alee_grrl: a still of chihuro sitting on a balcony overlooking water and watching the train ride across the water (train watching)
I'm taking a brief break from my bar prep to write out my response to hearing of David Bowie's death. There have been a few other celebrities whose lives, works, and ultimately deaths have touched a thread in my heart (Terry Pratchett and Leonard Nimoy for example). I usually manage with a moment of silence and a revisiting of their works. I've spent much of my morning reading and watching tributes to this esteemed artist and decided I wanted to add a brief bit of my own response.

I first fell in love with David Bowie as a child watching the movie "Labyrinth." He was captivating and fascinating, and his voice! I remember hearing "Space Oddity," "Modern Love," "Let's Dance" and "Chinagirl" on the radio growing up, but didn't fully discover his music till I was in my late teens when I heard "Little Wonder" and "Dead Man Walking" of his "Earthling" album. I promptly bought that and then started digging in his back catalog and falling just that much more in love. There are so many excellent songs to love and admire, and so many that speak to being an outcast, an alien in the world, to being different.

In college I discovered some of his movies. I ended up writing a paper on "The Hunger" as a freshman. I was again struck by his ethereal beauty and how he felt both masculine and feminine. Here was someone I longed to be in many ways, captivating and androgynous. His continuing explorations of self and identity as he got older in many ways taught me that it was okay to keep trying on new identities and trying out new things. Experience in life causes us to expand and grow, becoming more complex and adding to our multitude of internal contradictions.

I spent the weekend listening to his newest album, "Blackstar," which is retrospect is very much a goodbye album. It is telling that the first time I heard the title song "Blackstar" I thought of the weeks spent at my father's side in hospice and the transformative aspects of death. The whole album is classic Bowie, brooding and ethereal with loads of self-reflection apparent in the lyrics. I was stunned when I read about his death this morning, and yet not as surprised as I could have been. From all accounts he, like my father, met his death with open eyes. He prepared a final good-bye for his fans and spent the remaining time with his family. And my thoughts are certainly with them, because I know how hard it is even when you have been preparing for the moment for months.

So thank you, David Bowie, for showing us misfits that we can find a place in this world, for teaching us that it is okay to keep exploring yourself as you age, and for just being an amazing well of talent. May your spirit rest in peace and may you find joy in whatever comes next.
alee_grrl: 9th Doctor and Rose walking towards the TARDIS.  Text reads: home is where the TARDIS is... (Tardis Home)
So this weekend was the first Springfield Vermont Steampunk Festival, and hopefully it will be held again next year. For a first time festival/convention it was very well run (at least from the guest's perspective, and from what I heard from vendors it was mostly well run on that end as well and only suffered from a few first year con hiccups). Since the festival locations were a bit spread out, and Springfield is a mountain town full of hills which makes walking that much more exhausting, they arranged to have a shuttle bus service for the entire festival. The shuttle drivers were awesome and didn't mind making stops that weren't on the official stop list (parking lots and venues). It helped that it was a small con and very laid back.

There were a lot of fun vendors, mostly local to Vermont, upstate New York, and New Hampshire. I spent entirely too much money, but I had planned for that. Between surgery and studying for the bar I'm going to be very focused for quite a few months and not spending much on anything not related to my usual monthly expenses. So this was my birthday/Christmas present to myself. :) It helps that I tend to only attend festivals and conventions once every year or two. In addition to jewelry and various other interesting knick-knacks, I also got quite a bit of tea (three different blends). Between the new stuff and the stuff I already had I can rest assured that I will not run out of tea this winter. :D

In addition to the vendors there were musicians and other activities. I missed the tea duels, and still am not entirely sure what happens at those, but I had a blast wandering the festival. My favorite bands from the weekend were Rusty Belle, The Stringfield Springers, and The Suitcase Junket. The Suitcase Junket is actually a one-man band and that man happens to be one of the members of Rusty Belle. So I wasn't too surprised to fall head-over-heals for both acts. :D

a bunch of music videos behind the cut )
alee_grrl: A kitty peeking out from between a stack of books and a cup of coffee. (Default)
This week's been a pretty quiet one. Spent a bit of time visiting with family on Sunday, went to my weekly therapy appointment, and otherwise just puttered around my house. Finally got around to buying a printer since I'm going to have to print out my bar exam application and get that in the mail soonish. My Bluetooth adapter for my laptops arrived, so I can enjoy my music and movies via my Bose speaker without having to use the auxiliary cable. Tomorrow I'll head down to Springfield, VT for the Steampunk Festival.

