Melly’s Music Links

If you’ve been wondering why the music posts have dwindled, it’s because summer is approaching, and I’m slowing down a bit. However, next Tuesday I fly to California (for the first time!!) to sing the final concert at the Ojai Festival with SIGNAL. In Ojai SIGNAL will perform Steve Reich’s Drumming, the Daniel Variations and Tehillim, a piece that makes my head swirl. I’m pretty sure that Steve himself is playing percussion in Drumming! Also on the program that evening is the Pergolesei Stabat Matter with Dawn Upshaw!

SIGNAL is a group that was founded after the June in Buffalo Festival last year. In short, we were kickass, and peeps liked us, so plans were set forth for us to keep playing together. This season SIGNAL will perform Reich’s Music for 18, the You Are Variations, and music of David Lang and a tour with Helmet Lachenmaan.

California, Avacados, Beaches, Dawn Upshaw!! Anyone have a bikini that I can borrow next week??

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Ten things I’ve done to save cash lately

This weekend I found myself gawking at a $5 single bumper car ride at Coney Island. One ride, $5?? And then I remembered that $5 is nothing now. It’ll be about the cost of one gallon of gas in the next three months. I realized that I was definitely entering a new point in my life……

That turn around point where you start to realize that changes in our economy have affected you? That happened to me sometime this month. Last week after my blackberry straight up broke, and all the insurance I’ve been paying on it for the past year is apparently a scam, the realization hit me: I was po’ po’ po’, and after tallying that there was roughly $1200 owed me from gigs, it was time to put a plan into action.

The first thing I did, after cry, was make what I call a “stress list” where I just list out everything that is freaking me out, and then I tried to formulate a plan to make some progress on everything on that list. Sometimes just making that list helps me feel better.

Since I’ve made the decision NOT to work for corporate assholes full time, I’ve needed to cut back on frivolous spending, and instead of freaking out about it, I’m trying to make it an adventure. I’ve been pilfering great blogs like The Simple Dollar for great ways to save a little bit, and contrary to what you may think, even little tiny eentsy weentsy bits help:

1. Travel. Now that I’m not working in Manhattan everyday, a monthly pass isn’t really necessary. There’s plenty of days that I’m working from home. Buy a weekly unlimited pass for busy weeks, and have a $20 card for other times you aren’t going to be in the city. And walk every once in a while.

2. Set a weekly budget for food, and leave yourself $20 bucks for frivolous spending, it’s way easier to stick to a budget if you give yourself some money to play with and not feel guilty about.

3. Eat out once a week, but no more. I realized that I could feed myself for $30 a week, probably less if I didn’t buy beer and ice cream, but I shop at the grocery store and look for deals.

4. Make one big meal a week and freeze portions of it for later. Last week I made Hamburger Stroganoff which fed two adults two big meals. (It would have lasted longer, but Matt had three helpings one night.)

5. See if there are things that you consume frequently that you could make yourself. Something I did recently was make my own oatmeal packets. I’m a sucker for brown sugar instant oatmeal. I bought a big tub of instant Oats, and a bag of brown sugar, and a package of smaller Ziploc baggies for less than $5. I made 48 dried servings of oatmeal. The ones you buy at the store are usually 8 servings for around 4 bucks. Obviously this was a smart move. (and you can keep a few on you while you’re gigging. It’s a quick snack, and there’s usually hot water bubblers everywhere you go.)

6. Pay your bills weekly. Sometimes it’s hard to find $80 for your phone bill if it happens to fall on the same week as your student loan payment. I found that if I stuck to my budget, I could find a spare 15 or 20 bucks each week that I could pay my phone bill with.

7. Buy produce. Way cheap, and healthy for you, especially if you’re supplementing your diet with Ramen. I made myself a staple diet last summer of hummus, pita, cheese and grapes; a peach or a banana for a snack, and a bowl of cereal in the morning. Pasta with sauce that I doctored up with spices and broccoli and REAL parm cheese.

8. Make friends with beans. Also way cheap, and can be eaten as a salad, or fried up with tortillas and a little meat for kickass buritos. Protein extravaganza!!

9. Commerce bank – if you’re like me you probably have change piles in various bags and jars. One Saturday afternoon Jack and I counted change that I had in one jar, and it was over $24. If you’re close to a Commerce bank, you can take it in, guess how much is in there and win a prize, and they give you cold hard cash, without taking a cut. $24 buys a lot of groceries if you’re careful.

10. Cut your coffee with cheaper coffee. Okay, I love, love LOVE my coffee, and I’m an unashamed snob about it. Last week I was running low on my Starbucks Sumatra whatever, and cut it with Cafe Bustella (which I call Cafe Busted, cuz it tastes like shit). It was the best coffee I’ve made yet. So, a $9 bag of grounds with a $5 can of whatever you can find, mix and you should have two weeks worth of blended coffee. Not too shabby.

