Reviews!

I’m going to share opinions on three things today.

1) The Peak Portable Music Stand
I’d been looking for a new music stand, and even posted a question on Ask MetaFilter looking for recommendations that combined strength and portability. Most of the recommendations were things I’d seen before, but while browsing around on my own I found the Peak stand. I’ve used it at two concerts now, one indoors and one outdoors (on a hill… in the wind), and it works great! It’s a little bulky, but easy to carry from parking to venue as it comes in its own shoulder bag. The metal legs are very sturdy, even on uneven ground, and the top is solid and strong enough to hold my heavy music folder. Coincidentally, another clarinet player in the band got the same stand and debuted it on the same night I did!

2) The Singing Office
I’d been seeing the commercials for this show, I definitely didn’t want to watch it, and yet I somehow found myself watching the premiere last night. It wasn’t even as good as I’d expected it to be. Former N’Sync-er Joey Fatone and former Spice Girl Mel B each pick five members of a workplace (Joey had a hotel and Mel B had a school). The team spends a few days rehearsing a song and some dance moves, they get costumes that are nothing like the clothes Joey and Mel B picked out on their vintage store visits, and then they perform on stage (with a live band!) to a big audience. There was really no contest – even though Mel B’s team included a music teacher, Joey’s team had better costumes and a gymnast who did a backflip.

3) Rock the Reception
I also didn’t need to see this show, but there was a sneak peek after The Singing Office, so what the heck. The premise is that professional choreographers work with a bride and groom (and their bridal party) for a couple weeks before their wedding to create a crazy routine for their first dance. The premiere episode featured an African American couple who did a great dance with their six bridesmaids to “Let it Whip” by the Dazz Band, and a mismatched white couple (she was in theater, he was embarrassed to do anything in public) who ended up doing a pretty good routine to Jet’s “Are You Gonna be My Girl.” Both of the routines turned out pretty well, I guess. I’d like to go to a wedding where they break into something like this. I love the Thriller wedding dance video.

Hot Concert

We played the most horrible, hot, uncomfortable, inconvenient concert tonight. It was at a park way at the western edge of Chester county. It was very hot, humid, and sunny. They had gazebos, but we wouldn’t fit in there, so we set up in the grass in front. Which was on a hill. To minimize people’s music falling over, we were arranged in straight rows facing downhill, rather than in an arc like a band is usually set up. The sun was directly behind the conductor, so nobody could really see. There was a pretty good sized crowd, but they were fairly far away from us, because they were all trying to sit under the trees. After our first piece, a lady came up from the audience and asked if we could turn up the volume. Um… there is nothing to turn up. We were not amplified at all. Maybe if you all weren’t sitting 50 yards away, you could hear a little better!

The crowd seemed very appreciative, they applauded after every piece and gave us a standing ovation at the very end, but during the concert, I did not see one person tapping a foot, bobbing their head, or doing anything to indicate that they were enjoying the music. Seriously, everybody just sat there still. At least they didn’t talk all through the show, we’ve been to places where it was like we weren’t even playing, and that’s annoying.

The situation did not get remotely pleasant until sun had mostly set, about two songs before the end of our show. We were out there for two hours, and we’re all a little sunburned. All I wanted to do when I got home was take a shower, I was so sweaty and disgusting.

Linky Thursday – 6/26

You Don’t Still Use a Screen Saver, Do You?: LCD monitors don’t burn in like CRT monitors did, so there’s really no need for a screen saver. Why not just set your computer to shut the monitor off after a period of inactivity, instead? (I just switched mine – and I’d like to pass this along to someone at work, all the monitors are set to go to screen saver by default, but think of the energy they could save by putting them in standby!)

Fill Your Food Cart Without Busting Your Budget: Tips on getting more, in terms of both quality and quantity, for less money – featuring ten staples to save on: milk, eggs, pasta, bread, cereal, rice, produce, fish, meat, and beans.

RuMe Bags – Early Earth Day: The point of this link is not for you to read about the RuMe reusable bags, which I’ve raved about here several times. Scroll down and read the comments – looks like a competitor is a little sore over having an inferior product! (By the way, here’s a chart that compares RuMe, Envirosax, and Chico bags, if you still need help making up your mind.)

If That Is Your Real Name…: Top 20 Yahoo searches this week for celebrities’ real names, including Miley Cyrus, who has a perfectly good real-life stripper name to fall back on, and the posh-sounding Daniel Lawrence Whitney (aka Larry the Cable Guy).

Good/Bad

Good news: I made us an awesome dinner on Monday night.

Bad news: A pipe broke in the street and we didn’t have water and had to spend the night elsewhere and I had to take the next day off work.

Good news: Because I took Tuesday off work, that means I can’t do summer hours this week, so I get to leave early (i.e. on time) for the rest of the week.

Bad news: But I have to stay for the full day on Friday, instead of only working half a day.

Good news: A couple other girls in my department are working full days on Fridays this summer, so I won’t be alone.

If you’ve seen my Flickr photostream, you see that I’ve started bringing lunches to work again – yay! I really want to work this summer on saving money and not being so fat. We’ll see how I do! (It’s been so hot, I could probably just sweat off some extra weight.)

