- Balloons. Lots and lots of them. In 3-D. Yet I was fine, thanks for asking.
- Cried 3 times.
- Ellie reminds me of Elastigirl. Maybe it WAS Elastigirl! Look at the first two letters of their names!
- Square Old Guy + Round Kid = Comedy Gold
- I will now look at all Boy Scouts as "Small Mailmen."
- HE"S A TALKING DOG!!!
- What's the female equivalent name for Kevin? "Kevina"?
- I liked that they didn't feel the need to do a bunch of sight gags just because it was in 3-D.
- Absolutely loved the Cone of Shame bit. I honestly think that all dogs that have to wear those are laughed at by the other dogs they encounter. Maybe not as much as the ones who talk like Alvin, but still.
- SQUIRREL!!!!!! (The theme of the month is now complete).
Sunday, May 31, 2009
A bunch of us saw "Up" in 3-D at the El Capitan on Friday night.
Once I cleaned up most of the popcorn that I had dropped in my lap, I was able to relax and put on my glasses for the cool Toy Story 3 trailer.
The pre-show was filled with summer party songs. Chip and Dale weren't wearing any pants.
Gooood night, everybody!
The Pixar short, "Partly Cloudy," was hilarious and missing a hippo. Great juxtaposition with the movie, though, since both had clouds and cloud-shapes.
OK, so really, here are my thoughts from the featured movie.
I hope all of you reading this will see this movie. It's quite wonderful. Another success by Pixar.
Last week, I saw "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian" with Linda and Mox.
- Perhaps Hank Azaria was trying to do a Jeremy Irons impression, since one of my friends (that did not see the movie) thought that J.I. was in the movie.
- This movie was sillier than the first one. I still liked it, but less than the original.
- Loved Amy Adams as Amelia Earhart, especially for her adventurer's spirit. She was the best part of the movie.
- I really liked the interaction of the two security guards: Ben Stiller's Larry and Jonah Hill's Brandon (pronounced "Brundon")
- I didn't know that our ATM number pads were based on Egyptian tablets. Until now.
- I wasn't really crazy about the other new characters, but I enjoyed the octopus. I think this is the first time that I ever thought an octopus was cute.
- I also liked how the paintings came to life in this one. That was pretty cool.
- One of my favorite scenes was when Darth Vader and Oscar the Grouch wanted to join the bad guys. I think the bad guys could have really used Vader's light saber, but he was too weird for the Pharaoh's bro.
- OK, I really loved the fact that Clark Howard was one of the guys in Mission Control.
- Octavius and the Squirrel. I see a theme about this month's events. :)
If you're looking for some silliness and adventure, with a little bit of history mixed in, I think you'll like this movie.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Today is Wendy's birthday. Happy Day, my Pella Posse friend!
That's her, with our fave guys, and some other guy holding onto her.
It's also my friend Maria's birthday. I don't have a picture of her, which is weird because she's wacky and loves posing for the camera in funny ways. I just don't happen to have a camera at work, I guess.
It's also Joseph's birthday.
Happy Birthdays to all of you! May you all be celebrating with me at this time next year. ;)
Monday, May 25, 2009
I saw "Terminator: Salvation" on Friday night with Linda.
Gearing up for the evening, I actually figured out that I hadn't yet seen T3. Luckily, it was playing on cable last week, so I recorded it. When the Lakers lost on Thursday night, I needed some destruction to get my anger out, so I watched T3 and felt better. ;)
Thoughts on the newest Terminator movie:
- I was tense for the entire movie. Yeah, the whole thing. I don't think that I fully exhaled until after the credits started rolling.
- The first HUGE robot that had motorcycles in its legs made me think of Transformers. Then I remembered that I was watching Terminator.
- I heart Christian Bale, even after he had that tirade. I can see why he went off, though. He's such a Method actor and this movie was so full of tension that I can just picture him losing it. That's no excuse for his behavior, of course, but had I played his character, I would have been tense 24/7 as well, and my style isn't quite Method. Not that I actually *have* an acting style. Or an acting job. Oh, rambling.
- I just found out that Bryce Dallas Howard's character wasn't originally supposed to be pregnant, but since she already was in real life, they didn't try to hide it at all. That's pretty cool. They didn't verbally reference it, either, but it just added to the drama.
- As soon as I saw Helena Bonham Carter, all I could think of was "Sweeney Todd". So when Marcus signed the contract, I thought to myself, "She's going to make you into a pie."
- Moon Bloodgood's very white shiny teeth totally distracted me. Here they were with the cinematography all gritty, in the middle of a war, and she has found time to whiten her teeth? Like, REALLY white.
- More on her character, Blair: So why was she kinda opening up her shirt in that scene?I saw no injury that would warrant her needing to look at that are of her body. How can anyone not think that she's trying to seduce Marcus? I know she's probably lonely, but please. I really think the whole white teeth thing made me dislike her unreasonably, but maybe you think the same about the whole stupid seduction thing.
- "I'll be back." :)
- Ah, the Terminator himself, in my favorite role of his. His current role in real life is NOT my favorite.
- I'm sure that this was already touched upon with the first T movie: John Connor's initials are the same as Jesus Christ's. His saving the world was much more obvious with the title of this movie, though, so that's probably why it sticks in my mind more. Interesting.
- I'm thinking of Skynet's goal. Once all of the humans are obliterated, what was their plan after that? Just rule the earth? Rule each other? Make this all into a prequel of The Matrix? Just wondering.
- 2018 isn't very far away. I really hope that we don't see those mushroom clouds that soon in real life. Or ever again, actually.
I was still tense after the movie ended, so we went to Applebee's in order that I could wind down with a Mango Martini. That stuff is like candy to me, only more expensive.
The movie was enjoyable in a destructive, gloomy kind of way. I'm glad that John Connor was able to fulfill the prophecy, though...well, at least, *start* to fulfill it.
Monday, May 18, 2009
As promised, here is the letter that I wrote for Professor Huszti's book. I hope that one day I can read the letters that my friends wrote, too. (The book wasn't available yesterday at the Open House).
