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Archive for the ‘Pop Culture/Entertainment’ Category

Aside

Third verse, same as the first!

Today is the anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Don’t worry, I didn’t know that either, but a couple of friends posted about it on Facebook, including one who posted a link to the Gordon Lightfoot song, which I have always loved in some morbid way. So after I listened to that, I went looking to see if my Gordon Lightfoot cd had made it into my iTunes library at some point, which it had. Gordon is easy to listen to. If you like one of his songs, you probably would like them all, which is a nice way of saying there is a certain sameness to his music. And that made me think about when I first got it.

A million years ago, back when I was married, Mike & I took a vacation in South Haven, renting a little cottage type thing right on Lake Michigan. We spent time on the beach of course, but also making day trips to all the fun surrounding communities. We were in Holland one afternoon checking out their cute downtown, and we discovered a shop having a going out of business sale. It was late in the game – they were down to selling fixtures. In fact, now that I think about it, that’s where I got the big white crate that we used for a TV stand for a while and now serves as my nightstand by my bed. They also had a stack of CDs from their in-store music, which were selling for a buck apiece, back in the day when people still bought CDs. They had some Christmas music, some county, and a Gordon Lightfoot greatest hits collection. I think I might’ve bought the entire stack for five or ten dollars.

Later in the week, we had a rainy afternoon so we spent it inside reading and playing cards and listening to music, including our new-to-us Gordon Lightfoot album. After a while Mike said, “Didn’t we already hear this song?” Pause, cock head, consider. “Nope, I don’t think so.” We returned to our respective books. Twenty or thirty minutes passed, when Mike exclaimed, “Ok look, this is THE SAME SONG!” At which point we discovered why yes, we had accidentally hit the repeat button, and it had been playing the same track over and over again. Which surely we would have noticed sooner had we not been engrossed in whatever we were reading. But did I mention the sameness?

Apparently the other problem I have is forgetting that his name isn’t Edmund Fitzgerald, since I just googled that instead of Gordon Lightfoot when I was trying to find you the link for the song I’m going to share, which is NOT “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”. Instead, I’m going to share “Song for a Winter’s Night”. Are you familiar with the Sarah McLachlan version? Did you know it was a cover of this one? I didn’t, until my friend Mikem pointed it out. Could it be more different? I don’t think so. (Because hers sounds NOTHING like a Gordon Lightfoot song, and his, naturally, sounds like every other Gordon Lightfoot song.)

Here you go. Enjoy! 🙂

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Crosby, Stills, Nash and Dad

Dad and I went to see Crosby, Stills and Nash the other night at the Embassy. I got tickets for his birthday; he’s been a big fan forever, and a little of it rubbed off on me – I like the greatest hits album in my collection. And, you know, it seemed like it would be fun. How can you not enjoy some good, live music?

Lately (and by “lately” I mean for the last five or ten years), going to concerts has made me feel old. (Drunken hipsters annoy me.) (So do drunken other people, and not-drunken hipsters. But I digress.) This concert, pretty much the opposite: I was the youngest person for miles. Or at least rows. I know some of my contemporaries were there, but we were definitely in the minority.

And you know what’s awesome? Older people sit down at concerts. Maybe because they’re tired or standing for long periods of time is uncomfortable, but I think it’s because they’re more experienced and they’ve learned that standing at concerts is just plain stupid. Honestly, most of us can see better when we’re sitting.

This doesn’t mean it was some staid, subdued affair. To the contrary, people were rocking out. Just, politely, from a seated position, leaping to their feet to whoop and holler their appreciation after every song, then wisely sitting down to enjoy the next number. They were into it, man. It’s always great to see something here that is a) sold out and b) full of enthusiasm.

And the fellas on stage – they aren’t spring chickens, obviously. Crosby & Nash are 72. Stills is 69. Um, hi. That’s impressive. Even more so when I tell you that they played for about three hours. No opening act (perfect!) just them, killing it, with a short intermission (yay, pee break!).

And don’t worry, everybody stood up for Suite: Judy Blue Eyes for the encore, singing along joyfully. They definitely knew how to bring it home.

