Sunday, August 31, 2008

Perception of children

There are a lot of times, as a parent, you're left guessing what your kid is thinking. It starts from the minute they are born and really, if you think about it, never stops. But every now and again, you get a glimpse into what's going on in their brain. Last night Anna was playing The Sims 2 on my computer. Now, realize that for her, "playing" The Sims 2 basically amounts to building the family, moving them into a house and furnishing it thanks to the "motherlode" cheat. While she was building the family, she announced that she was going to make a Sim of me. This is what she came up with.

Um, hello. Purple suit? But this image of me from her perspective is interesting. I also found the rest of the family interesting as well, especially the teenage daughter lending even further credence to my theory that Anna is 6 going on 16 (at least in her mind.)

But back to me. I don't think I could pull that suit off even if it were Halloween. I admire any man who can wear that without having their face made up like the Joker. Granted, my fashion choices have deviated a lot further from my boring choices of just a few years ago, but that suit just will never happen. But apart from the suit, I daresay I look pretty damn good.

And look at me, I still get the girl.

Jeez, get a room already!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Dan's Top 80 Minutes (give or take a few) of Summer 2008

Well, there's certainly one thing you can say about the summer of 2008 when it came to music: It was certainly NOT the summer of 2007. As I compiled my summer playlist throughout the last few months, I found myself by and large rediscovering old songs rather than discovering new ones. There was no "Two Times Blue" that completely dominated my listening. However, not every summer can be that way, and on the whole, it was still rather fun. Anyway, here's my Top 80 Minutes of the summer of 2008. As usual, no particular order.

1) Thea Gilmore / Juliet (Keep That In Mind)
Heidi actually introduced me to Thea Gilmore, who was introduced to her by Neil Gaiman (actually Neil Gaiman's blog, although I'm sure she would love to talk Thea Gilmore with Neil Gaiman!) I heard this song for the first time on our way to see the Dolly Parton concert in early May. Upon hearing it for the first time, I exclaimed "It sounds a lot like the Indigo Girls!" To which she replied, "Yeah, but with a British accent." I love the acoustic guitar in this song, especially around the chorus. Anna also belts it out in the car which is beyond cute, but I'm biased.

2) Donna Summer / Stamp Your Feet
As far as new songs go, this song probably came the closest to being this summer's "Two Times Blue." It is probably the strongest track off of Donna Summer's album Crayons. The fact that she resisted the temptation to go all adult contemporary or, worse yet, interpret the great American Songbook was impressive. That Crayons was a stomping dance record was just icing on the cake! I wonder if this song got much play at gay pride events around the country this summer - I wouldn't know about Des Moines Pride as it's not until October! (postponed from June due to massive flooding)

3) Casey Stratton / You Wanted Out
Perfectly encapsulating everything that I love about Casey's music (the driving piano, a minor key, dramatic but not melodramatic lyrics), this is the best song off of Orbit, hands down. I am a much bigger fan of Orbit than I am The Crossing, mostly because with Orbit, I feel like Casey is branching out a bit. He is staying true to his core sound, but also incorporating new bits in as well. In my version of the world, Casey would be recording a lot more uptempo songs in the vein of "You Wanted Out" but who the hell am I to tell him what to record? He has to follow his own muse.

4) Erasure / Yahoo!
Last year's retro Erasure addition to this list was "Freedom." This year, it was "Yahoo!" from The Innocents. In my mind, they have always been more of a singles band than an albums band, but The Innocents is a near perfect album from Erasure. There is nary a bad moment on the whole record. "Yahoo!" is like any good pop song, crawling into your head an holding on for dear life. It is vaguely contemporary Christian if you can believe it ("I'll pray to the Lord on high to rescue me.") but since they are Erasure, I highly doubt that was the intention.

5) Cyndi Lauper / Into The Nightlife
Who knew that it would be Cyndi Lauper that would ultimately produce the most worthy follow-up to Confessions on a Dance Floor? Much like Jason Hare pointed out in a recent Wings for Wheels podcast, I kind of appreciate Cyndi (specifically latter-day Cyndi) more than I honestly like it, but this album is a big exception. In the original version of this list, both "Into The Nightlife" and "Same Ol' Story" (and its liberal use of the f-bomb) were here, but ultimately the disco goodness of "Into The Nightlife" eclipsed "Same Ol' Story." The verses are still clunky, but you cannot beat that chorus. All spun up, indeed.

