Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Life's Essentials

"You're just heading into your real busy time period in the next week or two, aren't you?" my mom asked me on the phone last night.

"Yes, everything really kicks in now," I replied.

"Doesn't leave you much time for yourself, does it?" she said.

I didn't need to think before saying, "No, but it's all stuff I like to do."

I may gnash my teeth and cry "Hack! I'm just a hack!" in those frustrated moments with my violin, but I keep practicing and going to rehearsals for multiple ensembles because the music wouldn't stop in my head anyway.

I may find myself exhausted and collapsing face down on my bed around 9:30pm at night, just wishing I could go to sleep right then, but I'll get up and wait patiently for my news scripts so I can go down to WRFA to record the morning news. There is a time slot that requires content and I must fill it with something.

On days where my mind is blank and the creative streak that occasionally glances off of me has disappeared, I still try to log onto my blog or journal to write. It's proof I'm still here.

These are some of the things that keep me going. Without them, I'd feel lost, incomplete, and less myself. It's what keeps me passionate about life. I know what it's like to be drifting listless through days or weeks, feeling like I have no purpose. Sometimes these things don't fill the emptiness, but at least I have them if I want them.

I know my free time will experience a sharp decline for two months. I don't mind. It may require some creative scheduling and meal planning, but it's okay. I know I'm alive and doing what I love.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sunday Dinner - City Chicken

City chicken for Sunday dinner! My dad said that just about every wedding he went to growing up had this dish. This was back when veal was cheaper than chicken. City chicken is veal and pork that is breaded and cooked on a skewer/stick. We also had homegrown tomatoes with basil on top, potatoes, broccoli, and coleslaw with apples and cran-raisins.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Sacked Out

Matt chills out on the floor with our dogs.

A Wedding We Weren't Invited To

We didn't have to go to this couple's wedding but I felt compelled to take their picture because her dress is so pretty.

Wager Winery - September '09

The view from Wagner Winery. I think I take a picture from here every year when we come down for my mom's birthday. Seneca Lake is probably my favorite Finger Lake.

Shelling and Eating Peanuts to Cleanse the Palate

Tasting wine at Leidenfrost. We love their red wines. Plus the owner and his daughter have good taste in music. Something ska-ish playing right now.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Partial 90s Night Playlist

I had an initial play list for my first 90s night at Forte and then went off the cuff for the rest of the evening. I decided to take requests since the bar wasn't too full and I figured I may as well play stuff people wanted to hear. My original plan was to stick to the early 1990s, specifically 1993, just for difficulty sake. As I shared with Bartender/Reporter/Blogger/Fellow Lady GaGa Fan Nick Dean

Here's the play list:

My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult - Final Blindness
The Julia Hatfield Three - My Sister
Cranes - Jewel
Kate Bush - Eat The Music
Pet Shop Boys - Different Point of View
Suede - Animal Nitrate
Mighty Mighty Bosstones - Someday I Suppose
Cracker - Low
Catherine Wheel - Crank
Morphine - Buena
Ash - Uncle Pat
XTC - The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead
World Party - Way Down Now
The Sundays - Here's Where The Story Ends
Sugar - Believe What You're Saying

Len Barry jumped in at this point and played "Soda Jerk" by Buffalo Tom and I think a song by Pavement and The Jayfields. The crowd enjoyed his little set. I think Nick Dean would like to see Len come back again if he's willing.

Nick let me take over the rest of the night minus a few songs. Here are some of the songs I played after (not in order)

Gin Blossoms - Found Out About You
Pixies - Dig For Fire
Morrissey - Billy Bud
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Blood Sugar Sex Magik
Smashing Pumpkins - Cherub Rock
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Under The Bridge
Third Eye Blind - Semi-Charmed Life
Ace of Base - All That She Wants
Liz Phair - Never Said
PJ Harvey - Sheela-Na-Gig
Bel Biv Devoe - Poison
Saint Etienne - Only Love Can Break Your Heart
Orb - Perpeptual Dawn
Sneaker Pimps - 6 Underground
Ani Difranco - Shy
Pavement - Cut Your Hair
Ben Folds Five - Underground
Ben Lee - Cigarettes Will Kill You
Marilyn Manson - The Beautiful People
New Order - Regret
Primus - Tommy The Cat
Hum - Stars
Bleeding Through - Stars (punk version)
Morrissey - The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get
Massive Attack - Protection

