Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Desert Soundtrack

My latest project, among the many others already stacked up, is to create a personal soundtrack representative of the desert that I know in and near Las Vegas, the view of that ocean of desert from that mountain ledge next to Hacienda Hotel and Casino near Boulder City, the Mojave Desert from Baker, California on, and in Victorville.

So far, in a Windows Media playlist, I have placed Amazonia by Paul Lawler and Paul Speer (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHdqmU5lXSs), which has a vast desert feeling; Viva Las Vegas as sung by Shawn Colvin (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g87Mu9SNqwk. It has a slower tempo, more grounded, and is the Las Vegas I know and love); Cherry-Coloured Funk by Cocteau Twins (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WybSSagVvoU. For me, it embodies nighttime in Las Vegas); Heaven or Las Vegas by Cocteau Twins (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtBr5JKSuks. It's like an introduction to Las Vegas); Serengeti by Jeff Oster (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sd6TvuJMEhIand. It reminds me of crossing the California state line into Nevada and approaching Primm with the outlet mall, the three casinos, and the Desperado rollercoaster); and Cluster One by Pink Floyd (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRqrpfzpTaA. It has the feeling of parking your car somewhere in the desert at night, lying on the hood, looking up at all those stars).

Since the Spa channel is on our XM Radio in the living room every day, full of the ambient music I love, I listen to it to see if any songs feel like the desert, and write down the titles and artists and listen to them more closely online if they're available either on YouTube or through another source. My goal here is to create a soundtrack that's just as much home to me as Henderson will be, that makes me feel even more like I truly belong in this vast wonder of desert living. Does anyone have any suggestions that could make for an effective soundtrack?

An Attempt at Reading United States Reports, Volume 515

Owing to my interest in the Supreme Court, recently revitalized by having read Five Chiefs by John Paul Stevens, which in turn spurred me on to order biographies of Antonin Scalia and Sandra Day O'Connor that I had checked out of the library earlier this year but had not read, and having read The Nine by Jeffrey Toobin and The Brethren by Bob Woodward and Scott Armstrong, I pulled out of a stack near my left-side closet door United States Reports, Volume 515, a result of rooting through the Government Printing Office Bookstore website (http://bookstore.gpo.gov/), seeing if there were any cheap volumes of Supreme Court decisions. The full official title of 515 is United States Reports, V. 515, Cases Adjudged in the Supreme Court at October Term, 1994, May 30 through September 29, 1995, Together with Opinions of Individual Justices in Chambers, End of Term. 1,369 pages. $19.

The volume nearest to this one that I can find on the website is volume 513, and that goes for $50.40. I bought this one because I was curious about what such a book looks like and it's incredibly thick in hardcover, with a gloomy tan cover, and very official type on the spine with United States Reports in gold lettering, against a red background, with gold bars above and below it, and the same gold bars above and below Oct. Term 1994 and below that, Amendments of Rules, both lines against a black background. When Mom saw it after I took it out of the box it came in, she said it was exactly what her grandfather had in his law office, hundreds of books like this one lined up on shelves. She remembered it well.

Curiosity spurred me on to order this. I didn't want to read for hours the .pdfs available on the Supreme Court website, though I may scroll through them, and wanted one volume that I could read through, seeing what's written here, as well as the writing styles of the justices, particular David Souter in this time, who is my favorite justice, albeit retired now.

There will be occasional entries as I pore over it, things observed, use of footnotes, how much they're used, how each justice seems to approach the case at hand in their words, and the careful use of words to make the law clear.

My Fall TV Season is Over

My fall TV season began with the anticipation of the 5th season premiere of The Big Bang Theory and the 3rd season premiere of The Good Wife, the latter spurred on by a half-hour recap special aired a few weeks beforehand, along with a second-season episode right after which guest-starred Fred Dalton Thompson and which I found entertaining and exactly the kind of writing I like to hear on a TV show, with confidence and sophistication offered in great amounts. This led to buying the first season on DVD at Target for $20, a worthy investment of my time, and though I've not yet seen the third season premiere (I Tivo'd it), I'm sure I will later tonight.

The 5th season premiere of The Big Bang Theory was good, airing the first and second episodes, and it's exactly what I expect of the show, to be a reliable purveyor of comedy every Thursday night, with enough of Sheldon to keep me pleased.

There have also been new additions. Three Mondays ago, CBS reran the first season finale of Hawaii Five-O and I had learned a few things about the show, though not paying a great deal of attention to it beyond Jean Smart playing the governor. And I had learned that she was killed off in the season finale, with Steve McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin) framed for her murder. I happened to have the rerun on that night and was intrigued with the action, the strongly-written characters, and great use of many locations. I watched the rest of the second-season premiere late last night on Tivo and loved when a henchman of Wo Fat (Mark Dacascos, who my sister saw and said, "That Iron Chef guy must travel a lot") said to Kono (Grace Park), "You wouldn't shoot me. You're a cop." Kono fired at the dirt between his legs and replied, "You see a badge?" I started watching the second episode right after, but will finish it later tonight as well.

And then, around 1:30 a.m., I watched Hart of Dixie (Tivo'd), which debuted on the CW. As it began, I reminded myself that this is Hollywood's view of the Deep South, not representative of what it really is, and was able to enjoy it right from the start. It stars Rachel Bilson as an aspiring cardiothoracic surgeon, who loses the fellowship she had been vying for, advised by the Chief of Surgery at her hospital that in order to be a great surgeon, she has to work on her own heart, and reflect more on herself, knowing people more than she does, which is nearly nil. She arrives in Blue Bell, Alabama, having been left half of a medical practice by an older gentleman who had been at her medical school graduation four years ago and offered her the opportunity to work at that practice, but she refused, knowing full well her path in life. Nevertheless, he kept sending her postcards with the same offer, and after being denied that fellowship, she left Manhattan for Blue Bell.

There were a few groan-worthy bumps in the script with the "sophisticated city girl" looking down on the "hicks," but it's appealing enough, and certain plot elements are intriguing enough to get me to watch again next week, such as Bilson sparring with the other half of the medical practice, played by Tim Matheson. My biggest disappointment is that Nancy Travis left this for Last Man Standing, starring Tim Allen. There was probably more pay for her in that, and co-lead status, but she fit so well here. I just hope CW gives it a good long chance.

I saw Pan Am and liked it enough to try it again next week, though I didn't connect to it as quickly as I did to Hart of Dixie, despite the historical airline storylines. I haven't seen the second episode of 2 Broke Girls, but will later. After all that, though, I think my fall TV season is over. I've got The Big Bang Theory, The Good Wife, and Hawaii Five-O on CBS (and possibly CSI as well, since I liked Ted Danson's debut last week, and I like being reminded of Vegas until I get there as a resident), and Hart of Dixie on CW. That's about all the shows I need. I also have Prime Suspect and Unforgettable on the Tivo, but I think if I had really been interested in them, I would have watched them by now.