Monday, September 30, 2013

10 Things

1. My life is currently under construction. But before you think that this is some deep metaphor about my metaphysical existence, no, I mean The Homestead is torn up. We are doing some renovating, remodeling, sprucing up as the kids say. Carpet has been ripped up, furniture has been piled up like huge Jenga towers, 67840 paint chip samples have been stared at, I can't find anything of any importance at the time that it is at utmost importance to me, I have no recollection of what a hot home cooked meal is and people at all the area home improvement stores know us by name. And while I believe that the Internet is all magic and pixie dust, I do know that, even with wireless, some things still need to be plugged in, and when things are getting ripped out and other things are being moved around, magic pixie dust things get unplugged. So the very same week that I felt like returning to blogging about my super fun awesome life is the same week that our Internet has been all kinds of coming and going. But so far today, the Internet magic is with us, so let's take advantage of it.

2. Wil Wheaton is awesome. The end.

3.With all the talk we hear about "you choose to be offend" and whatnot, where is all the talk about "DON'T BE OFFENSIVE  and cause people to rage eat more than a couple apple cider donuts to try to erase the time they had to spend in your presence listening to your disrespectful and condescending tone and remarks towards women." I guess this is just another brick being thrown at me from the heavens making me realize that being single and happy is a lot better than some of the alternatives. Why can't more guys be like Wil Wheaton?

4. On a way happier note: PICKLES! I have always been number one fan of the pickle family, but when I was in Savannah, GA a couple years ago, I was introduced to a new love: fried pickles. Every since then, it has become a summer tradition, usually for our big old BBQs in my former VA big old backyard, to fry up some pickles. This year, I grabbed a jar of homemade pickles (can I get a what, what!) and used this recipe for baked pickles, and they turned out just as delightful as the Southern fried ones.

5. I have been trying to be better about not obsessing over being "plugged in" 24/7 a week. I DON'T WANT THE MACHINES TO WIN.  And because my unquiet mind needs more quiet time.  I practically could of written this video (and I totally want the dress she is bowling in):

But I also know that being connected via technology is the way we live now and I really can't, and to some high degree,  don't want to fight it, in fact, in many, many, many ways I love technology, like luv it. I guess technology is redefining that what and how of relationships and we just have to figure out what that means to us.

6. I heard they are making a new film version of East of Eden. DON'T DO IT. East of Eden is one of my top 10 favorite American Lit books, but I have stopped trying to get people to read it and usually just tie them down to a chair (with snacks, of course. Meaning I give them snacks, not tie them up with snacks. Clearly) and make them watch the 1955 film version with James Dean in it, even if it really only covers half of the novel.  That version is all the world ever needs. EVER.

7. Fortune cookie fortunes never lie, right?

8.  Gosh, government, you didn't have to threaten to shut down to keep me from even thinking about working for you again and moving back to DC. Whatever. I'll just stay here. Our neighbors just got a new cow, so . . . anyway. No, I'm not tearing up, there's something in my eye.  Leave me alone. 

9. {dance break}

10. According to my calendar, October is going to be a swell month: a couple super duper concerts, a few day trips with super duper friends,  return of The Walking Dead (super duper zombies?), and perfect non-sweating, non-freezing temperatures. Let's turn that page on the calendar already!

September Reads

It's the last day of the month, so I'm packing up my library bag to take back to la bibliotheque tomorrow, and thought I would share some favorite reads from the 9th month of the year.

(I checked out all of the books from my local public library, so the following links go to the World Cat, so you can see it they are available at your local library too! And before you ask, World Cat is not some jet  setting feline (if only!), but it a World {card} Catalog, searching and linking library collections across the world. )

Di Bruno Brothers House of Cheese by Tenaya Darlington.
The minute I picked up this book, I knew I was going to have to buy a copy for myself. While reading it, I actually, literally, and physically hugged the book, more than once. Written by food blogger, Tenaya Darlington, also known as Madame Fromage, this beautiful book not only schools the reader in different kinds of artisans cheeses, but also suggests parings and gives some mighty fine suggestions for cheese boards. Cheese boards for everyone!  There are also ridiculously amazing sounding recipes, like S'mores with Scharfe Maxx (a cheese from Switzerland), and Grilled Peaches with Quadrello di Buffala (an Italian cheese). There really is an art to enjoying cheese. Eating it by itself it fine and great, but knowing how to pair which cheese with which bread, fruit, chocolate, etc makes the flavors ever so more delightful and life changing. Life. Changing.  

