Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Spawn of the Sue

Coming: April, 2008

Friday, September 28, 2007

Fo' Shizzle

I am really, extraordinarily glad that it's Friday. It's been a less than stellar week, work-wise, and my thesis project is evolving into a new kind of monster that seems determined to take up permanent residence even as I'm trying desperately to send it on its way. Altogether, I've been in reasonably fine spirits, but these two things have been working really hard to drag me down.

They won't win, though. The weekend is nearly here, and my mom's in town, so I'll get to spend some time with family and relax for a few days. Should be some good football on this weekend, too; I don't have much hope for my Beavs against UCLA (even though they did beat the only team to which UCLA's lost this year), but the Ducks just might be able to hold their own against Cal. It oughta be an exciting game, at any rate.

Hope that fun weekend plans are in store for the rest of you. :)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Music Reviews! Finally!

I know you all have been just delirious with anticipation, am I right? Without further ado, here's the playlist you so kindly helped me create.

1. Angel, by Massive Attack
First impressions: Kind of a cool little beat at the beginning (and throughout). Kept expecting the track to build up to something a bit more than it eventually does.
Upon further examination: There are a lot of layers here. Interesting complexity, but it's still mellow and pleasant.
Most likely to become an earworm: That opening beat, plus the first couple of lines: "You are my angel / come from way above / to bring me love"

2. Hail to Whatever You Found in the Sunlight That Surrounds You, by Rilo Kiley
First impressions: The verse pattern is a little repetitive, but pretty. Jenny Lewis really has such a nice voice, and I love the flutes woven throughout.
Upon further examination: This song starts out with kind of a delicate feeling, builds up to something that has more energy but stays light, and then there's this long, dissonant thing with the flutes at the end. Kind of a neat progression. Also, it's a really short song. Feels shorter than its 3:20.
Most likely to become an earworm: "Pretend all the good things for you / pretend all the good things for me too / and the weather changes not halfway between your house and mine"

3. The New Face of Zero and One, by The New Pornographers
First impressions: The New Pornographers being their fine, peppy selves. The lyrics kind of melt away while I bob my head and just hear the music. (I should look them up.)
Upon further examination: Aha. Interesting. These guys and The Shins often manage to write songs that are not as simple as they first seem.
Most likely to become an earworm: The chorus - "Parade of sisters through New York / a trail that, once it began / snaking its way through the memory of / faking its way through the hallelujahs became / a parade of sisters through New York / a trail of sisters through New York"

4. Candle, by Sonic Youth (recommended by Tom, offline)
First impressions: Sounds at the beginning like something that'd be on My Vitriol's first album. Middle's more dissonant than I tend to like.
Upon further examination: Yeah, if I could cut out the screechy middle part, I'd like this song a lot more, I think. The lyrics are interesting, and the bulk of the song's interesting, musically. I'm just not one for a lot of squeedly guitar stuff.
Most likely to become an earworm: "It's safe to say, candle / tonight's the day, candle"

5. Popular Mechanics for Lovers, by Beulah
First impressions: This is one of those songs that it's really hard not to bop your head along to the beat.
Upon further examination: This is a fun song. Except it's kind of sad. Spurned ex-lover and all that.
Most likely to become an earworm: "Just because he loves you too / he would-a never take a bullet for you / don't believe a word he says / he would-a never cut his heart out for you"

6. Science vs. Romance, by Rilo Kiley
First impressions: Another mellow Rilo Kiley tune.
Upon further examination: Yep, another mellow Rilo Kiley tune. I like it. Maybe not quite as much as "Hail to Whatever..." or "Portions for Foxes," but it's still quite good.
Most likely to become an earworm: "Text versus romance / you go and edit all you want / still we're not robots / inside a grid"

7. Dissolved Girl, by Massive Attack
First impressions: Pleasant to listen to. Kind of nondescript. Would be decent background music at a gathering or somesuch.
Upon further examination: Kind of a vanilla track. I like vanilla just fine. There just isn't much that makes it stand out.
Most likely to become an earworm: "Say, say my name / need a little love to ease the pain"

8. The Laws Have Changed, by The New Pornographers
First impressions: I'll admit, I cheated on this one. Already knew, and knew I liked, this song. Happily took the opportunity to download it.
Upon further examination: This one and "Miss Teen Wordpower" were conflated in my mind for a good long while; I'd start humming one and switch midway into the other. Oh well. They're both great.
Most likely to become an earworm: "Introducing for the first time / Pharoah on the microphone / sing all hail, what will be revealed today / when we peer to the great unknown / from the line to the throne?"

9. Vikingman, by Rodrigo y Gabriela
First impressions: Holy crap. Is it actually possible to play the guitar that fast? That is absurd.
Upon further examination: Gods. These people are guitar gods. Video of another of their songs.
Most likely to become and earworm: No lyrics, and I suppose just saying "that part that goes ba-da-da daa, ba-doo, ba-da-da ba ba baa, ba-da-da boo-da ba-da ba-da ba-da baa ba-da" isn't really helpful. ;)

There you have it. New music is fun! Yay!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Oh hell yeah

Today it was:

  • wet out when I left in the morning, because it had rained in the night

  • less than 80 degrees all day long

  • finally cool enough in the evening for me to justify wearing a sweater when I went out to the grocery store

It's supposed to rain tomorrow and Friday. I am excited!

Oh yeah, and I downloaded some music per your recommendations, and I'll be posting my reviews shortly. Yay!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Dick Francis Wannabe

I have been trying to help a friend of mine with an honest to goodness racehorse mystery. It's been equally interesting and frustrating, and while I thought I already knew a fair bit about the racing industry, I've learned yet more in these past few weeks.

