Monday, November 30, 2009

Minnesota State Fair Food

Today, for the conclusion of the November blogging challenge, I thought I'd finally finish my wrap up of the Minnesota State Fair with the food portion of the day. Thanks to everyone who has commented this month! It's been fun and I'm going to try to keep it up (but not QUITE so frantic a pace).
The gang at the beginning of the day

I went to the State Fair with five friends on a Saturday in August. We spent nearly 12 hours at the fair and photographed almost every morsel of food that entered our mouths. This is the documentation of that process. Ratings will follow each picture. Thanks to all involved for appearing in pictures, even when you look goofy, and to Tricia for letting me use all her pictures.

Abby with Sparkling Apple Cider Float
Sparkling apple cider with cinnamon ice cream in it.

Apple Cider Float: D (not worth it)

Posing with my Cream Puff
Standard cream puff. I ended up with powdered sugar all over my jacket and whipped cream all over my face.
Cream Puff: B+ (Worth it, but not spectacular)

Big Fat Bacon (on a stick)
Slices of bacon (1/3 of a pound) on a stick. Simple concept. Pretty fatty.

Big Bacon on a Stick: ? (Untasted by me)

Deep Fried Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
Reese's battered and then deep fried. On toothpicks so they are kindof on sticks.

Deep Fried Reese's: A (Ben) C (Katie)

Chocolate Belgian Waffle on a Stick
Sadly, not served on a stick due to the strawberries and whipped cream.

Chocolate Belgian Waffle: ? (Untasted by me)

Fries and Soda
Fries and Soda. There's not much to be said about that.
Fries: A (Mmm, perfect)
Soda: ?

Green Pepper Rings and Cotton Candy
Green Pepper Rings are like onion rings but made with green pepper instead of onion.

Green Pepper Rings: B+

Cotton Candy is self explanatory.

Cotton Candy: ?

Fry Dog and Caramel Roll
Fry Dogs are a treat originally from South Korea, I think. The concept is a hot dog on a stick coated with french fries in a batter.

Fry Dog: C- (Concept sounded better in theory)

Caramel Rolls are self explanatory.

Caramel Roll: B

Hot Dish on a Stick
Hot Dish on a stick is a Minnesotan treat. (Hot dish being a Minnesotan term for casserole.) Hot Dish on a stick is tater tots and meatballs alternated on the stick, dipped in batter, and deep fried. They are served with two dipping sauces...cream of mushroom soup and ketchup.

Hot Dish on a Stick: A-

Lemonade is the classic summer drink at the fair.
Lemonade: B+ (I can't give it an A if it wasn't fresh pressed...)

Deep Fried Cream Cheese on a Stick
A big chunk of cream cheese, put on a stick, battered and deep fried and served with pepper jelly. Bizarre but not unlike cream cheese wontons. Far better than the Cheese on a Stick that was velveeta, I'm sure.
Deep Fried Cream Cheese on a Stick: B+ (for creativity)

Peach Glazed Pig Cheeks
Peach glazed pig cheeks were weird, but slightly peachy and served on toothpicks (thus they could be classified as on a stick). Famous Dave's always has something new and this was it. Still, halibut cheeks are yummier...

Peach glazed pig cheeks: B (too much gristle and fat)

Frozen chocolate banana
Who doesn't love chocolate dipped frozen bananas?

Frozen chocolate banana: B+

Tornado Potato

After the fry dog disappointed, I was worried about this other South Korean treat, but the Tornado Potato brought everything the Fry Dog lacked. This mean monster is like a GIANT potato chip made from one potato. They have cool tools to make them and the stick to the stick so that people can share. There were also different seasonings to sprinkle. I would have/could have eaten about 10 of these. Scary.

Tornado Potato: A+

Honey Ice Cream with Sunflower Seeds
Honey ice cream got Abby SUPER excited. I don't like honey, so I was less excited.
Honey Ice Cream with sunflower seeds: ?

