Smelling Hands

Sebastian is in a new phase where he smells his hands. All the time. He does it after pretty much any event. Like doing a cartwheel, watching TV, taking a turn in a board game, or receiving an awesome high-five. Jan says it started while I was away in the U.S. a few weeks ago but has gotten more and more frequent. I looked it up and it turns out that it could possibly be either a sign of autism, a heightened sense of smell, or an inhibited other sense that he is compensating for. Or he’s just weird. I think he might be doing it to commemorate a moment, and add detail to the memory of it. I caught him smelling his hands today and outright asked him, “How do your hands smell?” He looked at them as if he had never considered judging the actual smell before and said, “Bad. And good”. Then he ran out of the room.

Halo Choreography

This video is from almost a year ago (and yet Emily was wearing the shirt from this video today, now all stained and yucky but still one of her favorites).

When Emily feels like dancing, she does.

El Meu Cargol Sense Nom

I got home from work yesterday and found the following typed on my computer:

EL MEU CARGOL SENSE NOM

Hi havia una vegada una NENA que es deie MARIA,
La MARIA era una NENA que volie una MASCOTA, Pero la seva MARE era una de les MARES que no li agradave les MASCOTES. Un die la MARE de la MARIA VA DIR-FILLA MEVA DEMA anirem al BOSC, I ENS DIVERTIREM MOLT.
Al die despres la MARIA es va DESPERTAR, Core FILLA MEVA que anem al BOSC!
I VAN MARXAR PER EL BOSC. Van arrivar a un LLOC AMB MOLTES FULLES, ARBRES I BRANQUES PER EL TERRA. La seva MARE va purtar 2 entrapans, Una per LA MARIA I UNA PER LA SEVA MARE.
La MARIA va anar per el BOSC, Mirant a les FULLES I BRANQUES IVA TRUVAR ASOBRE UNA BRANCA, UN CARGOL!!!
MAMA MAMA Mira!!! Que es? Es un cargol! que bunic. M’alampuc amporta a casa? Si.

Conte Contat molt felice s’a acabat.

It would take less time for you to learn the Catalan language than for you to attempt to decipher whatever might be dished out after entering this into Google Translate. Just trust me, it is very cute.

Three is Red

At the dinner table this evening, in between mouthfuls of couscous and tofu, Emily told us that she had color-graphemic synesthesia.

Jan had never heard of synesthesia before. I was super excited. I don’t know where I had first heard of the neurological phenomenon but I was reminded of it recently on the Numberphile YouTube channel to which I subscribe:

I wanted to know more! So I asked, “What color is two?” And Emily responded without hesitation, “Blue”. Sebastian stopped chewing for a moment and just stared at her. I continued, “And what color is three?” This time Emily and Sebastian responded in unison, “Red”. I paused. Probably a coincidence. I followed with, “What about one?” They both said, “Yellow” at the same time. “And seven?” Sebastian was first to answer this time: “Pink!” Emily thought for a moment and then agreed, “Yeah, pink.”

They weren’t in agreement with every number, but enough to blow my mind. I can’t to see where this leads.

The Best Albums of 2013

It’s that time of year again. Time for me pretend like I’ve got my finger on the pulse of the sinking ship that is the global recording industry and list the albums that made my toe tap the most all year long, from tap-tap to tippety-tappety-tip-tap-tap.

This is the eighth year I’ve compiled such a list. Here are the previous ones:

2012  |  2011  |  2010  |  2009  |  2008  |  2007  |  2006

It’s neat to go back and see how many of my previous “favorite” albums are still in my listening rotation. Quite a few, actually. So here’s 2013!

Warning: You won’t find any Robin Thicke, Rihanna, or Miley on this list. If that’s your idea of the best that 2013 had to offer, this list is not for you. How the heck did you find this page anyway? What, do you watch MTV or something??? OK, enough stalling. Here we go. No excuses. No explanations. Just my favorite albums from the past 12 months:

 

10. Disclosure – Settle

Settle

Slinky enough for the club, down-tempo enough for a rooftop soiree, Settle traverses boundaries and expectations. [Delusions of Adequacy]


9. The National – Trouble Will Find Me

Trouble Will Find Me

The National are such a powerfully gifted band, they need no theatrics to deliver an absolutely stone-cold beast of an album. With the music that is on here there is yet another thirteen songs to savor and salivate over until the next batch of songs comes about. [Entertainment Weekly]


8. Haim – Days Are Gone

Days Are Gone

With the triumvirate of googly-eyed rhythms, sinfully catchy melodies and a breeziness that seems only fitting, they’ve served up one of the most auspicious debuts of the year. [Beats Per Minute]


7. M.I.A. – Matangi

Matangi

Her child-like rhymes may seem like she’s only toying with playground politics but she knows exactly where her strengths are; Matangi is a tribute to those talents and it’s an unmitigated thrill. Dissident, deviant, “mili-tent”; Cookie cutter pop star she is not, but a true great she absolutely is. [The Line of Best Fit]


6. Guster – Live Acoustic

Live Acoustic

Great vocal harmonies and unusual percussion are just a couple of things that set this band apart; for you drum and backbeat enthusiasts out there, percussion is lively and interesting on all of the sixteen tracks found on “Live Acoustic.” [musicalnewsandviews]


5. Atoms for Peace – Amok

Amok

Awash with beats, rhythms, electronics, the occasional guitar and Yorke’s soaring if still mostly unintelligible tenor, Amok is a record to get sonically lost within, a work whose every measure teems with a quality and a precision that only musicians at the top of their game can touch. [Los Angeles Times]


