Thursday, September 28, 2006

Jamie Cullum

I would be crazy not to fill you in on the Jamie Cullum concert I went to on Tuesday night @ the Pageant in St. Louis. I can say right now that, hands-down, that was the best show I’ve ever been to. Few concerts are probably as entertaining, relaxing and yet high-energy at the same time, and well-worth any money spent. I would have paid quadruple what I paid for the show we saw and still would be happy. After all, he played for longer than it even took us to drive to St. Louis for the show…he played for about 2 hours and 15 minutes, and it seemed like he could have played all night even when he was done. We had great seats in the General Admission area where there were lots of tables, chairs, bar stools and bar tables, so it was a good atmosphere and the Pageant is a sweet venue.

There’s something about a guy who can play the keys like he does, sing with a voice like his, and speak with a sexy British accent. Let’s just be honest. His youthfulness is so evident, but he sings like he’s been around for about 70 years. He came out in his British getup, just as I pictured… suit jacket, tie, button-up shirt, and finally he shed down to just his very European jeans and a White Castle t-shirt that he proudly wore in honor of his first White Castle visit last spring in St. Louis. In between his swigs of Guinness he crooned all of my favorite songs (Frontin’, I Could Have Danced All Night, What a Diff’rence A Day Made, All At Sea, Mind Trick) and much more. Taking a break from the actual keys, he’d start tapping out percussion beats on the piano itself and singing acapella. He even broke out from this into a brief rendition of “SexyBack” (which I LOVED!) and “Don’tcha wish your girlfriend was hot like me…”
His band members are insanely talented and he gives them all the credit they deserve, which was quite an impressive amount. Because they just returned from Brasil, the entire band showed off their percussion skills which were quite remarkable. A good 20 minutes, at least, of the show were spent jamming out to a sweet samba beat. I was lovin’ it. I’m also pretty surprised that my shins and calves aren’t sore today from all of my foot tapping. I don’t think my foot stopped the entire night.

Josh Ritter opened, and I honestly didn’t know what I was going to think about him or his music. As soon as he and his cowboy hat-wearing, poker mustached, vintage Western-attired bandmates came out onto the stage, I was pretty sure they’d be entertaining. They were every bit of it, and their sound was so good. Dustin Bagby, you’ll be proud to know I’m now a fan. I was a little disappointed he didn’t come out for an encore WITH Jamie, but I’ll get over it.

The entire night I couldn’t help but think of how amazing it must be to be so good at something like playing piano. It kept running through my mind that “the piano is his home…those keys are like home to Jamie…” It is obvious that when he sits down in front of a piano, he can do just about anything. He can create, he can recreate, he can change, he can beatbox, he can write, he can hear, he can relax, he can unravel himself, and he can entertain while doing so. I’m jealous. While he was playing, singing, smashing his seat onto the keys, beating a big red drum, or running around the stage, I was never disappointed. I think the only disappointment of the night was my Thai food beforehand (I ordered some Tom Yum Shrimp Fried Rice…cooked w/ lime juice and lime leaves and cilantro…and very much tasting like cleaning solution. never again, Tom Yum, never again.).

If Jamie’s coming to a city near you, go see him. I promise you it’s well worth it.

Friday, September 22, 2006

words from Francie & Neeley

I've been reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn for quite some time now, slowly but surely. Today I was able to read big chunks of it while sitting in waiting rooms at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and on the way home from Chicago, and I fell in love with the heart of Francie's character again. This may be long, but here's an excerpt from the conversation Francie and her brother Neeley are having on their roof on New Year's Eve:

"Neeley, let's go up on the roof," said Francie impulsively, "and see how the whole world looks at the beginning of a year."
"Okay," he agreed.
"Put your shoes on first," ordered Mama, "and your coats."
They climbed the shaky wooden ladder, Neeley pushed the opening aside and they were on the roof.
The night was heady and frosty. There was no wind and the air was cold and still. The stars were brilliant and hung low in the sky. There were so many stars that their light made the sky a deep cobalt blue. There wasn't a moon but the starlight served better than moonlight.
Francie stood on tiptoe and stretched her arms wide. "Oh, how I want to hold it all!" she cried. "I want to hold the way the night is--cold without wind. And the way the stars are so near and shiny. I want to hold all of it tight until it hollers out, 'Let me go! Let me go!"
..."I need someone," thought Francie desperately. "I need someone. I need to hold somebody close. And I need more than this holding. I need someone to understand how I feel at a time like now. And the understanding must be part of the holding...I love Mama and Neeley and Laurie. But I need someone to love in a different way from the way I love them...I'm young, maybe, in just being fifteen. But I'm older than those years in some things. But there is no one for me to hold and no one to understand. Maybe someday...someday..."

