Friday, January 29, 2010

Catholic Schoolgirls Gone Wild.

I used to teach music at a Catholic high school. Because of the wonders of social media, and my now very public music career, I am friends with some of my former students on Facebook. Yesterday, I got a message from one of them wondering if I wanted to host a "True Romance" party. Here is an excerpt:

They are great fun and very educational, you can also buy some really steamy toys to help take control in your bedroom. If you host a party you get 10% off every $100 spent by your friends, and a free gift! If your friends spend over $675 your free gift will be a silver bullet.

Maybe I should forward it to all of her other former Catholic high school teachers, and we can all get together and have a big party. Did she send this to me as a joke? Or did she copy and paste all her friends, then immediately regret accidentally including her former teacher in this list? Or is she still giggling at her intentional audacity?

I thought about ignoring it completely. Then I considered sending a smart-ass reply asking if she'd like me to also invite Ms. Murphy, Ms. Brown, and Ms. Berry to her little soiree. Then I decided instead to just write a blog about it and keep her anonymous.

Ladies, if you are going to host a "True Romance" party, -- which I'm sure are great fun and highly educational -- you probably shouldn't invite your former teachers. That's just weird.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Feeling down.

I'm feeling down. I don't feel like reading. And I can't write because I can't sing. I strained my vocal cords somehow, so I am not speaking/singing until gig-time. All I feel like doing is whining. When will it be summer? Or at least when will it be Derby? Or at the VERY least, when will it be time to plant my garden?
Hmpf. Maybe I shouldn't have read The Bell Jar while on vacation last weekend. I think I need a good trashy chick-lit novel. Repeat: Hmpf.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Burns, Haggises, Celebrations.


I missed Burns Night. I remembered while I was on the plane Monday that it was both my half-birthday AND Burns Night. Then I landed and we went out to dinner, forgetting all our original plans of making a vegetarian haggis and hiring a bagpiper. We'd even bought a rutabaga for the occasion, but now it just sits lonely in the fridge, awaiting a future mashing.

In happier (and related) news, I've finally got a confirmed date in Edinburgh. It's only one day, however, so I will need to order as many jacket potatoes and as many vegan haggises (proper plural is NOT "haggi," as many sources contend, although I admit that is more fun to say) as possible in a 24 hour period.

And before you knock the idea of a vegan haggis, I challenge you to Google and cook ANY vegan haggis recipe and stand it up to an actual haggis. It is infinitely better only because you KNOW you're not eating anything to do with stomach lining, but you've got the same spices. Plus, you still feel sort of _So I Married an Axe Murderer_, which is fun.

Anyway, I'm bummed that I missed Burns Night. Maybe I'll start a new tradition and celebrate Half-Burns Night on July 25. Hmmmmm ... we're gonna need a bagpiper....

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Bahamas Tour Update.


Some of you wondered what the gig down here is going to be like. I guess I haven't really blogged about that, have I? Mostly it's been [an attempt at] relaxing beach time, with a few piƱa coladas, and lots of lying around. I'm not really the best at lying around, and there's been all this tour crap and show bookings going awry. So I'm going to try to chill a bit before the show tonight. Tyra and I are going to pack a little lunch and head out to the turquoise waters. I'm not sure if it'll be warm enough to actually go IN the turqouise waters, but I'm bringing the snorkel again just in case..... and now on to music talk.

The show at Shenanigan's was originally just going to be me playing solo, like the last time, but a few weeks ago a local chef asked if he could play a few tunes as well. Y'all know that, musically at least, I play well with others, so I was all for it. He's actually playing an entire set, and we'll probably just have fun playing tunes after we've played our main sets.
When I first heard a local chef would be joining the bill, I secretly hoped he would be doing improvisational cooking in time to my singing. Like chopping mushrooms to the groove, or using the blender like a DJ scratching his vinyl.