4. Daft Punk – Random Access Memories

Random Access Memories

By assembling a cast of their favourite musicians and delving into their adolescent memories, Daft Punk have created something as emotionally honest as any singer-songwriter confessional–and a lot more fun to dance to. [New Musical Express]


3. Arctic Monkeys – AM

AM

In the end AM not only signifies a career-defining moment that neatly places the band on a proper pedestal for all to admire–this is where not only Arctic Monkeys have come but in many ways, how they’ve masterfully conquered and continue to simply win. [Delusions of Adequacy]


2. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City

Modern Vampires of the City

Each verse/chorus/bridge/​intro melody, each lyric straight or knotty, each sound effect playful or perverse (or both)‑-each is pleasurable in itself and aptly situated in the sturdy songs and tracks, so that the whole signifies without a hint of concept. [Expert Witness]


1. Arcade Fire – Reflektor

Reflektor

There is so, so much content, so beautifully and flawlessly presented that it can be baffling at times. The Suburbs, to many, was decade-defining music. Reflektor, I feel, through both content and design, will be artist-defining. [Prefix Magazine]


Honorable mention:
Original Soundtrack – Frozen
Laura Marling – Once I Was an Eagle
Youth Lagoon – Wondrous Bughouse
2013 Broadway Cast Recording – Pippin
Queens of the Stone Age – …Like Clockwork
David Bowie – The Next Day
Bill Callahan – Dream River
Phosphorescent – Muchacho

Do you have any favorites from this year that I may have missed? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Play In A Day BCN December 2013

As they successfully did this past summer, Giulia and Matt organized another iteration of Play In A Day this past month. And it was great. Thank you, guys!

What is Play In A Day? In a nutshell, a group of people collaborate to create a play, from inception to production, in just 24 hours. Insane! One may sign up as either a writer, director, or actor. Plays should be about 10 minutes in length. Multiple plays are created in parallel and they are all performed together the following day in front of a paying audience. Whew.

I was out of the country when they did they did the first one this past summer so I wasn’t able to participate or even see the finished product, which I heard was excellent. But I sure as hell was here this time and was eager to take part. I made sure to not schedule any 39 Steps rehearsals that day and got my entire cast involved, as well. Jan was also eager to participate but we had to synchronize our efforts to ensure the kids weren’t neglected any more than usual, so that meant that one of us had to write and the other could either direct or act. We both wanted to act, but Jan was more against the idea of writing than I was so I signed up as a writer.

Now, I hate writing. Not writing plays specifically. I had never written a play in my life! Just writing anything. Like what I’m writing right now, for example. I usually love the finished product but I find the process to be very stressful. That’s the main reason why this blog has been so woefully ignored as of late. But I decided that a jaunt out of my comfort zone would be enriching so I took the plunge.

And did I stress.

I remember about two weeks before the event, I decided that I would just start writing (cheating) well in advance to avoid as much stress as possible. If not a complete play, at least a rough storyline or a few quality character outlines. I remember watching a few episodes of It’s Always Sunny… and thinking how I would love to be able to write such funny and chaotic stories and characters. They were an early inspiration for the eventual anarchy that would inevitably result. But I didn’t write anything. More out of laziness than anything else. I think I was hoping that last-minute inspiration would see me through. I was stressed.

But not really. I was kind of excited, to tell you the truth. I had accepted the fact that I wouldn’t be writing a magnum opus in just 10 hours, and was sure that anything I wrote would be good enough for a director to play with and for a group of actors to make their own. But the night before the event I did sit down with Jan for about 15 minutes and brainstorm a few different approaches I could take. And I credit her 100% with the inspiration for what was to follow.

It may have ended up a little longer than intended. With more sound cues and costume/character changes than I’m sure were appreciated by the director and actors. But I’m happy with the final result. I think it’s funny. So here it is, my first play. If you’d like, you may read it here:
The School Nativity Play [PDF, 21 KB]
(and yes, I did stay up most of the next day creating the 15 needed sound cues, including four original song snippets)

Father’s Day 2013

I just found this entry from six months ago. I have no idea why it was never published.

Today is Father’s Day (in many countries, just not where I live). Have fun rolling over the image below to enjoy 30 years of parenting.


Seeing these pictures next to each other makes me happier than I can possibly put into words.

Getting Into Muppets

Emily is big into Muppets this month. I introduced her to The Muppet Show a couple of years ago, but I guess she was too young. I tried again last month and she’s hooked! She’s watching the Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock, drawing all of the characters, singing the songs, and is absolutely fascinated with puppeteering. I even managed to find some copies of the records I used to listen to when I was her age and put the MP3s on her player. Pretty awesome.

In putting her to bed last night, we had this conversation:

Emily: Who invented The Muppets?

Me: A man named Jim Henson.

Emily: Is he still alive?

Me: No, he’s not.

Emily: Did he die because he had a bad cough?

Me: (amazed) Yes! How did you know that??

Emily: Mummy told me.

Me: Oh.

Emily: A cough isn’t that bad. How did he really die?

Me: Well, you see, he got very sick and didn’t go to the doctor. So he didn’t get better and his cough turned into a bad sickness and he died.

Emily: Why didn’t he go to the doctor?

Me: I don’t know.

Emily: (thinks for a while) Jim Henson may have been a great actor but he wasn’t very clever.