Thursday, June 17, 2021

The Sparks Brothers Documentary

 Or is it just an excuse to share the latest song I've posted on YouTube?

Johnny Delusional Cover

I basically had no idea who Sparks were until I got to work way down the post-production stream on The Sparks Brothers documentary. It is really good. It is a love letter to the Mael brothers and you'd have to be pretty stubborn to not come away with Sparks as your "new" favorite band, at least for a little bit.

I have been a fan of Franz Ferdinand for a long time, but for some reason I decided to not buy the Sparks collaboration album, F.F.S. But I've bought it now and I love the song Johnny Delusional in particular. So much, that I decided to do a cover version. I've also been doing tap lessons on YouTube, so I did a tap to accompany myself on the song with., 

Anyway, go see The Sparks Brothers, which comes out in theaters on June 18, 2021. In the future from when I'm writing this you will probably be able to find it streaming somewhere. Then buy some of their music to support them. Don't just watch their videos on YouTube, but put some actual money into their pockets.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Back Story by David Mitchell (not that one) - June Book Report


I say “not that one” because most of the time when I would tell people what my June book was, they would say something like, “Oh, he’s a great writer.” Or “Cloud Atlas is great.” Or “That’s some pretty heavy reading for you, Camille.” No. Not that David Mitchell. The other one. The one who you might know from YouTube “David Mitchell Rants” compilation videos. Or, if you are like me, you’ll know from Peep Show, Would I Lie to You? and Upstart Crow. That David Mitchell. The funny one.

Once again, I did not read my June book. I listened to it. Read by David Mitchell himself.

I am a big fan of David Mitchell Rants videos. And of David Mitchell’s Soapbox. And of Would I Lie to You? I’ve seen all of Peep Show and Upstart Crow, but I’d hesitate to call myself a fan of those. I’ve seen the shows once, and that might keep me for the rest of my life. Not that I’d intentionally avoid seeing them again, I just don’t feel the need. But if new episodes do appear, I’ll watch them. How’s that? I can listen to David Mitchell ranting for hours, over and over again.

I bought Back Story (audiobook) several years ago when Audible convinced me that my life would be better with a subscription. One book credit a month for a low-low price of maybe $7.99 at the time? Fine. I have been known to spend over $4 on one glass of tea and to lose considerably more money on one impulsive trip to a casino. Potentially supporting some authors for such a low price seemed like a good idea. And then I never listened to any of the books. I found myself after several months with credits I hadn’t used. Audio files unpurchased. Those I had purchased were never started or even downloaded. I had listened to half of Colin Mochrie’s Not Quite the Classics (ready by the author) and got annoyed that my Amazon Dot thingy had such poor sound quality. I couldn’t hear the book and say, walk on the treadmill, or clean, or do dishes, or any of the other active things I wanted to do while listening to a book. That was why I was listening and not reading, so I could multitask. And Alexa just wasn’t doing her part.

Last month, Audible convinced me that even though the price they were now offering of $14.99/month wasn’t great, the two credits on offer for giving it some good considerations were. I downloaded Sabriel, for my May book which I hadn’t been able to bring myself to start actually reading, and then downloaded a copy of a friend’s book (The Resurrectionist by A.R. Meyering). I was reminded that I had a hidden little library of things just waiting for me. The technology for playing the audiobook was a little bit better suited to my lifestyle now. I could listen through my phone, which also meant I could listen in the car. I don’t drive a lot, but at least once a week I go on a 60-mile roundtrip and it was nice to have something beside the radio to listen to.

Back Story is sort of a mid-life autobiography. Usually, when I think of an autobiography, it is something that someone writes when they are nearing the end of things, looking back on a full life. Well, David Mitchell is perfectly happy to give you an update on how his life was by the year 2012, when he was just turning 38. FYI, we were born in the same year, but it is still a little frustrating to hear how far he had gotten by the time he was 38, now that I’m listening to the story from the ripe old age of 47.

The story of David’s life is hung on a framework of going for a daily walk through London. He talks about where he is now on the walk and then goes off on stories inspired by the things he sees and passes. “Oh, this pub reminds me of the time I got drunk in a pub at Cambridge,” etc. He manages to make a one hour walk around London into nearly 9.5 hours of reminiscing. This is not a complaint. The stories were interesting and there is no better way to hear them that having David Mitchell tell you himself. His writing is conversational, like he’s really there telling you these things. Although I fully know that the words were written and edited and critiqued before getting to me, they seem so natural that the experience of listening to the book feels almost like listening to a podcast or watching a series of extemporaneous rants on YouTube. In other words, a delight.

There are some people who are just naturally gifted at ranting, and David Mitchell is one of them. I’d like to throw a shoutout to a friend and former co-worker Shannon for also having this skill. Not that the book is all ranting. It’s stories. It’s life. It’s how success happens to one man who knew from a very young age what he wanted to do and to be.

If you are a fan of Olivia Coleman, keep an ear open for the time David Mitchell made her pee herself on stage. If you are a romantic, prepare to be swept away with David’s retelling of falling in love with his wife, Victoria (who is also well known in the UK and appears on many panel shows). If you want to know why David Mitchell doesn’t ever read anything by David Mitchell, the answers are provided.