I've written about my friend, Caitlin, before (steward of the beloved Kakki in her final years). She operates a horse farm in Southern Oregon, which was a successful breeding operation for several years and currently focuses mainly on buying, training, and re-selling horses. She is the most talented rider/trainer I know, and the few summers I spent as her working student taught me almost as much about myself as about horses.

Anyhow, back to the mystery. Last month, Caitlin purchased a young Thoroughbred gelding. The previous owner had bought him at an auction and didn't know much about him, other than the fact that he'd been born in California, wasn't very good at the track, and raced under a name that may or may not have been "Magic Thing", but was something similar to that and definitely spelled strangely (e.g. Magik Thang). Side note: horses in general, and racehorses in particular, are often given some very strange names. At any rate, Caitlin only needed to see this horse move to know she had found something special. She told me that he "is SO beautiful and and calm and moves like no Thoroughbred I've EVER seen, floats along at this slow jog trot with his feet stepping four inches above what you think is the ground, it's wild."

So we've got a beautiful, talented, young horse with a temperament of gold. Caitlin and her family have nicknamed him Royal. His future as a performance horse is bound to be nothing short of shining. Caitlin should be able to sell him for a pretty good price, but there's one small hitch. She still doesn't know who he is, or what his bloodlines are, and most prospective buyers will be keenly interested in such details. And this is where I enter the story.

All racehorses, be they Thoroughbred, Standardbred, Quarter Horse, Arabian, Appaloosa, what have you, are marked with an identifying brand or tattoo. A lip tattoo is the most typical, but neck freeze brands are also used. Every horse registered with the Jockey Club is kept in a huge database. If you have an unknown horse, but its tattoo or brand is clearly legible, the Jockey Club can easily trace the horse and provide copies of its pedigree and race record.

If only it were that easy.

Royal's lip brand is not clearly legible.

The format for a Thoroughbred's tattoo is a letter (designating year of birth) followed by five numbers. Royal's letter is basically invisible, but his teeth indicate he's probably between 4 and 5 years old, which would make him most likely an F or a G horse (born in 2002 or 2003). The rest of the numbers seem like they'd be straightforward enough - 2, 2, something, 2, 1 - except that every possible combination Caitlin called in to the Jockey Club came back as invalid. Either there was no horse registered with that tattoo number, or the horse registered didn't match Royal's description. So Caitlin sent me a bunch of tattoo photos, hoping I could use my mad CSI skillz to enhance them and magically reveal the missing letter and number.

Alas, I only managed to raise more questions. Is that second-to-last number a 2, or could it be an 8 instead? (A week later, we've determined it's definitely a 2. Probably.) The "invisible letter" looks kind of like an H, but that would make Royal younger than his teeth say he is. Aaaand we're still coming up with zilch from the Jockey Club. So. Back to square one. Mystery horse still mysterious. Whatever will we do now?

Update: Something that I forgot to mention before, that has only served to add to the frustration of this whole thing, is that when you call in a potential tattoo number to the Jockey Club, they only let you try two numbers a day. If you catch them in a good mood, they might let you get away with four, and when I called, I cajoled the lady into letting me try three. So checking a series of possible tattoo configurations (G22021, G22081, G22321, G22381, H22021, etc.) takes days at the minimum. Come on, Jockey Club! Why can't you be more like the Standardbred association, which has a beautiful little search engine on their website? (Caitlin thought Royal might be a Standardbred, not least because of his amazing trot, but all the potential matches we came up with on the Standardbred website were for freeze brands, not lip tattoos.)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Make me a mix tape (sorta)

Okay, not so much a mix tape as a mix playlist (ah, technology...)

I probably don't have much of a right to ask, given that I hardly write enough anymore to keep anyone entertained, but I wonder if I might request a favor of the few of you who do actually still come around here.

My sister gave me an iTunes gift certificate for my birthday a few months back (thanks!). I haven't gotten around to using it yet, and I wonder if I might solicit recommendations from you folks as to what I should purchase. Since I stopped downloading free stealing music via Napster et al, I haven't discovered all that many new bands or artists. So whadya say? Help a gal out? Who/what is rocking your [insert music player/device of choice] these days?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Catting is Hard

Over the weekend, the temperature outside was above a hundred degrees. Our apartment has pretty much no insulation whatsoever, and no central air, so even with the wall unit in the living room and the window unit in the bedroom going full blast all day long, it was pretty uncomfortable inside. The living room didn't drop below 93 degrees until well after the sun had set. The bedroom, where the air conditioner works considerably better, was a manageable 84 degrees.

The cats, therefore, spent most of their time this weekend in the bedroom, basking on the bed with their bellies stretched out toward the cool air. I am, however, suspicious that the increase in the temperature outside was in direct proportion to the increase in shedding the cats did.

In other words, they lost their hair at a prodigious rate. What I mean is, the transfer of cat hair from cat body to bed linens was outrageous in scope. That is to say, the cats left us enough of their fur to weave an additional blanket, if we so wished. What I'm getting at, is that there were not only the usual smattering of hairs covering our sheets and pillows, but actual tufts of fur. Tufts. In other words, I am surprised that the cats are not currently naked.

Seriously. It was so bad that I actually took the lint roller to the bed, and had to rip off no less than seven sheets of sticky paper, before the thing was anywhere close to habitable by humans who do not wish to wake up spitting out hairballs in the morning. Those guys...I'm telling you...

Monday, September 03, 2007


It's hot here. Really. I mean, I know it's not Phoenix or anything, but at least those fools have air conditioning.