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Sunday, July 31, 2011

In Which Computer Geeks Do Yours Truly A Major Solid

Okay, so today was full of special treats. First, I'm on vacation for two whole weeks which, Hello... is enough to celebrate like sailors on leave right there, but it also means it's Card Club girls' weekend away. Me and the gal pals decided to stay local this year, just chilling poolside under a cloudless sky, observing Happy Hour and stuffing our collective gullets to bursting.

stuffed chicks floating

Femme Hog Heaven.

Then once I got home, my uber thoughtful Geo surprised me with the original Pee Wee Herman Show from HBO on the DVR. This classic is still as hysterical as it was back in 1981. It stars a very young Paul Reubens (Pee Wee), Edie McClurg (Hermit Hattie) and the one and only Phil Hartman (Kaptain Karl--oh how I miss thee, Phil.) as well as various other more-than-slightly skewed children's programming characters.

Oh...A sailor travels anywhere/anywhere he pleases
but he always remembers to wash his hands
so's he don't get no...diseases
Back then Geo and I watched this show so often we memorized the entire hour. It never fails to make us howl even 30 years later. It's pretty much the perfect hour of comedy. No shit. The Pee Wee Herman Show is one of the funniest things ever created on this blue planet. There are so many great quotable lines that we still use to this day. "Pen Pals from around the Woooorld!" "Mekka Lekka Hi Mekka Hiney Ho" "Shoe Mirrors!!" "Friends are in from Europe" "Cool, Caucasian" and perhaps our favorite, "Is that a big enough piece of cake, or what?!"

Holy CRAP!
IS that a big enough piece of cake, or what?!

And then there's the Jelly Donuts' hilarious tribute to Sly and the Family Stone.

Ooo Yaaaaaaa!

I swear when I'm old and demented, I won't know my own name, but I'll sure as hell remember every line of this crazy gem. I love it that much. Chances are I'll be smothered in my sleep at the home because of that annoying behavior.

But by far the very best part of today was walking in the door and hearing the voice of our faraway niece, Regi floating out from the kitchen via FaceTime.

There she was on our iPad, sitting at her kitchen table in her PJs talking to us from Japan. At that moment I wanted to kiss every single computer science nerd full-on the lips for making this wondrous thing possible. And maybe flash their virgin eyeballs a little boob, too. Okay, maybe a lot of boob.

(Note: I am totally going to get a bunch of hits this week from pervies because of that last line. I'm looking at you, Mr. Indonesia.)

We yakked about everything and nothing for almost two hours...for FREE! It was glorious! God damn, it was so great to see her face beaming forth from my new favorite techno toy. I owe the Apple geeks a debt of gratitude for foraging such a modern marvel as FaceTime from their big, big brains.

And a flash of boob.

Monday, July 25, 2011

"Right Now Is A Pretty Good Time"
or Old 97's summer fun run, Part Tres

Some days are better than others...

Okay, so after spending the night at the La Quiiieeeen-ta, (sorry, you just have to say it that way), I hopped on the subway and met my honorary little sis, Steph at Penn Station.

All. by. myself.

Dude, that is huge. You have no idea how huge that is. I'm totally directionally challenged. It's pathetic. I instinctually head the wrong way, yet miraculously always end up finding my destination. Weird. A psychic once told me I have an Indian spirit guide who leads me. Man, that cat must be exhausted. I wouldn't be surprised if he puts in for a transfer.

Anyhoo, have you ever experienced a day that was beginning-to-end perfect? A day where through no effort of your own, everything just falls into place with beautiful synchronicity. Last Thursday was that day.

Steph and I decided to spend this rare, comfortable, sunny summer day at Coney Island. On the way to the subway station, we stumbled upon a charming little Mexican restaurant where we ate chips, fresh salsa, burritos and kick-ass Margaritas for, get this... $25!


For realz. We should have known the day was going to be special from that alone.

Welcome to Coney Island!

view from the schwings
I haven't been to Coney Island since I was 21 years old. Back then this legendary amusement park was populated by thugs, trannies and drug addicts. Now it's cleaned up (clientele wise) and family friendly. Even if it was still infested with unsavory characters, we would have had a great time. It's impossible not to have a good time with Steph. Hanging with her is effortless and always a blast. Love her!

pre brain freeze 

probably not the most effective use of condoms
just sayin'

Nice nips, Nancy

two classy chicks hanging at the park
We acted like retards in front of stupid signs, road a bunch of rides that had us in stitches (I'm looking at you, Tickler)
could this sign be any creepier?
and got a brain freeze from slurping mango Slushies on the boardwalk. I seriously almost tinkled while spinning the Teacups out of control when Steph screamed "I feel like I'm on drugs!" after she foolishly looked up from the center wheel. I haven't laughed that hard for a while.

