Life, a Miscellany

These last two weeks, I’ve lacked inspiration and I’ve had little time to do much besides getting the new Starrynight website ready to go live. You can take a peek at the test site here. I still have a lot of content to move but I don’t anticipate the style and navigation to change drastically. Unless of course, some tells me that hate so-and-so and that I need to change it or else they won’t love me anymore (Tim, I tweaked the orange color–hopefully, it’s less painful now). I’ve had fun with this redesign. I even got brave and played with a little php. I have no idea what I’m doing but my changes didn’t seem to break anything. So, success?

I’ve listened to about three-quarters of Northanger Abbey. It’s… different. I feel absolutely nothing for any of the characters. I know Austen is writing satirically but I’m not a big fan of the genre that is being mocked to begin with. Austen is not being nearly as ruthless as I’d like. I want horrible things to happen to Catherine Morland. I’m probably not meant to feel that way about the heroine. She’s just so damn clueless and she keeps making the same mistake over and over. Every character in this book could die and I’d clap and cheer. They’re all too two-dimensional–even for satire. All of you. Die.

In other news, The Cavaliers just announced their 2010 program, or parts of it, at any rate. Interesting concept. I immediately thought of It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World but that film has nutty, vaguely carnivalesque theme music, which judging from the show logo is probably not what The Cavies are going for. In any case, I look forward to June!

In OTHER other news, my microwave may not be malfunctioning after all. Russ has used it a few times with absolutely no problems. He is convinced that there were small bits of metal in the green beans I was reheating. Oh, I feel much better now that I know the microwave won’t EXPLODE; however, there was METAL in my GREEN BEANS. Russell could not understand why I would not be consoled on this matter.

And So It Was

I feel somewhat obliged to make a New Year’s Day post to welcome in 2010. To me, New Year’s is a scammy, half-assed sort of holiday, on the order of Groundhog Day. My new year is on May 10th, so  reflection, introspection and hopes for a new year generally fall on the day in which I am a year older. But the world didn’t ask me, they asked the Gregorian calendar, so the Twitter trending topics aren’t #moreofsame or #anotherday, they are #in2010 and #10yearsago. Incidentally, I couldn’t for the life of me remember what I was doing in December 31st, 1999. I would have just completed my first semester at Rutgers and I was working two jobs (Domino’s and at Honors College courtesy of the FWSP). I probably spent New Year’s Eve with friends and family but I have no recollection of the details. Much of my life is like that. Stupid memory! Well, if nothing else, in 10 years time, when Twitter and Facebook have merged, and Facetwitbook is acquired by Google, and Googfacetwitbook sends a query directly to my brain asking what I did in 2009, I will have THIS blog post to reference.

I’ve already written a quasi-year in review post in the beginning of November. At the end of November, Tim and I started going to the gym in place of walking three times a week. I’ve managed to work in a fourth day for all but one of the weeks since we started. Exercising regularly combined with tracking and limiting calories has equated to me losing about two pounds a week (this last week being a wash because I wanted to moderately enjoy Christmas goodies and not obsess about what the scale says). I have a lot more energy AND I’ve only had 20 ounces of soda in the last five weeks. I truly wasn’t sure I could do without caffeine completely. Bananas are now my brain food for the morning.

By way of summary, here is what else happened in 2009:

  • Loss. Tigger, Russ’s Uncle Dennis, Mrs. Simon; all are missed.
  • I read some stuff. I’m not sure that I could even approximate the stats regarding what I’ve read this year but I do know that I made more time for reading than I did in 2008. My three favorites were: Cheating at Canasta by William Trevor, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey.
  • I wrote a little. I blogged every day in April (and I just may be crazy enough to do it again in 2010); tried a writing experiment in November.
  • I worked. And got a promotion!
  • Got around a bit. I traveled farther West than ever before! St. Louis is one cool town. Another cool town I visited for the first time in 2009: Columbus.
  • Saw some shows. Theatre, music and in between: Spring Awakening, Wicked, Fantastics, An Ideal Husband, Inherit the Wind, A Night of Lewis Carroll, Cirque du Solei, Duck Soup, Nevermore, Selections from the Spoon River Anthology (Starrynight Productions), Dracula, DCI, Great Big Sea w/Scythian, Joshua Bell w/Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, more that I’m probably forgetting…
  • Saw some family. But never enough! Miss them.

I will save predictions and goals for 2010 for another post. I notice that I didn’t do a prospective post until Jan 2nd of 2009. Better keep to tradition.

