Every good mother has an ace in the hole. Several, actually: a few in the pantry (special meals-in-a-box that she knows the family likes that can be whipped out in the event of simultaneous crankiness on her family's part and extreme busyness/stress on hers), some on her nightstand (good books, rich chocolate, deluxe hand cream, to give her an instant mood lift), her purse, and her closet. My mother always has emergency gifts wrapped and stashed somewhere she can grab them easily, and when I was little she would occasionally present me with some little something when it was needed or appropriate. Or when I was being insufferable and needed to be distracted. If I had known this I would have been insufferable more often. No, even MORE often.
In the sense that this blog is my baby, I too have a few cards up my sleeve. Maybe not aces, but there's bound to be something in the vault I can use when I'm too overworked to actually post something real or current because I'm teaching two sections of Asian Studies and I'm taking 4 of my own classes plus grad seminar plus pedagogy AND I have a competition this Saturday and I have a new partner so I have to practice extra with him, and, and, and *pant pant pant*.
Yes. Anyway. No time for real post. So here's one I've been keeping, undoubtedly too long, to throw up on the ol' blog, and keep all my fans happy and pacified for another week. Love you all, natch, but. So. Busy.
'Twas the Night Before Christmas Random Ten
Really, I don't have any good ideas of my own. My work starts with derivation and goes from there. I might occasionally improve on something I stole from somewhere, something or someone else, but not in this case. I'm going to do it anyway, though.
Once more, I'm biting from the Post-Modern Drunkard, who is currently—and wisely, considering the wretched cold and the snarly transit strike in his adopted city—spending Navidad in Madrid, far away enough for me to consider attempting a little flattering plagiarism.
The Random Ten is a facet of iPod culture. Ten songs, from the shuffle setting on your little digital baby. You listen, you rate them, you calculate the average for the week. Yet another blissfully indulgent manifestation of autocultural exhibitionism. Bear with me; I'm practicing my big words for when I start teaching (ulp).
"Gimme Some Money", Spinal Tap
Stupid? Kind of. Overdone? Of course. But it (and the whole movie) is an uncannily brilliant parody, and the songs themselves, including, are actually fairly good. Go Nigel, go! 6/10
"One By One", Enya
Yeah, I know. Shut up. But they're not THAT bad. And I use some of them for dance practice! Like, umm, Tea-House Moon has a perfect slow waltz beat, and Caribbean Blue is good for Viennese, and...oh, there's no excuse. And this one particularly sucks. 2/10
These people are great. They're a trio of Swat grads who used to play in our basement and in Lunt Cafe, and everyone should go right to iTunes and pick up their album, "take what you will". But this pretty, sly little ballad with the clever mandolin solos didn't make it onto their debut. It was on a demo that they sent to their loyal fans. Out of the three songs on that demo it's the weakest, but if they ever make it big, they can run it and no one will care. 7/10
"Old Man River", Django Reinhardt
Now, I love Django Reinhardt. But I also love Paul Robeson, and I squirm a little when I hear the D-man jazzing up and playing fast and loose with the most soulful song on Broadway. Anything but this, Django. Anything but this. 4/10
"Skin", Andrew Bird
Like Henry Mancini meets Thelonious Monk. Playful and interesting and tres hip. Wish I could whistle like this. 6/10
"Oceans of Grey", Green
I really hope these guys make it big. They're friends of a friend, and they've got the look and the sound tailor-made for general appeal, and somehow the lyrics are poetic and intelligent enough to make them listenable. 8/10
Bicycle Country Blackout
This was blackout music in a production of A Bicycle Country that I did tech for. Normally you get so sick of the soundtrack of a show after the first few weeks you want to rip the speakers out of the walls, but Cuban guitar? Love it. I really wish I knew what it's called and who wrote it and who performed it, though. I know it makes it sort of obscure and pointless to put on the Random Ten, but it's, y'know, random. Not much I can do about it. Just take my word for it: 7/10
"Yeah! Oh Yeah", Magnetic Fields
Part of a going-away present of hundreds of songs designed to make me cool for at least 10-12 months until all these bands made it to California. His voice sort of annoys me, and between the 'Fields and the Decemberists, I have more music about failed love than I know what to do with, but this is catchy, in a lugubrious, perverse sort of way. 6/10
"Bell Bottom'd Trousers", The Pyrates Royale
A cappella sea chanteys and comedy. I'm a geek, ok? I've accepted it. This one is a cautionary tale for maids in Drury Lane: don't get into bed with men who wear bell-bottoms. On the other hand, I probably wouldn't be here if my mother had heeded that advice, and I daresay many of you wouldn't either. 4/10
"Istanbul (not Constantinople)", They Might be Giants
An excellent cover of an excellent standby, from the Turkish-sounding fiddle intro to the kickin' drums to the Giants' vocals. My standard quickstep practice song and always guaranteed to make me grin. 10/10
An even 6/10 for the week. The geekitude factor of Tap and Pyrates, the obscurity of Green, "Siren", and "Random Cuban Music", and the musical travesty that is Enya push it farther down than even my cool-making gift music could save. Well, there's always next week.