evilhippo: hippo (5 [hehehe])
( May. 6th, 2009 08:54 pm)
So, if some of you noticed that I wasn't quite as excited about Rook as I might have been, he came on the heels of a rather sad loss. My faithful iPod of four years (she turned four in March) finally gave up the ghost on Sunday. I waffled, I briefly resurrected her, but the sad little whirr-click of harddrive death won out. I don't think I realized how attached I was to her until today, when I took her in to the Apple store with me to help me shop for a new iPod and I couldn't give her up to them for recycling.

But! Tonight is a night for celebration, not mourning. Rook has a new E-string, and I promised him that I wouldn't break this one. And I'm welcoming a new iPod touch into my little electronic family. It's going to take some shuffling about to get it to hold what I want it to hold, but I now have a toy that I can bum off of unsecured wireless with. And I'll openly admit this is 95% of what made me get it over the cheaper old-school iPod (the other 5% is that I think the menu set-up on the video iPods is ugly).

This also means I can watch shows on my morning commute. So, I will be catching up with Lost, and whatever else I can get my hands on. And ah, does anyone know of any fansubbers that encode things iPod-friendly? Or am I going to have to convert everything (so I can sit on the bus reading too-small subtitles while trying to pretend whatever I'm watching is perfectly normal)?
evilhippo: hippo (83 [umm])
( May. 5th, 2009 07:28 pm)
Note to self: Purchase a tuner. Aiming about an octave too high on the E string is a good way to nearly lose an eye. I was planning on trying out different strings anyway, though.

And of course, all of you know what this means. Rook came to me today! Fashionably late, of course, and delivered to my office, silly thing. His arrival made quite a scene. I'd have more pictures of him, but he's a little embarrassed that he's one-quarter naked right now, and I feel like I should fix that for him before I let the internet ogle him more.

He also facilitated my introduction to one Mr. Sherry, who has had a music store tucked in next to the Symphony Center on Michigan Ave. since nearly forever ago. I'd always meant to go in there, and my aversion to hauling Rook all the way up to the far north side to get taken care of finally propelled me inside. He was full of huge, wandering stories and occupied me for my entire lunch break (before I even brought Rook in to be properly strung, bridged, and tuned). He even refused payment for the stringing and tuning, which was silly of him, though obviously he does pretty well for himself. I just have to figure out what reason I could have to go back. Except purchasing another instrument. He had a concertina in the window. That'd be cool... Or the charango made of an armadillo shell. And oh, the place is full of violins and guitars. It's pretty wonderful.

Or maybe you could answer your phones. Or have someplace open past 5:00 so I could pick it up myself. OR maybe not have the only possible place for pickup be at 85th and Cottage Grove because some of us don't have cars.

It doesn't help that I've had a headache all day today. And that I'm foreclosing on the building next to mine.

I really want to go see the Bowerbirds tonight, but it doesn't start until 9 and I just don't know if I'll even still be conscious by then. Goshdarnit. Argh. Stupid Monday.
I think I'm through shouting uselessly into the ether for now. Instead, I am crawling through Craigslist looking for things to do with my time (other than sitting around trying to figure out what to do with my time).

I am probably going to put in a profile for this, because I remember almost doing the 24-hour plays at the UofC once, and almost signing up for these particular 24-hour plays once before, so it's about time I actually, you know, threw my hat into the ring. The main problem is coming up with a witty enough profile. This is hard when I haven't done any actual, substantial writing for two years now (two years!) Any suggestions? I don't know... at least tell me that I'm cooler than some of the people on the list right now? I have to hope that at least one or two of them are cooler than me, because just about everyone agrees that I need more friends in the city, and I'd like them to be less the office-bound type.

There's also a music blog trying to get off the ground here. Considering a significant number of Pitchfork writers already seem to be from Chicago, I am officially interested in working for a different music blog because the people from Pitchfork annoy me. The bonus, of course, is the hope that I'd get advance copies of CDs and get into concerts for free. I can BS my way around indie music with the best of them for that. (And I just added like, six concerts I want to go to to my last.fm list, and I'm thinking, you know, it'd probably be good to have someone subsidize this addiction, so I can afford to pay for taxis on the way back from the shows that run until 1:30 in the morning, after my bus stops running).

