely terrible on the flight home. My ears still haven't popped since the plane took off from Catania yesterday morning. During the flight from Milan to Philly, the pressure in my ears was so intense and hurt so much, that I was writhing in my seat. It doesn't hurt as bad as it did on that flight, but it feels like I have in ear plugs. Today, my hearing was so bad that I almost got run over by a motorcycle because I couldn't hear it approaching. I called the 24-hour Blue Cross Blue Shield nurse hot line and was told that I should regain my hearing in a few weeks. FEW WEEKS!?!?

Anyway, I am currentlytrying to get this darn new computer setup because I have work to do. I thought I would be happy with a brand new computer, but it's been somewhat of a letdown. My printer doesn't work with it. My Ipod doesn't work with it. Maybe I should've bitten the bullet and gotten a Mac.

Returning from vacation always sucks.