6) The Ting Tings / Shut Up And Let Me Go
I don't know, I kind of feel bad liking this song. Listening to it makes me feel like I've just gone to a strip club and want to burn my clothing afterward. It always seems like a good idea at the beginning and then by the end, you're really wishing you hadn't. But then you just go back for more. Because of this, it's on the summer list.

7) Madonna/ Give It 2 Me (Paul Oakenfeld Edit)
I have still not warmed much to Hard Candy (although the tour is likely to change some of that), but I still like "Give It 2 Me" quite a bit. I especially like this remix edit of the song which takes away all the R&B aspirations that the song had and makes it the dance song it should have been. It also removes the rather awkward "get stupid" interlude that tries to pass itself off as a bridge. I have managed to avoid knowing exactly what version of "Give It 2 Me" is performed on the tour, but I'm hoping it's this one.

8) October Project / Bury My Lovely
If I had to go out on a limb, this song is probably my song of the summer. The fact that it was released 14 years ago is not pertinent to the discussion. It is THAT good. Thanks to XO (who sent me "Bury My Lovely" one day this summer) I have purchased the entirety of October Project's back catalog, which is a grand total of 23 songs. The October Project album from which this song is taken has catapulted its way up my list of "desert island" albums. I know that October Project has reformed with a new lead singer but let me tell you how no one touches Mary Fahl's bigger than life vocals. I was talking to a friend about it the other day, and when he heard "Bury My Lovely" he commented on how there is a vaguely Cher-ish quality to her voice. I can see that. Simply put, a fantastic song.

9) Coldplay / Viva La Vida
I have never liked Coldplay much, but this song is a huge exception. It is epic in its arrangement and really didn't sound like anything else on the radio this summer (not that I listened to the radio much.) I really need to pick up the rest of the album sometime and try the rest out.

10) Sam Sparro / Clingwrap
There's a lot to like about Sam Sparro who I really think channels early Prince on a lot of his songs. "Clingwrap" is one of many standout songs on his debut record. What I like about "Clingwrap" is how lyrically complicated it really is. "You must have thought I was a snack/Because you're sticking to me like clingwrap" is a great hook. I also like this line:

See i got enough friends that could fill a truck up
Now give me some room and just back the f**k up

Like when you're washing you're clothes at the laundermatic

And you pull them out the dryer and they stick like static

That's what you do

It's a stalker song!

While the lyrics do not always stand out for me in songs, the ones on Sam Sparro's record really do.

11) Mariah Carey / I'll Be Lovin' U Long Time
Shut up you haters! I like this song! It's the first Mariah Carey song that I have liked in probably close to a decade (I did have a soft spot of those Glitter songs.) The thing I dislike about Mariah is when she does all those vocal acrobatics just for the sake of doing them, but this song if thankfully free of such histrionics. There is also no rapper on the track. It's probably the most purely pop song I have heard her do in quite a while which is a great relief. And then there was the good laugh my blogger buddies and I had over the title which is quite politically insensitive, so I won't repeat it here.

12) Dolly Parton / 9 to 5 (Love To Infinity Radio Mix)
I absolutely adore it when old songs get the remix treatment. Although the results are frequently mixed, it's still fun to see new life breathed into moldy-oldies. "9 to 5" has had DJ remixes in the past which really don't do all that much but extend the song (and at just over 2 minutes, it needs some extension!) Love To Infinity took the song and completely reinvented it, but still allowed it to be recognizable as the classic Dolly song that it is. What I particularly like is that it uses the original vocal, rather than a rerecorded Dolly vocal (as Stevie Nicks did with the "Dreams" remix.) It lends just a little more authenticity to the mix. Now if we can just get one for "Potential New Boyfriend" I will promise to shut up about that!

13) Jay Brannan / Can't Have It All
Out singer/songwriter Jay Brannan is semi-well known for his turn in Shortbus and his YouTube videos. Exactly how he appeared on my radar I can't quite recall, but I'm pretty sure it was this song that did it. I listened to it and the "fuck this! this can't be my life" lyric really hit home and I went over to emusic and picked up the rest of the album. For me, this is one of those great songs that reflects the aging process, when you realize in your life that you have to make choices between things and experiences, etc. For those that think "gay" music is nothing but thumping disco beats and incidental lyrics, this album might change your mind.

