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Archive for the ‘Shearwater’ Category

Stonewall Kitchen peach-amaretto jam next to a Big French Haut-Medoc

Jason's chana saag + some arugula

Burt's Bees Lip Shimmer (Pickles at left)

The plank pose (not me in the photo obviously)

One of Henry Giroux's books

Maria Bonnevie from the film "I am Dina"

A beautiful view from Kennebunkport, Maine (the only thing missing from this picture are cliff-dwelling pugs)

Cat photography: Mr. Fernzee having a blissed-out moment

So my blog-skeptic friends would take one look at this and say something to the effect of, “why would you think people would find your ‘best of” list to be remotely interesting?”  Said question implies, of course, that bloggers are narcissistic enough to have the audacity to think other people would be interested in what they think.  I totally see the point.  Alas, considering the only people who read my blog (I think) are members of my immediate family and pretty close friends…I mean, if any of them wrote this sort of list, you better bet I’d be interested.  Ya know?

So anyway, spring this year has been pretty special and beautiful, so I decided to compile the aforementioned “best of” list for spring ’10.  I know a hearty handful of my friends and family share very similar interests, so hopefully at least some of you will find this interesting.  🙂

1. Music: I know it’s old news at this point for those of you who have any knowledge whatsoever of my music taste, but SHEARWATER – their entire catalog is amazing.  A beautiful combination of rock…and well, just mystical music, some of which does indeed sound a bit “folksy,” though I know Jonathan Meiburg, their frontman, doesn’t care for said label.  And two, TORI AMOS: her live catalog from the late 90s.  Anything from 1996-1999.  Watch out.  She is the world’s ultimate musical bad ass and never fails to amaze me (minus her recent ventures into plastic surgery & strange fascination with the word “sin”).  See youtube video for amazingness predating plastic surgery.

2. Food: Vegetables prepared at home.  My foodie quartet members and I always seem to come back to one topic of discussion: brussel sprouts and/or cauliflower & the preparation of such.  My personal favorite: roasted brussel sprouts drizzled with olive oil & honey with some fresh ground pepper & sea salt.  Thanks to Kate, I now know to put nutmeg on my cauliflower.  What a savory sensation!  Hannah recommended preparing brussel sprouts with parmesan cheese, lemon juice, olive oil & salt/pepper.  Wonderful!  The picture I’ve included above is of a remarkable dish that Jason made — it’s basically Indian chana saag, using whatever spices we had at home.  Cheap, delicious, healthy.  Doesn’t get much better than that.

3. Wine: I’ve had many a wonderful bottle of wine in 2010, but I think the robust red given to me by Angie Sommerfeld takes the cake (no pun intended, though she did indeed so generously give me said bottle at my 30th bday party…thanks, Angie!!!!).  It is a BIG RED: “Chateau Larose-Trintaudon Haut-Medoc” 2005.  Sadly, I am not drinking it right now, but it was bursting with cherry and just too delicious to not mention here.

4.  Treat: Stonewall Kitchen peach-amaretto jam.  I swear, I could eat the stuff by itself.  And if you’re vacationing in Maine, do visit Stonewall Kitchen.  They have outstanding cooking classes, a wonderful cafe, and TONS of food-related merch.  Thanks to Gillian for introducing me!

5. Vacation destination: Kennebunkport, Maine.  This is a beautiful, charming town with an abundance of fabulous restaurants.  Check out HB Provisions for lobster rolls, “crabster paninis,” dog treats, coffee, breakfast sandwiches, and the world’s BEST ice cream.  Last holiday season, when J & I went there for Thanksgiving (after the birth of my niece!), we got pumpkin ice cream AND peppermint stick ice cream.  Totally to die for.  Oh, and whoopie pies are native to Maine.  They’re basically giant oreos, but the chocolate part is like devil’s food cake.  Utter decadence.

6. Exercise: yoga plank pose.  After years & years of doing crunches with very so-so results, the plank pose really targets your core muscles.  You will notice a difference, I promise.  I do many reps, holding as long as I can.  I have the “squishy middle” gene, no doubt, and this has helped.  Pair it with some cardio and maybe some weight training & you’re good to go (wow, that sounded really corny).