I Mean to imeem

I finally decided to give imeem a shot. It’s a social networking site, much like Facebook, for the extreme media lover. It allows you to upload, share and discover music, video, and photos, with the expected arsenal of social networking tools (friending, groups, embedding, etc.). A free imeem account allows you to upload your own content (within certain limits) for you to be able to access from anywhere, though you might want to make sure you legally own the content that you upload or have a copyright or CC statement if it is content you have created. imeem also gives the option to create artist or production company accounts.

imeem Mobile allows users to access their content from their mobile phone. Just last week imeem announced the release of imeem Mobile for iPhone and iPod Touch. The app is free but I haven’t tested it yet. The reviews are mixed and one drawback for me is that there is no way to access your playlists. However, if you’ve uploaded your own music, you can access those files.

imeem seems to play nice with other networking sites. You may embed or share media from imeem on your Myspace, Facebook or blog (WordPress, LJ, Blogger, and others). There is also an easy way to Tweet a song or playlist. twt.fm also allows you to link to imeem songs for easy sharing on Twitter.

What I like most is being able to create playlists of stuff people have uploaded and stream it while I’m at work. imeem may also prove handy for testing out albums or tracks I want to buy.

My imeem profile.

An alternative I bumped into is SoundCloud, which allows you to send and receive music. It’ll be interesting to see how long it is before they’re slapped with a lawsuit, as on the surface, they don’t seem as inclined to work with record companies and artists (imeem will reduce an album to 30 second clips at the request of an artist or label). On the other hand, I have NOT researched SoundCloud thoroughly. Maybe they do make provisions for rights holders.

Currently listening: Michael Giacchino’s score for Star Trek.

Stop and Smell the Flowers

If the announcement that I will be starting a new position didn’t tip you off, you might be able to deduce as much from my sudden rash of library-related posts. Over the last two weeks, my brain has been switched into overdrive. This is all well and good but I’m beginning to think that maybe these library-related posts belong somewhere else. I am really, REALLY hesitant to ask Tim to do yet ANOTHER WP install. I know that he says it’s easy but I am aware that I’m eating up resources. On the other hand, I’m afraid that I’m boring people with shop talk. Puddles was always meant to be a personal blog. I’ll think on this a bit more. In the meantime, even though I have tons of libraries thoughts at this very moment, I’m holding off and providing you, dear reader, with something truer to Puddles posts of past (hows THAT for alliteration).

First, the weather was AMAZING today. So beautiful. I decided that the hibiscus I recently bought could tolerate the 15 minute walk to the bus so I schlepped it into work. The hibiscus is currently in a 6″ pot and is quite bushy. The roots may be a bit compacted though, as the plant looks like it is pushing itself out of the pot a little. I have a 10″ (maybe 12″?) pot to transfer it to. In addition, I bought a pair of still-small bougainvillea on Monday at May’s Greenhouse. Tim was very nice to humor me for this excursion. For a moment, I could see that he was very tempted to walk out of there with a $100+ bonsai : ). I will have to snap some pictures. Both plants are blooming (the hibiscus is red, the bougainvillea is orange) and I *think* the artificial light at my desk will suit them. If not, I’m fairly certain they will like my new south-facing window desk, which I’ll probably move into next week.

In other news, Russell just started rehearsals on Duck Soup for the Merry MAC Players of Martinsville. I often blame Russell for evening distractions that prevent me from getting things done. Even though it’s really not his fault. Well, now I don’t have that excuse. I should look at budgeting my evenings better.

Human? Or…

My day was uber-relaxed. After a morning walk with Tim, I got back to the apartment and, in spite of my best efforts to the contrary, I ended up taking a mid-morning nap on the couch. I actually felt better afterward though, unlike my usual experience of waking up feeling like a zombie.

I finished reading Ink Exchange, which I didn’t enjoy as much as Wicked Lovely but was satisfied with the ending. I can’t elaborate though, I’d hate to give anything away. I was compelled by Ani and her background. Perhaps we’ll learn a bit more about her in Fragile Eternity, which comes out this week. Hopefully, the public library gets it cataloged quickly. I’m first on hold.

Russell and I watched what was available of Being Human today. This BBC series follows the adventures of a werewolf, a vampire and a ghost who share a rented house and attempt to blend in and be, well, human. The characters are likable, their back-stories are interesting but it’s the show’s study of humanity that kept me watching. It may not be for everyone but it may be worth a try.

This is yet another brief and boring post I’m afraid. Frankly, reading up on TEI is sounding more interesting than writing more about my day.