14) Heart / Alone (v1r00z Remix)
Much like Eric Prydz's "Call On Me" from a couple summers back, this is not as much a remix of Heart's 80s power ballad as it is cleverly used samples of the song thrown into a thumping beat. I would have liked a bit more of the vocals used, but I suppose songs like this are not about the vocals. The only thing missing is the poppers, but I fear they were all consumed during the production of this remix. But don't take my word for it - I'm 99.9999% sure it is a bootleg and therefore unofficial, so here it is. (download)

15) Stevie Nicks / Crash Into Me (Live)
Stevie did the PBS Soundstage thing this summer and while I didn't see it (stupid "check your local listings") I did watch a few performances on YouTube. Because Stevie is such a prolific songwriter, she really doesn't need to do covers, but it's always a treat when she does (Bob Dylan's "Just Like A Woman" notwithstanding.) Her take on Dave Matthews' "Crash Into Me" is beautiful and just makes me wish she'd get her butt back in the studio and record a new solo record (a prospect increasingly unlikely considering the planned Fleetwood Mac album and tour slated for next year.)

16) Rick Springfield / What's Victoria's Secret?
This is a song title that, if I were a songwriter, I would pay cold hard cash to have come up with first. I blogged this song previously, and I'm surprised how much staying power it has had for me. It seriously had the potential to be one of those songs that I downloaded and listened to 10 times in the first 2 days and then never listened to again. But its perfect marriage of retro and current has made it a favorite on my iPod. I am tempted to pick up the rest of the album, but I just don't know how much Rick Springfield I really need in my life. That having been said, this is a great pop song and if this were 1985, it would be a number one hit. Alas, it is 2008 so it barely made a dent (if that) in the charts.

17) Alanis Morissette / Not As We
During the summer, there were three different songs from Alanis' Flavors of Entanglement on this list. The first one to make the list was "Giggling Again For No Reason." But I found myself skipping it on the playlist every time I came to it -- a certain sign it needed to be jettisoned. Then it was "Straitjacket" but ultimately, the song really started annoying the crap out of me. So finally, I settled on "Not As We." It is a slow burn but the part in the chorus where she sings "I'm faking it / Till I'm pseudo making it" gets me every time. All in all, that album was a great return to form for Alanis. IMHO, it's her best since Jagged Little Pill and in the top 10 albums of the year.

18) Keane / Spiraling
I have not really been a fan of Keane's. I was underwhelmed by their debut album that everyone spoke so highly of (although on relisten now, I am liking it more than I did.) The only song of theirs that I really liked was "Leaving So Soon" and that was mostly because of the dramatic "A slap in the face for you now!" plus it's a kiss off song so I'm contractually obligated to like it. So it was with a certain amount of trepidation that I awaited their new song that was briefly available for free on their web site. I knew that my other blogging buddies would probably like it, so the peer pressure was intense. I'm pleased to report that not only do I love the song, I am also eagerly awaiting the release of the full album. I can see this song lingering into the fall as well.

19) Alphabeat - Boyfriend (Pete Hammond 7" Mix)
This is a VERY late entry into the summer playlist, but it is a most worthy one. I have D'Luv to thank for this one. There is not much to say about this but it feels like it is 1988 all over again when you listen to this song! But D'Luv had a much better post about this song than I could ever compose, so go read his. A very pleasant way to finish off the summer and head into autumn, which I am greatly looking forward to.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Birthday girl

9 days after Madonna turned 50, Heidi is turning 35 today. Let the party commence!

First of all, let's have this:

I'm not sure how old she is, but dig that softer side of Sears photo set-up that anyone who had the pleasure of growing up in the 70s got to experience.

And then, what the hell, let's do this one:

This is Heidi showing off the mid 90's fashion of large eyeglass frames. Additionally, this is me showing off my vanity and refusing to wear glasses when really, by then, I should have been wearing them all the time. Pretty sure this was just before we were married because shortly after our wedding, I had no choice but to start wearing glasses 24/7.

