At this time of year it is no surprise that I am reminded of one of my favorite songs of all time, "My Funny Valentine," the Rogers and Hart standard composed in 1937.
It's a simple, short song but there's so much material there to work with, and I'm not surprised that so many recording artists (over 600) have interpreted it. With the advent of iTunes, I've been able to gather nearly a hundred different versions of "My Funny Valentine," each of which thrills and touches me in a unique way.
I don't have the blog-fu necessary to post individual sound clips of my favorites, but you can find many of them at iTunes. Be sure to check out Dinah Shore, Elvis Costello, Anita O'Day (perhaps my favorite version, on the album pictured at left -- GREAT album!), Chet Baker, Linda Rondstadt, Bobby Darin, Jerry Garcia, Dianne Reeves, Chaka Khan, and of course Mr Sinatra. And if you've got a couple minutes to spare at YouTube, here is Chaka Khan performing a particularly nice jazzy version, and here is a rather creepy version by Jon Bon Jovi (it just does to show you the incredible range of what can be done with this simple little song!).
One day I came home from work to find that Sandy, my six month old Siamese kitten, had ruined an entire case of Costco toilet paper. She'd pulled open the heavy-duty plastic wrap and then went to town demolishing the individual rolls. There was shredded plastic everywhere, and I did not find a single roll that escaped unscathed.
You're probably thinking, "Suck it up, Suz -- surely her tiny teeth and claws could only dig into the outer layers, so just unwrap the shredded layers and use what's left in the middle." Yes, this was my initial thought too. Unfortunately, all those tiny punctures function like those newfangled staplers that don't use staples, piercing a tab through each layer and securing it by tucking it between deeper layers. Unrolling one of these hassled rolls is totally impossible. It comes off in skinny shreds, useless for anything...
Or is it? Does anyone know a crafty thing I could do with bushels of shredded toilet paper?? I thought of the toilet paper casting that Nicole Landy wrote about in ARTitude Zine #5 but even that calls for complete sheets of tp... If you have any suggestions, please comment!
I cleverly wrote several blog posts in advance since I knew I'd be unable to blog over the long holiday weekend, but I left them all as "drafts" and forgot to set publish times. Whoops! So there will be a flurry of short, possibly inconsequential posts while I get caught up.
Here are some photos for you collage artists to drool over -- the magnificent wall o' paper at Sterling Art in Costa Mesa, California. I had to go down there recently to pick up some supplies for the LK Ludwig workshop I'm taking next weekend, and I didn't need any fancy paper but I couldn't help taking a peek. It's kind of ridiculous but it's like a walk down Memory Lane for me; at each section of paper samples I can point to at least nine or ten and say, "Oh, I loved using that one! Hey, I still have some of that one somewhere... Wow, I used that one in such-and-such-project I gave to so-and-so twelve years ago..." and so on. If I ever bothered to add up all the prices I'd faint dead away, right there in the aisle.
Hello, my name is Suz and I am a paper junkie. A recently (temporarily?) reformed one, anyway, because I have been giving my paper stash away to numerous zine subscribers five ounces at a time, and I managed to resist buying any new papers on this visit to Sterling. Although there was a gorgeous new one, grapey purple paper shot through with shiny raised red threads, and a pale green pulpy sheet printed with delicate pea blossoms and tendrils...I mean, just look at the five colors of mulberry paper embossed to resemble crocodile skin!! Must...step...away...
This is Disneyland's secret restroom. If you are very nice to me, I might tell you where it is (but then I might have to kill you). As you can see, it is a clean and spacious one-seater -- YES, privacy!!
I spent all day at Disneyland yesterday with my friend Vivian (whom I've known since seventh grade gym class) and her sister Yvonne (who was in town for a conference). Other than the remarkably warm weather, it was a typical February Tuesday with light crowds, so we managed to do a lot; the only long (hour+) line we encountered all day was for the Finding Nemo submarine ride, which is new and extremely popular. Yummy snacks, lots of laughs, a good time was had by all.
My other longtime friend Maria has never met Vivian, and they both refer to each other as "Suz's imaginary friend," so here is photographic proof of Vivian's existence. Of course, Maria will just insist that I enlisted some complete strangers for this photo. Whatever. I know the difference between my real and imaginary friends. :)
Last night I watched a terrific documentary called Air Guitar Nation (you can catch it on VH1 on Wednesday afternoon, if you're interested). It's about the 2003 Air Guitar World Championships, held in Finland each year for the past eleven years. 2003 was the first year that Americans competed in this truly international event. The Finns who founded it say that if hands are occupied playing air guitar, they cannot hold rifles -- they're pretty much serious about this, too. Air shredding for world peace!
I love to do karaoke but there are numerous songs I won't sing, because they are saddled with big long guitar solos where there's nothing to sing, and I just have to stand there hoping to not look too dorky. So I have often thought about developing some rudimentary air guitar chops, to get me through that awkward passage in the middle of Heart's "Magic Man." Back in high school I was proficient in the art of air drumming (I can still do a decent job on Pretenders II) but so far air guitar eludes me -- or let's put it this way: my body doesn't bend backward far enough for a truly bravura performance. Maybe I should take up yoga first...
