Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Hittin' the Griff and the Shack

Astronomy and I are old acquaintances. The first time that I really learned about astronomy was in the seventh grade and I remember barely understanding the difference between the two types of eclipses and what was where during each type. Then during my sophomore year of high school the EHS-MER performed a sun-moon-stars themed show. It didn't expand my knowledge about the universe, but it did inspire my first two tattoos. Finally in college, I chose astronomy as a GE class to get out of taking math. I don't remember a single thing I learned, but I do remember that the professor was British and had a dreamy accent.

Recently, I finished watching season 1 of "Ancient Aliens." (The History Channel is currently showing season 2 but much like the light traveling from stars that takes years to reach us, I'm late.) The series presented a variety of evidence to support the theory that our ancient civilizations were visited by aliens. I can't even begin to start to outline the theory here, but if you saw AVP, that's close enough. I thoroughly enjoyed the series and if there was one thing that transfixed me, it was the scenes they would show of the changing night sky. The effects of the stars rotating around ancient pyramids and temples reminded me of seeing stars against the backdrop of desert rocks. (Back in August, I made the trek out to Joshua Tree to check out the Perseid Meteor Shower.) I imagine that being out in the middle of nowhere and being able to see the stars so clearly is the closest we'll ever come to what our ancestors felt like when they looked at the night sky. Their days, of course, weren't filled with the stress and worry that ours are, but their nights must have been filled with wonder and awe.

So after weeks of scouring the website, I finally drove up to Griffith Park Observatory to check it out in person. I haven't been this excited about going to a new place in a long time. And much like the vast universe that remains unexplored, I know I only saw a mere fraction of what you can see and do there. It totally brought back the days of seventh grade science, the college astronomy class and surprisingly, high school chemistry!

My goal was to check out "Centered in the Universe," the main film that is shown in the Planetarium. I think it was designed to be a 101 "Intro" type film which is why I wanted to see it, but there are still some things that confuse me. In addition to the usual questions--Who are we? Why are we here?--I think I need to brush up on the difference between stars, galaxies, etc. I may even join an astronomy meetup group, but truthfully, all I want to do is lay on a blanket and look at stars. Or sit in my car and look at stars through the moonroof.

As I left the observatory, I could think of only one thing that would make my trip out to LA complete: a Tommy's run. It's been years since I've been to the Shack and I wondered if I could even get myself there from Griffith Park. As I drove down the hill, clouds rolled in and prevented me from using the stars to guide me, so I used my VZ Navigator instead.

Star-gazing and chili-cheese fries? If only my ancient ancestors had been so lucky.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dirty 30 ÷ 2 x 10

Install a girl’s satellite radio and she’ll listen until it breaks. Show her where to buy the replacement part and she’ll fix it herself.

The 80’s are BACK! (After nearly 6 months of listening to only the radio and CDs, it wasn’t a moment too soon--trust me.) To commemorate the return of the 80’s and my 30th birthday, I decided to share my top 10 favorite 80’s songs.

#15 “Red Skies” by The Fixx
Sometimes I wonder if Melancholy is my middle name. There is just something about a brooding, mysterious song like this that I can’t resist. Throw in some mid back tense vowel sounds and IT IS ON. Should have taken warning? Yes! We should have!

#14 “Under the Milky Way” by The Church
This song is simply beautiful. This is one instance when beginning with the end in mind (Habit #2 for Highly Effective Teens) may not be the way to go. Between this song and the cover used in a recent car commercial, my next car will have a moon roof. (I considered including a link to the commercial, but that seemed so corporate.)

#13 “Things can Only get Better” by Howard Jones
Do you feel scared? I do, but I won’t stop and falter. And if we throw it all away, things can only get better. While I’ve always found this song inspirational, being on the verge of another decade gives it a new significance. Come to think of it, this song hasn’t had this much significance since the time it got stuck in my head at Knott’s Scary Farm a few years ago!

#12: “Save a Prayer” by Duran Duran
I can’t stand some of the poppier, mainstream songs by Duran Duran like “Rio” and “Hungry like the Wolf,” but there is something about this song that really appeals to me. Maybe it’s how cool he looks, standing by the wall, corner of a main street. Maybe it’s his initial rejection and eventual acceptance of the aforementioned prayer. Maybe it’s the synthesizer. Yep, it’s definitely the synthesizer.

#11 “Pretty in Pink” by The Psychedelic Furs
Pretty in Pink is one of my favorite 80’s movies, mainly because of the underlying class warfare theme. It’s there—trust me. Plus there’s something satisfying about a girl who’s pretty in pink. Maybe we should all spend some more time in that side of our lives where nothing is ever put straight…

#10 “West End Girls” by Pet Shop Boys
Some of you may know that I’m not the best listener in the world. As a little girl I used to think that this song was about Eastern boys and Western girls. While I may not have been the sophisticated, worldly woman that I am today (read: I have a passport), even back then I knew that those two groups were worlds apart. That, and kicking in chairs and knocking down tables always sounded delightfully bad.

#9 “Head over Heels” by Tears for Fears
You say Tears for Fears and everyone thinks of “Shout” or “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” (thanks to Real Genius). Don’t take my heart, don’t break my heart, don’t throw it away. We’re all thinking it, but luckily, they articulated it for us. And for those of you who have seen the video, who says boys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses? Especially when those girls are librarians—with BIG glasses!

