13 August, 2008

Diet Coke, Metropolis, Playing the Theremin, A Mega Bungalow, A Cockroach, 3 Bags of Cat Poo, and Some Kind of Bones in the Crawlspace

I haven't been blogging much, because there hasn't been a whole lot of progress on the house this week. I gave up Diet Coke on Friday in an attempt to cut back on artificial sweeteners. It has made me very, very crabby, so I'm blaming my lack of motivation toward home improvement projects on that.

Okay, I planned to give up Diet Coke on Friday. I had even stuck an iced tea in the freezer beforehand so I could smuggle it into a theatre that night and would not have to indulge in movie theatre drinks. Halfway to the theatre, I realized I had left the glass bottle in the ice compartment--but it was too late to turn back. (Yes, it did crack, and yes, I did have to clean up glass fragments from the freezer.)

On the way to the theatre, we came across this house, not far from Milwaukee Ave and Irving Park Rd:

I am so ready to sell The Box House and move here (it just had a contract put in on it, unfortunately), but Mom would never go back into the city. I forget what it's called, but that nifty thing to the left is something you can drive through to get to the back yard, where the garage is. It's very grand.

The movie we saw was Metropolis, a 1920s science-fiction silent film. The theatre was serving Metrotinis, a concoction made of blue curacao, vodka, and tonic. There were black lights set up at the mini bar, and when the tonic was poured in over the curacao/vodka, the whole drink lit up. It was served with a skewer of cherries, kiwi bits, and glow-in-black-light beads. Yummy, but not enough to quench the thirst during a whole show. I need my sipping drink. Diet Pepsi it was; it was all the theatre had. (I don't care what the taste tests say, Diet Coke is waaaaaaay better; I'm always bummed when D.P. is the only choice.)

All in all it was an entertaining evening. Ted and I both love silent films. We haven't been getting out much lately, so had made a point to see our friend Andy at the show, who was playing the theremin to accompany the organist.

Here's a photo of an early theremin:

and a description of just what the heck it is, both courtesy of Wikipedia:

The theremin is one of the earliest electronic musical instruments, and the first musical instrument played without being touched (originally pronounced [ˈteremin] but often anglicized as IPA: /ˈθɛrəmɪn/, theramin, or thereminvox, it is also known as an aetherphone.) It was invented by Russian inventor Léon Theremin (Russian: Лев Сергеевич Термен) in 1919. The controlling section usually consists of two metal antennae which sense the position of the player's hands and control radio frequency oscillator(s) for frequency with one hand, and volume with the other. The electric signals from the theremin are amplified and sent to a loudspeaker. The theremin is an electrophone, a subset of the quintephone family.

To play, the player moves his or her hands around the antennas, controlling frequency (pitch) and amplitude (volume). The theremin is associated with an "eerie" sound, which has led to its use in movie soundtracks such as those in Spellbound, The Lost Weekend, and The Day the Earth Stood Still. Theremins are also used in art music (especially avant-garde and 20th century "new music") and in popular music genres such as rock and pop.
Andy let us try it out after the performance, and I made a few electronic squeals, which was quite fun. Unfortunately, no photo of me, but I do have one of another friend of ours testing it out:

I'm not sure whose finger that is next to him, directing.

Afterwards, we went out with friends to a diner, where I consumed a Diet Rite soda with my meal. So, honestly, that was my last diet beverage. At the diner, a miniature cockroach crawled up onto the counter in front of me. Before I could flick it away, the waitress came by and smack! slapped it flat with her bare hand. Her. Bare. Hand. Yeah, gross. Definitely. But also kinda cool. As the waitress washed her hands, she laughed and said, "I'm no girly girl."

Rambling on.

The only house-related things I did over the weekend were to root some more coleus, in blatant disregard for the label that says "do not propagate" (they're going right back into my own garden, anyway)...

...and begin the toxic cleanup of the crawlspace. If you caught it last week, you may be wondering where my anti-previous-owner rant disappeared to, in which I whinged about how their cats had used the crawlspace as a litter box. Well, I took it down because I felt I was being too mean. Although, after cleaning up three grocery store bags of cat poo so far, I'm thinking of reposting it.

Oh, and I also discovered some bones, just below the surface of the dirt.

