Monday, December 26, 2005

2005: A Pretty Good Year

Although it was a dreadful year in terms of political and natural disasters, on the personal and music fronts it wasn't bad. I ditched my crappy old job and car, and got a swell new job and a Mini. I saw Richard Thompson, Mark Knopfler and John Hiatt play live in my town. And lots of good records came out. I haven't yet decided which is my favorite of the year, but Winterpills is a heavy contender. Here's a playlist of a few highlights (some repeats from previous playlist):
  • "Sitting, Waiting, Wishing" by Jack Johnson
  • "The Hardest Part" by Ryan Adams & the Cardinals
  • "One I Love" by David Gray
  • "Tired of Being Sorry" by Ringside
  • "Keep It Loose, Keep It Tight" by Amos Lee
  • "Radio Campaign" by M. Ward
  • "Off the Record" by My Morning Jacket
  • "Looking at the World from the Bottom of a Well" by Mike Doughty
  • "I Burn Today" by Frank Black
  • "Burning in the Sun" by Blue Merle
  • "It's the Nighttime" by Josh Rouse
  • "Caterpillar Girl" by Lou Barlow
  • "The Boys of Mutton Street" by Richard Thompson
  • "Threshing Machine" by Winterpills
  • "Must Be the Whiskey" by Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez
  • "When My Love Crosses Over" by John Hiatt
  • "Shelter from the Storm" by Rodney Crowell
  • "Devils + Dust" by Bruce Springsteen
  • "Hendersonville" by Last Train Home
  • "Whatever It Is" by Ben Lee
It clocks in at a little over 78 minutes. Let me know if you want me to burn this to a CD for you. Enjoy.

Monday, October 24, 2005

My Sewing Machine

Last weekend, my pal Erin and I both took our vintage Singer sewing machines to the vintage sewing machine repair man (as in, he works on vintage machines, and he's pretty vintage himself) in Turners Falls. Erin has a cute little Featherweight that she bought from the repair guy when she was in college, about four years ago. My machine was my mother's, and she bought it second hand, for $15, when she was in college about 1950. Mine is ostensibly a portable, but it sure isn't a Featherweight. It's made of black cast iron, comes in a solid wood dome-topped case, and weighs a ton. It only goes forward, but it's a fabulous machine. My mother made tons of tailored clothes on it, using designer patterns and designer fabrics that she bought on our annual trip to Fishman's Fabric in Chicago, where Mr. Fishman himself would take us around the store and show us his favorite new arrivals that he kept in the shower stall in his office so that he could look at them for a while before he was willing to put them out on the floor for sale. Very few people got to see what was in that shower stall.

Erin was having trouble with the light on her machine, and the repair man quickly put in a new bulb, tested it, and gave it back to her without a charge. My machine is staying with him for a while to have the light repaired and the wiring gone over. He promised to fix it up without compromising the vintage quality of it, i.e. no new-fangled wires or plugs.

We both asked about the age and value of our sewing machines. Erin's was made in the 1930s and is worth about $700 today because it's the little darling of the quilting crowd. Mine was made between 1938 and 1941, originally sold for about $150, and was worth $7 according to the 2000 price guide. But it's worth much, much more than that to me. I learned to sew on this machine when I took sewing in 4-H starting in the fourth grade. When I was in high school, majoring in home ec much to the dismay of my guidance counselor who wanted me in science and math classes with the other brainiacs, I made nearly all my clothes on it. I lugged the thing with me from Michigan to Northampton and have taken it with me wherever I've lived since. I've made several quilts with it and hemmed a lot of pants. Right now, I'm thinking up a holiday gift item that I plan to be sewing for lots of my pals. I can't say what that item is because people who might be receiving it might be reading my blog. But after the holidays, I'll try to post some pix.

The repair guy just called to say that my machine is ready to be picked up. He's got it running great, and it will cost me only $55 -- a totally worthwhile investment in such a stalwart.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

It's Not Fair!

Why does ipod have all the great accessories while Zen Micro gets nothing? First, ipod (big, mini, nano) got lots of cool cases made out of rubber and stuff. At the computer store in Noho, they sell cute little ipod cases made of faux fur. And if that wasn't enough, ipod just got Halloween costumes! My lime green Zen Micro feels very left out. I think I'll make it a margarita costume for Halloween this year. Meantime, I did find one cool accessory that will work on all mp3 players -- an earbud clip. (Of course, the clip is modeled by an ipod.)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Car Tunes #1

