Sunday, March 30, 2008

Red flags: A word to the wise

Christian was one of those guys who managed to ease himself into my life. We met online through a dating site. I was without a vehicle and feeling pretty down in the dumps when we met. I'd reached a point where I just wanted to be rescued. Every other man I had dated didn't want me on my terms. Everything was based on their personal needs -- and they had many that required more than one woman. I'm not fond of being part of a harem. In my opinion, there is one Hugh Hefner. We needn't have more.

I hadn't always managed to be fiscally responsible. I was bumming rides from friends and co-workers as a result of getting behind on payments for my Mitsubishi Mirage. Talk about a major blow to one's ego and credit report. Chris was understanding of my no-ride situation and told me about his former situation when he was homeless and basically living in a tent at the state park. This built a bizzarro bond between us. His empathy gave me cause to trust him.

Our friendship grew out of phone conversations. He lived about 2 hours away and, due to his work schedule and two daughters, we weren't able to get together immediately. We talked about our hardships in money and love.

I was initially put off when he shared with me that his two daughters were from different mothers. He willfully admitted that both women had drug problems. One hooked on crack; the other on heroin. His eldest daughter was basically a stranger to him as she had resided with family in Michigan. Through odd change of events, he came to have custody of her weeks before we met. His youngest daughter knew of her mother's addiction and had always lived with her father.

Through the assistance of my ex-husband, I obtained a car. It was a beat up, 1983 Datsun-Diesel. It smelled of mildew. The puked black smoke when I started off. It had one essential component: It ran.

I was excited to finally get to meet Chris. Clearly after all the things he told me I should have just dismissed the notion and moved on to a less baggage toting man. I had enough to deal with and taking on such a catastrophe of a human couldn't be good. The giant but in this was that I didn't want to be judged on my past indiscretions or lack of financial savvy. So, I promised myself that we'd pursue a relationship based on the present. Word to the wise: Never ignore your instincts.

We'd arrange to meet half way since I feared my little junker wouldn't want to go the distance. From there, he'd take me to his home for a relaxing day on the lake. He had a boat and jet ski. Unfortunately, my ex-husband wasn't able to take the Man-cub on that particular day; nor was Chris able to arrange for someone to look after his daughters. We threw every sensibility to the wind and met despite the conditions ... with the kids in tow. Another word to the wise: Never involve children when first meeting someone.

I would quickly learn that Chris' primary form of communication with his daughters was with a raised voice. This would make my son uneasy as I don't yell at him. I can be stern without being a banshee. It would also be apparent that these two girls (9 and 12) weren't keen on their father dating. His 9 year old was particularly outspoken and rude regarding my presence. The Man-cub wanted to leave within an hour of being there. The young girls were far more street wise than my little guy. After all, they had to be under consideration that their mothers had, at one point or another, turned tricks in exchange for drugs. Word of warning: Run if this ever happens to you. Don't even briskly walk. RUN!!

One thing about me is that I'm tenacious in a relationship. Even when it's clearly doomed, I try. I can't walk away without knowing 100% that it's not worth the effort. In this instance, it was futile from the start, but remember I was feeling pretty down in the dumps about myself.

From the time we met in August to mid-October it was clear I was the one wholeheartedly in the relationship. He had introduced me to his neighbor lady who'd been helpful in watching the girls when he was at work. She'd quickly befriend me and express that it was so good to see the girls happier since I came along. I had grown close to the troubled daughters. They came to recognize me as a stable force in there lives. Conversations would be had with their mothers. I would ease their minds and reassure them that I cared deeply for their offspring. I was beginning to feel obligated to stay for their benefit.

On a couple separate occasions I took the 12 year old shopping for feminine needs. Her father was in the dark about what a young lady needed regarding hygiene. I stocked them up with shampoo, conditioner, razors, sanitary napkins, body wash and anti-perspirant. In addition, I would seek the clearance racks for funky, youthful shirts. My visits were so frequent that I started leaving such products in his bathroom for my own use. While I went to be with Chris and his girls, I would drop Man-cub off with his father. The environment was too disturbing for him. He felt picked on and it didn't seem fair that he'd be miserable.

A month or so into the relationship Chris shared that his youngest daughter's mother wanted to come for visits. She'd been trying to get clean in order to see her daughter sober. I would cautiously give my blessing. I would also keep my distance and let them have sacred time. He always reported every detail to me. After her visits it became increasingly apparent that she was stealing all the personal products I had purchased. Chris confessed that money and easily pawned items came up missing, as well. Word to the Wise: Don't give your blessings for home visits from a crack ho' baby momma.

Chris and I would cherish early mornings on the porch. The wooded area his home was built provided serenity when the girls were still nestled in their beds. With coffee in hand we'd talk about a lot of things. Oddly, his first inclinations were to speedily have Man-Cub and I make a home with him. I told him I couldn't move that fast and he accepted it. He seemed happily content keeping a slower pace. Since former relationships moved at light speed, this was comforting. I let him know that there were no other prospects. He would reassure me that in his life there wasn't time for more than one woman.

A morning that sticks in my mind was greeted by the neighbor lady paying us a visit. There we were drinking coffee as the birds chirped a welcome to the sunrise. She looked him sternly in the eye and said, "Take a good look at her. Before you know it, you'll screw it up and she'll be gone." He would uncomfortably chuckle and pass it off as her being off her medication. Again, word to the wise: Consider it fair warning to run when a neighbor declares, in front of you, that the man you're dating is going to screw it up.

The youngest daughter's birthday rolled around in early October. We'd been making preparations and she was overjoyed that her mother might make it to the party. I offered to make myself scarce, but it was decided that I should be there. She, the mom, was looking forward to meeting me. Chris had been sick on Thursday and missed work. I gladly arrived on Friday night so we could decorate and take care of last minute details early Saturday morning.

While the four of us congregated in Chris' room, it was sprung on me by the birthday girl that, "Daddy had a date with his other girlfriend last night ... he skipped out on work to be with her. He's never taken you on a date, has he Marissa?"

I sat there stunned. I wanted to lurch at him and start swinging. He hadn't ever really taken me out to dinner or to a movie. He was always tired. This man who'd refused to play hooky from work so we could spend alone time together had done that very thing for another woman. A woman who lived nearby. A "friend" that he'd stayed out all night with. A "friend" he failed to tell me about. A "friend" indeed.

After gathering my pride, dignity and heart from the floor, I ushered him outside. He stuck to the friend story and said his little girl was just angry. He swore that he was sick, but this 'friend' called and he decided to take advantage of the time off to party it up a little. I ripped into him verbally. I was hurt that I never got a call. He had blatantly lied the night before that work was so hectic that he couldn't call me as he'd always done. LIES! For the sake of the party, I stayed and smiled. The crack momma never showed or called to say she wasn't coming. The little girl who let her Daddy's rabid, flea infested cat out of the bag would find comfort in my arms.

Needless to say, my trust had been broken. Chris had tried to reassure me that this 'friend' was indeed that, but with her he didn't feel the pressures of a relationship. I reminded him that it was he who was pushing me into living with him after only knowing each other a month. I chastised him for abusing my trust. He apologized profusely and we attempted to move passed it.

Only two weeks later I would find myself concerned for the safety of his daughters. He and I had talked about the 3 of them coming to visit me and go to a movie. By late that afternoon, he had called to say his friend was in dire need of help working on his Jeep. He added that the girls weren't interested in seeing any of the movies available. So, could he have a rain check. Being a reasonable woman, I agreed it would be best to hold off.

