Monday, June 27, 2005

D.C.? That's Me

See that visitor in your stats? The one that says "Washington D.C. - Omni Shoreham" with an IP address that may be something like That's just me.

I'm here under the guise of attending the 41st annual meeting of the Drug Information Association. Although there is drug information I could offer from my coming-of-age days in the late 70s and early 80s, DIA is primarily interested in the discovery, development, regulation, and utilization of pharmaceuticals, biotechnology products, devices, and other related healthcare technologies. The organization is composed of over 27,000 industry folk from all over the world, and I think all 27,000+ of them are here for this thing. My real purpose here, however, is to eat as much Ethiopian food as I can between Sunday and Wednesday. It is one of my most favorite cuisines, probably because of the injera, and all the garlic and ginger, and D.C. is the unofficial western capital of Ethiopia, as there are more Ethiopians in D.C than there are anywhere else outside of Ethiopia itself. A whole bunch of these expats are operating restaurants in Adams Morgan, a mere few blocks from the Omni Shoreham, my temporary home away from home. This place is really beautiful, by the way, right on Rock Creek Park. A steal for $200/night on Priceline. (I didn't book this, but I have a better opinion of Priceline now that I'm having this rather positive experience.) Best of all, it has free WiFi in every room, so I'm happily tapping away from my bed at 3:00 AM -ooops- make that 4:00AM eastern time. See? Just like home. (And, my room actually looks like that picture.)

Jay (the doc with whom I'm working on the HIV neuropathy study) scheduled a breakfast meeting with someone tomorrow morning at the totally jive (and quite ungodly) hour of 8:00AM. How dare he??? When will I sleep?? I guess now would be a good time to start on that, huh?

OK. More later...

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Belated Birthday Wishes AKA The Post That Died Before It Was Born (as so many seem to do) PLUS, a Bonus Blog Dream

Three Generations- May 21, 2005
Originally uploaded by LisaPal.
Since the subject here is birthdays (and unrelated distractions), I thought it would be appropriate to use a photo of the little woman to whom I gave birth and the woman who gave birth to me.


My two most faithful readers, pi22seven and Richard have just had birthdays and I failed to properly acknowledge that! But I did try...

The pi man had mentioned that his birthday- the BIG 4-0 -was coming up right after Father's Day. I was very proud of myself when I actually realized it on Tuesday night, and that it was still technically the 21st, so I wouldn't be late (as usual). I had posted one goofy and unrelated comment earlier that day and after my realization, went to post a second, rather elaborate one, wishing you, pi, a happy birthday, as it was not only a major mile-marker, but also the Summer Solstice, the Capricorn Full Moon and Sun's entrance into Cancer (according to web sources who watch and note such things). All on your Big Day.

Then I went on to note that being born on the 21st was just one more thing to add to the list of odd concurrances, commonalities and synchronicities we seem to have. That, and the fact that those 21sts fall on solstices and equinoxes. This reminds me that I only have three more months before I have to say 43, (which as numbers go, is still hard for me to believe, but is essentially meaningless in terms of any definition of who I am) when brave souls ask my age.

Then, I remembered that Richard's blogger profile says he's a Gemini (which means a b-day in the last 31 or so days) and I see his age has ticked up another notch. (So good of them to attend to those little programming details, lest we were to forget to change it and pretend that time stopped... anyway, he's close to us, pi, but he'll never catch us!)

I thought I had some recollection of seeing Richard's birthday noted somewhere on one of his blogs. Electronic Ephemera and The Pedantic Pundit, but these destinations are dangerous places for me. Richard posts about a squillion interesting tidbits per minute it seems, (and I love him for it), and Electronic Ephemera is filled with these little patches of quicksand. I never know when I'm going to click on one of his post links and fall into one of those holes, get lost for hours in maze of related stories, and come crawling out in a Pasolini movie (see previous post) or some other bizarre netherworld. (There are so many such stories.) But on this particular trek, my browser froze and I lost everything I had open, including the b-day comment.

I was initially going to try again to post all this in pi's comment section, but it was getting lengthy, so I figured I'd just do it all here.

So, let me just say it again, to all you birthday boys- including Kevin, who also just notched another year, (but I did manage to express my wishes in his comments without incident):

If you understood how chronically late I am, (but usually just a little, despite tremendous efforts to be otherwise) you'd realize that I'm really right on time.

Kevin, by the way, is the most recent blogger to make a guest appearance in one of my dreams. He was just hanging out and having a cocktails with a few newly acquired friends while sitting up on top of some monkey bars in the French Quarter, (New Orleans -and by bars, I mean the metal kind that you climb, not the kind usual associated with the FQ- this is a dream, remember?), as the river and lake rose, breached their levees and
began to flood the city. I saw him as I floated by on what had only moments earlier been my office in the Business Administration Building on UNO's campus, but had now turned into a luxury houseboat.

Dreams can be such fun, but now that hurricane season is here, I hope this is not some portent.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Me and The Marquis: Floating to Odd Destinations on an Internet Stream of Consciousness (...while I wait for the Ambien to kick in.)