All kidding aside, happy birthday honey! Without getting too sappy and sentimental (but at, the same time, to get sappy and sentimental), I am so glad that you choose to celebrate your birthdays with me. You are my best friend and the one that is constantly on me to improve myself and to believe in myself during those times when I have lost the ability to do that for myself. You are my Amazonian, my biggest defender and I will boil up the rice in the satellite dish any day that you ask me. You were just what I needed all along. (Good old Kirsty, you can always count on that song for us.)

It's been a heck of a year, you know? Some great, some good, some bad and little bit that was terrible. But here's to at least 70 more birthdays. And I'll be there right next to you. There's nowhere else I'd rather be.

And just for fun (remember this one?):

Happy birthday sweetie. I love you tons!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The stiletto cuts quick

Since Heidi is away on her mini-break with her good friend Shelly in Iowa City, I guess it falls to me to do the Walter updates. The short version of the story is that, as of yesterday morning, he was STILL not eating or drinking appreciably. I measured out a cup of water into his dish and 8 hours laster, I measured what was left. Pretty much everything I had put in there was still there, so no oral intake of fluids. I had talked to the vet about this on Friday, so she had set aside a bag of IV fluids for us to pick up on Saturday morning in case he was still not taking fluids. On Saturday, we hopped on the bike and picked them up. All the while, I was trying to figure out what in the world I was going to hang that bag of fluids from.

I was feeling very MacGyver when I realized that I didn't exactly have an IV pole from which to hang the bag. What I ended up using was the drying rack we use for clothes that can't be dried. For a minute, I thought I might have to use a shoestring as well (if a piece of belly button lint had been needed, then I was DEFINITELY changing my name to MacGyver) but I managed to hook it over the top and it worked just fine.

I got the tubing hooked up and primed, and then put the needle on. Anna was helping me at this point, and no sooner did I take the shield off the needle than I stuck my left thumb with the 18 gauge needle. In the 13 years that I have been a pharmacist, I have never gotten a single needlestick. Until now. Of all the needles to do that with, it had to be the one that is pretty much like a knitting needle. Bleeding ensued. Anna was concerned. Fortunately, I healed quickly and we were able to get about 200 mL of fluid into Walter during the day yesterday.

Anna was a supremely helpful veterinary assistant, as the following photo demonstrates.

I seriously could not have done it without her help.

Last night before I went to bed, I noticed that a little bit of the salmon that I had put in the cage for him to eat had disappeared, so things are looking up again. I am kind of weighing the pros and cons of doing another 100-200mL of subcutaneous fluids today, but I also don't want to fluid overload him. So we'll see. He's a little perkier today and his nose is wet, which it had not been for the last several days.

Also, courtesy of Hans (Heidi's brother), a statue of Bast arrived in the mail yesterday. What a good guy!

(Bonus points and my instant friendship to anyone who can identify the source of this post's title. And no fair Googling!)

Caption this

This is one of my favorite photos from the Sticky & Sweet Tour so far. The look on her face is hilarious! Thanks to XO for this.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The tour opens

Not too long from now, those lucky Madge fans in England (Paul and John included!) will be seeing the opening night performance of Madonna's Sticky & Sweet Tour. I'm a bit torn on the viewing of images and video from the tour as it does ruin the surprise a bit, but in the internet age it's almost impossible not to see and read things. But this was one of the first things I saw when I logged on to my e-mail this morning!

This appears to be from the Old-School section of the show (?) and I approve! In 2 months, it'll be me at the tour and that day cannot come soon enough.

Here's the set list, for those of you who haven't read it (and aren't uber-Madge fans.) It is still "a rumored track list" at this point, but I would bet cash that this is what we wind up with.

Intro/Candy Shop
Beat Goes On
Human Nature
Video Interlude - Die Another Day
Into The Groove
She's Not Me
Video Interlude - Rain/Here Comes The Rain Again
Devil Wouldn't Recognize You
Spanish Lesson
Miles Away
La Isla Bonita/Lela Pala Tute
Doli Doli (Live Interlude - Romanian Folk Song)
You Must Love Me
Video Interlude - Get Stupid (About saving the planet)
4 Minutes
Like A Prayer
Ray Of Light
Hung Up
Give It To Me (Finale)

It does look good, although I am so seriously tired of "La Isla Bonita" and "Ray Of Light." I suspect that she keeps on doing "Ray Of Light" because she likes playing the guitar, but we'll see. And I do think the biggest WTF moment is "You Must Love Me" from Evita, but it still doesn't top the ultimate WTF moment that was "I'm Going Bananas" on The Girlie Show.