Lingonberry Ice Cream
The Scandinavians sure knew what they were doing. I think this cone cost me $5, but it was worth it. AMAZING ice cream. Ok, not as good as Italian gelato, but hey, it didn't have chocolate in it. (And so good, Scott and Tricia got some minutes later.)
Lingonberry ice cream: A

At this point we did not eat for about an hour or two. We had too much oil in our bellies. But then we recovered and the eating resumed...

Deep Fried Cheese Curds

Take cheese curds, dip in batter, deep fry. Sadly, then they lose their squeak :( They may or may not be consumed with ketchup.

Deep Fried Cheese Curds: B+

Texas Steak Dinner on a Stick
These were basically steak and veggie kabobs with a dinner roll thrown on the end. Quite bizarre. I was debating whether or not I was hungry, so I didn't get one.
Texas Steak Dinner on a Stick: ?

I finally decided I was really really hungry and got a fajita. I forgot to take a picture of it until Tricia chastised me and caught me mid bite.
Fajita: B (really small, but met my needs)
Deep Fried Norwegian Banana Splits and Uffda Treat
A Deep Fried Norwegian Banana Split is a banana wrapped in lefse and deep fried. Then it's topped with ice cream and mixed berries (lingon berries included) and whipped cream. Then you eat it and it is delicious.
Deep Fried Norwegian Banana Split: A- (it wasn't on a stick, so it doesn't get an A)
Uffda Treat is a scoop of cheesecake filling in a krumkake shell, topped with a pecan praline sauce.
Uffda Treat: C (primarily for not being as awesome as the banana split)

Sweet Martha Cookies and Milk
You must end your state fair experience with Sweet Martha Cookies (chocolate chip is the only choice) and Milk. Get a Bucket of Cookies and run to the all-you-can-drink-milk-for-a-dollar booth. Sit on the grass and eat and drink. Only not more than about two glasses of milk cause you might get sick.
Sweet Martha Cookies: A
Milk: A+

If you are interested in coming to the 2010 Great Minnesota Get Together, you should let me know ASAP, so I can book a space on my floor for you. I already have at least two people coming, so it should be a great time. Every year they add new foods and so your culinary horizons of deep fried food and deep fried food on sticks can continually be expanded. Until then, you may want to eat salad.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Crafting with Mom or Why my family is weird: Part 4

Mom said that she wanted to do crafts one day while I was home. I said ok, envisioning the crafts from several Christmases ago where she and Anthony cut out 50 paper snowflakes. No. This years craft involved a blowtorch. N0t the small one, but the big one. It's so big, it may be called something different than a blowtorch. It's a BERNZOMATIC. We needed it at several points for our undisclosed craft.

The Bernzomatic

Mom liked to wave the BERNZOMATIC around wildly while I was trying to heat up the knife to cut the wax. She made me nervous. Luckily, it turns out that my nervousness was deserved. She lit the newspaper (guarding the countertops) on fire.

The burnt newsprint, knife, and chunk of wax.

Our craft also involved a cutting board. At one point we needed to heat up a nail (with the BERNZOMATIC) and dad fashioned a vice grip with these needlenose pliers and a rubber band. Cause in my house, that's the way we roll.

Needlenose pliers with rubberband, nail, and drips of wax

Sorry anxious readers, but I cannot reveal what the craft was, for that would go against the rule of the craft society. But stay tuned for tomorrow's November FINALE post (which will also not be a reveal, but will be equally exciting).

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Wandering around Berea

Draper Carillon Tower, 2005

It's strange to wander around a place you know well that you haven't really seen in two or three years. Things change, people change, and places themselves change. I gave Ben a tour of Berea College this morning and we peeked inside buildings and walked around places I hadn't looked at in years. So I guess there were two things that struck me 1) lots of things have changed since I last really looked around the college and 2) it is strange to introduce Ben to places that have been so integral to seven years of my life, especially since they were so long ago and the places have changes so much.