There was a non 90s music moment where Nicole and I did the zumba dance to Shakira's "Hips Don't Lie (Bamboo Version." Considering that we had class earlier in the evening, we both had a drink by this point, and it was late I thought we did okay. We're still trying to get some male friends, not naming names (TimGaryLenMatt), to drop by the zumba class sometime.

Overall, FUN night.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Everything Pumpkin Flavored

Last year, friends and friends of friends started a Facebook page dedicated to "Everything Pumpkin Flavored."

I didn't realize how crazy I was about pumpkin stuff until I joined that group.

Pumpkins rock!

I don't know if it's the spice used in most recipes, the texture, or the taste of pumpkins but I have this thing for pumpkin flavored stuff. Well, unless it's the pumpkin flavoring at Tim Horton's. That's the epitome of all things nasty when it comes to pumpkins.

Pumpkin Spice Lattes became a reason why I found myself stepping into Four-.. I mean StarBucks. Pumpkin Spice Lattes made with real pumpkin were the happy reason I rushed to Labyrinth Press Company last year. Pumpkin milkshakes at McDonald's had whole groups of people I knew frantically dashing off messages to each other of where these milkshakes could be found and if they were sold out. I even called a friend who worked in the McDonald's office to query WHAT HAD HAPPENED TO THE PUMPKIN MILKSHAKES?! Yes, capitalization was used.

Obsess much? I'm not much of a cook, as stated infinite times before, but I do bake. The whole pumpkin craze ended just before Thanksgiving for me last year when Buddy decided to take a big bite out of a cooling pumpkin pie I had baked. He was still guilty looking the next day.

Of course this is a new year and there are new pumpkin flavored delicacies to find. I just hope I can keep the waistline as trim as it's been in my quest.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The End

Mist clung to me on the first day of Autumn. The moist air still slightly smelled of the sea. I looked down and saw the stones that covered a make-shift parking lot near my office become the rocky beach near Lake Ontario at a Girl Scout Camp I went to as a kid. A calm, gray swath of water and sky spread out before me as I took careful aim before letting a smooth stone skip over the surface.

A gaggle of Canadian Geese heading south for the winter flew overhead, honking louder and louder. The honking seems to reach a feverish pitch until the birds begin to squeal and I'm suddenly lying flat on my back. Something has hit me with great force. I realize for a moment before slipping away that my daydream has caused me to walk into traffic, where a DPW truck has brought me to my end.

Author's Note: 2nd paragraph is fiction. Duh.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Getting The Best of Myself

I have a habit of letting myself get easily frustrated. Everything could be absolutely fine, but I'll let one little thing work me into a complete tizzy until I'm a sulking mess. Most of my personal drama comes from this.

Tonight, the frustration started as I tried tidying up the house. I kept seeing a million things that probably could be taken care of but I couldn't tend to right at that moment because I had other stuff on my to-do list to accomplish. And when I came across something that had to be done that wasn't on that to-do list (putting dog's bed in washing machine because he had an accident), I let that get to me too.

Naturally, going into practicing violin with this attitude was grounds for FAIL. I dutifully popped the Broadway soundtrack of "The Producers" into the CD player, opened my book to the first in a list of songs I wanted to practice and hit play. My determination turned to confusion as I tried to figure out why my notes didn't sound like they were in the same key as the CD, and then I found a spot where everything sounded "right." By that time, I had run out of music but the song was still going merrily along in the CD player. I flipped forward and back and tried to see if I could hear where the hell I was supposed to be. I decided after no success to try the next song. That went better but I still was having trouble following. The next song, I simply listened to see if I was nuts and still had a hard time following.

