22 June 2009

Musical Monday: The Comedy Edition

Today, for our Musical Monday (aka Music to Knit By) selection, I've changed gears completely. About every six months or so, I rediscover our Monty Python Sings! CD, and as a result rediscover the genius of this song, on so many levels. It has been made even better for me now that I'm working on my Masters with a focus right around this period in British History, and its historical accuracy in the information is actually kind of stunning.

I don't feel there is any way I can properly introduce this song, So I'm just going to let it speak for itself, sharing only the fact that the first time I heard this song I spent at least 10 minutes afterwards trying to catch my breath (Ironically, we started studying these events the next day in school. That was a difficult class for me to get through). It's just so funny, on so many levels.

So, without further muss or fuss, I present to you the Musical Monday for 22 June, 2009: Oliver Cromwell brought to you by the genius that is Monty Python.

20 June 2009

Rain, rain, go away...

The rain here has been oppressive and persistent, all week. It's either pouring down in driving torrents, or raining just hard enough to make going out and running a problem. All the plans and goals I had made for this past week were ruined by our dear Mother Nature.

All I wanted was to spend the week in this routine: Get up at around nine, putter around, have coffee, catch up on Internet and paperwork until 10:30 - 11:00. Then, at 11:00, I was supposed to clip on my cute new iPod shuffle (in lime green!) that my Aunt got me for my birthday (I told her specifically, no more purses, as she's the main fuel at the fire of my insane purse collection), strap on my cute pink and black running sneakers, and get a move on it! I was aiming to run at least a combined total of a mile and a half a day during a hopefully 3+ mile walk/run. Eventually my goal is to gradually increase the amount of time running vs. walking and do a whole 5K running every other day. You know, since I'm signed up for all those 5Ks in the coming months and all. Also since my summer clothes are all two sizes smaller than I currently am and I won't have the money to replace them all until I start subbing in the fall again. By then, my casual summer clothes are no longer relevant.

Anyway, after the run, I was supposed to hop in the pool for a while, cool off a bit, then spend some time on our cozy little deck, reading, getting some color, pondering my potential thesis topics and the mysteries of the universe, before heading inside to go about my business.

But no. Mother Nature had other plans. So, as a result, I spent the week going stir crazy in the house, and trying to replace running with time on our old, squeaky stepper in our basement which is currently penned in by all my crap from college. A poor replacement for the brisk open air. Or even for a fully functioning stepper, really.

I do realize how petty and bratty this sounds in the grand scheme of things, though, so I just need to remind myself that there's plenty worse out there than rain.

Oddly enough, being trapped in the house actually meant I was less productive than I would have been otherwise. I don't know why that is, but it was true. Barely got any reading done. Spent too much time teaching myself to play the opening riff to the Beatles' Blackbird on guitar for no reason (I am NOT a guitar player). Watched too much T.V.. Complained a lot... You know, all the spring fever-y stuff that I should have grown out of years ago.

I did finally get my room finished, and I did cast on for a new project... the Swallowtail Shawl using that beautiful purple pink and blue sock yarn (that is currently my header!). So far, so good, though two things have become clear to me: first, that this is going to need some serious blocking. It'll be my first project with REAL blocking, as the yarn is 100% wool, not the acrylic I've "blocked" so far.

The second realization this project has allowed me to make is that I cannot work on lace projects while the TV is on. Or while my brother is practicing his trumpet (which is always). Or while someone is on the phone in our teeny house. Or while the dog is barking at nothing (which is almost always). Or really, while any possible auditory distraction exists in the house. Those noises that I'm usually SO GOOD at blocking out (ex. I can watch TV while my brother practices trumpet on the couch next to me without a problem), suddenly become massive issues when I'm trying to follow the pattern of YO, k2tog, ssk, etc... I think I'm just too new to lace knitting to be able to do it in anything but silence.

So, as a result, in my house? The house of perpetual noise making? It's slow going. Much like we could never have birds because of the noise level, neither can I continue work on a lace project for more than five minutes. Although in my case, luckily, the result is not death.

