Friday 5: Vive le Difference

Fried chicken in paper boxes.
Image courtesy Brian Chan at Unsplash

What’s a food that tastes completely unlike anything else you can think of?

This one is taking a lot of thought. I mean, lots of things have a relatively distinct taste, right? Even if everything also tastes like chicken.

I imagine surströmming is singular in its taste. (I say that having never tried it. I don’t dig on fish.) I also have a hard time with the artificial sweetener Splenda: it leaves a distinctly coppery aftertaste that ruins anything it touches.

What’s a movie that’s completely unlike any movie you can think of?

Russian Ark  is a weird but surprisingly enjoyable artsy look at the history of the St. Petersburg Hermitage that’s all one long 90-ish minute shot.

Who’s a musician or band you consider completely unoriginal but whom you still like?

I think it’s a given that most popular top 40 bands and artists cleave to the lowest common denominator instead of doing anything groundbreaking, but most of the music on my phone is popular top 40 bops (and obscure international indie bands) because it’s good workout music.

Who or what are two people or things you keep mixing up with one another?

To this day I still confuse Silent Hill and Resident Evil (the video games, not the movies). No doubt there are countless celebrities that I mix up as well, because I’m not good at keeping track of famous names and faces.

What’s something you’ll do this weekend that’s different from your normal weekend activity?

Concerning the weekend after I’m writing this, there’s a small chance I’ll be attending the Japanese Flea Market in Sundbyberg. Concerning the weekend after this will actually go up (about a month later), it’s hard to say.

Friday 5: Aloon Again, Naturally

With which Looney Tunes character do you have the most in common?

I didn’t care much for Looney Tunes as a kid. The physical humor that’s inherent in the genre has never been my cup of tea. I’ll cheat and say Shirley the Loon from Tiny Toons.

Who or what are your metaphorical Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote?

I don’t think I have a Wile E. Coyote (I hope not!). But we all have a Road Runner, don’t we? Mine is a totally stress-free vacation. One day…

What’s up, doc?

That’s all, folks!

When did you last hear some opera music?

I listen to a lot of classical music while I edit and translate. That doesn’t usually include opera, since I find vocals distracting, but the Fidelio overture came up in my playlist yesterday.

What’s a good life lesson you learned from Looney Tunes?

You can’t always get what you want, and often when you do, it’s not as good as you hoped it would be.

Friday 5: The Shine of a Thousand Spotlights

A dozen blazing spotlights focusing on a distant figure on a stage, framed by darkness and dark silhouettes.
Image courtesy Jacob Morch on Unsplash

What physical trait are you (or have you been) self-conscious about?

Hi guys, I could write a whole novel on being fat! But so many other writers handle it better, so rather than go into it myself I’ll just post links to two writers whose perspectives helped me get right with Fat Jesus.

Dances With Fat

Jill Grunenwald (and her memoirs Running With a Police Escort)

Even though I’ve gotten right with Fat Jesus, small things remain. Mostly my nose. I don’t hate it enough to go under the knife, and my human brain recognizes that it’s a perfectly normal nose, but my lizard brain can’t stop comparing it to adorable ski jump button noses. Even actresses who are constantly put on “quirky beauties” or “big noses” or whatever lists don’t have the same kind of nose I do.

When did you last do something risking injury?

I guess going for a run always risks injury, right? So depending on when this post goes up, either Wednesday or today.

Why do critics and the general movie-going public never seem to agree?

I’d say the operative word is “seem.” I suspect most of the time critical opinions and the public’s opinions are generally in line. Otherwise I imagine that the contributing factor is that movie critics are a self-selecting group of people who gravitate towards the arts and appreciate, even crave, novelty in the form and as a result they’re generally more appreciate of movies that are subtle or unusual. Most people watch movies for comfort or entertainment rather than critical engagement, and so they’re more drawn towards predictable (or surprising-within-predictable-schemas) and comforting rather than challenging or difficult.

How do you feel about Hugh Jackman as an actor?

#NotMyWolverine

Who is the best singer you’ve seen in live performance?