(photos via)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Vehicular uprising

The vehicles around here must be talking to each other.

I took the car in this morning to get its oil changed because the next paycheck is not looking pretty and it really needed to be done, especially with Heidi going to Iowa City this weekend. No problem - I just took it out to Car-X and the oil change usually takes 30-45 minutes depending upon how many people are ahead of me. I would just take my book and my iPod like I usually do and just chill there while the oil was changed. About 45 minutes into the adventure, the guy came and told me that the transmission needed to be flushed. Crap. There goes the easy 40 dollar oil change. Instead, I walked out with nearly 200 dollars of car maintenance done. Again, with Heidi going to Iowa City, it probably was the best thing to do, and really, what are you going to do? NOT flush the transmission?

So that's all well and good. Heidi heads to Iowa City and I dink around until it's time to go pick up Anna from school. I even managed to get the wood out of the back of the truck which has been in there for the better part of 2 weeks. I get in the truck. Nothing. It doesn't turn over, it doesn't do ANYTHING. I may not know a lot about car maintenance (fluids is about where I begin and end), but I know enough to know that's a dead battery. Fat lot of good that does me because Anna still needs to be picked up from school. A quick call to the mother of a friend of hers tells me that she is going to pick up her daughter, but they are on the bike. Fuck. It leaves me with one option.

I had no other choice but to get on the bike (with the trail-a-bike behind it) and head off to pick Anna up from school. She, of course, was thrilled to see that I had brought the bike. I, of course, was amazed that I didn't have crushing chest pain on the ride, proving once again that I am in better shape than I think.

All in all, it's not a big deal. I'll wait till Heidi gets back on Sunday to jump start the truck - we have nowhere really to go. If we have to go to the vet tomorrow, we can always go on the bike again because the trip to the vet will not involve bringing Walter (for those not following the Walter drama, go to Heidi's blog.) But we do have to get to the store here for a few odds and ends, which we will be doing here in a minute. On the bike.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

From the mouth of Cher

I have one thing: Do everything you can do NOW. I should have done all those things, I went "*tsk* Should I do this? Should I do this?" To hell with it! Do it! You can always look back and go "I shouldn't have done that!"

I heard this while getting ready for work this morning listening to the Farewell Tour on the iPod. We should always listen to Cher. Whenever you find yourself wondering what you should do, just ponder this T-shirt.And then do it.

What a wise woman.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

They've lasted longer than the Zbornaks!

My folks celebrated Madonna's 50th birthday 40 years of marriage yesterday with a big old shindig at their house with a boatload of people and more food than any army could ever eat. I am having a hard time getting my head around 40 years. That's a damn long time to be hanging around any one person, let alone be married to them. But honestly, how cool is it to be with someone that long? Cooler than I can put into words.

Here they are 42 years ago.

And here they are yesterday, re-enacting scenes from their wedding reception.

I have the coolest parents in the world, there's no doubt about it. I was not always the easiest kid to raise - I was especially moody and annoying as a teenager -but they trusted in me to come around which nearly every kid does. My folks always seem to be there when we need them which is pretty damn amazing. And I can't even count the number of home improvements that my father has helped me with. As a friend of mine put it, it's no wonder I went int health care for it's in my best interest to keep him alive as long as possible!!

They made it longer than Stan and Dorothy Zbornak (38 years of marriage! and memories!) and I hope I can make it as long as they have. That is, if I live that long.

The other awesome part is that both my brother and his wife AND my sister and her boyfriend were back for the party as well. Since we're scattered all over the place and rarely see each other, it's always nice to see them. It was a great time and I just wish I could have spent more time with them as well. But there will always be next time.

(from left to right, my sister Wendy, her boyfriend Andrew, Heidi, me, my brother's wife Olenka and my brother Ryan.)