Look at that set up, all professional-like with the tape measurer.

I haven't even come close to cleaning up the whole crawlspace yet, so suspect there may be more bones and odd discoveries to be found. So, what do y'all think? Old kitty snack, remains of a beloved childhood pet, or a bit of arsenic and old lace going on?


Marilyn said...

Oh my god. Cue the theremin, it's Pet Sematary.

Metropolis rocks - sounds like a fun night (minus the thought of DP - ick).

Jayne said...

That sure looks like a rib bone. From what, I don't know. Hey, I just watch "Forensic Files"; I'm not actually an investigator. Three bags of cat poo?! Bones?! I'm sorry I missed the anti-PO rant!

Joanne said...

Thanks, Marilyn--I've had the Ramones "Pet Sematary" song going through my head since I read your comment!

I don't want to be buried in a pet sematary, I don't want to live my life again...

Jayne--They're going to laugh at me, no doubt, but I may call the village tomorrow to ask if they have any interest in checking out the old bones. The one is definitely a rib bone, and I keep thinking either "pet dog" or "illegitimate baby," which is a sad thing to consider.

Jennifer said...

Very cool! I remember the Theremin day during my Music Acoustics class in college... we all piled into our professor's dark hole of an office. It was FILLED with all sorts of 1920's and 30's electronic instruments!

SOunds like a fun night... I totally think different pops taste different, too!

Christopher Busta-Peck said...

I think the word you're looking for in reference to the beautiful house you pictured is "portes cochere".

The only reason I know this is because I managed to dig up the original deed for my (hopefully) future home, came across the term, and had to look it up.

John said...

Okay, I don't do optimism very well, but here's a try at it. While three bags of cat poo and a dead transient in the crawlspace sucks, it could always be worse. Gary at This Old Crack House had to haul something like half a ton of raccoon and pigeon poo out of his attic. Imagine carrying that down three flights of stairs . . .

Love that house too.

Good luck with the crime scene.

Anonymous said...

You should call the police about the bones. Having a CSI unit parked out front would surely shake up the neighbors. Been too quiet around here.
Hummmm . . . wonder what PO would have to say.


Anonymous said...

You don't want to be drinking carbonated beverages anyhow (whatever kind of sweetener they have). Something about the carbonation leaches carbon out of your bones - I think. All I remember is my mother having a cow when she saw me taking my calcium pills with a Coke - who knew?

Hope you have a hazmat suit for cleaning out the crawlspace - yukky!

Love the house - keep up the good work.

Jen said...

The cocktail sounds delightful.
TMC has silent films every so often and I enjoy watching them when I can't sleep at night. The tv can be on and you understand everything with out the sound and waking up anyone.

Bird bones fell out of the chimney/firplace at our house and rat bones were in the wall, but nothing the scale of your bones...

Marilyn said...

Jenni - I love the TMC silents on Sunday night for the same reason! They've often written new scores for the restored films and I love them.

Any luck with the bone ID, Joanne?

Jocelyn said...

I've also heard the overhang you showed called a portico.

Joanne said...

Jennifer--Don't you love those old university offices? I have no musical talent, but I was friends with an ethnomusicology professor whose office was filled with folk instruments from around the world. That room was magic.

Christopher--thanks for the head's up on the term. I Googled it for you architecture fans: "A porte-cochere (French, literally "coach door", also called a carriage porch) is the architectural term for a porch or portico-like structure at a main or secondary entrance to a building, through which it is possible for a horse and carriage or motor vehicle to pass, in order for the occupants to alight under cover, protected from the weather." Wikipedia has a few good images. (Good luck with your future home, Christopher!)

John--I do love your sunny optimism. My poo issues pale in comparison to Gary's.

Cheryl--I don't have a full-on hazmat suit, but I did have the respirator and gloves. Yucky, yucky job.

Jenni--I like the TMC silents as well. Nothing beats a live orchestra or organist, but I do enjoy watching late-night tv with a cup of cocoa.

Marilyn--I called 311 about an unrelated dead possum issue this weekend, and completely forgot to mention the bones!

Jocelyn--I've been calling our front entrance a portico, which I guess it technically is, although a pretty small one. :-)