- Not being a complete idiot
- Leonard Bernstein’s tone clusters
I was in the pit orchestra of my high school’s production of West Side Story (which, if you didn’t put it together by now, had music written by Leonard Bernstein). The finale contains a couple of fun little tone clusters – not to get too technical, they’re basically a bunch of similar notes all played at the same time – and I evidently liked those quite a bit. In the below video, listen at 1:18-1:20.
- My ghetto iPhone :)
No, Christine. Stop. (This could have been a poorly-conceived inside joke.)
- The smell of gasoline
I just looked this up, and apparently the reason most people like the smell of gasoline is really simple: it reminds them of their childhoods. (Not because it gets you high – it doesn’t.)
- Whole numbers
- Sparkling apple cider
This was my go-to alcohol substitute at all Thanksgivings and New Years Eves. But today, I can’t help but think of this SNL clip with Fred Armisen and Bryan Cranston whenever I consume any sparkling apple beverages.
- Itzhak Perlman
Music of the Heart was one of my favorite films when I was studying violin. It features a ton of well-known professional violinists, including Joshua Bell, the late Isaac Stern, Arnold Steinhardt, and, of course, Itzhak Perlman. I can’t remember why I initially identified with him so strongly, but I think – I think – his artistry really started to stick with me when I watched Schindler’s List for the first time in high school. His violin solo in the film’s main theme is indescribably great…and I’m aware of how little justice I’m doing him with that description. (Content note: The video below contains scenes from the film, some of which are graphic and/or potentially triggering.)
- Yellow, blue, black, orange
In kindergarten, we randomly chose a “Student of the Week” every week of the school year. Now, I don’t remember much of what that entailed, but I do remember we had a few of our friends in the class trace an outline of our bodies on butcher paper and we also filled out a survey answering our favorite color, food, hobby, things like that. “What’s your favorite color?” really tripped me up because even at age 5, I had never considered what my favorite color might be – I liked all of them! So in a moment of near-desperation, I chose yellow, and stuck with that as my go-to answer until college. I’ve since reevaluated my favorite color – it’s now blue – and I think black and orange might be in this entry as well because they’re Giants colors? Who knows.
- The haka!!
Per Wikipedia, “the haka is a traditional ancestral war cry, dance, or challenge from the Māori people of New Zealand. It is a posture dance performed by a group, with vigorous movements and stamping of the feet with rhythmically shouted accompaniment.” I first learned about the haka on the Lord of the Rings special features DVDs (of course), when the stunt team performed one for Viggo Mortensen and Bernard Hill on their final day of shooting. Then, when I visited New Zealand in 2006, we spent part of our visit to the Auckland Museum viewing its famous Māori cultural performance, which included a haka – it’s absolutely electrifying to see one in real life. The one I’m including below is the New Zealand All Blacks national rugby team’s performance of “Ka Mate.” The All Blacks perform a haka before every match to intimidate their opponents.
- When plans work out perfectly.
I’m known to stress out a lot about making simple plans with friends. On TV, when two characters are planning to get together some weekend afternoon and they don’t specify what time they’re going to meet up, I cannot handle it. I need to know not only what time we’re meeting, but exactly where (we’re meeting at the mall? Okay, but where in the mall? Outside which store? *furiously Googles a floor map of the mall*), when we’re meeting, what we might be doing after meeting up, and when we might be done. This used to be a lot worse – I’m slightly more relaxed about this now – but I fully understand why I included this item. When I don’t have to worry at all about making and executing plans, it’s a good day.
- Hatchet murdering essays!
When I was a senior in high school, I had a lot of friends who were juniors who took AP English, as I had with the same teacher the year before. One week, their assignment was to have a peer edit their essay, and the quality of the edits would determine their grade. My friend gave me his essay to edit, and I went a little wild color-coding errors, writing extended paragraphs in the margins detailing what was wrong, and so, so much more I’ve probably blocked out by now. Anyway, instead of turning in the version I had edited, he turned in one lightly edited with pencil, making it look like there wasn’t much work to be done. He received a check (on a check-minus/check/check-plus system) – and then his teacher saw the version I had edited. She likened my editing skills to that of a “hatchet murderer” and gleefully told my friend that he would have received a check-plus had he turned in that version instead. Throughout that year, several people in that AP English class gave me their essays to edit for them, and I kept the moniker as the greatest ego boost I could have ever asked for.
- Never having to take math again
Funny, because I did have to take a statistics class at Iowa for my psychology degree about a year after I wrote this list. But that was the only college math class I ever took (excluding AP Statistics, which I took in high school, though I did receive college credit for my AP exam score).
- The Olympic Games
“Hey, Harrison! Harrison! You’re Olympic champion if you finish the fight smart!” – Jimmy Pedro on the sideline coaching Kayla Harrison, who overcame enormous adversity to win the first-ever Olympic gold medal in judo for the United States, men or women. [ video of the end of the match ]
- The Simpsons Movie
My Instagram username is “clapforalaska” for a reason.
I guess I watched a lot of parkour videos on YouTube, because there is literally no reason why else this might have been on the list.
- Being able to help those less fortunate
Abortion funds forever.
- Mindfucks! (www.shitbrix.com)
Smooth, Christine, including a LINK on your HANDWRITTEN LIST. (The website does still exist, by the way.) I think this was before I discovered the thriller genre, so now I can get my fix by watching movies or TV shows instead of looking at silly Internet photos of hidden creepy faces.
- Dancing the macarena to Kool and the Gang
Every year when I was in high school (and then scattered years after that, if it didn’t fold sooner after I graduated), us in the music department had a chance to volunteer at Sonoma’s annual jazz festival. Freshman year, my friend and I ushered at the Mavis Staples/Isaac Hayes show, sophomore year another friend I worked parking, and senior year the jazz band – of which I was a part – got to perform every night on one of the smaller stages, which meant we also got free admission to the shows (Kool and the Gang, Herbie Hancock, Al Green, and so many more). My friend – the same one with whom I ushered – and I, in spite of not being the type of people to do so, took over the dance floor during the Kool and the Gang show and did the Macarena dance. I have no idea what possessed us to do it, but being children of the ’90s, I don’t think we needed a reason.
- Singing melismas
A melisma is singing a bunch of notes on one syllable of a word, and Handel’s Messiah (which I spoke about singing previously) has some amazing ones. Listen on the word “born” in “For unto us a child is born” (especially the fun one us altos got from 2:18-2:27):
- Breathtaking photography
For your consideration, my Flickr favorites list.