7.  Movie: “I am Dina” with the Scandinavian actress Maria Bonnevie.  It’s a very, very intense & dark movie, but Bonnevie does one of the best imitations of a cellist I’ve ever seen.  I mean, with the exception of the narrow, nervous vibrato, she really does look like she’s actually playing.  Plus, she’s just amazing to look at, in addition to a couple other beautiful male actors (NOT including Gerard Depardieu! sorry…) in the film.

8. Authors/theorists: Henry Giroux.  He’s written on everything from Tiger Woods to the messed up messages of Disney movies to the films, “Kids” and “Fight Club” to the Bush administration to the Obama administration…  He’s a genius, in my opinion.  http://www.henryagiroux.com/online_articles.htm

9. Beauty: Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmer.  After years of dealing with weird white stuff around the corners of my mouth (apparently very elderly people are NOT the only victims of this problem), I’ve finally found lip balm that does not render me with this unfortunate issue.  Happily, you can buy Burt’s Bees at Duane Reade, Ricky’s, and a million other beauty purveyors.  It also has tea tree in it, I think, so it has this lovely cooling sensation.  Long lasting too.  LOVE it.  It beats, Kheil’s, for those of you who love Kheil’s.

10.  Task of the moment: Broadening one’s career horizons.  Need I say more?

11. Hobby/pastime: Cat photography.  I have three cats & they are all like my children & my best friends.  Jason would agree, though we could both do without the unbelievably excessive amounts of white cat hair EVERYWHERE.  Anyway,  Mr. Burns is the most fun to photograph while he’s “bathing,” because he just looks sooooo happy &  blissed-out.  When anxious, look at a photo of him with that blissful look on his face.  It will lower your blood pressure, I promise.  His little pink nose is too much.

One of my favorite Tori performances from the late 90s.  It’s from “Sessions at W 54th” hosted by sexy Talking Heads frontman, David Byrne.  This performance gets more & more intense as it goes along.  Amazing.  Sorry, people, this makes Lady Gaga look like she’s in kindergarten.  With all due respect to Lady Gaga, of course.  😉  Also, a 1999 performance of Blood Roses.

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The monks...when they sing in tune, they're amazing, esp. Dave Gahan at right

Big Dave -- hard to beat his guitar playing, but what a voice!!!

Jonathan Meiburg of Shearwater – what a voice!

The last time I sang (like, really sang — not singing Suzuki cello pieces to students during their lessons) was in Mr. Kerlee’s fifth grade chorus…we did  “All God’s Creatures Have a Place in the Choir” and Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” among other gems.  Mr. Kerlee was the best.  🙂

Anyway, despite my die-hard fandom for female artists such as Tori, Joni, & Kate Bush, I do indeed love, love, love beautiful male vocals.  And to be honest, I’d say my interest in female musicians vs. male musicians is probably split down the middle…or at least 60-40.  I mean, who in my family can ever forget my obsession with Joe Perry, Robert Smith, or Dave Gilmour?  Sting made his way in there too, probably before his days of tantric yoga and “adult contemporary pop.”

But I really do indeed find myself incredibly moved by beautiful male voices, I think perhaps because I’m such a girl’s girl, and to hear men be so expressive & vulnerable yet powerful sounding can be profoundly moving.

Okay, so here it goes…I get particular amusement from this because I really don’t know much about vocal ranges, who goes where in the chorus, etc., so I’m kind of guessing here.

1. Tenor/high tenor: Jonathan Meiburg of Shearwater — stunning voice, sometimes heavenly, sweet & church-choir-esque, sometimes powerful & angry & sensual.  What a range!

2. Tenor/Baritone: Dave Gilmour of Pink Floyd — such a beautiful, tender yet masculine voice.  Just check out Comfortably Numb.  Ahhh….

3. Baritone 1: Brendan Perry of Dead Can Dance — one of the most gorgeous, spiritual, & sexy male voices I’ve ever heard.  Ah!

4. Baritone 2: David Bowie…need I say more?  Oooooohhhhhh…..(He can also pull off tenor, yes?)

5. Baritone 3: Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode — I always thought the guys from Depeche Mode sounded a bit like monks chanting to 80s electronica.  So ideally, we could get all of them together, including Alan Wilder who left the band in the early 90s.  The other guys would be tenors, I guess.