I don’t really go to live music performances that often. (Aside from the odd years where I can make it to Musikfest.) I guess two come to mind:

Ssingssing, with lead singer Lee Hee-moon

 

Black Masala, with singer Kristen Long (though my memory of their Musikfest performance seems to have a different singer?)

Friday 5: Rockit

What’s your favorite instrumental hit song?

You can never go wrong with Booker T and the MG’s!

What’s a good movie with rockets in in it?

October Sky? Apollo 13? I assume they’re good; I haven’t seen either in a long time.

The cover of the Voyager record.

In 1977, Voyager I took off on its very long journey, loaded with two golden records containing sounds meant “to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth, and are intended for any intelligent extraterrestrial life form, or for future humans, who may find them,” according to Wikipedia. The contents were chosen by a committee chaired by Carl Sagan, but if Dr. Sagan called you today (you know, from beyond) and said there was room for ten more minutes of music and he was letting you choose it, what would you fill the ten minutes with?

Oh man, what a toughie! The original list is actually quite diverse (NASA has the playlist posted here) so the obvious answer would be musical genres that didn’t really peak until after 1977. Rap and hip-hop are, then, obvious contenders. Lauryn Hill’s “Everything is Everything” has long been one of my favorites and incorporates the best elements of the genre.

And then for peak silly (because what are humans if not silly?), “Gangnam Style.” Of course, aliens won’t be able to understand what’s so silly about the song if they just listen to it divorced from the music video, but maybe they’ll still like the beat.

And much as I love Bach (the Brandenburg concertos are part of my work playlist), I would suggest maybe taking a couple of those of in favor of something else.

What’s something you know about constellations?

That for a star nerd, I’m really bad about actually being able to point them out. I can find Orion and Cassiopeia, and that’s about it. Finding the north star? Forget it.

When did you last spend time in a rocking chair?

So long that I can’t remember.

Friday 5: Seasons

Image courtesy Chris Lawton

 

What foods are most representative of each of the four seasons?

Summer for me is ice cream, strawberries, smoothies, and salads. Fall is apple EVERYTHING, and tea. Winter is chili and more tea, and also cookies. Spring is a trash fire of a season and I hate it.

What are good songs to represent each of the four seasons?




What would be good films to represent each of the four seasons?

I always watch The Big Lebowksi  on New Year’s Eve. I don’t know how or when or even why I picked up this habit, but there it is, so that’s my pick for winter. I also always watch Groundhog Day on, well, Groundhog Day, but I think that’s close enough to spring to count. (Again, spring is a garbage season and I hate it.) Alternatively, I always like to watch The Pirates of Penzance on Leap Day, which is that much closer to spring, so maybe that one? The Fourth of July is always a good time to watch something with explosions and punches and ridiculousness: “(Jason) Bourne on the Fourth of July,” for example. Or a Rambo marathon, or Independence Day. Any one of those will work. And with Halloween, fall is the perfect time for your favorite scary movie. I have a soft spot for mid-century horror movies, myself: spooky but not terrifying. The best of those isn’t even a horror movie, it’s a straight-up black comedy: The Comedy of Terrors. Vincent Price, u da reel MVP.

If you could divide the calendar year into four seasons some other way with some other theme besides weather or major professional sports, where would each seasons begin and end, and what would each be called?

If there were any rhyme or reason or pattern to my Etsy sales, that would probably be a way to do it: busy seasons and off seasons. The same goes for editing. But whether or not I’m busy with those seems pretty arbitrary, at least for now, so…meh.


What’s something in your area that’s extra fun in the winter?

I guess if you like skiing, there’s that. But I don’t. There’s nothing really extra fun about winter for me.

Friday 5: Space

A blue spherical nebula glowing against the darkness of space.


Of all the spaces in your residence, which is most powerfully your space?

We don’t have a lot of space in our tiny Stockholm apartment, but I’ve made around a third of our unnecessarily large kitchen my office, including my Art Wall corner.

I also have an entire bookshelf to myself, which is obviously very much me.

What’s the most spacious space in your everyday life?

The outside, I guess?

What’s a good song about space?


What’s under your bed?

The floor.

What are your thoughts on typing one or two spaces after sentences?