Of course, by this point I had decided I was a total hack of a violinist, was wondering why no one had told me before, and then started getting mad at people for not being honest and just telling me I suck. See? Totally unreasonable.

Matt gave me that look when I went upstairs to pout, "You know you just need to practice some more. You're not going to get it the first time or third time off. I thought you said rehearsal had gone okay."

I stomped away at this point and did some menial task to calm down. Then I decided that since writing seemed to be going well for me the past couple days that I'd blog.

I really need to find a way to not let myself get this frustrated. It's counter-productive and childish. The last time I had one of these moments was when I had to teach myself how to use Audacity to create the music soundtrack for the Labor day Festival Fireworks. That time, I kept at it. I made myself go back to the project and just keep at it. In the end, it worked out. I just need to find that inner push to not let the negative thinking kick in and throw me off course.

Hats For Houses

Everywhere I look around I see houses being re-roofed. Old shingles are slid into yawning dumpsters below. Bright, new plywood sheeting stands stark next to older, more resilient sheeting from the last tear-off. Scaffolding is staggered around walls of houses and on the valleys of the roofs. Smart rows of new shingles shine in the early Autumn sun. The volume of work in the neighborhood whispers of "Hurry, hurry!" against wind, rain, and snow.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Career in Politics

I would guess that most people who read the title to this post aren't immediately filled with warm fuzzy feelings.

Politics, as a career, tends to get as much sympathy if not less than the field of law. People, perhaps innately, don't trust politicians and so by association tend to not trust the people who work for them.

A co-worker this morning made the observation that two people who are running for local office in our county have, for the most part, only had jobs "that involved a vote." He didn't say more than that, but his tone of voice implied that he didn't think much of this. I didn't say anything at the time because I could see that it wouldn't make me a lot of friends at work and, by nature, I'm very non-confrontational.

Still, it grated me that a person could be denigrated because they chose to follow a career they loved which just happened to be in politics. I have worked in that field. It can be unforgiving and very rewarding.

I would hazard that most people who tried to work for an elected official, or were an elected official themselves, would find a way to get out quickly and in as dignified manner as possible. There is no such thing as job security. Your job depends on how well you work for your boss, how well your boss works for the people, and how well you can convey that fact to the voters in your district. Of course, you have no control over things like a sinking national economy that usually adversely affects your local area, but people will still blame you for this. People will blame elected officials for a lot of things they have no control over. Even the President has to contend with this every time the price of gas goes up.

I know some people fault those who work in politics for seeming to be detached from the real world. "You don't know what it's like to have a regular job. You don't know what it's like for the 'average Joe.'" I've heard this myself and I've heard others say it about politicians. Because obviously no politician has ever had to pay taxes, buy groceries, raise a child, drive over roads in ill condition, deal with how snow storms affect businesses and commutes, or work long hours with no compensation because they are salaried.

I'd say most people don't have to worry about going to the grocery store and being stopped every other aisle to be told by someone what they think isn't going right in the area. This goes for people who work for elected officials too. Forget about going out for dinner or a drink in your district and having a "quiet night" because inevitably someone will approach you with work related stuff. And those who love their jobs often don't mind. Why? It's because you report to the people. Most people can name who their boss and supervisors are using one hand to count them off. Elected officials and the people who work for them report to everyone who lives in their district.

It's not an easy job. It's probably why we have a hard time finding people who even want to run for public office. Fortunately, in this area I think most people run for office or take political jobs because they believe they can bring positive change. They believe in the people of this area and the people in office. Sure, some elected officials have higher aspirations, but most recognize that to move to a higher office you damn well better do a good job at the very local level first. Of course, it all comes back to the constituents in that district and whether they voice their opinion by voting. Just some stuff to think about.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Thee Audience at Mojo's

Well look at that. We made it to Mojos to hear a little bit of Thee Audience. Last band officially on the schedule for us for Local Music Showcase. I lasted for about 3-4 songs before heading back to Forte. It was totally packed at Mojo's and I kept getting smooshed into the wall by guys walking by.