Part of the strangeness is that almost every square foot of the campus holds strong memories for me, but almost all the memories revolve around people and almost none of those people are still in Berea. While I have gotten to see a number of them this week, our lives have changed and we are no longer the people we were back when I was in college. Some of my friends have babies or husbands or boyfriends. They have traveled and changed jobs and changed life paths. While Berea helped them become who they are today, they did not stop growing once they left, and that is what makes them interesting, but also what makes it odd to see them year after year. Like people, I expect that the college will stand still when I leave. No buildings will be renovated, no faculty will be hired or fired, nothing will change. But it does, because that's the way things work. So just as my friends move on, so the college does. And while there's nothing wrong with that, it's just a little surprising every time. My stomach does a little jolt, (like looking into the Pearsons lobby...seriously????), and then I'm fine. I've moved on too, and I love my life.

On the day the picture above was taken, we were practicing for graduation. The next day we would stand in front of relatives, friends, and DESMOND TUTU beneath this tower and receive our diplomas. We've all gone different ways since then, but many of us find our way back to Berea because, like an old friend, no matter how much the college changes, some part of us will always belong to this amazing place.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Crazy Pets

Maggie in the windowsill

My parents, for years, had two pets, a dog and a cat. For our first six year in Kentucky, Traveler (our collie) was a single child. He mourned the loss of our cat deeply. He moped around and every Himalayan cat he saw, he thought would want to play with him, cause it must be Rumbler. (We had left her in Alaska because we'd been long term petsitting, we'd never "owned" her.") Then in 2004, dad's co-worker decided that my parents needed a cat and Maggie (Margaret Thatcher) came into their lives. Traveler loved Maggie and it was common to see Maggie sleeping on top of Traveler or Traveler helping Maggie groom the hair on the top of her head.

So, perhaps it wasn't surprising when Maggie took Traveler's death incredibly hard. She knew it was coming (as we all did). He stayed outside for the 48 hours before he died and she apparently refused to leave his side, even for food and water. When I say he stayed outside, that was primarily because he couldn't walk up stairs or control bodily functions, and by that point he wasn't eating. It wasn't very cold and they'd made the shed up for him. But Maggie stayed with him. Mom brought him inside (carrying him) before she took him to the vet, and I don't know if Maggie came in too, but when mom came home from the vet, Travy wasn't there, and my parents say that Maggie hasn't been the same since. She's been much more needy and has craved attention.

Ben is not a cat person. I think of him as a dog person, but neither of us has pets at the moment. So I didn't know what his reaction to spending a week with a cat would be. Maggie has latched onto him though. Dad thinks it's because he's the calmest presence in the room, but if Ben is seated, Maggie will find lap space and sit there for as long as possible. It doesn't matter if he's reading, doing sudoku, or on a laptop, she will be there. I, naturally, have been teasing him about this and he now claims that we can't get a cat because the cat would like him better and then I would feel neglected and would get another cat, leading to a vicious cycle. For now though, I'll just enjoy having a cat wandering around and I'll enjoy the notion that maybe, one time, the cat will pick me...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Quite Interesting

First things first, I hope you all had an excellent day lounging around eating lots of food. Or, if you aren't in the US, I hope you had an excellent day doing whatever you did.

Secondly, if you don't know about the BBC program Quite Interesting, you should. Hosted by none other than Stephen Fry, the show is one part interesting facts, one part random facts, one part random made up facts, and five parts hilarity.Add to the mix some of Britain (and occasionally America's) top comedians, some very smart people, and the wit that is that of Stephen Fry and you have yourselves an amusing show. Alan Davies, perhaps most well known as Jonathan Creek, is the only panelist to appear in every episode and is the numbskull of the bunch. The show is best described by watching, so here's a clip.

