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Friday, December 21, 2012

Oh, Hey. That's Right. I Have A Blog, Don't I?
or distracting you from my lameness with funny internet shit

Okay, so it seems I've abandoned this bloggity-blog-blah of late. I have been less than inspired to compose a cavalcade of critically disregarded crap for some time. Oh things have happened. Vacations have been taken. Humiliating missteps have occurred. Concerts have been attended, even one uncharted kick-ass, love-fest of a Francis Dunnery house concert/50th birthday bash that left me with a restored faith in humankind and at peace and a little hoarse.

And yet...

Nothing. Nada. Zip.

And Dude, has my writing ability suffered. I can barely piece together a thought or finish a sentence without my ADD taking over with a ---

SQUIRREL!!!

I blame the Mayans.

Oh, and don't get me started on that bullshit. Apocalypse, my ass! (comma placement being crucial right there. to be clear, i am not, nor will i ever be the kind of chick who implores anyone to apocalypse her ass. whatever that is. and no thank you, i don't want to know. ever. step away from the computer, pervy.) Now I have to pay my fucking credit card that just arrived in a box so heavy TWO postmen had to lift it from the truck.



Conclusion: Mayans were as accurate as the yahoos at (In)Accu-weather. They were assholes.

Yaaaaay, Earth.

Aren't you glad I decided to come out of my top-secret, secluded bunker and write today, you lucky bastards? Yeah, you are. I feel the loathe.

Anyhoo...

I haven't been in the best of Christmas spirits. To be honest, I've been kinda meh about everything related to next Tuesday's chaos, which is total bullshit considering we just got back from the Big Apple which was festive as shit and filled with throngs of roaming, drunken Santas,


there were even several gents sporting the short pants
hellooo, santa

but there it is. Like Henri, I've been filled with ennui.

Then I read this... at work... during the live newscast and had to physically stifle my laughter by clapping my hands across my big, fat gob.



The 25 funniest autocorrects from damnyouautocorrect posted on Buzzfeed found here. Hysterical!! I was literally crying. Autocorrect is the poor man's electronic Prozac. Seriously. It will elevate you out of any funk. I need to make this site my home page.

Then of course it's also inappropriate Elf on the Shelf photo season. That creepy elf freaks me the hell out (add another thing to my list of phobias), but HOLY CRAP these pictures are hilarious.

Perhaps the most clever and my favorite
Justin Timberlake would be proud
There are tons of pics on the interwebs if you google "inappropriate elf on the shelf photos". Here's just one link. Go nuts. It's Christmas, after all.

And then there's this gem.

monkey in shearling for the win!

A stylishly cloaked monkey in a diaper busting out of his car cage and running amok in the Toronto IKEA. Why not. Makes perfect sense.

I love you, Interwebs.

That's it for me. Back to the bunker I go. Ciao!


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Proper Thanksgiving Etiquette
or Emily Post would totally do a spit take

Okay, so there's this long time YouTuber named Ze Frank who has been creating eclectic videos for upwards of eight years maybe. His odd, humorous and thought-provoking observational videos are the inspiration behind the Vlogbrothers, aka John and Hank Green's highly successful YouTube presence. He also brought us the hilarious True Facts about Hedge Hogs.

Now he's tackled proper etiquette for your Thanksgiving table. Question: which fork does one use to consume a penis legume?


Billy's messed up, yo.



Sunday, November 18, 2012

In Which Sometimes One Captures Greatness On Ones iPhone



Okay, so, yeah that happened.

What. You didn't watch? Go back and watch, paying particular attention to roughly 1:30 in. Hilarious!

Stumble, tumble and keep on playing. That's Rock 'n Roll, BABY!! Epic. That's my favorite band, putting every last drop of unbridled energy out there, leaving the stage in an exhausted, sweaty heap after the overwhelming, mad rush of unconditional love from an exhilarated, hoarse, completely sated sold-out DC audience. Is it any wonder why I (and thousands of others) adore these four men so much? That right there, that's the perfect example of why I go back to the Old 97's well time and again. They simply never disappoint.

But I've started with dessert, as it were. I'm a girl after all, and we chicks consume a meal backwards sometimes. Life is short.

Anywho, my latest traveling troubadour adventure started with a 6am Megabus ride to Philly after a late night musical outing with Geo (yes, Geo partook!!) and friends to see The English Beat at the Hard Rock Cafe. Dave Wakelin and company are always a great time. Near constant dancing ensued mainly of the white guy variety. The Beat were the third band on the ticket, so they didn't take the stage until 10. When we checked out close to midnight, they hadn't finished their main setlist yet, but we had heard most of the songs we came for by then, my thighs were burning from bustin' moves and my ears were buzzing like a thousand cicadas on a warm summer night. Ska-tastic!

But I digress...

First of all, Dude, Megabus is made of awesome!! Uber comfortable seats, clean, free WiFi, outlets to recharge, a noticeable lack of fragrant hobos, all for a mere FIVE BUCKS!!

Seriously. Get on that shit! Five bucks! I spend $5  in gas just to drive to the New Stanton exit of the Turnpike. That's it. Pittsburgh to Philly on a fiver...sweet, SWEET deal.

Did I mention the lack of stanky, skanky Greyhound creepers? It's true.

Part one of the week's 97's double shot was a new venue, Union Transfer near Chinatown. It used to be a Spaghetti Warehouse. An Italian food chain in Chinatown...yeah, no wonder that didn't work out. Better for us, because the space provided a terrific setting for a rock show. High ceiling, cavernous general admission pit, balcony, front lobby made for merch and a top-notch sound system. Very impressive.

