Sunday, January 25, 2009

Music for the Soul

I've felt a lot of anger lately, and music has been my outlet. The other day I found myself asking a friend to send me some new songs because I "needed my fix," so you see it's kind of a drug for me. Anyway, here's some stuff I like to listen to. Almost all of it has been recommended by friends, so to those of you out there who have introduced me to these artists, thank you. Really. It has meant everything to me. I hope I can return the favor.

Andrew Bird. I've heard him describe his own music as a "sonic jacuzzi." I can breathe easier when I'm listening to him. He's a phenomenal singer/songwriter/guitarist/violinist AND champion whistler (I hear he wins competitions). He's managed to experiment with technology and new sounds without losing the sweet and simple organic nature of his music. He writes about a lot of the chaos and destruction happening in the world (as in "Sythian Empires"), but a friend put it nicely when saying (I'm paraphrasing) "even when the world is crumbling down, what can you do but whistle?" You can check out Bird's blog about his music-writing and creating process in the "Measure for Measure" section of the New York Times here.

"Sythian Empires"

Colby Stead. We met Colby when we were living in Provo. Colby is a poet. His lyrics are pointed and his music is simple and understated. He writes about the love, loss, pain and beauty of life. He is a beautiful human being.

"Tugging the Truth"
(warning - contains nudity)

Joanna Newsom. Her voice can be an acquired taste for some. Her music is whimsical and sprightly (she even LOOKS sprightly). She's a story teller, and I am immediately and inescapably swept away into her fantastical yet painfully realistic worlds. Her latest album "Ys" is 55 minutes long, but only 4 songs. Stories take time to tell!

"Sawdust and Diamonds"

Regina Spektor. So many things to love about her. She's fun, quirky, honest, and a great musician. She creatively pushes the envelope of her genre with flare and style, calling her music "anti-folk." :)

"20 Years of Snow"

Animal Collective. They've been put in the same "freak folk" category as Joanna Newsom. They are technical, innovative and FUN. This music makes me want to skip and dance and kiss people I don't know, because life just feels that good.


Sufjan Stevens. Really talented (10 instruments) and ambitious. You can read about his 50 state albums project here. I haven't heard a ton of his stuff, but this song makes me happy.

"Come on! Feel the Illinoise!

Cat Power. Great for those days.

"Sea of Love"

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Friggin COLD

So, you know how I sometimes say "oh, Japan's not so bad because it never goes below freezing! Yeah, we have paper doors, single-paned glass windows, holes in the walls for would-be heating units, and no central heating, but it's really not so bad. Besides, we kind of like drinking hot tea and bundling up if it means saving energy?"

Lies. All of it. I want nothing more of this no-central-heating-in-January nonsense. The only real heater we have is in our bedroom (which, coincidentally, is why our 10-month old still sleeps in our room, and yes, sometimes our romantic), plus a space heater on its last leg in the living room. But absolutely nothing for the ice age taking place in this computer room. Honestly, I think this is why I'm not blogging. Not emailing. Not doing ANYTHING I don't ABSOLUTELY have to do on the computer. Just going to the bathroom is torture enough. When I wake up at night my thought process goes something like, "Maybe if I just lay on my side and squeeze a pillow between my knees, I'll be able to fall back asleep. WHY WHY WHY did I drink that hot lemonade before bed?!?! Oh, I know, BECAUSE MY LIPS WERE FROZEN TO MY TEETH!!!"

In Kansas, my parents kept their house at a balmy 60-65 degrees in the winter. Any complaint about the cold would earn a "throw on another layer!" from my mom. Well Mom, I can honestly say I've thrown on as many as I can fit in. I can't lower my arms to my sides. I can't move my toes or cross my legs. It takes me 10 minutes to go to the bathroom. Oh, and I look like this:

Japan, I love you. We've had great times together. But paper doors? Really? Is that the best you can do?? I could go on and on, but my fingers are getting frostbite.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Holidays

Ok, I just need to get this blog done so I can start writing again. Every time I get on to blog, I think "oh yeah, I still haven't done a blog about Christmas and New Year's. But that means I have to load a bunch of pictures. Guess I'll do it later." RAR! So here, it is, our Christmas in Korea.

Bulgogi House in Osan

Hans in a magic show at the local high school
We had a great time with Katie and Travis. It didn't really feel like visiting Korea so much as a mini America. We only left the Airforce base a handful of times, and we were completely content staying inside all day playing Wii and doing puzzles. THIS is what a vacation is supposed to be.

Hannah loved being with her cousins Kasen and Kayla. It was kind of sad when we came home, because she was definitely feeling their absence. Now whenever she sees other children, she flaps her arms and pants with excitement.

We spent New Years with Megumi, who prepared the usual (and DELICIOUS) shabu-shabu. It was a wonderful way to ring in the new year. She is so good to us.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Let Me Entertain You

The concert at Marugamemachi was a lot of fun, despite the cold and wind (I think my lips froze to my teeth a couple times). Lots of former students came, which meant a lot to me. I love seeing familiar faces in the audience. As far as my performance goes, I think my voice has matured (I guess childbirth and gaining a little weight will do that), but I need to work on my stage presence. You don't realize that's something that gets rusty and needs constant practice just like the singing.

The good news: they asked me to sing again in the spring. So I must have done something right. Here are some photos. Video to come, as soon as Hans shows me how to get it from the video camera to the computer and cut it into clips. Thus far I've only done it with our little digital camera.

Top of the dome. Great acoustics!

Setting up
The woman who made this possible. Thank you so much Miwako!
Sooooo cold.
Song to the Moon
The crowd
So many flowers!
Lunch between performances
Hans was so supportive. I couldn't have done this without him.