(I don't take Ambien every night, just once in a while, when I know I need to get to sleep but will be up until 6:00 AM trying.)

How My Mind Ended up in Paris With the Marquis de Sade, Watching Pasolini's Salo or The 120 Days of Sodom During One French Network's "Controversial Film Week"

The story begins as I board my ethereal Kon Tiki, built with logs of web. My first blog-stop is Richard's Electronic Ephemera, where I find a mid-life crisis in this link's destination. After entering different age-markers from my own life and the lives of others, I start hitting the "random" button. The number 51 comes up as the age at which the Marquis de Sade wrote Juliette.

I realize that I know only what most of us know about the Marquis and have never even heard of Juliette, so I Google it and the Marquis. I read critical essays and other bits from here and there as I peruse the results until I land on this page. Having had my curiosity sufficiently piqued, I happily find immediate gratification in the form of free PDF downloads. The offerings: Philosophy in the Bedroom and 120 Days of Sodom.

I download both and begin reading. First, Philosophy on the Bedroom. Though it served well as a vocabulary primer for the second book, I find it a bit too contrived and the dialogue so hokey (maybe a bad translation) that I'm unconsciously making fun of it out loud. So I move on to 120 Days of Sodom. Of the 391 page book, I read the 56 page introduction, which is the "set-up," followed by Part the First, which is 256 pages long. I don't get through the whole of this section because the more I read, the more I am struck by the familiarity of the many perversities. I've seen this before....

I stop reading and go back to Google- looking up Pasolini, and lo, there it is. Springtime in Paris, 1999. It's Controversial Film Week. Tonight's Movie: Pasolini's Salo, or 120 Days of Sodom. To see this piece of work made into film is really something. My traveling companion was quickly disgusted, couldn't take it and went to bed. But I stayed up and watched the whole thing, in Italian with French subtitles. It was one of the most bizarre films I've ever seen. (And I've seen some strange ones.) It would probably gross most people out. But sometimes sick things fascinate me in that way that makes my curious mind struggle to understand the appeal.

I parked my little boat on the Seine for the night and I didn't get to reading the other blogs on my itinerary. You never knoe where someone else's posts and links will deliver you, despite the best laid plans. I never would have imagined this destination.

Controversial Film Week Post Script
On the following night, (our last in Paris,) we were treated to Ken Russel's The Devils. This web site describes it as follows:
The Devils is one of the finest of Russell's films. Throughout his films Russell takes a schoolboyish delight in courting outrage. And The Devils is filled with such typically Russell-esque touches - self-flagellating nuns, piles of rotting plague victims and corpses tied to wheels, sexual fantasies of nuns fucking Jesus Christ, and nun mass orgies.

I remember seeing this film in the 1970s. It was a brilliant follow-up for Salo and it really set the tone for next day's visit to Mont St. Michel and our late-night tour of the Abbey, which is illuminated only by candles and all this creepy music plays as you walk through. We slept in the room of an inn on the mount and I swear, I thought I heard the cries of orgiastic nuns that night....
Awe RATS! Look at the time!

Monday, June 06, 2005

The (Accursed) Musical Baton Has Been Passed

Running the musical gamut...

I've been passed the Accursed (see previous post and comments) Musical Baton by pi22seven, which bestows upon me the responsibility to report the following information about my music consumption habits: (I hope you didn't think I could do this with any brevity.)


CDs: I have about 650, not counting the 1000+ Kirk Joseph CDs stored in my house, which you should check out and consider purchasing in support of this great bunch of musicians. (If Willie and I were still together, that number would be substantially higher, since we split the marital collection when we divorced.)

LPs: I have about 170 , ranging from punk (lots), funk/soul/R&B/fusion (lots), multi-flavored rock, folk-rock (Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, CSN&Y, etc.), jazz, classical, one or two comedy LPs and -okay, I admit it - a surprising amount of disco. The artist with the most vinyl in my collection: Lou Reed/Velvet Underground, a few others are very close behind.

And yes, I actually have that Partridge Family record shown above. The album was a gift given to me when I was 8 or 9, and yes, I played the hell out of it and had 8 year-old girlish fantasies of David Cassidy as my boyfriend.

As an interesting side note, on the night of my 40th birthday party, Willie (my former husband), called to wish me a happy birthday and to let me know that he'd try to come by, but it would be later because he was asked by David Cassidy to come sit in on a show Cassidy was playing at Harrah"s New Orleans Casino. Upon hearing this, I immediately regressed to the maturity level I had when I got that record and started demanding that he bring me David Cassidy for my birthday. Bring me David Cassidy, Willie! I want David Cassidy for my birthday. BRING HIM HERE! I was quite serious, a fact that could have been easily lost given that I had my hair in pigtails and was dressed in my uniform from St. Mary's Dominican High School, complete with rolled skirt, (as short as you could get away with without risking detention), rolled sleeves and saddle oxfords. You see, the theme of the party was, "Come As You Wish You Were OR Are Glad You're Not." The only things missing were the cigarettes and the ...oh, never mind. (My mother came as a nun with flaming red hair. Few could agree whether we were dressed as we wished we were or were glad we were not, though I'm sure that, during my actual teen years, my mother would have preferred to have been a childless, cloistered nun, especially after I ran away from home to see the Sex Pistols at the Kingfish in Baton Rouge, a story I will have to tell at some point.)