I called early in the evening to see if he'd finished up with the Jeep. I called his cell phone and his eldest daughter answered it. I asked if I'd dialed the home and she told me, "No, daddy left his cell phone at home. We've been paging him, but he's not answering. I tried and tried, Marissa." I told her to call over to the friend's house and to call me back when she found him. Too much time had passed so I called the house. The eldest answered and told me she was starting to freak out. Her father's friend hadn't seen him all day. He wasn't in on the lie, obviously. I considered driving down there to be with them in wait. Both girls were scared and upset. I was angry that he'd do this. I knew in my heart that he hadn't met harm. I remained home, but in constant contact with the girls. I made several attempts to page Chris. Eventually, he would shut it off. I knew this by the odd message received when I called the pager number.

The girls would make one final late call to let me know they were locking themselves in his bedroom and barricading themselves in. They'd told the neighbor they were home alone, and she'd keep watch from her house. They were insistent that they stay put. I, against my better judgement, didn't drive the two hours to give them comfort. I set my alarm for 7:00 a.m. and went to bed.

The second my alarm went off, I grabbed the phone and proceeded to dial Chris' home number. Several rings later he picked up. It's a call he'd probably wished he'd ignored. He tried being funny by telling me about the girls locking him out of his own room. They'd taken every blanket and pillow in the house. When he arrived home in the wee hours of the morning, he was left to sleep on the couch without covering. He truly thought I'd find humor in all of it. I assaulted him at every syllable of lies he attempted to throw at me. I berated him and lectured about the loss of trust. Betrayal! He'd been out with June--the friend. It wasn't until then that he confessed he'd been dating her while I'd played surrogate to his daughters. "She's nearby and doesn't have kids. I can be myself with her."

I ended the call with a slam, but not before telling him to stay away from me and to never contact me again. "Give my love to the girls. YOU explain to them why I'll never be around again. YOU tell them that lies pushed me away. YOU take full credit for your actions and stay the hell away from me."

It would be months later before I'd see his ominous number on my caller I.D. I refused his phone calls. While I was in the shower one day, Man-cub picked up the phone when it was Chris calling. His persistence was grating on my nerves and I decided I needed to find out what he wanted. Plus, it would give me the satisfaction of telling him to piss off once again.

He was requesting my friendship. He had the audacity to think I'd want to be a friend. This person who lied repeatedly was asking me for a friendship. He attempted to make me feel guilty by telling me how the girls missed me. I reiterated that he was responsible for my vacancy in their lives. "Don't call me again. Good-bye, Christian." And I hung up ... never to hear from him again. Amen.
Final word to the wise: When a red flag is bitch slapping you silly, pay attention. Don't attempt to remove it from view. It will always be there with plenty of other red flags to keep it company.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Love Guru -- If you're happy and you know it, think again.

Mike Myers is at it again. If you don't love his movies then you're just a goombah doofus who has no sense of humor. Mind you, that's just my opinion. I laughed until I nearly pee'd myself while watching "Austin Powers." My friends sat there wondering if I had smoked something wicked prior to viewing. I simply pooh-poohed their lack of laughter and declared myself a superior funny person. HA! I laugh. Now, watch this video and get on with your self-loving mambo.
ohhhmmmmm ~ Mariska Hargitay

Sutra 1 - "I'm Ordering some Happy, and make it Snappy"

Twenty Five Years After Starmaker

I graduated from high school in 1983. My senior year was stellar. I had no idea what I was heading for; nor did it matter. My friends and I just seemed to make the most of that year as we forged ahead believing we were ruled.

I had very few core classes in my two semesters as a senior. For me, the only thing that mattered were the courses -- a term used loosely -- at the Lincoln Cultural Center. It had been determined a year prior that our school district was deserving of a center devoted to fine arts. A huge government grant had been acquired. For the two school years that made up my junior and senior years, I would end my day with two hours of dance and choir. Essentially, those hours were all about show choir. For those of you who don't know what that is, instead of standing on risers and singing in harmony, we'd sing while executing choreography. Being in "The Celebration Singers" required auditioning.

A great time would be had as we participated in competitions and performed for local Chamber of Commerce groups. We'd have the standard yearly school performances and assemblies, too. I lived for the moments of being on stage. I was given a chance to escape. I wasn't the best singer or dancer, but I did put my heart and soul into each note and movement. Passion was my drive.

My other love during high school were the musicals. Everybody knew that our director would choose the musicals based on certain people as the leads. It was frustrating, but it seemed to have been that way forever. Rogers and Hammerstein were the typical front runners of shows to be put on.

In my freshman year, I didn't audition. I didn't figure there'd be a part (even in the ensemble) for a 5'11" girl in "The King and I." I did, however, help with make up. I still had a blast.

In my sophomore year "The Music Man" would lure me to audition. I was nervous singing in front of seniors. Naturally, the role of Marian would go to the blue-eyed blond (even though her voice was as sharp as a Ginsu Knife). No matter. I loved being a pick-a-little lady. Wearing period costumes brought me great joy. The hats? Big and full of plumage.

"Hello, Dolly!" we would combine talents of the district's once divided high schools. The fine arts program would prove that east could meet west and create something phenomenal. In this production, I would still find myself in the ensemble, but dancing and singing while wearing period attire was simply out of this world. I learned to polka! The set crew built an extension from the stage and took up the first two rows of the auditorium so the cast could parade their Sunday clothes in style.

"Love Look Away" would be my shining moment as a senior. Flower Drum Song was the final show of Eastridge High School. The director decided to take a nostalgic trip as we closed the doors to our school. The school district decided only one high school was needed in our fair city. Flower Drum Song had been the first musical done when Eastridge was first built.

I had desperately hoped that I'd be cast out of my element to play the flirtatious night club performer: Linda Low. I had to beg to be allowed to audition for the part of Madame Liang (the mother who sings Chop Suey) During auditions, it had become apparent that the directors had already decided what part I would play. A role I would be far too comfortable in. The single, forlorn seamstress, Helen Chow. The deciding factor was that I could sing the solitary tune of unrequited love. I could hit the high notes without effort. I would still endure many hours of vocal coaching so I wouldn't strain.

So many hours had been put in by our parents and family members to help us put on the most spectacular show. Sets were designed to resemble Chinatown in San Francisco. Silk and satin costumes were hand sewn. I wore a black satin dress that had been hand painted. It's similar to the one here. Hundreds of intricate frogs were made as enclosures for our oriental clothing. My sister researched theater make-up to make Anglos appear Asian. Our hair was expertly done by authentic Asian stylists. Many of us dyed our hair jet black. Blonds wore wigs.

I had sung solos before in choir, but never had I stood on a stage alone with bright lights beaming down on me. Never had I ever had to hold an audience captive with my presence. One particular performance will never escape me. We'd put on an all school show. I recall being so nervous performing in front of not just a few, but ALL of the student body. I sang my song. I felt completely on pitch and in time. The energy was intense, but not so much that I lost control. My solo ended and the spot light dimmed. A roar of applause erupted. I looked out to see my classmates standing on their feet. For a brief moment I felt like a superstar ... and it was on with the show.

A short time after the curtain closed for the final time on Flower Drum Song, I competed in the Miss Kankakee County Pageant. My friend and I had been recruited during rehearsals for Flower Drum Song. We figured it would be fun. It turned out to be pretty low key and very small. To say I was First Runner-up sounds like a real coup. However, with only four contestants, it's not much to brag about.