I also watched two very sweet movies. The Hundred Foot Journey about an Indian family who move to France and open a restaurant in a small village. The restaurant happens to be right across the street from another restaurant, one with a one star Michelin rating. The amazing cast includes Helen Mirren, and the conclusion was lovely and heart-warming. The other movie was The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and it was every bit as charming as the first movie (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel). The cast is incredible and includes Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, and Bill Nighy among others.

Other than that, I'm enjoying the hell out of the new Delta Rae album (it's been out for a while, but I only just got it), and rediscovering my love of Jo Dee Messina and Suzy Bogguss. Hope others are having a good week.
alee_grrl: Railroad tracks through an autumn forrest (autumn rails)
Today was a mixed bag sort of day. I got out of the house for a bit and went and had lunch with a couple of the folks I used to work with. Will need to do another lunch as a half-hour isn't really much time to catch up with anyone. But it was nice to get out of the house. It was also nice to find that at least one of the bookstores in town is still open and to sit and have a nice ice tea and chat with a friend over the phone. Took the longer way home to enjoy the drive and ran a few errands. So that was all nice.

The harder part of the day was that my dad was having a really rough day, and it is very, very hard to see that and know there is little I can do to help.

The interesting thing is that for the past few days I've had Regina Spektor's "On the Radio" stuck in my head. I found this years ago (back when I was still in the Peace Corps) through this spectacular fan-video rec'd by one of my fellow volunteers. That then lead me to the fanfiction that the vid was dedicated to a wonderful work by called Freedom's Just Another Word for Nothing Left To Loose. This fic has become not only one of my favorite fics of all time, but is also far and away one of the best stories I have ever read concerning grief and PTSD.

So I guess it isn't terribly surprising that I have the song stuck in my head. The lyrics manage to be both poignant and playful. )
alee_grrl: A color illustration of me listening to music and smiling. (music)
In movies storytellers are able to indicate a long period of intense, often boring, overwhelming amounts of preparation and work into a musical montage, giving a hint of time and effort but focusing on inspiration. In reality two months of hard intense work is still two very long months. But, music is still inspirational and can help carry us through that long hard slog. My study soundtrack is huge as I own a rather large amount of music. But as a break from studying I thought I would do a quick top fifteen. You can listen to the mix here. Links below are to youtube videos if you prefer that form of playback. :) full list below the cut. )
alee_grrl: Tree branches silhouetted against a full winter moon. (moon)
I cannot really say that 2013 was a great year, nor was it a terrible one. It had both great and terrible moments as most years do. I pause for a moment to reflect on the year, as many do this night. I remember those that were lost to us this year and in years past, and remind myself that death is just another part of life and those we've lost live on in our hearts and memories. I count my blessings and try to let go of my hurts. And for the first time in a few years I will actually try to stay up til the clock strikes midnight, because my niece finds this exciting. :)

I am fortunate to be loved, and to love in return. We have had a quiet evening, but a good one. Fizzy drinks for all (sparkling juice for my sister and neice, seltzer for me), finger foods (my sister even fried some of the sprouted grain tortillas that I'm allowed so I could have chips), music and movies. We have poppers for later (the little things filled with confetti), and balloons that we have each added a wish to--we'll release them into the ether come midnight.

I hope that others are having a safe and happy New Year and that the coming year will hold many blessings for all. I leave you with this beautiful version of Auld Lang Syne that I came across this week:

alee_grrl: Dread Pirate Roberts relaxing in satisfaction (Satisfaction)
Yesterday I was in a strange mood, contemplative and uncertain but not necessarily sad. It's a hard place to describe. I wrote out my thoughts though, and that and some conversations with friends on and offline helped. Today has been a good day, quiet and relaxing. My roommate and her daughter went ahead and gave me my birthday present, which was one of those car adapters that lets you route your phone/mp3 player through the FM radio and a stand to put my phone in. I went out and tested it/played around. Very exciting and will make my drive to work a little easier. :D

My dad called and we chatted for a bit. The age of electronics makes it a whole lot easier for him to remember birthdays and other anniversaries.

Right now I'm switching up the music that I had on my phone and listening to some of my more recent music discoveries/favorites. Am going to switch over and watch the last two episodes of Sleepy Hollow soon. Maybe catch up on some of the fanfic that I haven't had time to read this last week.

For those interested here are some of the songs I've been listening to a lot recently (besides the one I shared yesterday):

Katy Perry, Roar (Like "Brave" this is a very empowering song)
Delta Rae, Dance in the Graveyard and Bottom of the River
One Republic, Counting Stars
Avicii, Wake Me Up
Dido, The Girl Who Got Away, End of Night
Passenger, Let Her Go, Keep on Walking, I Hate (last song contains explicit language, but made me grin)
Swedish House Mafia, Save the World (bonus, the video is awesome and makes me misty eyed every time I watch it, bad things start to happen and then some dogs charge to the rescue.)