Water Explosion

I had the most horrible headache at work yesterday. I came home and just slept for an hour or so. I finally managed to get up and make dinner for me and GG. I made corn on the cob, and the buffalo burgers from the farmers’ market – they were awesome! GG made an edict: no more beef in the house, from now on we eat only buffalo.

I still felt awful, but we needed to go to Home Depot to choose the closet doors and medicine cabinet we want the handyman to install. (Oh yeah, did I mention he finally got back to me after a week and a half?) So we did that, plus a couple other errands.

When we got home, there was a crowd of people standing on the street, and the street was full of water. There was a fire truck out (we’re right down the street from the station), so I figured maybe they’d been doing something and that’s why the water was there. Well, we went inside, and we had no water pressure. You could turn the faucet all the way to the max, and just a little trickle of water came out. I had already changed into pajamas because I still had a headache and wanted nothing more than to go to bed, so I sent GG out to see what was up. He came back and said that the fire truck was out because they’d been washing it, but that was unrelated to the main problem: a water pipe under the street burst, and water was gushing out the main hole, plus three other cracks in the road. Once he told me that, I could totally see it from the front window. Not only that, but some of the firemen were standing in the area between two of the cracks, and the road was bouncing up and down.

I called my grandmother to see if we could spend the night at her house, thinking we might be without a reasonable water supply for up to a day or two. She said that was fine, we could stay in the spare bedroom, so I filled up the cats’ food and water bowls, filled up our water pitcher (in case the water was shut off totally), and packed a bag. As we were leaving (well over an hour after the flood started), a truck pulled up to work on the pipe. By this point, the water coming out was brown and muddy. GG talked to the guys a little, and they claimed they would have the leak fixed that night.

We still went to Gramom’s house, because I decided it would suck if we woke up and the water was still off. GG had to go to work in the morning, though I had already called in to take a personal day (just in case I had to stay home and do anything). So we spent the night in a nice bed with central air and a cat sleeping with us – I actually slept better than I had in a few weeks, thanks to the A/C.

GG got up at 5 AM, took a shower, and left for work. I got up around 6 AM, took a shower, talked to Gramom for a little while, and left by 7 (to miss rush hour traffic on the way home). When I got home, I saw the street was patched up, and I figured they wouldn’t have patched it if they weren’t finished working, so that was a good sign. I went in and turned on the water, and yes! It worked! So now I have running water and a day off :o)

Farmers’ Market, Cleaning, Style Site

I got up early this morning (well, the cats tried to wake me up, I didn’t get up until my alarm went off at 8 AM), did some cleaning around the house, and then went to pick Julie up to go to the farmers’ market. Somehow she is the only person I’ve gone with this season? This week was much better than the last time we went, which was the first market of the season. There’s a lot more produce by now. I got some lettuce, multi-colored carrots, cherries (for GG), cave-aged cheddar cheese (from the Amish!), and four buffalo burger patties (they came in a pack of eight, Julie and I split them). I really like the atmosphere of the PFM – it’s very small, and you can go from booth to booth and just buy a couple items from everyone. It’s like what markets in other countries are like – I wish they had it every day, or at least more than once a week, because I would totally do all my shopping there. Also at the market, we saw a table set up with brochures for the Phoenixville Area Time Bank. I think this is such a neat idea! If my community did something like this, I would definitely get involved. Think Phoenixville would let me edge in on their action?

After I put everything away at home, I got some lunch, and then in a fit of inspiration I cleaned the bathroom! (Still need to mop, I think.) Tonight I will probably do laundry, though I still have to fold last week’s laundry – I hate when I let it go this long. For now, I will curl up with Sacha (he’s so snuggly!) for the nap that I think I have earned. Oh, and tomorrow I will hopefully get out to Ikea and buy a new desk chair! My chair is five years old and was the cheapest one they sold at Staples. It’s always been creaky and weird, but lately screws have been falling out of it and it’s started making really loud sounds for no reason if I shift around while sitting in it. So it’s time to upgrade, I think.

One more thing I wanted to share, I discovered Strawberry Kitten via some pictures Rachel-Marie posted. This girl is German, she is stylish, and she’s adorable! Haha … I wish I put some effort into how I looked, instead of just wearing the same thing every day. But I feel like at this point, if I changed the way I dress, everyone would start commenting on it and I hate that. So I’ll continue going to work in black pants and a plain t-shirt with a cardigan, and equally boring outfits.

The Happening

Last night we went to see The Happening. We’d wanted to see it for a while (it was filmed in the area, and I knew there were places in it we’d recognize), but then it was getting all those bad reviews, so we weren’t sure, but I still thought we should see it. My official verdict: if you are a fan of M. Night Shyamalan and you wanted to see the movie, you should still go see it. Otherwise, maybe wait for the DVD, or just read the synopsis on Wikipedia.

Without giving too much away, the premise of the film is basically that nature is fighting back against humans. But, the scariest parts of the movie are the various encounters the main characters have with the hicks of Pennsyltucky. The time they spend at this scary old woman’s house in Nowheresville, PA are the most frightening moments of the film.

