Friday, May 22, 2009

Mainstream cheesecake photos letting you down?

I found myself debating on whether or not to share. But everybody deserves access to some good Pretty, and who am I to not aid in the cause?

I love it all. I do. I appreciate smut, porn, erotica, pinups, art nudes, Suggestive Photography, etc... No matter how commercial or how indy, how cliched or trashy or high brow... You name it, I like it. I love bodies. I love people enjoying their bodies. That's it. And I think it takes all kinds.

Unfortunately, "all kinds" is hard to find. Especially where men are concerned.*

By happy accident, today, however, I came across a site with a section called Stripsters--which is, in fact, hipsters stripped or stripping. They inevitably wind up in their underwear, or nude but carefully obscured, so I suppose this is almost SFW, but probably not quite, so pursue at your own risk.

In any case, these are decidedly untrashy but decidedly sexy art photos, mostly of men--slender, often scruffy, tattooed, pierced, or devestatingly arty men--and they're getting their sexy on. (There are a few gals, too, but the boys are the focus, here.) So if you're like me and think, say, Alan Cumming trumps George Clooney any day, enjoy!


*Now, I hear ya'. You're saying, "But, Lauren! As far as mainstream porn is concerned, the array of 'acceptable' types for men is much larger than that for women, to begin with!" and I agree. But men like these--certainly not the slender shaggy ones, the pretty-but-unclean ones--need not apply, in any case. And I haven't found anything catering to those who want to see these men, until now.

Whereas, when looking for women with tattoos, piercings, a variety of body types, technicolor hair, goth or punk or burlesque or pinup sensibilities... one need only look as far as Suicide Girls. (Don't let the name turn you off; there is no suicide involved, I promise.) While they also definitely fall into the category of art nudes, they are often quite nude, and so, NSFW.

SG is not free, which makes me a little sad, but they've got a big, fantastic public gallery to check out, so all hope is not lost.

SG Gallery.

So go forth, my sisters and brothers, and love you on some pretty.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

o/` Somewhere, under the sun...o/`

I was glancing over previous entries, so I thought I should give a couple updates:

First of all, they dedicated our concerts to Bob Danziger. It was lovely, though it made it a little hard to sing the first movement of the Gloria. Still, it was very nice.

My mood has been strange and fussy, for reasons I can't accurately identify. Might be the concert post-partem stress, or the billow of anxiety whiplash after being crammed in so tight with so many people, and trying to socialize afterwards. Or the stress of the shake-up of healthier habits when the crunch came.

Healthier habits I've been building up, like eating better, drinking water, getting enough exercise, getting sun. (SUN I LOVE YOU WARM SUN BRIGHT LOVE--)

...Do you ever forget to drink any water for too long, and you don't really realize you're thirsty, but as soon as you happen to take a sip of water, you can't stop? Because your body has realized its desperation and makes you guzzle, even if that doesn't work as well a taking it a sip at a time?

That's me with the Sun. (With water, too, incidentally, but that's a different problem.) I've got at least some degree of Vitamin D deficiency, and sunshine is the best way to fix that (because we're plants, apparently), and it's good for the serotonin levels, the keratosis pilaris, etc, so I've been trying to get more, recently, but I'd slipped more often, lately, and it's been too hot or too cold or not enough time or whathaveyou. But today it was so nice, and Chris reminded me at just the right time, so rather than trying to shove my clothing away from the sunless bits, I found an old sparse hand-me-down bikini that I managed to fit into again (well, "fit" is probably a strong word), and laid out in the sun, on a towel and turning at regular intervals and everything. (Redheads don't tan. Redheads don't sunbathe. So this is very unusual behavior.)

And I don't think I'd realized quite what a sun worshipper I am.