"Neeley, if you had to die, wouldn't it be wonderful to die now--while you believed that everything was perfect, the way this night is perfect?"
"You know what?" asked Neeley. "You're drunk from that milk punch. That's what....I was drunk myself, once."
..."What did it feel like?"
"Well, first the whole world turned upside down. Then everything was like--you know those cardboard toots you buy for a penny, and you look in the small end and turn the big end, and pieces of colored paper keep falling around and they never fall around the same way twice? Mostly though, I was very dizzy. Afterwards I vomited."
"Then I've been drunk, too," admitted Francie. "Last spring, In McCarren's Park, I saw a tulip for the first time in my life."
"How'd you know it was a tulip if you'd never seen one?"
"I'd seen pictures. Well, when I looked at it, the way it was growing, and how the leaves were, and how purely red the petals were, with yellow inside, the world turned upside down and everything went around like the colors in a kaleidoscope--like you said. I was so dizzy I had to sit on a park bench....And I've got that same feeling here on this roof tonight, and i know it's not the milk punch....I don't need to drink to get drunk. I can get drunk on things like the tulip--and this night."
"I guess it is a swell night," agreed Neeley.

I love these characters. They are so vivid and colorful and full of life and humanity and rawness. I love how they're unfolding.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

this just made me smile...

So I was just remembering that my birthday is tomorrow and somehow an old birthday memory popped into my head. First of all, I have to say that my Grandma Mary was awesome and always had silly songs for us...such as "Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy. And kittles eat ivy too, wouldn't you?" I have no idea what the heck that song meant, but we sang it. Well, one year she brought Cory and I both a cassette tape of a very special birthday song. It goes like this:

"My name is Zoom and I live on the moon, but I came down to earth just to sing you this tune. 'Cause Mandy (or insert your name here) it's your birthday TODAY!!!"

We used to laugh and laugh at that song and I definitely wish I still had the tape. It's pretty much the best song ever.

You can listen to a clip of it (with the name Jason inserted) here.

The memory of that song, and my Grandma Mary, just made me smile.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Last Kiss

I'm going to see this tomorrow (Friday). I'm excited.

And just in case you don't know, Jacinda Barrett is in this movie...she's the Jacinda from the Real World: London years ago. Just an added piece of info. for you. I liked her! And I liked that's too bad MTV never plays marathons of the older seasons.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

there's never any time...

I told a friend earlier I'm about to go into Jessie Spano mode..."I'VE GOTTA WASH MY HAIR......THERE'S NEVER ANY TIME!!!! I'LL NEVER GET INTO STANFORD...I'LL LET EVERYONE DOWN!!! THERE'S NEVER ANY TIME!!!!"

That's kinda how works feels lately. But I won't lie--I like being busy....just busyness where I can see something getting accomplished. This isn't that kind of busyness. I feel like I never get anything done.

But at least this video provides some viewing pleasure. Enjoy it. :)

Sunday, September 10, 2006


i'm feeling pretty groggy. i'm babysitting my niece, maddy, which is the reason i'm even awake at this crazy hour. she climbed into bed with me at 5:39 a.m. when she woke up, but i was pretty much not getting up yet. i convinced her to lay down for another hour until i heard "aunt manny...i want my ceweal.......i want my ceweal now." repeatedly. so i'm up. she's eating lucky charms and watching sesame street. i'm trying to stay awake.
i think i'll go eat some ceweal too.

Friday, September 08, 2006


Why am I awake at 1:35 a.m. and blogging? Because I can't sleep. Why can't I sleep? I have a bajillion things on my mind that won't let me.

I hate that I can never seem to clear my mind, no matter what I do. I try everything, but my imagination still soars and thoughts still swirl around inside my head and keep me from falling asleep. And it seems like noises at this apartment keep becoming more and more annoying. Half the time that's a large contribution to my insomnia. Tonight I was awakened by the reversing-beeping of a tow truck towing someone's car illegally parked on the street. Sometimes I wake up to the sound of rustling cords on the hardwood floors in my neighbor's apartment...I can't figure that one out. 2 nights ago I woke up because I had nightmares about the possum attacking me.

And now I can't even fall asleep because thoughts of everything are filling my head and I am frustrated even with myself for not being able to clear them away or pray them away. I can't seem to get any clarity on the world, on myself, on my relationships with God and people and work and life in general. i think I'm overwhelmed. It's not really rest for my body that I need, but my mind needs to sleep for a day. I just need a vacation. But not one of doing nothing and being bored...I need a vacation of fun.

mmk, and now I will continue to be awake due to the hollering I can hear by the yahoos in the street coming from the bar down the block. maybe they'll soothe me to sleep.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

hm...are these really promises?

I loooove Dove Dark Chocolate Promises. These things are amazing, and I now keep them in my office so when I lose my sanity I can regain it via dark chocolate.