Here's to you Mom and Dad. Without you, I wouldn't be here. And as you all know, my mere presence is reason enough to celebrate. ;)

I'm on a ride and I wanna get off

The ads for Adventureland (located in Altoona, IA) used to say (and probably still do): Just one price is all you'll ever pay! That's the hook they use to get you in the door, only to milk you dry for the rest of the day. Like fools, we continue to go year after year. Part of the reason that we continue to do it is because my work provides us with heavily discounted tickets - a full 50%+ off the price of an adult admission and 10 bucks off a kid's admission. At prices like that, you really can't say no.

As a kid, the day we went to Adventureland was as eagerly anticipated as Christmas. I never actually went to Adventureland until I was in 6th grade, although I had been to plenty of county fairs, pay-as-you-go amusment parks (most notably Arnold's Park in, naturally, Arnold's Park, IA) and, of course, the Iowa State Fair. But the concept of paying to get in to the amusement park and then being able to ride till you puked was completely lost on me. My grandfather bought everyone in the family tickets year after year and, like clockwork, we would all trek to Adventureland, usually in mid-to-late June. It was a bit of a de facto family reunion, but make no mistake -- all of us cousins were there for the rides.

It's really not all that much to write home about, especially if you've been to places like Six Flags Great America or Disney World or Knott's Berry Farm. But by Iowa standards, it's a pretty big deal. According to their website, they are the #1 tourist attraction in Iowa, which is kind of like saying I'm the #1 oldest person living in our house. Not exactly much competition. But the thing that is cool about Adventureland is that there is oddly comforting when you go, year after year, to ride the same rides and eat the same crappy food. It even smells the same.

Anyway, as you might predict, Anna just loves the place. She's a ride kid through and through and each year gets a little braver. Although she stuck with a lot of her tried and trues (the Tea Cups and the Balloon Races being perennial favorites), she also bit the bullet and got on the Falling Star (a big thumbs down from Anna who cried on the ride) but declined to ride the Galleon or the Silly Silo. Here she is on the Tea Cups (I was riding with her.)

However, the biggest thumbs down came for Adventureland's newest attraction, Kokomo Kove. It is bad enough that they are using that wretched late 80s Beach Boys song in their ad campaign for it, but nothing could have prepared us for the annoyance and aggravation that was the experience of Kokomo Kove. Anna had seen commercials for it on TV and was very eager to try it out. Being the sport that I am, I was willing to go in with her. We changed into our suits and headed over while Heidi grabbed a lounge chair.

I should have known that the experience would be bad when I got over there and the place smelled like a chemistry lab. Seriously, it was so chlorinated, there's no way anything was growing in there. It made you wonder if the area had been built on a phosgene disposal site. The bad part about chlorine is that there's a fine line between keeping the pool clean and poisoning the park guests. They were just slightly over that line. Almost instantly, my eyes started stinging. Anna's were not long to follow, although she thought it was sunscreen in her eyes. Before long, she was crying and torn between wanting to be in the water but wanting to get away from the chlorine. Add to this is the random dumping of water on you from above. I have never been a fan of that kind of shit - let me control the degree to which I want to get wet thankyouverymuch - but this was beyond anything I'd ever witnessed. There is a large "Kokomo Kove" bucket that dumps a shitload of water all over the place with little or no warning. Now maybe that's fun for kids, but I didn't like it and neither did Anna. After a very brief attempt, we found ourselves drying off and headed for other, less toxic rides.

This year, I found myself riding even less than I have in previous years. I am fond of saying that I am about 2-3 years away from having to wait in the car while everyone else goes in and rides rides. I can no longer ride the rides that go in circles. My father maintains it is because, as we age, our internal organs are held less firmly in place than they are when we're younger. I can buy that, because I literally can't ride the Balloon Races without feeling nauseous. And you can forget the Tilt A Whirl. Sadly, this year may very well have marked the last time I am able to ride my most favorite Adventureland ride, the Sidewinder. Witness: (not my video)

I love it, but I felt ill after riding it this year. And I'm not one of those people that will endure nausea and the potential for puking in the nearest trash can just to say "I can still ride that!"

And no trip to Adventureland is complete without funnel cake. There's nothing like fried pancake like batter covered with powdered sugar for finishing off your day. Here's Anna licking the plate.