Under the encouragement of my choir director, I sang, once again, "Love Look Away." It met the time constraints and I knew it like the back of my hand. I won talent. I won evening gown (a dress hand-sewn by my sister Maureen) and swimsuit, too. I didn't win the interview portion and that was 50% of the point tally. I only know this because one of the judges sent me a letter congratulating me and offering to serve as a pageant mentor if I chose to pursue pageantry more seriously. Her suggestions were more than I was willing to take on. Standing at 5'11" I weighed 150 lbs. That's about 20 lbs more than a competitor should weigh. I'd have to be diligent with voice lessons amongst many other 'lessons' to be picked up. The bottom line was that I couldn't financially carry out the dream. Still, it was nice knowing I had impressed someone other than family.

To round out the year that would be a bright spot in my life I would sing with friends at graduation. Fame was a huge part of our musical loves and we opted to serenade our classmates to the tune of "Star maker." Karen, Tommy, Jessica (sang while playing piano), Erik and myself. In harmony we sad good bye to childhood and our beloved school. In show of appreciation our classmates rose to their feet with applause. At age 17, nothing could have been better.

My eldest brother would later dash my graduation high by telling me I needed to work on my breath control. It took everything in me to work on my fist control after hearing that. It wasn't "wow! you kicked ass little sister!" it was, "you need to work on your breath control." Had the 17 year old then possessed the chutzpah of today, big bro would have received a big "FUCK YOU!" in response. Instead, I just nodded and smiled.

The summer to follow graduation would be filled with lots of good times with those I shared my high school days. They'd all go off to college in the Fall while I would attend the local community college and continue working my part time job at the pizzaria (Monicals for the locals). I loved that job. I'd long for performing and do so in projects here and there.

So, here I am 25 years later and preparing for my class reunion. I'm still in touch with the closest friends I had then. One, Tommy, I call my best friend because I know I can tell him anything and his love is unconditional.

I am a much heavier version of my 17 year old self. I do have the confidence and poise (ha) of a super model goddess in training. NutriSystem has proven to be a bit slow going with my body, but it's working. I can feel it. To quote James Brown, "I feeeeeeeeeeeeel good!" My appearance is less puffy and bloated. My body aches far less. In fact, when I ease myself up from the couch I fully expect to hurt somewhere. Guess what? I don't. I walk away realizing I didn't make a sound fitting for an 80 year old Yiddish man. It took me many years to pack on this weight. I'm not compelled to kill myself to take it off in a matter of weeks. All in due time, and this time it will be for good.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

MP3s for FREE!

Whenever I stumble across freebies, I like to share. Consider it part of my giving nature. Hoarding is only part of my nature if it happens to be designer shoes in my size at Payless BOGO prices.

As I've stated before, I am a lover of I frequently buy my MP3s from there because the price is typically less than iTunes, and is automatically added to my iTunes playlist. The freebie download on iTunes this week is a country song. And I'm not inclined to download country unless it's one of those novelty tunes like Kenny Chesney's "Shift Work" -- even if it's free.

Unlike iTunes, Amazon has more than one free download available and it's for longer than a week. Like that pair of glorious 3 inch heel boots I bought for 90% off the retail price, it's worth it even if only used once. Last night I received the weekly newsletter from Amazon and boy, oh boy, was I thrilled. They had real weiners on the new freebie download list. Here is a list of the goodies I gave myself for (ha) a song.

    • Justin Townes Earle ~ Hard Livin'

    • Finest Dearest ~ Your Hometown

    • Sloan ~ Who Taught You To Live Like That

    • The Blakes ~ Two Times

    • Caitlin Cary and Thad Cockrell ~ Second Option

    • The Sadies ~ The Trial

    • Christian Brown ~ A Mile Above a Small Town

  • And with my PepsiStuff points, I bought Rick Springfield's cover of "Under The Milkyway"

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

American Idol 7 -- Michael Johns and David Cook. That is all.

I know, I know. I have to eat my own words regarding people singing Freddie Mercury on American Idol. EVER. This time someone got it right. Michael Johns did a really good job with "We Are The Champions/We Will Rock You." Considering what he had to work with -- the back-up singers were off key and not as impressive as usual. FINALLY Roo brought out his cojones and showed them to us ... in a manner of speaking.
The other most notable and worth watching performance came from David Cook. He did a cover of a cover. In other words, he rocked Chris Cornell's version of Michael Jackson's "Billy Jean" I can't get over how well it went. He might have a little smugness working against him, but when you can perform like he does, smug-it-up, buddy!
As for the other eight performances? Meh. I don't care, really. When the performances get you down, the best place to be is in snarkyland aka Sean Daly's blog. That's where I go when I need friends who think like I do. Quite often, their remarks are far more entertaining than those singing.

Monday, March 24, 2008

All night love making -- the truth

My friend Kim posted this on my myspace page and It's just too good not to share.
Has a man ever told you (or have you ever told a woman) that you're going to make love all night long? Has he growled about his sexual prowess? Have you been left aching afterwards? ... aching for the promise that he couldn't keep, that is.
Seriously, do you want that? Quite frankly, I'm thinking there's not enough KY or Astroglide in the world that'd make me want it A L L N I G H T long. Eesh, talk about overkill. ha! Just give it to me, baby, and let me get some sleep. There's nothing to prove. I'm simply not that flexible anymore and I don't need to brag you up to my friends. Most of them are men anyway and it would probably gross them out to hear.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Soundtrack of my youth

On Friday, March 21 I bid adieu to a colleague who'd been with the same company for eighteen years. We weren't employed by the same operation, but we worked rather closely as our individual businesses are sisters by corporate ownership. It will be an enormous change and I'll miss our conversations. We were similar in age and shared our tales of being teens in the 80s. His love for the music and movies of said decade was nearly as deep as mine.

On his daily pilgrimages to our store, time would pass quickly and my mood would lighten as we laughed and discussed our lives before marriage and children. From time to time we'd share parental humor. Those looking on assumed he had a crush on me. I was very dismissive at the notion. We simply had a lot in common.

Weeks ago I had told him about the value of a Rhino Records Valley Girl CD. Later on that same day, that CD materialized in his hands; a highly coveted disc. He owned it. I pawed it as if it were the Holy Grail of 80s music.

On Friday, his last day, he came bearing gifts. Over the course of a year, he'd bring us donuts or Fannie May candies as a thank you for various tasks we stamped priority at his request. He gave us a final bag of Hostess chocolate covered mini-donuts. Our manager, he bestowed rich brew coffee beans (he's a caf-fiend). And, in honor of our shared love of the 80s, he made me a copy of that very rare--out of print Valley Girl soundtrack. It's not the original as that is still available at a reasonable price. This particular CD has additional music from the movie and is currently for sale only on Ebay at a king's ransom.

Curious about the tracks on this gem of a collection? Well, wait no longer. Here they are:

  • Girls Like Me ~ Bonnie Hayes with The Wild Combo

  • Eaten By The Monster Of Love ~ Sparks

  • Mickey ~ Toni Basil

  • Zero Hour (Original version) ~ The Plimsouls

  • He Was Really Sayin' Somethin' ~ Bananarama

  • In The Name of Love ~ Thompson Twins

  • The Earthquake Son ~ Little Girls

  • Do You Really Want To Hurt Me ~ Culture Club

  • Cool Places ~ Sparks & Jane Wiedlin

  • Town Called Malice ~ The Jam

  • I Eat Cannibals ~ Total Coelo

  • Time To Win ~ Gary Myrick & The Figures

  • Voo Doo ~ Rachel Sweet

  • Marina Men ~ Valley Girls

  • Pocket Pool ~ Killer Pussy

  • Shelly's Boyfriend ~ Bonnie Hayes with The Wild Combo

Friday, March 21, 2008

Freak Flag: Fly it high and proud

It came on this day. An Urban Word of the Day that suits me.

