THINGS I LOVED/HATED THIS WEEK #204

LOVE:

“I Can’t Stand the Rain” by Ann Peebles:

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Musical taste is such a peculiar thing. So many songs are out there that it’s impossible to know them all, and without curators we will live our long lives never hearing some of the greats. And because of the tremendous breadth and depth of musical options available to us, we get the chance to unearth albums that would otherwise be forgotten. Apple Music and Spotify have been tremendous blessings that have allowed me to hear songs that I never knew existed. I remember a decade ago when you had to scour the dark underbelly of the Internet in hopes of finding a ripped MP3 file off your favorite artist’s first album. And if you couldn’t find it, well you were entirely out of luck. I say all of this to say that I have discovered my latest obsession, a soul singer from the seventies named Ann Peebles. I don’t even know how anymore, but one night I heard her greatest hit, “I Can’t Stand the Rain.” From the first note, I was absolutely hooked and it has played endlessly in my head ever since.

There is something decadent about the lyrics, somebody who hates the sound of rain because it reminds her of an old lover. Ann has a delicious fierceness to her voice that propels her through the entire fabulous album. The songs are all catchy and stay with you. I didn’t know I was really into soul, but then again, I’ve always loved Motown, so it makes sense. I listen to the entirety of the album most days, and I’m branching out into all of Ann’s work. She wasn’t very prolific. Critics say she had a unique voice, but she wasn’t interested enough in fame or what the public wanted from her, so she just kind of fizzled out, lost to musical history. I was thrilled to just find out she’s still alive, but unfortunately, she no longer puts on performances. So I may never hear Ann live, but I will listen to her albums for the rest of time.

Curried Pasta:

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When I was at the Botanical Center recently, gorging myself on wild rice and mushroom soup, I also had some curried pasta. The idea didn’t exactly thrill me, but when you are a vegetarian you just eat what you can. I have nothing against pasta and I certainly have nothing against curry. Ever since I started eating it, this flavor profile has captivated my palate completely. So I don’t know why my enthusiasm was waning, but when I put the first bit of farfalle in my mouth, I was sold. This is what heaven tastes like. So the other day when I was starting to die of the flu, I was in absolutely no mood to eat or cook, but I knew that I had to eat something to stay alive, and I knew that perhaps something a bit spicy would fix me. When I normally feel unwell, I just eat a skillet of shakshuka and then guzzle some warm whiskey with honey and lemon. Usually straightens me right up. Not this time. So I boiled some pasta and smothered it in curry sauce from ALDI. This turned out to be yet another divine concoction thanks to that wonderful grocery store. Honestly, reader, who would I be without ALDI? Where would I be with ALDI? I don’t want to think of it. I really don’t have much more to say about this, all I can say is to follow my example. Go shopping for some cheap ingredients and make the nicest dinner of your life. I can’t wait to get home tonight after class and make it again. It takes all of ten minutes!

My Glorious Return to Mexico:

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I know that I wrote about this just recently, but plans are being put into motion, and finally my summer seems set. Jessica and I already determined that we would visit Mexico City this summer instead of Europe as we had planned. This bummed me out for a while; I had hoped to get back to Egypt for a good spell, but that will have to be in the future now. And I really don’t mind. I loved Mexico City with an inordinate and inexplicable passion. You know all the details, so I won’t bore you to tears. But I must discuss something that feels like divine intervention. I have been toying with the idea of staying for two months, I haven’t spent so much time in one spot since I literally moved to Paris when I was 19. But I couldn’t book it, something always held me back. I had found dozens of beautiful apartments that were in my price range, but I had fallen so in love with my little spot on the Calle Simón Bolívar, that my soul resisted booking anywhere else. The other night, I saw something that made me do this:

God Is Real

In the past, my old apartment had always come up as booked, but now it was available, and I literally squeaked and turned on mariachi music. Let’s do the same!