After 9 years of playing the violin, I decided that I wanted to sing in the choir when I got to college in 1985. I had no audition piece, but somebody told me to just go in, sing "My Country 'Tis of Thee", and let the director test my range. There he was, the Man himself, Jo Huszti. Oh, mind you, I had no idea that if I had been a voice major, I should have been terrified of him. I was frightened enough just being a Freshman. He was very pleasant to me, though, and told me that I was a soprano. During our chat, I told him that I wanted to be able to sight-sing. I knew how to sight read quite well as an instrumentalist, but I didn't really know how to do that with my voice. He told me that he would place me as an Alto, and that would help me reach my goal. (I don't know, maybe he just needed more altos. Whatever). Soon, I was singing in the Freshman Choir as an Alto, and loving every moment of it. Being a servant at Madrigal Dinner was quite the experience: seat people, serve food in waves, don't drop the Leg of Fowle!, serve Wassail, sing about wassail, serve food, sing for the Court and their guests, serve that figgy pudding, don't let the flame touch your costume! I remember hearing Jo talking to the Court one evening, and he was not pleased. I remember being happy that I was not part of that group being lectured.
Well, of course, my time would come. Times to be lectured, times to be not only an Alto, but also a Soprano, a Tenor, whatever voice Jo needed at the time. Yeah, sometimes a Bass. Part of me felt like I had Multiple Voice Disorder, but the other part of me felt proud that he trusted me on those parts. He gave me the confidence to sing whatever voice part was necessary, and oh, yes, I could sight sing like nobody's business. Thanks for that, Jo. I'm now able to walk into church 30 minutes before Mass, learn a song, and sing it solo in that same Mass, and actually be confident about it. One of my fellow cantors asked me how I could do that. I told her that it was partly due to the orchestra background, and partly because my director told me to be an Alto one day.
Ah, yes, I loved being an Alto. On our trip to Debrecen in 1987, I was part of the Happy Alto trio with Shannon Hartigan (now Villanueva) and Kristina Engel. We had already bonded before that tour, singing "Old McDonald Had A Farm" in pseudo-sign language at our choir retreat, but we bonded even more during our first choir tour. That tour made me appreciate being an American. There we were, young adults in Hungary, celebrating our Independence Day by singing patriotic songs on the bus after a competition. We all wished that we could see fireworks, but Jo still had us feeling like a family because we were all together, our own big family, staying in a Hungarian orphanage and learning more than we ever would have about the beautiful country. I have such fond memories of Hungary that whenever anyone asks me to list my favorite places in the world, Budapest is in the top 5.
The choir rehearsals helped us bond more than anything. I had no idea when I joined the choir that I'd be in some kind of improv acting class at the same time. Whenever I hear the song "Nothing" from "A Chorus Line," I grin widely, thinking of all the different types of movement Jo would have us do in order to feel the music. Passing the football from one side of the choir to another, acting like whatever animals we were singing about (don't get me started on The Frog Moved Slowly), and choreographing "Come Sweet Death" were experiences that I don't think other choirs have. Am I right? Do ALL choirs stand and gently sway, pretending to be Paper Reeds by the brook? That was my favorite, by the way.
As time passed, and I moved on from Mad Din Servant to Court Member to Princess to Queen(!) to Knight of Christmas, the bonds continued. I joined California Chamber Singers because I had the need to keep singing fantastic music with great musicians. My favorite tour as a CCS member was Spain. We had a lot of fun on that tour, this time sleeping in a monastery. Yeah, we got yelled at. Let's just say that my tolerance for wine was really high after I got back from that trip. Oh, and I'm *still* embarrassed that I fell down during the "Frog Went -a- Courtin'" dance in the Basque country. Ed, really. You could have WARNED me before flipping me onto my butt! (No, there was no wine involved in that incident). I fault Jo for thinking that I could do that dance in cowboy boots, though.
Most of all, I credit Jo for fostering my love of music. Silly as those improv movements were at the time, they helped me understand what it was to feel music through my whole body. The interpretations that he shared helped me understand the music logically, too. The physical and the mental understanding were nothing compared to the emotion I felt. As many times as I sing the Thompson "Alleluia," I still feel the love for God in my heart, and the praise that I sing in His name. That song is one of my favorite pieces ever. Just two words, but with every emotion that can be sung. And of course, the final word, "Amen," sung by none other than the Altos. It's no wonder that whenever I hear it or sing it now, I think of us singing that song in Debrecen, holding hands with each other, wearing those cowboy outfits. We were ONE that day. It was incredible.
One day, when I was finishing up my Master's degree in Clinical Psychology, I realized that I had to come to a decision about my life. I needed to either continue on my path as a psychotherapist, or continue singing. There wasn't a way to have both and also have a steady income, because I was supporting myself with my day job. I prayed for guidance. Three phone calls happened that week, all of them asking me to sing in some capacity either in a choir or in a band or whatever. Jo was one of those callers. I decided to keep singing, and have never regretted my decision for a moment.
Thanks, Jo, for that call. Thank you for making me a Happy Alto. And thank you, most of all, for your friendship, your kindness, and the love for music that you have passed on to me and many, many others. Congratulations on your 50th year! Alleluia, indeed. Oh, and AMEN.
Duh, Sherry. The trip to Debrecen was in 1988. The Altos are the last ones singing "Alleluia," not "Amen." But it's still holds the same meaning to me. :) I did get it right on the quiz that day, though, when I said that without Jo's inspiration, I wouldn't really know the meaning of "Alleluia."
Love ya, Bela. :)
Sunday, May 17, 2009
I drove back down to UCI today to attend the Open House at the Huszti residence. A few of my friends were already there. Cliff had brought Cindy today, so I wanted to say hi to her. Cliff gave me a big hug when he saw me, not realizing that this really made my mid-back feel quite a crunch, since it had been aching a little bit all week. I winced, but didn't say anything. At least it wasn't yucky, like my toe. Cindy and I spoke for a little while, then I got something to eat and sat outside with Caesar and Shannon. Caesar informed me that Twitter was telling him that the Rockets were imploding in their Game 7 playoff against the Lakers, so I was happy.
