Friday, October 29, 2010

iPod Peek

It's been a little bit of a mellow week, except for the baseball excitement of course, but there always is room for musical happiness.  I'm a big, fat music fan, in case you hadn't yet noticed, and I get an uninterrupted 40 to 60 minutes of musical joy every morning through my daily exercise habit.  Here is a sampling of some of the songs that propelled my heart rate this week.  It's a fun group, if you ask me. First, I was charmed, as I usually am, by the beloved Matthew Sweet.  Matthew Sweet is nothing short of genius, and I'm so happy I picked up his Sunshine Lies CD at Canterbury Records in Pasadena this summer.

Some songs I can listen to over and over again, and often do, like Jackie DeShannon's "Breakaway." Admittedly the lyrics of that song are a bit horrifying, but it's still a lot of fun.  And I change the words of the last verse in my head to give the song's "narrator" better self esteem.

The Essex Green's "Rue de Lis" is a gem I discovered on iTunes.  I stumble upon the best stuff there.

Sometimes an old favorite can be a perfect exercise tune, even if it's a little down tempo, like "You're All I Need To Get By" by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell.  What a gem.  And "Mr. Brightside" by the Killers is one of the best jogging songs ever.  Plus, it's really fun to sing.

Then there are the Bangles. It's funny, I pretty much hate all the Bangles' big hits, but I still consider them to be one of my favorite bands.  You can credit my love of their 1982 self-titled EP on IRS records.  Any day I hear a song from that record is a good day.

Frankly, it's a wonder I ever suffer from bad moods, given that I start my days with music and an endorphin jolt.  I do manage to be crabby on occasion, but I really think my morning routine helps to keep that in check.  I should write a self help book all about happiness through cardio and the hit parade.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Music and Baseball

I will assume you know that the San Francisco Giants are in the World Series this year.  Don't bother telling me if you were not aware of this fact.  You may also know that this season pretty much has been torture for Giants fans.  The team started strong, then began to falter, and later found themselves in contention to pass the San Diego Padres and win the National League West division title.  Nothing has been easy for the Giants or their fans this year, and the team clinched the division on the very last day of the season.

The last day.

Things got better, though.  The Giants bested the Atlanta Braves in the first round of the playoffs but then had to face the Philadelphia Phillies.  The Phillies would be a challenge, to say the least.  However, the Giants held their own and were up three games to one in the best of seven National League Championship Series as of last Thursday, when the two teams played at AT&T Park here in the City by the Bay.

Well, the Giants lost that game, and the series traveled back to Philadelphia for game six on Saturday.

I've been watching all the games, but I also have a life to lead.  So on Saturday, my Sober Nixon bandmates and I decided to kill two birds with one stone.  We transformed my living room into a make-shift studio to record some songs while we watched the game on my television.  The sound was on mute, of course.  Recording always takes a long time, but it takes even longer when you repeatedly stop to watch an at-bat or the end of an inning.  Given our set-up, I couldn't actually see the television while we were recording, but Jackie and Ho, Sober Nixon's guitarist and bass player, could.  It was almost as entertaining to watch Jackie's eyes get really huge when something dramatic would happen in the game (like the exchange of words between Jonathan Sanchez and Chase Utley that cleared the benches and resulted in a near-brawl) while she was trying to play.

When all was said and done, we managed to lay down four songs.  Plus, the Giants beat the Phillies and won the National League Pennant!  I don't know about you, but I would call that a very productive Saturday.  And that brings us to the World Series.

Aside from enjoying music and baseball this Autumn, other things have been going very well.  I'm skipping Halloween for all intents and purposes this year because, frankly, I hate it, but I will be going to a couple of live music shows this weekend.  Then I'm planning mini-vacations to Los Angeles and Las Vegas in November, and of course December will bring Christmas and that other major winter holiday: my birthday.  I'm thinking of a double punch birthday party this year with karaoke the night before and after-work cocktails on the evening that marks the anniversary of my birth.

Let's not get ahead of ourselves, though.  We still have to see the Giants through this World Series.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

So Much To Say...

.... and so little time to say it.  I fear I must be fast today, dear readers, as I soon have to depart for my voice class.  However, it was high time for an update, so here's a quickie.

This past weekend was just delightful.  First of all, I spent nine hours in a bar on Saturday.  That may sound a tad dysfunctional, but I rarely do such a thing, and every once in a while, it's giddy good fun.  I'm friends with the gentlemen who own Tony Nik's in North Beach, and they held the bar's ten year anniversary party on Saturday.  So I joined a few dozen or so of their other friends for champagne, snacks, music and even the Giants game.  It's highly unlikely I'll be spending nine hours in a bar again anytime soon, so I think it was okay to indulge this weekend.