So the moral of the story was probably supposed to be that humans are screwing up the planet and we should watch out. But that gets overshadowed a little by the second moral of the story, which is to stay the heck out everywhere between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

Mark Wahlberg was not quite believable as a science teacher. He was too conversational with his class, and come on, what teacher runs and hides like that (in front of students!) when the vice principal comes in? I did really like John Leguizamo’s math teacher character. He was really into math, spouting out percentages and doing math riddles right up until the end…

For locals: There is a scene shot at the G Lodge on Rt. 23 in Valley Forge (renamed the Filbert Diner for the movie), as well as a long-ish scene out on the road in front of the restaurant. I’ve never actually been to the G Lodge, but we always laugh at it when we drive by, and also Julie and Brad ordered a pizza from there once by mistake. There’s also a scene that I think I read was shot in Royersford, where you see the Limerick towers in the background. And Ukee Washington appears as… a TV newscaster in Philadelphia.

Linky Thursday – 6/19

107-Year-Old NH Man to Lead Andover Alumni Parade: This guy is famous for a) being 107, b) turning down a job offer from Thomas Edison, and c) not getting along with schoolmate Humphrey Bogart.

ASL Fergalicious: I found this while surfing around YouTube. I am so impressed with these people! Whether they can hear or not, their fast signing and choreography is still impressive. There’s other songs done in ASL, too, like this RENT medley that I think is amazing (part 1, part 2).

Here Comes the Bride, There Goes Your Wallet?: Good article about giving wedding gifts, including comments from faaabulous TV wedding planner Steve Kemble. (Also, check out Too Broke to be Your Maid of Honor.)

The Blumenburger: The world’s most labor-intensive hamburger, named for its creator, chef Heston Blumenthal (who practices molecular gastronomy). The burger takes 30 hours to make, and involves baking your own buns, forming your own cheese slices, grinding your own meat, and producing your own tomato concentrate.

Things I Did This Weekend

In mostly choronological order:

  • Took my grandmother to Longwood for dinner and to see The Savoy Company perform Patience. The show was excellent, plus we ended up with great seats!
  • Got lost somewhere in southwestern Chester County after taking a wrong turn on the way home from Longwood.
  • Arrived home an hour after GG accidentally locked himself out of the house (that happened at 11 PM) and walked around the neighborhood to get pizza and ice cream while he waited for me to let him in.
  • Cleaned the kitchen, bathroom, living room, and laundry room.
  • Paid bills and balanced my checkbook.
  • Received a blank party invitation from Julia – guess that means I can show up whenever I want! But called her and got it straightened out.
  • Dealt with ants (possibly carpenter ants) that are inexplicably appearing in our living room. They are on the front window, the curtains, and the window sill, as well as the floor in front of the window. The cats don’t seem to notice or mind their presence. We’ve put out ant traps (indoors and out), and filled in the hole we thought they were coming from, but they keep turning up. However, by the time we see them on the window sill, they look half-dead, so maybe the traps are working, or maybe they’re coming from elsewhere just to die.
  • Saw Hal Sparks at Helium. Pat Barker and Chris Bonno opened. Everyone was very very funny (Chris didn’t impress me right away, but as soon as he asked who were the cat people in the audience vs. the dog people, it won me over). Afterwards, I wanted to see Hal, but there was a long line and GG got caught up talking to Pat, who he sort of knows from open mics and stuff. So instead, I asked Pat to please relay this important message to Hal: If he’s going to grow his hair out long, he has got to keep his hands out of it! Approximately 35% of his set was spent brushing his shoulder-length hair out of his face.
  • Went shopping for all our dinners this week, and made chicken salad.
  • Did laundry.
  • Listened to a lot of NPR.
  • Repositioned the air conditioner in the front bedroom window about five times because it kept slipping off the board we keep it balanced on, and I was worried it might fall out the window.

News, News, Breaking News

The PA smoking ban was passed!

In other news, that handyman, Luis, came over last night. I’d assumed he was Mexican, but actually I think he must be Spanish. (He had kind of a European air about him, and his accent wasn’t like the other Mexicans’ I’ve met.) I took him through the house and showed him everything we wanted done. It felt like I was on Flip That House, going around with my contractor: “We want to switch out these doors, we want to replace this trim…” He said he could send two guys and get everything finished in a day! That would be great. He’s going to send me his proposal by e-mail. Depending on how this goes, there’s potentially a bunch more stuff we could have him and his guys do…

GG called me shortly after I left for work this morning – apparently our front windowsill has been overrun by ants! Ivan was sitting there and didn’t even seem to notice the ants all around him. GG looked them up and decided they’re carpenter ants. He found the hole they’re coming in, and sprayed bug spray down it. Then he set up an ant trap (taped down, so cats won’t eat it). Today he’ll pick up some spackle and I’ll patch up the hole tonight, but in the meantime I think he covered it with electrical tape. There’s not that much wood there – our house is brick and plaster, the windows are plastic and metal. It’s really just the frame of the window, so I don’t know why they’ve decided to set up shop there.

And finally… GG bought tickets for us to go see my first celebrity crush on Saturday night!

No Linky Thursday this week, I got nothin’.