Pretty much the same people came to the house as attended last night's concert. It was nice, though, to get a chance to meet the newer alumni, and look at photo albums from long ago. My favorite was Vicki's, of course, because I was actually on that tour and could remember moments. They distributed a quiz for those whom had not submitted a letter to Jo. I decided to complete one anyway, even though Vicki said that my letter made her cry and, along with Roberta's, affected her literary-degree mind with writer's block. Sorry!
One of the alumni is now a professional baker, and made this cake and cupcakes, complete with the Tudor Rose design from the Madrigal Dinners.
Rudy texted me about how sorry he was that he couldn't make it to anything this weekend, due to his obligations. I sent him a couple of pictures, and a couple of messages from our friends so that he would feel better. I really missed him, though. I didn't take pictures of people until after some of them had already left, sorry. Here are the people I talked to most, anyway.
The Villanuevas and Vicki
I had fun reminiscing with folks, and it was especially nice to talk to Melinda and Jo one-on-one. Being back at Casa Huszti was a blast from the past, and I felt kind of like I was home again. I half-expected to go upstairs and try on a costume for Mad Din. Since there won't be any more Madrigal Dinners, the costumes are up in their attic. I said one thing to Jo about this: "e-bay". I wasn't serious, though. It would break my heart to see all of Melinda and the other seamstresses' hard work be sold on the open market. Melinda said that they would try to have get-togethers regularly, because it had been far too long, and we don't have the Madrigal Dinners as the excuse to get together anymore. I hope that we do have a gathering at least once a year. There are far too many awesome memories to share and too many wonderful people of whom to lose track.
Jo had scheduled a Men in Blaque recording session at the house, but that wasn't going to happen anymore, what with everyone there and key people missing. Eliza's letter to Jo just happened to be rewritten lyrics to "Modern Major General," and she didn't even know that MiB was going to perform it last night. They sang the new lyrics to Jo, and they were outstanding. My favorite line had something to do with Jo teaching in "a master-planned community." Jo thanked us all for the great weekend, reiterating his thoughts from last night. One thing he said was that he was fortunate in his life to surround himself with quality people, who give the opportunity for quality experiences. I suppose that it's the secret to living a fulfilling life. Yeah, I teared up again, especially when he got emotional. Aw, Bela. :)
I talked to Jo about when he actually found out we were all going to come to his house today. He said, "7:30 this morning, when Melinda told me that we had to sweep the patio." Great job, Melinda! I'm glad that he was so surprised. This was a wonderful weekend to cherish forever, much as I already do with the people I've met through UCI choirs, thanks to Joseph Bela Huszti.
We interrupt the choral love fest for this important announcement:
Today is Jordan Knight's birthday. Happy Birthday, Jord!
Here's a pic that he posted on twitter yesterday from the NKOTB cruise. Goodness gracious, it is so unfair that he is still this fine.
Today my college choir director, Joseph Huszti, celebrated his 50th year of college teaching. The UC Irvine choirs had a concert tonight, so Jo's wife Melinda and a few alumni planned a surprise for him. They sent out a request for letters and notes to dedicate to Jo, and did some organizing to get as many of us as possible to attend the concert and surprise him.
Professor Huszti has been one of the greatest influences in my life. I was happy to send a letter to be included. It will be a separate blog post in this 3-part series regarding the events of this weekend.
I've kept in touch with several of the people that I met in UCI choirs, and still see several of them at various times during the year. The camaraderie is still there, the laughter still prevalent, and the common love for music and our time are always in our discussions. This night, however, would be a different vibe. Well, at least I hoped it would be.
I arrived a few minutes late, and didn't really know where I was going: at least, I didn't know how to get there, because there were buildings being constructed in the path that I would normally take. There were also a couple of bridges that hadn't been there when I was a student. I called Shannon and she led me to the rehearsal room where everyone was congregating. She was standing there with Melinda and Vicki, trying to flag me down. Ah, Vicki. It was such a delight to see her happy face. Melinda looks great! I was happy to be there, knowing what we were about to celebrate. Shannon told me to brace myself because it was going to be a little bit trippy for me inside the room.
At first it didn't seem like a big deal, since I didn't recognize the faces of the newer people. Then I saw the friends that I see once in awhile: Jeff, Yoko with her new short hair, Kristy, Kristine and Caesar. There was John, passing out the octavo for the Thompson "Alleluia." I looked around the room a little more, and the Villanuevas and I compared notes. "Is that Tony Lien?" Caesar asked. OMG, yes! His hair isn't long anymore, but his face is still the same. Shannon had to point out people to me and tell me their names. Names like Eliza and Holly and Lauren. I felt like I was holding the magic mirror in "Romper Room": "I see Carlton, and Russell, and Margie, and Andy and ... wait. Do I actually *know* that person, or do I just recognize them from Madrigal Dinner?" Then I wondered where all the people were that I had seen on the email list. At one point, I wondered who the heck Kristi was talking to: is that person a soprano or an alto? Then I realized, "Duh, Sherry, that's John's wife. She never sang with us."
John was our rehearsal director, and we sang through the "Benediction," which was written by Peter Christian Lutkin for the chapel where Jo sang during his undergrad years. This would be sung at the end of the program. I already got teary, thinking of how beautiful it sounded, all of these people coming together, blending beautifully because we were all trained to blend by the Man himself. I mentioned it to Shannon, and she handed me a tissue for later, knowing what saps we both are. Then we sang Randall Thompson's "Alleluia," which is sung by EVERYONE who sings in Jo's choirs. It's pretty much his signature piece. I was really glad that it was John leading us in this, because I don't trust this song with many people besides Jo and him. It's one of my favorite pieces in the whole world, not only because of its beauty, but also because of the memories it evokes in me. So, yeah, I teared up more after the first bar, and decided that reading the music was useless anyway, so I sang it from memory.
