Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sacrifices, compromises, discipline and the Allmighty



The truly, madly, deeply devout probably scoff at Catholics like me; for you see, my piety and sacrifice in the name of Jesus for Lent was at best, multi-faceted and at worst, completely with my own self-interest in mind.

I set the lofty goal of giving up fast food for the duration of Lent. So from Fat Tuesday to Easter Vigil, I abstained from my usual diet of value menu cheeseburgers and dollar fries.

It wasn't easy, especially with a toddler in tow, whose hunger pains were erratic and immediate. A simple act of willpower meant juice boxes and burgers for him, and nothing for me.

I incorporated this into my training for the 5k and skating. What was good for the willpower had to be good for my health and waistline, right?

I didn't track the results because the battery went out on the scale, and it was a nagging, but not necessary chore. Besides, I wanted to be delightfully surprised when it was all over at how much I lost.

I didn't notice much difference in the way my clothes fit, but I was getting compliments left and right, which of course pleased me. Piety and getting fit!

So I finally got a battery day after Easter, smugly bypassing all the half-off candy and treats available. I went home and slipped the disc in to scale.

Five pounds... heavier. Nice.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Why Art Matters - Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Untitled - Perfect Lovers



As adult nationals in Salt Lake draw to a close, I recall one of my favorite moments from past ANs. When I competed in Dallas in 2006, I researched the Dallas MOMA for a magazine article. While wandering the contemporary art section, I stumbled upon Untitled - Perfect Lovers, by Felix Gonzalez-Torres and was overcome with emotion. I couldn't believe two industrial-looking clocks would affect me in this way.

The two clocks were set approximately 3-5 minutes apart. The piece, like most of his art, was dedicated to his lover Ross, who was dying of AIDS. I found this on the piece:

The clocks sometimes are shown with a written letter to the artist’s lover, Ross, in 1988: “Don’t be afraid of the clocks, they are our times, time has been so generous to us. We imprinted time with the sweet taste of victory. We conquered fate by meeting at a certain time, therefore we give back credit where it is due: time. We are synchronized, now and forever. I love you.”

This from the Dallas MOMA:
These two identical, adjacent, battery-operated clocks were initially set to the same time, but, with time, they will inevitably fall out of sync... By assigning these redundant objects the title "Untitled" (Perfect Lovers), the artist transformed these public, neutral devices used for the measurement of time into personal and poetic meditations on human relationships, mortality, and time's inevitable flow. Of the light-blue background, Gonzalez-Torres said, "For me if a beautiful memory could have a color that color would be light blue."

What touched me about the pieces was the clock as a metaphor for real lovers. While we want to spend our lifetime together, the reality is one of us dies before the other. To me, the second hand represents our lives in sync; the minute hand, 3-5 minutes off, represents the loneliness between losing our life partner and our own untimely passing; and the hour hand life itself.

I hope to explore more of Gonzalez-Torres' work in person, in the future. Internet searches of his work and images have exposed me to a minimalist style that is marked with a graceful touch of elegance and melancholy.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I'm Over It: The trials and tribulations of watching Secret Life of the American Teenager



Amy, I'm with you: we are sooo done with Ben.

It should have been a sign that I got hooked on this stupid show while laid up with a horrible ear infection. The attraction to the show was of course the mom was played by Molly Ringwald.

I've tolerated and forgiven a lot of nonsense in this show. The annoying uber-virgin cheerleader Grace Bowman; Jack's family up and leaving him to his own devices for his senior year of school without speaking to the family that would be caring for him, which led to the Bowman family discovering him squatting in the guest house; the two best-friend twits; Adrian's family moving next door to the Jurgen's even though George slept with the mom and Adrian only wanted to live there to keep an eye on Amy.

I could continue, but I think I have made the point that the writing on this show makes Saved By the Bell look like The West Wing.

Season Four has started, and I have watched with much trepidation. The fact that the main characters are high school students has become such a bother, that little sister Ashley, with little or no parental consent, has opted to be homeschooled BY HERSELF. Tom, the charcter with Down's Syndrome went from sweeping floors to the VP of human resources in a scant 3 television time weeks. Then there was BFT (best friend twit) and her attempts to persuade her parents to let her sleep with her ex-boyfriend by feigning interest in her 20-something boss.

