Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Utterly predictable

OK, I knew that this headline would appear on Drudge. Frankly, I'm just surprised that it took as long as it did.


I'm also surprised that the headline wasn't something more clever like MADONNA NBC BOMB! or something like that.

Heidi, you're right. I don't know why I still read Drudge. I may swear off. This being the straw that broke the camel's back.

I'll try to blog later when my mood has improved!

Rain, feel it on my fingertips

I simply cannot believe that it is still raining this morning. Or, perhaps more accurately judging from the radar below, raining again. So I get to walk to work in the rain. Again. And in the dark since the sun's not up yet. So it's just like last night. Fabulous.

It seems like I just went to bed - and I had a horrible night sleep-wise. I woke up about every hour for some reason or another, and when I did sleep, I dreamt the most insane dreams. I remember one where someone I work with was telling me how to lose weight after the holidays! Whatever!

I probably should leave now before that really heavy stuff hits us and I'm walking in knee deep puddles.

Monday, November 27, 2006

On pop and Heart

I walked home from work tonight in the dark and in the rain. Is that lyric to a pop song? If it isn't, it should be. Someone once told me that a pop song shouldn't know how you feel. My response to that is, if it doesn't, what's the point?

So I think I'm feeling a bit of the same things that Heidi's feeling these days. It's always a good thing to be on the same page as your spouse. Or if not the same page, at least in the same chapter. I worked tonight and it was very busy. But even with the level of busy that we had at work tonight, I should not be as tired as I am after a refreshing weekend and several days off last week. And I've also figured out that it has nothing to do with work - it has everything to do with me. I don't know exactly what to do about it yet, but I think that dancing myself silly would definitely help. And while it would be fun to go to a club, as others have pointed out, there's no place in the world for 30 somethings to go and dance without feeling like they need to be in a wheelchair. At least not here in Iowa. Someone in our family needs to hurry up and get married so that we can dance!! But since I don't see any impending marriages on the horizon, I guess that's something that will have to wait.

Of course, now all I can think of is "Now is the time on Sprockets when we dance!"

So before I go to bed tonight, I have a total hankering to listen to Heart. While I was at work tonight, I heard the song "Kick It Out" which I swear to God I haven't heard in I can't even tell you how long. And I'm not even sure why I heard it as it is certainly not one of the better known Heart songs, even though it was a single (peaking at a pathetic #79 on the Billboard Hot 100. Travesty!) In fact, I can't say that I've ever heard it anywhere except when I have purposely decided to listen to it, so it makes me wonder if I hallucinated the whole thing. But in any event, I heard it and it made me SO want to listen to Heart immediately. Be it old Heart, total corporate sell-out Heart, or we're back to our roots Heart. Whatever. I just wanted to hear the power of Ann Wilson's voice. And what a voice it is.

I think that Ann Wilson has probably one of the strongest voices of the rock era - and that's no joke. I'm always amazed by these women with these incredible voices. I think it's one of the reasons that I'm so into female artists - their voices just speak to me so much more than male voices ever could -- Casey Stratton notwithstanding. And I have a thing for strong women. *shrugs*

And what a shame it was that at the time they were at their most commercially viable, Ann put on so much weight that they couldn't show her in the videos any longer. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking Ann Wilson for gaining the weight - I'm knocking the stupid corporate mentality that women who are not completely skin and bones cannot possibly be attractive. I find it to be complete and utter TRAVESTY (I know I've used that word more in this post than I think I have in my entire life) that they felt the need to stretch her out like she was in a carnival mirror in the "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You" video. It has been good to see her come to terms with her appearance. Because really, with Ann, it's all about the voice. She could be a big old piece of snot on the floor and if she could still sing like that, I wouldn't care a single bit.

So I'm finishing up on Dog & Butterfly - an album that I bought in 1995 when I had a MAJOR Heart renaissance sparked by their The Road Home live acoustic album. It's a concept album of sorts - only 8 songs long (I KNOW!!) but the first 4 (the first side of the vinyl album) being the "dog" side -- faster, harder rocking songs. The final 4 songs are all softer, the "butterfly" side, so-to-speak. I've always liked the "dog" side better. It seems like the "butterfly" songs all run together, although the song "Dog & Butterfly" is quite good. I was always of the opinion, if you have your choice between Ann Wilson being all soft and mellow and kicking ass and taking names, I'd always pick the latter. Every. Single. Time.

So I've nattered on quite enough. I think I'll go to bed. The workday starts in just over 8 hours.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

New music

I bought Loreena McKennitt's long awaited new CD An Ancient Muse -- her first CD of new material in nearly 10 years. Her last full length studio album - 1997's The Book of Secrets - is completely and utterly tied up in my wedding and honeymoon as we bought the CD while on our honeymoon in Chicago.

I am enjoying it quite a bit so far. I'll have more coherent thoughts on it in a few days.

The biggest thing I miss about buying the album digitally rather than at the store in CD format is that I am almost without a doubt missing out on Loreena's liner notes - what she was doing during the making of the album outlined in excruciating detail. But the music is the same and environmentally, it's much more sound to do digital downloads rather than purchase CDs. I'm not that much of an audiophile that I need to own the original CDs. MP3s encoded around 160 are usually good enough for me.

So more on Loreena later. It's a keeper, folks. Heidi, you'll like it once you stop writing this current manuscript. It doesn't really fit into what you're writing right now.

Trim the tree and wrap the presents

We put up the Christmas tree tonight, and as usual, it seemed to have grown in its box in the past year. It is gargantuan - I don't know what we were thinking when we bought it in 1999. I think we were so enamored with the idea that we were no longer living in an apartment but instead, had a house (with tall ceilings, no less) so we overestimated how much room we would actually have for a tree. And it's been a bit of a problem ever since. But somehow, we manage to pick up the pieces and move on.

And while we were setting up the tree, we listened to the Christmas CD that is an absolute must-listen every year. Nothing says Christmas quite like it - it's quite simply, a household holiday classic. It's RuPaul's 1997 holiday album Ho Ho Ho. I picked it up at Best Buy on a whim just after we were married, and it is far and away our favorite Christmas CD. It beats out classics like Babs' aforementioned 1967 A Christmas Album and Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas. Part of the problem with Christmas music is that it takes itself so damn seriously. That is decidedly NOT a problem on RuPaul's album. As the review says, most of it is delivered so tongue in cheek it's surprising that an oral surgeon isn't listed on the album credits.

RuPaul takes moldy oldies like "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" and "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" and turns them on their ear. What was once a song about a misfit reindeer is now, instead about "RuPaul, the Red-Nosed Drag Queen." And Santa is no longer kissing mommy on that fateful Christmas Eve. Instead, he decides he has a hankering for daddy. With the predictable hilarious results that only RuPaul can deliver. In addition to this, RuPaul covers not just one, but TWO Dolly Parton songs -- "With Bells On" and "Hard Candy Christmas."

But Ru's take on "Santa Baby" is without a doubt, our favorite track on the album. Not just because it has a great arrangement, but RuPaul's delivery is just amazing. The running commentary in the background has us in stitches every single year. No joke. Don't take my word for it - listen for yourself (limited time only - get it while it's hot.)

