Thursday, July 26, 2012

This Year's Model

I made a dumb comment the other day about the overflowing quantity of Elvis Costello songs on my iPod (I can't give you a count right now but it's seriously huge and I don't even have every album. I went nuts at some point and downloaded or imported every album I could get my hands on), and how I feel, sometimes, when an Elvis song comes around on "shuffle" that I don't even want to listen to him because there are so many dang songs they can't all be good.

I was stupid.

I think the thing to do, though, in order to not get overwhelmed is that I have to listen to every album as a whole, in order. Remember when Metallica or whoever it was got all pissed off at iTunes because they felt that selling individual songs was somehow ruining the listener's experience or devaluing the album's artistic merit?

(Do I have that right? I pay so little attention to Metallica that I could've gotten their complaints about iTunes wrong, and I don't care enough about it to look it up. Or maybe they were just complaining about illegal downloads, which of course they have a right to oppose. I oppose illegal downloads. You listen, you pay.)

Anyway, I always thought that was a bullshit way to approach the issue, because clearly they were just pissed off about the amount of money they thought they would be losing from selling one song for 99 cents instead of a whole album for $14.99 (or whatever), and it's my opinion that if I only want one song from their album, I have the right as a consumer to buy that one song. 99 cents is better than nothing, dummies.

The funny thing is, I don't do that. If I hear one song from a band and I like it enough to go seek it out on iTunes, the way MY brain works is, the rest of the album must hold some other gems, right? (I'm naive, I know, and it's why I have a little collection of unlistened to except for one time albums by bands like OK Go and Muse and the Cranberries and Artic Monkeys [I don't know what I was thinking with that one; I can only please temporary insanity]...) But I guess Metallica figures the rest of the world wants to spend their 99 cents (if they even want to spend that much) and never find out about some other song so they can just buy "Enter Sandman." Whatever. But listen up, because I actually own two Metallica albums ("And Justice for All" and "Metallica") even though I think they're idiots and not all that interesting (I'd rather listen to Corrosion of Conformity. I only have one of their albums, though I think Patrick has more. The album I have, "Corrosion of Conformity," is so good, and yes, every song there is terrific), yet I still purchased those records because I think, from a pop culture standpoint, they have some value.

Not much, but some.

So anyway, what the fuck does this have to do with Elvis Costello?

I just listened to "This Year's Model" from 1978 and while I guess for most people in the world, it goes without saying, that is a hell of an album. Each song stands on it's own just fine, but as a whole, it's a wave of goodness from beginning to end that made the middle of my day incredibly fine. "Incredibly fine" sounds like faint praise, but I mean, fine, as in "of superior quality, skill or appearance." Elvis doesn't skimp on the quality.

Now I've moved on to "My Aim is True" and Elvis is making the time consuming, dull task that I set myself to much more enjoyable. Loving it. I only wish I was driving somewhere, because in motion is the way I really love to listen to music.

(I have a similar problem with David Byrne's solo albums... I love the man, but dude: prolific! Slow it down, buddy!)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Today's songs

Patrick and Jules were watching TV when I left for work this morning at 6:06 a.m. (my new work schedule, 6:30 to 5, is working out perfectly. Traffic in the morning has been super light, and getting home around 5:45 most nights is so much better than 6:20), and one of the shows they watch is called "Fireman Sam." Patrick likes singing the theme song in a punk style. As I was walking out the door, I started singing Bauhaus' "Telegram Sam" and said, "I think that's what you're thinking of!"

Of course I had to listen to it in the car after that.