Side note: Everytime we stepped off of a ride, Steph's shirt buttons would be undone. She was getting mechanically groped in a purely New Yawk way. WTF? "Welcome to Coney Island. Now off with dat dere button, sweethawrt." Ha Ha Ha!!

And then I got shit on...literally.

No shit! (pun intended) I was standing there, minding my own bidnez, taking a picture of the original Nathan's hot dog shop when I felt a nauseating, wet plop on my head. Steph confirmed my horror with a shriek followed by an insuppressible giggle.

Seagulls are dicks, yo.

post bird shit
we are not amused
Okay, it WAS funny as Hell once I wiped that crap out of my hair. But seriously, Seagulls are assholes, especially the brown ones. Naturally I shared my pub(l)ic humiliation with the world via Twitter because clearly I am a masochist. We laughed so much ribbing each other over the interwebs, I think the other subway riders thought we were demented. I know, right? We were sitting right next to each other for God's sake, and yet we were tweeting each other. Hello, 2011. But it was big fun.

Running late for the show, we ordered sushi delivery. Two rolls, soup and edamame for 20 bucks?!? Are you kidding me? First cheap and tasty Mexican with Margaritas, now this. You rock, Brooklyn! Maybe there is something to this nutty notion that getting pooped on is good luck...

hello there handsome

Sufficiently feed and watered, we made it to the venue in the middle of opener Robert Ellis' (AKA Jesus) act. We met up with some more friends and had some amazing conversations before Old 97's took the stage a little after 10pm. And boy, did they hit the ground running with a smoking version of the title track, The Grand Theatre and a super frenetic State of Texas, whipping the fans into an early frenzy.

The first night was terrific, but this night, WOW... I don't know if it was the larger crowd, the cooler, temperate weather or being better rested from not having to travel between cities in a cramped Sprinter, but whatever the reason, they were en fuego!! They all were fired up, having a GREAT time feeding off the positive vibe gushing from the masses and taking the time to goof with the audience.

Having fun with teeny tiny bottles of Jameson:

Rhett was all playful with the crowd, charming his adoring fans with a nod and a smile, Murry kept his end of the stage humming by sharing his bass with fans, Philip was joking with Rhett between songs, and Ken... Ken was super charged, owning his role as master shredder.

It's no secret how much I love these guys. I love their bottomless energy. I love their unmatched commitment to rock your face off live. I love that they look like they're having as much fun playing as we are being swept up in the riptide of their musical juggernaut. They never ever phone it in. But I think what I love most about these four wonderful fellas is how kind they are to their following.

Thursday was my friend and uber fan, George's birthday. They dedicated not one, but three songs to him, W. Texas Teardrops, the lovely Lashes (more for his wife, Maria than George),

and a through the roof version of If My Heart Was a Car.

George was grinning from ear to ear. Hell, he's probably STILL grinning. They went above and beyond to make his night an event he'll never forget.

By the time Ken took his final leap on the last note of Time Bomb, a sense of euphoria had set in. The kind of satisfaction that's so complete, it can sufficiently tide me over until the next time our paths cross. God, they rock my world. Walking back to the La Quiiieeeeeenta, reliving the events of the day, I couldn't stop smiling. I'm smiling now.

It really was a perfect day.

So let's review: two meals each for around $20 bucks, laughing to tears at Coney Island and an off-the-charts concert by my favorite musicians. Maybe there is something to this bird shit on the head thing being lucky...

Right now is a pretty good time.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Part Two of Old 97's Fest 2011
or nice to meet you, Brooklyn

Okay, so time has been racing past me in one gigantic blur lately. It's crazy. I could swear I was just in Brooklyn two days ago and yet in real time it's been over a week now. Crazy.

Anywho, my beloved Old 97's performed at Brooklyn's Bell House for two consecutive nights last week. I've never been to Brooklyn before, so I had no idea what to expect upon my arrival. Both the club and hotel are located in a more industrial looking neighborhood in what is known as the Gowanus section of swankier Park Slope.