6. Last but not least, Bass: Jason Rigby.  Gorgeous voice & a ton of character.  Perhaps surprisingly, he has some serious singing experience under his belt…though I do believe he would not want me to disclose the details of said experience.  In any event, he is a wonderful singer and has a bad ass ear!!!!  Oh, and theatrical inclinations which could only enhance any group.  No question, he would be in this stellar set-up.

One of the best performances ever, by anybody, in my opinion.  Listen to that voice!  It’s a slow burn, but man, he is amazing in this…

And for those of you with more spiritual inclinations, this is amazing.  Again, what a voice!  I think he may be singing in Aramaic here.  This also features Lisa Gerrard (also of Dead Can Dance) who sings on the Gladiator soundtrack for what it’s worth.  Brendan Perry’s voice is soooooo beautiful.  I really think he sounds like a much, much better Eddie Vedder.  I think EV surely listened to Brendan for inspiration, which time-wise, would have made sense.

And last but not least, Depeche mode singing “Everything Counts.”  Pardon the idiot American roadies in the beginning.  Ugh.  Anyway, Dave Gahan’s singing is stellar in this, as is the rest of the band’s.  At 1:52 they have a beautiful singing moment.  Long live the 80s. (Martin Gore’s outfit at 1:39 is my fave of the whole video!)  haha…

So who would be in your group?….:-)

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One of the Philabaum lemons being put to good use

My mom has always said that when my dad traveled, she would resort to really, really simple eating — like, cereal for dinner.  While I relate  to that approach to “single/alone” dining, I really do enjoy making quality meals for myself that do indeed take some preparation, & some- albeit simple- planning.

My husband is an absolutely outstanding cook…without exaggeration, one of the best I’ve ever had the pleasure to encounter.  I’ll never forget the first time he made his famous “northwoods mushroom pasta” back in March of 2005 to the soundtrack of Nick Drake, Miles Davis, Iron & Wine, and John Coltrane/Johnny Hartman (the most romantic record I’ve ever heard).  Anyway, said mushroom pasta resulted from an extraordinarily complicated recipe involving various types of mushrooms — fresh and dried –, homemade mushroom broth, etc.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been out for dinner when I’ve literally thought, “Jason could do this better at home…or I could even do this better at home!”  So we dine at home as much as possible, and his approach in the kitchen is a beautiful sight to behold.  His dishes tend to resemble those at Supper, NYC’s absolutely wonderful east village Italian.

With that said, Jason is out of town…a lot.  But rather than shying away from the kitchen & opting for cereal (a la Catherine Riley – who, btw, is also an outstanding cook) or take- out (a la undergrad years), I consistently venture into food preparation with some hopefully fresh produce, almost always olive oil, usually some greens, and probably a dairy element — like goat cheese or parmesan.  I love salads, dried fruit, avocado, broiled chicken breasts, etc.

So the Philabaum lemons: one of my dearest friends, Aubyn Philabaum, is from Tucson.  I was very happy to see her last night for a (albeit wretchedly torturous) Bikram yoga class followed by an absolutely lovely dinner at Aubyn’s Hell’s Kitchen apartment.  I brought some french white wine — in terms of the Ninth Ave wine store’s chilled selections, it was that or a $7 bottle of Chardonnay, which I most definitely was NOT going to purchase…plus I was so spent from the Bikram torture that I could hardly think.  The camel pose was the last straw.  So back to the dinner: Aubyn is a wonderful cook, always has health in mind, and really knows how to season.  She knows good food & wine…like, really, really.  What could be better for a culinary combination?  She made two kinds of fish — halibut & tilapia, a lovely salad with avocado & cucumber, and some red potatoes.  So the lemons:  Her parents apparently have this lemon tree — that, surprisingly has produced oranges…yes, oranges one year when it…well, just decided not to produce lemons.  But anyway, I guess her lovely parents decided to send Aubyn all these gorgeous lemons…tons of them.  So she passed quite a few on to me.  I like to think of them as good luck charms as we enter springtime and my April 8th deadline.