I stayed out there until I thought I'd gotten a safe and easy twenty minutes or so. (I've always been pale and burned like a leaf, but it's been getting better as I've allowed a little more and little more sun. Toughening up just bit by bit!) But then when I came back inside, I couldn't settle down. I got antsy. I kept looking out the backdoor at the sun, kept looking at my bikini'd body and my towel, the book I was reading... I put on a little sunscreen on places I thought were pinker than others, got my laptop and some water, and went back out, though I stayed in the shade. I just wanted to be out there. ...But then I crept back into the sun, just bits of me.

And when I thought my laptop would get too hot, I went back inside.

...And put down my laptop, put on some more sunscreen and went back out, again.

This happened twice more, late into the afternoon. When we had to close the sliding door and blinds to keep the heat out of the kitchen, I got between them and leaned into the hot glass. I couldn't make myself get dressed until the last minute, until I had to get it together and go to my knitting group.

I've paid for it, a little. It never seems to occur to me that color shows after more time than I realize, and though I may look fine, or even still dead pale, a while after I've sunned, I may show up burnt, later. Places that were blinding white, that I made sure didn't get screened, that I made sure got sunshine, *because* they were so pale, are now a little angry at this sudden change, especially around the edges. I have odd, awkward patches of bright red, luckily ones which will normally be covered by clothes. But I finally evened out the more visible parts of me, a bit. I've got color beyond my usual pointilism tan (where the freckles crowd together and make you look browner, if you squint from a long way away?), so we'll see if a redhead can't get a little bit of a tan, after all. And I'm taking care of the redder bits, and I've definitely gotten my D for the day. The annoying but harmless little bumps I've had on my arms since I was 12 and on my legs for several years are virtually gone, even if they're just on vacation. My skin feels good, my head feels better, my body feels vital and alive.

...But I can't stop thinking about going out and doing it again tomorrow. Oh, I'll cover up the burns, and I'll sunscreen the pink areas, I may even tell myself to be good, but I know me. It'll start as "Oh, I should water those," and turn into a as-close-as-I-can-get-to-naked sunbath. The craving's on me, and I'm nothing against a craving. And I'll take a Sun craving over a junk foody craving, anyday.

I feel desperate for it, right now, in the dark.

Sunlight, I promise I'll meet you in the morning, and we'll roll around in the grass, some more. I don't even care if anyone catches us!

Monday, May 18, 2009

The concerts!

Friday night, we kinda' crapped up the Poulenc. There's no denying it. It didn't turn up in the review, thank goodness, but we knew. We sopranos were flat, flat, flat. The cardinal rule of "only sing as soft as you can sing WELL" had been forgotten.

So Daniel reminded us. A lot. But in a helpfully "You can totally do this" kind of way.

So on Saturday night, we totally did. We nailed it. Daniel told us how much he loved us, when we were leaving the stage for intermission. It was creepy and beautiful and I adored it.

On Friday night, the Beethoven was excellent--even the 16 measures of forte high A's after several measures of more A's and G's, even the fast bits with the frickin' high B's. You could hear AND UNDERSTAND our German. We were great. The bass soloist loved on us to Daniel, as did the occasionally adversarial brass section.

But on Saturday night, we blew the doors off the place. When we burst in on our first big "Freude schöner götterfunken," my mother up in the balcony said we drowned out the orchestra.

This is the same symphony orchestra they usually have to mike us over, so that we're not drowned out by the brass alone. But this time, instead of 80 of us, there were 180 of us.

Blew the doors off.

I kept talking to people about how exciting it was to get to do this, how much I was looking forward to it, to this opportunity--how many times do you get to be in a group of 180 wailing on "Ode to Joy"? How often do you get to be part of something so big? And Friday night, I'd been enthusiastic, but measured. I almost felt like I was missing something in the experience, like I wasn't letting myself commit to the point of breaking.

Saturday, I put everything into that huge burst, and was gasping by the time we had a break in singing. My voice started to go towards the end, but I managed to keep it alive through the many more measures of (guess!) high A's. I felt possessed. I felt filled past my seams with it. We were enormous and beautiful. And after the last götterfunkens with the huge orchestra attack, it was all I could do to keep from bawling. On Friday night, people got up for an ovation. On Saturday night, they shot up as one.