I said "Go(w)anus" hee hee

The first night I met up with two of my favorite people, Marcy and Sarah for an exquisite dinner and drinks at Blue Ribbon before heading off to the show. Dude, the salmon was insanely good. Wow. Like seriously a taste sensation worth noting and eating again. I'm drooling just thinking about it.

We got to the venue with about 15 minutes to spare before the band took the stage. One of the things I enjoy about this band is the culture of community surrounding it. There's always a handful of delightful people I know at each club, and I always end up meeting a few more each time. I have met several truly special people whom I count as some of my closest friends now all because of our shared love of this band. And for that alone I shall be forever grateful to these musical men.

Alright, enough of the ICK factor. Moving on to the main event, dammit...

By 10pm, the crowd was ready to cut loose. Rhett and company didn't disappoint with a rocking 26 song setlist mixing old standards and soon-to-be-new favorites. Ken was pacing the stage like a lion, shredding his telecaster over the excitable crowd, Rhett was shaking sweat from his luscious mane, making all the girls hot with his hip swaying, Murry was thumping out the rhythm line while encouraging the fans in front to pluck the strings at the end of Train Wreck, and Philip was keeping it all together with a ferocious back beat. And us? We were dancing and singing our proverbial asses off.


From Volume 2, Manhattan (I'm Done) - for Geo

Rhett's lovely and lithe wife, Erica was in attendance which meant we were treated to an acoustic version of Erica the Beautiful in the encore break. I didn't record it last Wednesday, but here's a performance from 2007 via the wondrous world of YouTube:

One of the many high points of the evening came during the encore performance of Won't Be Home No More. They opened with this song the very first time I ever heard the band play live. It contains one of my favorite bridges.

I'm pulling off the road
I'm opening the door
I'm giving you the pavement
I'm telling you what for
You are no more than a thought
no more than a thought
and you're getting smaller in my rear view mirror
yeah you're getting smaller in my rear view mirror
yeah you're getting smaller...

Such fantastic imagery. His anger and disgust with this chick is deliciously palpable. I love this tune. As happens sometimes as a song evolves, Rhett changed up the lyric slightly. The original was "I'm giving you the Heisman", as in the Heisman trophy stance of one arm outstretched, shoving her out the car door. It has long been abandoned, but that evening he threw in the Heisman line!


The funny thing is it took Marcy and I a couple of seconds to register before we screamed like girlie-girls. We're such dorks. Kooky, lovable dorks, but dorks nonetheless. Ha Ha!

(Okay, I realize this means absolutely nothing to any of you, but it was really exciting to this uber fangirl. Please, no judging or I'll be forced to slap a ginormous red "J" on your chest and write you off as a grade A, number one jagoff.)

The evening ended full-throttle with a balls-to-the-wall performance of Time Bomb, including what has become a signature lead singer jump off the amp. One of these days I'm going to have a better camera with which to capture the impressive air Rhett gets.

Great friends, great food and the Heisman equals another great evening of music from my favorite foursome.  Hoarse and happy, it was an excellent first day in Brooklyn.

Killer Set List 7/13/11:

No Simple Machine
Dance Class
Buick City Complex
White Port
New Kid
Marquita/Bright Spark
No Baby I (inspiration for this blog's title)
Barrier Reef
Please Hold On
Color of Lonely Heart
Manhattan (I'm Done)
Champaign, IL
Big Brown Eyes
Four Leaf Clover


Erica the Beautiful
Come Around (I think...)

Won't Be Home
Every Night
Time Bomb

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Good Friends, Good Times and the Old 97's (Part One)
or feeding my unquenchable obsession

Okay, so this past week I had the ginormous pleasure (read indulgence) to witness not one, but three Old 97's concerts.


My favorite foursome were booked all week in the East Coast, including the fabled Asbury Park gem and storied Springsteen haunt, The Stone Pony. The July 10th vacation week at the Special K was available and I actually entertained the notion of taking it, but five shows in a row? Dude, that seemed crazy-excessive even for me. The Pony was tempting though, man. As it turns out it was so oppressively hot and humid there, I probably would have perished in a pool of my own precious bodily fluids.

