Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Trip through Photobucket

Since I discovered Flickr, I've used it for most of my photo storage needs. Long before I had a Flickr account, however, I had a Photobucket account. I still use Photobucket sometimes, mostly to store small photos of my "currently reading" books. I couldn't remember the last time I'd actually looked through my Photobucket archives, though, so earlier this evening that's what I did. Here's a random sampling of pictures that - for whatever reason - are stored in my Photobucket.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Keeping you posted

It's that time of year again! The time of year when I plan my summer vacation(s). This summer I may be stretching my vacation days to their limit, but I have a feeling I won't regret it. Do I ever?

I travel throughout the year, of course. It does seem, however, that with the approach of June, July, and August comes a hankering for more substantial vacations aside from long weekends or business with tacked-on personal travel. Perhaps it's a holdover from school days, when summer vacation was the only time the whole family could take a trip together. Or maybe it's just that when the sun is shining, the temperature is climbing, and everything outdoors is beckoning, I'm much less content to stay cooped up inside four walls. Or one state.

What's in store for 2008? Not counting work travel, I have a few trips in the works. (If you thought a month in Australia and New Zealand would satisfy me for the year, you were mistaken.) Plans currently include three new states, as I march slowly but steadily toward my 50-state goal. But which of these trips am I most excited about? Here are three (not very difficult) clues:

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Let's have some fun

What a great weekend in St. Louis. We didn't have time for the City Museum, but I did touch the Arch! I also visited two different 24-hour diners. I think Uncle Bill's was my favorite, in spite of their failure to offer a slinger on the menu. (This made no difference to me, since I don't think I could handle a slinger in the wee hours of the morning. Or possibly ever.) Our hotel was very close to the new Busch Stadium, and passing by on a lovely spring morning while throngs in red streamed through the gates made me realize that, damn, I haven't been to a baseball game in years. This must change. When I was growing up, summer could be measured in Brewers games. I miss the sausage races.

During the concert on Saturday I spent at least 60% of the time pogoing, and 30% in a state of near-pogo. (Ten percent: pogo standby.) It was just that kind of night. Dancing really does make anything more fun. Not that Saturday needed any particular assistance in the fun department. But If you would like to be having more fun right this minute, as you're reading, I suggest you stand up and dance. Go on. Do it.

I am now in Wisconsin for two whole weeks (!) before the next leg of my Springtime in the Midwest tour: Kansas City.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


These are the tulips in my front garden. I can take no credit whatsoever for them - beyond weeding - because they were planted by the previous owners. It was fun to watch them coming up, though, and try to guess what colors they would be. I'm pleased.

If anyone has a recommendation for hardy summer flowers I could put in, I'd love to hear it. Hopefully something that requires little to no attention unless there's a massive drought.

Vacation day tomorrow, and I'm off to Missouri. Perhaps there's another trip to the City Museum in my future.

Monday, May 12, 2008

I interview ... my niece

Sixth edition of the interviews. This one was conducted a bit differently: live on video, filmed by my 11-year-old nephew. The other interviews (which can be found here) were done via email, and therefore were slightly more polished. In addition, I strayed a bit from the "number of questions = number of letters in name" arbitrary rubric. The first interview of the day was my six-year-old nephew, and in contrast to him, my niece was very enthusiastic.

Name: My niece
Age: 13
Location: K-town
Interview date: 5/11/08

1. What's the most satisfying thing you've done today?

Uh... I played ... I gave my mom a card. Aaaand ... [laughing] I played Burnout 3 on the Xbox.

That would be the most satisfying thing you did today?

[laughing] It was fun! Okay. So. Yeah, I gave my mom a card because it's Mother's Day.

And she liked it, I assume?

Yeah. Because she picked it out.

Yeah, well, that'll do it.

2. What would you say is the best thing about being thirteen?

Well ... I just turned thirteen, so ... I think ... well, I'm a teenager now! So I get to do more things. Because I'm not a kid anymore.

Right. You have the official "teen" at the end of your age.


3. What's the best vacation you've ever taken?

I think it was ... Disney World. I can't really remember a lot, but I got to meet all the Disney characters. And we went on tons of rides. I like going to Six Flags too, but I don't think that's a vacation.

Nah, probably doesn't quite count. Maybe if you lived further away.

4. Who do you think should be the next president?

I think Obama. Because, I don't know, Hillary Clinton ... her husband was the president. So I don't know if it would be fair if she got to be the president too. Because her husband already served, and she kind of served, too, because she got to tell her husband to do stuff. So, yes. Obama.

[side note: I think it's kind of funny that John McCain wasn't even an option.]

5. Here's a fun one with your brother filming. What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages to being the only girl in a family with three younger brothers?

I think the advantages are that I get to do different things. Like, with Grandma, or you, or Aunt J, because ... well, we can go shopping. Because usually when I go with my dad, or my brother or somebody, they say, like, "You take too long!" [Nephew, off camera: "Well, she does!"] But the disadvantage is probably that I don't have a girl to play with. Yeah. And then ...

[Nephew, off camera] "Could I just say something? You know, the white shirt is all, like, slanted..."

[Niece, adjusting her shirt and grinning] I don't care! God, you're supposed to be filming, not talking.

[Nephew, off camera] "I am!"

He's being the director of the film.

[Nephew] "Yeah, yeah, yeah." [grandly] "So, go on!"

6. What's your favorite song?

I don't really have a favorite, but I like some different ones.

Okay, so what are some that you like?

I like one of the songs from the Spice Girls.

Really? What song?


That's kind of old! I mean, not old, but from when I was in high school.

[laughing] Yeah! But I like that song. Then, well, I don't really like Hannah Montana, but some of the songs I like. Rock Star? That's my favorite. And the Jonas Brothers. S.O.S. is my favorite.

