September 2009 Archives

promo madness

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After much fiddling I declared the promos done. To be more precise, I made myself stop already. I ended up with 6, which is probably too many. The garage rock show has 7, and I figured as long as I made no more than they did, I was doing okay. Here's the final line-up:








"Let's Misbehave" by Irving Aaronson and His Commanders, recorded 1928. (direct link)








"Mr. Ghost Goes to Town" by the John Buzon Trio. (direct link)








"Hot Toddy" by Julie London. (direct link)








"Corazon de Melon" by Rosemary Clooney & Perez Prado Orchestra. (direct link)








"I Hear Music" by Billie Holiday And Her Orchestra. (direct link)








"Jumpin' at the Record Shop" by Slim Gaillard. (direct link)


I converted them to .wav and burned a CD for Georg to take to the promotions director on Thursday morning. I don't know when they'll end up in the MCR, or whether anyone will even want to play them. I had fun making them anyway.

nc pride

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Flying Spaghetti Monster has pride!Had a great time at the NC Pride parade today. It was like a carnival or festival -- vendor booths set up on the lawn on East Campus and tons of people walking around. We had a booth in a great location, right by the parade route. We collected petitions, handed out flyers, and got a few people to call Hagan on the spot.

The response was overall positive, with one major exception: two angry men who brought a video camera and spent over an hour haranguing Thao, the event organizer. It was hard to tell at first what they were getting at -- I thought at first they were conservatives and their goal was to try and trip Thao up, get her rattled enough to say something stupid on camera. But I think they were actually gay progressives who were really angry at Obama and wanted to vent. They had seen our volunteer event listed on the OFA website, and they thought that meant we were official representatives of OFA, and therefore it was appropriate to spend an hour yelling at Thao and demanding she answer for Obama's failures on gay rights.

I don't fault their anger. Obama made some specific promises that he has thus far failed to keep, which have a huge impact on the lives of gay Americans. Still, I wish they hadn't taken out their anger on a misplaced target like Thao. She is one of the sweetest people I know and she's just a volunteer, working her ass off to try and help people get health care coverage. They kept saying to her "you represent OFA! you advertised on their website!" The events area of the OFA website is a social networking site which helps volunteers get in touch with each other. We don't work for them and we didn't even have any OFA literature on our table. We're advocating for the public option, which seems to put us to the left of OFA.

Thao said that by the end, they were listening to her and it was an open discussion. But for most of the time they definitely weren't -- they would throw a question at her, and when she tried to answer it, after a few words they would cut her off and start yelling at her, both of them at the same time. It was hard to even understand what they were saying sometimes, with both of them shouting at once. Then they'd go to the next question and do it all over again. And all the while the camera was running. I'm really grateful she was there to talk to them. I don't know what I would have done in her shoes. I definitely would not have let them stick a camera in my face and then yell at me for an hour.

The weirdest thing was, the whole time these two guys were venting their rage, saying that we were exploiting the gay community and so forth, other people were coming up to the booth and saying how much they wanted to sign our petition. I talked to two women who had two beautiful toddlers. They said that only one of them had domestic partner benefits at her job, and that one had been laid off a week ago. And the other woman had just completed adoption of the children when the layoff happened. So the woman who got laid off can't be on her partner's policy, but at least the children don't lose their insurance. But what if the adoption hadn't gone through? I doubt it's easy for a lesbian to adopt in North Carolina. It's obscene that a family's access to health care could be so tenuous. I really do not understand why people think it's acceptable that whether we get health care depends on where we work. Why is that considered okay?

I'm going into rant mode so I better stop writing about the booth. The parade was fun. The Flying Spaghetti Monster was near the front of the parade line-up. Several businesses marched including Best Buy, Glaxo and Food Lion, as well as several local churches. For some bizarre reason the Glaxo entry had two llamas. The always excellent Scene of the Crime Rovers were there, wearing pink and black, along with the Beaver Lodge, all wearing bridal outfits, mostly made of plastic supermarket bags. And the Centro Hispano had folks walking in gorgeous costumes that were most definitely not made of supermarket bags.