So my week of musical merriment began at Baltimore's Ram's Head Live. My bud, Steph and her cousin, Dave picked me up at the airport and we headed directly to the venue in time to meet up with other familiar faces from past shows. Unlike the last time when we met up with the band prior to the show for web business and such, this time we were just fans, staking our claim in the crowd between Ken and Rhett, singing our throats raw and dancing our butts off with our fellow 97's flock.

Holy Crap it was a blast.

They launched into a high-energy, three-song set of No Simple Machine, Dance Class and perennial sing-along favorite, Niteclub to get the crowd rolling. The new stuff is so fantastic live. The sheer magnitude of force behind the combo Marquita/ Bright Spark will just rock your face off. Magnificent.

Couple that with Please Hold On, Trainwreck, Four Leaf Clover and Barrier Reef and you've got the recipe for a happy, hoppy, bellowing crowd. The masses sang their hearts out at Barrier Reef, Big Brown Eyes and Rhett's encore break acoustic Come Around. I never tire of hearing the entire room taking the reins of their songs. I can only imagine how fucking awesome it is for Rhett to hear 500+ voices echoing back his brilliant verses.

Did you catch Rhett's look of absolute delight as the venue became one unit on his final chorus?

Not only does Stoned win for the best non-rap use of the words dope and fly, but check out the dude's ball cap in front of me. It totally looks like a mustacheod man singing, right?

You can't see anything else other than that hat face now, can you. Sucka!

Right before White Port, Ken who's usually silent on stage, invited the audience to join him at a bar of their choosing.

When the dust settled and the screaming had stopped, Cat's Eye Pub in Fell's Point was the winner. So after having our Rock souls sated and being drenched in sweat, our own as well as Rhett's (I know, you'd think that'd be gross, but it's totally not), we ventured over to the bar. Lo and behold, Ken and Murry actually showed up! How cool are they, huh?

The pub seemed like an odd choice following the raucous evening of musical mayhem we'd just witnessed, what with it's quieter, old-man jazz trio perched on an elevated 4 x 5 stage, but the bar was the perfect place for chatting up a favorite musician.

Ken, who has a bad rap for being surly, was having a great time holding court with his adoring fans and enjoying the company of young lasses. Murry was fielding questions and accepting beers from his own crowd of ecstatic followers.

And then I nearly kissed the pavement.

That's right. Miss Grace almost fainted right there in front of a bona fide rock star. Yep. Not enough O's in smooth. The whole evening I had this nagging feeling I was forgetting something, you know, but what?

Tickets: check. Camera: check. Money: check. As my vision began to tunnel, and voices started to echo, it hit me.

FOOD, asshat.

Seems the notion of feeding my gullet had escaped me for the last 12 hours. Did you know Vodka tonics are not on the food pyramid? What?!?

So I stumbled out of the bar and did ye olde head-between-my-knees while leaning against the car, drinking water so thoughtfully provided by Stephanie. Murry, being the sweetheart he is, came out to make sure I wasn't expiring on the streets of Charm City. The three of us ended up sitting in the Steph's car with the air blasting, Murry in back.

So we're sitting there (me recovering slower from my humiliation than the fainting spell) and people start rapping on the car window to talk to Murry. Hands down the funniest lean-in was a bald-headed, heavily tattooed dude who, thinking we were burning a doobey or two stated, "why, this car doesn't smell at all like weed."  Hilarious!

We rejoined the party inside, hung out until after last call then headed to bed 24 hours after I'd started the day. All's well that ends well, especially if you don't reverse gears on your new summer shoes.

Rock and Roll, BABY!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

In Which Some Conversations Are More Heartbreaking Than Others...

I don't even know where to begin...

I am blessed with three amazing sisters who have graced our brood with three delightful brothers-in-law. Each of these men has brought their own colorful blade to our family pinwheel. They've all been in our clan for so long, I can barely remember a time when they weren't part of our lives.

It took my sister Toni three times to find a mate worthy of her joyful essence. Her first husband was a complete bastard. He dragged her to Alaska, knocked her around and held her at gunpoint. Through the kindness of coworkers as well as strangers, she was able to escape that mercifully brief nightmare.

Her second attempt at a lasting relationship wasn't physically abusive, but was neither nurturing nor loving. That nine-year run ended with one quick burst of violence, from which he fled, rarely to be heard from again.  #2 wasn't a bad man, but we suspect he was mentally ill. Knowing my sister wouldn't tolerate abuse, we believe he hit her knowing she would immediately kick him out, thus freeing him from any responsibility. He had a lot of faults and frailties that he couldn't necessarily help, but without him we wouldn't have our nephew, Will. So there's that anyway.