I cried all the way out to the car. I was so happy, so ecstatic, and all the stress of it broke open to let go and I cried and cried. Strangers stopped passing chorus members to tell us how wonderful we were. The soloists stopped in the hall to shake our hands--and the soloists were amaaaaazing. The orchestra was amaaaaaazing. Everything was brilliant. The narcissist in me went, despite the love, fairly unsated (I was going to meet Chris/Mom/Zach in the lobby, but they came out and caught me outside, and carried me off). I realized when we were gone that I was mad at them for taking me away from the basking. I wanted to linger and be surrounded by people who were full of that music, who loved us for it. I wanted to find the other people I knew who I'd heard would be there, and let them tell me how good we were. I wanted to make Chris turn the car around.

I'm suffering post-partum. I don't get to have this back, again. But it's something I get to always have, too.

But actually holding that in my arms, living in that throng... I feel so disconnected to be out of it. That part of it I don't get to have, anymore.

Until next time.

(Please, please, please. Again, and again, and once more...)


VIDEO of us rehearsing!!!

This turned up on the Modesto Bee site, and it's got pieces of one of our last rehearsals before the concert, and interviews with our lovely Maestro and our wonderful Soprano soloist. I'm not sure you can see me in there, because I haven't watched it all yet, but you can see and hear us some! Enjoy!! WOO!


Aha, I apparently do exist!:

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Final rehearsal, concerts...

...are tomorrow afternoon, tomorrow night, and Saturday night, respectively. My mama and brother are coming up to hear me sing (WOO!) and stay the night Saturday. I am going to be dead dog beat by Sunday morning. I was fine, and now I'm terrified. I'm not sure if I'm too terrified or not terrified enough. (We totally crapped up the Poulenc, but hopefully the old adage of "bad dress rehearsal = good concert" holds out. However, we rocked the Beethoven. Yikes...)

Must remember:
- to actually follow the score for the Poulenc, this time.
- the last minute phrasing changes for the Poulenc, the last minute (literally--as we were leaving tonight) Oops-there's-a-wrong-note-in-your-score-fix-it change for Beethoven.
- to bring food and dress to cram in tomorrow between rehearsal (4-6:30) and call (7:00).
- to smile
- to enjoy myself
- to not get lazy
- to not freak out, surrounded by a freefloating cloud of anxiety
- to sleep, now, rather than sit up writing in blogger instead

Wish me luck! Think happy thoughts!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

If Music Be the Food of Love...

Last night we were at the faculty recognition awards. We wound up sitting near some music faculty, and talking about the Music for the Elementary School Teacher class, which, like all classes in the Music department, require attending live music performances. We talked about how sometimes it's the first time students have ever even seen live music--the woman I was talking to (who'd have to be leaving to go teach that class) recalled a response written by a student that mentioned seeing a "really big red clarinet."

I laughed and clapped, because I knew exactly what she was meant: "Oh! Bob Danziger's bassoon!" I almost said, but didn't, for some reason. It got a little busy, a little loud, and it slipped my mind. Maybe I thought it would sound a little familiar, or like I was trying to sound involved, if I identified a faculty member by a poor description of their instrument. I don't really know.

But I loved Dr. Danziger, and his bassoon. I took Music of World Cultures from him in my very first semester at Stanislaus, and had the most wonderful experience--he was so warm and dynamic, and introduced us all to so much fantastic music. He was free with encouragement, friendly, talented--a joy to be around, always. I got lucky enough to have him for my advisor for the Music concentration in my degree, and to just get to see him around campus, sometimes. I really only had maybe two classes from him, but he stands out as one of my favorite teachers on the campus, one I always think of when I remember, despite all its problems, how great this campus really can be. It has had people like him there.