All in all, it was a good day. We probably will go again when my work sells off the remaining Adventureland tickets for 5 bucks a piece in September. We'll see - one trip might be all I have in me this year. But if we get to see DOLLY PARTON at Adventureland again, it might be worth it.

I'm such a stalker.

(There was also a guy at the park that I saw three times wearing a Floppy T-shirt. I so wanted to go up to him and ask him where he got it, but figured that would be weird. I loved that show as a kid! Looks like I might have to pay a visit to the State Hysterical Historical Building to score one.)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Age ain't nothin' but a number

I would be remiss if I didn't post something to commemorate the half-century mark for Madonna. She is a woman who I literally have grown up under the influence of, and like it or not, that influence has helped shape me into the man I am today. That sounds dramatic, no? But in a way, it's true. I read once that the music we love when we are 15 is the music we will always love. And when I was 15, Madge (although it would be years before I started referring to her as Madge) could do no wrong.

What I love most about Madonna is the thing that she has been criticized for the most - her constant evolution. While her peers in the mid 80s have shrunken into either obscurity or just plain weirdness, she has continued to not so much re-invent herself as the press liked to call it, but rather evolve as an artist and as a human being. May we all continue to evolve and explore different aspects of our personalities.

So anyway, rather than do my top 10 Madonna songs (a daunting task for even me), what follows are a smattering of some of my favorite Madonna images. I sometimes wonder if she is the most photographed female, but certainly that can't be. Anyway...

Picking up the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical for Evita. As my sister says, receiving this award just emboldened her to continue acting! This was also taken while she was still nursing Lourdes, which is why she is busting out of that dress!

A great picture from the Sex book which seems one of the more candid shots in the book.

Although I generally think that the negatives from the Bedtime Stories photo shoot need to be buried deep in the earth, I really like this shot of her that was used for the back of the album. I think about how grand this picture would look had BS been pressed on vinyl.

I have no idea from whence this photo comes, but she looks very good.

From the Re-Invention Tour Book - getting in touch with her inner Queen Amidala.

From the Music photo shoot.

If I recall correctly, this was originally set to be the cover for The Immaculate Collection. Warner nixed it in favor of the very BORING packaging that we eventually got.

Why is it that Madonna is at her sexiest when there is a chair in the shot? This was the cover of Rolling Stone probably 1990-ish, channeling a 1920's flapper type.

One of my favorite shots from the Sex book, and it doesn't even feature Madonna's face.

What did I tell you? Another chair! This one is from "Like It Or Not" on the Confessions Tour and she just oozed sexuality during that number. Dragging that chair up the center catwalk during the "no, no, you know" part was just genius. It's the simple things, I tell ya!

So happy birthday, Madge. In a week, the Sticky & Sweet Tour starts and don't you dare injure your damn ankle until at least after October 26th! Here's to 50 more birthdays and to all those folks in the media giving you grief over your age, I submit this photo from the Live 8 concert (another of my favorites!)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Not dead yet

August is on track toward being my least prolific blogging month in the nearly 5 year history of this blog! This week has not been what I would characterize as one of my best, but I have a couple posts in draft form, so hopefully I'll publish them soon.

I know, you're all waiting breathlessly for me to blog something. Believe me, I don't have those kinds of delusions of grandeur.

More soon. I promise.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Georgia on my mind

The title is cliched, but I'm sticking with it. Deal with it.

I really want to write this post, but words are failing me. I have been watching with a closer-than-usual eye the violence and war in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. For what is not the first time and what will certainly not be the last, a powerful country has unilaterally invaded one much weaker, with little regard for the sovereignty or borders of that country. I have to admit, what basically amounts to a Russian invasion of its neighbor Georgia has me more than a little bit worried. I know there is nothing that I can do about it, but still, it has me worried, feeling much like I used to when I was in junior high school, sure the world was about to ignite in a nuclear fireball from every little skirmish that erupted in some remote part of the globe.

I'm sure that there has been a lot leading up to what appears to me to be a very abrupt and intense over-reaction on the part of Russia. Many innocent people are dying for reasons that I'm sure I know next to nothing about. The Georgians are pleading with the West to help them. But there is no way on God's green earth that's going to happen. To do so would be to engage what is still a nuclear armed superpower and, well, that's just not going to happen. Still, I can't help but wonder what may lie ahead and it has put me in a funk that I didn't really anticipate.