My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss.
I am starting to realize that many of my current book selections are food theme. Everyone likes a good theme, right? My Berlin Kitchen is more than an autobiography of food blogger, Luisa Weiss (The Wednesday Chef), but a lovely and true tale on how food and food culture can intertwine in a meaningful life.  I will admit, that I am always envious of the European view of food, or at least from what I have experienced the handful of times I have been over across the seas. And I am really bad at explaining it, but over there,  but they seem to have a so much better relationship with food then our own diet/fast food obsessed culture, food and eating seems more like an event,  there is culture and love and history in every meal, that you have slow down to enjoy it all. And I think My Berlin Kitchen fancies this philosophy beautifully. Weiss shares stories from her life, the good and the bad, and each chapter ends with a recipe meaningful to the events she just shared.  I haven't tried making any of the recipes yet, but have copied down several, including Tomato Bread Soup, to hopefully try on those days where I whine as annoyingly as possible, I don't know what to eatttttttttttttt

Salt, Sugar, Fat by Michael Moss
So, maybe I have been a little hard on American food, it isn't all disordered madness. I have eaten some pretty mind blowing food here in States. But reading, Salt, Sugar, Fat by Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Michael Moss, has got me really thinking about the price we sometimes pay for convenience vs quality. The premise of the book is that the leading food companies, without guile, have worked out perfect equations of ingredients and additives in food, mainly salt, sugar, and fat, to keep the masses addicted to and thus buying their food brands and products. Never mind the health problems all this may cause those masses, which the companies seem fully aware of. And never mind how poor health can and often dominoes into many other pieces of society. Business is business and profit is profit. This book is a really interesting, eye opening and at times disturbing view of food science and food marketing. I honestly couldn't stop reading about how Lunchables came to be.  I didn't think I would ever say that. Michael Moss ends the books saying that he understands that people, realistically, can't give up processed food completely. Few people have the time and resources to grow and make from scratch every single food thing they put in their body. His hopes, with the book, was to educate consumers a little about the complicated game of the food industry, which in turn would hopefully allow those consumers to make more educated choices with our food purchases and menus.

I already have a {growing} pile of books waiting for me to crack up in October, and I even see a fiction book there. I try to restrain myself, but most times, I have this feeling that I MUST READ ALL THE BOOKS. 

 Books suggestions are always welcomed!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Song of the Week: Johnny Flynn

Johnny Flynn was one of the opening acts for the Mumford & Sons tour last week, and rightfully so, since they all came out of the same London music scene. I kinda love when bands bring their friends and the bands of those friends on tour. Instead of three completely separate bands, us fine folk in the audience, get a whole hootenanny night. So whenever my {imaginary} band goes on tour,  I'm taking all of you along! So tune your ukuleles (I've heard that's the hip instrument now), and polish up your dancing shoes. It will be a blast.

"Tickle Me Pink," is my favorite Johnny Flynn song, which they did perform much to my delight. This fav rating is based not only on  the incredible catchiness of the tune,  but also for brilliant repetition of the the line:  pray for the people inside of your head. 

The crazies, even the internal kind, need all the help they can get.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Rancid @ The Granada Theater, Lawrence, KS

The world will never be doomed if Tim Armstrong is making music. Let it be written, let it be known. 

I have this dream that one day I will see Rancid in concert and they will play their album, " . . . And Out Come the Wolves" start to finish. This dream is incredibly selfish of me, they have other great albums with other great songs. That particular album, in all its punk rock with a side of ska glory, was released in 1995, and to this day it still remains to me an album that matters. 