Similar to the tour in September, this leg of the Too Far To Care anniversary shows began with a short solo set by Rhett. He's an unbelievable showman, giving his all, working up a sweat no matter how long or short his appearance on stage. In Philly, he pulled out California Stars, Need to Know Where I Stand and a very spirited Johnny Cash cover The Wreck of the Old 97 (for obvious reasons). In DC, he took a more sentimental route with Picture This and Sometimes after we were treated to an unplanned a capella verse of the narrative rich Holy Cross. A critical string had broken on his acoustic, but instead of pausing to collect another guitar and starting over, he kept singing. His smooth voice bouncing off the walls, washing over the silent crowd transfixed by every unaccompanied note. Spontaneous applause erupted when he finally started strumming his secondary guitar. It was a beautiful moment.

Between the solo and band sets, was The Travoltas. Helmed by Old 97's producer and Texas native, Salim Nourallah, this five-piece band in their matching tan polyester suits delivered light, poppy, Beatlesque tunes that kept the audience with them throughout their set. A pretty big feat for any opener. Buoyant in spirit and playful with each other, Salim roamed around the stage caressing the bald keyboardist's head, tossing scarfs at the guitarists and leading the crowd in a clap along. I'm not exaggerating when I say they are THE BEST opener I've every seen for the 97's. So fun and engaging, they easily won over both cities. Usually one suffers through the first act, patiently (or not) waiting for the headliner, but I (and other multiply-show fans) was giddy to see them again.


Pictures Collected

They are adorable and deserving of all the accolades they've received! And so so so very nice!

As I've said too many times to count, one of the greatest joys of being a Rhett Miller/Old 97's fan is the circle of friends made based on a mutual devotion to these guys. There are always familiar faces in the front row. Even though I was traveling solo, this trip was spent Murry side in Philly with Tracey from NJ and a group of her friends, some of them new to our obsession. I always have fun seeing a show with Tracey, singing and dancing with cocktail in hand.

After a rousing performance of Too Far to Care, which in itself is a perfect setlist, they played a nice assortment including Oppenheimer (a rarity), Question including the French verse usually reserved for Rhett's solo shows, and the every catchy Every Night Is Friday Night (Without You). F.U.N!



"This is the story of Victoria Lee..."


DC was girls night out with Steph, Melissa, Sheila and Cindy (from Pittsburgh). It was Steph's first outing since having her beautiful, chubby-cheeked cherub. What better way to spend your first night away than with your screaming girlfriends in front of your favorite band. Amiright? We met up at an Irish pub sporting an urban music soundtrack run by African Americans. Only in America. Ha! Whatev. The food was tasty and the drinks were heavy pours. By the time everyone got there, Steph and I were already buzzed. We were all in good cheer when we headed across the street to the 9:30 Club.


Won't Be Home No More -"you're getting smaller in my rearview mirror..."


Steph and I had the good fortune to be invited backstage to say hello before the show. At one point, Ken, Rhett and Steph all whipped out their iPhones to share photos of their kids. Rockers as Fathers. So sweet to watch them brag on their adorable progeny. In that moment, they ceased to be legendary Rock Gods adored by the masses, and were just proud poppas.

Jagged

I feel like I'm merely repeating myself from post to post (I desperately need a new superlatives Thesaurus), but when they hit the stage with the explosion of Time Bomb (pun intended) the atmosphere was electric. They were charged up and having as much fun as we were, maybe even a wee bit more. There was extra umph in Rhett's windmills, head thrusts and hip shakes, Murry was thumping his bass and playing with fans on his side, Philip (trapped behind his kit) was boldly pounding out his signature beats, and Ken...Ken was so animated, roaming around, leaning into the front row, sticking his tongue out like Gene Simmons, tossing a week's supply of picks into the audience. Yeah, they were definitely having a good time on stage. They were all in, whether rocking our faces off or turning it down a little in the quieter offerings. And then as if the crowd wasn't already in a fervor after the show-stopping set closer, If My Heart Was a Car, they unleashed the finale's epic unhinging noted at the top of this post.

Which brings us full circle.

I never record Time Bomb, because I'm too wrapped up getting my freak on, singing and dancing with abandon. But when Rhett nearly knocked his mic stand over at the start of Time Bomb, the voice in my head screamed for me to roll on this, because something special was about to happen.

And it did.

That's the way to end a show, folks. Controlled chaos, as my friend Annie aptly called it. Brilliant, controlled chaos. And I will love them forever for it.



Philly 10/25/12

Rhett:
Lost Without You
Holy Cross
California Stars
Need to Know Where I Stand
Out of Love
Wreck of the Old 97

Too Far Too Care
Mama Tried
The Grand Theatre
Perfume
Won't Be Home
Oppenheimer
Question avec francaise
White Port
Victoria
I'm a Trainwreck
Every Night Is Friday Night
Rollerskate Skinny
Doreen
----
Valentine
Murder or a Heart Attack
Time Bomb


DC: 10/26/12

Rhett:
Lost Without You
Holy Cross (with unintended a capella verse)
Picture This
Sometimes (such a sweet, sweet song)
Out of Love
Wreck of the Old 97

TFTC
Mama Tried
Champaign, IL
Brown Haired Daughter
Dance With Me
Question
Jagged
White Port
Victoria
Won't Be Home
Every Night is Friday Night
Rollerskate Skinny
If My Heart Was a Car
---
Valentine
Murder or a Heart Attack
Time Bomb

Monday, November 12, 2012

An Instant Replay In Honor of Veterans' Day And My Old Man

Okay, so I don't repost very often, but reading all of the lovely tributes on Facebook to fathers and grandfathers who served in the military made me think of my own father's life. He was a complicated man. An enigma. A puzzle that took me decades to sort out and put together. Thank you for indulging me.

