Saturday, May 31, 2008

Determined to stay positive...

Scott's been off in Barb's car (thanks, Barb!) looking at cars all day, occasionally calling to update me. He roared off with high hopes and a scribbled list of phone numbers, addresses, and car details for various cars for 3,000 dollars or less (all found on either Autotrader, Craig's List, or the Ann Arbor News), and he's simply making the rounds.

He just now called me, all bummed because he drove all the way out to Eight Mile somewhere to look at a car that turned out to be a junker. It screeched unsettlingly the minute he accelerated, he said. The others he looked at weren't a whole lot better, apparently, although there's a 1993 Camry that isn't too awful. I guess "not too awful" is the best we can hope for.

Heck, you'd think three grand would get you a decent used car! When our car died last year, there were tons more options out there. I guess everyone's hanging onto their gas savers these days. Alas.

But we soldier on. The right car is out there. I know it.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Aubree's is Ausom'e

Gotta love Aubree's. Meeting three splendid friends for a splendid pizza and a couple of refreshing pints is a perfect way to round off a Wednesday work day.

Then I came home and excavated the foyer* so I could dig out the roll-away cot, just in case I do have houseguests tonight, and that inspired me to keep right on cleaning. I hoisted a dead TV and two dead inkjet printers out to sit next to the dead toilet that my landlord still hasn't moved from the side of the house. This place is starting to look like the town dump anyway: once there's a commode sitting outside your house it's all over, so why not add to it? Covered the whole mess with a sheet (nobody can say I'm not classy!), then stormed inside and kept cleaning. Place looks pretty good now. Just needs a good de-griming. I can do that this afternoon.

Anyway. Yay Aubree's, and thanks, ladies. That was just what I needed to get cranked up for cleaning.

*As I groggily sipped my morning coffee this morning, I read a reference in a magazine to a "mudroom." I perked up. That's what I have: a mudroom! I've always felt weird calling it a "foyer," 'cause, trust me, that mess ain't no foyer. And "entranceway" is boring. I like the idea of a mudroom! So much more accurate!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The fate of my three top Eurovision picks

None of my three picks made it to the top ten. Latvia came close at No. 12, though, and Denmark and France came in at 15 and 19. So they didn't bomb, at any rate.

The two I mentioned as being horrendous, however (Bosnia Herzegovina and Azerbaijan) did get into the top ten. I am aghast.

Oh, well. I look forward to the DVD from Mike: can't wait to hear Terry Wogan's growly disgust throughout the voting!

In any case, all is well. I've had some of Scott's homemade chili and am settling in for the Red Wings game. The Stanley Cup finals are upon us! Whoooo!

Eurovision Moscow 2009!

So I came back all aglow from the thoroughly enjoyable Ypsi Pops concert in the park, turned on my computer to watch the Eurovision Song Contest shortly after 3 o'clock... and ended missing the whole thing because my Internet connection vanished inexplicably.

At a quarter past six -- a quarter past midnight Belgrade time -- the connection incomprehensibly re-established itself. I hastened straight to the Eurovision site, just in time to see the Russian singer Dima Bilan marching victoriously to the stage to sing their winning song, Believe.

Oh, I believe, all right. I believe in demons. Mysterious creatures in the ether that exist to rob people of the things they enjoy, just for their own amusement. I mean, come on, I lose my Internet connection for the three specific hours of the Eurovision Song Contest? My one little weakness, my one tiny indulgence? Not fair.

But at least I got to see the last five minutes, the screaming crowd, the ecstatic replay performance, the absolutely blissful Russian singer bellowing, "See you in Moscow!"

And thank God for Mike Burger, who is getting me a copy of the BBC broadcast, complete with Terry Wogan's acerbic commentary. So I won't miss it, really. I missed it live, that's all.

As for the winning song... eh. Your basic boy toy singing your basic Eurovision boy-band pop ballad. Unthrilling, even although is a violinist (with a real Stradivarius!), which is kind of fun. And I do like the fact that there's an Olympic skater (who looks remarkably like Carson Kressley) skating around with great drama and emotion on actual ice skates during the performance.


Well, I'm eager to see the final scores: maybe one of my three picks made it to the top ten, anyway.

But the Eurovision Song Contest in Russia in 2009? Now that's exciting! That's going to be a serious show.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I've got Eurovision fever!

Well, both semifinals of the Eurovision Song Contest are over and 18 countries have been duly eliminated from the original 43, so the 25 contestants for Saturday's contest have been picked. I am so lucky to have an officemate who's willing to listen to hours and hours of often really bad Europop, and even join me in the voting: thank you, Aaron!

It's so funny how much I adore the ESC, seeing as how I can't stand things like "American Idol" and its ilk. I guess it's because I grew up watching it, and there's just something special about voting for a specific song, knowing that it will take its place alongside classics like ABBA's "Waterloo" or the ubiquitous "Volare," first performed at the ESC in 1958 by Domenico Modugno. (It came in third.)

Of the songs eliminated in the two semifinals this year, I mourn these three the most:

- Malta: Vodka. Enthusiastic and liquored up, with the buoyant chorus "Vodka! That's the secret word! Na zdorovje!"

- The Netherlands: Your Heart Belongs to Me. Europop + Middle Eastern spices = seriously toe-tapping.

- Switzerland: Era Stupendo. Just sweet and earnest and smiley.

Good songs all, and they deserved to move on. Especially when you realize that downright bad songs like Bosnia and Herzegovina's Pokusaj and Azerbaijan's Day after Day did move on. Yuck.

Oh, well.

Here are my top three songs among those that will be competing in the final:

- Latvia: Wolves of the Sea. A fun, stomping seafaring song, and my top pick.

