Visit my new blog

Time to reinvent, consolidate, revamp.  Please visit me over at my new blog:  crystalking.com

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Workout while you eat

Who knew that THIS is what we’ve needed all along:

Cutlery from TheCheeky.com

Weighted cutlery from TheCheeky.com. Expensive, handmade cutlery. Now you too can lift weights between each bite!

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Lost and Found

We don’t usually keep clutter lying around our house but there are a few spaces that tend to gather papers and need the occasional purge. One of those spaces is a junky old cabinet in the office that hasn’t been opened in years because it’s full of “stuff.”  It’s really an anomaly in our house…one of those spaces that up until today neither Joe or I had any clue what’s in there.

Last night I was looking for some nice paper and was thinking I had a ream tucked away in that cabinet. I opened it up and it was piled to the top of all sorts of things. I realized that ok, we’ve got to take care of this silly cabinet and clean it out. We never really have time to tackle it but the day was here, I decided.

Mostly it’s a lot of shredding of old bills (some from 2001!!) and leftover checks from when there was still Fleet bank here in Boston. But there are some other funny things that are surfacing, such as:

  • Joe’s old bike light for his backpack (not been used in 10 years)…wait, make that two lights
  • A small box of white christmas lights, not touched
  • Photos from my office window (of the Friendship of Salem) when I worked in Salem in 2004
  • A manual on how to play Sid Meier’s CivNet
  • A sonnet cycle I wrote for Joe on our first anniversary of meeting (2001)
  • A wooden stunt plane stocking stuffer that I gave Joe one year that hasn’t been opened
  • A pair of nice leather gloves given to Joe at some point, still packaged and unused.
  • Chinese food menus for restaurants that no longer exist
  • Dozens of holiday and birthday cards
  • Numerous CDs, manuals, books and maps for Everquest (the original)
  • At least 6 old fantasy football manuals plus all of Joe’s scratchings on player placement from many years ago (he’s commissioner of one of his leagues)
  • Registration for a car Joe owned 10 years ago
  • Film for a Polaroid iZone camera and the camera
  • Two cigars
  • Essays Joe wrote when he was getting his M.A.
  • Genealogy info for Joe’s side of the family (Italy and Acadia)
  • Slides of Joe’s sculptures
  • Joe’s GRE scores, Tuft’s & Museum school grades and his diplomas
  • Our 2002 taxes
  • Joe’s Selective Service verification from 1985
  • 2004 Red Sox world series collector box of baseball cards
  • Sunday Red Sox Boston Globe, Oct. 28, 2004
  • Travel chess set
  • Joe’s lease for an apartment he lived in 12 years ago
  • A Residents DVD
  • Two cigar boxes full of junk, one with dozens of 50 cent and dollar coins and his ex-girlfriend’s old bank card
  • The receipt for the tuxedo Joe rented when we got married
  • A disposable camera that still needs to be developed…it’s expiration date is 2004.
  • Receipt for a case of Cote du Rhone we bought in the Berkshires (a gift?)
  • The lenses for Joe’s telescope
  • An old poetry notebook from 2001 or 2002

Lesson learned…don’t let Joe stockpile junk in the cabinet moving forward.

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Love and Disappointment: Echo & the Bunnymen

Echo & the Bunnymen (album)

Image via Wikipedia

Last night we trekked down to the Paradise Rock Club to catch one of our longtime faves, Echo & the Bunnymen, in concert. They were performing their first two albums back to back, Crocodiles and Heaven Up Here, albums that my husband remembers profoundly. I love those albums but for me the ones that spoke to my teenage soul were Porcupines and Ocean Rain.

We got there early to snag a parking spot, almost across the street, then popped into the Brown Sugar Cafe for some Thai food. Shortly after our food arrived, so did a group of Brits who sat down next to us. We knew they were somehow related to the band but weren’t sure how. Joe thought the guy next to him was Will Sergeant (and it was…turned out to be most of the band sans Ian) but wasn’t 100% sure…neither of us wanted to stare, be rude or ask stupid questions. So we ate up our pad thai and drunken noodles and headed on over to the Paradise to snag our balcony spots, where we have watched shows for the last 10+ years at that venue.