7. This one would probably work better via email, but we'll see how good you are at making stuff up on the spot. I was going to ask you to write - so I guess just make up - a one-paragraph ... so in other words, pretty short ... story about a cat named Mr. Rogers.

[starting to laugh] A cat named Mr. Rogers?

Yes, that's all the prompting you get.

Okay. Like, a paragraph?

Yeah. I mean, it can be longer if you want.

About Mr. Rogers?

Yes. A cat named Mr. Rogers. Whatever you want to say.

Okay! Once there was a cat named Mr. Rogers. And he liked to play with his favorite ball of yarn. One day he lost his favorite ball of yarn, so his owner, MR. Mr. Rogers [laughing] had to go buy him another one. But they were sold out of yarn. Sooo, Mr. Rogers was very sad. He cried and cried. He wouldn't eat and he wouldn't sleep. But then he found it! It was in the piano. Then he could eat. And sleep. He was all happy because he could play with his ball of yarn again. And then one day it unraveled. So he was sad again.

Awww. A sad ending to the story.

[laughing] Yeah.

This wasn't quite the end - she then made her brother leave the room, and requested that I ask her a question I'd asked my other nephew earlier: "What is the one thing you want most in the world?" It turns out the one thing she wants most in the world is for the boy she likes to ask her out. But it wouldn't be very nice to share his name on here, even if I've withheld hers.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Fresh and new

In the course of some spring cleaning, I decided: hey, how about a new blog? Really, nothing is changing in terms of content. At least, I don't think so. I was just looking at how long the Archives list had gotten over at Mr. Trump's, and it seemed like a clean new site would be nice. You can still access all of the old posts through the Older Posts link on the side of this page.

Why Fancy Italian Words? The title was inspired by something Paul accused me of in Australia and New Zealand. Specifically, that all I needed to see on a coffee menu was an unfamiliar fancy Italian word, and I would automatically need to order it. I have to add that while this was undoubtedly true, it's a rule that only applies when I'm traveling. I don't drink coffee at home at all. Weird, but true. Also, I have a general fondness for fancy Italian words. I've decided to feature a new one each week on the blog. I have to warn you that about 90% of them will be food-related, because most of the Italian words kicking around my brain have come from menus or cookbooks.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

And when you believed, they call it rock and roll

On Saturday we slept in as long as we could. We took advantage of Evonne's hospitality to loiter over fresh fruit and showers, eventually mobilizing for an excellent late brunch at Millie's. From there it was on to Intelligentsia for a coffee boost before hitting the road for north San Diego.

Why were we headed to Solana Beach? Well, Britt Daniel had announced an early show at the Belly Up Tavern just days before. So why wouldn't we be headed to Solana Beach? (I so love that I have an entire group of friends who share this attitude.)

I saw Britt Daniel sit in for a few songs with Jon Brion on New Years Eve in Chicago. Aside from that, I hadn't seen him since my first and only Spoon show: at the tiny Annex in Madison back in 2003. We made good time down Interstate 5, reaching Solana Beach in time for some pre-show gelato in the late afternoon sun. Upon entering the Belly Up Tavern, I was immediately struck by how much I liked the space. It reminded me a bit of the High Noon Saloon; the type of place you'd be glad to have in your city. Anya Marina (yes, there was even an opener for the early show) was just beginning, and we caught most of her set. Britt followed in short order, playing many of the songs I know best from the three latest albums, I was happy to note, as well as some new songs. He was good natured and friendly onstage throughout, and dealt well with some rather obnoxious and intoxicated fans. I got the impression he was used to it. Last time I saw Spoon, their most recent album was Kill the Moonlight, so there were many songs I'd never heard live. Of those, the one that really blew me away was "The Beast and Dragon Adored." I'm a fan of the song to begin with, but I absolutely loved the version Britt played on Saturday.

Britt finished up right at 8:00. Time for dinner and drinks and hanging out at the beach while the last of the daylight faded? Perhaps you know us too well by now to be fooled by that idea. No. Time to get in the car and motor back up to Los Angeles for the last Saturday night show at Largo on Fairfax: Paul F. Tompkins!

Traffic was not a problem, and we were parking at Melrose and Fairfax by 10:00. The show had begun, and we could see from the sign on the door that it was sold out. A quick look around when we stepped inside confirmed that Largo was packed to the gills. By the grace of God, Mike, and Flanny, however, we were admitted and seated in one of the only free areas: the floor directly in front of the stage. That was something.

The show itself was something, too. Paul F. Tompkins was hilarious, and brought up a number of special guests in traditional Largo style. Among them were many familiar faces from the night before: Fiona Apple, Sara and Sean Watkins, Benmont Tench, and Jon Brion to name a few. There was music, including a song Fiona had written about Largo. (My favorite line: "When Mr. Tench is on the bench, I want to be the piano.") Paul F. Tompkins talked a lot about Largo on Fairfax again, but he also talked about how great Largo at the Coronet will be. (Summer gelato in the courtyard has been promised by Flanny.) The mood was decidedly more upbeat on Saturday than it had been on Friday. As PFT said, "Last night was the wake. Tonight is like the baby shower!" The musical collective also played a rousing cover of "Nightclub" by the Old 97's. I enjoyed that very much.

And so, my true last night at Largo on Fairfax came to a close. Paul has mentioned a similar sentiment, but I feel blessed to have had the chance to become even a tiny part of that universe; as a repeat spectator, if nothing else. Such a wonderful community has grown up around Flanagan's place, and I hope - and believe - that the same spirit will carry over to Largo at the Coronet.

Also check out:
A review of Friday night's show from Variety
Fiona's Largo song on Youtube