The best news of the day, by far, is that my mandolin should be here by the end of the week, which means I can (almost) safely sign up for the next session of lessons. I'm just kind of torn between whether I want to potentially embarrass myself by taking Mandolin 2 without taking the semi-required in-between class. And I'd mostly be doing it because the last instructor I had went a bit too slow, and I want to get more out of the 8 weeks than just a few more chords. And I want to prove to myself that I can still study and practice and get good at something when it's challenging. I just have to hope I don't get myself laughed out of the class (or gently talked-down-to by the prof afterwards).

WTB some self-confidence?

Don't think this means I've forgiven you for screwing me over, University of Chicago. I will never forget.
evilhippo: hippo (40 [ellipses])
( Mar. 26th, 2009 06:03 pm)
Goshdarnit, two bits of musical bad news at the same time today.

1) I will not have my new mandolin for another month yet. I may cave in and cancel my order, and resign myself to wandering the streets of Chicago searching for something with a good story behind it. Goshdarn you, Washburn! At least be honest about how far you're backed up on orders! Apparently there are still people who were supposed to get theirs by Christmas. Grrr.

2) They moved the Mountain Goats/John Vanderslice concert out of the church, and into a place with seats. Last time I saw JV there were seats and I hate concerts with seats. No one stands up and dances, the crowd is dead and it's also harder to find a good spot. I mean, sure, the church would've had pews, but people have to squeeze together on pews so it's more personal... and it's a church. How much cooler can you get for an acoustic show? But noooo, let's move it to the fairly pretty restored theatre that is lovely except it's designed for movies and not concerts. I mean, sure, there isn't really dancing at most concerts anyway, but a mass of people standing shoulder-to-shoulder, bobbing their heads is still better than a mass of people separated by armrests and refusing to sing along because comfortable chairs discourage singing or something. Grrrrr! If I am allowed to stand in the aisle the entire time, I will. Look at how tiny these people look. Look at how no one is standing! Man. I do not want to sit when I could be standing in a crowd staring in awe up at John Darnielle. (Oh well, at least I'll get to see him. I'm still trying to decide whether he'll effectively counteract Neil Gaiman's nefarious writing-mojo black hole.)

And I'm sick. I was talking to a borrower on the phone today, and my voice just kept cracking and disappearing and now I'm sniffly, have no voice, and I'm sore all over. I think it probably sounded like I was crying... it's not often the borrower gets to sound like the emotionally stable one. Siiiigh. At least it was sunny today, otherwise I'd already be holed up in bed and refusing to move until tomorrow.
evilhippo: hippo (67 [icicles])
( Feb. 18th, 2009 07:29 pm)
Blue Remy's case and strap arrived today. Still no Blue Remy. (He is apparently shipping straight from the manufacturer, and while that makes me feel better about the care he'll receive on the way, I don't have a tracking number, so I have no idea when he'll be here.)

I have subsequently decorated the case for his arrival. It's about forty times more hardcore than I thought it'd be, but this pleases me. My requirements were basically 1) Light and 2) Able to be strapped to my back. It fulfills both of these requirements, and as an added bonus there is no way anyone on the CTA or elsewhere could ever harm him without harming me seriously first. There's also no way I could harm him without harming myself first, and since my clumsiness makes this likely, I'm glad I won't really have to worry. Unless I get hit by a truck.

In other news, today was my one-year anniversary at work. I had such great plans for this day. Curse you, economy! Curse you!
Guys, things like the Black Cab Sessions make me so, so happy. I mean, seriously, I find musicians so fascinating when they're playing in odd places. It's proof that they can play (and holy crap can that violinist play). Also, bonus points for Death Cab for Cutie in a cab. It's also occasionally supremely strange to see the faces behind some of the odd voices I adore so much. Like the guy from Sunset Rubdown? I don't know what I was picturing, but it wasn't nearly as normal-if-mop-topped as he actually is. (And if that isn't enough music, there's also concerts a l'emporter. I read it in French, but you don't have to.) Why do these awesome things only seem to crop up in Europe? I mean, seriously, if I had a little handicam or something I would totally try to recruit musicians to wander around Chicago with me playing beautiful music. I'll get a pirate ship, anchor it out on the Point and invite people out for parties or something. Where is your culture, Chicago?!