He told us, during class, about this bassoon (bassoon being his instrument of choice). He'd had it commissioned in Germany five years earlier, and it was going to be done any day--he was going to have to fly to Germany to collect it and bring it home. The next semester, waiting for a concert to begin, I saw the most beautiful red bassoon on the stage, and I knew that was it--that he'd gotten his beautiful new baby and loved it, and that he'd be playing it for us that night.

Any time I've seen a stage with a red bassoon, since, I've felt a little better, because I knew I'd be seeing him play--I've never seen another bassoon that really looked like it. And it was such a joy to be around him, even just to hear him. He played with the school ensembles, and we still go see those, and with the Modesto Symphony Orchestra, so any nerves I'd have during a concert, I could just look around the stage and find the red bassoon--and know a sweet, warm, wonderful person would be nearby, soon, playing with us. It calmed me down and made me happy.

I wish I could find a more recent picture of him--one taken with the red one.

I just found out this afternoon that he died Monday night. Here is is lovely obituary.

It just occurred to me, writing this, that in a week and a half, when we sing Poulenc's Gloria, and Beethoven's 9th Symphony (Ode to Joy), he isn't going to be there with us. His bassoon isn't going to be on the stage.

But the obit, and the letter Chris got from the school president, both closed with this:

"If Music be the food of love, play on."

So I'm going to go back to crying, now, but then I'm going to go back to singing, too. He will be very, very, very missed. He was loved very much.

EDIT to add: I'd been blanking on the other class I took with him. Not what was in it--I had a couple vivid memories--but what it actually was. I remembered, after looking through the class schedule*: it was Music for the Elementary School Teacher. (The woman I'd been talking to had been surprised when I said I took that class from M., because that was the version for music majors--Music in Elementary Schools. I'd forgotten I'd actually taken both, trying to reach my units. It was just his night to be evoked, I guess.)

He'd advised that could be okay to take both--I'd taken his first. He also told me I should consolidate my student loans as soon as I graduated (I forgot and didn't, but I keep starting to), and that when I was in his classes, he'd used my scantron tests as the key to grade the others, because I always aced them (remember how I said he was encouraging?). He also said I should learn the bassoon. :) He'd taught us recorder in the Music for the Elementary (etc) class, and I'd immediately picked it up, along with the alto recorder, and he knew I played flute, a little clarinet, etc... And not that I'd ever say this to an aficionado of one woodwind or another, but they're all essentially the same instrument. Maybe he thought I'd pick it up quickly. ...I'd kind of like to. Or the oboe. I've never tried a double-reed wind. I wished he could teach me.

My brain keeps playing tricks on me: for about twenty minutes, I kept thinking we should try to get to a couple more concerts on campus, soon, before we lost the chance to see him again. S'not fair.

I couldn't think of what music to put on--just knew I needed music. I'm listening to ABBA's "Thank You For the Music," now.

Thank you for the music,
the songs I'm singing
Thanks for all the joy they're bringing
Who can live without it?
I ask in all honesty,
What would life be?
Without a song or a dance, what are we?
So I say thank you for the music,
for giving it to me.

...He taught us Jewish songs and dances he had learned living in Israel. I still remember--and can sing--the refrain to Simkhes Toyre. He taught us about early music--which I did my project on, for Music of World Cultures. He used "Down in the jungle, living in a tent, best part is: no rent" as part of teaching us the ta/ti ti/tiri tiri/timri ta method of rhythm. He taught us about (and had us use) Orff instruments. I had never gotten to have music ed, in school--other people remember these things from being a kid, but they were all new to me, and it was like learning all of these things new. It was like getting to be a kid, and just revel in music, again.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Good Day, Sunshine!