I miss him more than I ever fathomed I would.




In Time Everything Is Illuminated 
or finally understanding your parent  

Okay, so last night I was sitting on the deck amidst a cool summer breeze, pitting what seemed like 3,000 gallons of freshly picked sour cherries so generously offered by our neighbors. The thing about performing a completely mindless, manual labor over and over again is it allows one's thoughts to freely drift from one's subconscious.  

In my reverie, I realized Sunday was Father's Day. Being as Geo and I have neither fathers living nor children of our own, Father's Day is a holiday which goes by uncelebrated and sadly, unnoticed in our home. Most of the time I completely forget on which day it falls. This realization lead me to thoughts about my Dad, and how, at 49 years of age I think I finally get where he was coming from. 

When we were kids, my Dad worked the afternoon shift at the Post Office so we hardly saw him until his days off. Even then he usually was gone all day Saturday either golfing or out with his brother. He usually returned drunk and raging about the war or missed opportunities in his life. He was a product of World War II--he smoked too much, drank too much and was haunted by ghosts that stared up at him from the bottom of a whiskey bottle. At the time we all were embarrassed by his weekly rants and could not for the life of us understand why he was unable to forget the past, enjoy what he had and move on. I was unable to forgive him then. I was too green.

I think I get it now. In time everything is illuminated.

Let's start from the beginning. My Dad had bad timing. 

When the war started his brother advised him to enlist instead of being drafted. That way he could choose a branch of the military and not get stuck in the trenches of the Army. Heeding his brother's advice, he enlisted in the Air Corp thinking at least he'd be dry, well fed and away from the crazy land warfare. 

Turns out the government yahoo in charge put him on the WRONG TRAIN!! He ended up...you guessed it, in the Army marching in Patton's Third division. He marched from Africa to Germany. He was cold. He was hungry. He was tired. He was wounded twice--one of the times he begged the doctor not to amputate his leg. He had the most impressive five inch x two inch x 1/2 inch deep scar on his thigh. I remember putting my little hand in that huge divot, marveling at the depth of the hollow. He would never talk about it. And he would never wear shorts, no matter how stinking hot it was. Then to top it all off, when he came home the ship carrying his belongings sank. All of his stuff was gone. 

When he met my Mother on a blind date, he was going to art school. My Dad was a really good painter/sculptor and dreamed of being a commercial artist. 

(All of my siblings are talented and take after my Dad. My oldest sister, Weezie has a fabulous eye for photography. Her compositions are effortless and outstanding. My second sister, Vicki, is the painter. She was really good and had a nice flair. I hope she finds time to pick up the paintbrush again. Toni has a gorgeous singing voice, just like my Mother. And my brother has all of the musical talent in our family. He was fantastic on guitar. I think he could have been a session musician, but like Daddy, life got in the way. Someday I hope he starts strumming again. Me, I don't know. I'm really good at wasting time.)

Anywho, back to my Dad....

He met my Mom, fell in love and six months later was married. Ten months later my sister, Weezie was born. A couple years later Vicki was in the picture. Four months after that my Mom was pregnant with Toni, and he finally had to face the fact he needed a full-time job to support his growing family. I think leaving his dream in the dust crushed his soul a little. He went from creatively expressing himself through oils and clay to sorting other people's college acceptance letters into tiny slots over...and over... and over... and over... and over.

There were times when I think he resented us kids. Our very existence represented a constant reminder of a life lost for him. A bitter pill to swallow. But I know deep down and especially at the end of his life, he loved us and was glad we were his. 

But I get it now. I get how his life not turning out the way he envisioned it made him bitter, resentful and pine for things that could have been. Who knows how his life would have turned out had he skipped that blind date or met my Mom 10 years later. We all have crossroads from which we must choose a path. Sometimes the choice we need to make is not the one we want to make. After circling the sun for a few decades, now I can understand his frustration. I couldn't then. I hadn't lived enough. Hadn't made enough choices between want and need. Life was too black and white. I couldn't see the gray. 

In time everything is illuminated.

My Dad's been gone 20 years. 20 years... It's hard to believe it's been that long already. He wasn't always the easiest person to get along with, but he wasn't an ogre by any means. He would always take us kids to the zoo, the drive-in, searching for leaves for a school project. Whatever. He was honest, earnest, had a great sense of humor, a yen for teasing my Mom and a tremendous work ethic. He did whatever it took, worked wherever he could to support his family. He instilled that ethic in all of us. Oh, and he could be charming, especially to my Mother the morning after a drunken Saturday night.

We all had issues with my Dad, but luckily his lingering illness afforded us all the opportunity to mend our respective fences before he passed. Sometimes life gives you what you need without you asking. 

I never told him I loved him until he got sick. Strange since we're Italian and you'd think we'd say that all the time, but we didn't. It felt really weird at first. Uncomfortable. Awkward, even. But then it felt wonderful...natural. I'm happy to say I tell my Mom I love her every time we talk. That, too feels natural now. That, too is a gift from my Dad.

I think about my Dad a lot. I miss him. You never really get over the loss of a loved one, no matter how flawed he might have been. Our flaws make us human. Our family wasn't Ozzie and Harriet. It was what it was. He did his best. That's all you can ask for. 

I don't know...I think we all turned out alright. 

This is a picture of my parents taken right before they married. They were 25, playful, carefree, vibrant and crazy about each other. They were in love and had the world by the short hairs. They had no idea what lie ahead for them or where life would take them. Nothing else mattered except the love they shared. Look at them. It's as if their radiance is glowing from within. The essence of the hopeful nature of youth captured in one perfect moment in time. 