  • Freak Flag:
  • A characteristic, mannerism, or appearance of a person, either subtle or overt, which implies unique, eccentric, creative, adventurous or unconventional thinking.

    David Crosby refers to long hair as a freak flag in his song Almost Cut My Hair. "I feel like letting my freak flag fly."

    Movie Character Ben compliments Meredith in The Family Stone, "You have a freak just don't fly it
Can you dig it? I suggest that everybody take the time to explore their inner freak; get to know that other side of you. Once in awhile, allow that little cheeky freak to surface and have some fun.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Horton Hears Kevin Cronin??

My son and I ventured out to the theater today. It marks the first day of his Spring Break! Since he's too young to partay with the babes and bros in Florida, hanging out with mom will have to do.

Choices were very limited. The only real option was Horton Hears a Who. In no way was I disappointed; nor was he. Lots of fun and shenanigans to behold. I just can't bring myself to hate anything Seussian. It's the law.

I'm not writing a review or a synopsis of the flick. I mean, who hasn't read the book? It's worth the ticket price. What I am writing about is the use of an REO Speedwagon song at the end. Horton and the residents of Whoville start singing, "I Can't Fight This Feeling." There I sat wearing my Stuck In the 80s tshirt and singing along. It's all further proof that the 80s shall reign as a superior decade ... even in the world of Seuss.

I love that kid!

Today I am stepping away from my recent blaze of frivolity on here. There are times when I feel the need to be earnest and boastful.
I have one child. He is, without a doubt, the light of my Earthly life. Without him, I wouldn't fully comprehend and muster the ability to share unconditional love. He's had struggles; yet, he tenaciously overcomes each one of them. I suppose I should take credit for helping him conquer his fears and learning disabilities. However, I feel I've done nothing more than any parent would do for their offspring. He's overcome most of his learning issues (see Asperger's Syndrome) due to the phenomenal teachers who've graced his school years. Without them, I would have lost patience and done a lot more crying. I realize that not ever parent can say that. We've been fortunate.
Man-cub receives a mainstream education without outside resource classes. He has made leaps and bounds in his first year as a teen-ager in junior high school. It's a tumultuous time due to the hormonal rage that is festering. Add to it that he stands heads above the rest. He is tested daily by kids smaller than he. Try explaining the Napoleon complex to a 13 year old who is just sick of being called names like douchebag. His teachers and I make attempts to encourage him to ignore it, but report it. Maybe I should be working with him on an intimidating stance and facial expression. I really don't know what would work best.
Today I had my parent/teacher conference. As I entered the building, I was greeted by a group of school personnel. They were manning the gates, so to speak. Upon mentioning my son's name, I received hails of what a great child I had, "I love that boy! He is always so pleasant and polite." I glow with pride. As I made my way to the classroom where the meeting will commence, I encounter Man-cub's Social Studies teacher. I introduce myself and he declares that he remembers me from the previous conference last semester.
Teachers gathered in the hall with apologizies that they are running a bit behind. I remarked that I was relieved as I was also a tad delayed. Meanwhile, we make small talk as a woman emerges from a room. "You're Man-cub's mother? I don't have him in any of my classes, but he's just wonderful. He hung around me when we went on the field trip to the Freedom Museum. He's so insightful." -- gush.
At last my time was called and I was given rave reviews on how hard my little man tries and how proud they are over his personal and educational growth this year. "He's really coming into his own and learning to manage his social skills." His Math teacher seems to adore him the most. She has him for 2 periods a day. From her mouth to my ears, "He's taught ME so much as a first year teacher. I appreciate him everyday. He is working at groups and taking control. I would have never thought that about him at the beginning of the year ... he can handle himself." She's passionate when she discusses my boy. Her eyes light up and I thanked her emphatically for taking such a keen interest in, not only his educational growth, but his emotional and social well-being.
I wanted to burst into tears of overwhelming joy. Naturally, I want him to excel scholastically, but when you've seen your awkward child blossom, it's just something that cannot be put into words.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

American Idol 7 -- Frampton in da house!

No, not literally Peter Frampton. David Cook learned how to use Frampton's signature gadget -- the guitar talk box and rocked Day Tripper ala Whitesnake. That's all you really need to know about tonight. He worked it to his advantage. He's also lucky the rest of them were forgettable. Or were the other 10 merely dust in the wind in light of David's kick-ass performance?
This was dreadful. Horrible use of Beatles songs. I wish I hadn't used up the last of my tequila last week. I can't get those 118 minutes of my life back that were swished down the drain. I'm pleading with Michael Johns to stop taking the sentimental avenue and just rock it out! Sheesh!
Good night, everybody. See you at elimination.

American Idol 7 -- Michael Johns is a doll

Yes, he's gorgeous, talented, and now a doll at my fingertips. Thanks to my cyber-friend Jane, I can undress Michael Johns whenever I want to. I can make him drop his pants and strip off his shirt. For you guys, you can (un) dress Paula Abdul up in your love, but seriously ... I think all it would take is a shot of vodka. If you're interested in having a bit of fun while you're working. Or, you're killing time before the show comes on this evening, here's the place to be.

The other American Idols can be toyed with, too. Sean Daly, you can go dress up Amanda Overmyer. Please, no more 'Maude' attire... and you might want to wear gloves, my dear. Go on; have fun.
Michael has on way too many clothes.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day -- O'Rafferty's Motor Car

My friend Jeff H. posted this on Myspace, and I thought it worthy of making it here. He probably knows more about music than anyone I've ever known. The more obscure it is, the more likely he'll have all the tidbits. I worked with him making eyeglasses and always wondered why in the world he wasn't involved in the music industry in some capacity. He and I would crack each other up with talk that only made sense to us. His British humor slayed me; he awed me with his intelligence.

O'Rafferty's Motor Car (Tommie Connor)

Now Dinny O'Rafferty's motor car
Is the greatest I declare
It's made up of bits and pieces
That he's picked up here and there
The engine must be ages old
But it's still got lots of power
With a gallon of stout in the petrol tank
It does ninety miles an hour

What a wonderful motor car
It's the greatest ever seen
It used to be black as me father's hat
Now it's forty shades of green
On TV and the radio
And in every public bar
The burning question of the day
Is O'Rafferty's motor car

Now two of the wheels are triangular
And the third one's off a pram
The fourth is the last remaining wheel
From off a Dublin tram
The number plate's in Gaelic
And the plug's won't even spark
And the chassis came off a tinker's cart
That collapsed in Phoenix Park

What a wonderful motor car
It's the greatest ever seen
It used to be black as me father's hat
Now it's forty shades of green
On TV and the radio
And in every public bar
The burning question of the day
Is O'Rafferty's motor car

Now go for a ride in that motor car
And you'll end up with the shakes
The road from Cork to Dublin
Is a vale of pains and aches
When traffic lights turn red ahead
Then you'd best jump out the door
For the moment that Dinny treads on the brake
Then his foot goes through the floor

What a wonderful motor car
It's the greatest ever seen
It used to be black as me father's hat
Now it's forty shades of green
On TV and the radio
And in every public bar
The burning question of the day
Is O'Rafferty's motor car

Now if you could see the upholstery
Then your eyes would start to pop
It's nothing but empty beer crates
With a load of sacks on top
The windscreen's gone to Lord knows where
And there's mothballs in the horn
And I reckon he'd only get half a quid
If he took it to the pawn

What a wonderful motor car
It's the greatest ever seen
It used to be black as me father's hat
Now it's forty shades of green
On TV and the radio
And in every public bar
The burning question of the day
Is O'Rafferty's motor car

Now Dinny was driving around last week
When the engine did the splits
It went up in smoke and nearly blew
O'Connell Street to bits
They searched around for Dinny and found
That he'd landed up by heck
Away on top of the GPO
With his L-plates round his neck

What a wonderful motor car
It's the greatest ever seen
It used to be black as me father's hat
Now it's forty shades of green
On TV and the radio
And in every public bar
The burning question of the day
Is O'Rafferty's motor car

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Can you please spell that for me?