John gave us the particulars of the evening, and our little group decided to go to dinner at Steelhead Brewing Company. Well, lo and behold, the other groups went as well, so we pretty much took up all of the big tables in the bar area. Yoko showed us pics of her twins (I told her that she'd be a bad mother if she didn't have them with her to share), and we reminisced and tried to figure out the people's names at the other tables. Cliff came in and said hi, and I told him that my favorite memory of him is when he accidentally ate a chili pepper when we were in Korea, and perspiration started pouring from his head, his face turned bright red, and we wondered if we should have John call an ambulance (he was the only Korean-American in our tour group).
We then returned to the Concert Hall, now named "Winifred Smith Hall." It still looked the same inside, with the same organ that we used for the Vivaldi "Dixit Dominus." Ah, I remember almost falling off of those stairs when I fell asleep (while standing up) during rehearsal that one day. The ushers were trying to save seats for the choirs, but so many people showed up that they had to give up those seats for the spectators/choir alumni. Perhaps they should have charged money to this event so that they could help pay for the air conditioning, because it was warm in there. We were seated in the top row, and I looked around the room. There was Roberta, sitting with Shannon (Roberta was impressed that I remembered her full name). There's Mickeal! AAAAHHH! Then Amy O walked through the door. Then I saw Kathy Grant, our freshman choir director. Oh, there's Barb! OMG, this was getting overwhelming. The concert was about to start, so I went to the restroom, and when I returned, I accidentally scraped my pinky toe with the door, which really hurt and made shades of red onto my shoe. Owwww and ewwww.
The concert began a little bit late due to the seating situation (the ushers were allowed to open the door to the lobby area so that people could listen from there). Jo came on stage, and later he told us that he did recognize John, but figured that he was just there to watch because Jo had emailed him about the concert. The lights were too bright on him, and he didn't realize that there would be many more familiar faces in the crowd.
Jo led the Chamber singers in a Brahms piece and Bach's "Lobet den Herrn." Then the Women's Chamber Choir sang. It was the conductor Matthew Martinez's MFA recital, and he did a great job. They blended really well together, and the music was beautiful. I especially loved the Brahms Folk Songs.
The Men in Blaque took the stage, and we saw John's cue and all walked from the audience onto the stage. Jo was shocked and overwhelmed. There were at least 50 people on the stage, looking at him and smiling. Since it was Melinda's doing, she had written a little script. Jo's brother was on stage, representing the first choir that Jo ever conducted, in 1946. He was 10 years old then. A woman was there from the University of Delaware days. Another woman was there from the Boston U days. And yet another woman was there representing the Tanglewood days. John was the representative, along with most of us, of the UCI days. I started to cry, and so did Shannon. Wow. This man has quite the history.
1956 - 1966 Bakersfeild College, Director of Choral Activities
1966-1972 University of Delaware, Director of Choral Activities
1972-1977 Boston University, Director of Choral Activities
1973 -1977 Tanglewood Young Vocalist Program, Director, Conductor
1977 - present: University of California Irvine, Director of Choral Activities
- 1946 Conducts 1st concert in Lorain, Ohio with the Summer Orchestra playing Beethoven Symphony #2
- 1947 First church choir at age 11 in the Hungarian Reformed Church, Lorain
- 1955 Won first choral competition as Director of Lambda Chi Alpha Choir at Northwestern University's May Sing
- 1965 Conducted the first American choir to win Europe's oldest and largest choral festival, the International Eisteddfod in Llangollen, Wales. Ecumenical Medal from Pope Paul VI. White House Rose Garden performance for Pres Lyndon Johnson
- 1972 U of Delaware Concert Choir takes 2nd prize in Mixed Choirs at the Eisteddfod
- 1978 Started the UCI Madrigal Dinner, which continued for 30 years
- 1980 ACE award for "A Madrigal Festival" for Cablecasting Excellence
- 1997 UCI Chamber Singers win Youth Division at the Eisteddfod
- 1998 Founded Men in Blaque
- 2005 Address & Master Classes at Korean Music Teacher's Assoc
- 2006 Men in Blaque win 2 Silver Medals at the World Choir Games in Xiamen, China
- 2008 Women of the Choir win 1st Prize at the Eisteddfod, one of 5 choirs in the Choir of the World Concert
His many International Tours were also listed. I was a member of the 1988 (Hungary, Poland, Austria), 1992 (Korea) and 1995 (Spain) tours. Really? It's been 14 years since Spain? Wow.
Jo was presented with a photo album containing photos of all of the choirs he conducted. He was then presented with the big notebook of letters that were collected. Then John asked him to conduct us in the Thompson.
Jo made sure that we could all see him, of course. Then we got the pitches, and I got emotional, but tried to hold back the tears. It had been over a decade since he was my conductor for this song, and I could feel the work that we did on every note, every chord. I could picture us in Hungary, holding hands and singing at the Bela Bartok Festival. But through all of the memories and the notes, the only time I took my eyes off of Jo's face was to look away before the tears would start running down my face. (And, of course, they're flowing as I write this). It was AMAZING. The love on all of our faces must have been evident to everyone that was still left sitting in the audience. I could see the pride in his face with each correct dynamic swell, each breath taken, each "Alleluia." And when we came to the end, I barely had the breath to finish the last "ah," he held it out so long so that he could savor the moment. Then the tears flowed from my face, as they did on Shannon's and pretty much all of us sentimental folks.
Jo thanked us, and talked to the audience for a bit. He was amazed by the diversity of the people on stage. He was clearly very touched, and had to hold back because he was about to crack. He said that the best thing about being a college choir director is that you get to surround yourself with wonderful talent and wonderful people. He acknowledged Melinda, though he didn't know where she was sitting. He said that he wouldn't be a conductor without the people that follow him, and that we create the beautiful music that he leads, otherwise he could just be waving his hands around in front of people that couldn't make such music, and he wouldn't be as lucky. He quoted Lou Gehrig and said, "I am the happiest man in the world today."
But he had more concert to get to, so he pointed at his watch, and we went back to our seats. The Men In Blaque performed, but cut one of their songs due to time constraints. Their first song was my favorite "Ave Maria", by Franz Biebl. This arrangement had a trio of voices singing against the rest of the choir. Beautiful. I liked all of the songs that they did, and Ben Johns' solo of "Modern Major General" was fun, especially with the rest of the choir doing some choreography.