I adore this photo.  


In time everything is illuminated.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Let's Stay Together 
in which the citizens stand up for America 




 AAAAAAAaaaaa...

That's me, breathing again.

I'm not gonna lie, I was nervous as hell about this election. It was much closer than it should have been. Women and women's rights were being attacked and compartmentalized by the Right, and yet, too many intelligent women were blindly supporting the Big Red Machine. But in the end, we ladies of America--white, black, hispanic--stood up, stood in line and declared, "Not on our watch, Jackhole! You will NOT send us back to 1950s." And we hit the polls in record number.

Brava, Sistas! Brava!

Now comes the difficult part. Getting both parties in Congress to work together to restore this great nation. To heal, to grow, to embrace ALL who live within its shorelines. As President Obama said in his speech last night, we are all part of the same family. We are stronger together than apart.

"We remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and forever will be, the United States of America, and together... we will continue our journey forward." 

Forward.


I haven't heard him be this dynamic, this inspirational for a long time. Last night, THAT was the Barry who moved people to action back in 2008. Who reached out to the disenfranchised. Who gave us hope again.



Yesterday, my friend and I canvased a nearby neighborhood asking the resident democrats if they had voted, intended to vote or needed a ride to the polls. We were almost finished with our list when we knocked on a door of a woman in her late 50s named Marilyn. She lived with her elderly father. Marilyn had a stroke three years prior. She had come a long way, regaining much of her mobility (with the assistance of a walker) and most of her speech, but she lamented not being able to get to the elementary school to vote. So, we took her.

She was beyond excited.

We had enabled her to perform her civic duty, a duty too many are all too willing to disregard. As we helped her make her way back into her home, I was filled with a sense of community. I felt responsible for her. Protective even.

This is who we are in a democratic society. We help those less fortunate, less strong, less able. Marilyn is a tangible in the fight to retain critical social programs. She is why we must save Social Security and Disability benefits and Medicare. She is who the President is speaking of when he presses for health care reform to prevent insurance companies from withholding benefits from anyone because of a pre-existing condition. She is who we need to fight for, because, honestly, there but for the Grace of God...

It felt good to help Marilyn be part of the process. Damn good. Hopefully, her participation in the election made her feel a little more connected, a little more excited and a whole lot more proud when the celebration confetti cannons went off.

We're all in this thing called life together.




Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Walking Endeavor Home 
or the coolest video on the planet right now



Okay, so by now you know about my soft spot for the shuttle program. Photos of the fly-bys of Atlantis, Discovery and Endeavor on their way to their final resting place brought me to tears each and every viewing.



I'm getting teary now just thinking about it.

I am a ginormous sap.

Is this not the funniest juxtaposition?
Whatev. It's who I am. I get attached to inanimate objects, especially those upon which I have bestowed anthropomorphic characteristics. Does that even make sense?

Aaaaaanyway...

This weekend the last of the space shuttle crafts traveled 12 miles through Inglewood to its new home at the Los Angeles Science Center. It was slow going, taking days rolling along at a top speed of 2 mph. The city had to cut down 268 trees, remove 223 traffic lights and raise more than 100 power/utility lines in order for Endeavor to shimmy around trees, homes and poles to accomplish the journey, but HOLY CRAP! How crazy awesome would it be to see this out of your bedroom window?

your rides here

It's once in a lifetime, man.

After 25 missions, logging nearly 123 million miles in flight during 4,671 orbits, battered and bruised, she's earned the fanfare surrounding her retirement. Sweet dreams, l'il marvel.


Bryan Chan from the Los Angeles Times created a spectacular time-lapsed video found here. I've already watched it a zillion times. It's just that cool. Enjoy!



I love the missing tiles on the underbelly


Holy SHIT that's close




Monday, October 15, 2012

And Now For Something Completely Different...

A hedge hog

In an attempt to make up for the prior miserable TMI post, I offer up this funny from Ze Frank, the inspiration for all the Green Brothers' blogs.

"The hedge hog is made up of two parts. The exoskeleton and the underbelly called a scrotum...by idiots."


Now you know how the universe began. Not with a bang, but with a pffffft.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

In Which I Am A Maple Tree And Other Fun Menopausal Shit

WARNING: File this under TMI. I am nothing if not an oversharer.


1. Okay, so here's the thing, I have curly hair.

You may say big deal, and you may. Go ahead, Jerk. I'll wait for your Jagoff self.

The significance of this statement is I have NEVER had curly hair. Not for one second of this current life cycle. And yet, there it is. On top of my pea-sized head... curls. Unruly, Medusa-like, you-got-a-fucking-family-of-copperheads-nesting-on-your-head curly-cues.


You know in the Fall when the trees cease producing the chlorophyll that maintains their youthful green leaves, allowing the true colors of yellow, orange and red to emerge for all to marvel at their hidden beauty? Well, ever since I have turned a "woman of a certain age", as my estrogen manufacture has decreased, the ringlets have increased exponentially. Apparently estrogen is human chlorophyll. Dude, I'm fucking deciduous. I'm ready if Barbara Walters ever asks me what tree I'd be.

"I'm a MUTHAFUCKING MAPLE, BITCH!"

Who knew the only thing stopping me from looking like Orphan Annie was estrogen. The irony is I alwaysalwaysALWAYS wanted curly hair. I coveted all three of my sisters for their luscious locks thinking my life would be so much easier with care-free curls. Back in the 80s, I used to pay a lot of money and waste a lot of time at the hairdresser's inhaling the noxious fumes of permanent waves to have that big curly mop. Now I've got corkscrew hair, but have no idea how to tame its whack-ass cowlicks. Seriously. Those things have a mind of their own. I'm looking at you, right side. Why you got to be so ornery, beyatch?