He's actually a musician, songwriter, guitarist, etc, who has been managing a delicious restaurant here in Freeport for several years, but has recently started his own catering company. But he came over the night we landed -- which unfortunately for me was a night of exhaustion and drama and lots of work crap so my mind wasn't on music -- and played a few of his tunes. I lounged on the couch with my accordion and played along, two of my favorite things to do.

It should be a fun night. Tim is a great guitar player, plays original music (gotta love that), and knows everything about food. Music and food make a fun combination, so I'm looking forward to the show.

In the mean time, here's a nice picture of the canal, from poolside at the house where I'm staying. Yes, it's 80 degrees here and January.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Mercury is Evil, but I'm going snorkeling.

I don't like to complain, especially when I am writing you from Freeport, Bahamas. Yes, I realize this blog will earn me no sympathy, and, don't worry, I'm not looking for any. But, seriously, what the hell is going on this week? The only explanation I have is that Mercury is in retrograde.

I first heard about Mercury going into retrograde from a wacky British co-worker named Daisy back in New York. She was the brightest person in the office, and no matter how morose I tried to be, she always cheered me up. She not only knew everyone's astrological sign, but she also knew their ascendant, and seventh suns. Sometimes she would come barging into our cubicle (if it's possible to barge into a cubicle) and warn us to cancel our appointments because it was a bad day for Leos to interact with Scorpios OR ... worst of all ... (big music: DUM DUM DUM...!!!) Mercury was in retrograde.

It seems like for the past few weeks, and the past few days in particular, things are just not working out. Several emails have gotten lost, which has seriously interrupted my spring tour planning, miscommunication abounds, passports have expired unnoticed (not mine, don't worry I'm not stuck in the Bahamas), airlines put you on hold for hours then hang up on you.

I wish Daisy had warned me about Mercury this week. Hmpf.

But after the morning's drama, I've decided that I MUST enjoy today. So, like I said, I'm not looking for sympathy. I'm going to tool around on the boat in the Bahamas, learn a few new songs for tomorrow's gig, and change the strings on my guitar, and maybe write a new song.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Touring with my Passport.

I've been in the traditional winter funk lately. That week of 11 degrees just about sent me over the edge, and that's a dangerous place for the self-employed. If only I had an evil boss looming over my shoulder highlighting my To Do List with a laser pointer (that's what they do, right?), then maybe I'd get more accomplished.

I woke up Sunday morning (cue Kris Kristofferson...) with a jolt, however, and have been completely on track ever since. I got word that my appearance on A Prairie Home Companion will be broadcast this weekend in Europe, which was just the kick in the butt I needed to finish booking this May Euro-Tour I've been planning.

For whatever reason -- blame centuries of troubadours -- live music is much more meaningful to the Brits. That's not to say people in Louisville don't appreciate it; those of you who do are the reason musicians like me wake up every day, so thank you for that. Unfortunately, most towns in American don't have enough folks who go out to hear live music. And most folks in America don't want to pay for music. And so I tour in Britain as often as possible.

I've got several shows over there confirmed now, which is a great feeling because it means I'm actually going. Now the fun part begins of finding shows on random Tuesday nights that are on the way from Bath to Cambridge that pay well enough to fund the trip. (Speaking of: Neil, how does Sunday May 23 or Tuesday May 25 look for Cirencester?) I posted a lot of video blogs from the UK tour in 2008, and I'm looking forward to doing a lot more this time. I might even figure out how to stream live from our concerts over there.

Anyway, it's nice to feel motivated again. Now, to finish a record, confirm this tour, play a few more Louisville shows, and do all the press releases to the UK.

I'm heading back to play a gig in The Bahamas this weekend though. I hope they have WiFi on the beach. I've got some planning to do.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A blender to the face on a Monday morning.

I am not the most graceful person in the world, but I might be the most stubborn. I like to dance, but I'll probably step on your toes with my cowboy boots. I like to walk on the curbs rather than the sidewalk, but I sometimes fall into the streets. Somehow, I've managed to live thirty-one years without needing stitches (excepting one time when I was 2 and fell in a toilet or something and bumped my chin).