Enjoyed that? Check out more clips on YouTube. The first episode of season G came out tonight in the UK, so I was thinking about that, especially as I talked to an American friend about her current life in the UK and her US shopping list (rolls - crescent and normal, biscuits, hershey's, popcorn, and Mexican food). In addition the folks over on twitter at qikipedia posted a teaser for tonight's episode, which I showed to my parents and Ben. Then they wanted to see more, so we watched Season A, episode 1 where they talk about Adams, Andrews, and Anteaters.

In some ways QI is like Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, but without the need to be time sensitive or (for the most part) culturally relevant. They are also much more crass than they could EVER be on US tv or radio. Unfortunately the DVDs are only sold as region two (western Europe) so you can either watch on YouTube or obtain episodes less than legally. I would LOVE to purchase the DVDs, and have contemplated buying another DVD player for my desktop just to buy and watch British shows...but I haven't done that yet. Anyways, if you're looking for smart and funny entertainment, you might want to check it out.

Hope you enjoy the rest of your break if you have one. Otherwise. I hope you have a most enjoyable Friday.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pumpkin Shortage Strikes Close to Home

This year our Thanksgiving has been disrupted by The Great Pumpkin Shortage of 2009.
This year, it turns out, our grocery stores do not look like this:

Instead, where the canned pumpkin should be, there were pre-made pies. Because while there is a shortage of canned pumpkin, apparently the bakery had enough to make pies. I find this to be highly suspicious... Anyways, after searching high and low for pumpkin and finally asking only to find that I was stupid and should have bought my pumpkin a month ago, we thought we'd trick them and go to the organic section.

The organic section of Kroger's felt like home. Or as much like the Wedge as Kroger's can possibly feel like. With still no pumpkin in sight, we bought frozen sweet potatoes. (Ironically, the same brand that we would have bought at the Wedge.) The thing is, at my house we are weird. (Previously established here, here, and here.) We don't eat pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. We eat pumpkin cake. It's like pumpkin pie met yellow cake and they had a baby called pumpkin cake. It is delicious, especially with cool whip and/or whipped cream on top. Yum Yum Yum. So we couldn't just buy a bakery pie.

Once at home, we went to two gas stations thinking that maybe they'd have pumpkin. Ok, that's a lie. Really we went on a walk to several gas stations, bought a paper, and coconut m&ms and also happened to peruse the shelves where they'd keep pumpkin, but no pumpkin was in sight.

So our pumpkin cake this year is a sweet potato cake. Mom's eaten a slice already and claims it tastes no different. The true test will be tomorrow. The northerner in me says it just can't be the same, but the southerner in me tells me to give it a try. Now I know though, pumpkin purchases cannot be put off til the last minute.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Why my family is weird: Part 3

My dad emailed me this picture this week. Not for squeamish vegetarians.

If you were wondering, this is what ten pounds of homemade pancetta looks like. And it tastes like heaven. Especially on homemade pizza with lots of veggies and pesto and cottage cheese. My mom has already demanded they eat two of these chunks. I'm hoping at least two will find their way up to Minneapolis... But I think that not many people make their own pancetta and fewer still make 10 pounds at a time for home consumption (and have eaten 1.5 pounds of that within two weeks.)

I love my weird family!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Once Upon A Time

Going on a Trip circa 1984
Back in the day, packing was easy. Grab Teddy in the backpack carrier and some raisins and cranberry juice concentrate or tofu for sustenance and I would be ready for a journey. Not a journey of much distance, granted, but a journey none the less. Now a journey requires doing multiple loads of laundry, making phone calls, emails, facebook, checking in for flights on line, consulting transit schedules, talking to people on IM, and more. Being a grown up is complicated. I liked going on trips with Teddy, but I doubt there was as much excitement on those trips.
See, tomorrow I am going to visit my parents. And Ben's coming too. And we get to see all sorts of fun people. So while packing and planning may be a pain, in the end I know it will be worth it. And Teddy may even be there at my parent's house waiting for us.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I love salad

My awesome salad of awesomeness
This was my dinner tonight: Mixed greens, hard boiled egg, cheddar cheese, croutons, almonds, pecans, carrots, and raisins. Every once in a while I go through a phase where I am obsessed with salads and eat them at all possible times. This has nothing to do with wanting to be healthy or needing veggies. This past summer it had to do with an abundance of berries (super yummy in salads) and other times it often has to do with finding the perfect dressing. This weekend is once of those times.