Two spaces are no longer necessary as we live in an age of digital typing and typesetting! One of the first things I do with every document I copyedit is find and replace two spaces with one. STOP DOING THIS.

What I Did on My Summer Vacation, Day 6: Bethlehem, PA

After a busy weekend full of social activity and sight-seeing, I take it easy for the next few days at my parents’ house.  I spend my first morning back just putzing around the house and going through the books I had packed up four years ago (surprise, there are more that I can bear to part with!), and then I drive to Lost River Caverns to catch up with my old boss and coworkers and do some shopping. It’s busy, at least compared to what I would have expected mid-August, so my old boss tells me to just help myself. I must give off “I work here” vibes still; people ask me questions about how to get to the bathrooms or where things are.

The inside is all done up and it looks fabulous—so much better than when I was still working there—and I linger a while to talk to my old bosses and coworkers and some of the new shop ladies and guides. Everything is familiar despite the fabulous makeover and once again I miss my weirdo minimum wage retail job.

Next stop on the agenda is the Bethlehem library. I don’t bother driving in during Musikfest; I just wait for the bus (have I gone full European native?) and meander towards the library from the parking/bus hub. There’s no Amerikaplatz next to the library anymore, which I don’t like (fond memories of Tea Leaf Green and Royal Noise Brigade at that stage), but I suppose the library employees appreciate the new-found quiet. I pick out a book—Murder in Retrospect, or Five Little Pigs, which is my Facebook book club’s August choice—and sit down and read, and alternate my reading with checking Facebook and talking with friends on gchat.

A cover of Agatha Christie's "Five Little Pigs" featuring a small blue bottle, an artist's palette, and a glass of beer next to a brown beer bottle.

After I finish the book, I wander through Musikfest, grab a “Marga-mead-a,” and head down to Volksplatz to wait for The Skatalites. I sit through The Hillbenders, a bluegrass act, and enjoy them enough to buy an album as roadtrip soundtrack/thank-you gift for my ride up to Maine. I totally sneak a preview listen later and the album is way more straight country, and kind of worse, than their live performance. 🙁 For me, the highlight of that show was probably a high-energy cover of MGMT’s “Kids.” I had spent the whole day being sad and moody over leaving Austin, and that moment was the point where I started to maybe feel like not everything was a total garbage fire.

Then, after time to change sets and move the first rows of chairs out of the way, The Skatalites come on, and I dance my heart out. They do their cover of the James Bond theme and I get a powerful hit of high school nostalgia. I had listened to their version of the incomparable movie theme a lot in high school, but this was in the days of Napster and people being really ignorant and slapdash with labeling artists (“Wish You Were Here” by Oasis? Really?), so I was never sure if it was actually The Skatalites. I went into the show with zero expectations I’d hear that song, so it’s a nice surprise to hear that opening bass riff.

Later in the set they also do the theme from “From Russia With Love” and I wonder: is that a coincidence or a political statement? Other covers include “A Message To You, Rudy” and “Three Little Birds.”

I ducked out in the middle of an encore to make sure I could get a bus home, only: surprise! The late bus I thought was running wasn’t, so I dropped in at a friend’s instead. Not the most gracious way to make an entrance from across the ocean (“I can’t read bus schedules, Tesia, can I crash your guest bed?”) but friendship is magic! And I’m stopping by home to celebrate Tesia’s PhD, after all.  It’s not super late, but I still conk right out.

Friday 5: Nonstrosity

What’s a good movie for October that has nothing to do with monsters or Halloween?

Back when I worked in South Korea, I spent a few months at a hagwon that was not a good fit for me. At all. I started in June, and by August I was starting to fantasize about tragedy befalling my family so I would have an excuse to leave early and go back home.

For real.

So for the first time in my life, I quit a job. And for the last two weeks of October, I was between jobs, free to wander around Seoul as I liked.

In honor of those weeks of freedom (and the amazing job I was able to take instead because I quit that one), I would say Little Miss Sunshine. Watching it with a friend was what convinced me to carpe diem and quit the damn job.

What’s a good couple of songs for October that have nothing to do with monsters or Halloween?

I kind of want to continue on my “two-week knockabout in Seoul” theme, so here are some selections from Korean indie musicians that I really, really like.

