Ozzily Yours

Monday, June 26, 2006

"He Wouldn't Stop Calling Us!"

On Saturday night, the husband and I went to see Wordplay, the documentary about New York Times Crossword Editor Will Shortz and other crossword fanatics. Upon arriving at the theater, we were happily surprised to learn that Patrick Creadon, the director, was in town on a promotional jaunt (apparently he's a Chicago native, so I think he was also pleased to have an excuse to visit), and would do a Q&A session after the film was over.

I'd highly recommend the movie, and not just because I'm a puzzle geek. As Creadon observed, "It's like when you make a documentary about a band you love, and you want to show people why you love that band... you're not making it for the hardcore fans, you're making it for everyone else." He's really hoping that people who don't love crossword puzzles and gaming will still find something special in this project.

Anyway, there were lots of questions about his processes (both artistic and financial), the world of crossword puzzling, the annual crossword tournament, etc. Pretty quickly, however, one audience member threw out the question, "So how'd you get Bill Clinton to appear?" Clinton is just one of many big names to espouse his love of The New York Times Crossword Puzzle onscreen, but it seems this questioner was particularly impressed by his inclusion. Creadon, however, replied, "He wouldn't stop calling us!" Apparently the former president was incredibly enthusiastic and excited about being a part of the documentary, and had an awful lot to say on the subject.

Creadon then observed, "Jon Stewart was a lot harder, though... until we called his people and told them Bill Clinton was going to be in it, and then they were like, 'Wait, who else is in this movie? Really? OK, hey, next week's wide open, what's good for you guys?'"

Friday, June 23, 2006

Hope You Don't Get Pennywise....

This is just... bizarre. And it must be shared.

Flemish Giant Rabbit

The other day, the husband and I heard a story about a friend of a friend, who has recently developed what our friend apparently considers a somewhat odd obsession with flemish giant rabbits. The husband and I, however, immediately began nodding our heads and exclaiming, "Yes! The giant bunny! We've seen one! IT WON FIRST PRIZE AT THE NEW YORK STATE FAIR!" It's true that we may be easily excited, but either way, I now feel compelled to present to you the award-winning giant flemish rabbit.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

"They Were Cute Little Buggers."

Apparently my stepsister was recently telling my dad the story of how she was approached by Westie breeders with offers to use her dog, Wilson, as a stud. (Which, by the way, is amazing in itself - dog breeders just roam the streets of New York City looking for potential man-whore Westies???) And my dad busted out with, "Well, back when we were breeding Bitsy...."

It seems that my childhood dog, Bits the dalmatian, was transported from Chicago to North Carolina for the express purpose of doggy sex with a suitably well-bloodlined stud, and then brought back home where, several months later, tiny new dalmatians came into our lives. When questioned further, all Dad had to say about this stage was, "They just kept coming. And soon they were too big for the kitchen, so we moved them to the dining room... and then I had to build a pen in the yard for them. We sold a few, and gave most of them away. They were cute little buggers."

Is it strange that I have no memory of my dog being pregnant, giving birth, and nursing puppies for weeks thereafter? - and that my father, apparently, has been keeping this information to himself for the better part of three decades?

Why I Like Tuesdays

Every Tuesday, I hustle to get out of work by 5:30, and hop on the brown line, hoping to arrive at the Western stop by 6:20 or so (some days the brown line can be awfully slow). From there I walk a few blocks up Lincoln Ave. to the Old Town School of Folk Music, where the Women's Choir class meets Tuesday nights from 6:30 until 7:50 (though it's usually more like 6:35 until 7:59, when our director, Kathy, suddenly remembers she has another class to teach at 8:00).

I've been singing for as long as I can remember; I come from a singing family. Every time my dad's family gathers and more than a couple of cocktails are imbibed, a robust sing-along breaks out at some point or another. I tend to know more of the songs than the rest of my generation, (thanks to my dad's having sung them around the house throughout my childhood), but we all try to get in on it, all the way up to my 93-year-old grandparents - Grandma, frankly, always looks incredibly happy when she's busting out with "I'm Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover," or something equally anachronistic.

At my very tiny high school, I was something of a big fish in a small pond... when you have a graduating class of 29, and a choir of 40-50 people, being able to carry a tune pretty much shoots you to the lead alto position very quickly. I took voice lessons, but frankly, I was pretty arrogant, and didn't practice enough, and wasn't sure how much all of this classical stuff had to teach me.