2. Okay, so here's another thing, I have Menopause Head

No shit. I swear to God there are huge swiss cheese holes in my brain through which all new information plummets to the ground in a splattered mess. Names, dates, appointments... if I don't write it down AND set the alarm on my Reminder Ap to repeat-every-fucking-day-for-the-rest-of-your-pathetic-life-until-you-do-it-for-Chrissake, it's lost, dropped and stepped on.

And vocabulary...Fuggetaboutit. Midstream in a conversation, I loose my words. I'm not talking long, sophisticated five-syllable terms either. I'm talking first grade fare like car, ball, muddler.

Oh, and as an added bonus, I have Adult-Onset ADH---SQUIRREL!!!

I get distracted so easily. I am a human gnat...with a beard, perhaps a goatee if I want to get a wee crazy. (see #4) Heaven help me if I don't immediately write down a thought, because it is gone, baby, GONE! Like right now I had a riveting sentence to craftily illustrate the perfect example of the topic at hand, but then the stupid computer at The Special K on which I began composing this tome went wonky and froze every six seconds, and the phone rang with some yahoo's bogus request, and my coworker kept walking in bellyaching that his precious Cleveland Brown game wasn't on CBS. Like I even care about football let alone his stupid Cleveland team, Good God, MAN not when there's an inane hockey strike going on without any ... what do you call it? not relief or progress...SETTLEMENT! That's it! What was I talking about?


3. And get this, I can't see for shit



I am practically blind, but my eyes have been the same level of horrendous myopia for over 30 years. My prescription didn't budge. Now it waffles back and forth more than Mitt Romney over healthcare. In my infinite wisdom, I've decided to try my hand at contacts again. Couple a fluctuating nearsighted prescription with an ever deteriorating ability to read words on a page, and I need a team of physicists to figure out a viable script for contacts.

The first try was with mono vision. You know the drill where one eye is fitted for distance, the other for reading. Supposedly your brain miraculously makes it all work. Mine does not. Mine is a slow learner. Mine is an obstinate cow. Seriously. I'm on the sixth option and still no solution in sight. Pun intended. In most combinations, I can see distance like the finest HD signal. So clearly it hurts my head a little, but I can't see my electronic lover, the iPhone. And THAT my friend, as Liz Lemon would say, is a deal breaker.


4. While you're at it, call me Abe...

As in Lincoln, because as you know by now... I have a beard. And here's the weird thing, as much as I keep the waxing industry going hiding my Sasquatch face, my legs have become significantly less simian. So much so that I have to make a mental note to actually shave them. The bikini area... not so much. That bad boy's still whooping it up, because the universe is a DICK!

And another related thing, as soon I lost all of my estrogen, I lost all the elasticity in my jaw line. I'm not even overweight (technically. shut up.), but Holy Crap I have hanging chad jowls. Mmmmm, pretty. So now when I'm speeding in the car with the windows down and I think what is that weird flapping sound... Oh yeah, that's my FACE!!!!


5. I am officially retired from breederhood.

Yep, the not-so-fertile delta is closed, dried up, and awaiting repurposing. I'm down with the death of Aunt Flo and her annoying monthly visits, but the demise of my sexual desire... not so much. It's so not fair. When I turned 40, my libido went into overdrive following a natural instinct to procreate before the final buzzer.

And It. Was. Awesome! And I miss it desperately.

My piqued sexual interest lasted until about 49 when it quietly faded away into a distant memory. Experts keep saying this is an ideal time of life. I don't see it. What I see is a major disconnect between my head and Vajay. All I know is I'm too damn young to be this dead inside.

So, my advice to women in their 40s is have a lot of sex. A LOT. I'm not even kidding. Don't deny your instinct. Do it a ton. Even if you don't think you want to, do it anyway. Store it up, Sista. Savor it, because before you know it, the fucking change a-happens and your body betrays your ass, or vagina, as it were, and your Menopause Head can't remember how to spell desire, let alone feel it. I wish someone would have given this advice to me at 40, so I'm imparting this sad truth to you because I CARE, DAMMIT!


Wow. That turned into a downer. Maturing (God I hate that word) is actually a joy. It's the other physical shit that's weird and unsettling and sucky. I am more comfortable in my skin, even if that skin is sprouting a beard so thick Sid Crosby would be jealous.

I finally read Nora Efron's famed book of humorous essays on aging titled, I Feel Bad About My Neck. Twenty years ago I would have tossed it aside without a second glance. But now, I totally relate. I feel bad about my neck, I feel bad about my failing eyesight, and I feel bad about my nonfunctional lady bits.

Well, at least I have ringlets...and a large bottle of vodka.



Tuesday, October 2, 2012

In Which There Is Value In Everyone

Okay, so Geo and I have lived on our street for 26 years. During our time here I have seen the same mentally challenged man with the slightly-too-short pant legs and baseball cap, carry his tote bag past our house on his way home almost every day.

I have watched him age, and yet not age. He looks the same to me except maybe a little grayer. Every day he walks down and up our steep hill. I mean, like 80 degree, crazy-ass, billy goat steep hill. Every day. Twice a day, he makes that trek past our house.

And yet I have never spoken to him.

I don't know why. He seems perfectly gentle, fragile even. Maybe I'm afraid I'll rattle or upset him by approaching him. I don't know. It's ridiculous. I've "known" him for 26 years, but I don't even know his name or where he lives or where he works.

Every time I see him walk by, my heart breaks a little for him. I worry he will be alone with no one to love him. I assume he lives with his parents who are probably aged. Does he have a sister or brother? Will they take care of him? What if his parents die? What happens to him then?