There was a small, sad group of protestors outside Mad Hatter. Maybe 3 people? Holding bibles in the air and waving ugly signs. The best part was, they were basically surrounded by kids who were playing disco classics like "It's Raining Men" and dancing at the protestors. It was priceless.

Okay, one more quick observation about the booth: at the farmer's market, the older a person is, the less likely they'll sign the petition. But at the pride parade, the older folks were much more likely to sign.

health care pride

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I will be working the health care table at the NC Pride March tomorrow from 11-1. (The event is all day; those are the hours I'll be at the table.) If you are showing your pride tomorrow, stop by and say hi! We will be at the corner of Main & Campus Drive and we will have a tent in case of rain.

more promos

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I've noticed that when I have a project in Audacity, I can never stop fiddling with it. It's a good thing my show has a set time or I'd never stop editing. Speaking of which, I redid those promos. I decided they were too long & aimed for 30 seconds max. With some ... fiddling, I managed to shave 10-15 sec off each of them. Now they're 19 sec and 35 sec which isn't bad.

While I was at it, I made another one that's more swing:








In case the Flash player doesn't work, here's a direct link.


I wonder how many they want/would accept from me? I keep thinking of more songs that would make good promos.

whitey's lindy hoppers

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Check out this astonishing dance number by Whitey's Lindy Hoppers from the movie Hellzapoppin'.


Here's a link in case that LJ bug is still a problem.

In the movie they dance to music by Slim and Slam, though the video above shows them dancing to Count Basie's "Jumpin' at the Woodside." I read on the Savoy Style website that the number was originally choreographed and danced to the Basie track, but the studio had new music written for the movie. Not sure why. Maybe they didn't want to pay royalties to Basie?

For one more added wrinkle, I don't have my CDs with me to check but I'm sure whoever put that video together had to speed up the music to match the dancing. I've heard a few versions of "Jumpin' at the Woodside" and none of them are that fast. The group was probably dancing to a live performance that could have been done at any tempo. I've similarly noticed that the radio show Jubilee used a few bars of "One O'Clock Jump" as their theme music, much faster than the way Basie did it.

promos, i make promos

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My inclination was to lie around all day today recovering from yesterday's drive home. But I wanted to feel like I was accomplishing something. Luckily the programming director had asked all the specialty show DJs to make short promos for our shows. That sounds like fun!

The weird thing about my show is that it's kind of hard to define. Basically I play jazz and pop vocalists from the 1920s through the early 1960s. Not a very catchy slogan, is it? I tried a couple of different approaches, using different music for each.

The first one uses a lounge/bachelor pad classic by Julie London. I ripped off a promo idea from my favorite satellite radio station, the 40s on 4: most of the day the show is called The Savoy Express, and their promos say "This is the Larry Clinton Express. This is the Artie Shaw Express. This is the Judy Garland Express" and so on. I tried the same idea with "Divaville Lounge." think it turned out pretty good if I do say so.








In case the Flash player doesn't work, here's a direct link.


The second one uses a silly song from 1928, and again it turned out just about exactly how I wanted. "From Tin Pan Alley to the swing era" isn't exactly accurate, but I think it conveys the feel of the show pretty well.








Again, a direct link in case the Flash player doesn't work.


The third one is hot jazz and I don't think it turned out as well. My voice isn't well suited to the energy of the track, and when I tried to make myself sound more animated I came out sounding like an idiot. plus it was more difficult to edit the track down to the length I needed. I might look for a different song to do this one over.








Again, a direct link in case the Flash player doesn't work.

I had actually been thinking about doing something like this for a long time, because I want an intro that I could play at the beginning of every show. Something like you hear to introduce those old time radio shows. The stumbling block is finding someone who's good at voices and could sound like a radio announcer from the 1940s. (If you are such a person and you're willing to be recorded for the beginning of my show, please email me!)

google directions

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During this trip we put to the test the GPS/directions in the iPhone. We went a lot of places in a couple of days and we needed lots of directions! I had never before used the walking or public transportation options.