RuPaul - Santa Baby (mp3)

So we got the tree up to the sounds of RuPaul and when that was done, we partook in some Girls Aloud holiday cheer. Then it was on to more traditional fare - Tchaikowsky's Nutcraker which Anna adores. London Symphony Orchestra will likely be a top artist on my page this week or next, depending upon when the cut off for submissions was.

And because I love posting pictures, here's a shot from tonight.

She loves the holidays. I usually do to. The Christmas music has been broken out MUCH MUCH earlier than in years past, so that's a good sign.

Let's just hope the tree doesn't have a stroke like it did last year.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Daddy daughter day

So today, Anna and I decided to give Heidi some time to write and edit a crucial scene she's working on now and go out and have an afternoon for just us. We hadn't been over to the Iowa State campus in quite a while - and we figured, if we were going over there, we simply had to go eat at Pizza Pit, which is our most favorite of all pizza in the entirety of Ames. I'm not saying it's the best pizza - in fact, it is probably not - but we still love it. There's something in the sauce, man!

We walked down the street to the bus stop because Anna just loves to ride the bus. Here she is standing next to the bus stop in her pink cowboy boots from Target. I call them her "hey Mr. DJ" boots because I think Madonna could have worn something like that in the "Music" video (even though they wouldn't have matched the outfit she was wearing!) We always get to the bus about 20 minutes too early - mostly because this particular stop is not listed on the bus schedule, so it's always a bit of a guess as to when it's going to arrive. And there are no benches to sit on. In the 20 minutes we spent waiting for the bus, we counted to 100 three different times, and Anna paced up and down the sidewalks, declaring that she was "bored" and that I was supposed to be able to tell because she was walking back and forth on the sidewalk.

The bus finally arrived and we took the probably 7 minute ride to campus. It's really only a little over a mile or so away, but that's quite a hike for little legs and she's getting to the point where she's simply too heavy to carry for long periods of time - even on my shoulders. The bus lets us off by the Friley dorm and we have to walk a little ways to Campustown which is where Pizza Pit is. Campustown is a bit of a shadow of its former self. When I was in college at Iowa State, it was hopping with businesses - restaurants, florists, record shops in addition to the bars. Now, it's not good for much except for bars, Pizza Pit and getting a tattoo or a piercing. They do have a Dairy Queen still that Anna and I go to because it's the only Dairy Queen in town that still has red, white and blue star bars.

Anyway, we get to Pizza Pit. Here's a shot we took of the neon sign outside the restaurant.

What I love about Pizza Pit is that it really hasn't changed all that much in the 16 years since I first ate there. I swear, the pizza recipe is exactly the same. I know it's a chain, but it's kind of a local chain so I like to pretend that we're the only place that has one. It shares the building with Welch Avenue Station, a bar. Pizza Pit is on the second floor, Welch Ave. Station on the bottom. I swear, it SMELLS the same in there as it did 16 years ago.

We get in there and order our pizza and drinks - and then Anna naturally gravitates toward the thing in the room that TRULY has her interest. It's a cocktail table arcade game. It used to be just Ms. Pac-Man, but now, it's about 25 different classic games. From Donkey Kong to Dig Dug, Xevious to Time Pilot, it's got a ton of classics on there. And all of them we can play for free on my computer. But for whatever reason, I can always be talked into spending 25 cents per game to let Anna play them at Pizza Pit. Perhaps it's because she is always so SERIOUS when she plays.

The other thing that's cool about Pizza Pit is they have pretty much exactly the same decor for the last 16 years. For example, this poster has been on the wall for as long as I can remember.

And if anyone knows where I can get one, email me post haste.

After we ate, we made our way back up Welch Avenue toward campus, where I saw this sign in the window of one of the local copy places.

And all it made me think of was that Bugs Bunny short that I always saw growing up ("Rebel Rabbit") where Bugs Bunny complains to the game department when the bounty on rabbits is only 2 cents. He proceeds to wreak havoc, most memorably (for me anyway) sawing off Florida. "South America, take her away!"

We went up to the campus and sat in front of the campanile - it's one of the most recognizable buildings on campus. There's ridiculous superstitions about it, most of them involving kissing - something like if you kiss a virgin there at midnight you'll die or you're not a true Iowa State co-ed until you has been kissed under the campanile - but Anna loves it. She calls it "the bells." There's a carillon at the top and people from the music department play them from time to time. There is also a clock on it, so we got a rudimentary time telling lesson in this afternoon while we waited for it to chime (it chimes every 15 minutes.) And let me tell you, trying to explain telling time is more difficult that it sounds!

We spent the rest of the day just kind of bumming around, buying a package of M&Ms from a vending machine and just spending time together. It's really a lot of fun. Even at 5 years old, she has so much to tell me. And when she's a teenager and doesn't want anything to do with me, I'll be able to remember these times.

I would SO be at this show

My friend John sent me this link to Kylie's new Showgirl tour. It appears that she has changed quite a bit of the show - and while I didn't think that the original permutation of Showgirl needed a whole lot of improving, I suppose I can hardly blame her for wanting to change a few things, beings as she had to cancel the last half of the tour to have chemotherapy. I think I'd like a clean break as well. Anyway here it is.

John's going to see her in London in January - and I'm SO wishing I could go too! I wish Kylie would tour in the States, but I'm not sure she could sell out arenas in the U.S. like she does everywhere else. *sigh* The U.S. just can't get it's pop music act together.

Into the spirit

It's not too early to listen to Christmas music, is it? Lord knows that the radio stations here are already doing the 24/7 Christmas holiday (excuse me!) music thing. The first year they did it, it was incredibly novel. But ever since, it just reminds you that there really aren't that many Christmas songs, just hundreds and hundreds of renditions of the same songs. Which isn't altogether bad, it just gets redundant.

Not surprisingly, I prefer my Christmas music on my own terms. I have roughly 150 songs that have a holiday vibe to them in my iTunes at the moment, and there's a few that I really should import from CDs but I'm just too damn lazy to get up and walk across the room and get them.

Anna has danced around my office this morning to the Russian dance from the Nutcracker. Several times even, just this morning. But she has retired to the upstairs for now and I've decided to put on Barbra's classic 1967 Christmas album simply titled "A Christmas Album." It drives Caryle nuts that Barbra Streisand records Christmas music because, well, she's Jewish. My response to that is how, when you have a voice like that, could you NOT? But I do hear her protest, and well, it is a valid point.

Anyway, Babs' 1967 Christmas album (as opposed to 2001's Christmas Memories which I really don't get into as much) is a fabulous experience. It's pretty much a totally somber affair, the opening track "Jingle Bells?" notwithstanding. And that opening track was the one that hooked me into the whole thing. She covers a lot of the standards - "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," "White Christmas," and "O Little Town Of Bethlehem." She also sings "My Favorite Things" which I cannot figure out, for the life of me, how that became a Christmas standard. I mean, there was nothing Christmas about it in The Sound of Music! I mentioned this at work the other day and someone said that perhaps it makes people think of their Christmas lists. I could get behind that, but it's still the most inexplicable Christmas song. And Jeff says that she looks like the pregnant Jesus of Nazareth on the cover!

I remember when I was in college and I was listening to this CD and I fell asleep and had a dream about "I Wonder As I Wander" and I know that I wrote about it when it happened, but I just searched my journals from that time period and can't find it. I do remember that someone from our church was appalled that Barbra's version was not the appropriate version, but beyond that, I got nothing.

