Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Scavenging in NYC

I’m going to New York City again soon. Both times I’ve been, I had a lot of fun taking photos of all of the sights, but this time I wanted to do something different. Between looking at things to do in the city and an episode of Project Runway, I got the idea to set out on a bit of photography scavenger hunt this time around.

I started to create the list myself, but I obviously knew all of the places that I would go and realized that I was being far too easy on myself. To shake things up a bit, I sent a sample list to some of my family and friends and asked them to add items. You have got to love my friends. What has resulted is the following list:
  1. Where I am staying
  2. Something that tells me where I'm going
  3. A street sign with a meaning
  4. Something that inspires me
  5. Something mentioned in literature
  6. Someone doing their job
  7. Something inviting
  8. Something better in black & white
  9. Something that makes me smile
  10. Something abstract & unidentifiable
  11. Something ugly made beautiful
  12. Something purple
  13. Something very old
  14. Something very new & shiny
  15. Something tasty/yummy
  16. A recognizable place from a movie
  17. Biggest fountain
  18. Most unusual statue/sculpture
  19. Best store window display
  20. Most obvious tourist
  21. Most peaceful place
  22. Best advertisement
  23. Something that represents dignity
  24. Something that inspires hope
  25. Something that inspires fear
  26. Something that represents greed
  27. Something with a contradiction
  28. A ritual
  29. Something that highlights different cultures
  30. The most obvious fake cripple begging for money
  31. Best dressed on the subway
  32. Worst dressed on the subway
  33. The most disgusting thing you find laying on the ground
  34. Something that reminds you of Louis. :)
  35. Something that reminds you of Lois. :)
  36. The person with the most butt-crack showing in public. (Can't be you. That's cheating.)
  37. Police horse poop from central park and a matching picture of what (or who) it looks like for comparison.
  38. A phallic symbol
  39. Typical NYC
  40. Atypical NYC
  41. An interesting view of the Brooklyn Bridge
  42. 2-story fast food restaurant
  43. Something shady...as in a shady character
  44. An NYC manhole cover
  45. Something gothic - architecture counts
  46. Something heavenly
  47. Interesting graffiti
  48. A record shop...actually selling vinyl records
  49. A famous person
  50. Something unexpected
  51. Punk rock!
  52. "The World's Best Coffee!" (think Elf)
My goal is to find something for every item on this list and in return see some things in New York that I may have overlooked. Wish me luck and creativity.

Monday, May 23, 2011

My 2011 Reading List - Round 2

11. The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman

I grew up with a Sandman poster on my wall. Morpheus reminded me of a hotter (less makeup) version of Robert Smith. While I loved the art work, I had never read any of the Sandman series. I’ve never read any comics. So, while looking for my next read, I came across The Graveyard Book and was immediately drawn into the story. Without giving too much away, it’s about an orphaned boy who wanders into a graveyard where all ghosts (and other creatures) adopt and raise him. I’m always amazed when a writer can make up an entirely new world and make it feel real.

12. Where The Sidewalk Ends – Shel Silverstein

In elementary school, we all fought to check out the Shel Silverstein books. He made going to the library fun and exciting. This has been one of my favorite books for such a long time, yet I hadn’t sat down and read the whole thing through in a very long time. I found that some of the poems just seemed silly to me now.When I got to my favorites, I felt sucked right back into as that excited seven year old who could never get enough of the Homework Machine (from Light in the Attic) and band aids.

13. How To Avoid Making Art – Julia Cameron

This is a book of goofy cartoons that depict all of the ways that we avoid making our art. It made me laugh and a few too many sections hit home a little too hard, but that’s exactly what I love about Julia Cameron’s writing/books/philosophies/etc. I’m a big fan of The Artist Way (avid morning pager and currently working my way through Walking In This World). This book was a helpful, fun reminder that it’s not good to make excuses to avoid being artistic.

Thoughts on Amos Lee (Part Deux)

The first time I saw Amos Lee live was also the first time that I heard him sing. I was instantly floored, amazed, and completely enamored (here's my proof).  To say that I had high expectations going into Friday night’s show would be an understatement. Again, I found myself floored, amazed, and completely enamored.  What I think that gets me the most is that he comes across as very shy, reserved, and maybe even a little bit stoic, but then he sings and the entire room is just completely flooded with this crazy, emotional surge.  The honest, sincerity of it all just gives me chills. Suffice it to say that I was a happy ticket holder.

I have mentioned on multiple occasions that I would pick some of my famous Amos songs, so I am finally going to follow through on that promise.