If you're interested here is my current favorites playlist at grooveshark.
alee_grrl: A kitty peeking out from between a stack of books and a cup of coffee. (Default)
Thought I would share a song that I've been listening to a lot recently.

alee_grrl: Candle burning next to mirror in a window sill with snow seen through the window (Winter candle)
We've had a very snowy and gray winter up here in Vermont and I've noticed that my mood of late has been as dreary and grey as the sky. So I finally gave in and ordered a small light therapy lamp.

My humidifier has broken, which is frustrating for two reasons. One is that winter isn't quite over and the humidifier helps a lot with preventing winter nose bleeds from over dried out sinuses. The second is that it also works well as a white noise machine. We're at the point in our winter where the humidity increases (hello mud season), so replacing the humidifier isn't a huge priority. However the white noise function is as I haven't slept as well the past few days. So I also ordered a sound therapy machine.

Lastly here's a nice laid back sort of beach tune to put us in mind of sunshine and summer:
alee_grrl: A kitty peeking out from between a stack of books and a cup of coffee. (Default)
I have a fondness for jazz singers, especially female jazz singers. Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Rosemary Clooney--I adore them and have several Pandora stations based on this love. Because of those Pandora stations I discovered a more recent jazz singer, Madeleine Peyroux. Her voice is a rich and sultry alto and I love the jazz and swing rhythms. Her music makes me think of outdoor cafes, Paris, evening outdoor galas accented with fairy lights, wine and good food, and dancing.

videos under cut )
alee_grrl: Close up of two people holding hands (romance)
I found this today, and I have had it on repeat since. It's a gorgeous song and the video is so amazingly powerful it made me cry (in a good way).

alee_grrl: A color illustration of me listening to music and smiling. (music)
So Fun. has become my current musical obsession, or at least their Some Nights album.

I enjoyed We Are Young but not so much that I had to go out and find out if the rest of the album was as good. It wasn't until I heard Some Nights and Carry On, and more importantly saw Avengers vids using the songs that I became obsessed.

Awesome Captain America fan vid using Carry On:

Tony Stark - Terrible Privilege (fan vid using Some Nights):

alee_grrl: Disney's Cheshire Cat.  Text: You may have noticed that I'm not all there myself. (cheshire cat)
Managed to get through my final this morning. It was a bitch of a test, but I think I did ok. I'm pretty sure I hit all the main issues in the essays, though I'm less certain about the multiple choice. Legal multiple choice are evil. I read the fact pattern and the questions and then want more facts (it could be a if this, or b if this, and omg, wtf ::headdesk::). But they are good practice for taking the multi-state portion of the bar, which is multiple choice. Blerg.

In celebration of finishing another semester here is a really awesomely nerdy video:
alee_grrl: A kitty peeking out from between a stack of books and a cup of coffee. (sun through trees)
This song has quickly become one of my favorites. Wonderful uplifting lyrics (which the quote above is from), and beautiful harmonies. Written and performed by the folk duo from California, MaMuse. I highly recommend both this song and the rest of their music. It is amazingly beautiful.

alee_grrl: 9th Doctor and Rose walking towards the TARDIS.  Text reads: home is where the TARDIS is... (Tardis Home)
Today a friend pointed me in the direction of this little ditty. Strong voices, fabulous musicians, a banjo! and a song that riles the blood and gets you up and yelling. Good music in my book. It's Mumford and Sons Little Lion Boy. Check it out over on you tube:
alee_grrl: Image of 4th Doctor (Tom Baker) leaning out of the TARDIS (dr who yes)
I would love to see Jerry Lawson and Talk of the Town (if you haven't seen it, watch Sing Off...Amazing!) perform the song "Crazy" by Charles Barkley. I loved their version of Duffy's "Mercy." Watch it for yourself below. Seeing them perform "Crazy" would be awesome.

Seriously, if you love vocal music and good entertainment check out The Sing Off on NBC. It's the first show in forever that I've watched "live" (within a few days of airing versus a few years or decades).

Now back to studying.
alee_grrl: text only icon.  text reads: Insert fangirl squee here. (squee)
I have four days off! Of course I have assignments and laundry to do, but four days without classes. Yay!

In other news I am learning the vocals for this song:

I'm part of an open mike club. We get together and find songs we enjoy and practice them with the goal of eventually performing them in the little cafe/coffee shop on campus. So far we are working on this and "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz.


alee_grrl: A kitty peeking out from between a stack of books and a cup of coffee. (Default)

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