Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday music recommendation: Duet edition

Watching this week's episode of Glee, I was reminded yet again how much I adore male/female duets. Kristin Chenoweth and Matthew Morrison rocking out karaoke-style to Heart's "Alone" made me sit up straighter, open my eyes wider, and strain my ears to catch every note. Here it is below if you missed it (a better version can be found in the full episode, which you can watch on Hulu):

Embedded below are my very favorite male/female duets, in no particular order since I cherish each and every one of them:

Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, "It Ain't Me Babe" (actually, it's pretty much a three-way tie between this, "Jackson," and "If I Were A Carpenter")

Slow Club, "Christmas TV"

Gentle, folky, sweet, and charming. I must have listened to this song 30 or 40 times in the span of a week. It still hasn't gotten old.

The Postal Service, "Nothing Better"

Still makes me tear up, years after my first listen. The part that gets me is her "Just back away and let me go" followed by his "I can't, my darling, I love you so." God, this one is heartrending if you've been through a difficult breakup; it paints such a realistic picture of the dissolution of a relationship.

Rhett Miller and Rachael Yamagata, "Fireflies"

Another sweet, wistful tune about love lost. I've loved both of these artists so fiercely for so many years now, it's no wonder I'm crazy about this duet.

Stars, "Your Ex-Lover Is Dead"

When I first heard these lyrics, I was dumbstruck; I was finally healing from a major heartbreak, and the song described so perfectly how I felt at that moment in time: "You were what I wanted / I gave what I gave / I'm not sorry I met you / I'm not sorry it's over / I'm not sorry there's nothing to save." I still feel that way, and the song still speaks to me as strongly as it did the first time I heard it.

Chairlift, "Bruises"

Pamie first brought this song to my attention a few months ago, and it makes me smile. It's as simple as that. Just a fun, sweet, swoony song. :)

Rachael Yamagata also sings a duet with Ray LaMontagne on her latest album (the song is called "Duet," naturally) that's absolutely stunning, but the only videos out there feature Rachael solo. That's obviously not a bad thing, but to get the full effect, you really need to listen to the original version of the song on the album.

Any other male/female duets I should add to my list?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Things I'm looking forward to

--Upcoming concerts
--Honeycrisp apples
--Fuzzy sweaters
--Mulled (spiked?) cider
--Snuggling under blankets in bed
--Winter soups - chili, chowder, bisque, stew, curry; you name it, I'll make it.
--Hot chocolate
--Sitting in front of a crackling fire and listening to music
--The Haunt House
--A possible trip to New York in November to spend time with my best friend, who I haven't seen in over 2 years
--Planning my birthday trip to Portland
--Pumpkin coconut rum soup (yumyumyumyum. yum.)
--Potential out-of-town photo excursions (Glen Rose? Tyler again?)
--Leaves crackling underfoot
--The trees in our front yard doing this again
--Long walks with Callie in cool, crisp fall air

Can you tell that I love fall? I guess my mom named me appropriately.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Fitness for couch potatoes

Something strange has happened. I've exercised the last five days in a row, and... and... I'm not sick of it! In fact, I'm looking forward to working out again tomorrow! How can this be, you ask? What could possibly have happened to make me abandon the couch and willingly sweat, indoors, in the middle of a brutal Texas summer heatwave? That's easy: I bought a Wii Fit.

Yes, yes, it's a little sad that it's taken a video game to get me past my couch-potato ways. But I've already made peace with the fact that my willpower is pathetically low, and something had to give. Now, I feel like getting into decent shape isn't such a distant possibility. The way the game works, you're forced to take it slowly and work your way up, and the variety of activities ensures that you don't get bored easily. It records your progress, both your weight/BMI and your individual activity scores, so you're encouraged every time you score a little higher or your weight's a little lower. The game even reminds you to rest and hydrate and gives you cute little affirmations when you hit certain milestones.

For someone like me who requires constant encouragement and gets bored quickly, Wii Fit is ideal. I know that if I work on an activity enough, I'll unlock a new difficulty (say, extra reps or an "advanced" setting), which satisfies my need for a challenge. And the more effort I put in, the more games I unlock in the four categories (Yoga, Strength Exercises, Aerobic Exercises, and Balance Games), which means I have options each time I work out -- essential for someone with the attention span of an over-caffeinated goldfish. The way Wii Fit is designed, you're guaranteed to find at least a few activities that continue to keep your interest after a few workouts.