He kind of makes me cry.

But then I think, Dude, you are awesome! You have a job. You have an air of contentment in your simplistic approach to life that is enviable. You have a sense of truth about you. An honesty missing from most of us. Of course this is me projecting a phantom reality onto this familiar stranger, but the fact is he has a productive life.

And that thought warms my heart.

And then I think about my nephew, Jon who is autistic, and how peaceful his outlook on life is, and how much I want to protect him from the nasty in the world, and how very, very proud I am of him and his accomplishments thus far.

He, too, has a job working with kind people who genuinely like him and look after him. He, too, has an air of contentment in his simplistic approach to life that is enviable. He, too, has a sense of truth and honesty about him. And I know for a fact he is loved by his family, especially his sister who surprised herself by how much she missed him when she was in Japan. And I hope for him to one day meet a special woman who will look past his affliction and love him for the lovely human being he is.

Yeah, one of these days I'm going to say hello to my familiar stranger, and maybe tell him how he gives me hope for my nephew.



Sunday, September 30, 2012

In Which A Baseball Anniversary Conjures A Treasured Memory 

Okay, so today, September 30th, marks the 40th anniversary of Pirate's Baseball great, Roberto Clemente's 3000th hit. He's the only Pirate to ever achieve such a feat. Little did we all realize this would be Roberto's last hit ever. He perished in an airplane crash on the final day of 1972 delivering supplies to Nicaragua as part of an earthquake relief mission. He had heard the Nicaraguan army was commandeering other shipments of supplies, so he chose to deliver the much needed articles himself to guarantee the precious cargo got to the people who needed them. 

He was like that. 



I was 12 on September 30, 1972. My Dad made me come with him to Three Rivers Stadium that day, but I had no idea why he was hell-bent on dragging me along. I didn't get the significance until later. When Roberto got a standing double, and tipped his hat in front of the scoreboard flashing 3000, my Dad stood, uttered "way to go, Roberto" and teared up. We left shortly afterward. 

I knew something special just happened. Sure, Clemente made sports history that day, but I got to witness this remarkable moment next to my Dad.

I win. 



Thursday, September 20, 2012

Hello CoMo! 
or the midwest is not Too Far to Care

Okay, so it's no secret how much I love all things Rhett Miller/Old 97's. I know people think I'm nuts for traveling hither and yon to watch him/them play time and again. What can I say? He/they're just that good. They make me happy, even when they're singing about heartache, loneliness and betrayal. Hell, maybe because of it. Whatever. Nobody writes about life's pathos, with a healthy dose of sexual innuendo like Mr. Miller. Besides, they never ever disappoint and I always always ALWAYS come away feeling invigorated, ecstatic and exhausted, in a good way.


the reason i have mileage points

Fortunately, I'm not alone in my fervor. This sort of devotion is a first for me, but there are innumerable others who have logged many more miles over many more years than I. The cool thing about this band, I guess it could be said for other bands as well, is the number of really wonderful fans in their base willing to embrace other devotees.

Rock 'n Roll Spit Take!

Last week (has it been a week already?!?) I finally got the chance to meet, in the flesh, a Midwest girl, Leslie with whom I've been imaginary friends for over three years. She lives in Columbia, Missouri and -- SURPRISE -- the Old 97's just so happen to be playing in her town. She and I have been talking about hitting a show together for a long while now, so when the dates for the 97's Too Far To Care 15th anniversary tour posted and CoMo was on the short list, it was a no-brainer.

HOLLA!

Meeting a friend AND seeing my favorite band perform its watershed album top to bottom? Yes, Please!

Leslie, Sheri and Wende
the fabulous midwest contingent
One never knows what one is walking into with these sort of meet ups, but I knew in my heart I would love Leslie. She's awesome. Smart, sassy, warm, welcoming and she shares my love of the f-bomb. Like my dear friend, Steph, Les has a similarly zany 10 year-old boy sense of humor. We clicked right away. Sadly, Steph, my RM/97's partner-in-crime couldn't make the trip because she was having her own party with this adorable creature.

OMG! Those cheeks are squeezably delicious!
Ridiculously adorable!

I could not be more ecstatic for her and her hubby, but selfishly, I missed her. Again, Science Nerds...what the hell?! Get on that cloning thang already! What's the hold up, man? Chop Chop! Geez!!

But I digress...

There was a veritable three-point convergence on Leslie's and her brainiac husband, Bert's home. Bert's a self-proclaimed nerd and a wonderfully tolerant man who gracefully suffers his wife's obsession, much like Geo.

cuteness abounds

Wende came from the west (Kansas), Sheri and Mike from the north (Chicago) and I from the east. This group could not have been more wonderful or easy to be around. I really like these ladies (and gents). I felt comfortable immediately. No judgmental looks. No eye-rolling. No audible sighs of disgust. We were all on the same page with the freedom to be as geeked as we wanted to be.

Columbia is a beautiful college town hosting the University of Missouri (Mizzou) and two smaller colleges, reminiscent of well-established eastern college towns. The street crossings are paved with the same bricks as the stately halls of education. There are a handful of eclectic boutique shops sprinkled amongst a variety of eateries and clubs. Of course I didn't take any photos because I'm a dolt, but here's one from the interwebz now.

standard stock photo of Jesse Hall

We headed to a popular local haunt, Broadway Brewery where we feasted on pre-show cocktails, delectable food and great conversation with some pretty amazing dinner guests. I'm still mulling it over, hoping against hope I was somewhat intelligible without being a monosyllabic moron. Well, at least an intelligible monosyllabic moron anyway. Tres cool. I'm still smiling. Some events are more memorable than others. (Insert big, goofy-ass grin here)


Meanwhile back at the venue...

