Once again: fun with music videos

“Wanderlust,” Björk; “Ready, Set, Go!,” Tokio Hotel; and “I Will Possess Your Heart,” Death Cab for Cutie.

I’m not particularly interested in anything playing at the movie theaters, I haven’t been to a concert in a while, and I don’t feel like writing about the book I just read, so it’s time to revive my favorite type of evergreen post. Behold: reviews of music videos!

Café Boulud

My Aunt Holly and Uncle Mark and cousins Maggie and Kenny visited New York—and Sean and me—these past few days, and thanks to Aunt Holly’s connections, we all got to enjoy an amazing multi-course dinner at Café Boulud on the Upper East Side.

Rock Band

On Xbox 360.

It is a real testament to how insanely fun and addictive Rock Band is that I forgive it the shoddy hardware and shooting pains I get up my right arm when I play the “guitar” for too long. The strum bar on our guitar controller gave out after a couple of weeks, and my cousin’s broke in less than twenty-four hours, but as soon as we received our replacements (and to be fair, we received new, sturdier controllers at no cost within a matter of days), all anger was forgotten: we happily returned to faux rocking and all the carpal tunnel problems that go along with it.


After having been sidelined for months by a mild wrist sprain, I’ve finally been able to return to yoga classes, and as much as I’m enjoying it, the return has been difficult, too.

The return of fun with music videos

“Hey There Delilah,” Plain White T’s; “What’s a Girl to Do,” Bat For Lashes; and “Teenagers,” My Chemical Romance.

I haven’t written about music videos in a while, but the heat and humidity of summertime shortens my attention span and makes bumming around inside on the Internet that much more appealing. So once again, here are a few of the videos that made me pause in my compulsive YouTube clicking.

Guitar Hero II

On PlayStation 2.

You can’t learn a difficult piece of music simply by playing it repeatedly from beginning to end. You have to isolate the problem passages, work out the fingerings and phrasings, and then drill them, slowly at first, until you teach your fingers exactly how they should move and your eyes exactly what they should see and your ears exactly what they should hear. As a music major, I spent hours alone in practice rooms, painstakingly working through a few sticky measures. It sounds tedious, and it often was, but when I finally could nail those tricky passages, the sense of accomplishment made me giddy. It was worth it.

Still, drilling fingerings and rhythms is hardly exciting, which is why Guitar Hero II amuses me so much: Underneath all the bells and whistles, it re-creates that experience.

The Bronx Zoo

What limited appreciation I have for the natural world comes largely from my grandfather. Left to my own devices, I’m the sort of person who believes that lack of air conditioning and an overabundance of insects make the great outdoors unfit for human habitation, but Grandpa is more broad-minded.

When I was little, I sometimes joined him when he visited the family’s old overgrown farm on Terra Ceia Island on the gulf coast. There I learned to identify a few marine birds (herons, egrets, anhingas, osprey) and to climb citrus trees to reach fruit on the higher branches. Those trips were fun, but Grandpa finds plenty to appreciate in our small-town backyards, as well. He leaves peanuts on window ledges so we can see the squirrels up close through the glass when they come to snack. He e-mails us about various celestial happenings—a lunar eclipse, a meteor shower, Mars particularly low in the night sky—and urges us to watch for them. He cultivates vegetables and flowers in his backyard garden and greenhouse, and though I’ve never been any help to him, I enjoy tagging after him to watch him examine the greenery when I visit.

So when I heard Grandpa was coming to visit us in New York, I knew immediately that I wanted him to see Central Park and the Bronx Zoo. In mid-March, still not quite spring, it wasn’t an ideal time for either, but we had a good time. At the very least there weren’t any mosquitoes out to sting us.

A few photographs, courtesy of Dad, after the jump …

The Sims 2

On the PC. 

I debated writing about this, but seeing as how I’m in the midst of one of my periodic Sims binges, it seemed somehow dishonest not to write about it. But part of me thinks it’s a little shameful: I’m a 27-year-old woman with a job and a husband and a great life in a wonderful city, and I become obsessed with the imaginary lives of little pixelated people in my PC.

This American Life: What I Learned from Television

A Chicago Public Radio Production at Avery Fisher Hall on Monday, February 26.

I wrote here about This American Life once before. It was one of my earliest blog efforts, and I struggled to articulate what makes the radio program so special. The stories it features are so diverse in type and tone and subject matter that it’s difficult to capture what it even is, much less why I love it so much, why I babbled merrily for days to anyone who would listen when it became available as a free podcast. (Seriously, I’m evangelical about this. Visit iTunes and check it out.)

When I heard the show’s creators had agreed to do a television version for Showtime, I cringed, partly because I worried that This American Life’s beautiful, literate craftsmanship could never make the transition to TV and partly because Sean and I don’t get Showtime, so I won’t be able to see it—mixed feelings, clearly.