Wendy’s Word

Not your mama’s blog….

Last Day of School June 22, 2009

Filed under: Adventures in Wendyland — wendy @ 10:17 pm

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I recently had my last day of elementary school.  Technically, it was my youngest daughter’s last day, but I’ve been at that school longer than she has, having had two daughters there.

For the last 10 years, I’ve started out my weekdays on that campus, dropping my daughter off, going to PTA meetings, volunteering, and chatting with fellow parents on our way back to our cars.  I’ve attended countless concerts and dance performances – if I have to hear those same holiday songs one more time……oh yeah, I don’t anymore.  One morning, my daughter asked me why I say hi to everyone on campus, and I told her that “it takes a village” and that these people are part of my village.  She rolled her eyes, but she gets it.

On the second to last day of school, there was a fifth grade graduation ceremony, complete with a processional, songs, dances, speeches and poems.  I was prepared with my tissues.  Afterwards, we took our daughter for a lovely celebratory lunch.  Being a cultured child, she chose Indian food. 

But the next day was the most difficult.  The kids had a party, but the parents just did drop-off as usual.  I chatted with two moms for about a half-hour on the corner before we went our separate ways.  I think none of us wanted it to be over so we just stood there talking to prolong our experience.  Only when I got home did the tears flow. 

I will so miss walking my daughter to her classroom every day.  Sometimes she even let me hold her hand when we walked to class.  I will miss the sweetness and innocence of elementary school children.  Middle school is filled with streetwise kids who are rarely separated from their electronic devices.  Middle school dropoff hardly entails stopping the car completely.  So goodbye to sweet elementary school and hello to not being able to help with science or math homework anymore, no more hours of volunteering, and no more holiday songs…..er, well they probably sing different holiday songs in middle school!

 

 

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Changes to Wendy’s Word June 19, 2009

Filed under: Adventures in Wendyland — wendy @ 10:28 pm

As my loyal readers can see, I’ve made a few changes to Wendy’s Word.  The most recent postings are now on the front page like a normal blog, as opposed to having the welcome page as the front page.  If you’re only interested on one category – you’re a foodie and have no interest in my music taste –  just click on the food category on the right.  You can now subscribe to my blog by e-mail – keep up with my recent postings without having to remember to check all the time.  And finally, I’m starting to post some random musings that are not food, book, or music-related, which will be under the Adventures in Wendyland category.  Let me know what you think of the changes!

 

Love and Other Impossible Pursuits, by Ayelet Waldman

Filed under: Books — wendy @ 9:47 pm

Before I get into the book, I have to say that I met Ayelet Waldman on the Cedars Sinai hospital tour when we were both pregnant with our first children.  My husband and I spent the tour chatting with a nice couple, and only at the end did we find out that the husband was Michael Chabon, who had written The Mysteries of Pittsburgh.  Ayelet was a lawyer, so I was confused when I later learned that Michael Chabon was married to a writer.  Funny that it was easier for me to imagine that he had divorced the lawyer and remarried a writer than it was for me to imagine a career change!

I recently heard Waldman interviewed on Fresh Air about her new book Bad Mom.  The interview made me laugh and made me teary — and I was at the gym, mind you.  I went straight to the library to see if they had Bad Mom yet, but as it’s too new, I had to settle for Love and Other Impossible Pursuits.  Still, it’s being made into a movie with Natalie Portman in the starring role, so good thing I’ve read it before the movie comes out. 

I’ve read my share of chick lit, which is how the book feels for much of the story.  But the book takes a deeper turn near the end.  The story is about a young woman who is trying to cope with the recent loss of her baby to SIDS.  At the same time, she’s trying to forge a relationship with her precocious but annoying stepson.  The book takes on the New York mothers who overparent – the stepson’s mother insists that her son is lactose intolerant, cannot get wet or he’ll get sick, and must get into the most exclusive private elementary school.  This would be funny if the main character was a good foil to those mothers, but instead, she is self centered and has almost no compassion or affection for the boy.  This doesn’t make for a sympathetic main character. 

Near the end, the book threatens to descend into psychobabble, but luckily it doesn’t go too far, and the main character is redeemed.  Through a sort of odd series of events, the main character is called on her self centeredness and she gains understanding and maturity.  It finally dawned on me that the main character was supposed to be unsympathetic because the book is about her self discovery and redemption.  OK, I can be a little slow.

Now that I’ve read the book, I’m looking forward to seeing the movie when it comes out.  And am still waiting for Bad Mom to make it to the library!

 

Iggy Pop Sings Standards June 6, 2009

Filed under: Music — wendy @ 11:37 pm

Last Monday, I heard Iggy Pop interviewed on Fresh Air about his new album Preliminaires, where he sings standards like Autumn Leaves and songs in French.  The songs actually sound great, although they sound very much like Tom Waits, particularly on Frank’s Wild Years.  But you can’t blame Iggy Pop for having a similar type of voice, and I think the album sounds great.  The interview was also entertaining, especially where he says that he refuses to wear a shirt when he performs, no matter how classic the standard.