IMEEM is my latest addiction. I'm not alone. Several regulars on the Stuck in the 80s blog are hooked. It's fun. It's free. It's righteous.
I have been creating playlists like a mad woman. As with iTunes, I need a theme for my personal compilations. The hodge-podge method leaves me feeling like I've forgotten to put on underpants.
The following playlist is incomplete. I need your assistance. Help me add songs in which words are spelled out. Let's leave off the Sesame Street tunes and educational sorts; too easy. I'm looking for tunage similar to those I've already added.
Are you ready? I know there are musical masters who read this blog.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Sunday, Sweet Sunday ... My one day with you

Sundays should be a day of rest, relaxation and recreation with family. The idea that my place of business is open leaves me feeling disturbed. I've worked for this company nearly twelve years; yet, I can't quite wrap my brain around working on Sunday. That's the day when the Man-cub and I just chill and enjoy hanging out. Once in awhile we'll find ourselves hanging out with other family members. The point is that Sunday is our time.
Tomorrow I am fortunate enough to have the day off. I was off today because a 'vulture' willingly pecked at the carcass of a schedule and took my hours. Vacation hours well spent.
We've decided that we'll go see a movie. We have a ton of DVDs that have yet to be viewed, but Man-cub and I need a change. We used to make a ritual of seeing movies in the theater at least twice a month before moving back to Illinois. The theaters near us in Georgia were far nicer and we had an IMAX theater close by. FANTASTIC! We're nowhere close to an IMAX, but we have reasonable theaters. Tomorrow will be a renewal.
We've discussed seeing, "The Spiderwick Chronicles," or "Horton Hears A Who." I'll check the available flicks and show times for other possibilities.
The most difficult aspect of this mother and son outing will be resisting the buttered popcorn. I LOVE movie theater popcorn. Man-cub has already asked if my Nutrisystem will hinder his popcorn consumption. I told him absolutely not! Chow down, my boy. I'll just have to sit in another row ... possibly another theater to resist the temptation of dipping my hand in the Big Kahuna sized bucket of fatty sin.

South side Irish

No St. Patrick's Day would be complete without the inclusion of a snippet of bagpipes from Chicago's South side. What makes even more complete is that they are playing Amazing Grace.
I work with a doctor who plays the bagpipes. It's not everyday that you meet someone who chooses to play this instrument. It's not easy. It takes a lot of practice; preferably outdoors. Bagpipes are loud. Loud really doesn't describe the sound emitted. Keep in mind they can be heard across the Highlands ... a battle cry.
Last year on St. Patrick's Day, as a treat to all of us at the mall where we're employed, he played Amazing Grace. I have to tell you it was awe inspiring. The song itself always brings me to tears. Hearing it on the bagpipes evokes grander emotion. People were stopping to take video with their camera phones. He repeated the act on New Year's Day and played Auld Lang Syne. Both times it could be heard throughout the mall. With defiance (and applause), he continued to play even though mall management requested he stop. In your face mall guy! His audience was pleased.
Doc Grant is no stranger to being in trouble for playing his bagpipes. He has to play outdoors or cause his family to go deaf. So, he practices outside and, on more than one occasion, has had the police beckon his doorstep to notify him he's disturbing the peace. So be it! Let the man play. He's not practicing in the wee hours of the morn.
So, although I don't have video of Dr. Grant and the group is part of, I do have this from youtube.

Nine Inch Nails -- Ghosts I-IV

I'm an amazonian. I love MP3 downloads. They are often cheaper than iTunes and just as easy to use. They aren't as expansive as Apple iTunes, but I always check there first anyway.

As a subscriber to the MP3 newsletter, I get notices of free and greatly reduced digital albums or specials. Today's email contained this and I felt obligated to share it.

  • Amazon MP3
    Let them choose from millions of items› Gift Cards
    Today's Deals
    See All Departments

    Dear Customer,
    As someone who purchased alternative rock music, you might be interested in downloading the new 36 song Nine Inch Nails album,
    Ghosts I-IV, available now for just $5 at Amazon MP3 . Recorded over ten weeks and conceived by Trent Reznor as a soundtrack to daydreams, this four volume set is only available digitally through Amazon MP3 and the band's official website.All digital music downloads at Amazon MP3 are free of DRM software, which means they will play on on virtually anything that plays MP3s, including PCs, Macs®, iPods®, Zunes®, Zens®, iPhones®, RAZRs®, and BlackBerrys®. If you'd like to find out about new MP3 releases, special events and free downloads, subscribe to our weekly Amazon MP3 Download newsletter.

Warm and sunny in Kankakee

This playlist is to honor the day I opened my sunroof for the first time of the year. Yes, yesterday temperatures hit above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. It was a sunny, glorious day. I deafened passersby by cranking the Blaupunkt well beyond a healthy level.

Saturday in Black and White

I was doing a random search for black and white photos. I love the depth and texture of B & W photography. This truly cool photo drew me in immediately. It was posted on the flicker account of Jon Oakley. I'd happily enlarge this shot and put it on my son's bedroom wall. I don't think I need to say anything more.

Friday, March 14, 2008

For Friday's Sake -- a meme

Word association is the name of the game. Since St. Patrick's Day is just around the corner -- I hear the bagpipes warming up -- I thought this might be a fun quicky before chugging green beer and chowing down on corned beef, cabbage and red potatoes.

Your answers can be a song, band, album, movie, general word ... whatever you think of first when you see these ten words. Are you ready? Go!

Green: Day

Beer: Fest

Harp: Angels

Irish: Bono

Celtic: Basketball

Gold: Album

Luck: Superstition

March: Parade

Folk: Dylan

Stone: Rolling (gathers no moss)

Gag me with a spoon!

In a sense I do wish that I could gag myself and vomit. In doing so, however, I would be forced to relive and re-taste the nastiest, most vile concoction of my short Nutrisystem experience. Seriously, this stuff tasted as sweaty gym socks smell. You know how something can be so pungent that it actually finds its way to your taste buds? And then comes that gag reflex? Well, my supper was something of a nightmare.
For dinner tonight, I made my son Chinese food. I attempt to coordinate our dinners so they are similar. Unfortunately, I had nothing along the same lines in my NS cupboard. Therefore, I opted for the BBQ sauce with beef, beans and rice.
Oh dear God! I wish I had ipecac on hand. I wish I could rinse my nostrils free of the odor. That stuff was so gross. I was starving, too. My green beans were no longer edible. I was so grateful my dinner salad was tasty. Gnawing on a paper plate would have been more palatable than this slop. I thought last night's dinner couldn't be topped in the bad category. The sorry excuse for stroganoff was fine dining in comparison to the BBQ nightmare.
I tossed it in the trash along with the tainted beans. The mere thought of consuming it has me queasy. I've never been one to push away food. I'll eat the crappiest of culinary faux pas just to please the hostess. No doubt that I've been known to eat just about anything. You don't get this size by being finicky.
This is a coup for me; a major feat. For me to not eat something (even unpleasing) in the face of true tummy growling hunger tells me that I'm learning about my bad eating habits.
After scraping my plate and guzzling down a large glass of water, I called up and took that horrendous entree and the stroganoff from my auto-shipment. Dreadful stuff, I tell you. DREADFUL! I know, or think, that I need to eat something else. However, I dont' want to. I feel fine. I'm letting it go.
Other than the stomach churning BBQ incident, I am having little issue following NutriSystem. Making my lunch is far simpler. I grab a bag of baby spinach, unlimited veggies, a lunch entree and off I go to work. I actually eat breakfast without feeling deprived and starving by mid-morning as I had pre-NS. My favorite breakfast treat is mixing the granola with non-fat yogurt and a qualified fruit serving. I love yogurt. It's not a ton of food, but it manages to keep me satisfied all morning.
Above all else, I feel better. My joints don't ache nearly as much. My socks aren't leaving indentations in my bloated ankles (because they aren't bloated). I have more energy and an increased positive attitude. Don't go to my co-workers for verification on this. They'll probably tell you I'm a non-stop flight to Bitchville at Mach 5.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