At some point in the next few days, I will have instructions on how to build a K'nex swift up. I have finished the diagrams, but sadly, they look like they were drawn by a second-grader. So I'm going to try to use some of this rain-induced quarantine to build another and take step-by-by step photos of the process. Also, maybe I'll be able to finally finish up my poor, forgotten bedspread.

Maybe the rain isn't really all that bad. I just have to get my ass in gear!


15 June 2009






It's a SWIFT! Made out of my brother's old K'nex! I have my very own SWIFT, and it was basically FREE! (Can you tell I'm excited?)

I was even more excited when I finished it thinking my idea was original. Since then, with the help of my google-fu, I have come to terms with the fact that I am not, in fact, the first person to come up with this idea. In fact, there are tons of economical DIY swift ideas out there, including one made out of a computer chair base, Legos, Tinker Toys, and more designs using K'nex.

But that's okay. I designed it not even knowing there were other K'nex swifts out there, so it's still an impressive feat of engineering for my 100% Liberal Arts brain. My father (a chemical engineer) was less than impressed, but had great fun watching me sprawled out on my living room floor in a pool of our old K'nex like I was 8 again. I kept testing, then rebuilding, then testing, then redesigning, then cursing a bit, then testing again for about three hours.

In the end I'm pretty happy with the design. Nothing catches anywhere, it runs smoothly, works like a charm. Only teeny problem I ran into is that I have to put a towel or a blanket under the base to give it something to hold to, because our K'nex are old, and most are slightly bent. As a result, the base doesn't sit perfectly flat and will spin along with the actual swift part if it's on a smooth, hard surface. But that's nothing a hand towel won't fix, and it's a flaw in my materials, not the design. I will post a diagram later in the week in case anyone else has some spare K'nex laying around from their kids or from their childhood and wants to make one using my (simple in comparison to others) design.

Other than my swift adventures, I've been relatively busy this past weekend, but all were social outings this time, and not crazy overload outings. I've moved on to the last book that has since been published by Kathy Reichs, Bones to Ashes, after finishing Break No Bones, a book I loved, but that pulled all sorts of weird emotional strings by including one of the most heartbreaking corpse discoveries I've ever read.

I've got a lot of catching up on my slate for this next week. Today, I tackle finishing up the cleaning in my room, and the basement, catching up on paperwork/mail, getting some time in with my French Horn (I agreed to be in a brass quintet with players that are much more experienced than I, so I've got to get practicing), and hopefully dropping a ton of stuff off at the Salvation Army so it's not taking up the entirety of my trunk anymore.

Since I've got a plate full today, I will leave you with our first Musical Monday (aka Music to Knit By) in a while. This is possibly the only Handel piece that I can stand to listen to. In fact, I actually like it, so much so that my brother (a trumpet player) and I are thinking of doing it sometime next winter. It's called Let the Bright Seraphim. This first version is sung by Kathleen Battle with Wynton Marsalis on Trumpet. It is overall a masterful recording, as you simply don't get better than Wynton Marsalis on trumpet, and Kathleen Battle, while she's not my favorite for other styles, has a voice perfectly suited for this kind of baroque music.

Also for your auditory delight, I also include a live recording of Dame Kiri Te Kanawa singing the same piece at Princess Di and Prince Charles' 1981 wedding. This recording has less stress on the duet aspect between the trumpet and the soprano. In fact, I don't even know who is playing the trumpet. But Dame Kiri is just the greatest, so I had to include it anyway. I find her interpretation of the B section ("Let the cherubic hosts...") to be fascinating and delightfully different. Enjoy!


10 June 2009

(Not Quite) Wordless Wednesday

Well, lets take a photo tour of what I've been up to...

A few days ago, my friends and I attended a Yankee's Farm Team game (The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Yankees), which was a lot of fun. It was girl scout night, and we had a row of little girls in front of us. When we started harmonizing the Star Spangled Banner with our band parts (because we're super-nerds like that), the chickadees' heads all whipped around with expressions that ranged from interested to terrified. It only worsened when we broke into Holst's March from the Second Suite later on.