The best competitors treat air guitar almost like performance art, with awesome costumes and 60 seconds of primo rock god posturing. It's the names that capture my imagination: Sonyk Rok! The Rockness Monster! The Red Plectrum! Roxy McStagger!
One of the imaginary-ax-wielding maniacs featured in the documentary goes by the magnificent stage name of Bjorn Turoque, and he's written a book about his career in air guitar (in real life he writes for the NY Times). I'm even going to buy this one at a real bookstore at full price, that's how much I love this guy.
I am currently experiencing the best kind of Monday: the Monday when you don't have to go to work but everybody else does. Neener neener! If you, dear reader, suffer the misfortune of being at work right now, at least you have the good sense to be wasting time looking at blogs while you're on the clock. :)
I am taking a couple vacation days today and tomorrow, sort of mental health days (at my rapidly advancing age, I finally learned to schedule these in on a regular basis before I actually need them for crisis management). Today I'm still working pretty hard, albeit doing housework and shipping zine orders, and then on Tuesday I get to play at Disneyland all day.
The mailman brought my package of gifties from Randi's valentine swap so now I have tons of nifty stuff to enjoy on Thursday. In the meantime, here's a peek at the ATC valentines I created. These quotes are among my favorites and it sure won't hurt to have these thoughts tucked into books and drawers where I will stumble across them and absorb their messages almost subliminally...
I picked up this Street Art Colouring Book for a friend who is obsessed with graffiti. It's pretty cool -- it teaches you about various types of graffiti lettering and styles by superimposing outlined examples onto black and white photographs of blank walls around London. I hope you like it, Randi! Happy birthday/anniversary/Valentines Day!
Driving up to Carol's house yesterday for the Valentines Tea, I saw some amazing graffiti, but pulling over on the freeway to photograph it was not an option.
My favorite piece of graffiti, well technically it was a poster, was a very simple b/w headshot of Tony Danza (circa Taxi) with "food." stenciled on his forehead. It was just so cryptic, and whoever put them up kept putting them up for months but only in one area (right after the "high speed" portion of Lincoln Blvd that goes along the north side of LAX, where it turns right and goes under an overpass). They'd get taken down but then a week later fresh ones would be up. I saw them every day because at the time I was housesitting a place on the beach in Malibu (an 18-month gig, on and off -- ahh, those were the days!) so it was on my way home. Now I only travel that way once a month or so, but I haven't seen old Tony in at least five years. I hope he is mystifying people in a new part of town.
This morning I went to the farmers market with exactly two objectives: buy more of that amazing balsamic vinegar because I gave mine away, and get my knives sharpened so my cooking process is less of a hack job. I was in a big hurry but I had to kill time while the knife sharpening dude did his thing, and during that brief wait I managed to acquire fragrant strawberries, sweet limes, a bag of juicy Page tangerines (the Satsumas with the zippy loose skin are past their prime now), a quart of turkey albondigas (Mexican meatball soup), a chunk of artisanal Gruyere, and some basil, onions and cherry tomatoes to turn that Gruyere into a nice savory tart tomorrow. So much for only buying vinegar...
I was in a big hurry because I had a party to go to in the afternoon, and I still wanted to bake something for the Valentines potluck. I made two batches of Grandma Johnson's Scones (google it, it's worth it), one batch with dried blueberries and lime zest, and the other with dried cranberries, orange zest and pecans. I am not usually a scone person, because most scones I have eaten could be used as building material or compact weapons. But this recipe produces the lightest, most tender pastries I have ever tasted. (Thanks for the recipe, Jennifer!) Not too sweet, and perfectly crumbly. I forgot to take a photo. Next batch. I don't have another party to attend, but my imagination is dancing around the notion of scones punctuated with dried cherries and white chocolate chips...or apricots and almonds...
The Valentines tea party was at Carol Parks' home/studio in NoHo. I have had the pleasure of taking a couple art workshops at Carol's place and was delighted to be invited to the party, which I learned is a 23-year tradition. Great group of women, wonderful food, colorful belly dancers as the surprise entertainment, and out on the patio Carol would write an impromptu poem inspired by the word of one's choice for $5. Then we all lined up our decorated shoe boxes and passed out handmade valentines, just like back in the second grade. I am saving mine to look at on the 14th, but what I glimpsed makes it hard to stick to that resolution! Good thing I am all about delayed gratification.
In case you are wondering, yes of course I commissioned a poem. On the long drive up to NoHo my mind was wandering, and I decided that while "lozenge" has been my favorite word for quite a long time now, my new favorite word is "relish." I like words that function as multiple parts of speech, and I like the way "relish" sounds and feels in my mouth -- that lascivious "rrrrrr!" at the beginning, the lilting "li" in the middle and the conspiratorial "ssshhhh" at the end. Here is the poem Carol Parks composed for me: