Thursday, December 18, 2014

What's That Smell?!

I sometimes receive the most interesting Secret Santa gifts at work:

"Helping the naughty smell nice"

Hmmm...I hope that isn't a hint....

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Penguins with the Twins

We don't often see kids movies. At least, not in the movie theater—I'll watch them on Netflix....

Sunday found us babysitting our friend's twins, and she pre-purchased movie tickets because the kids wanted to see The Penguins of Madagascar. Not exactly my first choice of films, but the kids wanted to see it with us, so how could we say no? The twins behaved themselves during the movie, fidgeting only a tiny bit in their seats while the movie ran. But they laughed and enjoyed watching the penguins battle against Dave the Octopus who wanted revenge against all penguins for stealing his glory from every zoo at which he was staying. I admit it: I thought it was a cute movie. Very silly, with just a smidgeon of adult humor scattered throughout (but not so the kids would notice). My favorites were the liberal use of celebrity names, such as "William! Hurt those penguins!" or "Halle! Bury those penguins!" or "Helen! Hunt those penguins down!" Like I said, silly but a lot of fun. Good graphics, a cute story, a cornucopia of animated animals, and lots of action and adventure—the perfect kids movie.

We ate dinner at Ruby's Diner, and again the kids were awesome. A little tired, perhaps, but they constructed the paper cars that the hostess gave them, munched on their chicken tenders, and had a good time with their guncles*.

* = gay uncles

Saturday, December 13, 2014

iTunes Saturday - Tightrope

Getting this one in under the wire....

After yesterday's post about my favorite CDs from the past year, I thought it would be fun to play a song from one of those artists. So I've selected the handsome Matt Alber and his song Tightrope from another of his albums, Constant Crows. The version on my iTunes comes directly from the album, but I like this recoding with the Cello Street Quartet:

Friday, December 12, 2014

Year End List Time: Favorite CDs/Albums

With 2014 quickly heading to a close, it's time for year-end, best-of lists!!

My first list covers new music for 2014 with only a two stipulations—first, that I own the CD or digital album, and second, that the album was released during the past 12 months. I'm becoming increasingly picky as I age gracefully, so my music collection does not have many new CDs. (In fact, I think I pared down my collection more than added to it.) Thankfully, this provides for a smaller list. And because I feel like it, the albums in this list appear in no particular order—though the pic above is my favorite of the year.

Wind Sand Stars by Matt Alber: Ever since he released End of the World as a single, I've loved Matt Alber's music. And this particular album is his best. The songs are very soulful and little indie/folksy; plus, he has a fantastic voice. He's not too shabby at the instrumental music, either, as his titular songs The Wind, The Sand, and The Stars reveal. Favorite song: Spectacularly.

sparks by Imogen Heap: Her lush music, her lyrics, her voice...she's a musical genius, and I can listen to her songs all day on repeat—this album especially. She's very techie and used recordings of the sounds around her, helped to develop musical gloves know Mi.Mu, even worked on an app for running that inserts your heartbeat into the ambient sounds around you as you run. She's amazing, and it shows in her work. Favorite song: The Listening Chair.

The Rare Earth soundtrack by Martin Kennedy with All India Radio and Steve Kilbey: I haven't seen the film (and don't know if it will make it to Netflix or anywhere in the U.S.), but I'm a fan of All India Radio. I own nine of their albums, as a matter of fact. This soundtrack manages to evoke the solitude of space as well as the solitude of living on the planet Earth. It's very atmospheric and moody, which I love. Favorite songs: Losing Houston and their cover of Moonlight Sonata.

Sonic Highways by Foo Fighters: This album is on my list not just because it's filled with great music, but the accompanying documentary series added the back story to each song, allowing the music lover a peek into the creation of a song and into the musical history of the cities in which they were recorded, like Nashville, New Orleans, and Seattle. If you have the chance, watch the series; it makes the songs that much better. Favorite song: Congregation.

Is There Anybody Out There? by A Great Big World: The album is filled with catchy songs, like Everyone Is Gay, and beautiful ballads, like Say Something. They make an amazing songwriting/performing duo, and this makes for a great debut album. I'm definitely looking forward to hearing more from them. Favorite song: Already Home.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Quickie Book Review: London Triptych

by Jonathan Kemp

London Tritpych tells three tales of male hustlers, starting way back in the late 1800s with a young rent boy named Jack Rose who befriends Oscar Wilde a short time before his infamous trial. Fast forward to the 1950s where we meet Colin, an aging artist who finally gets his inspiration back thanks to his model Gore. The third story follows David, writing letters from prison to the man he loved -- a hustler much like himself. All three tales meditate on gay life in London and what defines love and pleasure. (The stories also interweave with one another as you read farther into the book, which wasn't totally unexpected.) Each story perfectly presents its time period, giving us a taste of the difficulties gay men endured just to be with like individuals and showing that the times haven't changed too much. It's each character's reaction to the time and to the circumstances that make this an interesting read, especially viewing Victorian London through the eyes of Jack and the impression that Wilde makes on how he begins to view the world.

London Triptych
by Jonathan Kemp
Arsenal Pulp Press
trade paperback, 269 pgs.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Java Jive

Back in September, I thought it would be a good idea to learn the basics of JavaScript to enhance what I already do at work. Which has nothing whatsoever to do with coding, but we do use Google Drive and Google Apps, and only one person who knows how to code for Google Apps. I spoke with him and did a little research, and the Google Apps use a type of JavaScript as their language, and they recommended the site from which I'm currently taking the beginner's course: Code Academy.

The language is interesting, but the lessons aren't taking hold like I feel they should. When working on a task, I constantly refer back to earlier lessons. So the 10-hour course that I started in September continues. Hopefully, with only two modules remaining, I'll finish today and can get to work learning the Google stuff. I think my biggest obstacle is that I'm not currently using it every day, and as they say, if you don't use something all the time, you forget how to use it as time goes on.

Okay, back to learning more about Object, methods, switches, etc. etc.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

iTunes Saturday - Saturday

No, that's not a typo in the title. This week's iTunes selection comes from Pet Shop Boys' 1996 album Bilingual and it appropriately titled Saturday Night Forever. I just thought it would be fun to play a Saturday song, so there you go. Plus, I feel it shows off their skills at electronic dance music. It never feels outdated and could quite possibly be heard in clubs today. Not that I would know because it's been an incredibly long time since I stepped into a dance club -- gay or straight. Anyway, enjoy the song!