So anyway, today is a daddy-daughter day. Anna and I are going to go visit the Iowa State campus and go have pizza. Pictures galore later today.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thursday 13 - Madge tour edition

So far, I’ve been to three Madonna tours – Drowned World in Chicago, IL, Re-Invention in Washington, D.C. and Confessions in Las Vegas, NV. And while the show is always the highlight of the trip, there are, inevitably experiences along the way to and from the show that make the whole experience stand out. Hence, this week’s Thursday 13. Oh, and just so you know, here’s the key: DWT = Drowned World Tour, RIT = Re-Invention Tour and CT = Confessions Tour.

Thirteen non Madonna related memories of going to see Madge in concert

  1. The Chicago cabbie that was certain I was gay because I was going to a Madonna concert with a guy friend. He unfortunately made the mistake of telling this to my at-the-time very pregnant wife. Sit back and watch the fireworks, folks. (DWT, 2001)
  2. The woman in the Des Moines airport who was having 18 kinds of fits over the fact that the plane was delayed. Uh, in case you hadn’t noticed, it’s a SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING out there sweetie. Do you really want them to try to take off in weather like this? (RIT, 2004)
  3. The layover in the Detroit airport where Jeff and I laughed uproariously about the possibility of Barbra Streisand ordering a calzone in the airport. “Calzone for Barb, Barb, your calzone is ready.” And then us talking about how if we ever did see Barbra Streisand go into an airport bathroom, we’d send Heidi in after her. Why, we have no idea. (RIT, 2004)
  4. Walking all over downtown Chicago looking for a Blockbuster that might rent a VCR so that Heidi could watch the taped HBO broadcast of the tour while Jeff and I were at the show. She did this 6 months pregnant. I never cease to be amazed by not only her stamina but her patience in putting up with me all these years. (DWT, 2001)
  5. Trying to get a cab to the airport for our red-eye flight out of Vegas. I ask the guy at the MGM Grand the best way to get to the airport and he says to get in line for a cab. He didn’t mention that EVERYBODY ELSE IN LAS VEGAS would be out there waiting for a cab as well. We nearly missed our flight, folks. (CT, 2006)
  6. The worst flight I’ve ever had the displeasure of experiencing – the 12:45AM flight out of Vegas to Dallas. Part of it was my fault because I thought no one would be on a red-eye flight and that we’d be able to stretch out. That sucker was full. Not a seat to be had. And the air was even more stale than usual. And I was thirsty and hadn’t stopped to get anything to drink. Plus being so tired I could barely keep my eyes open and seats that were designed for people that are not 6’1”. Plus the guy next to me that was about 2 inches tall that was curled up in the seat and slept the entire time just served to annoy me. Note to self: too old to spend 12 hours in Vegas, be up all night and be on an airplane.
  7. Getting a chance to see the gorgeous World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. before the show. We weren’t in D.C. long enough to take in many sites, but this was one we didn’t want to miss. It was so cool. (RIT, 2004)
  8. Jeff having to pass a kidney stone the entire time we were in Vegas and never breathing a word. Seriously! (CT, 2006)
  9. (A not so good memory) The racist wanker in the Dallas airport who was going on and on to this family who’d just returned from Hawaii about how much he hated being in Hawaii on vacation because he felt like he was the only white person in Hawaii. He also said that he couldn’t wait to leave because he was so tired of feeling like a minority. If I hadn’t been so damn tired, I think I’d have said something because the family did have young kids. Idiot. (CT, 2006)
  10. Smelling burning plastic on our takeoff from Chicago to Vegas. Jeff tried to lighten the mood by saying “Who is using a glue gun in the back of the plane? Are they doing crafts or something?” (CT, 2006)
  11. The whole idea that you could FLY somewhere to go to a concert. The morning Re-Invention Tour tickets went on sale, I had to be somewhere else so Jeff and Heidi tried to get tickets. By the time I got back, I had tickets to the show. However, instead of going to Chicago as we had agreed on, we were now going to Washington, D.C. And I had just taken a new job and had no idea if I’d be able to get that time off. Plus I was buying a house prior to having sold the one I owned. And Jeff was in the process of being laid off of his job. The things we do for Madge! (RIT, 2004)
  12. Faux celebrity watching the lobby of the New York, New York casino. Anyone who looked like a celebrity, we had to mention it. “Oh look, there goes Penny Marshall! Oh, look it’s M. Night Shyamalan!” (CT, 2006)
  13. And finally, making the inevitable joke while we waited for Madonna to take the stage that she had to quick run to Target to pick up some Lee Press-On Nails. We’ve been making that joke at concerts since we saw Whitney Houston in Ames in 1992! (all three tours!)

OK, so the last one was kind of a Madonna related memory, but it was worth sharing!

Happy Thanksgiving to everybody, whether you live in the U.S. or not!


This was the site we stumbled upon on our way up to bed tonight.

So either Dorothy's been raptured or she was struck down for watching Madge on the cross. Hard telling which one though.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Mute it!

(Author’s note: If you’re looking for the outrage section regarding NBC’s broadcast of the Confessions Tour, go here.)

Tonight was, to paraphrase Madonna from the final number of Blond Ambition, a family affair.

Heidi, Anna and I all gathered around the television tonight to watch the NBC broadcast of Madonna’s Confessions Tour. I was especially excited about it because we haven’t had a professionally shot version of a Madonna tour since Drowned World in 2001 (okay, there’s only been one in between there but it was the RE-INVENTION TOUR!!) and, well, of all the tours I’ve been to, this show had far and away the most energy and excitement. So naturally, I was excited to see it again and relive all my tour memories. Anna pretty much loves everything Madonna since I’ve provided her with the genes and the environment. And Heidi, well, she was along for the ride to be with us and she did have some interest in it. But frankly, Madonna’s live stuff has never really been her cup of tea, so I applaud her for sticking with it.

I must say that we hardly ever watch commercial television any more. Mostly, when our TV is on, it’s tuned into PBS or we’re watching DVDs. So tonight was a bit of an anomaly for us. But we’ll do anything for Madge!!

Let’s get my impressions on the concert out of the way first. It was beautifully filmed. They really did a good job capturing what it was like to be there live. Even from my nosebleed seats in Vegas, it was a captivating show, full of an energy that seemed to just come from nowhere and spread across the arena. And this really came through in the broadcast. I just love the first moment Madonna appears as the disco ball opens up and you see her there, smiling and then she looks directly into the camera and launches into “Future Lovers.” (click on the picture to the right for an approximation of what I'm talking about.) The editing of Madonna on the cross was just ridiculous, because they left Madonna whipping of the dancers during the opening and zoomed in for a close up on Madonna’s mouth while bleeping out her “you can fuck off” and “you can suck George Bush’s dick” during “I Love New York.” But the decision to delete “Drowned World” and “Paradise (Not For Me)” were understandable as they really slowed down the pacing of the live show, and I’m sure NBC was after something that was all upbeat all the way through.

What I didn’t like: Editing out “Lucky Star.” For Pete’s sake, they should have cut the “Live To Tell” intro and kept “Lucky Star.” And all the goddamn commercials. One song, commercial break, two songs, commercial break, etc. That messed with the pacing of the broadcast so much and made the show seem like a bunch of choppy numbers rather than a well thought out production.

