Saturday, March 31, 2012

Cheer Day (Another !&*%$@! Cheer Day)

It is cheer day.

One of our daughters cheers for her school, but also participates on a competitive cheer team. Today is the first competition of her season, which means we are in a distant, large city, preparing to spend long hours in some cavernous convention center, surrounded by hundreds of teenaged and pre-teen girls with cheerleader attitude and not enough clothes, dancing to mindless, too loud (c)rap music.

Oh boy.

At least, I console myself, it’s not Cotton-Eyed Joe. My older children were clog dancers, and their competitions featured that inane song as loud as it could go, every team, every age division, over and over and over. The four of them were dedicated, so they practiced every day at home, where I heard Cotton Eyed Joe over and over and over.

I was an invisible nerd in high school, in the days before being a nerd was cool or socially credible in any way, so I had no experience with cheerleaders other than secretly admiring their legs from a distance. Certainly none ever spoke to me, and I likely would have passed out had one stooped so low.

So it is interesting to live with one now, and to have her friends around, to see the pretty girls up close and personal. They still have the attitude, and few of them talk to me, but from my perspective, it is a relief to realize that the snotty girls weren’t that different after all, that they had their fears and worries and jealousies and doubts, too.

Could it be that Janet and Jane and Lee Ann and Kathy and the rest were more like me than I thought? That they hid their insecurities behind upturned noses and school colors, rather than standing silently in the back?

Or is that just wishful thinking from a high school cipher?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

This Is Me This Isn't Me

This is me.

This isn't me.

This is me.

This isn't me.

This is me.

So is this and this.

This is not me.

I was online one night, logging into Hotmail or something, and this guy was in an ad. Is that creepy or what?

When I taught in the local school system, students told me I looked like the librarian. Every day, students told me I looked like their librarian. A couple of weeks in to the semester, I took a class to the library, and the librarian and I both did a double take. I looked like the librarian.
I would bump into students at the store and they would tell their parents, “there’s our librarian.”

I know of lots of people with my name, a couple of writers, a hockey player, and that is weird, but finding people who look like you, I mean really look like you, that’s really weird.
Has that happened to you?

P.S. This isn't me, either, no matter what some friends say.

Neither is this guy....

Monday, March 26, 2012

First Chuck Berry, Now The Haddonfields

My brother Daren has been on the fringe of the St.Louis music scene for 20 years, which mostly has been working as a bus boy at the grungy clubs where these types of bands play, according to my mother.
In and out of bands no one has heard of since he was 15, playing a guitar no one we know has seen him play, and singing songs no mother would want her child to hear, Daren is now on tour with a “punk/pop” band called The Haddonfields.
The group plays “fast catchy melodic punk rock with themes ranging from Sci-Fi to poppy love songs and from Hockey to Horror,” according to their Facebook page. There is a video of the band playing a tune called Barbara. I haven’t seen Daren for many years, but I think he is the one in red, who seems to enjoy himself more than the others.

Apparently the group is on the road promoting their new album, available as an MP3 download only, wonderfully called The Skin Is The Best Part. There are 13 songs with some interesting titles, such as Nov. 1, 4:00 am and Does She Ever Shut Up?

This isn’t my type of music, so all the songs sound exactly the same to me with barely controlled guitars and screamed words I can’t decipher. On iTunes, every song is marked with Explicit lyrics, so perhaps it’s just as well.

If that kind of thing interests you, they are at the Flask Lounge in Portland, Maine tonight. Let me know how they do.
And Daren, if you see this, give your mother a call. She would like to hear from you.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Sara Melson's Dirty Mind

Watching Frasier reruns on Netflix late last night, I caught one of my favorite episodes, the one where Frasier is tempted to date an adorable sales clerk who is 20 years his younger (Season 1: Episode 20 Fortysomething, if you want to watch it).
The character, Carrie, is cute as can be: pert, intelligent, friendly, talkative, happy, flirty, charming. No wonder Frasier was attracted to her.

I wondered whether I could see this actress anywhere else, so I noted her name as the credits rolled. Turning to my trusty search engine, Swagbucks, I looked for Sara Melson and there she was, not only an accomplished actress, but a singer.

On her web site, I played about half of the songs listed, and liked them right away. The piano and guitar seem to swell in my headphones. Her voice is bright and textured, filled with emotion and power and honesty. I learned that she writes her own tunes, and the lyrics are interesting and personal. I especially like the one about deciding to love like you’ve never been hurt.

So I whipped open my Amazon account and found her Dirty Mind album as an MP3 download, and now, for a mere $8.99, it is in my iTunes. I don’t know enough about music to express how good these songs are, but if you take the best parts of all your favorite singers and songwriters and piano players and guitar players and roll them into one great big talented ball, this is what you would get. Sara Melson.

Take a listen here and tell us what you think.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Missouri Tigers Are Number Two (And I Don't Mean Their Seed)

I gave up televised sports 24 years ago for two reasons. One, the football Cardinals moved from St. Louis, and two, and more important, I realized that my children weren’t interested. I would sit for hours in front of the TV and listen to the kids playing and laughing outside, so I quit, cold turkey, and haven’t missed it.
Which explains why I had no idea that the Missouri Tigers got knocked out of the NCAA basketball tournament in the first round this year, despite a No. 2 seed. I grew up a Mizzou fan, and thought it might be fun to catch them in a Sweet 16 game this weekend.
I’d heard they were having a good year, ranked near the top all season, and I saw they won the Big 12 tournament, which is a big deal. There must be a lot of disappointed fans who have probably never gotten used to the disappointment despite many opportunities. I think the Tigers have that reputation, that they can’t win big on the national stage, no matter where they are ranked.