But yesterday morning, I came downstairs to a filthy kitchen and was determined to clean up before cooking breakfast. I'd done a bunch of dishes the night before, but waited until morning to put them away. I took the blender, like I'd done many times before, and reached to put it on top of the refrigerator. At one point, it seemed like the glass pitcher part might be a little wobbly, but it's always been like that. I reached up anyway.

I am wee. 5'4". Not technically "petite," but only an inch off. My fridge is tall. And that glass pitcher from the blender toppled off and smashed me right in the face.

I cried a little while I held various parts of my tooth in my hand and wiped the blood from my lip.

I was still in hysterics when I called the dentist, who made room for me immediately, took x-rays, and "restored the tooth" in what seemed like 10 minutes. Dentists these days are magic.

Also, I learned that I have distinctively pointy canines. Maybe I'm part vampire. That would be cool because vampires are en vogue these days.

Anyway, all this goes to reiterate is that one of the most attractive features in the opposite sex remains: dental insurance.

Monday, January 18, 2010

My football commentary.

So remember how I promised Friend-with-a-Truck a Yankees World Series for his birthday? I toyed with the idea of a Cowboys Superbowl, but then honestly didn't put much effort into it. I liked the Cowboys when I was 7 because they had lots of cheerleaders and their team colors were silver and blue -- like Chanukah. But I can't get as excited about them as I can about the Yankees, so I let it slide this year.

We watched the game anyway though. My mom is a Vikings fan, and my dad was just there for the game. I got bored and lactose-comatose about halfway through the Dundee Dip (the best reason to go to Dundee Tavern) and went browsing at Tuesday Morning. There are loads of unnecessary appliances there, but I restrained myself from buying the creme-brulee torch and old-fashioned espresso maker and went back to Dundee to see that the game was STILL a Vikings runaway. Boooooooooring.

Then I had a few brilliant ideas to make football more exciting.

First, they should tell us what the linebacks ate for breakfast that morning. Those guys are HUGE, and I would love to know how many waffles and steaks they ate, plus how many eggs were in their omelets.

Second, seeing as football uniforms cover up their bodies and faces anyway, I think they should go full-on costume. The game would have been WAY more interesting to me if it had been eleven guys dressed like Vikings versus eleven guys dressed like Cowboys. The weapons would have to be made of styrofoam, and maybe the viking horns as well, but for the most part, they should dress the part. When the Vikings scored a touchdown, the Viking cheerleaders (who are clearly yellow-braided opera singers) would row a ship down the sidelines. Likewise, when the Cowboys scored (if they had ever actually scored yesterday), they could maybe lasso a Viking or two.

Just think of all the possibilities.... The Saints could all be dressed like different saints. Mother Theresa could be Quarterback and they could have a Pope or too, or at least a halo. The Colts would be troubled because horse costumes involve two people -- one for the head and one for the arse. Perhaps they should be allowed 22 players on their team. The Raiders and the Buccaneers would have to come up with distinguishing characteristics when they played each other. But I think my favorite might be the Dolphins. How cute would that be?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Baked Potatoes in Scotland, please.

I have been trying to plan another UK tour, which for one reason or another, has been extraordinarily difficult this time 'round. It's mostly because I've been stupid-busy with boring grown-up crap, and I can't just seem to sit down and get it together. But the one thing that keeps me going is the thought of the Baked Potato Shop in Edinburgh. There is no real website that I've been able to find, which saddens me because I desperately want to email the proprietor. I need to know a few recipes, or at least an ingredient list in several of the toppings.

It's this fantastic little shop with maybe 3 tables -- it's mostly take-out -- that serves only baked potatoes. The beauty lies in the topping choices. They seem endless and, as far as I can remember, are entirely vegetarian. I've eaten here at least three times during each trip I've made to Edinburgh (3 so far), and it's here that I discovered the beauty of corn kernels and cottage cheese on a salty, buttered tatty. You've got to be adventurous when you're in a foreign country.