I'm no different than anyone else; I like free stuff. I like freebies when the item is something I can fully appreciate and share. I'm all about legal acquisition of music via iTunes, or any other legitimate MP3 downloading service.
Since I first started downloading music on iTunes, I have taken advantage of their free downloads of the week. Some of them are fantastic; some are just blah. For instance, on the keepers list I have Guillemots' Trains to Brazil. It's no longer free, but still worth a penny shy of a dollar. This week's offer is for a sassy artist who goes by Duffy. I listened to the 30 second snippet and figured it was worth the price: FREE. I like it. Her voice is somewhat comparable to a heliumed up Cheetah Girl who has taken a course in rhythm and blues and kicked it up a notch from 33 rpm to 78 rpm. I guess to read that one might think I don't like her sound. It had me up out of my chair and dancing around the piles of laundry. has plenty of freebies to choose from and they stay available at the no cost to you price for a lot longer than with iTunes. The downloader is easy to install and it automatically drops your MP3 into iTunes. You can't lose. Imagine getting 100 Days, 100 Nights by Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings for free. Excellent! How would you like to check out The Raveonettes' Dead Sound without giving up one red cent? Well you can if you get to
I was really jazzed to find Annie Lennox for free. Yep! No doubt about it. Her effort to raise HIV/AIDS awareness and funding titled Sing is 100% free, my friends. It's Annie-freakin'-Lennox, dudes! Go get it!

American Idol 7 -- mumble mumble Can he work it out?

Yes, my dear friends. David Archuleta botched the lyrics whilst in the pimp spot. I don't know if the bigger stage and brighter lights made him fumble, but, unlike Brandon from last year, David has a huge following. He might slip a rung or two, but this won't be fatal.
My 'Roo performed an exquisite song, but the judges -- primarily Randy and Simon--said he only managed to keep it mediocre with "Across the Universe." Michael Johns are you losing your fire? I don't think so. I loved it. It was low key in comparison to your past ventures, but I still support you. He took the route of evoking emotion rather than oozing with Aussie sexuality. Maybe he needs to revisit his first performance and channel Jim Morrison and Michael Hutchence. Or maybe his fans love him just the way he is.
Carly gave her best performance to date with her take on "Come Together." She says she always performs this song when she's doing a show. It shows that she knows the song well and FINALLY she displayed more stage performance. She's coming out from under the Blarney Stone. The future weeks ought to be something as long as the song is right.
David Cook is growing on me like mildew in a frat house shower stall. I'm not about to douse him with KABOOM! anytime soon. The boy is truly pulling out the stops and proving that he's a great live performer. I figured someone would dress up "Eleanor Rigby" but I didn't pin it on him. Well done. Watch the video attached to this link and you'll see why DC is losing his mildew status and moving up on the Riss Radar.
Amanda Overmyer continues to rock out on her one trick pony. I don't know how far that will take her, but she's a shoe in for the top 10 spot. She and her incense, non-filter Camels and cheap bourbon are going on the road.
Syesha did well vocally, but she's forgettable. She had the tough spot of going first. If you don't go out with both guns blazing, you're sunk into the abyss that is temporary amnesia. She'll see the dimmed lights in the bottom three tonight.
Ramiele bored us with blandness while singing "My Life." It's a shame. I like that song. I thought Carly would take it on and give it new life. Instead Ramiele pulled it off its respirator and no crash cart could give it life once she was done. Honey, like your BFF Danny, you'll know what it's like in the bottom three. In fact, you might be having lunch with him tomorrow to commiserate.
David Hernandez hopped around uncomfortably through the crowd. Interesting considering he's accustomed to maneuvering through a maze of people. Perhaps he had far too many clothes on. Needless to say, he needs to make peace with being in the bottom three.
Brooke chose wisely and kept it simple and "Let it Be." Her maturity is showing and will ease her comfortably into the top 10 if not the top 5. I like the simplistic nature of her voice, but I'm still waiting for more smolder.
Kristy Lee Cook butchered, mangled, destroyed an otherwise fun loving Beatles song: "Eight Days a Week" She proved that NOT every song can be turned into a country song. I know it's always done, but it's wrong and no one who appreciates Lennon and McCartney would vote for that. Shame on you if you did -- I will turn my back to you now and ignore you.
Jason Castro returned to the safety of his guitar. Simon told him it was like watching a guy playing and singing in his dorm room. I thought it was worthy of top ten. Maybe its his beautiful blue eyes that pull you in to his dredlocked world.
And last, but so far from the very least was CHIKEZIE! I will be singing the praises of this particular performance for a long time. I'm anxious for it to come out on CD in full length. No shortened AI stage length. I want the entire she-bang. HE WAS AWESOME!! This is the beast I was waiting to be released. He worked the stage, the audience, the television viewers. All three judges were in awe. That doesn't happen often. Sean Daly declared last night that he thought he'd slipped into a parallel universe. I couldn't have agreed more when Paula Abdul and I shared a similar thought. The intro to Chikezie's performance of "She's a Woman" was reminiscent of O Brother Where Art Thou. God help me if any further like thoughts happen between myself and the often loopy Ms. Abdul.
Chikezie was THE hot one of the night. No doubt, hands down. He won my votes. I just hope my other favorites took notes and learn a valuable lesson. Michael and Jason I'm talking to you.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

American Idol 7 - Beatles Week - my childhood shattered

I grew up on the Beatles. My siblings were all older. Being that I was born in 1965, I was exposed early on to the British mop-tops. I've often heard it stated by a more youthful group that they don't 'get' why the Beatles were such a sensation. ::sigh:: It's only a huge phenomenon that you had to live to understand, I suspect. Were the musical geniuses when they first hopped across the pond? No, but they gave us what we needed at that time in history.

Now the producers and brain-trust of American Idol ask our 12 finalists to make new what is decades old. You know if some of the performers don't put a new twist on a song they'll be chastised and beaten down by the judges. It's hard to guess what songs the kids will pick. Afterall, there are over 300 songs to choose from. They need to be wise. They need to be creative. They must nail it.

    • Amanda Overmyer: Drive My Car since I lost my license to a DUI. OR, Get by with a little help from my friends -- who bail me out of jail.

    • Syesha Mercado: Strawberry Fields Forever -- why? Why not!

    • Rumiele Malubay: Help! because she needs it

    • Brooke White: Eleanor Rigby

    • Kristy Lee Cook: Here, There, and Everywhere-- a personal account of where her brain is.