Of course, musing about the generational differences in concert-going also leads me to some universal truths:

  • There will always be two (probably drunk) chicks off to the side of the stage or in the aisle, dancing, even when the song isn’t remotely danceable.
  • Likewise, there will be some person near the front waving at the band. Stop it. They can’t see you. They don’t know you. Just stop.
  • The line for the bathroom will be stupidly long. At least this time the men’s line was at least as long as the women’s. Yay, equality! 😀
  • Someone in your vicinity will be doing something annoying. This week I had two. The man next to me was the LOUDEST snapper in the world. I seriously could not possibly snap my fingers that loudly, and he was doing it for hours. Stop it, Dad! Oops, just kidding, it was the man on my other side. Oh, and he was just a tiny bit offbeat. GAH. Also, the woman across the aisle was screwing around with her phone the entire time. Texting, taking pictures, texting, answering at least three phone calls, texting, taking pictures – oh my god, just stop already!

Which brings us to tonight’s public service announcement. Anytime you hold your phone up above the heads of the people in front of you to take a picture (or, god forbid, record some craptastic video – who are you kidding?), you are interfering with the experience of the people behind you. Your pictures are probably going to suck anyway. And there’s no need to take so many of them. And as the person behind all of you, seeing lots of phones sticking up at any given moment is obnoxious. I was watching security; they were trying their damndest to get you to stop, but they couldn’t keep up. And this is something we think is a problem with kids, but clearly we older people are just as culpable. Be in the moment. Be in the moment. BE IN THE MOMENT!

Geez, it’s hard to imagine that I feel old when I go to concerts! Get off my lawn, you stupid kids!

Anyway, I feel like I took kind of an accidental hiatus in my concert-going a few years ago, and I’m glad to be back in circulation. I’ve had the opportunity to see some good stuff the last year or two. Here’s hoping I can keep that streak going.

Rock on, my friends.

Let there be light! Or…color. Or…contrast. Or…something!

Guess what I did today?

I changed the light bulb in my TV!

Yes, I did. All by myself.

I used tools and everything.

Well…a screwdriver. Which is a tool. One tool. Ooh, and I used a box cutter to open the box, so we’ll stick with tools, plural.

And it was quite difficult, you should be very impressed.

Actually, it was super easy, but you should still be impressed, because you didn’t even know TVs had light bulbs, did you?

Well, they do. Ok, some do. Including mine.

Many years ago (let’s say 8 or 9 but probably not 10), my then husband and I bought a BIG, HUGE, SHINY NEW TV. And we got a DLP (which stands for Digital Light Processing, which is interesting, because I thought it was Digital Light Projector so we see how much I know, which is almost nothing) TV. One of the reasons we chose DLP instead of a flat screen is because they told us the TV could last forever, theoretically, and would just need to have the bulb inside replaced from time to time.

And apparently “from time to time” is a really long time, because this is the first time I’ve replaced the bulb since we separated five and a half years ago. The ex & I. The TV and I have a solid relationship. Together forever. (I wish I could draw a heart around that.)

And I was pretty sure I would be able to change it by myself because Mike (my ex) did it at one point back when he still lived with the TV, which is not a knock on him at all, just that I remember him saying it was ridiculously easy.

Recently it seemed that the TV was getting dim. Nothing drastic, but I’ve been binge watching The West Wing again (omigod it’s. so. good.) and I realized that all of the episodes looked like they were full of secret meetings in the middle of the night in dark locations. And I sort of remembered that was a warning sign before the bulb went out the first time, many years ago.

Almost six years seemed like a good long time, and that it was time to be proactive and replace it. I wasn’t even sure I would be able to find one easily, and I expected any store I went into to try to sell me a new TV. The bulb is not inexpensive. TVs have come way down in price.  Mine is no longer huge by today’s standards. However, my living room is cozy (we don’t want to offend it by calling it small) and frankly a bigger TV would look ridiculous in here. Plus, there’s nothing wrong with it. I like it. It’s HD, widescreen, I know how it works, and it works just fine. I don’t like that the world is disposable and that when what I really need is a new battery for my phone the system is designed just to replace the phone. So I was prepared to dig in my heels and insist on just a new bulb. Imagine my delight when I walked into the store where I bought the TV lo those many years ago and the guy in the TV department said nothing at all about “upgrading” but just walked me over to the service department so they could get the replacement bulb for me.

The store, in fact, is adorably charming. (Stucky Brothers, for you locals.) They still had me in the computer system from when I bought the TV and they took the time to update my address and phone number. They printed the receipt on a dot matrix printer. Apparently they’re like me: why replace it when it still works? The bulb cost almost double what I could’ve gotten it online for, but I like them, and their service, and that they’re a local, family-owned business. (My clients can buy the same things they get from me for less money online as well, and I try to practice what I preach.  Buy local when you can, people. Also, service matters.)