El Camino

I always love that his songs are about real life and real people. They never feel falsely dramatic or steeped in some kind of movie-haze that corrupts and run counter to a real human experience. This song is a perfect example. All my ships have sailed away…

Seen It All Before

I’m not sure that any song brings out my car singing diva-ness more than this one. I get all soulful with attitude. It’s a funny sight, but this is a flippin’ amazing song. And lordy, what girl wouldn’t want to be all baby baby baby’d by him. I’ve seen everything your twisted smile conveys. I ain’t gonna be your fool baby…


Supply and Demand

I also really love that all of his songs are full of meaning, soul, emotions, and spirit. They make you want to cut loose and groove to them. The more I strive, the less I’m alive…

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

2011, My Year of The Big Read

For 2011, my goal is to read 26 books. I am really hoping that I can have a stellar year of reading and bypass that number early on. Also, if you're on Shelfari, find me (http://www.shelfari.com/awdylanis) and save me from the site always telling me that my profile isn't done because I don't have enough friends (stupid judgmental site!).

1: The Year of Yes - Maria Dahvana

My mom suggested this book to me. This is a supposed memoir, which I only sort of believe because parts of it feel so embellished for impact. The main character, annoyed with her current dating pool, decides to say yes to anyone who asks her. It was a fun read and definitely made me laugh a lot, but I spent a large portion of the time wondering how she did not get herself murdered.

2: Stuff White People Like

A co-worker loaned me this one, which is based on the website of the same name. It was funny, but in my true casperesque-whiteness, I did find myself feeling a little defensive now and then. Starbucks IS cool and my music tastes suit me just fine! Ha, but honestly, considering that it sat on my bedside table for about 6 months half read, I feel like it probably made a much better website.

3: The Vampire Diaries: The Return: Midnight - LJ Smith

To quote The Avett Brothers... shame, boat loads of shame. Yes, I am one of those grown up women who fall prey to all the crazy teenage vampire novels. I would try to explain the plot, but it’s like 9 books in and unless you’re reading them, they won’t make any kind of sense. All I can say is that the night I finished this book, I was inconsolably bawling my eyes out (hope that doesn’t spoil anything for anyone). The last few books in this series have been so much fun, and I am heartbroken to learn that they fired LJ Smith and will have a ghost writer complete the series. I’d say that I’d stop reading them, but I’m little more hooked on bad boy Damon than I would like to admit.

4: Bossypants - Tina Fey

This book is just Tina Fey being Tina Fey. As with any girl in my demographic, Tina Fey is my hero. I obsessively read this book in less than 24 hours. I remember sitting at Starbucks at lunch (hey! I should get a free drink or something for my numerous mentions of Starbucks) and about falling out of my chair because I was laughing so hard. I think the cool thing about Tina Fey is that she just seems like a cool person to hang out with. I would also like to be invited to her Manhattan Christmas.

5: The Hunger Games, 6: Catching Fire, 7: Mockingjay - Suzanne Collins

I followed up the Tina Fey reading sprint with a three day marathon of the Hunger Games trilogy. I don’t even know how to describe these books without making them sound silly, weird, or gruesome, but there was something about the writing and the characters that just completed pulled me in and wouldn’t let me go. The books haunted me for days after reading them. I adore reading a story that can do that to me.

8: Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen

I was never particularly interested in knowing what it is like living in a nursing home or in a circus, but I still found this book fascinating. It felt really genuine, but I did spend a lot of time contemplating how much I didn’t think that Robert Pattinson or Reese Witherspoon fit their roles. In the end, I fell in love with the elephant and I spent far too long afterwards contemplating why I hadn’t ever considered becoming a vet.

9: Just Kids - Patti Smith

I picked up the memoir of Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe on a whim. I didn’t know too much about either of their lives or their work, but I saw that most of it happened in New York City. I have never wanted a time machine so badly in all of my life. While reading, I dreamed of running away to be with my people (I have dubbed them in my mind to be of similar dispositions). Even more interesting is that I’m heading to NYC in a few weeks and it has now become my purpose to finally see the Chelsea Hotel. In addition, Patti Smith has quite a way with words. She knows how to make the story true and real for her readers. Again, I knew what was coming at the end - I knew of Mapplethorpe’s fate and the beginning of the book even tells you, but I was still completely heartbroken... and again sobbing.

10: When You Reach Me - Rebecca Stead

I love children’s literature and after the intensity of Just Kids, I needed something a little bit lighter. This book, with a subtle hint at syfy and mystery, a NYC setting, and the awesome third element of the $10,000 Pyramid, was a fun and an engaging read. I loved the main character Miranda and enjoyed figuring out what was going to happen. Good times.