But what was great was watching this with my daughter. Not only does she know the words to a lot of the songs, she knows the names as well. The beginning notes of “Get Together” started playing, she yelled out “Daddy, this one’s ‘Can We Get Together’!!!” She jumped around the living room during “Jump.” She sings the “boogie-woogie, do you like to” part of “Music” and heck, she was even singing along with “Erotica!” (although when she asked me what the name of the song was, I told her it was “You Thrill Me.” Hey, I wasn’t lying, just saving that discussion for another day!)

As I mentioned previously, the show was fabulous, but the commercial interruptions were hideous. We mostly can’t tolerate ads at all on TV, they’ve become so bad and so annoying that Heidi kept telling me to “mute it” whenever they went to commercial. Well, Anna picked up on this and before long, every time the show went to commercial, she’d bellow at the top of her lungs “MUTE IT!!!!” Eventually, this started getting sung to the tune of “Music.” “MUTE IT!/Makes the people/Come together/Yeah!”

Anna was, however disappointed by Madonna’s outfit choice during the Bedouin portion of the show. (see picture at left.) She said to me that those were “home clothes” and “not fancy enough.” She even said that she liked Cher’s outfits better. The sequins and beads and sparkles are definitely in more abundance at a Cher show, but this is decidedly not a Cher show. Not to knock Cher’s shows which are quite fun as well, but seriously, there’s only one Madonna. Fortunately, by the time we got to “I Love New York” and the outfit had changed, Anna approved of the choice (although Heidi did not – saying that Madge looked like a big black bird.)

By the time it was all over and “Hung Up” was on, Anna went into her toy room and dug out her disco ball key chain that was given to her by the owner of Borderline Music in Chicago and danced around the living room. She was starting to get manic by that point anyway since it was seriously past her bedtime.

It makes me pine so seriously for the DVD which I hope is inevitable. And it will almost assuredly not be edited and there will be no fucking commercials to mute!!

Ah Madonna. Entertainment for the entire family.

It makes you think

I came across this picture on the web this morning. It's a picture of an embryo.

It looks very much (to me, anyway) like a human embryo. However, it isn't. This is what it looks like about 2 months later.

And then, it'll look like this, at some point in the 2 year (!!!!!) gestation.

This quote from the article by one of the researches responsible for these, frankly, amazing pictures, sums it all up for me.
"The incredible thing about the early images is how we all look very similar - it is obvious we humans share a common mammalian ancestry very early in life."
Link to the article (and even more pictures) here.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Sometimes it rages...rock a little

I've been a fan of Stevie Nicks since 1987. It was in the fall of that year that I saw Fleetwood Mac in concert in Ames (granted, without Lindsey Buckingham. It wouldn't be until 10 years later that I saw the classic Mac lineup in concert) and became enchanted by Stevie's warblings. My mom had bought the Rock A Little record from Columbia House or one of those record club things and I'd always liked the song "Talk To Me" but for the most part, I couldn't stomach any other song on there. It was too much the same, Stevie sounding like she was perpetually nasally congested.

But somewhere along the line, something changed, because in October of 1987, I bought both Bella Donna and The Wild Heart on cassette tape and loved them. This prompted me to give Rock A Little another spin. And when I listened to it again, I couldn't get enough of it.

Rock A Little is a rather strange Stevie Nicks album. It isn't that it's so stylistically different from Bella Donna - The Wild Heart had already started layering tons of synths over Stevie's voice, in stark contrast to Bella Donna's almost acoustic sound. And it was not reviewed incredibly favorably at the time it was released. It is definitely Stevie's most coked-out album. It seems as if Stevie prided herself in being deliberately obscure in a lot of her songs, but here, it's almost like, what the HELL are you talking about? Do you even know? And the fact that the vast majority of the songs weren't even written by Stevie - when nearly all of Bella Donna and The Wild Heart had been, makes this album seem a little bit less authentic than its predecessors.

All that having been said, I ADORE this album. They say that the music that you listen to when you're 15 is the music you listen to your whole life. This theory does not entirely hold true because I can't remember the last time that I deliberately listened to Expose or the theme song from Dirty Dancing, but it definitely is true about Stevie's first three solo albums, particularly Rock A Little. For starters, she's gorgeous on the cover, in that fabulous English peacoat and black hat. Then there's "I Can't Wait" the vocals of which were famously (or maybe not so famously) recorded in a single take. And it just gets better from there.

Two songs in particular stand out for me. The first is "If I Were You." In it, Stevie begs her lover to take the love she's giving. But she also sang to the 15 year old me - "Every boy must learn to be a man/Well maybe I can help you/Yes I can." For whatever reason, that line resonated with me. And I kept coming back to it. Perhaps it was because I was just of the right age to hear it. And the second? It's "Has Anyone Ever Written Anything For You?" In it, Stevie asks "In all your darkest hours/Have you ever heard me sing?"

More than you can possibly know, Stevie.

I think the thing I love most about Stevie is the fact that she's such an enneagram type four - just like me. And fellow fours can appreciate each other well, understanding the drama that is in their lives, be it real or manufactured. And at that time in my life, it seemed like she understood the drama (real or perceived) in my angsty teenage life.

So it's been almost 20 years since I discovered Rock A Little. I have no doubt that I'll still be listening to it in 20 years. Which answers Stevie's question that she posed in "I Can't Wait" (during the musical breakdown - it's so easy to miss) -- "How will we feel 20 years from now?"

Velvet Rage

I picked up this book that Heidi was reading as research for her current work-in-progress. It's called The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man's World. And while I realize that I was not the target audience of the book - being a married, straight male - I feel that many straight men could benefit from reading this book. Because while a lot of the issues the author discusses and addresses in the book are specific to gay men, there are lessons to be learned for all men in reading what is said quite eloquently here.

The author argues that much of how a gay man acts in society is a product of years of "toxic shame." Shame that comes from being different from other boys, from having an emotionally distant father, from the fear that everyone was about to find out their deep, dark secret. And after that, they spend years hiding from that shame, overcompensating in the work place, in the bedroom and wherever else they can. Only by coming to terms with that shame and facing it head on is there hope for closure and healing. And while I'm fully aware that this is a gross oversimplification or what is almost certainly a more complicated issue, I think it's a pretty good distilling down of what gay men must go through in our society.

But I think, speaking as a straight man, I learned a lot about myself from the book as well. Not having ever been what anyone can call a "typical guy," there's an element of shame that comes from that. While I think things are changing now, the worst possible thing you could ever be when I was a teenager was gay, or thought to be gay. Heaven help you if you weren't athletic and didn't fit the predetermined mold that defined being male in American society because it immediately put your sexuality into question. If you were shy and didn't date a lot of girls (like me), well, the reason must be because you didn't like girls. And society, at that time, taught teenage boys that in many ways, you were better off dead than gay.

I think this is a terrible reflection of our society. And I think it's one of the reasons I'm so supportive of gay causes. So many things in my experience growing up taught me that being thought to be gay was equivalent to you might as well be gay. For the longest time, it bothered me immensely whenever anyone looked at me and saw the copious amounts of Madonna in my CD collection (or Cher or Kylie or Dolly or *insert gay musical icon here*.) I looked for the littlest innuendo - be it in the tone of their voice or body language or whatever. It was incredibly threatening to me - so much so that I even felt that way after I was married and a father. That's how much that kind of adolescent experience affected me. And while I wasn't gay, I carried that "toxic shame" with me as well - figuring that there must be something fundamentally wrong with me as well - never able to relate to other men in the predefined way. So it wasn't surprising when I read this book and a lot of it seemed to strike a chord. And I know that there are other men out there that have had similar experiences.