Once inside, our posse doubled in size as we staked our claim in front, Murry side. Rhett's doing double duty for this and the October tour as the opener. He joked about knowing the guys in the headlining band (they're pretty good) before lighting up the stage with his usual intensity, working up a sweat with his six-song setlist of solo work including the Old 97's rarity, Holy Cross. I NEVER want him to stop singing, but it is a bit easier to say goodbye when you know he's coming back in an hour.








I still think his spit sprays are hawt.

Filling out the middle bill were Tennessee natives, Those Darlins. I've been wanting to catch Those Darlins in action since SXSW in 2010 when we missed everyone of their sets after making some difficult musical Sophie's Choices. They're raw and punky and crunchy with a stoned, lesbian kind of vibe. I don't know what I'm saying. I'm just making shit up. Bottom line: they're energetic, fun and all over the place.

Jesse got all fancied up for the occasion
Baby Girl needs a hoagie, yo
coz she ain't got no butt

Murry and Rhett both have said the girls remind them of the 97's 18 years ago. Lead singer, Jesse does thrash her curly mop around like a certain blue-eyed lovely.

You might recognize Red Light Love from a car commercial.



Ken joined the Darlins for their final song.


Dude. You could poke an eye out flipping that pick in the audience like that. lol

They were fun. I'm glad to have finally seen them in action.

By the time our favorite foursome ambled out, the crowd was primed to hear its favorite album start to finish. From the first note of Time Bomb which opens the record, (I know. Weird, right? Playing the closer as the opener is madness, I say. Madness.) to the last lingering chord of Four Leaf Clover the audience was with them, belting out every lyric, reaching for every high note and matching every head thrust with Mr. M.



I have no words to describe how incredible it is to hear the entire venue singing along to every song at the top of their collective lungs. I can't even begin to imagine how fucking rewarding it is to be the writer of those words, standing on stage, listening to that volume rushing back to you. Why, he must feel like the King of All of the World. (fan joke)


They filled in the rest of the set with a heavy dose of their latest, The Grand Theatre (Vol 1 & 2) and a handful of classics, ending not on the usual epic Time Bomb, but rollicking Won't Be Home requested by a pretty coed.


And just like that... they were done.


Okay, it wasn't THAT short an evening, but I'm never ready to call it a night. And it was unsettling not to end with Time Bomb. It seemed unfinished. Fortunately, everyone came out to say goodbye and grab a hug before boarding the bus for Dallas.

I like the midwest version of Old 97's. They're relaxed, open and untethered by corporate brass that sometimes dominates their New York shows.

Murry's such a great sport

photo bombed by flat sarah 



Sweaty, raw-throated, ears buzzing and grinning ear-to-ear with our new groovy merch in our hands, we hung out at Leslie's for another 2+ hours rehashing the night that was full of uncharted awesome.

dude. get your head out of the engine


I was so sad to say farewell and board my little plane in Columbia. I had such a fabulous time finally meeting my wonderful imaginary friends and sharing an evening shaking our asses in front of our favorite band in the land.

nesting-squirrel-hair girl, Sheri, Wende and Les down front

As I said earlier, some events are more memorable than others. This was one of those. I love these four men for their talent, their generosity and for the amazing people they have placed in my orbit. Thanks to my new sista wreckers for the camaraderie and rollicking good time. Can't wait for our paths to cross again.


Rhett's solo set:
Lost Without You
Holy Cross
Sweet Dreams
Come Around
Out of Love
Wreck of the Old 97

Old 97's set:
Too Far to Care in its entirety
Mama Tried
Marquita/Bright Spark
(or as it says on the set list, Marq/BS)
Victoria 
Champaign, IL
White Port (audible)
Question
Every Night is Friday Night
I'm a Train Wreck
Doreen

Encore:
Valentine (electrified w/entire band)
Won't Be Home (by request)

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Power of One Small Step 
or fare thee well to an American hero 



Everyone remembers where they were during huge historical events... JFK's assassination, The Challenger Shuttle explosion, 9/11...

I was nine years old on July 20, 1969 when Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins fulfilled President Kennedy's challenge set forth eight years earlier to America's best and brightest by winning the space-race to the moon.




Gathered around the little TV in our living room, I remember our entire family was transfixed by the grainy, black and white image of a faceless man, cloaked in a puffy, white space suit, leaving the first human footprint on a familiar, far-off celestial body. I don't remember if we laughed, applauded or cried when we watched Armstrong, America's first civilian astronaut, emerge from Eagle One to step into history, but I do know we all exhaled. The memory still chokes me up with pride and awe. I am a huge sentimental dork, and I am so grateful to have been cognizant of this amazing human accomplishment.



Man. On the moon.

What, are you kidding me? It was surreal to look up at our dusty orb that week and realize there were two human beings perambulating on its surface. Unfathomable.

I think of my immigrant grandparents and their amazing life span witnessing incredible progress from horse and buggy to automobile to airplane to man on the moon. My generation has lived in an era of tremendous technological advancement, but nothing compared to the range of the last century. Even as commonplace as space travel seems to have become, the program still inspires. Just read the hubbub on Twitter the night Curiosity landed on Mars. It's still cool to be a science nerd.



Neil Armstrong passed away on August 25th. He was a quiet man who endured the notoriety of his indelible mark in history with elegance and grace. He was a brave man who brought a nation's dream to life with one small step in an era when the people of our country were united (perhaps the last time in recent history) and still believed together we could achieve anything...

Mr. Armstrong was buried on August 31 under a big, bright blue moon, and a little wink from the Sea of Tranquility.