 I remember the first time that I wanted to go to a punk rock show I (for real) wrote my parents an essay about why I should go. It was several pages.  I had to borrow the family car, and I was going alone, and they weren't sure about all this music and concert business, I mean they had heard stories. I wanted to plea my case.  I honestly wished I kept that essay, not only because it worked, but I would love to be reminded of how and why music mattered to me as a scrappy kid and how that relationship has evolved or stayed the same from then to now. I was thinking earlier today, what is it about the punk rock? Why do I love it, gravity towards it and in the case of bands like Rancid, why do I still cling on to bands and songs almost 20 years later? It all boils down to the same reasons why I love folk music, because folk music is punk rock and punk rock is folk music. Both genres are raw, unpretentious, simple yet revolutionary, speaking to the common man, telling his/her common stories, but also shaking them from societal mediocrity.  It's all about breaking and shattering the idea that your story will only matter when you are successful, when you become that "after" picture. No. The lesson that I have most gleamed from the punk rock community is that my story, and your story and everyone else's story is important, period. Every single chapter of the story is worth its own anthem and/or ballad, the bad ones, the good ones, the hit rock bottom ones, and of course, that one chapter when you finally decided to get back up and fight and work for your story to continue. Yeah, that chapter totally deserves a sing along chorus and guitar solo. 

So, seeing Tim Armstrong and the rest of the fellas from Rancid on Saturday night was pretty amazing,  the passion they have stage is ridiculously epic. I want that amount passion and pure ability and endurance to run around on a stage while singing and playing guitars all at the same time, in my life.  And standing there in that packed crowd, I was reminded of that scrappy idealist, hopeful, ready to take on the world, kid that I once was who wrote essays about punk rock. And maybe that kid who is  way older, and a little bit more battle scarred now, but still, as in right this very minute, is still writing those same words:  music matters. 

And, no, my dream of hearing ". . .And Out Come the Wolves" in its entirety wasn't realized, but they did play almost half the album, including "11th Hour" (Do you know where the power lies? It starts and ends with you!!)  which is my favorite from their entire catalog and in which hearing live I almost explode into bits and pieces of joy, not even caring if I ever get put back together.  But hey,  I'll take half a dream any day. 

Setlist for Rancid @The Granada Theater, Lawrence, KS, September 21, 2013

Roots Radical
Journey to the End of the Easy Bay
Maxwell Murder
11th Hour
Last  One to Die
Dead Bodies
Old Friend
I Wanna Riot
Black and Blue
F you
Listed Mia
The Worlds End
East Bay Night
It's Quite Alright
Fall Back Down
St. Mary
Olympia WA
Something In the World Today
Time bomb
Black Derby jacket
Ruby Soho

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sights & Sounds: Mumford & Sons @ Cricket Wireless Amphitheater, Bonner Springs, KS

I am not really that good at standard concert reviews:  just the facts of the who, what, when and how of the show, although there is a set list at the bottom of this post.  When it comes to music, especially live music, I like to use all the words, I like to be selfish and talk about myself, way, way before I remember that I am suppose to be talking about a concert.

I once had a friend who said that he was like a 12 sided die, there were just so many sides to him. At first, I had to think, are there really 12 sided dices? That seems that a tad excessive. But that statement does have a lot of sense and truth to it. We are complex little folk, us humans. Somewhere along the way of growing up we learned how to be appropriate in different situations, compartmenting our lives and personalities. We have our work selves, our social selves, our only with close friends and family selves. etc. Sometimes these 'selves' meet and mingle and overlap but sometimes never the two shall meet.  In some situations all this may be necessary. I don't think I could ever fit pie and punk rock in a discussion with my former boss, but other times worrying about social mores is just exhausting; as in trying to figure out what topics to talk about and which to avoid to make sure this or that group doesn't run you off with pitchforks  (tip: it's usually politics and/or books about vampires).