Any other woman would have turned bitter and angry, but my amazing sister never closed her heart to love. She was a little tarnished, but she never lost hope.

Then Art walked into her life.

And she shined brightly once again.

Not to sound cliche, but Art has a somewhat checkered past. That's not to say he was in jail--not that I know of anyway, but he wasn't always the most upstanding citizen. However, that was his past life before their paths crossed.

Timing is everything in life. Had they met ten years earlier, they never would have dated let alone married. He was too out there, too scary, too unsavory for my sister. No, they needed the span of years for him to temper and for her to loosen her black-and-white moral compass.

In Art my sister, Toni finally found a partner who respected, treasured and loved her unconditionally with all his heart. In Toni he found his joy, his center, his true North.

I tell you all this because Art is dying. His heart is not pumping blood with enough force to deliver oxygen throughout his body, his lungs don't function well and he's diabetic. He's on a litany of meds, but the only long-term fix is a heart transplant for which he is ineligible. There is no official time line, but in my gut it doesn't feel far away.
We had Sunday dinner at Toni's so she could keep an eye on Art, who is generally too weak to leave his bedroom. He's not bedridden, but he can't make it down the stairs without getting utterly exhausted, so he stays upstairs.

I went up to say hi and we chit-chatted a bit about nothing in particular. Then it got quiet. When he turned a serious gaze in my direction and asked if we could talk, I knew he was going to make me cry.

Choking back tears, Art (a non-believer if ever there was one) told me my sister is his Angel sent from God to save him from himself. She is the light that was missing from his life. Her joyful essence is precious to him. She gave him back his smile. His voice cracking, he told me his only regret is he won't get to spend more time with her.

It was so fucking heartfelt, it crushed me.

And then he made me promise to not let her drown in her sorrow when he's gone. He locked his laser blue eyes on mine and told me she's too full of joy and love not to have love in her life again.

Art's always been the pragmatic one, never afraid to look at the cold, hard truth of a matter. Dealing with his own impending death is no different, but seeing him in tears being as honest as he's ever been with me, tore out my heart.

Composing myself as much as humanly possible, I took my turn at truth telling. This illness is a wretched bastard, but it afforded me the opportunity to finally thank him for gently caring of my sister who always wears her heart on her sleeve, for bringing color back into her life, for loving her the way she always deserved and for making her so very, very happy.

I came home, sat in Geo's lap and just held on, crying, not wanting to think about the day we won't be together.

I didn't tell my sister about our conversation and I won't. She's going to have enough to cry about over the next six months. She finally found her match, and now she's going to lose him far too soon. My heart breaks for her, but at least she has known what it's like to love unconditionally, to be cherished, to be happy.

And that's a rare gift.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

In Which Religious Irreverence Is Too Hysterical Not To Laugh

Okay, so last August my friend Cindy and I met up with two other "virtual" girlfriends in the Big Apple for what we called Rhettventure 2010. Because the world is weirdly wonderful now, we all became friends via Twitter and Facebook through a common love of all things Rhett Miller/Old 97's.

I don't know why, but from that initial meeting of us crazy swooners, Stephanie has become one of my dearest friends. She's warm, she's super smart, she's extremely articulate, she's a fabulous writer and she's completely irreverent. Steph's the adorable, twisted little sister I never had. It hasn't even been a year yet, but I feel like we've been kindred spirits forever. She is a true delight to be around.

She gets me.

So it's fitting that she shared this hilarious Patton Oswalt rift on a Christian Rock song, "The Christmas Shoes". Don't be afraid to laugh, y'all. Even God would think the cartoon image of him in his tighty whities is hysterical. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Hey Hey We're At The... Monkees??!?

Okay, so you read correctly.

I wasn't planning on going to see The (three quarter) Monkees on a hot, sticky summer Burgh night, but a good friend who has been woefully absent from our social circle offered me his extra ticket and I thought, Sure! What the heck. At the very least I get to spend an evening with Mike who has on more than one occasion willingly been my proxy husband at public events.
Hey Hey yo'self

Mike is adorable! He's artistic, hilarious, handsome... and single. I have no idea how that is possible. He's such a great catch. Sometimes life is a puzzle. Of course he has a tendency to date way younger breeder stock, so maybe that has something to do with his current marital(less) state.