    • Carly Smithson: My Life -- she'll make it her own

    • David Archuleta: Blackbird -- he needs to turn it up a notch and heed Simon's warning of being too despressing.

    • David Cook: Back in the U.S.S.R. -- he's gotta rock! taking a ballad and making it a raunchy guitar wailing version was done last week.

    • David Hernandez: Paperback Writer -- I have no reason. That just popped in my head

    • Jason Castro: I'll Follow the Sun -- I read it somewhere and I think it suits him.

    • Chikezie: Sgt. Pepper ala Billy Preston. He'll win me over if he does it.

    • Michael Johns: Revolution. He has to pull out the stops and trick this song out Aussie style.

Monday, March 10, 2008

She Hulk: That's me!

I am one strong broad. There's no way around it. No prose to ease in to declaring this fact. I may not look like the toned, muscular (green) freak of nature to the left; however, I can keep up with the boys when it comes to moving appliances and furniture.

*Doesn't this graphic of She Hulk look like Charlize Theron? Her face, not biceps and forearms.*

My sister and her boys were in need of assistance moving. I had figured I'd do light work such as packing breakables in bubble wrap. Little did I realize beforehand that I was the help. My adult nephew (in law) showed up, too. He's a big, strong guy with many moves under his belt.
While my sister packed and pointed to the things she needed to survive initially, Boy-wonder and I loaded up the moving truck. Heave-ho, bend at the knees, lift with the legs. God certainly gave me these gargantuan thighs for a reason. Even when thin I have girthy thighs. Muscle exists under the layers of cellulite and flubber.
The couches and tables weren't much issue. I declared, at one point, that I'm grateful they don't make furniture like they used to. Dense hardwood's no longer used for the support in most furnishings. Lucky for us! Still, turning a couch mid-air so it'll fit through the doorway is no easy feat... especially when it's an overstuffed one with unforgiving cushions. Without a smashed finger or crushed toe, we persevered.
All major kitchen appliances were purchased new for the newer house. Again, I give praise to God they were wise in doing so. I don't think moving a refrigerator would have been viable with the appliance dolly the moving truck rental place gave us. The straps appeared to have been chewed up by rats.
In the basement lurked our biggest adversary: the washer and dryer. Up steep concrete stairs, into the garage and up the ramp of the truck. Neither my nephew nor myself have ever used an appliance dolly with or without chewed up straps. My lab technician technical expertise was being called upon. The instructions (picture) were of little help. We figured the worst thing that would happen is the straps would snap and send the appliance lurching down the stairs.
Our first attempt to get the dryer strapped on failed. We hadn't wrapped the gnawed on straps around the body properly. It gave way when we tried easing it back. I sat there looking at the instructions while squatting on the steps. I reconfigured, reattached and yanked with all my might. It seemed taut enough. With my nephew at the front of the dolly pulling up the stairs, I was under it pushing. Dryers are lighter than washers; yet, going up those steps proved difficult because of the steep grade. My sister and 15 year old nephew were behind me for support in case I tripped or passed out from grunting.
Once the stairs were cleared it was easy street. We all yelped with our accomplishment. The daunting task of getting the hefty washer up the steps still awaited us.
Now that we knew how to properly use the dolly, it took less prep time. Getting the right angle to get it started up the steps was tricky, but Boy-wonder did it. With grit, gnashing of teeth and guttural groans of power lifters we got that bastard up the stairs. It was then that I amazed myself with strength. In order for him not to kill his back, I had to use these massive thighs and strong shoulders to push from behind. This time, no sister or nephew were behind me for additional support. I swear to you, the deep, grunting, and shouting helps with breathing and lifting.
Getting the truck unloaded was far easier. I eased the appliances off the truck and maneuvered them into the house. The boys were fearful they'd lose control on the ramp and send the washer and dryer sailing into the garage wall. Or, even more dramatic; losing control of the dolly and taking a nose dive off the edge of the ramp. Thankfully, the Maytag beasts remained on the first floor. No stairs to deal with on the unload.
I love my sister. I'd do anythng for her. To me, this is what being a family is about. She's always been there for me at each phase in my life. This move for her a monumental one. She and her boys have been in the same place for many, many years. Heaving appliances up steps is nothing in comparison to what she's given me over these forty-two years. I may have sore muscles this morning, but one muscle is stronger, as a result: our hearts.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Who Wants To Live Forever

This is an open letter to all singers who think they can perform a Queen song: YOU CANNOT! Stop it. Please halt all delusions that you're good enough. You are not. No one in their right might attempts this song and actually believes they'll receive praise from anyone other than an inebriated Paul Abdul. If your name isn't George Michael, you cannot cover Queen. It's pure and simple. This is an abomination and blasphemous act thrust at the memory of Freddie Mercury and Queen and their fans. Anyone who is ignorant enough to try to sing Who Wants To live Forever was most likely not born prior to Freddie's death. If you appreciated his style and showmanship you'd know better. Cease and desist all further botched attempts to sing his works. Thank you.

With that out of the way, I give you the master. The King of all front men. The genius that is Freddie Mercury and Queen. This is the official video for Who Wants to Live Forever. It is followed by a live clip of their Wembley Stadium performance of 1986. Leave a comment on which you believe is better or are they equal in quality. Personally, I find his life rendition superior. But that's like asking Leonardo DaVinci to improve upon the Mona Lisa. It's a masterpiece.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Movie Madness Meme

OK, fantabulous Lydia has this on her blog. Naturally, I had to follow suit and share. There are ten questions about movies you've viewed. Be as elaborate or brief as you choose. Here we go!

1. The First movie that made you cry: I'm a cryer. There's never been a doubt about that, but the one film that is embedded in my memory for causing me to nearly go into convulsions was Terms of Endearment. I had lost my mother to cancer a couple years prior to this movie coming out. My father took me not realizing what the movie was about. By the time Debra Winger's character passes away, I was in a fit of tears. Dad had to escort me out of the theater because my tears and sobs were so intense that I could hardly walk or see. I haven't managed to watch the movie again.

2. The movie that everyone else seems to love, but you do not: Titanic. Maybe I'm just too cynical, but up until the ship sank, I was wondering when it was going to hit the iceberg and put me out of my misery. By the time I watched it with my friend Kristy, I had heard all the hype. Maybe I was expecting too much. Perhaps I just didn't find Leonardo DiCaprio's portrayal of Jack to be that convincing. It was all just too much and too long.

3. The movie that you'll watch over and over: There are really so many on this list. I have several 80-comedies that I never tire of, ie. Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Better off Dead, Caddyshack, Sixteen Candles, anything John Hughes wrote, produced or directed with the exception of the Home Alone flicks. The first one was enough. I'm racking my brain here. I can watch High-Fidelity and About a Boy repeatedly and feel like I'm watching either film for the first time.

4. The movie you're happy you saw in the theater: It's A Wonderful Life. Our beautiful downtown Paramount Theater hosts Christmas classics in December. Watching this movie is always tradition, but to get a chance to see it on the big screen just blew me away. I was able to share it with my son. That added to the pleasure of it. Seeing Jimmy Stewart on the screen as my parents had was awe inspiring. When George Bailey is in Martin's Bar pouring out his heart and soul; weeping intensely, I wept. I was pulled in and felt his pain. Truly a once in a lifetime opportunity that I couldn't pass up.

5. Movie that scares you the most: This is a tough question because I am not one for scary movies. However, I remember one particular movie I watched with the former Mr. Marissa. We'd borrowed several movies from friends when we were living in the country and without cable or antenna reception. Lou Diamond Phillips starred in this eery tale of the occult. The First Power. That flick was so frightening that neither of us would go out of the room without the other attached to our side. I made him go with me to the bathroom in our own house. We slept with the hall light on. It was chilling and horrific. The occult films frighten me the most.