Salad Girl Pomegranate Pear Dressing

Yesterday I went to a Green Christmas Gifts Expo with some friends and they had food samples, including Salad Girl salad dressing. While I had tasted it before, I had forgotten about it. I also hadn't bought it originally because it's a little on the pricey side. But it's winter and I was feeling like it was time for a new salad dressing, so I splurged and bought pomegranate pear dressing and mixed greens. And Oh My Goodness. This is the type of salad dressing that you would have an affair with, if you could have affairs with salad dressing (which, thankfully, you cannot). Ben almost had to get out his camera last night cause I had to lick the bowl I tossed my salad in to get all the dressing I could out. That's the type of commitment I have to this dressing. It is silky and tangy and mixes perfectly with all the other ingredients that were hanging out in my fridge and cupboards waiting to be tossed in a salad. Sadly it's only available in Minnesota, as it's a small local company (with a circa 1999 website), but if you're in the area, check it out. It's well worth it.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Opinion: Christmas

My family's living room, Christmas 2004

Today I'm not feeling long winded, so I will share with you two opinions regarding Christmas.

1) Christmas should not be thought about until either December or the first Sunday in Advent, whichever comes first. In extreme situations you can think about Christmas immediately following Thanksgiving. (Note: this does not apply to gift giving. You can always be thinking of Christmas gifts. This applies primarily to decorations and music.) I refuse to buy Christmas decorations in early November. I would refuse to look at Christmas decorations in November if that were possible, but I think I wouldn't be able to enter stores, so I'm not quite that strict.

2) I'm sorry mom, but a fig tree is not a Christmas tree. It makes a valiant attempt and is definitely more convenient, unique, and more ecologically sound, but it's just not quite the same. (This could be cross filed under: Why my family is weird...) Our fig tree also doesn't hold nearly enough ornaments. I also hadn't realized until I went through my photos that we'd been decorating the fig tree for so long. I guess going to the closest parking lot and buying a tree just didn't have the same appeal as going skiing and snowmobiling to cut down our own tree from the woods, either. So while I respect your decision and your past fig tree decorating skills mom, I think this year we'll have a traditional tree :)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Mat Su Valley

Yesterday the New York Times did a small travel feature on the Matanuska-Susitna Valley in Alaska. (The Mat-Su Valley or just, the Valley, for short.) It made me think of home and also made me realize that while I've talked about Alaska in the context of my adventures and of Sarah Palin, I've never talked about growing up and the natural beauty and history that surrounded me. (Or what a GREAT travel spot Palmer Alaska is!)
Pioneer Peak
Pioneer Peak is the iconic view in the Valley. It's on the edge of the hay flats. These fields, filled with dead trees, are a constant reminder of the 1964 Good Friday earthquake. The quake, a 9.2 on the richter scale, caused these fields to drop over 10 feet (if I remember correctly) and killed all the trees. So fields turned into bogs. (If you're interested in natural disasters and don't know about this quake, you should check this out. Lots of people don't know about it, but it's absolutely fascinating.)

With two of my favorite Alaskans, Daniel and Jeanette, in the Church of a Thousand Trees
In Alaska, we went to the Presbyterian church in Palmer. The church itself was founded in 1937 by the colonists of Palmer (who at the time were still living in the WINTER). The church is made of logs and while other similar churches in the community have since been replaced, this congregation has decided to keep the original sanctuary. It's a very nice sanctuary and I've sung approximately 120 Sunday services from the choir loft. I also used to play tag throughout the church.