I really can't recommend this game highly enough. I'm less than a week in, but I feel confident that I'll continue to find it useful and fun for months and years to come. It puts a lot of emphasis on balance and posture and focuses on strengthening your core, which is something I definitely need to work on. And it's just, well, cute. Without being cutesy. I'm still in awe that a game like this exists. I want to invite everyone I know over so they can try it out for themselves. Wii Fit party, perhaps?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Like the season

Autumn. A-U-T-U-M-N. That's my name. I happen to like it. I think it's unusual enough to be memorable.

So why do people consistently call me Amber? (or April, or August, or...take your pick, really)

This happens with alarming frequency. This morning, for instance, a woman I've known and worked with for the past four years called me Amber. On Friday, someone called me Auburn on my voicemail after he'd had the opportunity to hear my name spoken twice (on my boss's voicemail message and then mine). The week before, another person I've worked with for years called me April. Almost every day, someone gets my name wrong. At an all-day meeting a few weeks ago, one guy even called me Amber, April, AND August throughout the day. He finally asked me to spell my name to help him remember.

Seriously: this happens almost every single day. And I can't figure it out! WHY is it so difficult to remember a name like 'Autumn'? Anyone out there have a clue? Because it's driving me crazy.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Catch-up...and a Monday music recommendation!

Hey, I have a blog! Whaddya know?

Sorry for the lapse in posting. I've been buried under a deluge of work, personal obligations, and, well, Twitter. (I have to blame Twitter here, just a little bit. It's the only way I can stay connected to the world these days.)

Since I last posted, I've traveled to Florida to surprise my friend Carley at her bridal shower (she's getting married this Saturday!), bought a new Nikon D60 and taken it out on a couple of test runs, and...completely and utterly failed to keep up with my fitness regimen. Damn. I knew that wouldn't last. BUT! I'm going to get back on track. See, there are these wooded hiking trails! And there's a bike to ride! And the dog needs walking! I need these exclamation points to get me motivated!

Outside of work and spending time with family, I've pretty much been confined to the computer screen (see?) and the TV (sad, I know). It's not all bad, though. Extensive couch time means I've been able to keep up with some of the best shows on TV right now (I'm looking at you, Breaking Bad and In Treatment... not to mention Lost. And the nonstop hilarity of How I Met Your Mother and new show Party Down). And I keep discovering new music, thanks to Twitter. Gotta love those recommendations!

Speaking of music, I finally caught up to the rest of the world and figured out that Amanda Fucking Palmer is a mad genius. I don't know what took me this long, but I'm now completely obsessed. Besotted, even. She's amazing - so creative and talented and fearless and strong and balls-out awesome. See for yourself:

"Leeds United"

"Oasis" (possibly the cheeriest song about date rape and abortion that you'll ever hear)


"What's the Use of Won'drin'?" (the video for this is so great)

Quick info on AFP: Amanda is one half of the piano-drums duo The Dresden Dolls (self-described as "punk cabaret;" she's the piano half). Ben Folds produced her solo album, Who Killed Amanda Palmer? (a riff on Twin Peaks's "Who Killed Laura Palmer?" tagline, dontcha know!), and Neil Gaiman is writing stories to accompany photos in her forthcoming book, also titled Who Killed Amanda Palmer? God...what can I say about this woman that hasn't already been said? I mean, she performed a cover of "Creep" in the back of a London taxicab (part of the utterly brilliant Black Cab Sessions) with a ukulele and a cast on her foot! Here are some great shots taken by Mind On Fire at the secret LA show she played recently for her Twitter fans.

Okay, last Amanda video, I promise! Here's her (brilliant) plea to be dropped from her record label, with whom she's famously clashed a few times:

Before I go, I have one last treat for you. Remember Snakes on a Plane? Well, here's the famous line...edited for TV. Oh, to be in the room when this line was conceived.


"I have had it with these monkey-fighting snakes on this Monday-to-Friday plane!"