In other, fantastic news, after much waffling I went ahead and ordered myself the mandolin I've been drooling over. It's not the gorgeous $3,000 one that I've been drooling over for longer, but methinks I'll have to work my way up to that one anyway. Blue Remy! You will be here next week!
I have worked so much overtime in the last two weeks, I can afford to do one of several things:

- I can buy myself a mandolin. (I want blue Remy! Blue Remy would be awesome!)
- I can go to Bonnaroo. (Seriously, does anyone want to go? Because I aim to do at least one music festival this year.)
- I can adopt this adorable cat that I've been admiring for days. Though this brings up issues with future moves, and things with the landlord and Sirius now, doesn't she have the cutest cat smile ever? She looks like great trouble fun. (I have yet to get off work early enough to go see her.)
- Buy myself a record player... If I ever manage to decide how far I want to travel into audiophile territory, because that's a slippery, slippery slope. I also need good speakers. This would turn into a much more massive investment than my current overtime could cover.

Of course, my indecisiveness and unwillingness to spend money pretty much means I won't be doing any of these things. Unless someone wants to go to Bonnaroo! Or if I get over my fear of ordering a musical instrument online. But really, guys... music festival. Who wants to go? I'll bring my Blue Remy! (... I have a lot more overtime in my future.)
evilhippo: hippo (97 [one of those days])
( Oct. 22nd, 2008 10:58 pm)
Guys I think I'm heartbroken. I had to return my mandolin today. My last class at the Old Town School is over. And I haven't really got the time or money to take another one, because at this point I need to actually buy a mandolin... and I don't want to buy a crappy one. So it's going to have to wait. I'm thinking my general unbalance this morning was more a result of work freaking sucking than any premature heartbreak, but I'll tell you, it was terrible going in to class and playing for the last time. No more quirky little art student girl who ran away to Spain for a year. No more woman slightly younger than my mom who didn't want to sing in her husband's band anymore, so was taking up the mandolin. No more guy with the pink converses, who I once had an extensive conversation with about hipster shoes, who was the only person I don't live with who noticed I cut my hair. The only person (or at least, the only one who said anything)! And the hardcore hipster dude who only wore sandals, and the grumpy middle-aged guy who was always frustrated by the music, but somehow enthusiastic. (All these people have names, too, but you know how I am with names and the internet). And then at the end of the hour and a half, I had to go give Remy back. I hung around and explained to my friends there why I wasn't coming back next session (need to free up time for DI, need to save up money for a proper mandolin), and ogled the mandolins in the music shop. If I'm going to get one that I like, it's probably going to cost me about $500. I'm not ready for that investment yet. But they were still fun to play with. My instructor actually told me that I should buy Remy if I liked him. I may go back in a week or two and see if he's there, and if he's reasonably priced (I mean, he was a rental instrument), I'll get him.

By far the most awkward goodbye was to my instructor, who I thanked sincerely and then, contrary to his and my own usual instincts, offered my hand. Dear goodness, everyone, the business world has infected me. Who shakes hands at a folk music school, seriously? But he recovered, and I hightailed it out of there. And now I know I'm going to miss it. Lots.

I really need to go back to school.
evilhippo: hippo (41 [indescribable])
( Sep. 24th, 2008 10:44 pm)
Remy has a new g-string! Yay!
So, youtube eats my webcam encoding up and spits it out as unrecognizable pixels. Any people with a morbid enough curiosity know any video hosting sites offhand (that have decent enough servers as to withstand my connection often crapping out)? You'll get to hear me play my mandolin, and be awkward, and laugh after I say "g-string" and realize the absurdity of saying something like that on a video you plan to post on the internets.

Also, if any of you knew my youtube account, you would've been able to witness a slow descent into madness illustrated in videos that survived online for about two minutes each, culminating with "This is the last time I try this. I'm always pixels going wooooo, wooooooo. Random chords!"
Wednesdays are going to be a problem.

