The Song Reader issue: 20 free songs, fiction film review + homemade ranch

Even though summer no longer means the break I enjoyed in my school and college years, there's still something about the long days that makes me want to sit down with a good book and glass of homemade sangria when I get home from work. I've been on a real sewing kick, however, so lately I content myself with reading on my BART train and while eating dinner, before diving into the dress I started sewing on my recent vacation.

I need to get back to evening writing soon, but in the meantime I'm enjoying a lively Russian comedy a friend recommended, called The Master and Margarita. It's daring and entertaining and has yet to disappoint me. Should you want non-fiction reading, here are my two latest pieces:
:: Song Reader ::
I think I practiced piano almost nine hours the week of last month's sightreading party -- just one reason I'm nursing a minor obsession with Beck's sheet music-only album. Thanks to the work of my co-worker, you can hear all 20 songs from that night -- wrong notes and all. Despite the rough nature of the performance, you can still start to hear the shape of the strongest songs. Some of my personal favorites: "Do We We Do," "Sorry," "Eyes That Say 'I Love You'," "We All Wear Cloaks" and my favorite, "Last Night You Were a Dream."

After giving the public months to make the own recordings of Song Reader, Beck finally assembled an impressive cast of musicians for a July 4 performance at London's Barbicon. It looks like about seven official videos from the show have been posted (based on what Pitchfork and Paste shared), but I was able to find about 14 of the 20 songs:
You can also hear the entire album performed by the Portland Cello Project and assorted guests.

:: events ::
  • The Mazzarellos have brought back their film-viewing series. This summer they're going through Simon Schama's The Power of Art on Thursday nights. Learn about Bernini on July 25, Jacques-Louis David on Aug. 1. Contact them for details.
:: tunes ::
:: film & visual art ::
  • Jeff Overstreet began a new experiment in film criticism earlier this year: reviews written through the form of fiction. The setting: a group of film aficionados who regularly meet up at a store called All-Thumbs Video to discuss and debate recent releases.
  • On a related note, members of the Arts and Faith online community (affiliated with Image journal and the Glen Workshop organizers) compiled this list of their top 25 films on  marriage.
:: food ::
As some of you know, I left for a "sewing vacation" shortly after the Song Reader party, which meant a week at my parents' house in Riverside. In exchange for making such a long stay with them, I offered to make dinner each night. Mom sometimes handled the side dish, though, like a simple green salad for which she made a tasty homemade Ranch dressing. When I got home, I found myself craving the same thing to go with some lasagna. I'm not exactly sure this Ranch recipe is the same one she used, but it's pretty good. Notes:
  • I was short on mayo, so wound up using about 1/4 each sour cream, mayo and milk for a half batch of the dressing. I liked the consistency with the milk, though; otherwise it's pretty thick.
  • The flavors need more than 30 minutes to really blend nicely — which Mom also said — but even so it wasn't bad on my dinner salad.
  • This recipe calls for all dry herbs, but if you prefer to use fresh chives, dill, garlic, etc., check out the Pioneer Woman's Ranch recipe. I might have to try it next time.

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