 

Moby

Filed under: Music — wendy @ 11:26 pm

I’ve been listening to Moby a lot lately.  Normally Moby’s is not the type of music I’m drawn to.  ITunes labels the genre “electronic,” whereas I normally prefer music where you can identify the instruments.  One of my worst epithets about a song is that it is “overproduced.”  But I just got the album”Play” and I love it.  I also have “Hotel,” which I like but not nearly as much as “Play.”  I also have some random songs, such as Extreme Ways and Moby’s version of What’s Going On from an AIDS benefit concert.

Honey starts out sounding like it could have been a work song during the time of slavery, with its steady rhythm.  Same with the song Run On.  Natural Blues also sounds like it originated from another era,  like a modern version of a spiritual.  One of my favorite songs on the album is Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad, which defies the “electronic” genre label by having beautiful piano music.  (And forgive my sounding emo, but it’s a great song to feed a blue mood.)  Everloving is also a great song, starting out with only guitar and humming.

Ok, so now I’ve gone and looked at the Rolling Stone review of Play, and read that Moby actually used some of Alan Lomax’s field recordings of early African-American music for this album, so I’m not crazy!  No wonder I like this album so much.

Looking through ITunes, I realize that Moby has a lot of albums out.  I wonder whether they are worth exploring, or whether I really just like Play so much because of the juxtoposition of electronic and hip hop rhythms with authentic roots music.

 

KCRW

Filed under: Music — wendy @ 10:13 pm
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I’ve had an off-again, on-again relationship with the public radio station KCRW.  I discovered KCRW when I was in college.  They played a variety of music programs, radio drama, and NPR programming.   I loved the station so much that I imagined it would be what I would miss the most if I ever moved away from Los Angeles.  Of course, this was pre-internet….

My favorite program was Morning Becomes Eclectic, hosted by Tom Schnabel.  As the title implies, the program included an eclectic mix of music, from Rachmaninoff and Eric Satie, to Lou Reed and Tom Waits, to Mercedes Sosa and Cesaria Evora, to classic jazz.  My music taste was strongly influenced by that program.  Once the host changed, I found that the program was no longer eclectic, and I didn’t much like what was being played.  Maybe I was just getting older and more narrow in my tastes.  Or maybe it was that I had a real job and could no longer listen to the radio at 9:00 a.m. when the program aired.

When I graduated college, I realized that I had no skills and no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I had a vague notion that I might want to work in public radio or television, and someone at KCRW was nice enough to let me visit the station.  The lead producer, or maybe he was an engineer, let me spend much of the day with him.  I think there were only about seven paid employees at the station back then.  I got a tour, met the station’s staff including the general manager Ruth Seymour (then called Ruth Hirshman) and my hero Tom Schnabel, and got to watch a show being produced.  The station had a family feel.

Somewhere along the way, I stopped listening to KCRW in favor of the other NPR station, KPCC.  I think it started during a big news event when KCRW went back to regular programming but KPCC stayed with NPR coverage of the event.  (I have maintained my membership to both public stations though, as well as a few others.  Must support public radio and television!)  Now that I no longer live in West LA, I can’t relate to KCRW like I used to.  Since the station got larger and more prominent, it no longer feels homey and seems pretentious liberal westside (meaning liberal, but still buying expensive organic food at Whole Foods and rarely venturing east of La Brea).  KPCC, in contrast, feels more connected with the diversity of all of Los Angeles.

Since NPR cancelled Day to Day (which I listened to on KPCC on my way to work), I’ve been listening to KCRW more often.  I was listening to an in-studio interview with the Pinkertones but had to leave the car in the middle.  I looked for it online and discovered a treasure trove of in-studio interviews and performances.  KCRW is an amazing online radio station.  They have a live station, an all-news station, and an all-music station.  They have many podcasts, including Today’s Top Tune which is a free song every day.  You can also hear or watch all of their in-studio performances.  I was thrilled to watch the interview with Ben Harper, who is one of my faves (more about him in an upcoming entry).  There are so many artists I can’t name them all, but encourage you to check it out.  The sessions from all of 2008 and 2009 are there, so there are two for some artists, like Moby and Adele.  Although I still miss Day to Day, I’m happy to have rediscovered KCRW, especially the online archives, and plan to spend some time catching up with performances of my favorites as well as new artists who might become faves in the future.

 

The Untouchable, by John Banville

Filed under: Books — wendy @ 6:08 pm
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The Untouchable fictionalizes the world of the British spy ring headed by Kim Philby.  Victor Maskell is a fictionalized version of Anthony Blount, art advisor to the queen.  In the novel, Maskell is at he end of his life, reflecting on his life as a double agent.  He has been discovered and disgraced, and he is telling his story to a journalist who wants to write a book about him.  The novel is written in a literary way, which just means it’s very well written so is a pleasure to read.  Victor Maskell reminds me a little of the hero in Remains of the Day, in that he recounts his life with a bit of standoffishness, without full realization of his motivations.  Maskell believed in the Communist cause, but he also spied for the Russians to escape the boredom of his upper-class British life.  Far from being an adventure-packed spy novel, The Untouchable describes the dull part of being a spy — passing government documents and cocktail party gossip to his Russian handlers.  Banville won the Booker prize for another of his novels — he’s a literary writer — but the first person narration draws the reader in and makes the novel easily accessible.