The rest of these songs fell in alphabetically.
  1. Telegram Sam, by Bauhaus (they started this journey!)
  2. Telepathy, by Lene Lovich (this song is so funny. I don't think she meant it to be, but what do I know? I've been having trouble with my sense of humor lately. "Trouble" as in, I don't get when people are messing with me - it's happened twice in a week! - and get my feelings hurt. Or maybe people just aren't as funny as they think they are. Could be either one, or possibly both.)
  3. The Telephone is Empty, by Love and Rockets (from Earth Sun Moon: a really great album. I might listen to the whole thing later)
  4. Telephone Line, by Electric Light Orchestra (makes me cry... what a dork)
  5. Tell 'em Boy!," by Mike Watt (I have no idea who's singing. Wikipedia is no help. I'll look it up later.)
  6. Ten Years Gone, by Led Zeppelin (this song took me right up into the parking lot; one of my all time favorite Zeppelin songs)
  7. Ten Years Gone, by Rockabye Baby! (cracks me up! If you don't know Rockabaye Baby!, and you have a kid, you should check them out. They do acoustic lullaby versions of real music, and it's pretty awesome. We have a whole bunch of them: Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Radiohead etc. JP likes them, too, but maybe because I always sing along. My only criticism is, sometimes they change the placement of the melody, or there's no obvious point at which it starts, so I'm listening to what I think is an 8 bar intro, waiting to start singing, and it turns out they've been in the melody section for 2 measures already.)
Now that I'm in the office, I'm continuing to listen from where I left off. I like the T section on my iPod. Note: I skipped some songs, so this is by no means representative of all the songs on my iPod! And, for some reason it synced my mom's music, so there's like, Dolly Parton and Jimmy Swaggert crap on there too. Obviously skipped!
  1. Tension, by Minutemen (just over a minute long: totally perfect in every way)
  2. Tentative Decisions, by Talking Heads (love the marching band beat)
  3. Terms of Psychic Warfare, by Husker Du (I let this one play twice. Totally reminds me of a Magnolia Thunderpussy song. Surprisingly pretty, and great lyrics)
  4. Territorial Pissings, by Nirvana (that off key opening drives me nuts! but once past it... awesome song)
  5. Testify, by Rage Against the Machine (better than coffee but I still drank mine)
  6. Thank You for Sending Me an Angel, by Talking Heads (Love!!!!)
  7. That's Entertainment, by the Jam (I wish I'd been more into the Jam as a kid. I love them now but this is perfect 80s teen soundtrack music)
  8. That's the Way, by Led Zeppelin (OK, this song is PERFECT. This is actually from my 80s teen soundtrack, for sure.)
  9. That Old Black Magic, by Keely Smith & Luis Prima (my brother bought this for JP. It's fun. And this is a great classic song. Keely rocks it.)
  10. That Was My Veil, by PJ Harvey and John Parrish (I was talking about yearning the other day... Polly Jean totally gets it)
  11. TheHollowEarth, by Thom Yorke (hate to admit it but I never listened to this before. I don't even know when I got this album! Glad I heard it now.)
  12. Thela Hun Ginjeet, by King Crimson (for some reason I only have a live version of this on my iPod, from their album "Absent Lovers" - needless to say, it's pretty damn perfect. By the way, "thela hun ginjeet is an anagram of "heat in the jungle." Bet you didn't know that! And these guys are such good musicians it's insane.)
  13. There's a Spy in the House of Love, by Animal Logic (Stewart Copeland's band; also I think he was married to the singer. Not exactly my favorite song... it's kind of corny. Sorry, Stew!!!)
  14. There's a Story in Your Voice, by Elvis Costello (with Lucinda Williams on vocals. I didn't think I would like this song... but I do. I'll be honest, I love Elvis but feel like THERE'S TOO MUCH MUSIC sometimes. How can anyone keep up?)
  15. There's a World, by Neil Young (this song is all science fiction-y to me. The harp, the timpani, the flute: what was he thinking?)
  16. There's Been an Accident, by Twilight Singers (Greg Dulli [from the Afghan Whigs]'s band. Really interesting song. I suggest you listen to it. It's almost but not quite got that feel of being in 8 that I love. I guess it's how the drummer is accenting the beat?)
  17. There's No Secrets This Year, by Silversun Pickups (fun, poppy, great beat, and I love when the guy sings too. The last few seconds are beautiful)
  18. There Ain't No Santa Claus, by Captain Beefheart (Shut up, Don!)
  19. There Goes My Gun, by Pixies (I wish I was this creative. Seriously. Geniuses.)
  20. There, There, by Radiohead, and Rockabye Baby!(my iPod battery needed to be charged at this point, so I switched over to my iPhone's music. I have a lot less to choose from. This is one of my favorite Radiohead songs. The Rockabye Baby! version is fun, too)
  21. This is Love, by PJ Harvey (again with the yearning, Polly Jean!!!!)
  22. This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody) by Talking Heads (I've said it before countless times: the best song ever)
  23. This World Over, by XTC (awesome 80s)
  24. Three is a Magic Number, by Blind Melon (Shannon Hoon and his bandmates do a fun, perfect version of this song. Oh, Shannon. Miss you.)
  25. Three Sisters, by the Veils (I love, love, love, the Veils!!!! That guy's voice is so rad. He's up there with Adrian Belew as one of my favorite singers)
  26. Tick, by Yeah Yeah Yeahs (I just got this album; I'm a few years behind. This is a sexy ass song.)
  27. The Tide That Left and Never Came Back, by the Veils (seriously, I can't recommend the Veils enough.)
  28. Tonight, by Lene Lovich (that's her playing the saxophone. She's a trip.)
  29. Too Real, by Meat Puppets (from one of my favorite albums. Every song is perfection.)
  30. True Love, by X (Ah, X. You would know about love, wouldn't you?)
  31. True Love Pt. 2, by X (Because once is never, ever enough.)
  32. Two Rivers, by Meat Puppets (see what I mean? Awesome song.)
And that wraps up the Ts. There's probably more on my iPod, which should be charged by now, but I am drowning in music now. My brain is totally full.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