Anywho, in case any of you have no idea about whom I speak (just stab me in the heart now), The Monkees were a band of four mop-topped lads who sang, eventually wrote their own material and had a very popular, off-the-cuff sketch sitcom held together by a thinly-veiled story line. It was wacky and zany and had a dreamy English boy (Davey Jones) in it with longer silky hair, straight white teeth and big Paul McCartney eyes. The fact that he was a short shit did nothing to dissuade the female populace from swooning over his diminutive frame. Yours truly included.

But I digress...

I had no idea Mike was such a huge Monkees fan in general and Mickey Dolenz follower in particular. Mike claims Mickey is the reason he plays drums. I had no idea he played drums. Another surprising tidbit I didn't know about our friend. Hmmmmm... what else is he keeping under his hat?

Thanks to the power of VIP tickets, we got in early and were able to belly right up against center stage. When Mickey, Peter Tork and Davy finally took the stage, Mike was positively giddy.
Mikey luvs Mickey
His man-crushing is so cute.

My Old 97's friend, Noreen joined us up front. The three of us, along with a gaggle of 20 year-old girls beside us sang the words to almost the entire 40 song setlist.
how many 2 minute songs can you fit into an evening?
this many
hey, my shadow looks like a giraffe

I'm always amazed how lyrics of songs from my pre-teen years effortlessly gush from my brain, but I can't remember why I woke up on the dining room floor, covered in blood, holding a dripping knife.

Oh wait... I do remember. That lifeless body's a dead give away. I told him I wanted vodka, not rum. Oh, Menopause. You're the perfect alibi.

I kid.

It was the living room.

Aaaaaanywho... For someone who initially turned her protuberant proboscis up at the idea of attending a Monkess concert, I had a really fun time. The Stage AE party patio was packed with happy, happy campers, oldsters and youngsters alike.
the mixed masses 

Those Seniors busted their collective butts in front of a big screen playing footage of their much younger selves. And nobody broke a hip. Impressive. Although I felt their humiliation when they were forced to awkwardly do the patented Monkees walk off the stage.

Peter sporting the grooviest pants on stage

Davey dancing with his younger self
without wiping out

still has the best dimples

Seriously. Are these not the grooviest pants?
He's like, 70?!

with the tiny former heartthrob

One of my all-time favorite Mike Nesmith song. Peter does it pretty good justice.

My only complaint: between the stifling 110% humidity and my own personal summer, I truly believed I was melting right there in front 60s Television icons. All in all an extremely enjoyable evening... except for the poor slobs standing downwind of me.

Mea Culpa.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

or it's CD release day!!!

Okay, so The Grand Theatre, Volume 2 from my favorite band of musical men in the entire universe dropped TODAY. That's goofy biz talk for the CD is finally available for purchase in stores and online here.

To say I'm a little excited is an understatement. Fortunately for me and Steph, we got an advanced download to preview in order to share our rambling thoughts on each track over at


Bassist Murry Hammond shares his insight on many of the tracks. His comments are worth the read. If you are so inclined, each entry is linked on this page here. Be gentle. I'm new to this reviewing thing.

Hell to the Yeah, MoFo
I'm very attached to The Grand Theatre, so I didn't think they could outdo Volume One, but damned if this fabulous foursome didn't step up and knock this one out of the park. This thing is so strong, it's like the Kool Aid man all hopped up on steroids, busting through reinforced concrete, kicking ass and taking names. It's the perfect follow up to the musical force that is Volume One. I LOVE this album start to finish. From the first listen, it caught me in its spell and I’m drawn in further with each subsequent spin.
The lovely blue-eyed one has been quoted as saying Volume One is epistolary, a series of letters back and forth. I contend Volume Two is more a collection of short stories, vignettes of the human condition fraught with familiar themes of unattainable love, lamentation and a wee bit of loathing, all cleverly masked under irresistible, upbeat melodies that defy one’s body to stand still.

And Dude, there's a Pirate song. No shit. Murry insists it's a hobo song, but c'mon. Scallywag = Pirate.

One of the reasons I never EVER tire of Rhett and company is their ability to tackle so many different genres so successfully. This collection does not disappoint. It covers a lot of musical bases: ballad, rock, Brit pop, power pop, punk, garage, alt country...

