Archive for April 2009

David Byrne serves up a tasty set

Saturday, 25th April 2009. Filed in Crunchy grooves4 Comments »

“Hi, I’m Dave and I’ll be your waiter this evening.”

What can I say? Who else could pull off the quirky choreography? Who else could burn down the house wrapped in guitar and tutu?

On Easter Sunday, the husband and I boarded the 188 bus to wind our way through southeast London to catch David Byrne play the songs that he and Brian Eno have made together over the years at the Royal Festival Hall. The Jubilee line is getting some major work done on it (it’s never open on weekends), so it was onto the bus we climbed. This suited us just fine. It takes longer but the view’s better. We were able to get the top front seats,  and sit back and relax. The only problem with the long ride was I was pretty hungry and someone behind me had some nice smelling Indian food. It made me crave the Dosa Man, a street vendor in New York City that our good friend introduced us to last summer.

“I’m couting all the possibilities, for dancing on this lazy afternoon…”

David Byrne is known to hop on his bike and explore the cities on his tour, so our position on the bus left us in prime position for David Byrne spotting. We saw lots of commuters, some bmx-ers, and nearly took out an old lady on a scooter. But, no David Byrne.

That was all right. I am sure he was running over some last minute changes to the office chair choreography.  Or just really bored. (From an almost daily chronicle, his enthusiasm for describing the world around him along his voyage drops off after Belfast.) Now, I don’t like to read reviews before I go to see anyone I really enjoy, but Crunchy husband had told me that Mr. Byrne had gotten some mixed reviews on his integration of dancers within the set.  Quirky movements, detached expressions, unpointed toes? It suited his style perfectly.

The show opened exactly as I’d hoped: with an open invitation to take pictures, despite the sign out front that said no video or photography allowed. Unfortunately, I then took nothing but crappy pictures. We were instructed to post only the good ones online. I disobeyed. Sorry, Dave.

Every person on stage performed the entire evening dressed only in white. I was skeptical about this at first, but it worked really well with the lighting cues. They acted as a canvas, especially in ‘I Feel My Stuff’. It took it to another level.

The set was a mixture of old Talking Heads and Bush of Ghosts collaborations and new songs from the Everything that Happens Will Happen Today album. No ‘I Wanna Dance with Somebody,’ but I suppose Brian Eno didn’t have much of a hand in that one.  It was continuously energetic and grooving. Guitar jogging is in this season.

The best thing about the music throughout the evening is that it made me forget where I was and appreciate exactly where I was at the same time. It makes me think and not think at the same time. It makes me feel. I guess I have various emotional memories tied to David Byrne performances. I remember walking out of the Warfield late at night in San Francisco and the Crunchy man putting his arm around me to ‘protect me.’ (Puh-lease!) Thinking about it, it may have been the first concert we went to together. I remember crying in the bathroom at the Corn Exchange in Cambridge. It was my first trip to England, we were in a major transition  period – Us again? In England? Would it work? – and I’d just been told that “being myself” had “scared” the Crunchy man’s brother. Obviously, we got through it.

My life has just entered a new phase again (hence lag, lag lag on the blogging front). A good one, I hope, ripe for personal development and new experiences. I take from the Royal Festival Hall happy memories of good beats, dancing (thank goodness the auditorium atmosphere didn’t stop people from standing), and thoughts of my life and family.

And Mr. Byrne in a tutu.

A new playlist for the Sony Walkman W series

Friday, 10th April 2009. Filed in Monday mixtape, Running2 Comments »

I haven’t run with music in a while. Even when I was running much more than I am now, I wouldn’t always take music, and had gotten to the point where I rarely took music. Sometimes I just like to focus on me: my breathing, my thoughts, how I am feeling physically and psychologically. I also don’t like to be completely plugged in when I am outside so that I can hear my surroundings – safety first! (If I’m completely plugged in to music, I’m gone, in my own little world. It’s a fantastic world to be in, as long as you don’t have to worry about cars, tractors, dogs or crazy people.) Even when I want music, my set up is not ideal. My iPod tends to do funny things like skip, stop and refuse to play when it gets jostled. (I don’t have a Nano and, though carrying the weight of the video doesn’t bother me, the frustration at not being able to listen to music when I have  set out to does.)