No orifice necessary?

So, last Thursday, my education on sea slugs continued. I'm going to have to get a book, because there just isn't enough time before we play or between songs in flute choir for my friend Diane (the sea slug specialist) to give me the beginner's introduction to sea slugs lecture that I (without realizing it) really want.

Also, for the record: any errors in what I'm about to write are purely the result of my lack of understanding and/or ignorance. She's a scientist, and I'm confident that she relayed all this information to me accurately. If I screw up any facts it's because I'm not a good student. I tried to follow up on the things she mentioned briefly that really interested me by doing some quick Internet research, so again, any errors are purely my own fault (or the fault of the websites I consulted; all information from the Internet has a link for follow up if necessary).

Anyway, proving that I am forever immature, last week I asked her about the whole "violent mating" business that was mentioned on the website she sent me to  (; now, taking a second look, I'm not seeing that anymore. Hmmm. I wonder if it was removed because of something I said? I hope not. I think it's interesting, and not because I'm lech, I just think it's interesting).

This is what I learned:

The sea slugs she's studying are hermaphrodites. Unlike Scout Finch, who, after all, was what? Seven years old?, I happen to know what a hermaphrodite is. Here's my definition (then I'm going to look it up to make sure I got it right):

A hermaphrodite possesses both male and female sexual organs.

Maybe not scientifically complete but I think that's about it. It's not that complicated of a concept, even for me.

So, okay, no biggie, right? Sure, except these slugs (or some of them?) don't decide who will take which role by politely discussing it. When they're ready to go, they are ready to go, and they both want dominance. Their male sex organ, which, by the way, emerges from the right side of their heads, is more like a weapon, sort of, and they fight each other to figure out which one shall be the giver, and which one shall be the receiver. They just start poking each other. They don't have a target, either: they do it through the skin. Hence the title of today's post (did you really need a "hence" statement? No? sorry).

Here's a scientific explanation, from here:
Hypodermic insemination, in which sperm is injected through the partner's body surface, is also widespread, particularly among the Sacoglossa. Many species with hypodermic insemination have developed special penis armature, such as a sharp stylet. In some species, sperm is injected through the body surface directly into the receptive organs while in others injection can take place anywhere into the partner's body.
So, here are two words together that should never ever be together, at least not in my experience: "penis armature." Armature sounds... painful. No thanks. I'm not kinky like that.