My driving has gotten much better in the past 10 days of driving the Mini. I've only stalled it twice -- once on day 2 when I was at a stop sign and a pickup truck behind me was breathing up my butt and I got nervous, and once on day 4 when I was pulling into a parking space and forgot to put the clutch in. Not bad, if you ask me. But I'm still avoiding a couple of hills in town, especially the one on Old South Street with the stop sign at Main Street, right at the top of the hill. It will be months before I'm ready for that. But I do feel that I've gained enough confidence that I don't have to put 100% of my concentration into my shifting and am ready for a bit of distraction. So I made myself my first CD for the car (the old car had a tape deck, and I was the queen of the car mix tape). I haven't published a playlist in a while, so here it is:
  • Bob Dylan - "Things Have Changed"
  • Buddy Miller - "Water When the Well is Dry"
  • Dave Alvin - "Abilene"
  • Greg Brown - "Blue Car"
  • Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez - "Red Dog Tracks"
  • Jim White - "That Girl from Brownsville Texas"
  • Mike Doughty - "Looking at the World from the Bottom of a Well"
  • Jesse Harris & the Ferdinandos - "Roberta"
  • Mark Knopfler - "The Trawlerman's Song"
  • Old Crow Medicine Show - "Wagon Wheel"
  • Jack Johnson - "Breakdown"
  • Josh Rouse - "It's the Nighttime"
  • David Gray - "One I Love"
  • Richard Barone - "Forbidden"
  • Ringside - "Tired of Being Sorry"
  • Ryan Adams - "Hallelujah"
  • Steve Earle - "Shadowland"
  • Tom Waits - "Hold On"
If any of my pals is interested in taking possession of some of my old mix tapes, let me know. And on that subject, I highly recommend Sarah Vowell's "Thanks for the Memorex" in Take the Cannoli.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Me and my Mini

Everyone who knows me knows that I've been obsessed with the Mini Cooper for the past three years. When they first came out, there was an ad for them in a magazine with a punch-and-fold yellow Mini. I punched and I folded. I started saving for a real Mini of my own. To inspire me and satisfy some bit of my need for Mini, I bought a little metal toy Mini. I saved some more. And today I am the proud owner of a 2005 Mini Cooper!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Politics Test

I took Michelle's suggestion and took the Politics Test (link below). I'm so glad that I didn't come out a Libertarian. I hate Libertarians. I once took the "Are You a Libertarian?" test at the Minnesota State Fair. It was a funky plywood board with toggle switches for yes and no, and a column of lights. For each question, you flipped the toggle to the yes or no position, and the light would light up if you gave the Libertarian answer. On the first several questions -- things about privacy, civil liberties, etc -- I was lighting all the lights and getting really worried. Then came the questions about taxes and gun control, etc., and no more lights were lighting. I'm not a Libertarian. Period.

Here are my results (no surprises, although I would have thought I'd have gotten a higher economic liberal score). I'm a tad left of Michelle.

You are a

Social Liberal
(88% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(6% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on OkCupid

Monday, August 29, 2005

Lost Weekend

I've been taking a little break from blogging while I was getting my new computer. First, there was the endless time configuring (and reconfiguring) it on the Dell website till I was sure that I had the right stuff for the best price possible. After I placed the order, I obsessively tracked it on the UPS site as it made its way to Massachusetts. In the meantime, I had to burn many, many CDs to get my stuff off the old computer -- seven CDs for just the music, not to mention the fonts, clip art, and other junk. While all this was going on, I listened to the death rattle of the six-year-old Gateway and hoped that it would hang on for just a few more days.

The new computer arrived on Friday, and I spent what seems like the entire weekend setting it up. I think it took as much time to disassemble the old computer as it did to set up the new one. I now have empty boxes and old components everywhere. I have to figure out how to give some things away (old inkjet printer), sell some things (old speakers & subwoofer, external CD drive/burner) and recycle the rest. I have no idea how I'm going to get the gigantic old monitor downstairs and out of the house. How did I ever get it in here in the first place?

Now I know why I kept my computer for 6 years, my car for 13, and have appliances that are over 20 years old. This is a ton of work! But soon I should be able to turn my attention to having some adventures and blogging about them.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Grievous Angel

I had dinner with my pal Dan last night and got caught up on things. His daughter, Jessica Hundley, has just written a bio of Gram Parsons in conjunction with Polly Parsons, Gram's daughter. Grievous Angel: The Authorized Biography of Gram Parsons is due to be released in November.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Friday, August 19, 2005

Hello blogosphere!

Some of you might remember my old website, also called A Trailer Full of Tunes. It lived on the Hampshire College faculty/staff server. I put it up in 1996 after teaching myself html. I was righteously opposed to WYSIWYG programs back then, and virtuous about writing my own code in my Unix shell. But that was a lot of work, and the trailer fell into disrepair over the past few years. Its life is now about to come to an end, with Hampshire set to pull the plug on my account any day now.

But rising like a phoenix from the ashes is the newly-created blog version of the trailer. The blog will feature the same sorts of things: politics, music, movies, art, travelogues, links to interesting sites, etc. I may even be inspired to republish some of the best of the old trailer, like the story of the road trip to the twineball, if there's sufficient interest and if a long, cold winter keeps me indoors with time on my hands. Or perhaps I'll have some new adventures to write about. Stay tuned.