Anymore, I don't rightly give a shit what people think and if they question my sexuality based on the type of music I listen to or the amount of professional sports I don't watch or play, I mostly think it's hilarious because I know what I am. And I'm so much happier, so much more comfortable in my own skin than I have ever been before. Part of that is the result of the path that I had to travel to get to this point, but mostly, it's just been about accepting myself part and parcel. It's also been about having wonderful friends that accept me completely and utterly, flaws and all. I am who I am, I am my own special creation.

What I would love to see in the world is a broader definition of masculinity - something that I think is difficult to achieve in what is a pretty conservative America. Just because I'd rather spend the afternoon watching Madonna videos than the football game makes me no less of a man than those watching the football game. The ones who can do both are the ones that are really cool - because not even I can do that!

Thoughts across the Atlantic

I already said in the comments on Heidi's blog that I didn't think I could improve on her sentiments for Mike today. And just because I'm posting here doesn't mean that I think hers need improvement, but I figured, what the hell?

Mikey, we're ALL thinking of you. Last night when I got home from work I played the 13 songs that I put in my Thursday 13 just for you - yes, and it even included a little bit of that rancid, compost heap Kim. That was probably the point when you felt violently ill. ;)

We love you and are thinking of you. Come find us if you need to. And have a drink or two on me.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Which tarot card are you?

gakked from Casey Stratton

You are The Lovers

Motive, power, and action, arising from Inspiration and Impulse.

The Lovers represents intuition and inspiration. Very often a choice needs to be made.

Originally, this card was called just LOVE. And that's actually more apt than "Lovers." Love follows in this sequence of growth and maturity. And, coming after the Emperor, who is about control, it is a radical change in perspective. LOVE is a force that makes you choose and decide for reasons you often can't understand; it makes you surrender control to a higher power. And that is what this card is all about. Finding something or someone who is so much a part of yourself, so perfectly attuned to you and you to them, that you cannot, dare not resist. This card indicates that the you have or will come across a person, career, challenge or thing that you will fall in love with. You will know instinctively that you must have this, even if it means diverging from your chosen path. No matter the difficulties, without it you will never be complete.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

A bit of a bizarre morning

I woke up this morning and Heidi was still in bed, which is so out of the ordinary for the month of November as she's been getting up at the crack of dawn to write every day. And, well, as it turns out, she had been up, but had come back to bed. Her post details it well.

So I was out at Wheatsfield this morning buying black licorice and ginger snaps and jasmine incense (perhaps the most motley mix of things every purchased at any store.)

I love you honey, I hope that they all help. And the story won't go away. The Muse and I won't let it. It's too important to everyone and everything.

And even though it seems trite, it seems apropos this morning. Chin up, young person.

And you're right. This Heather Small CD is FABULOUS!!!!!!!!!! (is that enough exclamation marks?)

Sunday, November 19, 2006


There was a post here previously where I berated myself for feeling like a lousy parent. It has been deleted. It's probably for the best. For those of you that saw it, I'm terribly sorry you had to bear witness to my pity party. For those who missed it, consider yourself lucky.

But last night I did have a very odd dream. I dreamt that I was sitting in Village Inn with Heidi and suddenly, over the PA system (which usually plays music) came the Casey Stratton song "Unicorn." Now, this is a VERY obscure Casey Stratton song - until very recently, it wasn't even available. But the funny part is that I was listening to my iPod while I slept (it was one of those early morning dreams, and I'd woken up and decided to put my iPod on before going back to sleep) which explains the presence of "Unicorn." Anyway, I look up, and in the booth straight ahead of me, there was Casey. And I gave him this look of recognition, like "OMG, they're playing 'Unicorn'!" and he gave me the thumbs up. And then he came over to the table where Heidi and I were sitting and he said "You really need to come over to my house sometime - check September and see what works for you." I mean, WTF? I can't imagine any sequence of events where anything even remotely like that would ever happen!! I guess that's why it was just a stupid dream that made, in the end, completely no sense whatsoever.

Up and down and all around...'s all about survival. And survive the 5 year old's party, we did.

Heidi will probably blog this better than I ever could, but here's a couple pictures. First, the girl:

And then, the cake.

More to come.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Zapping

Many thanks to Paul over at The Zapping! for helping contribute to the largest number of blog hits in a single day in the entire history of my blog (71 hits and counting!) And for all who have landed in this dusty corner of the internet via Paul's site, welcome! I love a good blog shout -- most especially when it comes from one of my most favorite recently-discovered sites.

The Zapping! is a fantastic web site devoted, in the words of Paul himself, to "getting quality pop music back on the charts." While I fear that might be a bit of a weighty task in the U.S., as Mike has taught me, there's a plethora of great pop music to be had in the U.K. and the rest of Europe. Surely this hip-hop thing will run its course eventually, no?

But go over there and give him a look-see. He's got some truly great gems over there!

The birthday girl

After my post yesterday full of Anna's baby pictures and one measly recent, picture, I felt obliged to post a couple more.

Here she is, all decked out in her mermaid dress, ready to head to preschool yesterday.

Note the ruby slippers -- I think that those particular ruby slippers are the third pair of those we've had.

And here's a shot from today, dressed in blue from head to toe as it was "wear something blue" day at preschool.

(Maybe we need to start doing that "wear insert-color-here day" at my work place.)

In any event, she had a great birthday. Thanks to all the well wishers. However, we have yet to survive the party with her preschool friends this weekend. Fortunately, my mom and dad, Jeff, Caryle and Mary are all headed this way to help herd the 4 and 5 year olds. Me, I think I'd rather be in the basement, but I've been told in no uncertain terms that my presence will be not only requested by required.

Whisper the words carefully

I have "Dog's Mercury" on loop this morning. And it's just perfect. That is all, for now, I must muster up the gumption to go to work.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Uh...the bunny's not breathing.

This trailer alone makes The Simpsons Movie a must see next summer. And I haven't watched the show in ages (except in reruns.)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Five years

At roughly this time five years ago, I was on the phone to Jeff saying that I didn't think I wanted to have a baby anymore. Of course, the reason for this was because Heidi was in her 26th hour of labor, had hallucinated exploding teddy bears when given Stadol to help with the labor pains (didn't help the pain at all, according to her) and everyone was completely and utterly exhausted, waiting for a child that just didn't seem to want to make her entrance into the world.

But eventually, she made it. It took 43 hours of labor, and about 3 hours of active pushing, but Heidi narrowly dodged a C-section and our daughter was born 5 years ago tomorrow. And how fast the time has flown. But first, a couple shots from that day. Because some day, Anna will berate me for showing these pictures to anyone, let alone posting them on the blog.

That's Anna, moments after her birth 5 years ago. Direct from the planet Remulak. Look at the cone on that kid! This was supposed to be the picture where we showed me cutting her umbilical cord, but it quickly became and will always be known as "Anna's conehead picture." After they got her cleaned up and wrapped in a blanket, they quickly put her in a little pink hat until the conehead subsided.