Here's an idea for you entrepreneurs with more capital than I: please, please open a Baked Potato Shop here. Maybe you can even team up with one of those Shaved-Ice joints. They can be Shaved-Ice in the summer and Baked Potato Shops in the winter. But please, if you open it, find out the recipe for the curried corn and the vegan haggis.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Explain to me again why we don't have flying cars yet?

I just visited my friend's apartment ... in Norway. No, it wasn't another one of those wacky Brigid whirlwind-weekends-to-Europe. It was all from my living room, via my awesome laptop and Skype.

I am completely amazed by Skype. How is it possible that I can talk to my friend, see her, understand her, and have a normal conversation, for absolutely free, while she is in Norway and I am in Kentucky??? It's totally living in the future.

Someone recently asked me if I was interested in teaching piano lessons via Skype, a thought that intrigues me a lot. With all the advances in webcams, it would be easy to do, as long as I could see your fingers on the piano. Maybe I'll try it next week ... I canceled a few lessons because I'm going to be out of the country, but I guess I could always just Skype them from the beach. How cool would it be to just teach all my lessons via Skype? I might actually be able to balance a full tour schedule with lessons. Hmmmm ... anyone out there ever done reason business over webcams? Apparently, it's fairly common.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Celebrity Jeopardy Dreams.

Lots of you have asked what I did over the holidays. I played a lot of Trivial Pursuit. I don't really love that game (sitting still for anything but a book or a song is difficult for me), but I'm pretty good at it. I have an excellent memory for totally useless stuff, something that won't help me at all in the Zombie War. I don't remember your name or that I owe you a phone call, but I remember your birthday and the date that Joseph Stalin died (March 5, 1953). This morning at Joseph's, I remembered that it was my hairdresser's anniversary. I also remember a lot of stuff I learned in high school. They always told me that if I crammed for a test, I'd forget everything. Apparently, that is a lie designed to get you to waste time.

Anyway, I remain undefeated, despite having several mighty foes. Good game, friends.

At one point, Beth declared that I should be on Jeopardy! I immediately dismissed the idea. I tried out for the show when I was 14, and I didn't make it. That deterred me for life. What makes me think I'd make it now? Those people study all the time and memorize lists of Attorney Generals. That is not in my schedule.

Besides, a few nights ago, I watched a round of Jeopardy! and not one of the categories was good for me. Since I don't want to blog all I'm-so-awesome-at-Trivial-Pursuit, then somehow get on real Jeopardy! and fail miserably, -- I just couldn't deal with the in-your-face-you-sucked-at-Jeopardy! comments that would surely follow -- I have decided on a new route for my stint on Jeopardy: I must become famous enough to get on Celebrity Jeopardy!

I think I could kick some serious butt on Celebrity Jeopardy. I know, I know, we ALL can kick butt on Celebrity Jeopardy (cue Sean Connery), but it's my way in. I think it starts in a few weeks, which means they've probably already taped it. I guess I've got a year to study back-issues of People and USWeekly.

Who are your dream contestants on Celebrity Jeopardy? I want to see Rainn Wilson (Dwight from The Office, whose tweets are hilarious if your'e not yet one of his 2 million followers) on it. Or maybe the entire cast of The Office, but playing their characters. Hmmmmm ... so many things to ponder.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Blood and Junk calls and Being Positive.

I haven't had a home phone line since the 1990's. Wait, I think I had one briefly in 2004-5, but that was for dial-up internet only. Anyway, I've enjoyed basically a decade of spam-free-phone. But recently, I've received loads of calls from 800-numbers. I don't answer those calls. I don't want what you're selling, or I would have ordered it 1-click from my phone.