And finally, this is something that I’ve been meaning to do: Start a garden. As much as I want to, I’m not sure I have the right skills yet. My ultimate dream would be tomatoes, basil, rosemary, peppers and cilantro growing right in my kitchen, but not yet. Tonight, I’m attending a Community Garden meeting in my neighborhood! Hopefully, I’ll pay a set price, labor a few hours a week in the garden, and have a crate of seasonal produce delivered to my apartment each week. I’m really excited about this, especially the ability to teach Jack about community and labor. God, could I sound any crunchier???

The cleavage, shoes, cackle, make-up, and campaign of Hillary Clinton

No lengthy diatribe here…. Video of sexist media coverage of Hillary’s “campaign” and by that I mean her wardrobe, demeanor, looks, laugh, and body.

I’m not a fan of Hillary, I’m not a fan of some of the below the belt tactics she has used to garner attention from the media, but I will say that sexism is sexism, and it’s a disservice to the progress of women to NOT say anything. I know that sexism sells, that it generates millions of web and you tube hits. Phrases like Take out the Garbage and Iron my Shirt are classic examples of sensationalism, but it’s still wrong. You’re either a part of the problem or a part of the solution. All I have is my voice, you know, as shrill as it may be.

Meat for Sex: How Evolution of the Human Body has Influenced our Viewpoint of the Role of Motherhood

I’ve been reading a fabulous book (for nearly a year, have a bad habit of book jumping) called The Alphabet Verses the Goddess: Conflict Between Word and Image by Leonard Shlain. It’s a fabulously scientific and anthropological telling of the journey of language, and how that journey was crucial into setting into place the patriarchal society women fight against.

I found the chapter about Hunters and Gatherers absolutely mind blowing. My upbringing was sheltered. I grew up in a small town in New Hampshire and attended a small private born again Christian school until my junior year of high school. I learned to laugh at the theory of evolution at the age of four, singing proudly, “I’m no kin to the monkey no no no, etc” I also never read mythology until my Freud class at Yale. The lack of that literature under my belt made my post modernist class almost impossible, but I fell in love with T.S.Eliot’s Waste Land and The Love Song for Alfred J Prufrock anyways.

So, you all may know this biology stuff, but the connection that Shlain draws between the evolving of our bodies and the connection to the development of language is fascinating! I’ll give a brief summary of the Hunter/Gatherers evolution. Humans first developed the opposable thumb, allowing us to manipulate objects. No longer forced to paw things, our sense of smell atrophied, but our sense of sight strengthened. Our eyes needed to calculate the strength of the nearest vine, the distance to the tree we wished to swing to, and the speed of the wind, and our brains grew to accommodate that.

It was around this time that there was a great climate shift, and the tree canopy thinned to the point where we climbed out of trees, and eventually developed the heel. This enabled us to stand up. Our legs were strong and stable, and our hands were free to throw, and kill prey. It was probably around this time that meat became a staple in our diets, and more meat meant more iron, which meant an EVEN BIGGER BRAIN.

But bigger brains meant a bigger head, which meant a smaller infant body to facilitate the journey out of the birth canal. This meant the woman’s role changed drastically. She needed to stay with her young until they surpassed the point of vulnerability. Over time our bodies became hairless, and needed to be covered to maintain warmth, and both Mommy and baby needed sustenance. Mommies needed to bathe, feed, swaddle and carry their young. The stay at home Mom was born.

For the first time, a woman was not able to take care of herself after childbirth. Her body needed time to heal, and while nursing she needed more food. Hunters (men) began dragging their kills home to their families instead of eating where the meat fell.

Our whole concept of marriage has its origins rooted in meat. When human females experienced estrus, or heat, they ovulated, and the male species would mate with them. This is still evident in mammals today. When a kill is made, a circle of females will approach it. The females want the meat, but the male species seek out the females in heat for sex. Meat for Sex.

Female animals are able to replenish their iron supplies by licking themselves when they bleed (kind of nast, but interesting). The changes in the female hominid body meant that she needed iron all the time. And hence marriage was born-You bring home the bacon, and I’ll cook it up real nice for ya!! Female hominids were now able to make themselves available for sex 365 days a year-if they wanted.

Interesting, huh? Just a guess, but the “natural” connection that advertisers feel between meat and women may have started here. When I was a veggie I was a little more sensitive to that type of advertising, but I’ve always found the meat eating as masculine and therefore better stereotype kind of interesting. “He’s a total beefcake!” “You need to beef up your portfolio if you want to make the best impression.” And then the reciprocal, vegging out, total couch potato, etc.

Back to language. Hand gestures only worked in the daytime and around fire, but our bodies continued to evolve. We needed a way to communicate and still accomplish the manual tasks of gathering, and nurturing. So our tongues muscles evolved to became limber and our vocal chords developed. Being able to signal to others vocally, and eventually impart culture to our young orally, a predominantly female activity, began.

There was a great amount of time when oral tradition or storytelling was not only our only form of communication, but an absolute art form. The rest of the book traces the demise of the female goddess with the invention of the written word. Think I’m crazy? Nearly every culture has multiple creation stories that began as oral tradition, and centuries later were written out, (by males, fuckers!) and then changed. Even Christianity and Judaism have the myth of Lilith, who wasn’t penned out of the creation story until the 16th century! It’s a fascinating read, and I highly recommend it to anyone who studies linguistics or anthropology.