Today I ran out of complaints to type and had to learn something new. There's always something nice about doing something different. And so that cheered me up. And it was sunny, and that cheered me up. And I went to a music store on Michigan on a whim, because I always see it from the bus, and it was in the Fine Arts Building, which is wonderful and old, and full of people doing arty things, with elevators that have actual human operators. It's so, so, so early 1900s I was stunned and grinning for some time afterward. I highly recommend wandering into it if you're ever in the area. This, also, cheered me up. And I picked up prints from Walgreens, and am once again fearing an addiction to the slightly-delayed gratification of printing things cheaply from my camera's memory card.

And then I had my mandolin lessons, which were, as usual, wonderful fun. (Other than realizing that I'm still nervous when playing anything alone. I, er, in a brief lapse of self-restraint, started noodling around over my instructor's noodling, and played things right, and then, afterwards, realized my heart was beating a bit too fast for having done something like that. Goshdarn freaking retroactive stage fright.) My instructor is a bit... elitist, though not openly condescending. Thankfully, it just makes me want to work harder, though I do wish he'd be a bit more ambitious in teaching us things. The best part of lessons, though, might be the "second half", when we all sit down and play three- or four-chord songs with all the guitar classes. Everyone up at the Old Town School seems to have a political agenda during the second-half, which I imagine would be annoying if we weren't pretty much all a bunch of hippie liberals with guitars and mandolins. We sing union songs and today we had a song about Victor Jara, and Obama buttons were passed around. It's great fun to actually be around fun people, which is a pretty big chunk of the reason I'm there in the first place. So... mission accomplished!

Needless to say I'm all hyped up on sunshine and music and hippie liberalism. It's a nice feeling. But I'm going to have to go to work tomorrow anyway. (And, as I've stated before, nothing is more of a buzz-kill.) Maybe I'll call off because of the cramp in my left hand.

I also made some postcards on the train, which I intend to send to people next time I visit the post office. Looking back at my Christmas cards entry, though, I realize I mostly have addresses people aren't at anymore. If you'd like a random nonsensical postcard (with little-known facts or nonsense pop-quizzes with questions about Spiderman, or advertisements for the end of days), I'll need your right and proper address (you can e-mail it if you like, I'm too lazy to screen comments individually, and I'm still mostly without internets).

P.S. Guys I've figured out the chords to Magpie. The world is in severe danger now. (Also it's nearly midnight. I'm going to regret this in the morning).
And tonight I said to myself "Well, I have no internet, I shall practice my mandolin."

And then internet appeared. And I said to myself "Awesome! I can practice my mandolin using the internet!"

And then I thought "Wow, it's going to suck on Thursday when I have the internet and start having the temptation to use it for things again." A few moments later my brain realized this contradiction, and I think that breakage is probably what led to me transposing the guitar tabs for Sons and Daughters into mandolin tabs (which, by the way, ancient instrument designers, was very hard thanks to you and your goshdarn violin-type tuning). The jury is still out over whether the fingers of my left hand will ever, ever forgive me for this (yesterday they were covered in superglue to give them a break, but they had to deal with the strings themselves tonight... for several hours. In addition to my fingers, I should also probably wonder if my roommate will ever forgive me. It can't be pleasant to hear someone hacking away on a mandolin attempting to play The Beatles, REM, and the Decemberists (being the few bands I can find proper, playable tablatures for)).

I suspect the best trial of roommate tolerance ever will be once I get the tabs for Sons and Daughters down well enough to try singing it at the same time. (Thankfully, this will probably take me a few weeks still.)
I am now officially going back to school in the fall. Not, you know, proper school, and it's not for more than a couple hours a week, BUT I'll have an instrument that I have to carry to work and back on Wednesdays, and that will be geektastic (this being one of my minor motivations. Another being there were only three seats open in the class when there were 10 when I first saw it a few days ago. It kind of forced my patient hand.)

And now, unfortunately I'm kind of justified in ogling pretty little (actually affordable) acoustic-electric mandolins. (My goodness there are mandolins on there that cost more than small cars.)


evilhippo: hippo (Default)


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