After a Saturday like that, I was a little tired on Sunday, to say the least.  I did, however, have enough energy to watch the Mad Men season finale, of course.  The fact that I have to wait months for the fifth season rendezvous with my TV boyfriend Don Draper should be a crime, but oh, well.  TV boyfriends probably would become annoying if they hung around too much.

Monday was the day things really got good.  Yes, Monday typically is the start of the work week, but I made it an extra weekend day this week, and I took that day to luxuriate at the spa.  I used to spend a pretty decent amount of time at spas, but recently, I've gotten out of the habit.  A spa habit is not one you want to break, so I was more than happy to relapse.  After three hours at the spa in the afternoon, I spent Monday evening singing songs.  Can you imagine a more perfect day?  I can't.

I think I should resolve to make everyday a spa day.  In my head, at least.

Friday, October 15, 2010

School Days

Please forgive the quality of this photo; it was taken with my cell phone.  However, even though it is a bit dim and grainy, I imagine you nonetheless can make out seven smiling, happy people in the shot, including me.  This was taken at Perbacco in downtown San Francisco, and we were there for the after party that followed an alumni reception thrown by my high school.

Yes, I went to high school in suburban Los Angeles, not the Bay Area, but allow me to explain.  When you attend private school, as I did, said school tends to keep you on a short leash, even after you graduate.  Luckily for me, I loved high school, so I don't mind.  Wait.  I suppose I should say that I remember loving high school.  I'd be willing to bet that the teen angst, insecurity and fact that I weighed about 600 pounds (okay, that's an exaggeration) provided for plenty of unhappy moments at the time, but whatever.  That was then, this is now, and when Polytechnic School summons me for an alumni reception, I go.

This latest reception was on Wednesday night, and like the one before it in February, some of us alums were not done reminiscing when the lights on the official event went out.  So we took our party elsewhere and kept things going.  It's amazing how about 20-25 years changes your perspective and allows you get along so delightfully with your fellow graduates.  Of course, I consider myself friends with the people I tend to "after-party" with, but still, I think the wisdom of age helps.

That, or a lot of wine and cocktails.  Regardless, we always have fun and think fondly of high school as the good time it shall forever remain in our adult memories.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Worth A Thousand Words

Sometimes when I'm feeling a little bit crabby (like I must admit I am today), it just takes something small to change my mood.  Music works most often, but other things can be effective, as well.  Like, say, a photograph.  I'm thinking this one should do the trick.  Forgive me if I spend countless hours today staring at it.

There's also a lot of stuff on the horizon this week that should put a smile on my face: Frances' birthday happy hour, the Tony Nik's anniversary party, The Giants taking on the Phillies in the NLCS and my next voice lesson.  However, if those things fail, I always have the magical power of Don.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Songs, Poetry and Baseball

Well, this weekend certainly was quite lovely. It began with a baseball disappointment but ended with a baseball triumph and had a few songs and some poetry sandwiched in between.

Allow me to explain.  Not only is baseball one of precisely two sports I actually like, but I consider myself an honest to goodness fan.  So the fact that the San Francisco Giants are in the playoffs for the first time since 2003 is big news in my world.  On Friday night, I joined Nina and Onkar at their gorgeous Pacific Heights pad along with Joel, Rico, Heidi and Zeeshan to watch game two of the Giants playoff series against the Braves.  The Giants were already up one game to nothing, and they lead most of game two by four runs.  Most of game two, that is.  I won't say we weren't all a little dismayed to watch our boys in orange and black lose to the Braves in extra innings, but things go that way sometimes.  I shook off the game and took myself home after it was all over.

Yesterday was a perfect Saturday.  The weather was warm, the neighborhood lively, and I got to do one of the things I love most: sing songs.  I performed a few numbers for literary magazine Caveat Lector's contribution to the Litquake Litcrawl.  Litcrawl is the culmination of Litquake, and it involves dozens of readings around the City over just a few hours.  I opened the Caveat Lector program with three tunes before their poetry readings began.  It actually made little to no sense that I was involved.  I don't write songs, and I don't imagine Marshall Crenshaw, Matthew Sweet, or Nick Lowe (whose music I borrowed) have ever contributed anything to the magazine.  I certainly haven't.  However, Caveat Lector's editor likes my voice, so there I was, crooning a few tunes penned and made famous by others.