Our first Alaskan house
When we first moved to Alaska we lived across the street from my dad's office in a small neighborhood of other people who also worked with dad. Our house faced Pioneer Peak (here hidden by the house and clouds). On the other side of the house is a HUGE garden and play set. Our first summer we were out playing on the play set with other families while our parents worked in the garden. Eventually one parent looked at a watch. OOPS! It was 11pm. (I was 4, my brother was 1...we probably went to bed around 7 at that time.) That's what happens when the sun sets at midnight or later.

Our real Alaskan house
It took a while, but my parents finally found the house they were looking for. Picture windows that looked over the mountains, a trout stream in the back yard, lots of sunlight, etc. There was also this excellent sledding hill (doesn't look intimidating from this angle) that was much less cool once these people moved in at the bottom and built their stupid suburban fence.

Finger Lake Campground
This campground is less than one mile from the house. The lake is a 10 minute walk from the house. We used to come here and skate after school in the winters. In the summer, we'd canoe out to the island in the left hand corner and jump into the lake from the rope swing. OK, Anthony would jump in. I'd wuss out and not jump in. I think we may have also had bonfires out their and roasted hot dogs.

Little Su
Alaska has lots of glaciers. Glaciers melt. This means that there is lots of melting glacier water that needs to go somewhere. Usually this means glacial rivers and streams. The Little Su or Little Susitna River is a glacial river that comes from some glacier up by Hatcher's pass. It's small, but characteristically, it's silty and incredibly cold. On a REALLY hot day when we were young, my best friend and I used to get her mom to drive us up to this look out to go "wading." As much as you can wade around boulders when the water is 40 degrees. When Ben and I went it wasn't nearly warm enough to stick our toes in, so we settled for dipping our hand in to check the temperature.

Hatcher's Pass
If you read the New York Times article, you read about the Independence Mine State Historic Park. (I used to have a t-shirt from there...I was that cool!) Independence Mine is located within the larger Hatcher's Pass area. Hatcher's Pass encompasses the blob of mountains to the North of Palmer. There's one road to get up there and, come early to mid-July, when the snow melts, you can drive all the way to Willow.
Old Glenn Highway
There is something somewhat magical about living in a place where this road used to be a "major highway." Driving was a big part of our lives in Alaska. Emailing Simon yesterday, this is how I described it: We didn't live in a town, we lived between towns. We ran errands in Wasilla. We went to church in Palmer. Dad worked in Palmer. I went to school between the two towns. In that way, I also don't feel that I really associated that closely with either town. When Wasilla came on the national stage, that's how I labeled myself because it was an easy box to fit in. It gave people an image. My parents did the opposite. They spent last year being from Palmer so that they weren't associated with the same images. Either way, we spent huge amounts of time in the car. Piano lessons, band, sports, concerts, errands, library, work, bookstore, meetings, coffeeshops...all these required 5 to 60 minutes in the car, depending on whether they were at school or as far away as Anchorage. But time in the car isn't so bad when you have views like this. (It wasn't nearly as nice on winter days with 40 mph winds and blowing snow...)

The Butte
This was one of the only hikes, as a child, that my mom could get us to willingly go on. Even then, I think we only successfully made it up once or twice. (The hike is 1.5 hours, max...) At the base is the Reindeer Farm. We never went there.

Moose food
Moose are a part of daily life in the Mat-Su Valley. Primarily this is in the winter, but this picture is a reminder that even in summer the moose are always around, looking for snacks. Here, we'd gone to visit a friend and she'd had moose in her yard that morning (June 30). The green stalks in the forefront had been covered with leaves the day before. Probably the equivalent of a couple of M&Ms to a full grown moose, but a treat, none the less.
If you are visiting Alaska, I'd encourage you to take some time and explore the Mat-Su Valley. There is much more that I haven't talked about here that is just as gorgeous, or more so, and can fit any style of travel, from backpacking to resort. It was a great place to grow up and I'm sad to not be able to call it home anymore. If you visit, say hi from me, I miss it.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Where are you from?