I actually feel good--really good--for the first time in a long time. I actually managed to be physically and mentally active, get exercise AND work done, AND an errand attempted (but no score), all before 10, which has been generally unheard of, for me. It's a gorgeous morning (and yes, I have been singing, humming, and whistling "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning" all morning), because it's bright blue and utterly temperate and the SUN IS OUT AGAIN FINALLY OH GOD I'VE MISSED YOU SUN LOVE ME SUN WARM ME WARM BRIGHT LOVE JOY SUN LOVE

....May need the sunshine a bit more than I had previously realized.

AND--AND!--we have fantastic news out of two more on the Eastern seaboard. When I woke up this morning, it was all up in the air--will this get veto'd, will it pass other votes, etc--but at least one appears to be confirmed:

MAINE has legalized same-sex marriage!

And DC's City Council has voted to recognize same-sex marriage--but this is up to the legislature to approve. (Can we get them a little statehood, yet, please?) A bill has also been passed in New Hampshire, but awaits a signing or veto from their governor.

See, California? New England hasn't fallen into the ocean. It's really OK.

Now, I'm going to modify my sourdough blueberry muffin plan (to account for my failure to attain muffin cups) and then go into my back yard to get some more SUN and maybe try to plant some more seeds.

EDIT: Did I mention there are actually lots of cheerful chirping birdies singing, too? It's crazy fantastic.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Reno recap:

Background: We are not gamblers, and we are not really vacation takers; our friends had an extra free room voucher, and there was free parking, free drinks when you gamble, and gorgeous heated pools and jacuzzis (also free to guests). How could we say no?? The bathroom in our room alone was as big as my bedroom, and there was much gorgeousness to be experienced. So, while was lost a grand total of $29.09 on various bettings, there is no way on earth we would have been able to obtain even the drinks--even a handful of our drinks--in any similar place for that much, let alone a gorgeous room, more drinks than was probably advisable, disco dancing, and fireside and ocean themed bars and glass flowery chandeliers. Plus, we got to take a little road trip, see our friends, people watch, and look at All The Sparkly Lights. I even got to swim for a little while, something for which I have been exceedingly desperate for many, many, many, many months. Many. Srsly.

Played: penny slots, $5 blackjack and roulette. One $0.25 slot that still had a crank arm.

Watched: Penguins vs. Capitals, the Kentucky Derby (cried), Hatton vs. Pacquiao (cried), and the last 20 minutes of the stock car race.

Dodged: hundreds of strangely vaguely menacing but supposedly good-time-guy freemasons moving en masse, a very sweet flirt, and my own dog impulse to feel up all the cocktail waitresses.

Trip: Success!

I am both more and less sensitive to smoke than I realized.
I enjoy random winning way too much, and am easily delighted by flashing screens and sound effects.
I am a kinda' sore loser, when there's not a human I'm losing to. I am generally not at all sore when there are humans involved.
I want to play more cards.
Boxing is essentially tragic and really probably not for me.
Craps is fun to watch.
Gamblers (in Reno, this weekend, at least) are not as visibly superstitious as I would have guessed.
Probability is still just as fun as when I was taking AP Stats in high school, and I am way too happy to get my geek on about it.
I compulsively count changes in amounts of money and keep running tallies. I do not count cards, except for in pinochle.
I still don't get Nascar.
Underdog stories--even if the underdogs are actually horses--make me absurdly happy.
Anything shiny, neon, or sparkly makes me very happy--I am, essentially, a crow.
Going without seeing the sunshine for 3 days wreaks havoc on my brain chemistry, and makes me very unhappy.
It is hard to be menacing in something as goofy as a jester hat, but if you manage it, you graduate up to Really Scary.
Cow bell is always a good move in music, and usually sexy. I need a cow bell.
You will not get carded until you ask for a Shirley Temple.
Even if they are flighty carders, casino cocktail servers are freaking hot.

Now, my nose and eyes are settling down, the smoke is almost out of my laundry, and my kitties are approaching almost-recovered-from-petting-deficiency. I think I'm going let my brain melt a little. LOVE.