Possibly the best part of my Litquake performance was that it was at Mission Pie.  Mission Pie!  So I was able to treat myself to a slice of the best banana cream pie in town, as well as sing.  I could live on that banana cream.

Today was another perfect day.  I went to Tony Nik's in North Beach for the Columbus Day parade and festival.  I have to admit that I pretty much ignored the parade, but I did sip mimosas, chat with friends and watch the Giants take on the Braves in game three of their series.  And this time the Giants won!  The Braves threatened in the 8th, but we prevailed, and now we are up two games to one in the series.  Because we're awesome that way.  Oh, yeah, and because the Braves suck.  (Did I mention I really am a baseball fan?)

I'm not sure having such a delightful weekend bodes well for the week ahead.  How can it compare, after all?  I never back down from a challenge, though, so I will try to match at least the fun level of this weekend.  I'll keep you posted on how that works out for me.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

John, Paul, George, Ringo and Me

If you're a regular reader of this little chronicle, you know that one of my very favorite things to do is sing.  What you may not know is that one of my very favorite singing events is the monthly Beatles Sing Along, or Beatles karaoke, if you will.  This is no normal karaoke event.  For one thing the accompaniment is live (technically making it something other than karaoke, really).  Also, the people who go tend to be super passionate Beatles fans, which is always fun.  So for two hours on the first Monday of the month, the Beatles get the piano bar treatment.

It is so much fun.

This month the Beatles Sing Along was not very crowded, so we all got to sing a lot.  With glass of wine in hand, I warbled my way through "Eight Days A Week," "For No One" and "Eleanor Rigby."  Over the last eleven months, I've also tried my hand (or voice, as the case may be) at "In My Life," "Dear Prudence," "I've Just Seen A Face," "I Will," "Hold Me Tight," "Here Comes the Sun," "Got To Get You Into My Life" and "Let It Be."  As an added bonus, I got the nicest compliment this time around.  A woman who had come for the first time last month and returned on Monday told me not only that I was one of the better singers, but that both my singing and stage presence have a very sweet quality.

That would be a lovely compliment no matter what, but since I'm not exactly sweet, I appreciate the sentiment even more.  I'm a very nice person, as well as being kind, loving and compassionate, but sweet?  I'm not so sure.  Apparently, however, my singing takes care of that for me.

And I imagine the Beatles songwriting helps a bit.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Nick, Elvis and A Dead Brilliant Weekend

My rock and roll boyfriend, Nick Lowe, came to San Francisco to visit me this weekend.  Well, me and a few hundred others, I suppose.  Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello did a charity show at the Great American Music Hall on Friday night where they sang each other's songs, and it was, in a word, amazing.  I've always liked Nick Lowe, but I became a huge fan and developed a gargantuan music crush on him when I saw him at the Fillmore about two and a half years ago.  And I haven't looked back since.

The show this weekend was brilliant, as well.  Nick was phenomenal, of course, and that Elvis guy is no slouch either.

Starting my weekend with a show like that probably was enough to keep me happy for months, but the rest of the weekend also was fun.  I spent a relaxing Saturday running errands and getting stuff done before heading to the movie house down the street from my apartment in the late afternoon to see The Social Network.  I am very lazy about movies and rarely see them in the theatre, but I'd say this film was worth it.  I'm not sure about all that Oscar buzz it's said to be generating, but it was entertaining and well acted.  After the film, I scooted to Tony Nik's to meet my friends Kurt and Janelle for a cocktail or two.  After Kurt left, Janelle and I got hit on by some fairly young and very inebriated gentlemen, but that's okay.  They were harmless.  Plus, what else would two ladies expect in a bar on a Saturday night?

Yesterday afternoon I had my first voice lesson in about a month, and it went swimmingly.  My teacher has moved his lessons to a new, fancy studio with fancy microphones.  Singing into a mic makes a big difference, I learned yesterday.  Especially if it's a high quality microphone in a fancy studio, and my teacher and I are wearing headphones.  If I can incorporate everything I'm being taught and put it to use, there may be a "real" singer within me yet.

As my voice lesson was ending, the Giants had the courtesy to beat the Padres and win National League West Division title.  Now on to the playoffs.  And finally, I ended Sunday by cocktailing and gossiping about boys with my friend Christine and catching the latest episode of Mad Men before bed.

Every weekend should be like this.  Heck, everyday should be like this.