That's Anna, still doped out on drugs from the delivery. It was the only time she ever slept in the isolette. The rest of the time, she demanded to be held by the nurses. It was a foretaste of what was to come.

Being Anna's parents has been something that is equal parts wonderful and equal parts "what the heck did I sign on for?" I barely remember her as an infant - partially because the change in my life did an number on my depression management at the time, and because, well, she was an infant for such a short period of time. From the get go, Anna seemed irritated by being a baby. There was so much she wanted to do, so much she wanted to see, and this sitting in a bouncy seat or swing just was something she was not going to tolerate. She did, however, want to be held. A lot. Like constantly. There was a brief period of time when the only person that she allowed to hold her was Heidi, and that about drove the missus over the edge. We held Anna all the time. She would wake up in the middle of the night and after she was done eating, she'd fuss in the bed until one of us got up and carried her. And it was never good enough to rock her. You had to WALK AROUND WITH HER. At 3AM. When you had to be to work in the morning.

In the meantime, she's grown up a lot, experienced a lot in her so far short life. We've seen her Hollywood aspirations dashed by a rather unfortunate (and completely accidental) encounter with Blair (our black cat.) Witness exhibit A:

And to show that kids really do bounce back, here's what she looked like a week after that.

She's taught me a lot. She's taught me the true meaning of the word "sacrifice." When you have a kid, you really do end up putting their needs in front of yours a good majority of the time. It is, however, the reason I really think that kids need TWO parents, be it a mom and dad, two dads or two moms. It's impossible to deny your own needs forever, and when you end up having to be selfish and put yourself first again, the other parent can take over.

She's taught me to not take life so seriously, because sometimes, it really is just as simple as "Daddy, do you wanna play with me?"

And I've taught her to love Madge and Cher (her first song that she ever sang was "I Found Someone" - singing the "maybe, baby, maybe, baby" part) and Kylie. I've introduced her to a lot of the books I loved growing up. And with every passing day, she gets a little more interesting. No two days are really the same. Before I knew it, "free" morphed into "three" as she got her "th" sound down. Truth be told, I really miss "free." And I'll never be able to look into a mirror without thinking about how, in Anna's world, I was seeing my "erflection."

She's a great kid. I really won the lottery when it came to kids. Some days are more trying than others, but no one ever said parenting would be a party all the time. You mostly just do the best you can - knowing it's all you can do.

I love you Anna. You melt my heart every time you say to me "you're my favorite dad." Happy birthday!

And in an interesting side bar - Happy Birthday to Confessions on a Dance Floor! It turns one tomorrow as well. That's right folks, Madge completely overshadowed my daughter's fourth birthday last year. But no worries, she's making up for that and then some with her birthday party THIS year.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Oddball post

OK, work was way more work than I wanted it to be tonight, but here's the funny part.

I actually sort of bonded with one of my co-workers over, of all things, Barbarella. Turns out he's getting it from Netflix and was going home after work to watch it. Funny, but I've already blogged about Barbarella, so I won't belabor the issue any more than that.

I remember being ultimately disappointed by Barbarella, but I didn't tell him that. He seemed so genuinely excited to be watching it, and besides, he may actually like it more than I did, so why spoil it?

But I think a play of the Barbarella theme song is definitely due before shuffling off to bed tonight.

Barbarella, psychedella, indeed.

A Pam kind of morning

Once upon a time, I really did like a lot of country music. Not surprisingly, it was mostly by female artists - Reba McEntire, Faith Hill, Jo Dee Messina, Wynonna Judd. Probably what helped was that by the time I started listening to their music, it was very much country-pop, making it just a little more palatable to me. But at that time when I was listening to all this country, I really got into Pam Tillis. The song that got me listening to Pam Tillis was "Spilled Perfume" which contains the classic country lyric "there's no use crying over spilled perfume."

So this morning, I really got a hankering for Pam. And I've done nothing but listen to her music for the last hour. She's not someone that I really listen to all that much anymore. I pretty much abandoned country music completely right around the year 2000, when it became so completely and utterly associated with Red State America that I pretty much washed my hands of the whole thing with the exception of the Dixie Chicks and of course, First Lady Dolly Parton.

But before then, I managed to amass all of Pam's albums, pretty much within a 1 month time span (yeah, when I get into an artist, I don't mess around.) I think what I loved most about it was her mix of the oh-so-dramatic part of country with the novelty part. I mean, songs like "Cleopatra, Queen of Denial" and "Betty's Got A Bass Boat" are great country novelty songs, as well as being good radio singles. Yes, they're incredibly cheesy, but that's part of the draw, at least for me. And someone equating the "don't cry over spilled milk" with spilled perfume, well, it's priceless.

By 2000 or so, I had cooled significantly on Pam, as her last two albums had been sub-par efforts in my opinion. However, I imported them to iTunes this morning and well, they're not as bad as I remember them being. But nothing will ever match the greatness that was the trilogy of albums including Homeward Looking Angel, Sweetheart's Dance, and All of This Love. But perhaps, that's because those were the albums that introduced me to Pam.

And this serves as a great segue into a post I've been formulating about Stevie Nicks. But more on that later.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

20 hours of work later...

OK, I know I haven't updated the blog since Thursday. Sorry for that. I'd like to say that it won't happen again, but I can't make that promise in good faith, so I'm not going to. I've survived my weekend at work - it was a busy one, and I'm completely and utterly exhausted. I'm such a wimp, I know - everyone else there works weekends, but they just wipe me out beyond words. I'd work a million evening shifts rather than work the weekends. Fortunately, I'll be going back to floating starting the weekend of Christmas, so that leaves one more weekend to work.

I had it all in my head that I was going to write about Rock A Little tonight as I've been listening to it quite heavily this weekend. But sadly, I'm too tired to do it. That's the biggest part that sucks - I work all day and then I'm too tired to do anything at night other than go to bed early.

And I'm sure everyone visited the page just to hear me bitch about things like this.

I promise that I'll be back tomorrow, better rested and more coherent. That is, after I take out the stupid trash and get some freaking sleep.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Thursday 13 - Obscure Madge edition

Madonna is so well known for her string of hits through the 80s, culminating in “Vogue” in 1990. Granted, some of her hit singles since then haven’t been as memorable, but that doesn’t mean they were any less good. But for this week’s Thursday 13, I thought I’d dig through the back catalog and find my favorite obscure Madge tracks.

Thirteen Favorite Madonna Album Tracks

1) Think Of Me (from Madonna (1983))
You’ll not find anything quite as joyous as the bridge in this one (and Madonna’s bridges are truly the best parts of her songs!) “Think!/Stop wastin’ all my time/Think!/Oh, boy, you could have been so fine/Think!/Hey boy I’m waitin’ on a sign” Although Madge’s debut has a mere 8 songs, there’s not a bad one in the bunch.

2) Can’t Stop (from Who’s That Girl? (1987))
All the Madonna songs on the Who’s That Girl? soundtrack sound like they were rejected from the True Blue album. This is no exception, but just because it was rejected from True Blue doesn’t mean that it doesn’t find a good home here. And besides, any one song on here is 100 times better than the movie!

3) Secret Garden (from Erotica (1992))
This was my favorite Madonna CD for the longest time, and I’ve always loved this song which is the last track on Erotica. The jazzy piano, the cool bass line, and even though it’s kind of a Madonna speak-sing song, the chorus is beautifully sung.