Except when we got there they had these new private box barriers set up. When we caught O.M.D. back in March they had only one side boxed off for VIPs or whomever. This time we get there and boom, new one set up on the other side, effectively meaning that 75% of the balcony spots that were there previously are unavailable or useless (blocked so you can’t see the stage behind the support beams). For the last ten years we always got there early and bought beers while we’re waiting (i.e. we spend more $ than we would have otherwise) because we’re short and if we stand on the floor it means we can never see anything. We snagged one of the only ok balcony spots on the side but the view of the far side of the stage was mostly blocked by the speakers. Disappointing. Oh, and the speakers? They moved them up high so if you are in the balcony you are effectively right in front of them (which led to me having a scary bout of vertigo after The Get Up Kids and OMD shows in March–lesson learned, earplugs!). All of which renders our favorite spot to see shows now one of the worst. :(  That makes me sad…Joe will be less likely to want to go see a band now if they’re playing at the ‘dise.

But back to the Bunnymen. They went on late, over 30 minutes later than you would expect from changing sets around from the opener (who never told the audience who he was!). So that was a little frustrating on a Monday night when work beckons us early the next day.

Echo & the Bunnymen at Paradise, Boston 2011

When they took to the stage I was initially excited. The excitement faded after the second song when I realized that they weren’t going to play with many lights at all–just some low lights on the other band members–never on Ian McCulloch. Which became very annoying very quickly. I wanted to SEE the show, not just hear it.  I mean, I buy the albums to hear the music. I pay the ticket price to see the band.

Now don’t get me wrong…they sounded fantastic. Better than I expected. I just couldn’t SEE them, sigh. It was so dark that Will (who was, as always, amazing) even needed a flashlight shined on his guitar so he could see the strings.  Ian did talk to the audience a bit but you couldn’t understand him between the mumbling and the Liverpudlian accent. There was no energy on stage at all, just standing in one spot for the most part. And overall, they seemed bored, barely interested in being there. Ian even asked what city he was in at one point.

Plus it was SO hot in the balcony…no idea why the ‘dise doesn’t turn on the air conditioner (cheap?). Between the heat which was making me feel faint and the difficulty seeing the band we decided to leave about 20 min before the show was done, something we never ever do.  It means we missed Do it Clean and Bring on the Dancing Horses which saddens me a little. But the thing is, I wouldn’t have seen them performing it, not really, so it won’t be all that much different than just turning up my stereo at home.

I found a review of a 2010 Boston show they did and wow, it’s nearly identical to our experience.  Echo and the Bunnymen: bizarre night of music at the Paradise, Boston, April 26, 2010

I will always love the music of Echo & the Bunnymen and will likely buy any new album they put out. But go to another show? No, think we’ll pass.

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Buon compleanno Roma 2764a!!

Today Rome celebrates its 2,764th birthday (21st April), based on the legendary foundation of Rome by Romulus in 753 BC.  I wish I were there to help celebrate!

Arch of Septimus Severus and Santa Maria Antiqua, Roman Forum

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I am SO looking forward to the new Dr. Who Season!

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Longing for Italy

With snow still in the forecast this week in Boston, I find myself longing for the sun of Italy, where a year ago we had just come back from a trip to Roma.

Poet Anna Akhmatova once said “Italy is a dream that keeps returning for the rest of your life.”

Oh, how right she was.

And if you want to feel as wistful as me, here’s a slideshow of our October trip, also to Rome (we loved it so much we went twice!):

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Oh! Oh Land!

Last week, the concert that gave me my bout of vertigo also delivered up a new favorite to my current playlist. Opening up for O.M.D. at the Paradise here in Boston was a band I’d never heard of before (have I been living under a rock?), Oh Land, led by the adorable Dane, Nanna Øland Fabricius. Well, in truth, she IS Oh Land–like Fat Boy Slim she’s a one person band.

Before the show I went to listen to her recently released EP, Oh Land (the full album is out now, however) and was pleasantly surprised–I had an inkling I might like the opener for O.M.D. after all. I’ve seen so many terrible openers for shows in the last few years so was excited to see if Oh Land would live up the expectations I had after listening to the disc.

From the moment I saw the balloons on stage, and from the first notes played, I was hooked. Oh Land’s music is bright and poppy, that you can dance to, sing aloud and want to play over and over. The light show on the balloons they had on stage is simply incredible and wildly creative. But the voice and the performance! Nanna didn’t disappoint.

Usually opening bands have a mediocre reception from the audience–any audience. Hell, even Robyn Hitchcock opened for the Decemberists awhile back the reception was lukewarm, which surprised me because he’s amazing (then again the Decemberists seem to be the teen angst band du jour and they probably had no clue who he is, sigh). But Oh Land, oh oh, from the time the first song ended the crowd was hooked. By the end of her set the audience was going wild. It was clear that they would have loved to hear more. I definitely wanted to hear more!

