Thursday, April 23, 2009

Susan Boyle, i love you. Part two.

Let me count the ways.

Apparently, Susan Boyle is not only immensely talented, but she's her own woman as well. I seriously can't get enough of this woman.

Ever since she's been thrown into the international media spotlight with her Britain's Got Talent performance, everyone from Tina Fey to Larry King have been speculating whether Boyle would make an almost inevitable princess transformation.

Love that she says that she feels no need to change her personality for the show. Exactly right, why should she change.

Best to you, Susan Boyle, with or without the bushy eyebrows! Nice leather jacket, too. :)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

DNA inspired artwork - good combination.

Of all of the cool things I've seen go on at work since I started last June, I think this is my favorite. Conceptualizing science into art competition was an amazing one, thought up by our Educational Outreach department. We bought the winner ($1,000 prize, for those interested in participating next year...) and get to keep her piece at HudsonAlpha. The other five finalists will have their pieces for sale during the exhibition.

From our site:
The HudsonAlpha DNA Day Art Competition was created to highlight the natural connections that exist between the scientific and artistic fields. Artists from across Alabama were invited to submit works inspired by the human genome and its relationship to health and disease. Kimberly Hart, a Huntsville artist and educator at Greengate School, created the winning submission, Code Cracked. Hart noted that the inspiration for Code Cracked was from a newspaper article describing the sequencing and interpretation of an individual’s DNA:

“The article said in the next few years everyone will be able to decipher his or her own DNA and we will be able to have a complete record of the traits we have inherited from our parents. We will all have ‘a genetic mirror’ of ourselves. That phrase made me think about my own genetic traits and how they shadow me like a reflection.”

Finalists include Gary Anderson, for Teamwork; Gail Bryant, for Life Grows Where the River Flows; Jamie Stautert, for Pieces of Life, John "Jahni" Moore, for The Grand Symbol; and Mark Blevins, for Dominoes.

Come check them out for yourself! Hart’s work - as well as those of the finalists - will be available for viewing during DNA Day activities on April 24. Artwork will be displayed at the institute as part of the DNA Day Art Exhibition until May 29.
Displayed are some highlights - check out the rest of the photos in our Facebook gallery!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Susan Boyle, i love you.

I'm not the biggest fan of elimination reality shows. Especially American Idol - except for that one season where the girl who got kicked off unbelievably early took it all after the show. There's just something painful to me about watching people who are serious about achieving their hopes and dreams by way of Simon Cowell getting it all crushed. On national TV, no less.

I kinda hate it, but I was even thinking to myself that she was going to be another weirdo who goes on these shows and warbles away. While it makes me cringe to see these people get made fun of post performance, I also kinda wish they would have had the presence of mind not to go on at all.

So this morning, my friend @griffingotgun posted this video of Susan Boyle on Twitter.

It starts badly. She's kind of frowsy. She's smiling way too much, a little uncomfortable, 47 years old and unemployed. She wants to be a superstar and Simon is warming up for a good destruction session. And then:

Susan Boyle shows EVERYONE what's up. This video makes me sooo happy.

Well Susan Doyle is not your typical Professional singer. She’s 47, has a cat named Pebbles, and has never been kissed. And of course, the audience was quite skeptical with much cat-calling and eye-rolling as Susan introduced herself and spoke of her dream to be a professional singer.

[...]The 47 year old charity worker from West Lothian, drew smirks from the audience when she revealed that she wanted a career like that of West End singer Elaine Paige. But after her jaw-dropping performance and gorgeous voice, who knows what is possible for this sweet-demeanored singer? [source]
Happy Wednesday :)

Now I need to see an unexpectedly good dancer on my favorite summer reality show. Everyone loves an underdog!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

on burning cds

During high school and college, I was the mix CD queen. You knew you were part of my inner circle if you got a hand decorated CD from Melanie. Making one of these CDs took me upwards of an hour, painstakingly selecting songs for optimal flow, no listener track skippage and the ultimate CD-listening experience. It was both an art and a science.

Then there was the decorating.

I know from personal experience that it is exceptionally hard to keep track of a CD jewel case and sleeve, so I always relied on the CD itself to convey the message I wished to share. Using a rather impressive array of colored sharpies, I would write the track list - songs and artists on the CD. I would use my (minimal) remaining space to illustrate... usually some sort of palm tree or beach motif. Or stars. Or hearts. And then add a personal message:
Dear Kristen/Greg/Jonathan/Jenn/Michelle/Chris,

Happy Graduation/Birthday/Valentine's Day/break up/reunion/got-your-braces-off
You're the best!

Those CDs, while exceedingly cheesy, were quite popular. I loved getting inspired by an occasion (I especially remember making ones for all the girlfriends before we went off to our various colleges) and fitting the music to the mood.

Lots of these are still lying around in various friends, boyfriends and siblings car consoles, CD-R holders and desk drawers and are pulled out to relive that month in our lives: headed to college after high school graduation, first valentine's day in a relationship, pick-me-up CD for a best friend during finals, big brother's 21st birthday.

To me, the mix CD is more thoughtful at times than a handwritten letter - and this coming from a writer. While both are used express the mood of an occasion, music is powerful. Hearing the first strain of the hit rap song of 2002 brings back dancing around the dorm while getting ready to go out your first semester of college. The chorus of Wonderwall brings back sitting on that pedestrian bridge in Paris, singing along, in English with kids from all over the world, enjoying the July evening in the City of Light.

They say that smell is the most instantaneous link to memory, but for this hyper-allergic writer, sound is just as equally powerful.

On that note,
Dear Christina,

Congratulations, love! You're getting hitched. Let's take this weekend to symbolically recognize all of the time up till now that this group of girls has spent together. Let's celebrate the current gorgeous, immensly intelligent (and charming) and successful - working for Calvin Klein in Manhattan - you, by taking trip back to less complicated times. Here's to you. And us. And what we have become through all of those fun times.


track list:

Outkast - Bombs Over Baghdad
Destiny's Child - Bug-a-Boo; Bills, Bills, Bills
Any crappy rap song from the early '00s
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
The Beatles
Britney Spears
anything Gwen Stefani and No Doubt

Missy Elliott
Nelly Furtado
Jimmy Eat World
...and more
Yeah, yeah... laugh it up. Most of this is pretty passé by now, but at the time, that was our music. Embarassing as it may be now, this weekend these songs will take us back to the happiest, easiest times of our lives. Before jobs and rough economies. Before committed relationships and car payments. Now that I have the CD burner back up and running, I might have to get back into the practice.

It's like what they said about mix tapes before we made the switch to burning CDs - all of the effort had gone out of the endeavor. There was no longer copying one song at a time using two tape decks. Now, there's no more dragging and dropping, labeling and burning. There's just the iPod cord and the on-the-go list, all downloaded remotely. I might keep up this dying art for a little longer, if just for the happiness a palm tree and some x's and o's provide a friend. Congrats, Chris.