John Merino at Forte

John Merino at Forte. Of course we came back here. Maybe a little acoustic action to end the evening?

This Band Is Tight!

Hot Stenographer at the Reg Studio Theatre. We may make it to one other show after this but auditory overload is imminent. But it's so much fun!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Settling In At Forte For Some Music

Katie Elfman at Forte. They have Southern Tier Harvest on tap! First beer of the evening. We are here to hear Cale Hawkins and Tiny B. After that we head to the Reg Studio Theatre for Hot Stenographer.

Feeling Old at Eustice

Eustice at the Ice Arena patio. A little harder sounding band than we usually listen to but our friend's son is in the band. Yeah, we are double the age of most of the kids in the audience for this one.

Disco Labrador - LMS '09

Disco Labradors at Suburban Blend doing a song based off of something by Django Reinhardt. It's the Local Music Showcase in downtown Jamestown! This is the second time I had seen this band. The first was a year ago in the same location for LMS '08.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Date Night Moves to Olean

Moo. I like my meat rare. Date night in Olean. We went to the Beef & Barrel for dinner since it had been a few years since we'd last been there. It was a nice night out, because as much as I love all our friends, it was relaxing to just eat dinner and not see anyone we knew. Sometimes you have to get away, even if just for a few hours.

10 Things About Autumn

Similar to her 10 Things to Do this Summer post, Mary Kunz Goldman has offered up 11 things she's looking forward to this Fall. I naturally have to share my own list of things I'm looking forward to and hope to do over the next few months:

1. Enjoying pumpkin everything. Last year, a friend of a friend started an "Everything Pumpkin Flavored" group on Facebook. There was much hair pulling and gnashing of teeth over where to get pumpkin milkshakes at that time. This year, we were all quite relieved to know that September 1st seemed to be the magical day that pumpkin milkshakes were available at McDonald's and pumpkin spice lattes were available at Starbucks.

2. Fall music. I like to dust off and search out certain artists during the Fall like The Replacements, Sugar, Cranes, Tom Petty, Morrissey, Gin Blossoms, and other assorted artists that I discovered during the Fall months of my junior and senior years of high school.

3. Lynn & Tiny B's Wedding. This will be our seventh and last wedding of the year. It'll take place in a barn in Cassadaga over Columbus Day weekend. I'll be playing something still yet to be determined on the violin for the ceremony. I can't wait to celebrate this day with two lovely friends.

4. Leaves. I love watching the leaves change over and fall. The sound of leaves rustling across pavement in a breeze is probably one of my favorite sounds. As the trees become bare, the acoustics change around us, reminding us that soon there won't be anything to make the wind more gentle as it blows through.

5. Port. I don't consume a lot of port, but as the weather cools I do like a glass now and then. It's heady stuff.

6. Regulars at Forte. I appreciate the folks who come to visit our county during the summer and the money they spend, but I like seeing familiar faces again at the bar when I drop into Forte for a drink after doing the news.

7. The Producers. After our first pit orchestra rehearsal this week and finally watching the movie of this musical last night, I will say I'm most excited for JCC Uncommoner's production of "The Producers" this November. It's going to be a lot work, long hours, and such but the sense of fun to be had is great!

8. Time Off. My vacation time doesn't officially kick in until February but I have two personal days right now. I plan to put those to good use and take a very long weekend around Veteran's Day in November. It'll be my only chance at a "long" vacation for about a year.

9. Afternoon Day Trip. I don't know where we might go, but it's a personal goal to go on a road trip some weekend afternoon. We have yet to make it to Sprague's this year, so that might be the destination.

10. Autumn Clothes. I love the shift to wearing jeans and sweaters. It's comfort clothing.

Local Music Showcase 2009

The 6th Annual Chautauqua Region Word Local Music Showcase is this Saturday, September 12th.

The evening will feature 40 local music acts performing at eleven different venues around downtown Jamestown between 6pm and 2am.

For information about some of the bands playing, check out the latest issue of the Word.