We then sang the Benediction, and I wondered how Jo must have been feeling. Completely touched, I'm sure.
The concert ended with the Mozart Vespers, sung by the Chamber Singers. I was irritated by soloists sing hard t's. It's Latin, people. Use the dental t's, please.
Kristi and I found Mickeal afterward and convinced him and his wife to join us at the reception in the rehearsal studio. There they had name tags for us, and we had some dessert. Our group talked to Jo for a little bit, and he said that he couldn't believe all the people that were there. He said to me that I send him a nice Christmas card every year, but they haven't sent any out in a few years and he felt bad about not keeping up. Actually, a few people mentioned the fact that my cards are usually the first one they receive every season. I guess my reputation continues. :)
After talking to a few people, I left so that I could go home and take care of this pinky toe of mine. I was sad that Rudy had other obligations and couldn't make it. He would have loved this, as I'm sure many people would have, had they been able to be there.
Tomorrow will be the day to look at scrapbooks and videos and stuff at the Husztis' home. I want to see what people have written. I didn't get a chance to peruse that book at the party. I did, though, see pictures of Jo and Melinda in their own college days. Jo had sideburns! I love it! I can't wait to see more old pictures and laugh. Oh, boy. I can almost guarantee that my embarrassing moment of not-gracefulness will be shown. G-r-e-a-t. ;)
Saturday, May 16, 2009
I was talking to my friends last night about the whole squirrel situation, and realized that I never actually finished the story in my original blog post. I think it may have been because the day actually didn't get better as it went along. The Lakers made me crazy.
Well, the rest of the story really should be told.
I called V to congratulate her on her pregnancy (I wasn't able to talk to her earlier), and I told her about the dead squirrel on my lawn. She said that I should just wait for Alan to get here, and he'd cook it up. As much as I appreciate Southern cooking, I advised her that cooking a squirrel found belly-up on my lawn might not be such a good idea, since I had no idea how it died. She agreed.
So I then called Angela to with her a HMD (her first official one!), and as we were talking, my family arrived. Alan saw the bag marked "Animal Control," felt the bulges from the outside, and deduced that it was a squirrel. Auntie Milda came into the house to ask what was in the bag, and I confirmed Alan's guess. Alan came into the house to say that I should have waited for him so that he could cook it.
You know, it never crossed my mind as I was scooping up the poor, dead squirrel that perhaps someone would want to eat the thing; certainly not those crows, much less members of my family. Alan told me that back in Arkansas, my grandmother really enjoyed it when he would cook up a squirrel dish for her. I told him that had I known that HE had actually killed the squirrel, I'd feel more comfortable with him taking it to eat, but I had no idea how this particular squirrel died. For all I know, he was poisoned by something, and it hit him while he was on a tree branch, had a heart attack, and fell out of the tree. Alan said that most squirrels die because they're trying to get a nut. I don't know what that means. APPARENTLY, it's Southern humor.
When we had returned from brunch, the bag was gone, so I hope that it was Animal Control that picked it up, and not Alan hiding it in the car while I wasn't looking. ;)
43 years ago today, my parents got married, and they're still holding hands these days, enjoying each other's company, especially in the casinos. ;) Ok, so they're not holding hands while they're playing in the casinos, but you know what I mean.
Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!
May your love continue to grow with each passing day.
Friday, May 15, 2009
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Tonight was the DCI Countdown, which has become the starting point of all of the events of the Drum Corps International Summer Music Games.
This year, online voters chose their favorite 6 corps for 2004-2008. The lineup, from fewest to most votes in the last round:
2007 Bluecoats ("Smooth Criminal")
2006 Blue Devils ("The Godfather Part Blue")
2004 Santa Clara Vanguard ("Scheherazade")
2007 Carolina Crown ("Triple Crown")
2004 Cavaliers ("007")
2008 Phantom Regiment ("Spartacus")
It was difficult for me to choose between many of those in contention. Yes, I knew that I'd vote for 2004 SCV and 2008 Phregiment, as well as Crown's 2007 show, but the other 3 were more difficult. I was pleased with the final choices, particularly because my "hot dog corps" did not make it to the final 6.
The event was a special event shown on theatres nationwide. I went to the AMC at Santa Anita. The theater wasn't full, but that's to be expected when all of these performances are available on DVD, and there are other theaters nearby that were screening the show.
The video started, but all we could hear was instrumental music (not drum corps instrumental). We all realized after about a minute that the sound and video were not looped correctly or in sync or whatever. Somebody went to talk to the manager. He came back with the answer that it was a satellite problem. Then we saw the TiVo pause the show, but it was still off. So the guy left again, and so did a few other people. Other audience members asked them to also request that the sound be turned up. They came back and said that management was going to fix it. But instead of going back to the beginning (which would have been ideal), they just paused the video long enough for the sound to catch up, and we were about 75% through the Bluecoats performance by the time everything was playing correctly together.
Fine, but it still wasn't loud.
You see, to a drum corps fan, one of the wonderful things about the live performance is how LOUD the people can play when it is called for. Trying to emulate a live performance with the sound turned down is not good. The guy again left to ask about the volume. It was finally turned up before Crown's performance, but it still wasn't really as loud as it should have been. The video also left something to be desired, but that's due to the technology of the older video not really matching the digital quality in the theater.
Anyway, I was impressed with one of the guys that had arrived late (or had left to get popcorn during the sound issues, I don't know). He came back with his concessions during a corps' performance, and, just like they ask you to do at the live events, he stood to the side until the corps was done, so as not to disturb the other audience members. Isn't that nice? We had been having issue after issue, and he still didn't want to disturb us.
Bookending and between each performance, DCI commentators Steve Rondinaro and Dennis DeLucia talked about the corps, and also talked to some people that were watching with them at Lucas Oil Stadium (site of DCI World Championships). One of the guys was wearing a Colts 2009 Inaugural shirt, and I wondered if he was one of the people that I accidentally pushed at the Intersection from Hell. I laughed when I saw that Rondinaro was talking to the 2007 Crown Drum Major, and I actually recognized him as such before he introduced himself. OMG, I'm such the drum corps geek! At least I didn't know the name, right?