4) I Deserve It (from Music (2000))
“This guy was meant for me/And I was meant for him” I love the Music CD because of the acoustic guitar and country flavored tracks. While I liked what this sound metamorphosed into on American Life, this is Mirwais and Madonna at their base. It’s hard to not think about Madonna and her hubby listening to this song.

5) Paradise (Not For Me) (from Music (2000))
Not initially a favorite. Too weird, too much vocoder, not pop enough. But it was a grower. I think it wasn’t until it was used as an interlude on the Drowned World Tour that I really began to appreciate it. And now, I can’t get enough of it.

6) Supernatural (B-side to the “Cherish” single (1989))
A love song, to a ghost? Yep, believe it. And I love that it’s in a minor key – that’s perhaps my favorite part of the whole thing. Some of the lyrics are a bit on the weird side (“I've got to be a very careful, never know what the neighbors would say/They already think I'm crazy/I wouldn't like to wake up and find myself in the family way/A ghost baby?”) but it’s always fun to see Madge have a little fun.

7) White Heat (from True Blue (1986))
I remember the first time I heard this song – it opens with dialogue from the James Cagney movie of the same name. I was in the kitchen doing dishes and I thought that my brother and sister had turned the album off and had turned on the TV. It’s a pretty derivative little song, but contains the classic Madonna line “’Cause my love is dangerous/This is a bust!” which we always thought would have been her taking her shirt off in a video if they had made one.

8) Future Lovers (from Confessions On A Dance Floor (2005))
The best opening of a Madonna tour. Ever. Hands down. Her coming out of the disco ball to the pounding beats of “I Feel Love”, whipping the male dancers. And having her actually sing “I Feel Love” as part of the song in the concert was icing on the cake.

9) Words (from Erotica (1992))
There are so many good album tracks on Erotica, and the fact that the album was completely forgotten in the wake of the SEX book is a true tragedy. The album is a bit long and does feature Madonna at her most cloying on a couple tracks, but this is not one of them. I remember playing Pictionary with Jeff and some other friends right around the time of this album’s release, and every time we got the “action” card we’d start singing. “But your ACTIONS speak louder than words/And they’re only words unless they’re true." "Words" narrowly edged out "Waiting" which contains the even more classic Madonna line "The next time you want pussy/Just looking the mirror baby!"

10) Over & Over (from Like A Virgin (1984))
Should have been a single and a great driving almost rock beat. And the electric guitars before she launches into the chorus! The best. I would have paid cold hard cash for her to have done this on the Confessions Tour. Or Re-Invention. Or on any tour since the Virgin Tour.

11) Rainbow High (from Evita (1996))
Talk about an earworm! This one will get stuck in your head and never leave despite your best efforts to expel it. This was actually the B-side to “You Must Love Me” which was the original track written for the movie Evita. And I thought that “Rainbow High” was fantastic. Ultimately, I was disappointed by the “Rainbow High” scene in the movie – too much panning around to various crowds in Argentina and not enough Madonna being all regal.

12) Where’s The Party (from True Blue (1986))
This is a true Madonna classic that really hasn’t had a chance to be heard. Sure, she’s done it on a couple tours, but it never got a proper single release and it was every bit as good as “La Isla Bonita!” It did get a great remix treatment on You Can Dance which Jeff and I love because on it they have a bunch of people answering Madonna when she asks “Where’s the party?” (In Chicago! New York City!) and we’d inevitably turn it into small towns around Carroll with population 20. (“It’s in Breda! It’s in Willey!”)

13) Till Death Do Us Part (from Like A Prayer (1989))
A somber one for my last pick. Madonna pulls no punches in this song that is obviously about her divorce from Sean Penn. And only Madonna could pull off such a song without making it sound completely trite and also putting it over an upbeat pop musical track. And of course, the glass shattering is perfect.

That’s it for this week. I’ve carried on for far too long already. And before I'm tarred and feathered by my fellow Madonna fans, yes, I know there's nothing there from Ray of Light. It's not that I don't like Ray of Light, it's just that these were the first 13 to jump to mind. And truthfully, I think the best songs on Ray of Light were released as singles anyway.

Fellow Madge fans, what would have made your list?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Some sanity left in the world

I haven't really been involved in politics since the 2004 fiasco. Not to be dramatic, but to be dramatic, a part of me died that day. But today, I have reason to feel confident for the future, at least here in Iowa because we decidedly did not elect a skunk to the governorship. Instead, we voted in Chet Culver. And I'm proud to be one of those non-skunk voters.

Of the multiple thousand of reasons to not vote for Jim Nussle, the Republican nominee for governor of Iowa, the biggest reason to not vote for him would be because he wanted to get an amendment written into the Iowa constitution to ban gay marriage. It has long been my position that you do not amend the constitution, either on a state or federal level, to match the current cultural winds--especially when it means writing discrimination into it. And besides, banning gay marriage is just plain idiotic anyway.

The Dems have control of at least one of the chambers of Congress, which will help some. Now, they just have to prove themselves worthy of our confidence in them.

Perhaps the funniest part of the whole night is that Heidi was talking to me tonight - having this incredibly deep discussion about masculinity and femininity as it applied to her current manuscript, all the while, I was obsessively reloading the local election results. Tomorrow, it's back to normal, but I had to stay up at least until they called the race for Culver. And they just did, so I'm off to bed.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Hey Mr. DJ...Put a record on...

Heidi asked me tonight to pick my favorite "Music" remix for the purposes of the manuscript she's got going right now. Hmmm...that's no easy task. Between the official remixes and the fan-made ones that I have on my computer, there are no less than 35 mixes to choose from. I didn't listen to all of them, obviously -- that would have taken an eternity, but I think I settled on my favorite. And really, it's the one that's always been my favorite.

It's the Young Collective Club Mix -- from the original CD maxi-single. Yes, it goes on for 13 minutes and 18 seconds. Yes, I wish there had been an official edit (there's a bootleg one, but it doesn't really do it for me.) But still, at the end of the day, when it comes to picking a "Music" remix, it even edges out "Music Inferno" which seriously rocks the house as well. And besides, that's more of a mash-up than a true remix, but I fear I may be splitting hairs.

So that's my choice, my first official muse-like act (muse-like because no one can be the Muse with a captial M besides Mike.) And I fear it may be all I have in me tonight, as I need to be heading to bed.

I've realized more than ever this fall that Madge is so right - music really does make the people come together.

International siblings

It's official - at this very minute, I'm the only one of my siblings still in the U.S. Right now, my brother and his wife are in Russia - probably either in Moscow or Tula - but they'll be heading back to the States tomorrow as near as I can tell. It's a 16 hour flight, and well, that's just a damn long time to be on a plane.

My sister is in a hotel tonight in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Tomorrow, she catches a flight up to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada to begin her new job as a dentist up there. It's been a long and difficult road for her, but she's made it through. I'm very happy for her - a bit jealous, but I think I'd probably jump off a building from SAD if I had to deal with a 3 hour day on the winter solstice. Granted, the flip side of that is in the summer, there's probably a 21 hour day.

Yellowknife is 2,411 miles from Ames by car. That's a damn long way. The only road to Yellowknife is closed in the winter because it snows over. They already have snow up there. It's already MUCH colder than it is here -- which stands to reason since it's so much further north.