In some ways the public transportation directions are amazing. It has the schedules built in so it doesn't just tell you how to get to the station and what train to take, it tells you the next train leaves in 4 minutes and it will take 9 minutes to get to your destination. The only problem we had was that we couldn't figure out how to specify the type of public transport we wanted. For instance we were trying to get from the ferry terminal to a location on Grand St., and Georg wanted to take the subway, but it kept directing us to take a bus.

Another issue, or I guess feature request, was that several times we wanted to know, "Where is the nearest subway station to where I am right now?" And we couldn't figure out how to ask the phone that. We came up with a workaround: Georg knew that there was a station for the J train nearby, and I remembered seeing signs that the J train ends at Jamaica Center. So I asked for directions from our current location to Jamaica Center. Sure enough, the phone sent us to the station we were looking for. (We couldn't just ask for directions to the place we were trying to go, because as I mentioned above it kept trying to put us on a bus and we wanted to take the subway.)

That worked, but only because one of us was a native New Yorker who still remembered a lot about the subway system. If we hadn't known what train stopped nearby or where else that train goes, we would have been sunk. It seems like you ought to be able to find your current location and then tap a button for "nearest public transportation."

Similarly, we had trouble modifying the driving directions it gave us. On the Google website it's pretty easy to change your route just by clicking and dragging the line, but I couldn't figure out how to do that on the phone.

The only way I found to do it is to pick a place along the route you want, and enter that as your destination. Then get new directions from that intermediate stop to your actual destination. For instance, when we drove from Staten Island to Delaware, we knew we wanted to take the Commodore Barry Bridge; we just couldn't remember what exit to take from the turnpike. Asking the phone for directions from SI to DE was useless, as it wanted us to take the Walt Whitman Bridge. Which dumps you on 95 right in the middle of Philadelphia, yuck. If we wanted the directions to include the Commodore Barry Bridge, we had to say that was the destination. It seems like it would be easier if the phone would let you change the route. Or have multiple-destination directions so you could easily use intermediate stops to nudge the route in the direction you want.

These are just quibbles though. It was really helpful to have the phone and be able to find out directions anytime. The GPS/directions were a big reason why I bought the iPhone (I had been thinking about getting a GPS for the car until my old phone died) and it feels like money well spent.

vacations are fun

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We just got back (like, less than an hour ago) from a trip to Staten Island. We had a great time! We:

  • had ices from an ice cream stand/tombstone shop a couple of doors down from Georg's folks' house
  • walked through Chinatown
  • watched 5 cops pull a couple of young European tourists off the subway for taking photos of the train (okay that part wasn't much fun)
  • had a creme brulée doughnut
  • visited the Statue of Liberty
  • tried to go to the crown of the Statue of Liberty, but I couldn't because the stairs are so steep and narrow
  • had lunch with Womzilla in Grand Central Station
  • stood on the exact spot where Judy Garland met Robert Walker in The Clock
  • went to a tiki bar on Staten Island and had a drink served in a hollowed-out pineapple
  • visited a Russian grocery store
  • learned a new expression for exasperation: "Ay yai yai, with that thing!"

tune in for mel

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The first hour of this afternoon's program will be a birthday tribute to Mel Tormé, born on Sept 13 1925. I'm a huge fan of Mel and I'm really looking forward to the show. 88.7 if you're local, wxdu.org if you're not.

In 9 states, insurance companies have denied coverage on the grounds that being a victim of domestic violence is a pre-existing condition.

What a country!

friends call him

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My favorite contestant on the new season of Top Chef:
top-chef-heat-miser.jpg He's too much!

ETA: Just checked the AV Club, where they also made a Rankin-Bass connection for Kevin, except they pegged him as Yukon Cornelius. I have to say, they've got a point:
top-chef-yukon-cornelius.jpg

chance encounter, part 2

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Not as crazy cool as a stranger following me off the highway and inviting me to a mah jongg club, but I had another random fun exchange this afternoon.