They were joined by last year's Phregiment DM, Will Pitts, now a staff member with DCI. He gave us previews from the winter camps of Madison Scouts, Jersey Surf, and Phregiment. It was funny when he was interviewing Phregiment Executive Director Rick Valenzuela, and Rick said that they had to kill the DM at the end of "Spartacus" because the DM couldn't close the show well, so it was good that they had the second one to take his place at the end.
Will also gave a little tour of Indianapolis. At first, I was thinking, "Why didn't I see that?" to a bunch of stuff, then I realized that although Bro and I stayed in Indy, we actually watched the shows in Bloomington, so we didn't spend much time in the city. I guess we'll have stuff to see this year, as they're going to be having stuff for the fans all over the State Park or whatever, so that should be interesting.
The audience reacted just like I prefer for DCI: they clapped when they liked certain sections, they laughed when funny things happened, and they yelled "VANGUARD" in the correct place. (Yes, I remembered!).
I found myself thinking of what happened in whatever year's corps they were showing at the time. Who won? Where were we sitting? I really liked it when Finals was out here in Pasadena, but Denver was the best! But the feeling that I relived with the most impact was seeing Phregiment take the field on finals night in 2008. I got all excited again, and so did the rest of the audience. One guy said at the beginning of the evening that Spartacus got a standing ovation in this theater on Quarterfinals Live night. Too cool. We didn't stand tonight, but I'm telling you, it needed to be LOUDER.
Rondinaro & DeLucia commented that that the voters chose shows that were melodic and told a story. That is interesting, actually. The psychologist in me says that it's because the country is going through a tough time, and it needs the comfort of storytelling and familiarity. The DCI Fan in me says that the Old School corps folk do not like the newer, more avant-garde, atonal, minimalist stuff. I'm entertained by both types of performances, but I think that's the musician in me. ;)
Of the 3 corps they previewed, I was most excited about Phregiment. Their show this year is "The Red Violin." I really enjoyed the movie as well as the score, and they played the main theme, which made me happy. The show will also include works by Paganini, probably the ultimate composer for a solo violinist. So the violinist in me is WAY excited.
I look forward to this year's tour, although I probably won't see much of it due to scheduling conflicts. I'm wondering, though, if maybe I should take a couple of my furlough days to fly out and see that Phregiment show sometime before Finals week, because I'm sure I'll want to see it more than 3 times. I mean, I know that they'll have broadcasts online, but it won't be LIVE. Isn't that the point? Because then I won't have to ask people to go and ask management to turn up the volume. It will already be at the max.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Happy Mother's Day to all of you moms out there!
My morning started off with a squirrel on my front lawn. A dead one. I'm thinking that he was in the tree and had an attack or something and fell out of it when he died. I had no idea what to do with it, so I decided to deal with it after getting home from church.
I went to church and thought of Mama, and how hard it must be for Mom and Auntie Milda today, as it is their first Mother's Day without their mom. I had sung some Mary songs in church yesterday, and got a little bit emotional when I thought of Mama, but I got through it. Today, I could almost hear her voice recite prayers in the sing-song way that she used to at every Mass, and I smiled. It was a teary smile, but still, I got through. I'm sure she was watching over me and giving me strength. Thanks, Mama.
I'm now waiting for the family to get here so that we can go to brunch at Acapulco. I'm wanting a margarita or a sangria or something, and now I'm getting really hungry, so it's good that they have a buffet where we're going, or I'll be drunk before the main meal.
I called Animal Control, and they said that if I was comfortable with doing so, I could place it in a plastic bag and leave it out on the curb for them to pick up later on today. My brother is concerned that the neighbors are going to think that I'm weird for just littering on my curb, so I labeled it to make him feel better. Never mind that he lives all the way in Tempe and shouldn't care about what my neighbors think, but he's just being brotherly. This is the same Bro, though, that at first had suggested that I make bird calls to have the crows come peck at it. Yeah, THAT won't make the neighbors wonder about me, just the littering thing. He's insane.
Anyway, he had happy news for me: Brady is going to have a little bro or sis soon! We don't have a due date yet, but it might be January of 2010, maybe around my birthday. If so, I hope it's a girl, so Bro could learn what it's like to raise a Capricorn Girl of his very own. ;)
What a nice day to receive the news! Hope everyone is having a wonderful day today. I certainly hope that, like mine, it gets better as it goes.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Yeah, that's right. "Star Trek."
Linda and I met up at the resort, made dessert reservations at Catal, and had a quick bite to eat at Whitewater Snacks before going to the AMC to see "Star Trek." I had seen the trailer several times, and was getting more interested in the movie each time, even though I wasn't really a Star Trek fan, unlike many of my friends. Linda was surprised that I wanted to actually see the movie on opening weekend, and agreed to fill me in on stuff that I didn't understand if I ended up seeing the movie. There was some stuff that I did recognize, just from being aware of pop culture, so I wasn't going into the movie totally blind, but I really didn't know other stuff.
For instance, this was the exchange we had at dinner. I had texted Cindy that I was wearing blue, and not red, knowing that if I did, I would be expendable. Cindy responded by saying that I'm in the Science Department.
S: Cindy said I'm in the Science Department.
L: Well, you're wearing navy instead of light blue, but, yeah.
S: I didn't even know that there were departments!
L: The departments are because they're part of an academy.
S: (looking blankly at Linda and laughing) Really?
L: (laughing, and not mockingly so) Uh-huh. Star Fleet Academy.
S: Seriously, though. REALLY?
Linda continues to laugh, thinking that Sherry is kidding.
So here are the thoughts from the Seriously Non-Trekkie perspective. Don't kill me if I'm inaccurate, all of you true geeks out there!
- Well, if you read this blog regularly, you know that I love origin stories, so this was a natural fit for me. I liked seeing Kirk and Spock as kids.
- OK, so it's an alternate reality origin story. Hmmm...fascinating.