It's fucking AWESOME, and I'm not just being biased. Okay, maybe I am a little, but seriously, I’ve lived with this CD for two weeks now, and there’s no sign of it coming out of my player any time soon. It's filled to the brim with new favorites, Brown Haired Daughter, Perfume, You Call It Rain, Visiting Hours, The Actor, (the rest)... Manhattan (I'm Done) tops my musical Sophie's Choice list at the moment, but with every 97's/Rhett Miller album the top spot changes from day to day.

I can't wait to hear these live. Fortunately, I won't have to wait long. Next week is my own personal three night Old 97's tour. I'm bound to be a disgusting puddle of gush by the end. With such an extensive catalog of incredible songs, they're just going to have to bite the bullet and play for three hours each night. A girl can dream, can't she? (she says hoping the parties involved telepathically hear my plea and comply)

Seriously. How awesome would that be?!? My head would explode.

Back-to-back albums chalk-full of future favorites and a touring schedule that goes on well into 2012… Right now is a pretty damn good time to be an Old 97′s fan.

What are you waiting for? Go buy this thing already! It'll rock your face off.

Monday, July 4, 2011

In Which Some Days Are Incredibly Special

Okay, so last Wednesday something really cool happened at work. Michael Franti stopped by to sing on our little dog and pony show. THE Michael Franti... beloved barefooted, Rasta-headed, yoga-loving purveyor of peace, love and sunshine was in our studios!!

Shut UP!!

I know, right? An actual huge name in music brought his ridiculously upbeat songs to our hovel.

It was fabulous! He could not have been more lovely or kind. Not one prima donna bone in his exceedingly tall frame. From the minute he stepped off the limo shuttle, he warmly embraced everyone in his path, literally and figuratively.

Our Wednesday regular, Christine of Whirl Magazine, is a ginormous fan of Franti's and managed to snag an interview at the last-minute. She's kind of my hero now.

We dedicated two long segments to him and his small posse.

His guitarist, Jay, was so delightful to watch perform. He never stopped smiling and be-bopping in his seat. Seriously. Look at him. The happiest guy in the room. His positive energy was contagious. Clearly his job makes him giddy.

Or he was high.

I kid. I'm kidding. I'm a kidder.

We all were floating.

That evening Franti and company played to a packed house on the north shore. I was joined by three newbies to the church of Michael. If you recall (and I know all two of you do because I AM the center of your universe, right), I had the pleasure of being part of his Cosmic Congregation last year.
our band of merry revelers

From the minute his shoeless feet hit the stage, he had the crowd jumping, waving their arms and singing back to him. We were putty in his loving hands at the first note of the opening number.

Once again, he fearlessly wove through the crowd not once, but three times.
feeling the love from the crowd
During his playful tune, Shake It!, Franti invited everyone to come up on stage to shake their groove thang. When the dust cleared, this little tyke wasn't ready to go, so they strapped on Michael's big ole gee-tar and let him join in.
Go, Little Man, Go

Smiling J, shredding like a rock star

the coolest man in the room

another trip through his adoring fans

how long will these two talk about this night, huh?

Oldsters next to us
even though it doesn't look like it, they were boogieing

"raise your hands in the air"

me, a wee bit too excited about that free coffee
a Woo and a Hoo
Hola, Hola y'all

And Seriously, who can resist giant, yellow balloons? So fun!! His shows are just one huge party where no one fights... or throws up in your toilet. Aaaa, but there was ganga. Oh yes there was, but again young people do not share. What the eff is up with that?!?

For Hey, Hey, Hey Franti scoots backstage while the band is playing and magically pops up amongst the audience to everyone's delight. I LOVE this song! It's impossible to sit still while the message seeps in...

I say Hey Hey Hey 
No matter how life is today
There's just one thing I got to say
Don't let another moment slip away

A mantra to live by, for sure.

Dude! He stood right next to our table! I was bummed to have missed him standing next to me because I chose to dance on the stairs, but then I remembered that I actually got to hug and talk to him that morning, so... I'm good.

Note: Keeping the covers streak alive, the band did their take on Bob Marley's classic Could this be Love. Is there a more fitting song for Franti to cover? I think not. 