2. Biology A protective covering, structure, or organ of an animal or a plant, such as teeth, claws, thorns, or the shell of a turtle.
Also, "sharp stylet" - another two words I would prefer to not have describing my partner's sex organ. I don't even need to turn to the dictionary - I can get quite a good mental image from the words themselves.

Finally, Diane explained to me that these slugs are pretty small - less than an inch. I looked at the beautiful photographs on the website she sent me to, and imagined these guys as big winged banana slugs (banana slugs can get to be half a foot long). I guess there are some sea slugs that are that big (and please God, may I never meet a slug that big, either on land or in the ocean), but those are not the ones she's studying. The ones she's studying are tiny, and in fact, one of the ways scientists like her find them is by using their sense of smell. I'm going to have to ask her about this some more, but she mentioned that when she goes up north to study them, she can smell them (and it's a pleasant smell; I read somewhere that some slugs smell like watermelon. Diane suggested that they smell "floral"). I want to find out more about this next. When I do, you can bet I'll be sharing it with you, too.

Like it or not.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Lyrics for you today...

More lyrical silliness. I'm listening to the Minutemen while working. Today's song is Disguises. Don't be jealous, go get your own.

The distance between black and white
Is much further than I would like
Until now I never noticed
That fascism has
Many disguises

Mollusks on Mars!

I emailed my friend the other day to let her know that I'd written about our slug conversation (here, and then again here; I'm a bit obsessed), and she gave me a little more information to share with you.

First, here's a link to the lab she works in at Cal State LA. It has lots of really cool photos of the beautiful sea slugs she works with. I think they're called sacoglossa slugs; they practice something called "kleptoplasty." That's a cool word, isn't it? Somehow this kleptoplasty makes them solar-powered, which I don't totally understand (thanks a lot, Wikipedia!) but seems really cool.

Actually, this makes a little sense to me (???):
The sacoglossans can utilise the chloroplasts of the algae on which they feed, which they keep alive for hours to months after their ingestion. They maintain the cells and metabolise the photosynthetic products; this process is termed kleptoplasty, and the sacoglossans are the only animals to employ it; some ciliates and foramanifera (protists) also employ the strategy. Wikipedia.
So they eat the algae and keep it ['s chlorplasts*] alive, which seems a little... brutal, but I guess it's "just" algae, right? Like... lettuce, I suppose? Do I have to read up on algae now? And that somehow makes them solar-powered. Also, these guys have teeth. Oh, and apparently they can turn the same algae stuff that they use for energy (do I understand that right?) into a toxin that they deploy against their enemies! I mean, come on! These guys are pretty smart. What if we could do that? I'll eat a little Greek yogurt for breakfast, and then later, when some bad guy is messing with me? Pow! There's some Greek yogurt for you, asshole!

(That website refers to their "violent mating habits", and that worries me a little. Perhaps more than the fact that they have teeth. The animal kingdom is freaky.)

In our follow up email conversation, she also used the probably very scientific term "terrestrial slug" to refer to the ones in my backyard (as opposed to the ones in the ocean), and that word got me thinking about... (of course, because at my heart I am a nerd) extra-terrestrial slugs. She told me that her advisor, who is a pretty big name in the sea slug world, was asked to try to identify the famous "mollusk on Mars."

Anyway, there you go. More than you ever wanted to know about slugs, maybe. Not me. I am sort of both attracted and repelled by the topic! It's much more fun to think about than I would've ever thought.

*Ah! Now I get it:

Chloroplasts capture light energy, store it in the energy storage molecules ATP and NADPH and use it in the process called photosynthesis to make organic molecules and free oxygen from carbon dioxide and water. Wikipedia.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Harry Bosch is coming to TV!!!!

I'm so excited! I just read a little article in the LA Times that Michael Connelley is teaming up with the guy who writes the TV show "The Wire" to bring his character Harry Bosch, my favorite LA detective, alive on my TV!