I had just left work and noticed a small spider on my steering wheel. Being a stoic, macho sort, I screamed like a little girl and frantically poked at it with a napkin, trying to get it out of the car. I threw it out the window, but you know, spider! Of course I pulled over at the next place I could, which turned out to be the back door of a seafood restaurant.

I was standing next to my car shaking my skirt to make sure the spider wasn't on it when a fellow wearing chef whites came out the back door of the restaurant. He waved and said "Hola!" so I waved and said "Hi!" At this he looked startled and then we had a hilarious non-conversation:

"Hispanic?"
"No, sorry!"
"No ingles!"
"No español, lo siento!"
"Ha ha ha, lo siento! [A couple sentences of Spanish I didn't understand], no ingles, bye!"
"Bye!"

Did he think I was hispanic? I have light brown hair and blue eyes, but I was wearing big sunglasses so my eyes weren't visible. Maybe because of the car? Are art cars common in Latin America? I didn't think so but I might be wrong.

Also, did he laugh because it was funny that I knew a couple of words of Spanish, or because my pronunciation was so bad? It was a good-natured laugh, and he seemed like a nice guy, and I wished I could have actually talked to him.

Last summer I spent some time trying to learn Spanish from a terrific podcast called Coffee Break Spanish. Unfortunately I didn't keep it up, and all I've got at this point is the ability to order at a taqueria, "por favor," "otra vez?" "lo siento" and the critically important sentence I taught myself during the campaign: "Trabajo con Barack Obama. Puede votar?" (Translation: I work for Barack Obama. Can you vote?) That came in really handy last fall but it isn't very useful now.

chance encounter

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I forgot all about the crazy part of my trip to Atlanta. No, besides driving 12 hours round trip to sample perfume. I mean the crazy part!

The Google map route to Alpharetta had me get off 85, drive about 12 miles on a state road, and then another few miles on a state highway. When I got off the highway (400 I think?), the hotel came up quicker than expected and I almost missed the turn, but then there was a gap in the traffic and I made it easily.

I had realized on the way that I was going to get to the hotel about 2:15, and since I hadn't eaten lunch it would be easier to go straight on to Whole Foods, eat before will call, and then check in afterwards. But I had the directions to the hotel all set up in my phone, and not being a lunatic, I couldn't look up the new directions while I was driving. So I figured I'd just drive to the hotel, see where it was, and then go from there to Whole Foods.

I was sitting in the hotel parking lot, pulling up the directions, when a minivan pulled up next to me and a very excited woman jumped out. Turns out she belongs to a local mahjongg club, had seen my MAHJONGG plate, and had followed me off the highway! She said I turned off the road so fast that she missed me and had to double back.

She wanted to take pictures of the car but she couldn't figure out how to make her camera phone work. I took a couple of photos for her with my phone and emailed them to her. One of the hood, and one of her pointing at the license plate. She told me most of her group plays American style mahjongg and she plays Cantonese style. I told her I play Japanese style and I showed her the game on the hood. She asked me some questions about it -- like, why is the discard pile in a neat row in front of each player. At her club everyone throws their discards into the middle.

And she invited me to play with them that night! She said their regular game was a different night but she could get them together to see the car. I declined, knowing that first of all, I was going to be exhausted by the time will call was over, and secondly, I'm so out of practice that even aside from the fatigue I wouldn't be up to playing mahjongg that night. I was even having trouble remembering the answers to some of the questions she asked me about the game on the hood.

I asked her to email me back when she got the photos of the car, and promised I'd get in touch next time I come down for will call. It would be fun to join a ladies' mahjongg game if I was expecting it. I don't know much about American rules, but I've heard that Chinese rules are similar enough to Japanese that I'd be able to adapt pretty easily. I'd definitely have to brush up on the rules beforehand.

fun with stinking

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BPAL will callI just got back this afternoon from an overnight trip to Atlanta. I went to Will Call for Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab! It's a monthly event where they have tons of blends to try and/or buy. They normally do only mail order (excepting a handful of blends that are sold in a few stores, including some Whole Foods). So this is the only opportunity to try out the product before buying. I think they call it Will Call because at the LA one, people email in advance to place their orders.

