Friday confessions

idea blatantly stolen from here.

Confession 1:

I don’t pay attention to music. Pandora is my friend because I only have to think of a single kind of music I like, and then it supplies me with a never-ending stream of noise that basically all sounds alike to me. There are definite exceptions, but I generally can’t tell you five minutes later what we listened to in the car on the way to work. Upside? There is very little music I really don’t like.

Confession 2:

I currently have almost $20 in library fees, because I for the life of me can’t remember to take books back on time now that I no longer pass the library on my way to work every day. Even if said taking books back only means giving them to L. so he can drop them in the drive-through book return on his way to work. I know.

Confession 3:

It takes me at least three tries to actually place my order when I shop online, and I am incapable of placing an order over thirty dollars without feeling anxious about spending money. Which is why I wear a lot of Old Navy. And also why I look forward to one day no longer being a grad student.

Confession 4:
At the same time, it terrifies me that I’m nearing the (relative) end of my PhD program and will have to compete with all those other brilliant job seekers out there. I read job ads and my first thought is always a paralyzing “No one’s going to hire me!” As much as I love academia, sometimes I think a different career would have been better for my mental health.

Confession 5:

I’m reading a book about the Nuremberg trials right now. Lest you think I always choose sophisticated and intelligent books, I made my way through this series first. While they are better than they sound, it is not by much. But hey, at least I’m reading, and keeping reality tv where it belongs: at the gym.


12 Cellists

Sorry for the long radio silence over here…it’s all the fellowship’s fault. I got the email on Tuesday, floated through Wednesday and Thursday, then got slapped in the face by reality, otherwise known as the long list of things I want to have done dissertation-wise before I leave for Utah on August 21. All this is to say that I’ve been in overdrive mode for the last two weeks.

Luckily, I have friends to distract me from my work (and, more importantly, the inside of my own head). Such as R. We have made a habit of meeting for study dates at Starbucks, where we share our expat experiences and she explains German grammar to me in such a manner that I actually understand it (unlike my actual teacher, unfortunately), before we use the wonderful power of peer pressure to actually get stuff done. Anyway, a couple weeks ago, we went to see the 12 Cellists from the Berliner Philharmoniker perform at the Konzerthaus here.

the Konzerthaus

the Konzerthaus, picture by R.

They played works by Schumann, Purcell, and Simons. (The latter is a fairly young composer, and his work was fairly modern, and not quite my taste. But the audience was appreciative so I think I’m the Philistine here.) It was a lovely concert, although I was kind of baffled by the two encores and the overkill that is four (!!) curtain calls, all including standing ovations.

What also made the night great was that the Konzerthaus here offers students and under-27s a great deal: pick any seat for a reduced price. Our seats originally cost fifty euros, but we paid 12,50 a piece for them. Good music at an even better price? Awesome.

Oh, and the Konzerthaus offers pretzels at intermission (the big, soft kind). I am definitely getting one of those on my next visit.

Josh Ritter

the amphitheater

Last night, I saw Josh Ritter in concert for the third time. As always, it was magical.

My sister Elske (who accompanied me to the other two concerts, but couldn’t this time, seeing as she’s on the other side of the world right now) had tipped me off that he would be playing in Salt Lake City on Tuesday. So all I had to do was convince someone to go with me, because pretty much everything is better with company, but also/mostly because I needed a ride up there. Luckily I was succesful in my mission, and four of us ended up going.

He played at a garden amphitheater, and while Josh Ritter inside is awesome, hearing him outside while you sit on your blanket and enjoy a bratwurst someone has graciously bought for you and let your rhythmically challenged body move to the music since it’s dark and no one can see you anyway is something else.

He played most of my favorites, including “The Curse“, “The Temptation of Adam” and “Kathleen“, and I can’t wait until he plays in my vicinity again and I can add a fourth time to the list.




I’m a very manly Muppet

Saturday night, B. and I finally watched The Muppets movie. And sure, the story is cliché, but oh my, did I love it from the very first moment they broke into song. Jason Segal and Amy Adams are just perfect as Gary and Mary.