Danpyunsun and the Sailors, “Yellow Room”
Hyun Lee Yang, “Is Help on the Way?”
Floating Island, “Parade”
Jun Bum Sun and the Yangbans, “Seven Year Itch”

What are some reasons to love October?

The foliage is gorgeous, but it’s not quite the grim winter wasteland that is November or December. There’s a nice balance between “still enough daylight” and “cozy weather.” Also, apples are in season! Apple crisp, apple pie, apple cider…

Radio stations sometimes call this month Rocktober, doing special playlists or giveaways in celebration of rock music. What would be a better rhyming name for this month, and how might it be celebrated?

I’m fine with it being Rocktober, but celebrating geology and rocks and minerals as well as rock music. Second to that, Schlocktober, and you celebrate by watching terrible movies.

What would be a good holiday to establish in October for those U.S. states not commemorating Columbus Day?

Indigenous Peoples’ Day seems a perfectly acceptable alternative.

Friday 5: Payday

From whom did you receive your first real paycheck?

When I worked at Gilman’s/Lost River Caverns, where I also learned to love rocks.

Among board games involving the exchange of money, which have you enjoyed most?

Do you exchange money in Life? I think you do. I didn’t have anything against Monopoly, but I think I actually finished more games of Life.

 

PayDay is the name of a candy bar consisting of salted peanuts rolled in caramel surrounding a firm, nougat-like center. How does it sound to you if you haven’t tried it, and how do you like it if you have? Is there a similar candy bar you like better?

I don’t like nuts in my chocolate, nor do I like peanuts or peanut butter mixed with chocolate. (Unpopular opinions!) Anything with caramel, nougat, and chocolate without nuts is just peachy keen.

 

When did you last do something nice for yourself just because it was pay day?

I went out and bought new bras. Ladies, I recommend making sure that you’re wearing the correct bra size. (In other words: if you’ve been fitted at Victoria’s Secret, or you’ve used that bizarre “add an arbitrary number to your band measurement,” measure yourself again.)

 

What person with the surname Day are you most familiar with?

I had a really hard time parsing this question at first; I took it to mean “Person With the Surname Day,” as if there were multiple holidays we observe in honor of people with specific surnames. Like, I had to read the question two or three times to understand what they meant.

And my first answer is, of course, Doris Day!

Friday 5: I Don’t Get It Either

Twitch is an enormously popular livestreaming platform mostly for watching people play video games. It has more than 1.5 million broadcasters and more than one million visitors per month, and Amazon acquired it for nearly a billion dollars in 2014. Which of your computer activities would you livestream if there were a way to make some money doing it?

Y’all want to watch me write blog entries in real time, right? Right?

EDM (electronic dance music) is usually performed by DJs on stage in front of audiences, playing tracks they’ve mixed, right off their laptops. If you were a push-button DJ playing your tunes in a club, what would be your opening and closing songs, assuming everyone’s there because they’re into whatever sounds you’re into?

My opening song would be absolutely be “Gangnam Style,” or one of the infinite mashups out there. This one might be my favorite:

Or this one:

What can I say? 2012 might have been my peak year.

As for the end of the set, I think this is a good closer:

What’s a good Adele song, and why is Adele so popular?

I don’t know if I like this shade you’re throwing on Adele, Friday 5! I’m not obsessed with Adele but I like her voice.

Speaking of 2012, I was also cheered to see that Adele was so popular with my Korean students. In a country that can be even more looks-based and body-conscious than the US, I hope that at least a few of my girl students realized that it’s possible for them to be talented and successful without looking like a typical K-pop star.

I listened to “Rolling in the Deep” a lot with those kiddos, so that’s probably my favorite Adele song.


The Walking Dead?

I don’t get this one either, Friday 5.


Every generation seems to arrive at a “They don’t write ’em like that anymore” attitude. Why does it seem like most middle-aged people lose interest in new music?

There’s actually a reason for this! I think it has something to do with the way your brain is still developing as a teenager versus how it is as an adult, and so music from your childhood and teenage years will always be more immediate and visceral for you than most anything else. In other words, nostalgia’s a helluva drug.