Monday, February 26, 2007

The Old North State.

I know, I know. From where you're reading, North Carolina is hardly north, but still. If you find yourself in the greater Chapel Hill area on Tuesday evening, and you have any interest in the poetry of W. H. Auden, you might consider going to this.

Meanwhile, if you find yourself in the greater Chapel Hill area anytime between now and Wednesday morning, why not get in touch with me? I'll be the one eating at Pepper's Pizza (which I hear has a new location), drinking from the Old Well, shopping at the Bull's Head, getting misty-eyed in the Pit, napping in Davis Library, and generally acting like a dorky alum.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The ultimate haywire comes home to roost.

On Monday morning I went to meeting of a reading group, and I had to make the following excuse: "I did not do the reading, because this weekend, my house was overrun by a band of gypsies."

Sure, you are probably thinking. And your non-existent dog ate your homework.

Or maybe you are thinking, Honey, back away from the Bruno archives.

But I am not making this up.

You see, on Saturday night the PP and I and some friends went to see the Luminescent Orchestrii at the The Bohemian/Horizon Records, where they were giving a concert that was also a recording for WCNW's Tower of Song series. For those of you who, like me, have a bit of a thing for the Romanian gypsy sound, or klezmer, or tango nuevo, or all of the above, you should not pass up a chance to see Luminescent Orchestrii, as they are fantastic musicians and singers who bring together a wonderful hybrid sound that will launch you from your seat, whether you do or do not know how to dance to something in 11/7 time. Dance anyway. Life is short.

Anyway, mid-way through the second set, they noted between songs that they needed a place to stay, and the PP's head nearly spun around three times. What he was thinking, it turns out, is that we have two extra bedrooms plus a futon couch and that we should put these people up. Life is short.

So we did.

As our friends who we'd gone to the concert with were leaving, they said, "if you take the gypsies home, be sure not to take home the groupies." Luckily, we so succeeded. The band packed up their stuff, packed their instruments and gear into their mini-van (like a well-oiled packing machine, I might note), and off we all went to our house.

Over limoncello and herbal tea, my fantasy of talking about my current favorite kind of music with actual practitioners came true. When I noted that one of their songs sounded like Astor Piazzolla, they acknowledged his influence. They told us a little about trips to Romania and Hungary and various gypsy music festivals, and then everyone went off to respective bedrooms and crashed.

In the morning, the PP and one of the band member brought home pastries and we all feasted and chatted, and after a while everyone went off to do his or her own thing. It all seemed so normal, yet so not: at one point I realized that we had a fiddler playing on our front porch, a bassist listening to my CDs of Renaissance choral music back in the TV room, and the guitarist practicing riffs in my study. Later the bassist joined him in my study and they worked out a new song. I kept looking at the PP in disbelief, only to be greeted with a similar disbelieving look from him.

Then they left, and the house was silent, as if none of it had ever happened. But there is still, several days later, this great creative energy here in the study.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

That time again.

The Cod made this claim today:

There are exactly six kinds of people today: people who are in Mobile, New Orleans, or Rio, and those who wish they were in Mobile, New Orleans, or Rio, representing respectively JV, varsity, and all-star levels of debauchery.

Here I must disagree, by adding two additional categories: those who are in the greater Hamtramck metro area, and those who wish they were. You can count me among the latter. We are the devotees of Super-Size I-gotcher-Fat-Tuesday-right-here debauchery, because what great debauchery can there be than one that sends you on the path to eminent, if not immediate, system shut down. What says seize the day like Polish doughnuts 'til you burst?

Friends, I am not alone. There, as usual, the huddling masses searching Google for "paczki calories" and "paczki pronunciation" and "weight watchers point paczki." Abandon hope, ye who enter here! And trust me, the pronunciation of Polish consonants is the least of your concerns.

Then there are the truly lost, such as this fine person from Colorado:

Yes, I'm one of those poor souls googling colorado+paczki. I did the same thing last year. Every year I search up and down for paczki's in Colorado but have found none to no avail. I'm making my own this year. Anyhow, as I was saying I was searching again and stumbled across your blog and had to laugh. Thought you'd like to know I called every bakery I could find in Hamtramack to see if they ship but I was told "no" from each place I called. Please post if you find any place to mail order them.Desparate in Colorado. - JR

Not to mention this poor soul, Jenny, right here in the upstate:
I found your blog by doing a Google search for Greenville and paczki. I moved here from Indiana but I never would have if I had known I would have to give up my paczkis! I discovered them in Indiana (happily) about five years ago and I've been looking everywhere.

That's right, folks. Another paczki day has come and nearly gone, and like Jenny and JR, I am up the paczki creek.


Friday, February 09, 2007

Crazy Random Friday Thingy: Ice is nice Edition

I just came back from icing my shoulder (I am not making that up) to find a comment from Joe. He said, "How's the shoulder, Isis? I propose you change your blog's name to The Secrets of Ice It. Just kidding.... I'll check back later for your crazy random Friday thingy."

Be careful what you ask for, Joe!

But thanks for asking about the shoulder. It is, I would say, better than it has been since last week. Nothing like my new "all kick, all the time" program for allowing the shoulder to heal! Actually, today I managed to swim my entire warm-up. Yes, swim. Very exciting, and particularly because I am experiencing some toe blisters from my fins.

All to say, here comes a not-at-all-random 10 for you. Can you sense a theme?