So I got the bulb, I sat down with the manual (perhaps the most astonishing part of this episode was that I found the manual so easily, although unbeknownst to me the bulb included instructions), and I changed that bulb. My favorite part was that it instructed me to wear clean, lint-free, soft gloves. Which led to a discovery of a pair of really cute purple gloves that I think might have been a present from someone, possibly my grandmother, possibly someone else.  They were soft and clean and lint-free, so I put them on when I put the bulb in the TV. Well done, gloves! And now I will start wearing you for real, too, sorry I forgot about you!

I almost forgot an important step in the bulb-changing process: plug the TV back in when finished. That would have been crushing, for the TV not to come back on. But I remembered, and it DID, and good gravy, it’s bright and colorful and beautiful! And I can see the faces of the people on The West Wing again – woo hoo!

Speaking of The West Wing (again), it is so much better than anything on TV right now, including The Newsroom which is Aaron Sorkin’s current show on HBO. But we can talk about it more when I’m finished. Don’t hold your breath for that. Staycation will be over soon and I won’t be able to watch TV all day long. But I will be done with season three by Monday, because that’s when the DVD needs to be back at the library.

And now, I will go back to enjoying my glorious, vibrant picture.

Oh, and see, aren’t these gloves pretty?

gloves

A post about nothing

Um. I haven’t written anything in a while.

Correction. I haven’t posted anything in a while.

And now, so much time has passed that the voice in my head is saying, “Oh my god, are you kidding me, your next post has to be something really awesome to have made it worth taking this long to come into being, like having had a dragon land in your yard or something.”

A dragon has not landed in my yard. Just FYI.

What I need to do is post something, so I can get back into a rhythm without obsessing (which I do, but we’ll get to that later). So this post is about nothing. (Call it my Seinfeld post.) In fact, you probably shouldn’t even read this. It might be boring.

I don’t even have writer’s block, really. I have started writing about a number of things.  There are no fewer than five open Word docs on my laptop right now, in addition to this one. I have about 20 or so other starts in a folder. Some of them you may see someday.  Some will languish forever. Maybe because they aren’t fully formed ideas, but also maybe because I’m wayyyyyy better at starting things than I am at finishing them. Someday we can talk about Narnia, which, funnily enough, is what I call my Spare Oom. (Which probably isn’t funny at all if you haven’t read the first book.) Why Narnia, you ask? Well, in addition to the normal way to enter a room (through its doorway), you can also get to this room through a closet. Hence…yeah. Anyway, Narnia is filled with unfinished projects. The dollhouse I bought when I was 13 (which is currently disassembled because it kind of fell apart when I moved). A large bag of yarn that I bought to crochet an afghan for my ex-husband, which for obvious reasons I lost interest in when I got divorced, and also I no longer work with my Crochet Mentor who could teach me how to make things even though I can’t read patterns and do everything backwards because I’m left-handed. A big box of clippings and mementos for a nonexistent scrapbook. A box of mason jars for when I, you know, take up canning. (WTF.) And those are just the things I know off the top of my head. There are boxes in there. And bags. And piles of stuff. It’s not pretty in Narnia. It’s an uncompleted project wasteland.

Maybe it’s because I get distracted easily. I’m now mulling over the words “incomplete” versus “uncompleted”. I’m not actually sure uncompleted is a word, but it doesn’t have a red squiggly line under it, so it must be.

It’s officially autumn now, which we know not because the temperature is cooler (I had my air-conditioning on over the weekend), or because the leaves are turning, but because my TV is exploding with new television shows. As a pop culture junky who is also a little obsessive, I watch way too much TV in the fall. I used to limit myself to one new show a year. Now I identify every show I might be interested in and set my DVR to record the first episode or two, in addition to all the other shows I already watch. Because the slightly obsessive part of me can’t just watch a show from time to time. I have to watch all or nothing.  I started watching Scandal midway through last season, and over the summer I had to binge watch everything that came before. Same thing with Good Wife the year before, except I had three seasons to catch up on. So when new shows start, it feels like my opportunity to get in from the start and not be forever playing catch-up. Yes, I watch too much TV. I recognize this. It’s kind of sad how liberating I find it when summer gets here and my DVR can go back to storing movies for me to delete unwatched at a later date when it gets too full. But too much TV is another one of the lame reasons I haven’t been blogging.  Although some TV makes for good blogging background noise. Dancing with the Stars is the perfect companion for writing. No intricate plotlines to keep track of. At the moment I’m writing while attempting to watch new show Hostages, which is far too complicated for me to follow while doing something else. This suggests to me that I will be cutting it loose soon, if I don’t care that I’m not giving it full attention.