In college, I was surrounded by very serious singers, some of whom have gone on to have successful music careers. Knowing I would never be at their level - and being used to my "big fish" status - I shied away from singing. If I couldn't be the best, what was the point? I never took voice lessons in college, I didn't join the chorale or any other musical ensemble as a student, and singing pretty much fell by the wayside. Sure, I still joined in the raucous family sing-alongs, but as far as taking it seriously? Aside from the occasional performance in a musical, I was pretty much done.

That is, until business school. During my post-admission, pre-agreeing-to-attend-the-school orientation weekend, I met Richard, who was a member of the MBA program's a capella group. This was a school known for its quantitative focus, its intense academics, constant studying... I was, clearly, a little surprised to learn of this group's existence. I must admit, though, that Richard, with his friendliness and encouragement and obvious love of singing, was one of the people who convinced me to enter the program.

Come fall, I auditioned and was accepted into the a capella group, and began singing in a structured environment for the first time in a decade, and I loved it. No, we weren't great, but we weren't bad, either (especially according to our single groupie - my friend Raife never missed a performance!). More importantly, we all genuinely enjoyed singing. Being with that group of people once a week definitely helped alleviate some of the stress that went along with being in business school.

After graduation, I didn't want to go another decade without singing in a group... I stumbled across the class listing for the Women's Choir while the husband and I were at a concert at the Old Town School last fall, and signed up for the class session starting in January. Some Tuesdays, I feel guilty for leaving work by 5:30 when there is still much to be done; other Tuesdays, I want nothing more than to go home: I'm tired, I'm hungry, the husband and the cat are waiting for me... and yet, as one of my fellow altos observed recently, "I'm never sorry when I come to Women's Choir." No matter how sleepy, crabby, headachey, work-obsessed, or overbooked I am, when I go to class, by 6:45, I'm thrilled to be there. And that would be why I like Tuesdays.

Yesterday was particularly exciting, as we began working on a little piece we'll be performing 7/9 with The Hypnic Jerks at the Chicago Folk & Roots Festival... if you're local, you might want to consider coming by!...

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Ozzily, Indeed

On Saturday, the husband and I attended a lecture at the Newberry Library here in Chicago (incidentally, also the site of our wedding almost two years ago... but that's a story for another day). We felt like such grown-ups... and, as such, I'm sure you're very intimidated, but prepare for that feeling to stop. The topic of the lecture was "L. Frank Baum and the Wizard of Oz."

I've been a lover of Oz since I was a little girl, when my dad used to read to me from the books he had received as a little boy. I saw the 1939 musical early and often, and recently came across a photo of myself - no more than 4 years old - dressed up as Dorothy for Halloween. It's a long-standing love, and one that others have nurtured through gifts of Oz-themed jewelry, clothing, artwork, music, and books.

Recently, I mentioned to a friend that the film had abandoned Baum's silver slippers in favor of ruby slippers in order to fully leverage the then-brand-new technology of Technicolor. This friend (who is incredibly bright and knowledgeable about many, many things) thought about it, and mused, "You're probably right." The husband later informed me that it was hard for him not to lean over and inform her, "No, seriously - if it's Oz-related? She's definitely right."

I've explored the history and impact of the books and of the film somewhat extensively, so I was thrilled to see that this lecture would be offered by Angelica Carpenter, author of The Royal Historian of Oz, and current president of the International Wizard of Oz Club (of which I am not a member... I haven't gone quite that far yet). Clearly, I had to buy a copy of her book (as well as one for Dad - a Fathers' Day gift), and was pleased that she was sitting right there willing to sign them.

She wrote nice personalized notes in both books, and signed them, "Ozzily Yours, Angelica Carpenter." So when, this morning, I decided it was time to find a way to start putting proverbial pen to proverbial paper, "ozzily" popped into my head (I briefly considered "ozzy," but decided I wasn't ready to welcome all that many stray metal fans to the blog... except Moth, of course - hi, Moth!).

And there you have it. The explanations of the wherefore behind the blog and its title done with, I now feel free to just spew about whatever pops into mind. Here's hoping it's something worthwhile one of these days....

Something Giving, and Whatnot....

So having just gotten off the phone with the husband (I'm allowed to call him that, he started it on his blog), I've realized something's got to give. And I'm not alluding to the terrible-looking film (I won't out-and-out call a film terrible without actually having seen it, but I will readily acknowledge how terrible it seems likely to be). I'm just talking about my life. Certain things about my current routine just aren't clicking with me, and I've got to make some changes, and I've got to get proactive about it. And I'm taking steps - good steps - but I think I need to vent more often, in a manner other than calling the husband bitching and moaning. It's not always productive, it's not always fair to him, and - dammit! - he's not always at his desk when I want him to be!

So here you are. Here I am. Here we go.