Friday, May 1, 2009

o/`Ju-ust to watch him die... o/`

Okay, so I'M GOING TO RENO. But I'm a little worried about it, because you know what happened the last time...

(Video. Or, lyrics, if you prefer.)

(Oh, you knew that was coming. Right? ....Right..?)

...I've been fairly insufferable, lately, frankly. Chris and I learned to play/sing this, respectively, and we do it pretty much every night, but that doesn't stop me from singing it most days, lately, too. Or making the "You remember what happened the last time I was in Reno..." joke. Over. And. Over.

This is not unusual for me, generally speaking. For one, I am the human jukebox, and if there's an applicable song line (or movie quote), I produce it, with no ability to stop myself. It's my cryptonite--that and female trios. No resistance. (When we were in New York, imagine how often I sang "On Broadway," "59th Street Bridge Song," "Thank You Lord For Sending Me the F-Train"... even "Take the A-Train," people. I am lucky no one killed me.) And I enable myself over much - I make themed mixes, so I have plenty ammunition for many topics. I made a "Talking about the Weather" mix, a Garden mix, an epic traveling mix, and a sugar and sweets mix; we've been working on a jailbait mix, a card playing mix (see below), and (tada!) a prison mix--and most of those, we're learning to sing and play. Hence the heavy emphasis on "Folsom Prison Blues" in our nightly guitar-ing-and-singing.

But I'm also especially vulnerable to that one, it seems; Chris has been brushing up on his fingerpicking, and there's an incredibly insidious, catchy picking pattern he's worked up for "Folsom." I can hear it from across the house, from downstairs, from out in the yard, and I start singing. I can be mid sentence in a conversation. I can have food in my mouth. It doesn't matter; the pattern says "It's time to jump in," and I jump in. It's like double-dutch (do you remember playing double-dutch?); I hear the rhythm and start rocking foot to foot until I can hop in, and then I can't stop for anything. I sometimes think Chris thinks this is funny.

Anyway! This all comes up because of this:

A little while ago, I was downloading "Poker Face," since I saw it mentioned today! ::blows kisses:: And I've been vaguely curious about this Lady Gaga person, anyway (since burlesque is for the win). So, I played it and enjoyed it, and started thinking about that cards playing mix we've been talking about making, and thinking, "Hey, that should go on it!" (even though we don't play poker--most card songs are poker songs, and we've accepted that). I thought, "Maybe I should put together that mix--what with us going to a place of card-playing and gamling. It would be useful on the road." Then the song ended, and I was a little late getting to my iTunes to stop it going on to whatever was next (it's always on random).

And it decided to play me "Folsom Prison Blues" (the version what I have linked above).

IT IS FATE. Cards/gambling mix ahoy!

ETA: So far, Lady Gaga's "Poker Face," Kenny Rogers' "The Gambler," Garth Brooks' "Two of a Kind, Workin' on a Full House," AC/DC's "She's Got the Jack," Motorhead's "The Ace of Spades," Bob Dylan's "Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts" (LOVE!), Bob Seger's "Still the Same"... the Eagles' "Desperado" has a Queen of Diamonds/Hearts verse, so that counts... Possibly "Viva Las Vegas" and "Folsom Prison Blues" just for the.. y'know.. Vegas and Reno references...

...Um. Why are so many of the cards songs gooey modern country and hair metal/arena rock? Any other suggestions, guys?

ETA afterwards: Found a handy list, with a lot I know and love and had completely forgotten. Added Steely Dan's "Deacon Blues," Steve Miller Band's "The Joker," "House of the Rising Sun" (this one was Joan Baez), The Pogues' "Bottle of Smoke," ABBA's "The Winner Takes It All," and (duh!) "Luck Be a Lady Tonight" -- Marlon Brando's version from the movie (my favorite--sorry, Frank). And somehow forgot to add (even though I had it) Suzanne Vega's "No Cheap Thrill."