I LOVE lemons…in the winter, our apartment is ridiculously freezing, so I frequently drink hot, hot, hot water with squeezed lemon in it.  Or I squeeze lemon in tea.  But what to do with so many lemons?  Hot toddies anyone?  For you Tori fans out there (I know you’re sadly few & far between):  “Lemon pie, he’s coming through.  Our commander still, Space Dog.”

Salad dressing!  I love salad, so I made a big batch of salad dressing to store in the fridge.  Chopped/minced garlic, olive oil, some salt and pepper, and lots of freshly squeezed Philabaum lemons.  Perfect!  And earlier today, I squeezed some over some broiled chicken I was making…salt, pepper, olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon.  Really, the simplest things are the best, n’est pas?  The garlic in the salad dressing is super potent.  I hope my body shows mercy to the poor soul next to me at the gym tomorrow.  At least no Bikram in the cards this week.  😉

Quick note re. cooking music: usually J & I put on Joni’s “Song to a Seagull,” “For the Roses,” or “Clouds” while we’re cooking & eating dinner.  “I Had a King” is probably my favorite bit of Joni poetry ever.  Since Joni is really an “us” thing, I’ve been listening to the entire catalog (pretty much) of Shearwater albums.  “Palo Santo,” “Rooks,” “the Golden Archipelago” while J has been away.  Jonathan Meiburg has sort of substituted for Jason…at least in the cerebral sense. 😉  Shearwater is playing in NYC next weekend and I cannot wait!

Happy eating, happy lemoning…or “turning lemons into lemonade,” to use the parlance of our times.   😉  “Come in lemon pie, can you read me, lemon pie?  I read you, buddy.”

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Shearwater; Meiburg at right

Thanks to NPR’s soundcheck, to which I was listening as I reluctantly drove to Larchmont to teach private lessons on Monday, I discovered Shearwater, led by frontman/singer/guitarist/pianist, Jonathan Meiburg.  What a revelation hearing this music was!   It is truly some of the most beautiful, passionate, atmospheric music I’ve heard in ages.  When I got home after teaching that night, I immediately downloaded the new Shearwater record, “the Golden Archipelago.”  Meiburg is apparently an ornithologist, which to me, makes his music even more interesting.  Bird lovers unite.  🙂  Since I don’t have the tangible CD (I will indeed buy it since I still appreciate having the artwork in my hands) I don’t have the lyrics; they’re not on the web, at least to my knowledge, maybe because Shearwater isn’t hugely popular, so no one has put the lyrics online.  Anyway, am very curious about the lyrics, because Meiburg, as beautiful as his voice is — and it is truly beautiful–is very hard to understand.  The impression I get –and also thanks to Soundcheck– is that the subject matter is geared around nature, Meiburg’s travels, his interest in birds, and his studies in remote cultures around the world.  So as much as I’d love to think that his haunting & passionate melodies are expressed through lyrics depicting torrid love affairs, I don’t think that’s the case.  But still, how intriguing?!?  I did read that Meiburg was influenced by Pink Floyd, esp. “the Final Cut.”

This man has an absolutely gorgeous voice and a deeply mystical approach to melody & harmony.  I have very specific musical artists to which I could compare him, but I’m going to refrain.  In essence, he is truly unique.  One of my favorite songs, “God Made Me,” is not available for me to paste anywhere here, but it’s a great one.

This song is called “An Insular Life,” and it’s one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard.  When he first starts singing, it reminds me of a hymn or monks singing…and then it seems to take on a poignantly romantic vibe (but like, torrid, unexplainable, crazy, spiritual love, and mourning the loss of it…or longing for it anyway)…however, I do not think this song is about romantic love.  But let’s just pretend.  In any event, it must be spiritual.  That is, deeply personal, deeply mystical.  I love the title, and I presume this is about the feeling of isolation Meiburg felt when he was in remote places.  Supremely beautiful.  I wish I could thank him for writing such a beautiful song.

This video shows Meiburg playing a very gorgeous song called “Hidden Lakes;”  He also speaks very eloquently about the inspiration behind “the Golden Archipelago.”  Note his beautiful bird pictures on the piano.  So lovely.

And here’s a very beautiful, but short promo video for the album; I think you can hear the instrumental epic quality of Pink Floyd in this (and others, of course):

Happy listening.  This music is really magical.  xoxo ~L

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