#8 “She’s Like the Wind” by Patrick Swayze
Those of you who know me, know of my absolute love for Dirty Dancing and all things Swayze. I don’t really care for similes—I usually prefer metaphors—but there is something about a tough guy singing a love song that makes my heart melt-even if he does use what I consider a weak metaphor. While his use of figurative language may have been weak, my love for him remains strong enough for this song to beat out “Time of My Life” and that's gotta count for something.

#7 “Don’t you Forget about Me” by Simple Minds
I can’t tell you what’s happening musically in the opening chords, but I can tell you that if you keep listening, you’ll hear an unforgettable song. I sometimes think that if Breakfast Club were part of the required curriculum for high school, those years would be easier. The times and fashions may have changed, but little else has. Am I right? I know I am.

#6 “Boys don’t Cry” by The Cure
Peppy. A song about the harmful effects of gender-coding? Better make it peppy! That’s not the only reason I like it though. Who doesn’t like a song where you get to dance around in a bouncy manner to a syncopated rhythm? Awesome!

#5 “The Promise” by When in Rome
I once saw When in Rome perform. I kid you not: the set consisted of this song played multiple times. Good times! As someone who absolutely LOVES thinking of the right words to say, how could I NOT love this song? Plus I would totally wait around a while for… you know.

#4 “All I Want is You” by U2
Yes, this is the U2 song that cracked my Top 5. Really? Yes! While I realize that it may not be one of their more mainstream 80’s songs, who can resist all the things he’ll give you? I know I can’t. A simple, haunting melody? Well-thought, heart-felt lyrics? All I want is you. Too.

#3 “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic” by the Police
If you don’t like this song, you’re lame. The Police consist of Sting and two other guys. Sting used to be an English teacher. ‘Nuff said! Okay, I do have one more thing to say: this peppy song takes my bouncy dancing to the next level. Not only do I get to bounce around, but there are parts of the song where I get to pause and totally freeze before CONTINUING to dance/bounce around as the song continues. Now that’s my idea of magic.

#2 “I’ll be There for You” by Bon Jovi
New Jersey is on the East Coast. I have very strong anti-East Coast sentiments, and yet somehow the Garden State managed to produce a man that I think is an absolute poet—in the hair god, rock ballad sense of the word, of course. Believe it or not, this song used to get major air time on KIIS FM. When I would listen to it, I would count the words every time. Please, keep swearin’ those five (5) words to me. And the key change? Oh, Jon, you know exactly what I like!

#1 “Mony, Mony” by Billy Idol
Yes, I realize that technically this is a cover of a Tommy James and the Shondells song from the 1960’s, but it’s my nickname! How could it NOT be my #1 favorite song? It totally beats “Mambo #5” because that’s only a little bit of Monica (and the wrong decade). This is my nickname. The appellation that you can’t use to refer to me without an express invitation. Who doesn’t love a song where the bridge consists of Billy Idol and chorus singers crooning that they love you? What’s that? You don’t have an awesome song that features your name? Sucks to be you. =)

The more numerically-inclined members of my audience may have noticed that I named more than 10 songs. Those of you who know me well know that numbers are a language I don’t speak. Those of you who know me even better than that know the significance of the number 15. The rest of you think you know me.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

How to Rock March Madness Monica-style

College basketball doesn't even rank on my list of top five favorite sports, and yet...

I am absolutely MAD about March Madness!

I joined a group on Yahoo and had to fill in a "bracket." This seemed like a pretty daunting task at first. My usual sports source told me that he knew next to nothing about college hoops and suggested either flipping a coin or copying President Obama's picks. Seeing as how the big O chose some other school over USC last year, that wasn't an option. Another friend suggested picking schools with names I liked or having Moochie and Starr help me. I ended up choosing based on names since those 2 were up to no good in the garage (probably decapitating another lizard).

It's only the first day but I'm tied for 3rd in the group! (There are only 5 members, you say? A minor technicality, say I!)

So I figured I would take a moment to share my strategy with some of you so that you can attempt to replicate my success in your own brackets--next year. Here are 7 insights into how I pulled off this unprecedented ranking:

  1. I hate Texas and so I did my best to avoid any school that I knew was from there.
  2. My college roommate (and best friend) went to Georgetown and so I chose them because I love her--we're like sisters!
  3. Cornell notes were developed at Cornell University. As an AVID teacher, how could I not rock Cornell all the way?
  4. I picked both teams that had Mexico in the name and San Diego State because they're the Aztecs.
  5. Xavier was the name of a student that I thought was awesome when I had him as a sophomore.
  6. The name Gonzaga sounds like a muppet that never made it into production at Sesame Street. I like it.
  7. Baseball bats are from Louisville. Despite fantasizing about beating people with a bat while sitting at meetings that are a total waste of my time, they eventually lost out because I like the name Villanova better. Plus there's a commercial that I hear on AM 830 for Villanova foods. It has a really catchy jingle, "Villanova! Villanova! It's the taste!" and they make sausages--'nough said!

So maybe next year, some of you will have a little more luck with your own "bracket." Feel free to pick my brain during the off-season.

* * *

In the time that it took me to type this, I just dropped to last. Dead last.

Fuck this shit. I can't wait until college football starts up again.