Of course, I also grew up a fan of the football St. Louis Cardinals, too, the NFL team, the Big Red. Talk about disappointment. Except for a year or two in the 1970s, when they were the Cardiac Cardinals, they were consistently bad. I always joked that the only reason I was a fan of the Cardinals was that I enjoyed watching kick-off returns.
It seemed that most of the teams that played against Missouri and the Cardinals made it to the top of their leagues at least once over the years, but never my guys. Of course, the Arizona Cardinals finally made it to a Super Bowl a few years ago, and I did watch part of that game, but I didn’t enjoy it much because I didn’t know any of the players, and it just wasn’t very interesting.

The baseball team in St. Louis has been successful many times over many years, but I don’t watch them anymore, either. Once every other year or so, if I’m home alone, I’ll try to catch part of a game, but it is just so DULL, I can’t do it.

There are just so many better things to do.

What do you think?

Monday, March 19, 2012

I Love Lucy

Lucy came surrounded by heartache. Her mother hadn’t spoken to me in six years, and although there had been some communication in recent days, I was not invited when she went into labor. I walked down to the hospital and wandered the halls in the labor and delivery unit until I heard voices I recognized behind a door. I stood alone in the hallway, crying, while my third grandchild was born.

Lucy left yesterday, 30 months later, again surrounded by heartache. Of necessity, her mother made peace with me and let me become Lucy’s primary babysitter for about a year, then Lucy and her mother moved in with us. Seven months later, they moved up the street, so it was easy for us to watch Lucy when her mother worked and went to class, or to just pick her up for a quick visit to the park.

We never missed a chance to see her, and when her other babysitters bailed out, we jumped at the chance to fill in. We all love Lucy.

When her mother told us they were moving to a distant state, we cried and secretly hoped that it would work out that they would stay, as it had before. But they left. They left five days late, which was hard, because we had to say goodbye to her three times, and now they’re gone and it hurts to breathe and it hurts to close our eyes and it hurts to see all her stuff around the house.

It hurts, but we wouldn’t trade our time with her for anything. I learned long ago that what we give to our children we give freely, not for them but for ourselves. I can’t think of a better way to use our time and affection.

Hurry home, Lucy. We love you....

Can't wait to say, "Lucy's back, Lucy's back...."

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Meat Free Monday: Two Outta Three Ain't Bad

I heard about Meat Free Monday because of its association with Paul McCartney and his daughters, but I joined because it seems like a good idea (and because Mary and Stella are just so darn cute). Plus, they have a cookbook.

McCartney is a long-time, sometimes militant vegetarian, so this seems a perfect vehicle for him. As it says on the MFM web site, “By giving up meat for one day each week you can save money, reduce your environmental impact and live a healthier life.”

Two out of three ain’t bad, as they say. A day without meat should be cheaper and eating less meat should be healthier, but I am less interested in any so-called environmental impact. I’ve had many students give speeches about the horrors of meat production and how it befouls the environment, but it doesn’t move me.

What concerns me about meat is that it is just gross with the chemicals used in getting meat to market. But I like meat, and don’t agree that a vegetarian diet is healthier. Giving it up for one day per week seems like a good thing to do.

Find out more here, and tell me what you think.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Hate Speech To The Left Of Me

I read a passage to a friend about what we as a country might do to get ourselves back on track. The friend agreed wholeheartedly, nodding positively as I read:
The abuses being perpetrated by our government are just as obvious now as they were [in 1776], but instead of rising up with a collective voice, we sit idly by and watch as our hard-won freedoms dissolve into a puddle of apathy, political correctness, and outright corruption.
We feel helpless and alone as we hear confusing debates over obscure issues play out on the airwaves daily. But that’s the lie. The infighting and the purposeful division promoted by our political parties is a simple ploy to keep us from uniting. After all, a citizenry that fights among itself over petty differences is too busy to notice the real cause of its problems.”
My friend agreed, until I told her the quotation was from Glenn Beck. She flinched, her face soured, and she turned away. She would hear no more from Glenn Beck's Common Sense.

Now, I’ve never heard Beck on the radio, but I agree with his subtitle, “The Case Against An Out-Of-Control Government, Inspired By Thomas Paine.” Most of it makes sense to me, but my friend wouldn’t even listen, much less consider it, no matter how valid or reasonable the ideas.

Why do you think that is?

Having enjoyed An Inconvenient Book, I bought a copy of Arguing with Idiots from a local bookseller. The woman at the register was helpful, friendly, talkative – until she saw the Beck book. She grimaced, grunted, placed our receipt so it covered Beck’s face, and mumbled, “I don’t have to see that.” Those were her last words to us.

Now, I’m sure that she sees books every day by or about Hitler, or Stalin, or Charles Manson, or the the Dallas Cowboys, but I’m certain that she doesn’t respond to them as she did to Beck.

Don't you just hate when that happens?
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