To make it an even more fun night, it was fireworks night.

And boy, what a show it was.

Then, later in the weekend, my mom, my brother, and I met a whole bunch of friends in NYC to go see a small indie show that a family aquaintance had written, which will not be discussed here, because it's offensive (but freaking halarious) stuff.

Can I just share with you how much I loathe the GW Bridge? Terrifying. Only thing more terrifying might be the Tappinsee Bridge up in Piermont.

One discovery while I was up in the city was that they've closed off Broadway in the blocks going through Times Square for the summer. Totally f-ed up the traffic patterns in the city. And even worse, they're considering making it permanent.

Speaking of Piermont, we went a bit out of our way and took a quick stop off there on our way home. It's such a beautiful little town, with great food, great views, and some AMAZING houses.

The day couldn't have been a better day for being waterside, either. Warm, with a cool damp breeze coming in off the Hudson, which was gently flowing framed by a stunning blue sky.

There's a cute little shopping/resturaunt center, this is almost painfully picturesque, and we spent some time walking around that square, sitting in the gazebo, reading in the sun a bit, in addition to trying to figure out what the big metal thing was. There was no plaque to be found, but my guess says its machinery from some famous boat. Or from inside the Industrial Revolution-era riverside factory that was the basis for originally settling Piermont. I spent a lot of time making up a history for this metal thing.

Other than those two brief little mini-trips, I've been working, and reading, and working, and reading.

Oh, and sleeping. A lot.

I hadn't realized how drained I had been from finals and concert season until I suddenly had free time. But even so, I managed to get through about 7 more Kathy Reichs novels. I'm not going to do full reviews for them, so I will leave you today with a quick assessment of each:

Death Du Jour: A-. It had the same wrap-up problems as her first book. Seems to be her style. Was helped by the fact that cults are freaking scary.

Deadly Decisions: C-. I really did not enjoy this book. It was dry, boring, and was not paced as well as the others. Plus, bikers really aren't my thing. Unless they're really hot. Which, from what I've seen, is usually (and sadly), not the case.

Fatal Voyage: A+. Terrifying. Plane Crashes often are. Written well, and paced perfectly.

Grave Secrets: B+. Not my favorite, so far, but still awesome. Again, quick wrap-up.

Bare Bones: B+. Fascinating topic. However, the ending came too much from left field for me to really feel satisfied with the conclusion.

Monday Mourning: A. Has it all. Great plot, mob ties, and an crochety old landlord with a shriveled set of man-bits.

Cross Bones: A+. Best one yet. But I'm a sucker for bible intrege, and archological scandal.

Break No Bones: I'm only half way through right now, but I'm liking it so far!


P.S. - Check it out. This is an AWESOME idea, brought to my attention by the awesome blog, Dr.Chop Suey Knits..... THE 3/50 PROJECT.

P.S.S. - I just switched browsers from IE (which I hate) to Safari (which I love). Sadly, the blogger spell check doesn't seem to want to work in Safari, so pardon my misspellings until I have the energy to copy/paste into word to fix them without losing my html and formatting.

07 June 2009

I've been a bad blogger...

Woah, those weeks got away from me. I don't think I realized just how drained I was from the end of semester/concert season rush. I've been reading like a fiend, and when I haven't had my nose in a book, I've been conked out on the couch after attempting to watch my nightly news shows. I did get to a Yankees farm team game with some friends on Friday, a shopping trip to Leigh Valley with my Aunt, and I'm spending tonight and tomorrow morning in NYC. So when I get back, the rest of my Monday (I have a sub called in for my substitute job... a sub for a sub. Unnecessarily complicated,), will be devoted to updating you on my excursions and reading (8 books down), catching up with my blog reading, and finishing that blog list for Lesser Known Skeins that I was supposed to do weeks ago.

And with that, I need to go pack my overnighter!