Speaking of yarn (well, you know, I said the word “yarn” a while ago), I was walking through Michael’s over the weekend while on a quest to find inspiration to fashion my own tie-backs for my living room curtains. Which was a failed mission. But I did get kind of swoony over all the pretty yarn. Way too swoony for someone who doesn’t actually know how to knit (at all) or crochet (without major guidance). It made me want to work on a project. WAIT, OMIGOD, I CAN TIE THIS ALL RAMBLING NONSENSE TOGETHER (sort of)! Because when I’m crocheting while watching copious amounts of television, it makes me feel productive, and like I’m not being a totally useless human. Plus, when it gets cold out, having a pile of yarn on your lap is warm and snuggly. Anyway, I’m thinking of attempting to figure out how to make something on my own. Eons ago, I bought a teach-yourself-to-crochet book. Even though I’m inept and left-handed, I’m not a complete idiot. Surely I can figure out how to do this. If I can find the book. It’s probably buried somewhere in Narnia.

And if a dragon ever does land in my yard, I hope it looks like this. I like how in this picture, Ruby and the dragon aren’t being confrontational with each other. (See tiny Ruby on the patio?)

Wendys Yard Dragon

(Thanks, 3Names.)

Summer Lovin’

Here we are mere days into the season, and I am already in the throes of a passionate summer affair. We’re committing all the classic blunders: intense declarations of love, blowing off friends to be together every day, staying up way too late at night for just a few minutes more basking in the glow, dreaming about each other at night, talking incessantly about it to others. And in typical fashion, I’m pretty sure I’m more into it. Sigh…

We’ve flirted before, sure. People whose opinions matter to me have sung your praises. I’ve caught glimpses of you here and there. But it wasn’t until earlier this spring that the time was finally right and good friends brought you to my house. We spent an hour together, then another, and another. Could this intense attraction sustain? But you have it all: wit, charm, intelligent discourse, snappy banter; instantly, I was smitten.

The West Wing, where have you been all my life?

Yep, I’m spending my summer binge-watching a TV show that first came on the air at the end of the last millennium. And it’s soooooooo gooooooood.

It’s not surprising that it I love it. I’m a huge Aaron Sorkin fan. Sports Night, love. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, canceled just as it was about to find its stride. A Few Good Men is one of the most quotable movies of our time. The American President is one of my very favorite movies ever, and The West Wing is cut from the same cloth. In fact, I think I’ve been driving my dad crazy telling him about the many examples of dialogue in The West Wing that are straight out of the movie. I just learned that Sorkin left the show after season four or five, so apparently I need to relish the early seasons, and time will tell where my affections lie later on.

Here’s how much I dote on Aaron Sorkin and The West Wing. I can make a list of flaws, both with the series and with his work in general (um, hi, ALL the people talk exactly the same, pelting each other with rapid-fire word assaults) and I don’t even care. Blinded by love, I am.

(With one exception. Omigod, I fucking hate Donna. She’s so annoying, and her character is implausibly unprofessional and meddling and generally irksome. She never would have made it to that level of employment.)

I have laughed out loud in every episode. Some have left me in tears. It’s kind of soul crushing how relevant the stories still are. They’re wrestling with legislation about Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, gun control, fuel emissions, marriage equality.

Oh, and I want to marry Sam Seaborn. (It’s the first time I’ve ever found Rob Lowe attractive.)

I borrowed season one from the Sunshines and on a Saturday afternoon I was watching a very intense episode, thinking it felt like a cliffhanger finale, but knowing I still had another disc to watch. On the edge of my seat, I popped the final disc in to see what happened next, and IT WAS NOTHING BUT SPECIAL FEATURES – I WAS TRICKED!

I was also in a pickle. Where to get season two? Where to get season two RIGHT THAT SECOND??? I am the one person who doesn’t have Netflix. I started looking for deals on Amazon. But that would take (two) days to arrive. Then I remembered the library! The library had it, and it was, according to their website, available. The only problem was time – I had about an hour and a half to shower, dress, primp and get to a wedding, and the library was closed the next day. Could I squeeze in a quick dash through the library to check out season two, discs 1 & 2?

Answer: Hell yes, I could. And when I got home from the wedding that night I started watching.

I may need a better solution than the library, though – a total of six days (3-day rental plus one renewal max) is not enough time to watch and enjoy sixteen episodes, even for a junkie. The fines are beyond reasonable, but it feels wrong to go into it knowing I have no intention of returning it on time….maybe.  Or maybe I just need to look at it as a donation to a community resource versus paying a subscription fee to a corporate entity. We’ll see.  😀