It's time to remind you that way back in 2008, I pictured Val Kilmer as Harry, and I'd like to state again that I think Val would be the perfect choice.

WAIT. I just realized that Harry's eyes are brown, and Val's eyes are blue (extremely blue, like, lost in your blue eyes blue, where would you like me to go and when blue). "I just realized" means I checked Wikipedia. Hmmm. Maybe I need to revise this, because Harry's brown eyes are apparently a big deal. It doesn't mean Val couldn't wear contacts or the fact of Harry's eyes could be changed, but it seems like an actual brown-eyed man might be a better choice? Why waste the blue eyes behind contacts?

(Can you tell I have a thing about blue eyes? It's 'cause mine are boring old brown, I think.)

If not Val, then who? Great, now I have to rethink this.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Random lyrics for you today

I know I blogged today already, but here I am, getting a bunch of work done while listening to my old friends, fIREHOSE. This song came around, and it's always been special to me.
Under the Influence of Meat Puppets, by fIREHOSE

The future holds a mystery
We talk but don't know
We hope but can't tell
We share but not all
The mystery holds fast
The future, scary
It eludes us though we try
To find meaning everywhere
We want to make plans
But to make another mistake
So difficult we care enough to try
So crazy so we sit and wonder
As a teen, which I was the first time I heard this song, the future was scary. Hey, you know what? Sometimes it still is.

A lot of times their lyrics aren't all that profound or sensical, and I know Patrick likes to make fun of Ed's delivery sometimes, but I like what they've done here. 


Last Thursday, I was talking to one of my friends from flute choir. She's going to be leaving us soon, moving on to earn an advanced degree in marine biology. She's been a member with the group for awhile and I'm glad that her final quarter with us is in the summer, which is a little looser and (dare I say it?) more fun than our usual, "we have a concert to put on in 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 weeks" quarters.

Don't get me wrong, I love concertizing ("have gig will practice!") and I love the challenge of it, but I also like sitting around in Patty's living room, sight reading new music or parts I've never played. We also get to talk a little more, and people tend to stick around afterwards to visit. It's nice.

This, however, is not a flute choir post. If it was, it would be over there on that blog.

My friend started telling me what she's been working on this summer.

I lack any kind of basic background in science, so my portrayal of our conversation should only make me look dumb. She definitely knows what she's talking about, I just lack the memory and scientific thinking necessary to talk about anything she said with authority.

That said, it was a fascinating conversation. Without giving too much away about her work (what do I know, this stuff might be secret), she told me that she's comparing specimens from various locations to determine if they share any genetic material. Or something like that. And then she told me how that was done (by computer, using slices that are turned into colors, which sounds pretty, and that statement right there is probably proof enough to you that I am an artistic person and not a very analytical one). She explained that there are long, long, long strings of numbers derived from the color spectrum and the computer compares them all.

I've been playing music with my friend for awhile, and I've heard her play lots of hard, beautiful music (most recently, believe it or not, she totally got into the jazzy feel of "Baby Elephant Walk," our finale at our last concert. I was playing piccolo, and she got to jam. It was fun to listen to), but to see the light in her eyes while she talked about her computer analysis and this complicated process of light and numbers - it was pretty cool.

Then, on Saturday, I was out in the backyard with Jules, and we came across a baby slug slithering around on one of the stepping stones to the garage door. I had a big load of laundry in one hand, and was holding Jules' hand with the other.

I put the laundry down so that we could look at it. It was tiny, this little baby slug.

You should know that slugs and snails and spiders and creepy crawlies of pretty much any kind? I am not a fan. In fact... I am a little scared of these things. They're just gross. But I have a boy. And I realize that boys like dirt and bugs and I'd better make sure that my attitude about those things, not necessarily bad in and of themselves, doesn't transfer to him. I don't want him to be afraid of snails just because they're "icky." (Actually, I stepped on one barefoot, a long long time ago, while walking my ex-boyfriend out to his car one night, and it's possible that that incident scarred me more than I care to admit.) And what if one day, he wants to do something like what she's doing and gets that look in his eye about slugs? Or something like them? So we kneeled down and watched this almost cute little slug wiggle around on the ground for about, oh, I'd say, 20 seconds, max.