43 Things... errr, for 2011

About a year ago, I found the website 43 things and got the idea in my head to try new things and then write about it. Ok, so not entirely the most original, but it still sounded like a lot of fun and a good challenge for me. Unfortunately, about a month later, my working life was turned upside down and it took just about everything in me to keep afloat. I am happy to say that 9 months later, things are a little more settled and I am ready to embark on a set of goals for 2011.

At first, I wanted to come up with 50 things that I would like to do before the end of the year, but aside from it being a little too advantageous, there is a short list of things that mean a lot to me that I have already been working on. I didn't want to overwhelm myself and then end up losing focus on them. Anyway, here is my current list:
  • Read 26 books
  • Learn to play guitar
  • Be more green
  • Embrace a vegetarian lifestyle
While these are my immediate goals, I have a list of about 30-odd other things that interest me and I'll continue to add to that list as time goes and my interests wax and wane. You can follow my progress here (obviously) and on 43 things.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Songs from a long week... (Elefant, The Airborne Toxic Event)

Sadly, it's been a really long week for me and I haven't had as much time as usual for music. I only have have two selections, but they are pretty fantastic. I am keeping up with my guitar lessons and am currently working on Sunshine of Your Love and Green River. Everyone needs a little CCR in their repertoire. I do keep hoping for a Stones song. It’s not that I want to be like Keith Richards, but those boys know how to boogie.

Elefant - My Apology

In one of my more vain moments, I found Elefant while searching iTunes for songs that featured my name in the title (Annie is a pretty fantastic song actually). I loved them instantly because they had such a haunting sound that reminded me of some of my favorite artists - The Cure, The Smiths, and Joy Division. After I found their cover of Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want, I was hooked. I guess that all of their songs tend to hit me in the same haunting, emotional exhaustive way. The lyrics here are especially beautiful and insightful. Just look into my eyes, you're killing me with you love...just set me free from your touch. 

The Airborne Toxic Event - The Book of Love

This was a match made in heaven for me because I adore covers, The Magnetic Fields, The Airborne Toxic Event, and songs with snarky, yet insightfully beautiful lyrics. Stephin Merritt writes some of the most amazing and beautiful songs that I've heard, but when he sings there is also an edge and a bit of distance like the feelings are a bit distasteful. I love that sometimes. In contrast, when Mikel Jollett sings it, he feels vulnerable and emotionally exposed. Plus, the entire sound of ATE is so rich and full, it makes the song even more emotional. It makes me feel exactly like I feel when I'm falling in love. The two versions of the song feel completely different to me and that just blows my mind. But I love it when you read to me and you can read me anything...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Songs with a little romance... (Florence + The Machine, The Killers, & The Cure)

Considering that my life is pretty much romanceless these days, I guess that I'm living vicariously. Maybe it's more something about favorite songs from my past, the endless hours they spent on repeat, that catch my heart and make me a little extra emotional. Whatever it is, here's a new one and two oldies but goodies.

Florence + The Machine - Kiss With A Fist

I'm guessing that I shouldn't want to dance this much to a song outlining domestic violence, but I do. I really wanted to dislike Florence + The Machine because her "quirky" Stevie Nicks look sort of annoys me, but I find the lyrics to be quirky and the tunes to be pretty rockin'. I guess I should know better than to judge based solely on looks.

The Killers - Romeo and Juliet

All I do is kiss you through the bars of a rhyme... Pure perfection. I'm sure that I've probably posted this song multiple times, but that's just a testament to just how much I love it. The first time I heard this song was in Empire Records. Remember Mark tried to hit on the ballerina listening to the headphones? Ahh, good times. I loved it instantly. I can't do the talk, like the talk on the TV. And I can't do a love song like the way it's meant to be. I can't do everything but I'll do anything for you. I can't do anything except be in love with you...

The Cure - The Walk

I was raised on The Cure. Somewhere around 6th grade, I remember visiting my sister Anissa in Pennsylvania. They had gotten their first CD player, so she let me borrow a bunch of her cassette tapes. I remember Echo & The Bunnymen, The Psychedelic Furs, and The Cure'sStaring At The Sea (cue ohs and ahs). My entire idea of romance is based on the ridiculous number of hours that I have spent listening to Robert Smith croon. This song shuffled on my iPod the other day and it just struck me with the funk. Plus, I love anything with a patented Robert Smith maow. I kissed you in the water and made your dry lips sing...