As an early adolescent, I was so scared of nuclear war that it almost bordered on the ridiculous. It certainly didn't help that at the time, I was watching a lot of Herbert W. Armstrong and his Worldwide Church of God. Armstrong had a lot stuff on his program about how "a nuclear war will happen in my lifetime!" (he's been dead since 1986) and scary pamphlets you could order with titles like "When The Red Phone Rings" that made you feel like nuclear war was just around the corner. But with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War (not to mention growing up and becoming an adult), a lot of those fears fell by the wayside.

But still, you can't take the boy out of the man. In light of all that's happened, a lot of the same fears have welled up in me again. Could this spread? Could this be the event that sparks what is the end of the world? Stranger things have happened. I would like to think that we're all smarter than that, but with our current president, I sometimes wonder. The Huffington Post was reporting that the UN ambassadors to Russia and the US were "trading barbs" today and that the violence "could have a significant long-term impact on US-Russian relations." And then Dick Cheney goes and says something supremely helpful in "Russian aggression must not go unanswered." Whatever THAT means.

It would, of course, be helpful if we had any kind of higher ground to stand on. We have pretty much sent the message to the world that it's okay to invade a sovereign nation against the will of most of the world, so why would the Russians even give a shit what we think? To them, I'm pretty certain that our calls for respect of borders and the sovereignty of a country are the height of hypocrisy.

Ultimately, the answer is what will be will be. In a former version of myself, I thought that prayer would work, now I know it is pretty much worthless. I guess we just keep on living our lives and hope for the best. While there are a lot of things that we can control in our lives, there really are a large number of things outside our sphere of control and influence. Worrying about these things accomplishes nothing but ulcers and I'm not really interested in that. So it's time to stop worrying and as Dolly would say, get to living.

All I know is that I am more eager than ever to talk to my Russian sister-in-law later this week. She always has an interesting take on Russian current events. Olenka, consider yourself warned. I'll want to know everything.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The jump

Tonight I found myself having my 2-3 time per year debate about switching to Wordpress. What made this time different was that I actually imported this blog into Wordpress. I was nervous that it would wipe out the blog from its original site, so I created a backup of it just in case. It seemed to transfer all posts and comments to Wordpress without a hitch. Well, save one. There were some embedded YouTube videos that didn't import. Which is not really a big deal because half of them have probably been removed for terms of use violations.

So now that I've done all this, what am I going to do? *sigh* I really don't know. I like Wordpress because it's all fancy, but Blogger has really added some good features over the last year, and really, it feels a bit like cheating. Blogger and I have been together for nearly 5 years now, and to jump ship for the sexiness of Wordpress just makes me feel like a cad. Never mind the fact that there are some very real issues with Wordpress that I don't like. I have yet to figure out how to add a counter so that I know who's visiting. Then there's the matter of all the people who have linked to the Blogger blog. Surely, they won't all go back and update the link to reflect the Wordpress blog. That would be too much to ask, naturally.

So I'm not sure. I think in the end, I'll probably stick with Blogger, because I always do. But sometimes, even when you're married, it's still fun to flirt.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Paging Dr. Drake...Dr. Noah Drake

Last week I was out and about and heard a radio ad for Rick Springfield's Iowa State Fair appearance (with special guest Patty Smyth of Scandal!) It made this rather interesting claim to "twenty five years of hits." This caused me to audibly scoff. I mean, seriously. How about 2 years of hits in the last 25 years. That I will give him, but 25 years of non-stop hits? Who do they think they're fooling?

So thanks to this little bit of heightened Rick Springfield awareness, I noticed his new album, Venus In Overdrive, on iTunes on Tuesday. And I'll be goddamned but I really like that "What's Victoria's Secret?" song! It has a very "Jessie's Girl" sound and accomplishes the nearly impossibly by being both current AND retro simultaneously. I'm not sure I need to have the whole album, but dang. Additionally, PopDose did a great interview with him this week that's worth a read.

I guess I take back all the snarky things I said about Rick Springfield over the last week or so. Except for the claim to 25 years of hits. I wasn't born yesterday.