25 March 2009

For Lack of Something Better to Say

I'll admit it--I have tried to write several posts in the course of the past two weeks but haven't actually finished any of those drafts.

So in the absence of wit and stories of interest, I am posting several photos from my phone. Hopefully this will suffice for the time being.

Ain't that the truth.
(Photo taken at Dylan's Candy Bar in New York. I highly recommend it)

A beautiful exhibit now on at LACMA in LA.

Delicious goodie-goodness, served nightly at El Cholo.

10 March 2009

Top 5

A friend recently asked me to list my top 5 can't-live-without albums for a project. Have you ever tried to pick just 5 albums that you couldn't live without? It's hard. Really hard. Especially when you love music as much as I do.

1. Billie Holiday – Greatest Hits (Sony). Sure her vocal range was limited compared to other powerhouse female vocalists, but Billie had the ability to possesses a song in such a way that I swear she lived it. She tailored melodies to suit her—lagging behind the beat just a bit and using inflection to transform the stalest lyric into a scrumptious morsel. This album is my favorite collection simply for the fact that it includes “The Very Thought of You”, a simple and beautiful representation of her talent.

2. Miles Davis – Kind of Blue. Most likely, deserted islands come standard with this classic album. It is an intimate body of work, perhaps due to the fact it was not a rehearsed body of work. It comes alive, somehow, each time I play it. And it always sounds different, as though Miles and his band (John Coltrane!) are jamming together inside my stereo for my own personal enjoyment.

3. Van Morrison – Moondance. The first time I went to Belfast, I half expected to be asked to recite the lyrics to this album before being granted entry into a pub. The stories woven through this album are ingrained in me: I want to be the object of affection documented in ‘Crazy Love’; I hear the fog horn he sings about on ‘Into the Mystic’; I feel the rain pounding down on the county fair in ‘And It Stoned Me’.

4. Foy Vance – Hope. Foy tells stories through his songs the way Leonard Cohen tells a story—so detailed and personal they seem more like personal memories than stories. My favorite track is ‘Indiscriminate Act of Kindness’. Much the way I can see the room Leonard sings about in ‘Chelsea Hotel’, I see the characters Foy creates in this ultimately uplifting song. And that voice! This guy can sing.

5. The Beatles – Rubber Soul. My two favorite Beatles songs live on this album: Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) and Girl. I’ll never tire of hearing John Lennon sigh in the chorus.

What are your top 5 albums?

04 March 2009

Gymtastic - Or Not

This morning I did something that I thought I'd never do. I went to a gym and met with a personal trainer.

I never thought this day would come because
a) I had to get up very early
b) I had to go to a gym
c) The gym I joined is that typical LA place where starlets and business folk go to worship themselves while throwing scornful glances and those wearing size 6 or higher, and I can't stand that kind of place.

My trainer, let's call him Derek, is what you might envision an LA trainer to be: kinda short, buff, and constantly throws out phrases like "I want to motive you to..." He also refers to me in the third person during the workout session.

I arrived at the gym at the very unkind hour of 7:20. The incredibly tanned young man at the check-in desk wasn't especially kind nor was he helpful. Awesome. I couldn't figure out how to work the permanent locks on the lockers in the changing room, so I stashed all of my precious belongings in a locker without a lock and prayed that God Himself would stand guard over my things (especially my iPhone, which I love so very much). Tanned boy was not amused at having to tell me the directions twice. "Um, yeah, so, like you just open the lock, then, like, scramble the code, and close the door. Oh, and you have to set your own, like, code first." He must write assembly instructions for Mattel in his spare time.

Derek was late. 7 minutes late, to be exact. At about the 5 minute mark I thought of grabbing my things and leaving, telling that tan and unkind receptionist that Derek would have to reschedule. I'm paying Derek the GDP of a small country to tell me how to work out, so every minute counts! (Plus, I'd use any excuse to get outta the gym. I detest the smell, the lighting, the clothes, the unspoken rules and etiquette)

Our workout was preceded by a chat about my goals and a little more Derek advertising. Like everyone in this town, Derek is writing a book (fitness) and wants to have a show (preferably with a book deal). Gracious. What did I get myself into?

The workout wasn't especially enlightening, but I learned how to use the machines and where the towels were located (if you don't wipe down your machine after using it, the scornful glances turn brutal). One of my goals is to improve my posture. We worked on this while I walked on the treadmill. Derek stood behind me because all of the treadmills around me were occupied and told me to "stand up like the Queen," "roll your feet," and "pretend someone has a rope tied around your waist and is pulling you forward." This may seem trivial, but I challenge you to try all of these things while walking quickly on a moving belt that is slightly elevated and trying to have a face-to-face conversation with someone behind you. Not so easy. Not so graceful.

Thankfully, my workout ended with just enough time for me to dash into the changing room and find that all of my precious belongings and my magnificent iPhone were waiting for me in that unsecured corner locker. I took my belongings to the showers and kept my eyes focused ahead. Seems many women are immensely comfortable in that public changing area. And yes, I was that girl who didn't get dressed in the common area but instead dressed in the hot and humid shower area. I wasn't about to leave the iPhone in an unsecure location again! Whatevs. That's how I roll since I am apparently the antithesis of an LA girl.

My reward for pushing through this new challenge? As much coffee as my nerves can stand.