- Denmark: All Night Long. An eager and catchy little sing-along ditty. (I know it's Denmark and all, but seriously, I'd have picked it anyway!)

- France: Divine. Oddly reminiscent of the Alan Parsons Project.

If any of those three songs wins, I'll be pleased. But many bookies in Europe are apparently theorizing that Sweden's got it in the bag with the boring and all-too-predictable Hero. God, I hope not.

As it happens, I will be at the Ypsilanti Symphony Orchestra's pops concert in the park, Ypsi Pops, while the Eurovision Song Contest is streaming live online on Saturday... so I will have to avoid my urge to find out who won and watch a replay after the fact. Entirely worth it, of course: I'd rather be sitting in the sunshine in Riverside Park enjoying all the symphonic springtime pops fun! I do have some sense of priority.

But Saturday evening... oh, man. Don't nobody bother me. ;-)

Go Latvia!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Just checking in

Well, it was an excellent birthday and lasted a good long time. Fine dinners, and bouquets of flowers, and treats, and basically time well spent.

Now heading off to see Clint's new house on Dexter Road!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The last birthday of my thirties

Well: I'm 39. Scott just fed me a delectable omelette breakfast worthy of an upscale Sunday brunch establishment, and now we're kicking back listening to The Who and being lazy. Life is good.

The metal mess that was once our car was hauled away yesterday, and I feel as though we can start moving on now. That was so frightening. Scott's still pretty shaky, and his entire body hurts: whiplash is such a weird thing. But eventually we can get started looking for our next car. This is going to be the car I learn to drive, too. Oh, sure, go ahead -- I see that indulgent smile! You just wait. I'll be behind the wheel before fall. But you'd better believe I'll make sure the thing's got air bags!

Now back to being lazy.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Miraculously, Scott's alive...

Today, Scott was in an accident that could have killed him. He signalled that he was turning at an intersection and started slowing down, and the guy behind him simply slammed into him, pushing his car into oncoming traffic, at which point another car hit him in the front.

The air bags saved him. The guy who hit him kept desperately apologizing. The officer who drove Scott home (and towed the car to our driveway) called him an incredibly lucky man.

When I got home and saw the car, I started shaking and I haven't stopped since.

Scott and I are just sitting here in shock. And all I can feel is gratitude, immense gratitude and relief that he's okay.
Progressive is on the ball. They have asked us to send photos and say that since it's a pretty obvious back-ender, we should at least be getting 500 dollars. That'll help us get a replacement car, anyway, at some point.

.I don't care about that right now. Scott's alive! That's what matters.

Monday, May 12, 2008

"The headscarf girls"

A week ago at Christine's terrific lakeside house where we were gathered for book club, we had our first instance of thematic book-club costume. Two of our stalwart members dressed up as "the headscarf girls" from the book we've just finished: Orhan Pamuk's Snow.

I had to snap a couple pictures before they threw the scarves off so they could soak their heads in sunshine on Christine's sunny deck.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

"The Rockford Files" makes me happy

I love The Rockford Files. I really do, and I think the rest of the world should, too. The plots are involving, the characters are shady and unapologetic and complex, nothing is simple, and everything is surprisingly well-written.

Take, for example, this moment. The somewhat skeevy Angel Martin comes to visit his ex-convict buddy Jim Rockford in his trailer. He finds Rockford and his dad, Rocky, deeply immersed in a chess game. Angel glances at the board, snorts scornfully, and makes the following statement:

"This here game’s over, man! You’ve gotta move your boss or Rocky’s gonna lay a subpoena on him. And his torpedo’s gonna smoke your ol’ lady! And all your heavies are gonna be doin’ time, except for maybe your mouthpiece—and Rocky’s sheriff’s got him put in a corner. You got nothin’ but punks and junkies! You’re through, Jimmy!"

How perfect is that swath of metaphoric beauty, I ask you? Who wrote this stuff? Where is that kind of writing today?

Scott and I saw that scene again on Netflix recently: you can watch every single "Rockford Files" episode for free on "Watch Now" these days if you're a Netflix subscriber.

Another reason why life is good.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Digitizing my childhood

I spent ages 3 through 19 taping my life. I brought my old Grundig tape recorder everywhere I went. I have tapes of friends, relatives, TV sound samples, events, even ambient sounds -- just think: Copenhagen street noise from the Seventies!

Since I am now almost 39, many of these tapes are, well, rotting. I keep a dozen of them or so in a photo album-style storage book I got in Athens when I was about eight, and when you open it, you get an immediate whiff of magnetic mouldering.

For years, people have given me all kinds of advice on digitizing these. I've downloaded software, bought cables, purchased mysterious gadgets, all too no avail. I could never get it to work.

But now, everything is going to be okay. These records of my childhood are saved! And it's all thanks to the fabulous new birthday present I received from my parents, a toy I stayed up super-late with last night, and with which I plan to be busy pretty much all summer.

Behold:It's the Ion Tape2PC and I am in love with it. It's idiot-proof. You plug it into your PC, stick a tape in the deck, and start recording. It's magic. When I first clicked on an iTunes file and heard my own six-year-old voice coming out of my laptop, I almost passed out. Now the old tape marked "Christmas 1975" has been digitized, and if the tape itself dies tomorrow, it no longer matters. The files are safe!

I have been accused of being overly sentimental about these old recordings. It has been suggested that I should let these insignificant records of the past disappear into that past, and simply live my life in the moment. After all, does anyone really need a record of their child self singing "Skip to My Lou" while battering at an unfortunate autoharp?

It's a good point. It's just that those tapes meant a lot to me at the time, and I fussed about them a great deal as a child. If I just put a couple of months of effort into them, one last time, then I'll have them permanently and need never worry about them again. Or even listen to them, really. They'll just be there.

Meanwhile... this is going to be fun.