Check out Oh Land here, and definitely pick up the album. It won’t disappoint!
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWRi7gDYjVY&feature=channel_video_title

Oh and for a little taste of the balloons (although it’s much better with a full light show than this video shows), check out this live vid of White Nights.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1a8ckDTW4aU

Awesome. Pure awesome!

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Does the time change affect our health?

Last night before we went to sleep I set the clocks ahead, thankful that there will be less light in the morning, hoping it meant that Nero would be less likely to try and wake us up early.

Which may have been the case except that my husband has come down with some sort of nasty cold and had a night of serious snoring. He doesn’t normally snore but last night, oh yeah he was sawing some serious logs. So loud in fact, that I had to move to the other room. And even then I barely had much sleep…the mattress on that bed needs to be replaced and Nero just couldn’t figure out what I was doing and wanted to play, sigh.

I suppose that losing an hour is ok in the sense that hopefully I’ll be able to pass out quickly tonight. I’m desperately hoping that Joe is able to sleep and that what feels like the onset of his cold transferring to me is under control.  But how do our bodies truly adjust to the change in light and the loss of an hour?

Turns out that we might not adjust very well. It’s documented that there are “upticks in accidents, heart attacks and suicides” in the first day after a time change.

An MSNBC article outlines the 5 ways that the time change can affect us. Essentially there is an increase in:

  1. traffic accidents
  2. workplace accidents
  3. sleep loss
  4. heart attacks
  5. suicides

The tricky thing is that they don’t know why this is the case. There are conjectures…shifts in sleeping patterns make us tired, shifts in light can contribute to depression, etc.

In my case I’m worried about the lack of sleep and how it might affect my already compromised body. I got very little sleep last night but I’m unsure if it was related to my husband’s fitful sleep or the changes in light. Unfortunately, I didn’t end up sleeping any longer because I had less light. Let’s cross our fingers that I’ll sleep better tonight!

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Vertigo, I don’t miss ya

Last weekend my husband and I went to two shows, one for indie band The Getup Kids on Sunday night, then O.M.D. on Monday night (and the incredible opener, one of my new faves, Oh Land). STUPID me didn’t wear earplugs. I should know better too, having worked for Virgin Records and several radio stations back in my early days. I’ve been to countless upon countless shows and always wore my ear plugs. I guess this time I figured that we weren’t really close to the speakers (except because of the way they remodeled and put the speakers above the crowd, they were directly in front of where we stood in the balcony) and I also thought that eh, I don’t go to many shows so it shouldn’t matter.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YaqO1fuBnrg

(I can hear myself screaming and singing in that video, ha!) on Sunday, my ears were ringing like mad but it wore off as the next day wore on. Then O.M.D. in the evening…

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4kQfWI1cbo

who were INCREDIBLE (in that video, at the beginning, when Andy McCluskey has his hand outstretched, there was a spotlight shining on me in the balcony and he was reaching out toward me! COOL!). However, at that show, again, I wore no earplugs.

That night I felt fine. The next morning, not so much! Before I even got out of bed I knew something was wrong. I felt drunk, except that made no sense…I had only had one beer the night before, at 7PM and there was no euphoria, just the inability to walk a straight line. Basically I had vertigo. My equilibrium was off…my inner ears really unhappy with my rough treatment of them the nights before! If I turned my head or looked down it felt like I might fall over or pass out. Scary. I could hear ok and my ears weren’t ringing…it was all just massively impaired motor skills. As the day went on I improved a little but a day later it seemed the same. For a couple of days I was woozy and off-balance. The idea of exercising was out of the question, as was driving and even bending down to pet Nero. In short, it was horrible.

Turns out that the noise created debris in my ear, essentially. Ironically it was these little crystals that had messed Crystal up. When this happens, fortunately, there are some exercises that can help dislodge these crystals, called the Epley Maneuver.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1P3kUomkvs&feature=related

A few times of doing this and WHEW. I returned to normal. But not after tears and lost sleep (literally) in fear that I had damaged my ears permanently. I can’t tell you how relieved I am that all is ok.

Moral of this story: PROTECT YOUR EARS! Don’t fuck around with them. Wear earplugs at concerts, don’t turn your ipod headphones up higher than necessary, etc. You only get one set of ears and they control far more of your body than your hearing. You don’t realize how precious they are until you have messed them up.

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