- You know, if people had told me long ago that there was all of this time travel business in the Star Trek series, then maybe I would have watched the reruns growing up. I am not, however, that interested in seeing the show, so no need to offer the DVD loan, thank you.
- So, OK, Romulans are alien Maori, Vulcans are kinda related to them, and inter-species dating is allowed. Got it.
- I didn't know about this whole Uhura/Spock thing. I like it. But I guess this is new to everyone? Is it? I forgot to ask Linda.
- Why does anyone need such a huge red ball of red matter if only a drop causes a planet to create its own black hole, or whatever happened? Is it really necessary to destroy so many planets? Seems like it just results in a lot of mess to be flying around in space.
- I loved the interaction between Spock and Kirk. "Get off the chair."
- I did notice that, at the end of the movie, Chris Pine sat in the chair just like the pictures I've seen of Shatner.
- I've deduced that Heroes' Sylar cuts peoples foreheads as some kind of time-traveling revenge for the haircut he wears as Spock. Sylar is Spock in an alternate universe. Love Zach Quinto in this part, btw.
- I liked all of the actors in their parts, actually.
- Cried twice. So did Linda. We're girls, you know.
- You see? Combat training in Fencing pays off!
- Laughed at Spock's line to himself that his normal going-away greeting would seem to be self-serving.
I had fun. If you're a fan of science fiction/action, then I recommend you see this movie. If you're not, then you probably don't relate to any of this anyway.
We then had dessert at Catal and watched the fireworks from the balcony. I enjoyed the banana parfait with my glass of Moscato, while Linda enjoyed her Chocolate Brioche Bread Pudding. We then went into the Park and rode the Matterhorn and Dumbo.
To top off the day, on my way home, I learned that the Lakers won game 3 against the Rockets. I can breathe. Until they play on Sunday.
Line of the Day
Friday, May 8, 2009
"Seriously, though. Really?" -- Sherry, at Whitewater Snacks, to Linda, learning that there are departments in "Star Trek" and that they are part of an academy
Friday, May 8, 2009
At last! Pella founder Sean Altman tweeted a link to a video for the song he wrote for the new "Schoolhouse Rock! Earth" DVD.
Sean is the fish chorus, Barry is the shark, and Sean's wife Inna is the Soprano opera fish.
Aw, no mermaid?
Sunday, May 3, 2009
A couple of co-workers and I went out on Saturday night to celebrate a birthday. Since they both live in the La Crescenta/Montrose area, we decided to go out somewhere near their houses.
Dinner was at Cafe Sole in La Canada Flintridge. The restaurant is in a little strip mall next to the Regal Cinemas, where we were going to see a movie.
The restaurant is small, but they also have seating outside, which is where we dined. Bread with olive oil/balsamic vinegar is placed on the table, as well as some tomato & basil topping. I did like the tomato & basil (bruschetta-like) topping, and ate way too much of it. ;) I ordered a glass of wine, and the Pappardelle dish, which was the ribbon pasta with Italian sausage, artichokes, and marinara sauce. I liked the taste of the dish, but felt that there was too much sauce or too much of a taste in the sauce that I didn't want to have all over my pasta. My companions enjoyed the salmon special, which was on top of vegetables, and had capers; and the shrimp linguine special, which had asparagus. I prefer other Italian restaurants in the area, which are also close to the theater, but this is really, really close to the theater, so if you'd rather have the convenience, then it's fine. I don't really recommend the red sauce, though.
We had decided to see "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past" due to the timing of the movie, and the fact that the birthday girl is not into sci-fi/action stuff. This is why I wanted to see Wolverine the night before, since I knew that I wouldn't get to see it on Saturday. I figured that I'd probably see this movie on HBO or whatever later on, but it was Girls Night, so I dealt with the whole Chick Flick decision.
- People are rude at that theater. One gal ANSWERED her cell phone & talked to whomever from her seat instead of leaving the room. I was so busy being distracted by the people in back of me to talk to her, though. The woman and the man with her gave commentary, which was funny when I thought it was just during the previews. But no. She kept going, and it was LOUD. She got shushed by one of my friends, but didn't stop. Then I turned around and asked her to please be quiet, and my friend reinforced it, but still they continued. I couldn't take it anymore, so I picked up my stuff, apologized to my friends, and moved up several rows. Mind you, I could still hear their laughter from there, but at least I didn't have to hear EVERYTHING, and could actually pay attention to the movie. My friends joined me, so we were still all together. Had the theater been full, I would have gone out and talked to an usher, but I don't know how helpful that would have been. They were pretty busy that night.
- The film was a cute twist on "A Christmas Carol," with the main Connor Mead being not so Scrooge-y with his, um, assets.
- Jennifer Garner's dimples are too cute for words.
- Matthew McConaughey played quite the cad, but I enjoyed seeing (through the girlfriend ghosts) why he was that way.
- Michael Douglas looked like a creepy lech in those sunglasses, but I guess that's what he was supposed to look like.
- Lacey Chabert's bridezillaness made me wonder why the brother was marrying her in the first place. I saw no chemistry there, but they weren't the center of the story anyway.
- The Ghost of Girlfriend Past was hilarious, as well as the vehicle they used for traveling through time.
- I've been a bridesmaid/maid of honor several times. At none of those ceremonies did I expect the bride to set me up with someone for wedding weekend sex, or whatever they called it. Were my friends just not doing their job, or is this a new thing?
- Fun chick flick, predictable of course, but most rom-coms should be.
All in all, I had a fun evening with my friends. I think I'll suggest another theater next time, though, especially if it's on a weekend. Ugh.
I was craving Thai food, so my friends and I went to my favorite Thai place, BASIL, for dinner on Friday night.
We ordered so many dishes that the table was quite crowded: # 18 (a salad with cabbage, chicken, watermelon, and a yummy lime dressing whose name I've forgotten); #28 Crying Tiger (grilled beef with a wonderful sauce that I believe contains lemongrass or something); #42 (my standard-- chicken with chile and basil); #51 (Mixed Vegetables), and #61 Pad Thai (noodles and bean sprouts with scrambled egg, shrimp and ground peanuts). It was nice to see the family of BASIL again, and I just love the mom, whom always recognizes when I've brought a new friend (Hi, Mox!).