But the most awesome part is in the second half. I actually gripped B.’s arm when Jim Parsons–aka Dr. Sheldon Cooper from our favorite show–appeared. I embedded it for your viewing pleasure. (Beware of spoilers, though it’s nothing you can’t guess from the first five minutes of the movie.)

“Are you a man or a Muppet?” was a frequently-heard line around these parts this weekend. Preferably with over-dramatic hand gestures, because the only thing better than watching a cheesy movie is reenacting it, as often as the spirit leads you. (In my case, every minute or so. I’m kind of waiting for B. to tell me to stop, as he’s been amazingly patient up till now. We’ll see how long it lasts.)

josh ritter in concert, again

Last Friday night, my sister and I went to see Josh Ritter again. He was playing at Doornroosje, a five-minute walk from my house, so that was obviously too good to pass up.

Add dates and venues and you've pretty much got the concert poster. Are you curious to the reason behind the mummy hand? Go look up "The Curse" on YouTube. I'll wait.

When we got there, people were already lining up outside. We saw many nerdy types, as we’d anticipated – his nerdiness is part of the attraction – but also more older types than we’d have thought. And many, many tall people, as would be apparent once the concert was underway. For the three millionth time, we realized we were short, and since we weren’t assertive enough to elbow ourselves to the front where we could actually see the stage, we peeked between heads and managed to position ourselves just so that we could actually see Josh singing, and occasionally other band members as well..but it couldn’t detract from all the fun we were having. Plus, with all the jumping Josh was doing on stage, we saw enough of him to last us through the night.

It was a different concert than last time: less stories and more music. And although I loved his stage presence last time, I also really enjoyed listening to so many songs in the presence of other people really excited to be there. Luckily, though, he did do wolf howls while singing “Wolves”. I don’t think I could have properly enjoyed that song without the howls halfway through. Oh, and for his encore, he sang this, trying not to laugh at the juicier was perfect.

In between the fast songs that got your heart racing and feet moving, he played some of his intelligent, softer songs. That was wonderful, as one of the reasons I love Josh Ritter’s music is because of the lyrics. He has a book coming out, and that doesn’t surprise me in the least – each of his songs is a complete story set to music. I can’t wait to read it – and to see him perform next time he comes here. It really was an exceptional night.

Oh, and did I mention that the Idaho state flag was present once again? This time accompanied by a California flag. My sister and I felt totally at home, as I’m sure you’ll understand.

poem of the month – the april edition

Do you ever just randomly browse poetry? I do, and that is how I found this month’s poem of the month. If you ever feel the need for some well-crafted words, go wander through the Poetry Foundation’s website. It’s well worth your while – no matter what kind of poetry you like.

Bach in the DC Subway

As an experiment,
The Washington Post
asked a concert violinist –
waring jeans, tennis shoes,
and a baseball cap –
to stand near a trash can
at rush hour in the subway
and play Bach
on a Stradivarius.
Partita No. 2 in D Minor
called out to commuters
like an ocean to waves,
sang to the station
about why we should bother
to live.

A thousand people
streamed by. Seven of them
paused for a minute or so
and thirty-two dollars floated
into the open violin case.
A café hostess who drifted
over to the open door
each time she was free
said later that Bach
gave her peace,
and all the children,
all of them,
waded into the music
as if it were water,
listening until they had to be
rescued by parents
who had somewhere else to go.

David Lee Garrison

early morning sing-a-long

I heard this song this morning while I was getting dressed, and it put me in a good mood – a pretty remarkable feat since I woke up really early and am so not a morning person!

(The video is a bit cliché, but still fun. I just watched a few of her videos on YouTube, and she seems to really like showing off her legs! But so would I, if I had legs like those. Unfortunately, my Dutch genes prevailed on that point. Mine are more milkmaid than long-legged goddess…)

So tell me, which songs put you in a happy mood? Any favorite song for early mornings? I could use some suggestions, as I’m looking at a lot of early mornings now that I’ve graduated..