Friday, August 24, 2012

Na Na Nothing Groovier Than An Evening Concert With Mike Doughty
or an outdoor freebie with hipster coolness

Okay, so my two week vacation in August is always bittersweet. I look forward to being free of the Special K immensely, and pack a lot of activity into those fourteen days, but the cold hard fact is it signifies the beginning of the end of my favorite season, summer. I'm never ready to give up the long days, steamy temps and sleeveless, sockless attire. The outdoor concert is another reason I cherish summer, especially if it's free.

Here in Pittsburgh, we are blessed with multiple county parks, two of which have open stages. Local musician, Bill Deasey has the enviable position of booking both of these beautiful venues. This year he booked Mike Doughty, touring in support of his exemplary effort, Yes and Also Yes, for the penultimate concert under the stars in South Park.


the coolest cat in the room... or park

Doughty is one of Geo's and my favorite musicians to see live. Sadly, Geo's indentured servitude prevented him from joining me last Friday night. A bummer because A) Geo is alwaysALWAYS my first concert companion choice and B) He would have finally met my delightful friend, Annie who was driving up from West Virginia to see her musical love. (Mike Doughty is her Rhett)



The amusing constant in Annie and my relationship... is rain. We met in the teaming rain at an Old 97's outdoor concert, and every musically-related meet up since then includes some modicum of moisture, without fail. Friday was no exception except for the modest volume of droplets. By the time the show started, the stormy skies had cleared, giving way to a gorgeous, comfortable, sweatshirt evening reminiscent of the beach. Fear not Reader (singular), our streak is not broken. While we were pressed against the stage with the dancing masses, a light sprinkle ensued. Not enough to drench, but enough to turn my hair into unruly Medusa locks.

Me with crazy-ass hair? That's standard, too.

more fidget in those legs than a man can handle

Scrap, being scrappy
only a hipster doofus can pull off velcro sneakers

the elusive smile 
Anyway, Doughty took the stage with his usual cohort, Scrap on base and a new member, Pete on the drum kit. His voice is deep and rich and is a perfect match to his jazz-fused, pop sound whose irresistible base line makes it impossible to sit still. I have difficulty categorizing his sound, which is a good thing. He spans jazz, pop, hipster scat, rock, introspective ballad, all with sophisticated lyrics that challenge ones resolve to find meaning in their poetry. His songs always expand my meager vocabulary. Into the Un (one of my new favorites) contains the word "nepenthe". It's a magnificent word that trips off the tongue, but seriously, who uses nepenthe in a pop song?  Um, Mike Doughty does, Luddite.


white people dancing' all awkward 'n shit

And boy can he move an audience to dance about with white-guy abandon. By the third song, the very rhythmic Na Na Nothing drew enough people to fill half of the dance space (including us) and by the fifth tune, the entire designated area was filled with head bobbing, spinning fools singing along, including one skinny, shirtless, dude with a classic middle-of-the-back Mullet .

tres sexy, Mullet Man
Awesome.

One of the things we appreciate about Doughty is his tendency to call out talkers in the audience. When my Everlovin and I have seen him at more intimate venues, he has stopped mid song to gently embarrass chattering a-holes into quieting down. I don't know why people can't just be cool, but there is always THAT guy, the talking guy who insists on yelling some ridiculous non sequitur in the middle of a song as though he's inflicted with Tourettes. Well that asshat sat his fat butt on the stage right next to us. At one point Doughty heard his bellow and looked over our way. Both Annie and I slyly pointed the goofball out, mouthing "Get him", but Mike didn't cut loose on the dude. He chuckled at our ratting the ignoramus out and kept going, the look enough to quiet Mr. Tourettes.



(That Pete's a looker up there on those drums, no?)

He played so many great songs one right after the other, we never stopped moving even when he performed solo. Staying true with the every-act-plays-a-cover tradition, Mike shared a lovely little story about holding a cassette player on his little five-year-old lap in the back of the family car, listening to his favorite song over and over. When he launched into John Denver's, Country Roads (an uncharacteristic choice), the entire field sang along. (this is when Tourettes guy started yelling) Afterwards, Annie (who's from West Virginia) taught him the WV gangsta sign.

how cool is he, huh?
Holding true to HIS tradition of not caving into the charade of the Encore departure, all three band members simply turned their backs to the audience for an appropriate amount of time before turning around with mock surprise to start singing the encore songs. Hysterical. I love it when bands kick that encore exit BS in the ball sack. No one's fooling anyone. Except maybe Modest Mouse, and they were just being bung holes.

There was a lovely little moment at the end of the show, when a young girl of about six, ran up on the stage to give him a huge hug before he departed, much to his delight. Her little hug of thanks pretty much summed up the crowd's gratitude to this troubled man for an amazing evening.

awwwww

in which he utilizes modern technology in the form of iPhone accompaniment

(There are a couple more videos on my YouTube channel here.)


Doughty has battled drug addiction and bipolar disorder which he talks about freely in his autobiography aptly named The Book of Drugs. It's a very interesting read which explains a lot about his hatred for his former bandmates, Soul Coughing. He has battled (and still battles) his demons day by day (by day). Fortunately for all of us, he's winning.



Partial Setlist in no particular order

Rational man
27 Jennifers
Na Na Nothing
Into the Un
Vegetable
Day By Day
(You Should Be) Doubly Satisfied
White Lexus
Ossinging
The Only Answer
Looking at the World From the Bottom of a Well
Busting Up a Starbucks
Sunken-Eyed Girl
Grey Ghost
Tremendous Brunettes
I Just Want The Girl in the Blue Dress to Keep on Dancing
Strike the Motion
Rising Sign

Country Roads