1. "Walking on Thin Ice," Yoko Ono (Double Fantasy)
2. "Ice Cool," The Yockamo All-Stars (Do Drop Out)
3. "Iceman," Ben Neill (Traveler '03 [bonus disc])
4. "Soul on Ice," Me'shell NdegeOcello (Plantation Lullabies)
5. "Fire and Ice," Pat Benatar
6. "Ice Pick," Albert Collins (Ice Pickin')
7. "Flyswatter/Ice Water Blues," Lyle Lovett (Joshua Judges Ruth)
8. "Ice Dance," London Symphony Orchestra (Winterscapes)
9. "Ice Cream Man," Tom Waits (The Early Years)
10. "Ice Cream Shop," Giorgio Conte (L'ambasciatore dei sogni)

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Kicker (with apologies to Horace Silver).

Last night, as on Saturday, I did most of the practice kick. I had learned from my massage therapist on Friday that things were not improving in my left shoulder as I would have hoped (I was not surprised), so I am trying to lay off it at practice.

First to go was backstroke, which pulled a bit too much on the biceps tendon and the pec, because of the rotation. I never would have thought I would say it, but I miss it.

Then pulling much at all went next, because it felt like it was straining, which is just what I do not want to do. So on Saturday I did a mostly regular warm-up, followed by the designated kick set, followed by nothing but kick for the rest of practice. That came to 3300 meters (~3625 yards), of which 2200 meters (or ~2425 yards) was kick. Yes, some of that was with fins, but still: yuck.

Then yesterday at work, doing nearly nothing at all, I felt a little twinge in that tendon conglmeration, and it felt like a guitar string slapping against my body, or being twanged a bit too much. Double yuck.

All to say my goal at practice last night was to see just how much kicking a human being could do without (a) their legs falling off, and (b) losing their mind. I cannot say that highly scientific protocols were followed or that my results are necessarily statistically significant, but of a 3700 yard practice, I kicked 3000 (some with fins). And my legs feel it today.

Now I have a phone number for a good physical therapist and I will soon make the call.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Thank you, Clement VIII.

I suspect that you have not done enough lately to show Pope Clement VIII how much you appreciate him and some of his deeds.

Just two years after becoming pope in 1592, our man Clement VIII declared that coffee was NOT the property of Satan. He tried a cup, and he liked it so much that he baptized it, declaring (though likely not in English), "We will not let coffee remain the property of Satan. As Christians, our power is greater than Satan's; we shall make coffee our own."

Amen, Father Clement.

(N.B., it is acquiring such knowledge as this that begins to make up for the chore of working through a copyedited manuscript. Begins.)

Life's little injustices.

Remember how much fun I had back in May 2006, trying to get used to using British style for the edition I am editing?

Guess what: it was all a big fat waste.

Yes, that's right: the British press whose stylesheet we were told to use is actually not the primary press with which we are working. Instead, everything goes to an American press, which uses--say it with me--AMERICAN STYLE.

Well, fuck me.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Snow day, part 2.

So what does a goddess do on a snow day, you may be asking.

Well let me tell you.

For one thing, she takes time away from her exciting life to write to you about it. Lucky you.

For another thing, she lets her eyes wander to the massive snowball fight that erupted in her neighborhood. It is interesting to live in a city neighborhood because you do not own your snow. For instance, our goddess found herself at one point asking, Why is my neighbor stealing the snow off my car to throw it at his child? Who does he think he is? I had plans for that snow! But really, because the snow is outside (just as well), it is communal snow. Redistribution of snow from those who have plenty to those who need some. She likes her city neighborhood.

For another thing, she trolls the internet for updates about the weather. Here is helpful advice for you from WYFF4 news.

For another thing, she wonders whether her day would be going better if she had bought the required bread and milk yesterday. Or what the lack of weather stripping and storm windows will mean for inside temperatures if the power goes.

For another thing, she does not go to swim practice, because it has been cancelled.

And for another thing, she reads the copy-edited manuscript for the edition that she spent the better part of the last couple of years working on. You may not realize how fascinating that kind of work is. For instance, how frequently have you had the chance to respond to such captivating questions as "Not in abbreviations list--add?" or "appositive comma >> only one associate OK?" or "page 4 of YVP 4, yes?" or "Harun al-Rashid or Harun-Al-Rashid?"

I know: you envy her. You should. This is the life, really.

Snow day.

Or more like a sleet day. Things started out as snow, and when the PP and I went for a morning walk circa 5:45, there was much contemplation of the nature of traces, as we left some, only to find them effaced on our return trip, by more snow. Ah, the pleasures of rediscovering one's city when it is covered in a light dusting of the real stuff, not the fake snow they were generating at Christmastime (with 50-F temperatures) that was made out of soap bubbles.

My new weather ritual is a walk to the Reedy River falls, to see how they look. On Christmas day, after two days of rain, they were boiling, gushing, obliterating the scenic little rocks around them. In the pink pre-dawn this morning, those rocks glowed white around the dark water.

After arriving at the only open coffee shop in town shortly just as it was opening, as using that as an omen to justify a couple of capuccinos (scusa, capuccini), we headed home, looking for our effaced tracks, to find Mike Seidel reporting live from Greenville. What would have made an authentic Upstate backdrop for his reporting would have been if the cars coming to the stoplight had slid into one another for no reason at all, and their drivers emerged, swearing.

Now the neighbor children have emerged in their little coats and hats and mittens, because nothing stings like a slushball. Schools are closed, but of course not the PP's office. If I were not so lazy, I'd take a picture to show you Upstate winter: it would have the daffodils that are blooming, surrounded by thin snow, with just enough ice to kill of the remaining blooms.

Happy February.