Wednesday, January 30, 2008


This is a very interesting post. I'm creating it by talking into my cell phone I'm using a new service called jott--that's It allow you to simply talk into your cell phone and it will send an e-mail, update your Google calendar, start a blog entry, and several other really valuable functions. Give it a try--I think you might like it! listen

Powered by Jott, edited by me...

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Nice Weekend

I'm funny sometimes. Josh and I were hosting a friend couple for dinner and games at my house Friday night. I had it in my schedule on three separate days to clean the house. Too tired the first, and didn't feel like it the second. I ended up doing it Saturday - the day of.

Anyway, I made a great stew with seitan (I had vegehoovians in the house) and cleaned like a crazy man. A little window into my psyche: I cleaned all of the obvious stuff, and ended up doing things like thoroughly cleaning my nightstand, etc.

I put the stew on too late, so I had to throw it into the pressure cooker in two batches to get it done. It turned out perfectly - even I was impressed. A recipe of my own making. I also made cornbread for the Moosewood book. Yum. I just had time to cut my hair and shower after Josh arrived and putting the cornbread in the oven before our friends arrived.

Great dinner, wonderful games. We played Hoopla, which my sister Jane just gave us. Very fun! We also played, of course, Settlers of Catan, which Josh and I both like. After our friends left, I threw stuff in the dishwasher and set it to go. I love having a clean kitchen - it doesn't happen as often as I'd like.

Josh and I both slept poorly last night. He left a bit after 7 am to get home to work on a cabinet with his brother, and I slept in, then went to church. People were surprised to see me there without Josh - I think it was the second time I'd went there alone. Nice service and sermon on the bent reed and dim wick.

I came home, shoveled, and finished the kitchen. Lunch and a nap. Worked on the third bedroom - replacing the light switches with new white ones, and removing the casings from the doorway and closet.

Dinner and now futzing on the computer. With our first anniversary coming up, I went back and read the first couple weeks of Josh's and my email correspondence (anyone who knows me won't be surprised to know I save all email correspondence). So interesting to read. Even though a year isn't a very long time, a lot has developed between Josh and me in that time. It's nice to see where we started.

Off to do more work on the bedroom.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Cable? What Cable?

It occurred to me as I was driving home tonight that it's now been several months since I cancelled cable. I'm amazed to say that I don't miss it overall. There have been a few times when I've wanted to veg and been drawn to the TV. I don't even have it set up to watch channels over the air - I just don't care enough. A couple of those times I watched one of the DVDs I own. Often I read. Imagine that.

This is such a major success, as I grew up in a household where the TV was always the fourth wall. Indeed, if I'm in a bar or somewhere where a TV is playing I am completely distracted by it, as I have a strong conditioned response to watch it. TVs are just plain evil.

I thought when I cancelled that I'd really miss some of my favorite shows. At this point, they don't matter. If I'm at a friend's and would get a chance to watch, it would be fun, and it no longer has the weight that it used to.

Hm. I wonder if I should be one of those annoying people who puts a "Kill your television" bumper sticker on their car. God knows I'm annoying in lots of other ways, so I'll have to think about it.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Flooring is Done!

I'm very excited to announce that I completed installation of the last piece of hardwood flooring last night. The project has taken almost a year, mainly due to my just not getting to it.

The last two rows took about as long as any 10 other rows to install. It's always so futzy having to drill manually and nail with a hammer, instead of using the flooring nailer. The last piece of the penultimate row was particularly frustrating: The nails were bending, and I simply couldn't get the right angle at it to drive them home. I ended up having to split the piece with a hammer and chisel and do it again. Then on the final row my drill bit broke, and I almost set the house on fire after taking off my sweatshirt and accidentally dropped the sleeve on the halogen lamp I was using. I caught it after it started smoking.

While the flooring isn't perfect, I'm quite pleased. There are some gaps here and there, although they'll mostly close up during the warmer months.

Now on to a new adventure: painting and replacing the ugly trim I removed!

Trans-Siberian Orchestra - An Experience

The Tickets
Last week at work I learned that our accountant had two tickets for Trans-Siberian Orchestra (TSO) that he couldn't use, so they were going to be raffled off to staff, as is our custom. Understanding that my boyfriend, Josh, likes TSO, I wanted the tickets. As soon as Megan sent the email, I shot to her office and said, "I WANT THOSE TICKETS!" rather scaring her...