Ah, but the kicker has to be the swinging couples of Ben and Ricky and Amy and Adrian. A scant 20 weeks ago, Ben and Adrian slept together to make Amy and Ricky jealous, even though they weren't a couple. That act alone drove everyone into separate corners and into love.

Monday's episode revolved around Ben determined to propose and marry Adrian before the baby arrives. The kid is barely 17 and has proposed to two pregnant teenagers - I think he has a type... Anyway, he asked her parents' for her hand and they said yes, beaming from a taco stand. The sausage prince (he dad owns the butcher shop) had his driver picker her up and proposed... and she said yes.

I looked incredulously into Adrian's shining eyes, as she betrothed herself to the geek, and thought to myself, "I'm done."

Curtains on this ridiculous tableau.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Today is dedicated to a guy who got it right


not the real Doug, but a Doug nonetheless

I got the shocking news today that my friend Doug DeMull passed away on Friday. Doug was a good guy, and probably one of the nicest, sweetest men you'd ever meet.

It's hard to know what to say. He was taken too young, yet it is satisfying to know he was a man who knew what he loved and who he loved. He was the ultimate family man, punctuating the silences at work with a smile before he would tell me how beautiful his wife Barb was or how cute and funny his kids Drew and Dylan were.

A fellow Ferris alum, he had great stories of his time as a bachelor sharing not-so-sanitary living conditions with his roommates. His mushrooms in the bathroom story is both funny and gross.

We shared lots of little inside jokes, such as his lunches at Motel 6, room 8. For naps, he's say with wink.

One year, I got him for Secret Santa, and was delighted to get him a novelty gumball machine and 5 pounds of gumballs. Because, boy did he love his gum. He REALLY loved his gum. It's important to note how much I thought of Doug because I hate loud gum-chewers yet I was ok with Doug workin' his chicle, so to speak.

One of the my favorite portfolio pieces from my time at Michigan Bulb was a collaboration between the two of us on the Showcase Lilies mailing. He also worked with me on a back cover ad for Festival, a fun little burst of creativity that makes me smile.

I'm trying hard to remember the last time I saw him, I think it was either Festival or ArtPrize. The venue doesn't matter, but his signature greeting sure does: his cheeks ruddy with pleasure and arms open wide in greeting a good friend. I hope that is the greeting he recieved on Friday, the earth's loss is surely heaven's gain.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

April "Celebrate" Playlist - One Little Victory



I did the practice training 5K "fun" run on April 2. A couple of days later, it is easy to wax philosophical, so I will start with what learned.

First, that the cheerful organizers will celebrate anything, even the solo 5K runner, the schlub that showed up in her Old Navy techno hoodie while everyone else was in their waffle tees and shiny spandex. Also, that I have some sort of inner resolve not to quit, even when the superego, that bitch, won't shut up. I also learned that it's difficult to do the job with crap equipment and went out to buy some real sneakers as opposed to the no-arch supporting sham footwear I was wearing. It's like walking on clouds!

I also learned that the right music will work miracles in getting you to get into gear. The first song on my ipod as I took off was World Party's "Ship of Fools," also known as what the heck was I thinking with that one?

So this month's playlist will consist of the songs I yanked into a file on iTunes to create the ultimate 5K runner's high for a figure skater trying to complete the Fifth Third River Bank Run. As this is a work in progress, I apologize to my readers (*crickets*) if this is long-winded. I plan on ranking each song as a warm up (WU), gearing up (GU), peak (P), and slow down (SD). Any on the bubble will be ranked as such. I'm guessing I will need 90 minutes of tunes.

Draw the Line, Aerosmith - P - driving bass line for a steady pace

Devil in Stitches, Bad Religion - GU - rockabilly punk sound

Venus, Bananarama - P - driving disco beat with attitude, kind of consider this diva, pretty girl music

Good Vibrations, The Beach Boys - *bubble* - Brian Wilson's pop symphony is wonderfully orchestrated, but that would be a problem for someone who will be attempting a steady pace. Not sure where to put it in the lineup, so it may go.

Paperback Writer, The Beatles - GU - has a nice clackly clack groove that will set a good pace

Across the Universe, The Beatles - WU/SD - dreamy pace, nice escapsim

Sabotage, The Beastie Boys - P - Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Tighten Up, Archie Bell & The Drells - GU - bouncy, happy fun time

Good Things, BoDeans - WU/SD - positive yet soft

Gonna Make U Sweat, C+C Music Factory - P - Everybody Dance NOW!