Then I said, "Okay, sweetie, let's go in the house now!" And we did.

Updated: If I had a girl I'd be okay with it if she liked dirt and bugs and stuff too. I'm not saying girls can't like that stuff, I'm just saying that I'm not thrilled with it. I'm not trying to restrict my kid's activities based on his sex or gender, or whatever. He can do whatever interests him!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Back to it!

I came back to work this morning. I drove in drinking my yummy coffee (yesterday I had 4 cups which is way too much!) and listening to some awesome music - here's a partial playlist:
  1. Lazy Eye, by Silversun Pickups
  2. Crosseyed and Painless, by the Talking Heads (continuing the theme; for those who haven't noticed, this is my affliction)
  3. Atoms for Peace, by Thom Yorke
  4. Making Plans for Nigel, by XTC
  5. It's quite a nice shot of my surprisingly
    clean dashboard, no?
  6. Everywhere That I'm Not, by Translator
There was hardly any traffic (I think I'm taking the week before the 4th of July off every year; coming back to a 3 day week is an excellent idea, especially when the day off is a Wednesday!), and I flew down the 710 (except for the time I got behind some dude doing 60 in the fast lane). Oh, and I think I saw Steve Sanders. He and I trailed each other, then I lost him for awhile. He caught up to me at the 5, and I waved as he passed. No idea if he was even paying attention but it's fun when you keep seeing the same car. Isn't it? Or is that just me?

Anyway, I got in to work 6 minutes early, and I sat in the car and listened to one more song (Love is the Drug, by Roxy Music) in the parking lot while I looked for my work ID badge, which I thought was in my car but apparently isn't. I did change purses a couple of times while I was off, so who knows, maybe it's at home. Patrick will look. The baby enjoys playing with it, so that could be the problem.

Once I got up to my desk, I had to change my computer password (it expired while I was out) and I found 149 emails waiting for me. Not bad, actually. I've had worse. Though, I was just talking to a friend who claims to receive 400 emails on a daily basis (I said "claims" as if to imply I don't believe them, but I do!); if this were my life, I might have to kill myself. Seriously. 400 emails!? No. That's all I  have to say about that: NO.

One of the messages in my in-box was this one, which was sent in response to an invitation to a Lunch and Learn session I had sent out to the whole department while I was gone.
From: MC
Sent: Monday, July 02, 2012 7:27 AM
To: Irene Palma
Subject: Nutrition sessions


In the event you may not be aware but most of us in the Purchasing and Contracts Services are, even the week inclusive of the 12th, extremely busy with last minute deadlines before the official fiscal year closing for purchase transactions. These health-related sessions are well intended but very untimely, at least for this department.

After I stopped laughing (it took awhile), I sent this response:
From: Irene Palma
Sent: Monday, July 02, 2012 7:38 AM
To: MC
Cc: AA [my boss; I thought she might need a laugh, too]
Subject: RE: Nutrition sessions

Hi, M,

Unfortunately I had no prior knowledge of the deadlines in your section. We will be attempting to schedule these events more frequently. Hopefully there will be a future Lunch & Learn that will work for you.

Thank you,

Irene Casarez Palma, Administrative Assistant II
Departmental Wellness Manager
Human Resources - Risk Management Section
(323) XXX-XXXX / Telephone
(323) XXX-XXXX / Fax
Then I got this message, which kind of blew my mind with it's earnestness. 
From: MC
Sent: Monday, July 02, 2012 7:42 AM
To: Irene Palma
Subject: RE: Nutrition sessions
That would be good. I was lucky to have learned nutrition straight from Dietitians who worked with me and for me. I will look forward to another session as we cannot know too much about what is good for us.

What is good for us? Who can say? I look forward to finding out, too. I feel a little bad for laughing now. But not too bad.