So, when I was contacted to take the new Sony Walkman W series mp3 player for a spin in return for setting out a power playlist that would improve my performance, it didn’t take long to decide to accept the challenge. I’ve been in a funny place running-wise lately but ultimately I like running, I like music, I sometimes like running with music (it’s essential on the treadmill), and I love to try out new gadgets. So, here goes.

Songs that make good running tunes for me do two things: they let me lose myself a bit and they make me dance. Mostly they are upbeat, positive or remind me of something inspirational. The playlist’s a bit long (!!!) for my distance right now, but maybe it will be what I need to get me back in training for longer distances again. I’ll be back to tell you how it goes with the player. I have a sneaking suspicion I will not actually be able to put the songs on the player in this order, or at least not easily, without having to rename them. We shall see.

Prelude – Getting ready, dancing a bit, singing a little, lacing up the shoes

1. Almudo – Daby Touré and Skip McDonald
2. Late In the Evening – Paul Simon
3. Sledgehammer – Peter Gabriel (any live version with a long intro with the crowd humming – the music kicks in and I’m out the door and jogging up or cruising down the hill)

I’m Off, I Rockin’ Out

4. Elevation – U2
5. Legs – ZZ Top
6. Rockin’ Me – Steve Miller Band
7. Green River – Creedence Clearwater Revival
8. Dancin’ Til Dawn – Lenny Kravitz
9. Girls & Boys – Blur
10. Fashion – David Bowie
11. Electric Feel – MGMT

I Have Indeed Hit the Fields and Marshes, I’m Pep Talking My Legs

12. Don’t Break This Rhythm – Peter Gabriel
13. Not A Robot, But A Ghost – Andrew Bird
14. Music (Groove Armada 12″ Mix) – Madonna
15. This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody) – David Byrne (Live from Austin, Tx)

I’ve Probably Started to Daydream and Lag and Need To Refocus for the Push Home

16. Work (Freemasons Radio Edit) – Kelly Rowland
17. Can’t Stop – Ozomatli
18. Tounka – Rokia Traoré
19. A Sense of Home – Peter Gabriel
20. Learning to Fly – Pink Floyd
21. Good Things – BoDeans

Cool Down, Stretch, Reflect

22. All That We Let In – Indigo Girls
23. There is A Light – Great Lake Swimmers
24. Simple Gifts – Yo-Yo Ma and Alison Krauss
25. With My Own Two Hands – Ben Harper and Jack Johnson
26. Supposed to Be – Jack Johnson


Thursday, 9th April 2009. Filed in RunningNo Comments »

I’ve been thinking a lot about my running lately. I’ve been in a funny place. I wasn’t feeling it. I was lethargic, annoyed, and it put me in a bad mood. Upon reflection, I know some of it had to do with the weather. Even though it hasn’t been a particularly wet winter, it’s been a long, cold one. Some of it had to do with my patience level with drivers. I truly believe, especially in the countryside where sidewalks are only a dream, that all drivers should be made to spend some time using the road as a non-driver – a cyclist, horseback rider, runner or walker – so that they know what it’s like and might take a little more awareness and consideration to road sharing. Some of it might have been subconscious connections to frustrating situations that are now in the past.

Yesterday, while driving to pick Crunchy husband up from work, I realized I miss it, like really miss it. It’s not the best time in my life to be ramping up a time-intensive training plan, but I was really happy to realize I missed it. My good run a few weeks ago might not have been a fluke. It’s definitely time to get going again, if even just for short runs more frequently.

Fish are friends, not food

Thursday, 2nd April 2009. Filed in Travel2 Comments »

…and so are humans!

Crunchy husband and I took a brief break from reality to soak up the sun (beneath our layers of 50+ sunscreen, of course) and learn about all the fish in the Maldives last week. We were calling it our “honeymoon” because a) we got married in November (not this past one – in 2005), so the 3 days of our honeymoon in Portugal weren’t very warm and we always said we’d go on a tropical beach holiday, and b) we never do stuff quite as extravagant as this so it felt special, just like a honeymoon. I even bought new pretty underwear (which is so NOT me) and wore a bikini the whole time (which is even more so NOT me).