6. The movie you love all the characters: Again, another tall order. Typically, like many people, there are characters you're not supposed to hate, but you end up wanting your money back just for their performance. Consider that I'm assuming not all the characters are intended to be likable, but they are portrayed well and pertinent to the plot ... hmmm Chocolat I love that movie. Each time I watch it, I love it even more. Johnny Depp, Juliette Binoche, Judy Dench, Alfred Molina, Lena Olin ... wonderful.

7. Your favorite kids movie: I've seen so many having a 13 year old son. However, just because he loves them and watches them countless times doesn't mean I do or will. I can guarantee it's NOT High School Musical. This is difficult. I enjoy the silliness and overall message in Lilo and Stitch. Ohana means family; and nobody is left behind. Or something like that. This movie came out at a time when my son and I were living in Georgia and scraping to get by. I remember him turning to me in the theater and saying, "we're a family. small, but family." It meant a great deal to hear those words from my wee little man. He knew we had family here and there, but the fact that he recognized me as his family ... well, the movie, despite it's flaws, has great sentimental value.

8. Your favorite black and white film: Dang! Narrowing this down will be next to impossible. I will try. I love b & w movies. They just don't make 'em like that anymore (even when the desperately try). I already mentioned It's a Wonderful Life. So, I don't want to take that route again. Ah! The master of suspense: Alfred Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt. If you haven't seen this movie, you need to add it to your Netflix queue, or just run out and rent it at Blockbuster. It's a masterpiece. Teresa Wright, Joseph Cotton. Just when you think it's safe to get up and go to the bathroom, you'll fear missing something and pausing will just throw off the continuity and nail biting plot. It's fab-u-lous!

9. The movie you love that might be embarrassed to admit: Son In Law that was easy. When Crawl writes his name in the corn field with the farm implement while he sings Thank God I'm a Country Boy with John Denver is just insanely wacky. The grandpa played by Mason Adams is a hoot. "Munchin' on some grindage... yeah, buddy." Pauly Shore flicks are a guilty pleasure. Encino Man? Count me in. You can't go wrong with Brendan Fraser and Sean Astin. Classic pleasure item. Jury Duty? Count me out.

10. Your favorite movie of all time: Love Actually. I can and will watch this movie everytime it's on. I own the DVD, but I'll still watch it when it's on the tube. I just adore it. Everything about it makes me smile. The soundtrack is kick ass. The individual performances are great. I walk away from this movie wanting more. The particular vignette that is most endearing is the relationship between Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurelia (Lucia Moniz). She speaks no English. He speaks no Portuguese -- her native tongue. If you haven't seen it yet, and I find that hard to believe, it's another one to get in the Netflix line up. Just buy it because you'll want to watch it over and over.

Nutrisystem is my friend

This calls for a giant font:

I just got off the scale after eating (silly) and I've lost 7lbs. I don't care where it's from, I'll take it! WEE!!

American Idol 7 -- There can be only one

Ah, Luke Menard. I did have high hopes for this handsome young man with family from this very town of Kankakee, Illinois. His looks are constantly compared to that of Orlando Bloom. Sadly, America wasn't keen on his tenor voice. His song choice of Wham's Wake me up before you go go was an instant death sentence. He would have been better off doing Weird Al's parody of Bad. There was no doubt that the former a capella group singer would be voted off before getting into the top 12.

It's clear that the Idol contestants think they are better than they really are. Well, most of them, anyway. The singers who have real talent seem to sell themselves short and play it safe. Then there are those mediocre warblers who take on gigantic songs; Kady Malloy, I'm talking to you. She had the audacity to attempt one of the most dramatic songs of the 80s. A song performed by one of the all time great bands and front man of ALL time: Queen and Freddie Mercury. Steve Spears put it best. Check out his brilliantly composed blog regarding this debacle.

Surprise elimination was Asia'h Epperson. I thought her performance was a little cheeky, but she wasn't awful. She was first out of the gate daring the judges to be harsh by attempting a Whitney Houston song. I Wanna Dance With Somebody. She made a poor song choice. I was certain the country bippy Kristy Lee was hitting the bricks. She was bland and that's being considerate. However, she put that country twist on a Journey song and won over the country music fans with phones and text messaging capabilities.

Last, but far from least, was Danny Noriega aka Danny Montana (I swore he was Hannah Montana in boy drag). Danny, at times, had a great sense of humor and wasn't afraid to back talk. I think after the Sanjaya mess from last season, people weren't willing to put up with it this year. Did I think he lacked talent? No. His youtube antics might have hurt him dearly. I did fear we'd not get a chance to see Chikezie bring out the Luther Vandross smooth tones, though. Thank you, America, for having sense and voting for talent over amusement.

Next week our Top Twelve darlings will bring on the Beatles. I'm praying that Michael 'Roo' Johns pulls out the stops and delivers the performance we all know he has under his belt. ::insert perverse remark here:: The Lennon/McCartney catalogue is so vast, I certainly hope he chooses wisely like Indiana Jones in the Last Crusade.

Will Amanda "Cruella" Overmyer crackle out Helter Skelter? Revolution? Sgt. Pepper? Will she show her softer side and give us Let it Be? Of course, I'd venture to bet her softer side is equal to a belt sander.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Suck in the 80s week - American Idol 7

Well, the lord, god, king guru of Stuck in the 80s -- Steve Spears -- joined the troop of commenters on Sean Daly's blog. I feel for Steve. He lives and breathes the 80s. I offered to send an emergency team to be ready with a crash cart. Yes, our beloved 80s are being taken to the curb and kicked around ... a little. It wasn't horrific. Well, not completely horrible. Y'all know by now I love Michael Johns and Jason Castro. I support David Archuleta's vocal skill. However, he needs to stop listening to his mom on his song choices. He needs to, in Simon's words, be careful about getting too depressing.

Despite what some of my blogging buddies say about Michael Johns' performance, I think he owned it. Yes, he had some bum spots. However, he took a song and gave it the INXS treatment. I thought for certain he'd just go with INXS and make everybody happy. It is my guess that he's already tired of being compared to the late Michael Hutchence. It's an enormous compliment, but for someone who wants to make their own mark, it probably gets old. Who wants to be "another" when they're pursuit is to be an original?

Another favorite performance of the night was the adorable Jason Castro. I don't know how anyone cannot love this kid. He took on a huge effort of singing "Hallelujah" made famous by Jeff Buckley. To be honest, I hadn't heard this song until watching Shrek and I believe that version was done by Rufus Wainwright. None the less, it's a brilliant song and arrangement. A major hurdle to take on. Jason did it justice.

Now comes the guy I don't want to like. He and I just haven't clicked. However, I do appreciate when someone takes an otherwise lame song and turns it into a guitar smashing success. I raved over what Chris Sligh did last year with Endless Love. David Cook really turned up the skill level by giving Hello by Lionel Richie a make-over. You remember the video when the blind girl sculpts a bust of his huge melon. This version sounds far from the original ... Thank God! I'm not big on the over blanging guitar, it starts out rough, but he really pulls out the stops by the chorus.

As for the rest of the guys ... I don't care. Luke is going home. David Hernandez or Chikezie might have to hear the good bye song. Danny, sadly, will be safe due to 12 year old girls who have an affliction for loving effeminate boys or Hannah Montana. For the sanity of blog buddy Bassnote, I won't post the debacle of a performance from Danny Montana -- Tainted Love.