Afterward, we went to the AMC Santa Anita to watch "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," but the 2 show times that we were aiming for were sold out. So we chanced it and went to the Krikorian, while Mox made sure that we would have tickets ahead of time by using technology. Since we had arrived more than 30 minutes before the screening time, we stood in line. I was annoyed by the girl in line that was guessing names of actors on the wall. She said the name "Christian Dale," and I refrained from scolding her. When we were allowed into the theater, we scored some good seats, so we were happy, including Gloomy Yellow.
- Am I the only one who thinks of "Red Dawn" when someone says "WOLVERINE!" loudly? Am I the only one who thinks of the University of Michigan? No? Really?
- Hugh Jackman. Naked. Swwooooooon!
- Ryan Reynolds is hilarious (I also just saw his appearance on last week's Ellen Degeneres show, and he's also hilarious unscripted. Oh, and he demonstrated his sword twirling abilities that he trained months for, which ended up on the screen for less than a minute).
- When I saw the couple driving toward their farm, I thought, "Hey! It's Jonathan and Martha Kent!"
- Oh, so THAT'S where he got his jacket and bike!
- I would like to never have Adamantium in my system because it entails having needles shot into my bone marrow. Owwwww.
- So, are any of the Origins stories going to explain *why* there are mutants? The guys' parents didn't seem to be mutants, so where does this come from?
- The action sequences were awesome. Lots of sharp pointy things, like claws, teeth, and swords slicing through stuff.
- Scott Summers! I know who that guy is!
- Diamond Girl. Neato.
- Love the cameo at the end. :)
Great movie! Thanks, Cindy, Glenn and Mox for joining me!
For most people, Friday evenings are a day to unwind after a hard week at work. I'm no exception to that. In fact, when the weather is warmer, I like to open a bottle of wine when I get home, get my newest issue of "Entertainment Weekly" that arrives on Fridays, and sit in my backyard to enjoy the outdoors.
I'm glad that Spring is here!
Linda came over a couple of Fridays ago, and I ordered pizza and pasta. I had designated the night to be Sangria Friday, so we made Sangria and lemon bars. Jenn called while we were baking, saying that she would be in the neighborhood, so I invited her to join in on the fun. Being the generous person that she is, Jenn is unable to show up at a gathering empty-handed, so she decided to make Kahlua Chocolate Chip Cookies and brought ingredients along with her.
I had never made Sangria before. I knew that the recipes call for the mixture to be chilled for awhile, and found one that didn't need overnight chilling (because I was just too tired to go to the grocery store and make the stuff on Thursday night). I bought some Tortuga Bay spiced rum and Turning Leaf Merlot, as was suggested (not the brands, but the types of liquor -- the wine was suggested to be Blackberry Merlot) on allrecipes.com, where I obtained the recipe. I'm not necessarily a fan of Merlot, but when I tasted it, it was very smooth and yummy. That's a good thing, because it took me a while in the store to find a merlot that specifically contained blackberries, and then when I found some of them, I couldn't remember which ones actually l wanted to choose from.
My first taste of Sangria was when I was in Spain on a choir tour. I like the fruitiness of the drink. This particular Sangria was deliciously smooth. It just tastes like a sweet wine at first, and then a little bit into the second glass, the alcohol hits. Whoa. It was gooooood, though.
So we enjoyed our meal, our lemon bars, and our chocolate cookies, accompanied by the scrumdiliumptious Sangria. Jenn showed us some funny as well as inspiring links on YouTube. Then we decided to take a walk, and ended up at the shopping center near my house. Most of the stores were closed, but Marshalls was still open, so we went inside. Since I was the only one who had brought her wallet, I offered to buy whatever if we found stuff we liked, and they could just reimburse me. Not yet 2 minutes had passed, and I hear from Jenn: "Sher?" She had found a cute set of patio furniture. I agreed that it was cute, and asked if she wanted to buy it, not thinking that maybe we'd need to carry it home (we walked, remember?). Then I thought, "Well, how are we going to fit that into her little sports car?" Jenn decided that she'd just come back to buy it on another day. While Linda looked through the plethora of purses, I tried on a dress and decided to buy it.
We walked home with me happy about my new dress. I had more Sangria while the other gals rested a little bit before going home.
Thanks for the great time, gals! I wonder if Jenn went back to Marshalls for that table. I wonder when I'll get to finish the last of the Sangria. I know I'll be making it again. Linda has requested it for Margarita Friday, in case she decides that she doesn't like margaritas. What?! Oh, OK. Twist my arm. ;)
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Last week, on a break from not actually getting drunk at DCA, I went to the theater to see "earth" with Linda. I did want to see it at the El Capitan in order to see the animals in the pre-show, but stuff like interview exhaustion got in the way.
I love the "Planet Earth" series. I even was there to congratulate the producer when he won the Emmy Award. So I was happy that I was going to be able to see parts of the series on the big screen, because the cinematography is outstanding.
- I'm not sure I liked the whole "plot" line with the animal families. I actually didn't need it in the series, but I understand that perhaps it helps to tell kids a story with all of the footage. My favorite portions didn't really have anything to do with the families.
- Yay! The birds of paradise!
- I love watching those baby ducks jump out of the tree.
- Cats seem to be hungry all the time (especially the big ones). Far from being the cute things that my friends keep telling me they are.
- Loved hearing James Earl Jones mention the Circle of Life. If he hadn't, I would have truly been disappointed. I mean, Hello! He's frickin' Mufasa!
- Elephants need to be given goggles in order to get through the sand storms.
- Giraffes are damn cool, especially when they're wading in water.
- The elephants swimming around reminded me of the Jungle Cruise.
- I'm glad they included some of the footage of the actual camera crew's efforts.
- I didn't know that they would be showing "Oceans" for next year's Earth Day until I saw the trailer. Awesome.
If you liked the movie at all, I highly recommend watching the entire series. It is now available on DVD, and is also shown on Animal Planet from time to time.