They have two each month: one in LA at their main location, and one at the Alpharetta Whole Foods in Atlanta. And I went to the one in Atlanta! I drove down yesterday, arrived at the Whole Foods at 2:45, had a quick lunch from the hot bar and then spent about 90 minutes at Will Call. It was kind of overwhelming! There were 3 tables with samples of the blends that were sale: a bunch of general catalog, especially new ones like the new Mad Tea Party, Steamworks, Doc Constantine's Pharmacopeia, Marchen ... none of the Neil Gaiman scents now that I think about it. And all the summer and Halloween limited editions. Then there was a long table with the newest LEs and some prototypes that aren't out yet. Those were to try only, not to buy.

Then another table had related supplies: empty bottles in various sizes, rollerball bottles, spritzer bottles, disposable eyedroppers, things like that. And a row of chairs along one wall. I think they were just there to be out of the way, the space is normally a cooking school inside Whole Foods, and it was great to have a place to sit down for a minute.

There was also a long table with snacks from the store -- bottled water, sodas, chips, fruit and cookies, and a birthday cake! Last week was the first birthday the BPAL owner/designer's little girl, Lilith. There were 3 LE blends in Lilith's honor, one of which smells like cake, so the Atlanta hosts provided birthday cake. I didn't have cake, though it looked good. I hadn't eaten all day & then wolfed down lunch while I was waiting for will call to open at 3. The thought of tossing a big rich slice of cake on top of that seemed like a bad idea. I did greatly appreciate being able to sit down and snack on some fruit & chips & salsa when I needed a break to clear my nose.

All told I tried about 20 blends. I'm not sure exactly, despite my best efforts I lost count at the end! I had a system: before leaving home I had typed my wish list into my phone. As I was testing, I typed in a number next to each name. 1-5 was the top of the left arm; 6-10 was the top of the right arm; then 11-20 were the insides of the arms.

Things I did wrong: first, I put the samples way too close together on my arms. It became really difficult to distinguish each one. I think I could have more comfortably done 5 on each arm if I had spaced them out better.

Second, I didn't give each blend enough time to test the drydown stage before buying, Sure enough, after I left the store one of the LEs I had bought went bad on me. Luckily the bottle was unopened and I was able to go back and exchange it. Will Call lasts for hours. Next time I'll go early, try everything that interests me, then leave. Let them dry down and then go back to buy the ones I want.

Speaking of buying, the pricing is pretty good. Everything was $17.99. (Direct from the Lab, the general catalog are $15 and the limited editions are $17.50.) They gave a 10% discount off the order. Sales tax in Georgia is not high, so if you bought mainly LE, it ended up cheaper than buying from the Lab. Except for the cost of the trip of course.

I stayed last night at a Sierra Hotel. It was a decent hotel: free wireless, nice couch and kitchenette in the room, decent breakfast the next morning, and a good rate. Alpharetta seems to be a business area like RTP, with lots of hotels that have much cheaper rates on weekends. My only gripe was I couldn't find the channel that says what's on the other channels. I found TCM which wasn't showing anything I wanted to see. Ended up idly websurfing and watching a marathon of Law & Order SVU. I don't watch many TV dramas and had never seen this one before. It really works overtime to satisfy one's prurient interests. In one episode Miranda from Sex & the City played a woman with DID who's a danger to a baby. That was the basic premise and then it got really complicated.

Left at 8:30 this morning, stopped at the Charlotte Ikea on the way, and was home about 3:15. Kind of a crazy couple of days! It was nice, though, to do something a little impulsive just for myself.

Because this post is long enough already, I'm putting the reviews behind a cut.

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This page is an archive of entries from September 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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