However, I'm not liking the messages inside the wrapper as much as I used to. Yesterday I got this message: "Hey, why not?" What kind of message is that? I'm just going to start responding to everything with that phrase, I guess.

Today I got this: "Follow your instincts." Well, I do, usually, and I have been lately, and it doesn't always prove to be right. I guess I'm still wondering.

And then I got this: "Buy yourself flowers." Well, I'd rather get them from someone, but some days I am okay with buying myself some pretty daisies. Just not today.

I just thought I'd share these as I take a mini chocolate break to gather my thoughts.
After all, "Hey, why not?"

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

my lunch break

This is pretty entertaining.

Today I'm home for lunch, and as usual per Wednesday @ noon, the Lincoln Rotary Club was meeting in Einsteins (the coffeeshop) downstairs. Now I've witnessed their meetings from afar before today, and they normally consist of these elements: a meal, a song, some speakers, and probably the pledge of allegiance or something like that.

Today I'd like to highlight the song element. First of all I have to point out that whenever any singing or loud events happen downstairs you can hear it pretty clearly in my apartment--especially in the bathroom. I happened to be in the bathroom today when they began singing loudly and clearly, "I've Been Workin' on the Railroad."

Mind you, this is a large group of older women and gentlemen, and they are singing a song that takes me back to 2nd grade Chorus class. Immediately I started laughing. And I guess I didn't even realize that this was the same song until they got to the part of:
"Someone's in the kitchen with Dinah...someone's in the kitchen I know-oh-oh-oh..."

You get the picture. And just when I thought it was over, they continued on to even the "fe-fi-fiddly-i-oh...fe-fi-fiddly-i-oh-oh-oh-oh..."

Was this just a dream? Or did I really hear this coming from an actual organized club of grown adults?

Sunday, September 03, 2006

seasons and transformation

So with the changing of seasons and all, it just seemed to be fitting that this morning's sermon was about transformation. And the "special music" was this song, which is one of my favorites...

Every evening sky an invitation
to chase the patterned stars
And early in July, a celebration
For freedom that is ours

And I notice you in children's games
And those who watch them from the shade
Every drop of sun is full of fun and wonder
You are summer.

And even when the trees have just surrendered
to the harvest time
Forfeiting their leaves in late-September
And sending us inside

Still I notice you when change begins
And I am braced for colder winds
I will offer thanks for what has been and what's to come.
You are autumn.

And everything in time and under heaven
Finally falls asleep
Wrapped in blankets white,
all creation shivers underneath

And still I notice you when branches crack
And in my breath on frosted glass
And even now in death you open doors for life to enter.
You are winter.

And everything that's new has bravely surfaced
Teaching us to breathe
and what was frozen through is newly purposed
Turning all things green

So it is with you and how you make me new
With every season's change.
And so it will be as you are recreating me
Summer, autumn, winter, spring.

--Every Season, Nichole Nordeman

She couldn't have chosen better words or a more descriptive way to describe transformation, in my opinion. The changing of seasons isn't something I generally like, unless it's the part where it's becoming spring or summer. I'm not a big fan of cold weather, and not surprisingly cold seems to represent a season of frozen souls and the inability to breathe. It's so long. Other than the joy of Christmas and a few peaceful, fresh snowfalls, there seems to be no good found in it. But as much as I hate it, I realize it's necessary to bring about the re-creation that begins again in spring. And so it is with transformation. I'm realizing that those times that are cold, dark, lonely, depressing, and frozen are all a part of the process. They're inevitable.

But the winter isn't constant. That's the good news. (unless you live in Antarctica...) A new season always follows, and it's a season of newness in everything.

So as I try my hardest to say goodbye to summer, I will also try to embrace the fall as it breezily whisks away the heat. Though I'll hold on long and dear to my flip-flops, I'll slowly accept the newness of fall that awaits. With the changing of temperatures and colors of the leaves, there are other beautiful things to come. It's a part of life. Every season is critical in transformation.

Friday, September 01, 2006

a good day and a thought...

So today is a good day. I don't know why, but it is. As every day should be, really. I woke up in a great mood, and I believe it will carry on throughout the day.

And it's the start of a long Labor Day weekend, during which I have very few plans, but those I do have will prove to be exciting ones I'm sure...including a fun wedding where fun friends will be!

And here's my thought...well, 2 thoughts.

1) I just think it's weird that on Labor Day no one works. Does that make sense to anyone?

and, 2) Did anyone see the VMA's? I didn't see them all, but I can't help but comment on Shakira. I'll admit she is quite pretty, but her voice is just awful. Is that really singing? Just a thought.

but on that note, please have a fantastic Labor Day weekend. And use the word 'fantastic' more's not used often enough.