As is tradition at a Spearhead concert, Franti calls to stage all the children and people over 60 from the audience. He made the comment that this was the first time they had that many older people on stage. For once our aging population in Allegheny County paid off. Our oldsters kick ass, Yo! Ha Ha!

young and old tearing up the stage

check out the posture on the girl in tie-dye
can you say annoyed?

representin' the hippie elders

this 82 year old stepped up with her purse and cane
she's all about awesome
I aspire to be her at 82

When they finally said their farewells to the adoring crowd, the positive vibe was reverberating off the walls. I didn't see one person who wasn't sporting an ear-to-ear grin, except for the cranky pre-teen behind our table who spent the entire evening forcing a pout save for one moment of weakness when he dropped his snear to high-five my friend after their brush with musical greatness. That family has a looooooong couple of years there, boy howdy. The rest of us walked away filled with shear, unadulterated joy, spirit sufficiently uplifted.

They won't be back through America in a while, but from September 29-October 5, Spearhead is headlining the Rombello cruise along with my fantasy husband and musical love, Rhett Miller. There are a number of other notables performing on the cruise to Cozumel as well.

If only I was independently wealthy...

The unflappble optimism of Michael Franti and Spearhead AND Rhett Miller on the same ship for five days!! How fun is that boat ride going to be?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Saturday On The Deck With Geo
or hanging with my honey is its own work of art

Okay, so yesterday turned into a good day.

For the record, Geo and I don't get to spend much time together. We barely see each other for two hours a day due to my early bed time and his tremendous work ethic which keeps him at the office longer than perhaps he should. Definitely longer than I would like.

What's a wifey to do?

His impeccable integrity and unshakable work ethic are two of the many qualities I adore about him. At the same time, when I'm sitting at home alone for hours without him, they are the two characteristics I loathe.

I know, SPOILED, but I can't help it. I miss him. Then when we are together there's just too much to catch up on... too much to physically clean up, too much to discuss, too much to watch on the DVR, too much paper piling up...that we sometimes waste our precious time together arguing about me pushing him too far, him being snotty, me getting stompy... It's an ugly avalanche of ill temperament.


And then there are the days when we both seize the opportunity to just be. Together. Without expectation.

And it is magical.

Yesterday was that day.

I got released from my indentured servitude at 1pm, arriving home to find Geo entrenched in yard work. It was too glorious a day to be inside, so I finished up a few tiny outdoor projects of my own and gave Geo a hand trimming our hairy beast of a Willow bush. (add your own off-color comment here-consider it a freebie) Holy Crap this thing gets so out-of-control huge so quickly, I swear it has designs on quietly breaking through our bedroom window and strangling us in our sleep. 
Moving on...

Not that I need an excuse to drink, but it was really hot and sticky out. REALLY hot and sticky. And that was without taking into account my own "personal summer" going on. An icy something with a kick was definitely in order. Funny how throwing back, er... I mean sipping a crazy, impossible-to-pronounce Brazilian Cachaca cocktail makes clean up duty downright playful. Did I mention how hot and sticky it was?

The cool thing about mundane physical labor is it takes little concentration and allows the opportunity for great conversation. The alcohol doesn't hurt either. Geo and I talked, we planned, we sang, we laughed, we teased, we played Name That Tune with the iPod...

When the last bundle was tied, we cracked open the vodka, noshed on gourmet cheeses and olives, and enjoyed each other's company. Reconnecting while sitting on the deck watching a magnificent summer day wane into night, wishing this evening could last a lifetime.

And that's worth way more than any completed to-do list.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

In Which Thelma And Louise Ride Again

Okay, so twenty years ago (Holy Good God! Has it been that long?), my BFF, Beets and I rented a baby blue convertible Mustang, left the boys at home and headed for the Jersey Shore with a blender, two packs of smokes and a desire to cut loose.

We hung on the beach, drank copious glasses of Margaritas at the pool, smoked too many Newports, chatted up boys and let the wind blow through our sun-kissed hair while we poodled around with the top down. It was the perfect female bonding weekend.

Look at how happy we were...

Woo Hooo! Out of our way, Mother Pluckers!
Twenty years along, we both have more adult responsibilities and Beets doesn't have the free time to frivolously frolic in the surf unencumbered by children yet, but hopping in her bright red convertible Mustang on a ridiculously sunny day, cruising through the countryside, blaring our favorite tunes is enough to transport us right back to 1991 and our carefree, hot tamale, 30 year-old selves.

Look at how happy we are...

Good friends, sunshine and the unadulterated joy of  a convertible top... That's what Summer's all about, Charlie Brown.