I’m not familiar enough with London to fully visualized David’s walk, but I know a little bit. I feel like I’ve gotten to know David Mitchell a little bit after this book. And I think we would get along pretty well. He’s not as much of an upper-class snob as his TV personal plays up.

I enjoyed the experience of having this particular author read his own book to me and I’m considering downloading more of his books. Maybe I’ll download books by some other writer/comedians who I enjoy, like Richard Ayoade, so they can read to me, too. Just considering at this point, but who knows what tomorrow holds.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Lost Cherry Luxuries

 According to Google, when converting milliliters to ounces, 1 US fluid ounce is the same as 29.5735 milliliters. For practical reasons, many converters equate 30 milliliters to one ounce. This, of course, is for liquids. When converting solids, measured in grams, to ounces, one ounce is 28.35 grams. More precisely, Google tells me that one ounce is 28.3495 grams, but I don’t want to quibble.

Many of the things I enjoy in life require that I learn these conversions, although I haven’t. Instead, I look them up whenever I need to figure out if something is a good deal or a bad deal. In solids, I use ounces and grams when buying my jewelry supplies. Silver is measured this way when bought wholesale. It would be unusual for, say, Tiffany’s to list the price of a bracelet per gram. They price things as things, including not only the cost of supplies but also labor, design, research and development, advertising, office overhead and CEO bonuses, amongst other things. But if you take that same item to a pawn shop, you might be surprised when they pull out a scale and base the price on the weight of the metal. Although if you took in Tiffany jewelry, you would be surprised because they wouldn’t do this. JTV jewelry would probably be priced based on the scale. I think we all know that the cachet of something being from Tiffany’s means it will cost more than the sum of its parts.

My pandemic hobby of perfumery is also measured this way. Although, confusingly, some companies will tell you the amount of liquid you are buying in ounces while some with stick to milliliters. A small, purse size of perfume will often be either 9 or 10 milliliters, or .3 ounce. While larger bottles, although often really measured in milliliters, will be described in ounces. Common sizes are 100 milliliters (3.4 ounces) and 50 milliliters (1.7 ounces), which is why the ounce numbers are unusual. Many cosmetics are measured this way.

More expensive perfumes aren’t necessarily seeing the cost translated entirely in the juice (the perfume oils in the alcohol liquid). The higher-end fragrances I have tried also spend a fair amount of money on the packaging. An expensive purse/travel spray ($60-$100) will be in a nice, sturdy case. A less expensive one ($30) will just be in a glass vial.

I took my most recent perfume acquisition, a 10 mil bottle of Tom Ford’s Lost Cherry, over to a friend to get her opinion of it today. At $75, that little bottle of perfume is priced at $225/ounce. Compare that to silver, at around $28/ounce as of writing, and gold, at just under $1900/ounce today. That bottle of perfume is on the high end of the cost of printer ink, but not outside the realm of possibility.

Although I’d like to pretend I’m find with spending $225/ounce for perfume, that is high for me. I might be able to justify buying something extravagant like that occasionally, but I have trouble getting past “what would my dad think” to really enjoy the expensive thing, whatever the expensive thing might be. Which is why I got on the waitlist for the $75 version. But that is still expensive enough that when the perfume arrived, on a Thursday afternoon, I debated if I should spray any on my arm or not. There was no one around to smell me. I was just a couple of hours away from my nightly shower. My cats probably wouldn’t care how good I smelled. But I sprayed it. Just one spray.

To me, the scent opens with cherry liquor, which quickly dries down to a blend of brimstone and cherries. You might be thinking that brimstone isn’t a great thing for a perfume to smell like, but when I say brimstone I mean the Sulphur/fire/wood combination which fills the air after a match is struck. A fire in the fireplace or on the beach, both of which tease the idea that roasted marshmallows are in the not-to-distant future. For me there is a specific memory of when my mom taught CCD and we needed to prepare for a craft where we were going to make crosses from wooden matchsticks. My mom didn’t want to light and douse hundreds of matches, so I got the job. She sat me down in the back yard with some safety supplies (probably an ashtray and some sand) and boxes of matches. Strick each one, blow it out and knock off any of the remaining bulb of Sulphur so the matchstick was smooth. Repeat.

From the few sprays I’ve allowed myself of Lost Cherry, this is the scent that lingers for me… Brimstone and cherries.

My friend, before I told her the name of the perfume, said “powdery.” After I said cherries, she could smell them. She liked it, but I don’t think she was as enamored with it as I am.

I will complain, though, that the atomizer unscrews on this spray. This might seem like a good thing, especially for people who want to make small samples of the scent to sell on eBay, but for me, this is a disaster waiting to happen. My life is the convergence of cats, clutter and occasional clumsiness, so an expensive perfume which could open and spill onto the floor is anxiety-inducing.

I have made this perfume purchase in June, but I think the perfume is better suited for autumn or winter. I’m not sure I’ll wait, though.