For a quick list of tomorrow night's schedule, simply visit crword.com/lms09.html.

Wrist bands are $10 and can be purchased at each venue. They give you admission to all the venues all evening.

Most importantly, proceeds benefit the Infinity Performing Arts Program.

Friday, September 04, 2009

WRFA Celebrates 5 Years

WRFA-LP is celebrating its 5th year of being on the air in Jamestown today. Station Manager Dennis Drew is celebrating by being live on the air under the Reg Lenna Studio marquee on East Third Street in downtown Jamestown. He's pictured here with Mayor Teresi, who presented a proclamation declaring it "WRFA Day" in the city.

I love that I've been a part of this station from just about the very beginning. In April 2004, when I saw an article about the Arts Council wanting to start a community radio station, I went in and asked how I could help. At those beginning meetings, we talked about content, looked over sources of free radio content, talked about fundraising, and laughed. One of my favorite moments is when Steve Shulman and Dennis Drew started joking about having a morning show like feature called "Snooze Button" where we could jolt listeners awake every nine minutes with some loud music before going back to something more soothing. It's one idea that has materialized, at least in name, to lead into morning programming on the station.

Three years later, I decided to make the switch from reading news for a commercial station to doing it for a non-commercial station.. I couldn't be happier. It's a great group of people who volunteer their time to the station who are led by a couple easy going guys who truly love radio. That's the best part of it. We're all in it, and doing it for nothing in most cases, because we love radio and this community. So congratulations WRFA! May there be many more years of Radio For The Arts in Jamestown.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Reaction to Catcher - The Others

I guess part of what makes Catcher In The Rye a novel that has stuck with people over the years is its ability to get people to talk.

I've come across people over the past few days that have very strong feelings about the book, or its characters. Last night, a fellow I know but who is usually reserved caught me on my way to record the news and said, "So you didn't like Catcher In The Rye?"

I paused, "Well, it's more I didn't care for the main character."

"I love that book. I first read it my sophomore year and have read it every year since. There's something different I get each time for it. My opinions toward Holden have changed over the years too. When I first read the book, he was older than me. And as I got to that age, it made sense. Now, when I read it I have pity for him. I can see if people were just reading it now, as adults, how he might be unlikeable."

He snubbed out the end of his cigarette as I turned the key in the door to the station, both of us leaving to go back to our jobs.

I like that the book creates such strong reactions in people. I may not like Holden Caulfield, but he gives me something to think about. There may be books written since then that are better representations of teen angst and what it's like to be a teenager, but this was one isn't so terrible. Plus, it gives us something to compare to show us how we've changed and have stayed the same when it comes to young adult literature and attitudes.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Catcher

I started and finished Catcher In The Rye this past Monday. Somehow, I had made it through my years of schooling without ever having to read that book. A friend who is an English teacher was aghast when she learned I had successfully avoided the novel this long.

Did I like the novel? It wasn't terrible. I can't say I related to Holden Caulfield, but he did remind me of people I know. Despite time, the book somewhat holds up. Had I read this in high school, I probably would have tossed into the same pile as A Separate Peace. I get it, but I found it tedious. I didn't find the characters "likeable." It's hard to not want to smack them upside the head and tell them to sort it out. Of course, not playing by the game is part of the problem for Holden.

Outside the pages, I have friends like this. Everyone does. They were like that in high school, and many haven't changed. It can be frustrating to sit by and not know what to say, or if you should say anything, as you watch a friend continue in manners that are self-defeating, self-destructive, or perhaps merely immature.

Maybe that's why I didn't like "Catcher" so much. I have enough of that in the real world. And maybe I don't like the book because it makes me aware of the fact that people I care about are disappointing to me. I like to think of people in the best light, but it doesn't take away from the fact that we're all flawed. Everyone has to sort things out for themselves, in whatever way they must, but it's hard to sit back and let them do just that.

Away, Away

We're on a mini-vaca in an area where they're experiencing forest fires (thanks asshole arsonist). It's an area that makes Clift...