McGee Movie Night

Russell and I watched Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner this evening. In trying to decide what to watch, Russell read off cast lists and DVD captions to entice me. He didn’t have to go much further than “Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier and Katharine Hepburn” for me to say, “Oh, oh, that one!” I was NOT disappointed. The movie is a bit dated now but it is still a good watch.

Over all, I liked the writing but I had a few problems with the script. One was the depiction of a seemingly unified front of progressive young people versus the old folks and their tired prejudices. Although the script admits that the future for an inter-racial couple will be hard, in every scene that features young people, everyone is getting along famously, regardless of color. The script would have you believe that young people don’t have the slightest notion of race. This is not true of 2009, well enough 1967. However, the dialogue was solid and I had no idea how it was going to turn out.

I really enjoyed the performances. This was Tracy’s last film, he died the same year. Nonetheless, he was nothing less than the powerhouse I expected him to be. Hepburn had a few well-written scenes in which to shine. I especially liked a certain scene in which she deals with an employee of hers.  I really liked the portrayal of Monsignor Ryan (Cecil Kellaway). Poitier never quite did what I expected him to with the role (and that was a good thing!). I was amused by what he was doing with his sandwich when he was sitting on the terrace waiting for his bride-to-be’s father to come home.

The film won two Oscars (Best Actress, Katharine Hepburn and Best Writing) and was nominated for eight others (including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and Actress). Hepburn, Tracy and Poitier were already Oscar winners before working on this film.

Don’t Let Friends Blog Tired

Ugh, put this off again. OK, focus Jen.

Spouse Creature and I went out to partake of a carb-filled dinner this evening. We came back and I decided to take a forty minute walk in the last of the sunlight. By the time I got back from my walk, I was tired and the laundry was finally done. Now, it is 10:30 and I’m really, REALLY ready for bed. And yet still, I blog for you, oh gentle readers!

I’m more than halfway through Ink Exchange and I’m enjoying it. Leslie still isn’t my favorite character in the Wicked Lovely ‘Verse but she’s growing on me. The pacing in this book is a bit more stop-and-go than it was in Wicked Lovely but not to a fault.

And I’m going to change subjects suddenly because it’s that kind of night.

I’ve been wanting to play Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, of all things. I have Twlight Princess. For whatever reason, I just feel like goind old school. Plus the music rocks.

OK. I’m out. Brain off now. Must remember to blog early in the day tomorrow. I can’t hide how dull I truly am if I’m punchy.

Looking forward to some amazing weather this weekend.

Down on the Farm

I found myself wondering about the Lassie TV series (1954-1973) today. It’s been ages since I’ve seen the re-runs but what I remember most was that Mrs. Martin dressed rather smartly for a farmer’s wife and that the telephone operator’s name was Jenny. Here are a few more disorganized thoughts on the show.

I did a little sleuthing on IMDB and Wikipedia and began to remember that, aside from the show being a bastion of 50s and 60s family values, the show sought to promote environmental and conservation concerns as well as the importance of tolerance. I think Lassie did more than this though. I couldn’t find information regarding precisely where the show was set but it’s safe to assume that it was set in the rural, agrarian American West. This demographic is idealized, a glorification of the family, the community, and all things good and wholesome. It’s Leave it to Beaver (1957-1963) on the farm. Just as suburban living is glorified in Beaver, with all of the Cleaver’s new, shiny appliances of modern living, rural living is legitimized, with it’s wide open spaces and a sense of nostalgia for old frontier living.

Life on the farm isn’t as glamorous as life in the ‘burbs. The sets aren’t flashy but they are functional and homey. The series celebrates enterprising people who are frugal with their money. After all, the Martins are cleanly dressed (in fact, the clothing looks remarkably crisp for work on a farm) and their home has all of the basic amenities- my favorite is the telephone. In fact, telephone operator Jenny is a regular character on the show, often saving the day with her mad operator skilz. Clearly, 50s and 60s audiences tuning in every week were meant to grasp the importance of technology, in a time when this country was still working* to build a solid infrastructure.

I also found in my reading that the female leads, Jan Clayton (Ellen Miller) and June Lockhard (Ruth Martin) were the only actors singled out for Emmy nominations. One could argue that, while the dog stole the show, it was the good, level-headed, and nurturing wives and mothers who were the backbone of an otherwise male-dominated cast. I’m sure there is plenty written about portrayals of women in 50s and 60s television so I won’t delve into it here. Besides, I waited too late to work on this post and I’m running out of steam.

*Tangent: my grandfather once worked for Bell running telephone lines. As a kid, this concept stumped me because I grew up in a world where telephone poles lined streets everywhere. Surely EVERYONE had phone lines running into their homes and businesses.