If all of us have many sides to our own set of dice in life, then undoubtedly one side of my die is known as, thanks to some cleverly labeling from friends, "Concert Katie." Now, I know that I talk about music on this blog, a lot. And even in real life, in casual situations I feel I talk about music a lot, but live music, not just talking about it, but experiencing it, is something else, that oddly only a handful of my in real life friends have experienced with me. It's not like I am a complete berserker at concerts, I am just insanely happy, like beaming from teeth to toes, like way above chocolate croissant, happy.  Why I haven't let more people see this obviously lovable side of me? I don't know.  Maybe I am a little insecure that they won't like the music, or that they will rain on my parade, or be bored, or alarmed about my accelerated rate of clapping, or (gasp!) maybe live music isn't their thing. Some people just don't like  going to concerts or this or that type of music. This reality hurts my brain.  I keep telling myself, well, I don't like eggs and I have friends who like eggs and we are still friends and it's OK. 

 Seeing and hearing and breathing in live music to me is like finding my way home.  I have written many times before that music is language, a deeper type of language. And for me, I feel, that well, it is my first language. All of us have a first language, something that we feel we communicate more freely and perfectly through, music or art or science or cooking or running or traveling, or whatever passion that just makes us feel more alive and true, the light to the darkness. And similar to any other language, some people or in some situations or places, that language just can't be understood. And sometimes when communication is lacking, it hurts and sometimes it is frustrating. No, no, you HAVE TO understand why this song is so good, or don't you feel that lyric way done in the marrow of the bones in your toes? No? Maybe if I play it for you a million more times, you will understand. I might as well be screaming in unknown language. 

And on the flip side, I know that there are plenty of other first languages that I have a hard time understanding and I must frustrate people to no end because of that too. But life is meant to be lived among other people and shared among people even with all of our own quirks and differences.  Believe me, I have tried to be a self imposed loner, hermit if you will, trying to find some higher meaning in solitude and you know what? It is no fun, it doesn't bring any happiness or strength or insight.  I don't mind going to concerts by myself, myself just so happens to be a perfectly wonderful concert buddy, but sharing a concert with someone else, discussing in gleeful tones and words, every single detail of the show on the drive home, years later telling stories about how the one time we saw that band, all of this sharing ties memories and depth to the music. 

So anyway, I guess I have gotten away from the title of this post, I warned you this was going to happen. So, how about that Mumford & Sons?  Last Friday night was the final night of their current tour, one last (and rescheduled) show before directing themselves back across the pond to familiar beds and showers and piles of laundry.  And for this concert I did somehow talk a friend into coming with me. And in true Concert Katie fashion I talked 900 words per minutes, declared "I'm just so excited" more than what was probably necessary, sang every single word to every single song. . .loudly, clapped and stomped and smiled a wildly toothy grin without a care in world, which is in contrast with my usual pretty reserved self who likes to keep all her teeth in her mouth. I was free to just be, well, free and I took every advantage of it.  We stood in a crowd of about a billion people (By my count, but I'm not that good at math) and when our fine Mumford friends  came on stage and played their poetic anthems, the whole crowd, every single soul under that night sky, instantly started to move and jump and in one huge beautiful accord sang out, joining our voices to the band and the all the notes and harmonies. Witnessing for the countless time in my life that music can move a whole mass of people, physically and on so many other levels. But also, because every coin has a flip side, during, Timshel, a very quiet song (and a John Steinbeck/East of Eden reference.), that whole mass of people stood still. No chatter, no crunching of trash under foot or yelling, just four guys singing, "You are not alone in this," and all of us believing those simple words.   For the night, all of us, found our home, found others who spoke and understood the language of music, our language, and we, all a billion of us, found each other. 
View from the cheap seats. Still worth it.

Mumford & Sons, Cricket Wireless Amphitheater, Bonner Springs, KS, September 20, 2013
Lover's Eyes
Little Lion Man
Below My Feet
White Blank Page
For Those Below
I Will Wait
Lover of the Light
Thistle & Weeds
Ghosts That We Knew
Roll Away Your Stone
Awake My Soul
Holland Road
Dust Bowl Dance
Atlantic City (Bruce Springsteen cover)
Winter Winds
The Cave

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Song of the Week: Roo Panes

I came across our lovely Song of the Week artist a little while ago and against all that is good in the world, I didn't document this discovery properly and in a timely matter. Lesson learned.