It's nice to be able to Google the phone numbers of junk calls you miss. They never leave messages. I think I'd be more likely to call them back if they actually left a voicemail. Mostly, it's been from my bank. They are just trying to get me to get a new credit card, and I don't want one. Another call has been from my Home Warranty Company, trying to get me to renew my expiring coverage. I don't want to do that either. Last week, I was fed up with them calling 4-5 times a day, and I looked down, saw the bank's 800 number and answered it angrily.

"Hello?"

"Hello, Miss Kaelin?"

"Yes, why do you call me all the time and never leave a message? That is so frustrating. Is this the bank again?"

"Um, no, this is the American Red Cross, and we are very low on your blood type in your area."

It turns out that the 800 numbers of the Red Cross calling center and my bank are very similar. I apologized to the nice lady -- although, admittedly, asking for my blood is a bit more personal than a credit card -- and immediately started dreaming of Nutter Butters and Oatmeal Cream Pies, things that go hand-in-hand with blood donation.

Anyway, that actually put me in a pretty good mood because I'd been meaning to give blood for a while now. I must admit that I felt extra-special to be told that they really needed my "rare blood type." I'm so recessive!

Today, I'm going to live by the wisdome of my blood-type: Be positive!!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Re-discovery of The #2 Pencil.

Saturday night, I was sitting at Heine Brothers with my laptop, several notebooks, a pile of receipts, and Friend-with-a-Truck. It's often hard for me to concentrate at home, and I haven't been able to finish a song there in months. Getting out of chaos that is home -- the unpainted walls, piles and piles of books, scattered piles of receipts that need categorization, and various other chores -- is necessary for me to really accomplish anything. So I do a lot of work at coffee shops.

Friend-with-a-Truck was on his laptop -- an adorable Dell mini, pretty cute for a PC -- and I was writing in a notebook with a brand new #2 pencil. Then something disturbing happened. My pencil became dull due to my vigorous writing, and I reached into my bag, pulled out a little pencil sharpener, and sharpened the pencil to a delectable point. As I finished and returned the sharpener to my purse, I caught Friend-with-a-Truck staring at me.

"That was pretty nerdy, wasn't it ... pulling a pencil sharpener out in public," I said to him.

"Um, yeah, it was."

He still wants to hang out with me though. But he's totally right. What's come over me? Here I used to only like writing with fancy pens, and I'm now one of those people who sharpens pencils in public.

There's just something so fun about writing with a sharp #2 pencil -- the sound the graphite makes as it swirls on the paper, the steady movement of the eraser, the ability to obliterate any thought you want with a few back-and-forth movements, and that quick puff of air you instinctively blow on the paper, following by a wipe of the page.

What can I say? I love school supplies.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A plaything! Yes, maybe it is a plaything.

When I was a kid, I did a lot of acting-type stuff. I'm really not a good actress though. It turns out I'm only good at playing myself. I'm okay at improv, as long as it is me, on-stage, with my band, being Brigid. My lack of acting skills, however, means that I rarely spend time with the theatre.

Until the theatre needs music, that is, specifically music recorded on a bizarro instrument.

Yesterday, I went down to Louisville's internationally regarded Actor's Theatre of Louisville and recorded a nice bit o' Russian folk accordion music for scene changes in Crime and Punishment. Danny came with me to check out the backstage cool stuff that goes on at ATL. He's a sound editor and field recorder who travels the world recording natural sounds (nat sound if you're in the biz) and then putting together sound effects CDs for use in films, websites, etc. My favorite CD of his is called Bird Songs of Mexico, which features 97 tracks of various birds singing, such as the Black-necked Stilt and the Magnificent Frigratebird. He's also one of those people who can pick up random instruments and magically know how to play them. SO while I was recording a Russian folk tune with a fiddle player, Danny found a make-shift Balalaika and joined in on the music-making.