It does look gorgeous, though. I'm slightly jealous because it does sound like a fun adventure - one I'm sure fraught with anxiety, but an adventure nonetheless. I think I love the idea of a big adventure like that in theory, but in practice, I'm much happier with the known. So perhaps it's best that I'm here in Ames, IA living out my existence.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Reliving the dream

This morning I'm listening to the Re-Invention Tour live from Paris. (If I were a true glutton for punishment, I'd be listening to Blond Ambition live from Barcelona where I think a chorus of cattle might have had a better chance of hitting the right notes than Madge did, but I digress.) Actually, I remember being so impressed with her voice on Re-Invention. And the set list. And the whole experience.

It was the first time I'd jetted cross-country to see Madonna perform, and at the time, it seemed just this side of insane. We'd gone to Drowned World in Chicago, which wasn't so crazy because it was only a 4 hour car ride and we'd been to Chicago a million times so it was no big deal. But this was something entirely different. Flying all the way to Washington, D.C. to see a concert! How obsessed were we? Well, no more obsessed than most of the other people at the concert.

We managed to get there in time to do a bit of sightseeing - I'd been to D.C. a few years prior, so I'd seen a lot of the stuff there, but the World War II Memorial was not even started when I was there in 2000.

I remember there being a big fuss over its construction, like it would be a blight upon the National Mall. In actuality, it's gorgeous and somber and appropriate to the event it's memorializing. (is that even a word?) Plus it's a great place to just hang out on the Mall.

The concert was wonderful - as I've detailed before, it was the first Madonna concert I'd been to where her classic hits were given a fair chance. It was so thrilling to be in an arena full of people shouting out "Get up on the dance floor!" The set list was such a welcome relief after what (I feel) was the self-indulgence of Drowned World. And the crowd was electric. Although people got up to go get refreshments and go to the restroom during "Deeper & Deeper" to which Jeff and I were all like "You paid how much to get in here and you're not going to watch every minute of it!?!"

It was a better concert experience than Confessions - which was marred by an unfortunately unpleasant red-eye flight out of Vegas to Dallas and Jeff having a kidney stone that he was afraid was going to flare up and then we'd end up in an ER in Vegas rather than the MGM Grand Garden Arena (and he didn't even say anything the whole time we were there!!!) The Confessions concert probably edges out Re-Invention almost entirely due to Madge's interaction with the audience and sheer joy that you could tell she had from playing the Confessions songs.

But the trip to D.C. to see Madonna - hard to top it. Probably will only be topped when we all go to New York the next time Madonna tours.

And so, since I can listen to these shitty (for the most part) audience recorded bootlegs of Madge concerts, I'm not so upset with the recording of the Casey Stratton concert I went to. These audio souvenirs, no matter the quality, just serve to help you relive the experience. Because inevitably, it starts to fade from your brain. Most concerts I've been to end up feeling like a dream when you look back at them. And for me, the audio is the best way to relive the dream.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


I tried to come up with something to say about this photo, but sometimes, it's best just to let a picture speak for itself.

88 Days

I woke early this morning from the strangest, most disturbing dream. It was all a swirl of craziness, but what I do remember is that I had cancer. It was either in my jaw or my chest or something, but it was very serious. And I was dying. That particular day.

In the dream, I vividly remember it being 88 days since my diagnosis. It was like I was looking at a piece of paper with the number 88 on it. And I've googled myself silly trying to figure out what the significance of the number 88 is. And either my googling skills aren't what they used to be, or there really is nothing about the significance of the number, which I find incredibly difficult to believe. I did find that the number 44 relates to a sacred union or divine marriage, but that really doesn't seem to fit, does it?

In any event, the dream was very disturbing to me. It was one of those early morning dreams that you wake up from and are then expected to launch into your day. As I was waking up, I remember feeling like I was slipping away and all I wanted to do was wait for my brother to make it back to Iowa before I died.

It freaked me out. In fact, I'm still a little bit freaked out, especially now that it's night again and I'm getting ready to head to bed in a bit. It's been a while since I've had a dream like that - that scared me like this one did.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Productive morning

I can't believe how productive I've been this morning! I got Anna off to preschool (dressed in clothes that match, no less!), called about getting a refund on my Amtrak ticket, got my absentee ballot filled out for next week's general election AND got the checkbook caught up.

Usually, these mornings that I have off before I work in the evening are filled with me lounging in front of the computer doing nothing of any importance. And while there was plenty of that this morning as well, it's nice to get some of this other stuff done as well.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Thursday 13 - Pocketful of quarters edition

As a child of the 80s, I grew up playing arcade games. For this week’s Thursday Thirteen, I’ve compiled a list of my 13 favorite arcade games.

My Thirteen Favorite Arcade Games

1) Donkey Kong – Probably my all time favorite growing up. I remember getting cheap manilla folders and drawing the levels on them and using them for school. Yes, I was that pathetic.

2) Frogger – Why is the frog as big as the cars? That is just plain freaky.

3) Ms. Pac-Man – I always preferred this to the original Pac-Man. The fact that there was more than one screen, that the fruit floated around the maze and well, let’s face it, it’s just a prettier game.

4) Mario Bros. – The original incarnation of what would become a Nintendo Entertainment system classic. Clean out the pipes, get rid of creepy turtles, crabs and fireflies. And two player action – my brother and I played this like crazy.

5) Popeye – Try to rescue Olive Oyl while trying to avoid Brutus/Bluto/whatever his name was. The only place I ever played this was at Adventureland in Des Moines!

6) Dragon’s Lair – I more appreciated this game than enjoyed it. It was basically an interactive cartoon, one that I sucked at bigger than life. And it was prohibitively expensive – 50 cents a play!! It wasn’t until I got this game for my PC that I finally got good at it. And even then, I still couldn’t win it.

7) Q-Bert –You’re Q-bert, that little orange guy with the funny nose trying to avoid Coily the snake while bouncing around on something out of an Escher painting. Loads of fun.

8) Pot of Gold – This is a little known game that I always played at the skating rink when I was growing up. You’re a little guy caught in the woods of Ireland or the UK or something and your goal is to find the pot of gold. It’s hidden in plain sight, but the leprechaun can move it around. And of course, his touch is lethal. An easy game that got a lot of bang for 25 cents.

9) Joust -- The only arcade game I’ve ever seen where you fly around on an ostrich knocking knights off buzzards, collecting their eggs and avoiding a flying pterodactyl. It sounds like a dream I might have had!

10) Sinistar – I LOVED this game. Alas, I also sucked at this one as well. Sinistar was so cool, so evil, but the controls on the game were so haphazard and well, it was just hard to play. But Sinistar talked! And not just in a computerized voice like the Berzerk game did, it sounded like some creepy guy talking to you!

11) Burgertime – A little chef running around trying to get the parts of hamburgers to fall of ledges. Another one where you wonder if the creator had to have therapy. Especially with the throwing of the pepper on the hot dogs, fried eggs and pickles that chased you!

12) Dig Dug – The biggest trouble with this game is that it gets very hard very fast. You don’t go very far on 25 cents, that’s for certain.

13) Space Invaders – A classic. And actually, I like the Atari 2600 port of it better than the actual game. In fact, I might go play it now.

Not terribly original, I know, and here's a Sinistar Defender game (damn Wikipedia for misleading me!) getting thrown out of a building in Sheena Easton's "Almost Over You" video.