Today someone asked me the simple question, "Where are you from?" Every time someone asks me that question I get confused and I don't know how to answer. So the questioner went deeper, "Where were you born?" "Wisconsin." "Well, where did you grow up." "Um, define grow up..."

Baby Katie with parents (in Wisconsin?)

No, I'm not a military kid, I'm a professor's kid. We moved as my dad changed jobs. The confusing question for me is where did I grow up. I spent ages 4-14 in Alaska, but 14-21 in Kentucky. So where did I grow up?

My family with our dog, Traveler, in Alaska

Alaska in many ways feels like home. My formative years were there. I got my first driver's permit there and it's just cooler (literally and figuratively) to be from Alaska than from Kentucky. It took me two years in Kentucky to stop saying I was from Alaska, but I still felt torn. Now, it generally depends on the occasion whether I say I have ties to Alaska, but I rarely say I'm "from" there.

Family picture in Kentucky

Spending only seven years in Kentucky, however, doesn't make me feel justified in saying I'm from there either. I usually go with the line "my parents are in Kentucky," when asked why I'm heading there. Being from there leads to a conversation about why I don't have a drawl or about basketball (about which I know almost nothing...)

At the St. Paul Winter Carnival in 2007. It was about -30F.

Now, thankfully, I can use the line, I'm from Minnesota. It's a line which is, at least temporarily true. (This also leads to the realization that I have spent 17 years of my life at or above 43 degrees North latitude, so from now on that's the line I'm using :) )

I've never felt like I've been without a homebase, because my parents have always worked hard to make where ever we lived be home. It's only when I get asked "where are you from?" that I get flummoxed. I've been yearning for Alaska today because my hometown 'hood, as it were, made the NYTimes travel section. I'll write about that tomorrow, but it brought up some intense homesickness and longing for home. While I know that Alaska isn't my home anymore, seeing the pictures and hearing the stories made me remember a time when it was. And that makes me smile.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Unpopular music vs. Teeny boppers

I have almost never listened to any music that would be considered remotely popular for my age bracket. I grew up with Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Bach, and Byrd. Canadian Brass were pretty crazy for my classical world, but still acceptable. Dad introduced me to his music, but that was still more folk or rock than pop... Stan Rogers, James Taylor, Simon and Garfunkel. On my own I discovered the world of the musical, starting with basics like Godspell, Andrew Lloyd Webber and the 90s Disney musicals.

In eighth grade I briefly decided to attempt to be "cool" for a while and listened to the radio for a year. I listened to top 40 for a year and got very bored, so when I moved to Kentucky, it was back to my music. In high school, I'll admit I liked Backstreet Boys and N'Sync, but that was the extent of my interest in popular music. (Yes, I was a cliche, but that is gone now, thankfully. Unless you count this rendition of Get Down, sung by the Vienna Boys Choir. I listened to it for the first time in the ER waiting for migraine meds. I couldn't stop laughing. It helped make the pain go away. Nothing like Austrian choir boys with British enunciation telling you to "get down, get down and move it all around," to make you laugh hysterically. Then they rap. The album was a steal at Cheapo for the number of hours of laugher it has provided.)

In college I branched out slightly further (thanks to Rachel and Shoshana) and became a fan of Seven Nations, a celtic rock band. We drove up to four hours to see them and learned the hard way about the fact that Kentucky was in multiple time zones. We also got stuck on the Bluegrass Parkway at 3am on Easter morning. That was fun. We definitely didn't dance to music on our laptops in the middle of the highway. The picture makes them look hippie, but they have fiddle, bass, guitar, bagpipes, and drumset. This is the only pies without the drumset.