Early this week, I wanted to revisit this musical wonderment, and I had a hard time remembering details, like say, artist/song name, which led me to do a great deal of talking to myself:

{What do I know?}
It's a guy and a guitar.
{Ok, that is 90% of what I listen to right now.}
British, definitely British. I think.
{Not helping. }
And folksy, but more plaid shirt-ish folksy than mason jar folksy.
{That doesn't even make sense. This is not going well. }
OH, one of his videos is about a road trip through Europe. LET'S GO ON A ROAD TRIP THROUGH EUROPE!
{Now, you're just getting distracted.}
 . . .and eat crepes and cheese and climb lots and lots of stairs in old churches.
{Focus, focus!}
He's really good, like oohhh, I just felt chills, good!
{Worst reference interview, ever. }
Roo! Roo is in his name. This is lightbulb moment, I just know it.
{tap, tap, tap on the internets with all the above random terms, sans cheese}
And just like that:


Monday, September 16, 2013

No comment is needed

No comment is really needed, but I was shaken by the mass shooting in Washington, DC today that occurred about a mile from where I used to work in a city that I love and miss terribly. No comment is really needed but I am heartbroken by the floods in Colorado, the state of my birth, the start of me.  
. . . and all the other sad and horrible things that happen every minute of every day whether or not I can connect myself to them. No comment is needed, but I felt like I couldn't not acknowledge them.  I don't know which is more disheartening; natural disasters that we as mortals have very little control over, or when humanity turns on itself.  I know it would just be easier to avoid the news headlines all together, especially for a sensitive soul such as mine. But I am a firm believer that the pain, the bad and sad things, in any form, can only be overcome, if they are first acknowledged. But let's not all get crazy and start watching the 24 hour news stations.  No, let's not do that.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

New and Approved with Banjo Action

I originally wanted my first "What I Did On My {blog} Vacation" post to be something more deep, more hey guys, I know ALL the answers now, more "thinky" but then I thought, what can be more moving, more life changing then BANJO VIDEOS? (Yes, that does merit all caps since all these words are being said really, really loud as I type)

You're welcome.

Punch Brothers covering The Cars
Whenever I am having a terrible, horrible, very bad, no good day (lit reference, yo!), watching  the AV Club's Undercover Series makes things all better, 100% of the time. This particular cover, Punch Brothers + The Cars, is ridicoulosly jolly, I mean c'mon, some of our friends there are wearing hats and it ends with a fiddle/banjo showdown. Shut the front door. This series, bands covering songs from other bands,  however, can be a rabbit hole; before you know it, it's 3 AM and you're watching They Might Be Giants covering Chumbawamba for the seven millionth time because you just don't know how you have lived your entire life without it.

William Elliott Whitmore
This is not just a song, but a 5 minute short about the, when you see him play live, your heart will hurt and your soul will have chills, William Elliott Whitmore.  This is the perfect little shot in the arm, on those days, which seem to be creeping up on me more frequently, when I need some Midwest pride mixed in with some banjo.

Tall Tall Trees
"Combining bluegrass music and Brazillian is where this thing started. . . .You might call it banjo shredding. Yeah, you might call it that. . . Someone once said that we sounded like the Allman Brothers meet the Muppets. (pause) I think that's a compliment." --Mike Savino of Tall Tall Trees

The Avett Brothers
A new song from The Avett Brothers, "Another Is Waiting," off their forthcoming album Magpie and the Dandelion, hitting shelves, or iTunes or your ears on October 15. They actually scheduled a tour date in Missouri for November, but then ha ha just kidding, they canceled it. So goes my live music life lately.

Kermit the Frog & Steve Martin, Dueling Banjos.
No comment needed.