It was an amazing trip. I didn’t stop feeling lucky to be there and experiencing the beauty of the place. We were given a sea plane transfer from the main airport in Male’ to our little island in the Raa Atoll (in the north, so we didn’t quite make it across the equator to the southern hemisphere, but we got close!). The sights from that flight blew me away. I was glued to the window. The islands are formed by a mountain range rising up through the ocean.  So, as you’d expect, some peaks are higher than others (those ones form the islands above water) and then others just form craters of shallower lagoons. You end up getting spots of clear, light blue surrounded by the deeper, darker ocean. The contrast in colors and patterns reminded us of so many of the geothermal pools at Yellowstone.

The first day we got there, we got to the island around 2pm. We were graciously received and told to have lunch as it was through being served in a half an hour. After we had our first (of many) tastes of very spicy curry, we dug out our bathing suits (I put one of mine in my carry-on, just in case!), snorkels, fins and hit the beach. My first trip out – Crunchy husband’s not so much a water baby as I am – I was swimming along, reveling in the fish that were so close, you didn’t have to swim far, or really at all to see so many, and then I looked up. I did a double take and then thought, “oh my god, that’s a shark!” They look exactly like they do on tv and at the aquarium! I was so excited, rather than sit there calmly and observe (or even kind of follow it because it saw me and headed the other way), I had to tell someone. I swam back to Crunchy husband and said, “oh my god, there was a shark, right there! I got to swim with a shark!”

I stood there in the shallows taking it all in. I was so excited, but then did I really see it? Was I hallucinating? It was really a shark, right? How could I be that lucky? And then I turned around. And found I had nearly landed myself on a sting ray. The excitement continued!

It was amazing. As we found as the week went on, the shark was real. We saw it again in the water later that day, which I am glad about because I wanted Crunchy husband to see it underwater too and share that with him, and then we saw it a couple times while we were walking along the groin and jetty. And the stingrays were common, too. You had to watch where you were stepping and shuffle your feet in the sand so as not to startle them as soon as you got in the water.

The snorkeling completely met my expectations. It took me a little while to get out to the drop off because, especially at low tide, it was not always easy to get straight through the shallow area. But,  I felt so good to finally make it out. The first glimpse of the deep while underwater is hard to describe: breathtaking, awesome. I was swimming along just barely above the coral and then at once, I was floating at the top of this immense blue void. It’s deep and solid, just blue everywhere. And then as my eyes adjusted, I could make out shafts of light penetrating the water near the surface and little dots that, as my eyes focused even more, I came to realize were tons and tons of fish.  It’s one of those moments in life that puts so much else in perspective. It’s quiet, calm and yet it’s so intense and meaningful.

There were so many fish to see, and so little time and knowledge to take it all in. We bought our “Reef Fishes of the Maldives” book and waterproof card to take with us out in the water, but it still took many trips of memorizing patterns and colors and sizes to start to be able to match them up with the pictures in the book. The scariest thing we did see was a triggerfish (like this one, but not the exact one) that we think may have been guarding a nest because it looked agitated and we swear we saw teeth. We gave it a wide berth, since we had just read in the book, “Titan triggerfishes are so powerful and defend their nests with such vigor that they are often considered the most dangerous fish in the Maldives. They are certainly capable of inflicting a nasty bite.” We didn’t stick around to find out.

There weren’t very many anemones on our reef, at least not at the depths we were going to, but I did find one and it did feature a couple of Maldivian anemonefish, so yes, I found Nemo.

It’s going to take a while to get through all the photos from all the various cameras we had, and pick out the best ones to put on Flickr. If you are interested, keep a watch on this link for additions.

Meedhupparu Island, Maldives

Wednesday, 1st April 2009. Filed in Photography2 Comments »

Sunrise over water villas, Meedhupparu Island, Maldives

Underwater in the Maldives

Sunrise, Meedhupparu Island, Maldives

Meedhupparu Island, Maldives