I realized I wanted to increase my chances, so I asked Steph, Jill & Peg to sign up for the tickets, even though they didn't want them, and I'd pay them for the tickets if they won. I found out later that Linda won them. Rats. I went to Linda's office to see if I could buy them, and she was on her way out - no time to talk. The next morning I went to talk to her, and she stated the only reason she signed up for the raffle was so that she could win them for Megan! I ran into her office playfully screaming that the whole thing was rigged! She promptly handed me an envelope. Huh? I opened it - the tickets were inside. "I thought I was free Saturday, but I'm not. So the tickets are yours." (!) Wow! Such a little epic (if that's not totally contradictory).

Before The Concert
I picked Josh up, late, after a frustrating late afternoon/early evening (see next post). We stopped at Jade Garden and got a quick bite to eat, then made our way to the Coliseum--I guess it's the Alliant Energy Center now... Getting in was surprisingly quick and easy, although I was intrigued that we had to pay $5 for tickets...

The tickets were pretty good! Section 223, seats G11 & 12. This is stage left on the first section above the floor. I could tell there was quite a bit of lighting hardware on the stage, and the center section of techs was quite sizable.

Two men and two women sat directly behind us. Josh and I found them highly amusing. A TSO version of Pachelbel's Canon in D was playing before the concert. One of the guys stated, "Hey, this is that wedding music!" Johann turns slowly in his grave...

One of the women responds, "No it's not. It's [something else]."

"Yes it is - they play this at weddings all the time."

I listened to this for a short while, then turned my head and added, "This is Pachelbel's Canon in D."

He: "Isn't this played a lot at weddings?"

"Yes, this is often played as the processional at weddings."

He: "See? Of course, it's played at nice weddings, not weddings like yours."

She: "Oh, you mean where the bride isn't pregnant?"

He: "Right."

Josh and I totally cracked up at this. These four--mostly the guys--talked throughout the concert. It didn't bother me much.

The Concert
The first "act" of the show was a Christmas Vignette of sorts. There was a black male narrating the story of an angel who came down to Earth on a Christmas Eve to find something for God or some such. Between narrations TSO played songs that took themes from popular and classic Christmas Carols.

To be honest, I was pretty turned off during much of this part of the show. The orchestral players (Madison Strings!) could not be heard at all the vast majority of the time. The TSO rockers lacked musicality in my estimation. Lots of light and sound. However, the thing that turned me off the most was the self-aggrandizing nature of the performance: pregnant pauses before 'codas,' etc. I'd rather see and hear someone make great music rather than witness the cult of personality.

However, I did enjoy one of the pieces in this section: it was a take-off on Good King Wenceslas. Scout (black male, bald) sang this song, and finally there was some musicality! I also enjoyed the guitars in this song, doing what guitars do best: a bluesy back-and-forth.

At the end of this 'act' most everyone gave them a standing ovation. I remained seated, as did Josh. Call me a snob; I guess I deserve it. However, if you're going to call yourself an orchestra, and even have orchestral instruments, I'm going to demand a higher level of musical quality.

The second half of the performance was more enjoyable. They did more fun pieces, even if they continued to rip a few classical pieces to shreds. At one point the guitar and violin (rock violin) were doing Flight of the Bumblebee, but they weren't playing the melody correctly! The end of the phrase of the main theme was missing - they just repeated the first part again. Uck. And at one point a young woman (no idea who - there were so many young blonds who could tell the difference?) was singing some pretty high notes. Badly. Flat. Uck. Boy, I thought, if someone taught her how to sing, she'd be pretty good.

But I said it was more enjoyable, so enough with the criticism. The light show is amazing - they probably use enough electricity to run a small city for a year. And the flame and pyrotechnics were fun as well. And the string master's wife plays piano - and she totally rocks. Julliard trained. The highlight of the entire evening for me was a song called Wishlist, where she and a younger male keyboardist were doing some dueling. She is a truly talented musician.

At certain points there was so much light I literally had to close my eyes. The light displays were also very cool. And as to simply having a wall of sound, that they did. The numbers that they obviously love doing were fun to listen to.

Josh and I walked out into the hallway to exit. We were comparing notes. I was looking for the words to describe what I thought, and was just about to say them, when Josh stated my exact words: "white trash classical music." I was stunned! I wished that they had given out (instead of selling) programs so that folks could know the pieces that inspired the concert. It could be such a great way to get people interested in classical music. Perhaps, since many of these folks are fans, they already have this opportunity - I don't know if on their albums they make the source pieces clear.

All in all it was a fun evening. Would I pay to see them again? No. Would I go see them if I got another pair of free tickets? Maybe. Am I too much of a snob? Probably. You tell me. Leave a comment.