Oh, and Willie didn't bring me David Cassidy.

12" Singles: 11

45s: I didn't pull them out to count, but I probaably have about 30.

Casette Tapes: Around 80, many of them of live shows and demos of friends' stuff.

iPod MP3 and AAC Format: I have a paltry 187 songs on my iPod worth 12.9 hours of music and 876.6 MB of its 40 GBs. But a 14 GB block of the iPod is occupied by a bootable version of Mac OS X Panther and its accompanying applications along with 7 GBs of backed up photography. I'd have more music on it if ripping songs from my own CDs wasn't such a time-consuming pain in the ass.

Of those 187 songs contained on the Pod:
  • 20 are my Original Compositions
    • 17 are songs I wrote and recorded myself playing real instruments.
    • 2 are songs I put together on my Powerbook, while reclined in my bed, I might add, using Garage Band loops that I altered and deranged to suit my purposes. I posted a snippet of one of these before and I'll post it again. (Richard was the only one who commented on it, though I mentioned owning Torx screwdrivers in the same post and sent pi22seven into a momentary swoon.)
    • 1 is a live recording of me singing 'Round Midnight on a jazz gig in 1998. I proudly shared this before in a post on Ashlee Simpson's lip-sync blunder, (and I say proudly, because mine is really live, no sync-tracks, overdubs, etc.). But of the dozen or so regular readers I had back then, only Lasciate said anything about it, (and I wasn't quite sure how to interpret the comment). So, maybe I shouldn't have ben quite so proud about it being unvarnished. This could easily arouse my subterranean fears that I may be like one of the contestants on that horrible Warner Brothers network show who really thought they could sing and had no idea how incredibly bad they were.
  • 57 songs are by my friends and loved ones, some of whom I've also worked for or with. Two of those are former boyfriends, but still friends. (Unfortunately, Renard now joins this club.)
    • Ivan Neville (Aaron Neville's son) takes first place with 24 songs. I will add more soon. (Ivan & Lisa: 1981-1984, with intermittant break-ups. Lived together briefly in 1983.)

David Torkanowsky and Ivan Neville, Jazz Fest 1982, with Allen Toussaint's Rolls. Ivan looks like a completely different person now.
  • 32 are by Antonio Carlos Jobim, considered the Father of the Bossa Nova and one of the most influential composers of the 20th century. (The Girl From Ipanema is not one of them.)
  • 5 are by African artists.
  • 6 are by artists from India.
  • 20 are by artists whose careers began in the 60s, such as Hendrix, Sly & the Family Stone, Marvin Gaye, Donovan, Bob Dylan, the Supremes, and others.
  • As for the rest, it's an assortment of stuff from a number of genres: rock (many different kinds) with artists like The Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Indigo Girls, David, Bowie, Thomas Dolby, Jethro Tull, Joni Mitchell, and others, a healthy dose of soul, funk and R&B, plus a smattering of jazz and classical, middle eastern and klezmer.

I think it was Crow, by Wishing Chair, an Indigo Girls-like duo whose CD I found on CD Baby, but by coincidence, was playing at a coffee shop near my house two days later. I bought the CD on their gig.


Like he who passed me the accursed baton, I have nothing playing at the moment, but hear songs in my head all the time. In this case, every song I've written about here has played through, with Crow on right now, since I just wrote about it. So, I will do what pi22seven did: close my eyes and scroll to something at random on the Pod...... and the winner is... Bill Withers- Use Me. Oh, man- what a great song!

(All of these have some kind of special meaning to me...and I couold have added a few more.)

Lullaby- Ali Akbar Khan
Love and Affection- Joan Armatrading
Secret Separation- The Fixx
So Many Stars- Sergio Mendez and Brazil 66
The Wood S0ng- Indigo Girls

Lisa's Additions:

Jeff Beck's instrumental Blow by Blow and Led Zeppelin IV on the same day. I was 12, and it was the summer before my 13th birthday.

The Beatles- vinyl, tape, CD
Joni Mitchel- vinyl, tape, CD
The Fixx-vinyl, tape, CD
Level 42-vinyl, tape, CD
Daniel Lanois- vinyl, tape, CD (because the lable gave us all media)
Al Jarreau- vinyl, tape, CD
If I still had the 8 tracks my neighbor gave me, I could add Elton John.

PEOPLE TO WHOM I'M PASSING THE BATON: (I had to get rid of this thing! Please don't hate me.)

Raymond (Minor Wisdom)

(Cone on, Richard! We're waiting... Delays like this are expected of me, but you??? :-D