Over the past few years I've been incorporating more of a mix of music into my ipod mix. Most recently, I've incorporated the new Pink Martini album (surely it has nothing to do with the smooth vocals of NPR justice correspondant Ari Shapiro) and They Might Be Giants (not their new science album, but an older less geeky one. Still my ipod primarily plays non-hip stuff...classical, folk, LOTS of NPR, and some audiobooks (currently Stiff by Mary Roach).

All this means that when I do start listening to things that don't fall into these categories, say, Mika... I feel like a teeny-bopper. I feel like I'm sitting on the bus bopping my head like I'm 12. And I'm secretly afraid that I'm going to be busted for it. Yeah, I know this is bizarre. (Albeit deserved for some of my music, but not this stuff...) I don't know exactly what it is: his vocal range (3.5 octaves, meaning that he often sings in my range), the fact that his average fan is probably younger than me, the driving beat, the European-ness of it all? Anyways, that's what's been going through my head tonight. I've finally bought more than the one single track off of iTunes. I wanted to buy a physical cd, but then I decided that was stupid (and would take too long).

The King's Singers sang their gig with Mika tonight, so I'm hoping that now that they'll stop talking about preparations on their blog, I'll be able to ween myself off the music... worst case scenario, I'll have some new boppy music, good for workouts and when I need to wake myself up. The other good thing is that it has been really productive music for me to work to, so that's something. I just can't help feeling like I'm pretending to be 13 when I listen to the music.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thanksgiving People!

I'm heading to my parents for Thanksgiving next week. It'll be my first one in Kentucky since 2004 and Ben's coming too. My brother won't be there, but that's ok, since he'll be here for Christmas and Thanksgiving's more of a low key holiday with us anyways. I don't think all four of us have been together for Thanksgiving since he started going to school in Canada in 2003.

Anyways, I've been going through pictures, since Snapfish will give you 100 free prints if you order by midnight tonight and spend $5. I'm getting psyched about the people I'll see next week, so here they are in picture form!
Mom and Dad. Awww. Aren't they cute? Other than the fact that dad has flowers coming out of his ears?
Liz! She sings Dixe Chicks songs into mechanical pencils in the Marseille airport. I would never do anything like that. There are definitely no pictures. She's got an adorable little baby who I'll get to meet next week as well.

Rachel may appear to be Italian based on her use of gesture and her general enthusiasm, but she is, in fact, not. She does speak near fluent Romanian, or did at one time. If you were wondering, Romanian is kindof like Italian, but with "shh" sounds added in. She is always reminding me that I should call her more. I should.

Hopefully I'll get to see Mary (left) and Jessi (right). They are also goofballs, but in a good way. The five of us (Liz, Rachel, Mary, Jessi, and I) used to have annual Pearsons reunion Christmas sleepovers, but I ruined the tradition last year by my flight being cancelled. I cried. A lot :( These gals would be excellent company on a desert island. I would laugh so hard I'd cry and then I'd get dehydrated. So maybe they wouldn't be good company. I don't know. I wouldn't be board. That's for sure.

The recurring theme here seems to be humor. Sarah P. is great! I don't get to see her often, cause she's been living all over being a fantastic theater person, but in this picture she and my mom have just saved my mom's purse from being abandoned in a restaurant in Providence by my mom. Sarah was excited about the rescue. She was one of my first college friends and, along with Rachel helped me maintain sanity throughout my first semester of college. She's driving through my town and so I get to see her!!! And my dad will feed her and her boyfriend, so it will be like old times.
Margaret Thatcher isn't really that exciting, but she does live with my parents in Kentucky, contrary to the more popular belief that she lives in London, England. She likes curling up in sunny spots and on top of backpacks. She is quite cuddly, despite what the press may say.
So those are visuals of some of the people I'll see. I'll likely see many more than that, but I either don't have pictures, don't have good pictures, or don't want to get people's hopes up. If you'll be around and want to see me, give me a call, email me, or leave a comment!