F#$* You, Cee Lo Green - P - I almost gave up on a jog when this song came on and I finished the 5k. It stays.

Supergirl, Cibao Matteo - P - asain punk with a go girl vibe.

Better Be Home Soon, Crowded House - SD - fitting for the end

The He Kissed Me, The Crystals - *bubble* - I love the song, but not sure where it should go

Jai Ho!, Pussycat Dolls - P - driving beat with a bit of Indian spice

Groove is in the Heart - P - "we're going to dance and have some fun..."

Ya Gotta Be, Des'ree - WU - positive affirmation song

Run Baby Run - Garbage - *bubble* - love Garbage, but not sure where to put this

Special, Garbage - GU - guess that determines the fate of the above song

My Sweet Lord, George Harrison - WU - nice pace, sweet song

Race with the Devil, Girlschool - P - c'mon! a title like that by an all-female British metal band?!

Dog & Butterlfy, Heart - SD - a favorite song that is gentle and soaring

Violet, Hole - P - Courtney Love at her most aawesome

Legend of a Cowgirl, Imani Coppola - GU - love the sample and her clever lyrics

Closer to Fine, Indigo Girls - *bubble* - a favorite with no home

I Do, J. Geils Band - P - bouncy and infectious

Do Ya Wanna Touch?, Joan Jett - P - attitude x 2

Calypso, John Denver - WU - something in the chorus speaks to me and inspires me

Just Like Heaven, Katie Melua - SD - magic in the remake

Bad Romance, Lady Gaga - P - gagaohlala, roma oh la la

Telephone, Gag and Beyonce - P - how can I not when I visualize those two going batshit crazy?

Supernova, Liz Phair - P - volcano

Bring Me Some Water, Melissa Ethridge - GU - searing blues, but maybe not a good reminder that I will be parched by time I get to this one on the playlist?

We Run This, Missy Elliot - P - love the pop of the bongos

The Girl That I Knew Somewhere, The Monkees - GU - sunny little song

Hot Child in the City, Nick Gilder - Gu - runnin' wild and lookin' pretty (yes, I know it's about a teenage hooker)

Go, No Doubt - P - 80s techno, in the 90s

Try a Little Tenderness, Otis Redding - GU - felt like taking Otis and Duckie on the road with me

Crazy Train, Ozzy Osborne - P - too easy

Maybe I'm Amazed, Paul McCartney - *bubble* - sigh

Down By the River, PJ Harvey - GU - love the fuzzy

A Million Miles Away, The Plimsouls - GU - is it about love or running?

The Glitter Prize, Kay Hanley - *bubble* - free song tossed in as a WTH

Tattoed Love Boys, The Pretenders - P - aggressive and blsitering, but in a good way!

Under Pressure, Queen and Bowie - *bubble* - trying to block negative, and this song has negative images and an unfortunate connection to Vanilla Ice

Higher Ground, Red Hot Chili Peppers - P - punk funk

Drop Dead Gorgeous, Republica - P - another aggressive positive punk girl song

It Takes Two, Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock - P - whoaw!

Cherry Bomb, the Runaways - P - more aggressive girls, me likey

New World Man, Rush - *bubble* - I think Dave calls it time signature changes, but I think too many changes like that would mess me up.

Driven, Rush - GU - more f-ing time changes, but I think more tolerable than Mr. Signal Turning Green above

One Little Victory, Rush - P - see title of entry

Sleepwalk, Santo and Johnny - SD - bringin' her down

Cecilia, Simon and Garfunkel - GU - clapalong chorus to put spring in step

Run Run Away, Slade - P - glam rock bagpipes, oh yeah

Killer, Seal - *bubble* - great bass groove, but it takes 57 seconds for the song to start

My Blue Heaven, Smashing Pumpkins - SD - soft piano, strong visual

100%, Sonic Youth - P - title says it all

Eaten By the Monster of Love, Sparks - P - "don't let it get me!"

Vasoline, STP - P - "search for things that we can't see"

Stranglehold, Ted Nugent - *bubble* - long and sexy, maybe too long

When Will I See You Again, Three Degrees - WU/SD - soaring vocals that may be more appropriate for gearing up, hmm...

Fell in Love with a Girl, The White Stripes - P - such joy

I'm Not In Love, 10cc - WU/CD - big boys don't cry...