I woke up this AM feeling kind of sickly, like I'm coming down with a cold: achy, sniffly, that sort of thing. It feels like the whole month of January I've been fighting something or other in the cold/flu department - as well as doing mano-a-mano combat with my usual depressive/anxious/OCD tendencies - and as wicked-frigid as it's been, I haven't been able to get out walking as much as I'd like.
Parenthetically, it was around twenty below zero last night, with wind-chill factors of forty below, and at mid-morning as I write this, it's still ten below. Gaahhh! The only place fit for walking at these temps is indoors, at the mall, or at a track in the gym. Where the bleep is that dastardly Global Warming the Chicken Littles keep prattling on about?
Okay, where was I? Anyway, I haven't been able to get out walking as much as I prefer, but since I've had the past couple of days off on Daddy Duty®, I did squeeze in a brisk 5km walk at the mall yesterday AM, and hoped to again today, but I'm just not going to make it. I have to take the girls to appointments all PM, and I'm not feeling at all well. Gawd, I wish I had a gallon of Lotsa Pulp Tropicana Orange Juice right now.
Oh yeah, I'm wearing a pair of Wrangler Thinsulate-Lined Jeans, just about the warmest jeans ever. I paid a visit to Kaplan's - clothing store in Minneapolis - earlier this month and bought a whole lotta stuff, spent nearly three hundred dollars, and my haul included these jeans. I've seen fleece-lined ones before, but I didn't know that they even made them with Thinsulate, and I gotta tell you, if you need to be outdoors in weather like this, having a pair of insulated jeans makes a huge difference. I just don't know how I got thru some thirty-plus winters here in Minnesohcold without owning a pair or two.
About a week and a half ago I chronicled the tiresome task I'd undertaken of getting a used Mac up and running WIFI, an older machine deeded by my MIL for my girls to use.
After hours and hours of effort, I finally got it working, but in short order the machine suddenly heaved a deep sigh and its spirit sped off for Valhala. After divining the entrails of several roadkill critters, I decided I would be better off buying a new used machine than trying to re-animate the now-deceased one, and so it was that I came to pay a visit to Que Computers in Minneapolis, and spent a hard-earned $200 on what seemed to be a nice kid-friendly machine.
Of course, the trouble with normal is that it always gets worse: the *new* used machine itself decided to stop booting up this week, and what's worse, when I ran some diagnostic software on the machine, the two internal hard-drives don't show up, like they don't even exist. I finally pulled out an external backup firewire hard-drive I made for just such a contingency, and booted up off that.
And so I have the machine functioning again, but it has two non-working hard-drives in its belly, and it seems unlikely that the two internal drives would just fail like that. I suspect it's something to do with the IDE controller, but I will have to take the whole thing in for service to get it repaired. At least the machine has a ninety-day warranty, and the shop said they will fix it, but still, the idea of having to haul it cross-town yet again is more-than-annoying. Meh.
I've been listening to two different audio books on and off during the past week: Neil Gaiman's 'Stardust,' read by the author, and Rhonda Byrne's 'The Secret,' also read by the author. The two books could not be more different.
'Stardust' is a charming fairy-tale for adults, first released as a graphic novel, and later as a major motion-picture. Gaiman reads the audio book version himself, to great effect, and it's a treat to get to hear the author's own emphases and vocal inflections. He's very good, and the novel, like all great novels, doesn't just entertain, it informs truths about life and living because, well, that's what great novels do.
'The Secret' on the other hand, is just dreadful. Or rather, even though the audio book is lavishly produced - with the requisite tinkly new-age music - and even though Rhonda doesn't have a bad speaking voice, the content is such utter balderdash that it's hard to keep a straight face whilst listening. Granted, there are occasional flashes of genuine metaphysical and psychological insight, but the whole time I've been listening to 'The (so-called) Secret' I keep thinking of the title of that Deana Carter album, 'Did I Shave My Legs For This?,' and even if he *didn't* actually utter those famous words, the phrase the attributed to PT Barnum would seem appropriate to insert here.
I've also been listening alot to Fiona Apple's 'Extraordinary Machine,' which I bought when it first came out, but hadn't listened much to it, until now.
I don't know why I was never really into Fiona when she first burst onto the music scene, still a teen but extremely literate and massively talented. I guess I found the whole 'Sullen Girl' mode and motif of 'Tidal' a bit wearisome, but the thing is, nearly every song she's ever written and recorded seems to be a pissed-off and depressing outburst about a relationship of some kind, and maybe like alot of men, I am a wee bit scared of pissed-off and angry women. Then again, I suspect we men have good reason to be a wee bit scared.
But truth be told, I've come to appreciate her writing more and more in recent years, and I dare say that when the rock history books are written and shelved, Fiona will be regarded as one of the finest female singer-songwriters of the past couple generations, right up there with the likes of Joni Mitchell.
On 'Extraordinary Machine' Fiona is a bit more at peace with herself, though not by much. In several songs she spits on the ground at thoughts of various fouled-up relationships she's had the misfortune to endure, but there's a good deal more maturity on display than she showed in her nonage, and in some songs - like the title track - she actually sounds quite hopeful.
In short, I really dig the poetry of her lyrics, and the high-art of her music, and I especially admire that she refuses to allow herself to be pigeon-holed by an industry that is hard-pressed to know what to do with a beautiful and enormously talented young woman like her. After all, why *not* just put Fiona in a tight-fitting leopard-print suit and have her sing club anthems? Why not, indeed? It works for so many others, no?
(Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the -cough- genius of a hot-looking woman gyrating in a tight-fitting leopard-print suit as much as the next mensch, but come on, man does not live by cotton-candy alone, right?)
Anyway, I find Fiona Apple a breath of fresh air and I've become a huge fan, even *if* the Walter Mitty in me is still a bit intimidated by the likes of her.
(If you are adept at finding things on the net, hunt down the unofficially-released version of 'Extraordinary Machine,' as I found those sessions to be even better, in many instances, than the official release.)
Oh yeah. Idol's on tonight. Check out all the skinny here.
Peace - Out!