Wednesday, March 30, 2011


While listening to my local NPR station this evening, I stumbled into an interesting segment; apparently March is the 21st anniversary of Ozarks at Large, a local news show. So they decided to play, and discuss, their 21 favorite sounds.

Not their favorite stories.  Their favorite sounds.   The 10 minutes I caught included the expected, like babbling brooks and insects, and the unexpected, like a plumbing snake being fed through a clogged drain. 

It was an enlightening moment.  See, one of my favorite parts of my work week is my Thursday KUAF interview.  I enjoy the process, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I like being told that I have a nice radio voice. Though I often think "Yep, I've got a face and a voice for radio," I realized, while listening tonight, that I don't have the required obsession with sounds.  My first instinct when I hear something interesting is not to grab my IPhone or whatever microphone I happen to have lying around (do I have microphones lying around?  I rest my case.) and record it.  But I guess, if you spend your life manipulating sounds and sound wavelengths to create something, you'd have to be pretty obsessed about sound.  I'd never thought of that.

Regardless, it sure is fun to try to describe your favorite sounds, even though putting them into words is tough.  Here are my top five: 

#5.  When the surround sound kicks in at a movie theater.  You've been suffering through tinny renditions of the latest pop sensation, and suddenly...whoosh...the sound starts from behind your head and ripples down the walls in parallel waves, crashing together in the exact center of the movie screen.  I love that.  Especially if the movie that follows features lots of explosions and fight scenes.  

#4.  Quacking.  Ducks are funny.  I can't ever hear them quacking without smiling and wanting to quack back, despite the fact that they won't understand me and people tend to look at me funny when I do.

#3.  Kids in a theater. Those who have never had my job won't get this one.  When our 1200 seat auditorium is full of children, they tend to look, and sound, like popcorn in a pan: bouncing around, a steady hum of noise punctuated by the occasional screech or leap out of a seat.  But you absolutely cannot beat what happens when the lights start to go down; they start to whoop and scream and holler like it's a rock concert.  Half of the students probably don't know what they are about to see, but it doesn't matter. It's like plugging into an outlet for a recharge of the soul.

#2.  Orchestras tuning: be it a Broadway show or a full 80 piece ensemble, the cacaphony of the pre-show tuning is just, well, awesome.  It ebbs and flows, highly disciplined in each instrument's tuning, but a completely undisciplined combined sound. Yet to me, it always sounds the same.  Eerie, but beautiful.

#1.  I think only theater people will get this one, but my favorite sound is actually a lack of one.  It's the silence of a perfectly timed moment on stage, when the absence of sound says more than any words or music could.  I love this.  Just love it.  It can so easily go wrong; if the silence is too long, it's awkward.  If it's too short, it's not real.  But when it's perfect, it can take an audience through an emotional moment without them even knowing it. 

So thanks to my friends at KUAF for the intellectual stroll down Sound Alley.  I'm going to be listening more carefully in the next few days, I think.

How about you?  What are your favorite sounds?

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Ides of March


If I didn't know better, I'd think this time of year has it out for me.  My staff have a habit of leaving for new jobs on or around the 15th of March.  The spring months, which should be my favorite time of year, stretch endlessly before me, full of to-do lists that are far more impressive than my ration of daylight hours. I have started doing stupid things like attempting to unlock the backstage door with my car remote, or spend 5 minutes looking for the sunglasses that are on my head. 

And vacation seems so very, very far away.

But this Ides season, I really can't complain (though it appears I just did).  There a "catastrophic nuclear accident" going on in Japan, according to the NYTimes.  Even the stalwart says things are "spinning out of control."

Perspective is a good, if painful, thing.

So, I have this to say. You've had your fun, Ides.  Now cool down that reactor and go back to your hideaway for another year.  We've had just about enough of you, thanks.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

An unlikely Cinderella goes shopping

If there are men reading this, you might want to get your eye-rolling and scoffing out of the way now, or better yet, go watch ESPN.  This is definitely a girly post. 

So, tomorrow I'm going to a ball.  A real, live ball, complete with masks and black tie optional.  Unfortunately, I will not have a handsome gentlemen in a tux on my arm, but I'll be working, so in truth, even if I had one, he'd be in the way.  Or so I tell myself. :)

I don't often go to balls.  In fact, it's safe to say I never do.  I think the last one I went to was...well...probably prom, if that counts.  I'm sure you can see the problem.  No gowns in my closet, except an extremely boring one that has hung around for at least 10 years (and I'll be damned if I can remember why I bought it).  No shoes that are anything but black, sensible or flip flops.  No sparkly jewelry.  A woeful lack of appropriate  And no time to scour the few stores we have. In fact, I had one night, and a four part mission: dress, underwear, jewelry, shoes.

It's rare that I actually enjoy shopping.  Let's be honest; fashion is not friendly to the overweight.  Oh, I know, Spanx are great, and you can read all the articles in the world about how "confidence" and "taking care of yourself" are as sexy as a size 4 body, but it simply. ain't. true.  Clothes in stores are designed for people who are skinnier than me.  Period.

Thus, I always approach a "must buy" shopping spree with healthy trepidation.  Today, though, I had a funny feeling that it wouldn't be as bad as usual, and to my delight, it wasn't.  Remember how Cinderella had a beautiful dress made for her by the mice ?  I felt like I had Gus-Gus and his crew with me tonight.

The first sign that things were going to be different? I found my dress on my first trip to the fitting room.  Even better, I was only a few pounds away from being able to get the smaller size.  Excellent weight loss incentive there.   Now the dilemma - bold color or sensible and slimming black?  My normal MO is black.  So I went for the color.  I'm such a rebel.

A brief stop in the unmentionables department had me thinking of all the scenes in movies about "slimming" undergarments:  Bridget Jones and her giant panties, for example, or this classic line from Steel Magnolias:

"I haven't left the house without lycra on my thighs since I was 14."
"You were brought up right."

Note to self; it's fun to shop in the jewelry section when one is not trying to walk the sparkly/yet subtle line.  When sparkly is all you're going for, the possibilities are endless.

I had intended to buy a long dress so I could wear flats. But the dress has a slit, so, heels it must be.  Another $100 bucks for shoes?  No thanks.  To the clearance rack! Clearance isn't really my thing, since I can never find anything I like (hence why the shoes are on clearance, right?), but sometimes, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.  I had a fleeting thought to buy silver shoes; after all, where would I wear silver shoes but at a ball?  Alas, there were none in my size.  Sigh.  So, I settled for some black ones, and headed to checkout.  But then...lo and behold...the salesman was marking boxes of shoes for clearance, and they just happen to be the silver version of the black shoes I was planning to buy!

That was the moment when I started to wonder if I might just pull this whole thing off.

Of course, the drive home is always about buyer's remorse.  Should've gone with the black.  What will it look like when I get home and the light isn't flattering anymore?  It's doesn't quite look right in the back, and no time for alterations; will my wrap cover that? What if I get laughed at for wearing a bright blue/purple dress?  Who am I to think I could look good among women who make it their life's work to look spectacular even when walking the dog?  And so on.

Only tomorrow's ball will tell, but for now, I'm enjoying the thought of my $15 silver shoes and successful shopping venture.  Gus-Gus and his pals did well, and I don't have mean stepsisters to rip my dress to shreds and thus require the fairy godmother to bail me out. 

I'm kind of pysched to be going to a ball.  See you at midnight in the pumpkin coach.