Immediately I put in my dates and sent a request to the owner. He has long fascinated me because I never met him, all of his communications came from his maid, Blanca, who spoke no English and was the epitome of charm. Within an hour, he sent a confirmation, and just like that, I’ll be in Mexico City for sixty-one nights. Isn’t that ridiculous? Isn’t it splendid? I will have two months to be away from my usual life and live the life I love best. When I’m away, I’m at my happiest. I can’t wait for the churros and tequila and covered galleries and museums and streets and tortilla vendors and the Olive Garden and that damn Walmart that I love so much on the Avenida de los Insurgentes. And, reader, we all get to see Little Chiffon and Patrón and Bitch Cat again. This is why I’m honestly the most excited. I miss them. I’m going to buy so many cat treats!!! June 4 just cannot come soon enough; this summer is going to be perfect.

MEH:

Origin by Dan Brown:

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Dan Brown has a gift for writing books that you can simply fly through. They aren’t always good, like that one that took place in Washington DC and everybody’s running around looking at Masonic imagery, but they’re always readable. For whatever reason, the reader simply cannot put it down. Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code were, for better or worse, excellent stories. And terrible movies. Absolutely awful. Who would ever have thought that such riveting novels could be so sleepy on the screen? I guess it has to do with the fact that Tom Hanks is the weirdest casting for Robert Langdon. I don’t know anymore who I thought it should be, but it’s not him. And Dan Brown just keeps writing these books. The last one, Inferno, was his best, I feel. It’s all about a plague on humanity that tries to stop the insane population rise we are going to have to cope with. Excellent ending. I’ve though a lot about that one. That movie was also AWFUL. Anyway, I didn’t even know Origin was coming out until it was on bookshelves, and I finally took a few lengthy baths and finished it. Good book, really. It’s all about the assassination of a futurist named Edmond Kirsch who is basically Elon Musk. Edmond has a humanity changing discovery to announce that will fundamentally altar the foundations of religious belief. So some secret society kills him like in all Dan Brown books. Robert Langdon is conveniently there and close friends with the victim like in all Dan Brown books. A life or death chase ensues like all Dan Brown books. Robert Langdon has visited all these locations innumerable times in the past as in all these books. Symbology, technology, and religion all blend together as in all Dan Brown books. Robert succeeds in the end as can be expected from any Dan Brown book. Blah blah, you know the routine if you read these, I assume. But the ending is quite interesting and I kind of suspected it but I hoped I was wrong. One of the main characters in the book isn’t real; it’s a computer that has the voice of a British male. This is the futurist’s personal assistant and does anything it can in its power to follow his instructions. This leads to some bizarrely thought-provoking moments that makes me terrified of the Amazon Echo Dot that is in my lounge. Is it going to kill me? Read the book, reader, and don’t bother going to a future inevitable film adaptation.

HATE:

Google Apps:

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I have never been technologically illiterate. I have always tried to be as cutting edge as I can possibly be. Now that I am an old person with a job and all and a bit of money, I have Apple TVs, a MacBook, an iPad bigger than a fetus, nice televisions and all that. I even have one of those demonic Alexa Echos. Still not sure how I feel about it. I know that robots don’t have genders, and I would never presume to gender anything, but I feel like Alexa is a her. And I don’t trust her. She doesn’t listen to me half the time. It is nice to just say out loud, “Alexa, play me some relaxing music,” and then have music start playing. But I dunno, still weirds me out. But I’m off topic as always. I don’t understand all the Google Apps. I am trying to, reader. Really I am. They’re used at my work a lot, and I try. And many of my professors at Upper Iowa use them, too, but it just is not making sense in my head. There are like fifty different apps and so many buttons to push and nothing is organized in a way that I like. And then you have to tie everything to a Google email that you probably forgot you had. It’s just a mess. I love the online platform Apple built much better. You can do presentations, documents, notes, music, email, and spreadsheets online in a way that makes sense. This Google thing just does not. I have come to terms with my need to learn it, though. In my future classroom, I will undoubtedly be using many of these apps for student work. The future is a great blessing, but this is the first thing that’s ever made me feel old and out of the loop. Well, that and the teens with their seventeen Instagram accounts. Why do they need so many? Aren’t they tired of keeping up with all that digital content? I was born at a weird time, the end of the olden days and the dawn of the digital era. It’s a weird place to be. And I truly do get most of it. I wouldn’t leave the house without my iPhone X or Apple Watch or car dongle that starts the machine without a key. But Google is just ugly. I think that’s my problem. I don’t like ugly things. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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