We're going to the show tonight -- snow be damned! -- to hear our awesome background music. But for the record, I was planning on seeing the show before my professional involvement. I like Crime and Punishment , (the novel not the nouns), and I like Actor's Theatre. And as a surprise bonus, it turns out my friend Jessi from elementary, middle, AND high school, is in the play. She is a working actress in New York, so it's always extra cool with a hometown girl is in a show like this.

If you're not afraid of the snow, you should come down and see it tonight. It's opening night. Cool!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The coldest town on earth.

Brrrrrrrrrr. It's cold. But it's not as cold as Yakutsk, Russia.

My friend Danny, The Vegemite King, is still visiting. He's been traveling a bit, and in his travels through frigid climates, he posed the question: what is the coldest inhabited city?

I haven't fact-checked this because his findings were startling enough, without needing to find ANOTHER cold city. Can you believe that around 200,000 people live in Yakutsk, a city in Siberia? The current temperature there -- a city that has real buildings, working stoplights, regular cars, a university, even an airport -- is -38F. That's minus (negative, folks!) thirty-eight degrees Fahrenheit. The high there this week is Minus31, with a low of Minus43. I watched one YouTube video where some Yakutsk-dweller basically says, "It's not really that bad unless it gets to negative 60. Then your lungs start to freeze and it's hard to breathe."

It's stupid cold in Louisville. The last time I bothered to check the temperature, it was 10. I hear it may have risen to 19 today. Hark! Whoo hoo! Rejoice! It has risen! Sorry, folks, when it's under 25 degrees, it all feels the same to me. People who choose to live in Chicago are silly, and those who choose to live in Yakutsk must be seriously troubled.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

First Vegemite of the year.

My friend Danny is in town. He and I went to NYU together and were neighbors in Brooklyn Heights following graduation. You may remember him from the Europe Tour blogs of 2008, when he met me and Peter in London and joined us for part of the tour.

In the video-game version of the tour, Danny's superpower was magic, and his weapon was the Book of Spells. I think he might truly be magical. After a late-night Trivial Pursuit bout, in which Danny and Friend-With-a-Truck tried their best to beat me (fools!), we brought out the two lone tubes of Vegemite which my faithful blog-readers know I keep in the kitchen for emergencies. Danny swore he would have Vegemite for breakfast.

He did.

I had some too, and it wasn't nearly as bad as I remembered. I'm pretty sure that's because we buttered the hell out of that toast before THINLY spreading the Vegemite. And to be fair, I only had one bite, while Danny at two whole pieces of toast.

I also like that the Vegemite tube explains Vegemite's benefits as promoting "energy release and vitality, growth, development, healthy skin, and proper functioning of the nervous system, muscles, and brain." Looking over at Danny now, he is swaying to Barbara Streisand and looks vital, healthy, and like he's growing and developing. Nice work, Vegemite.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Twenty-Ten.

I like good grammar. I cringe when I find a typo in one of my already-published blogs, especially if it's a misplaced comma or apostrophe. I know it's silly to obsess over proper semicolon usage or to feel anger when someone mixes up "your" and "you're," so I try not to let it upset me. But still, it pleases me when I learn something new about the English language. I especially enjoy being right when it sounds wrong, as in the proper pronunciation of the year 2010.

The National Association for Good Grammar sent out a press release announcing that 2010 should officially be pronounced "'twenty ten,' and all subsequent years should be pronounced as 'twenty eleven,' 'twenty twelve,' etc." That's easier to say than "two-thousand ten," and it also makes sense. All those years in the 1980s were pronounced "nineteen-eighty-one," not "one-thousand-nine-hundred-and-eighty-one." Unless you precede all years with "in the year of Our Lord," let's just go with the simple "twenty-ten."

I'm also excited to be able to write MMX on my checks. Although, I can't remember the last time I actually wrote a check.

Me on not-decaf and some yoga thoughts.

HEY IT'S MONDAY, AND THAT DEFINITELY WASN'T DECAF!! Also, I went to yoga this morning, and did about 75% of what the teacher request...