Saturday, January 29, 2011

Hot and Bothered

I'm blurry on the exact dates, so forgive me.

I was in Jr. High, and I loved Van Halen. They were touring and were coming to play in Shreveport, LA, which is about 60 miles from my home town. I wanted to go, and I had a friend named Traci who had an older (driving) brother who was going to the show. Somehow we convinced our mothers that it would be a good idea if her beer-slamming, weed-smoking, insanely irresponsible older brother and his equally dipshitty friend let us tag along in his white kidnapper van (you know the kind: windows only in the driver's area) to the show.

So we went. And yes I still have the ticket stub, but everything from that evening is a long-ago blur.

Here's what I DO remember:

When we got to the concert venue, the Older Brother and His Friend disowned us. They basically told our 14 yr. old asses to get lost until after the concert (when then, and only then, were we allowed to meet them back at The Van). I guess they figured we would cock block them, which we totally would've.

So Traci and I made our way into the venue--a big dome-ish thing with general admission and poor ventilation. The entire place reeked of old beer and weed.

We landed some seats stage right in the lower balcony. I'm sure there was an opening band, but I have no recollection of it. But I will never forget when the lights in the arena suddenly dropped, a million Bic lighters were hoisted, and the first notes of Eddie Van Halen's guitar were heard. Pandefuckingmonium. The lights came up and Van Halen took the stage. But the only person that I saw on that stage was David Lee Roth.

I was breathless. I'd seen pictures of him in magazines and seen a few Van Halen videos on that brand new thing called MTV, but nothing had remotely prepared me for what I was looking at: a preening, unbridled, 20-something, testosterone-filled peacock with a huge bulge in the front of his impossibly tight pants.

It was mesmerising.

Now remember: this is back before Diamond Dave became a sad caricature of himself, Alex lost his hearing, and Eddie rotted his teeth out of his head. This is when they were all (yes, even Michael Anthony) on fucking fire and tearing up arenas all over the country.

Dave was shirtless. His chisled chest was hairy--unlike the pussy-ass manscaped rockstars of today. His bleached hair was a long lion's mane. He wore low slung white leather pants with red fringe running down the outside of each leg. And although it sounds completely ridiculous to write this considering his getup: He was smoking hot. He moved like an athletic snake and belted out the lyrics like a man on a mission to blow out the back of the arena with his voice and then fuck as many women as humanly possible. He seemed ten times larger than life.

And I'm not sure when it was, but at some point, I felt it: that low, warm throb down in my lady parts. I had no idea what it meant, but I knew that it had something to do with what I was watching and hearing, and I knew that I fucking liked it. A lot.

After the show was over, Traci and I found The Van, and her wasted brother somehow got us all home alive. I remember lying under the daisy-printed bedspread in one of the twin beds in Traci's bedroom that night, my ears still ringing from the loudness of the show, and grinning to myself in the dark as I remembered each squeal of his voice and each thrust of his hips during the show.

I stayed loyal to Van Halen, and Dave, until 1984--the year and the album. After that, I couldn't handle what became of the cartoonish "California Girls" Dave and Van Hagar. It was just too damn sad to watch, and I had a new breed of boys attracting my attention (Bono, John Taylor of Duran Duran, Michael Stipe, etc.).

Flash forward to this week:

A dear friend of mine from my days in Chicago posted the following video (which features one half of my favorite comedy duo, Tim and Eric) on my Facebook page without comment.


Yes, this video is funny and the song is catchy, but I still can't help but be a bit saddened by how accurately it portrays the silly, larger-than-life "Diamond Dave" persona that Mr. Lee Roth created for himself.

Oh well...I'll always have a special place in my loins for DLR, along with a very happy memory of that night in Shreveport.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Hadrcore Bender of Boring

My work trip to Ft. Lauderdale (Pompano Beach, actually) went really well. I saw the inside of a drab conference room during most of my time there, but hey--I was there for work, after all. However, we did go to a big group dinner at this insane tiki bar/restaurant place called Mai Kai. When I first learned about this place, I was worried that it was some ghastly theme restaurant (ex: Rain Forest Cafe), but this place has been there since 1956. It was just as kitschy as you're thinking, which was WONDERFUL. We sat right by the stage for the big Polynesian dance extravaganza.

Holy crap, I felt like I was on the Love Boat or something. Surprisingly, the food was actually decent and (not so surprisingly) the drinks were STRONG.

I'd like to go back to Pompano Beach with The Geej for some quality beach time. Aside from the evening we arrived, the weather was spectacular, and the beaches were uncrowded and lovely. And the direct flights from/to Austin is a nice touch (since, so often, you have to stop in Dallas or Houston if you're flying anywhere from Austin). So maybe this time next year...

Speaking of The Love Boat, Dah and her fiance are on a cruise in the Caribbean this week. I cannot tell you how happy I am that she has found someone with whom she can travel like this. My stepdad (RIP) developed a severe phobia to flying way back in the 80s, and for the last 15 or so years of their marriage, they never went on any vacations that weren't within a reasonable driving distance. If you live in Texas, that severely limits your options. In the last years of their marriage, he got to where he wasn't comfortable going anywhere (most likely due to the unease caused by early onset dementia), so the only time she really traveled was with me, which was nice, but infrequent. She deserves to explore and see the world, and she's done a BUNCH of that in the past five years.

This past weekend was filled with errands and laundry (as are most weekends), however while BH and his boys went camping Saturday evening, The Geej and I went to my friend Thelma Jane's for a sleepover. And not just any sleepover--a "Xanadu" sleepover! Thelma's daughter, Ruby, recently turned 7, so I got her roller skates for her birthday, and we all watched "Xanadu" together. Ruby and The Geej got up and danced during SEVERAL of the musical numbers, while the overall allure of the movie escaped Ruby's 3 yr. old sister, Mary. Her day will come, however...

The only bad part about the sleepover is that, well, I didn't really sleep all that much. I was in a full-size bed with The Geej, and I just couldn't get comfortable. So yesterday, I was SO damn tired. The gloomy, cool weather didn't help much.

Today, I'm back in my office--also known as my little metal storage container since that's pretty much what it is--for the first time in a week. I have lots to do, and it's (mostly) all good stuff--stuff that requires me to actually use my brain.Yay!!

Also good for my brain, some new (to me) music I'm enjoying:
--The Decemberists, "The King Is Dead"
--Blue Mountain, "Roots"
--Sera Cahoone, "Only As The Day Is Long"
--Carissa's Wierd (yes, it's misspelled), "They'll Only Miss You When You Leave: Songs 1996 - 2003"

And tomorrow, I'll get Iron & Wine's latest. Later this spring, new albums by P.J. Harvey and Elbow!

I'm currently reading two different books:
--Zombie, Spaceship, Wasteland by Patton Oswalt
--A Short History of a Small Place, by T.R. Pearson

It takes me me FOREVER to read a book these days (a side effect of parenthood), so who knows when/if I'll ever finish these two. But if I ever do, I've got plenty of new titles--mostly nonfiction--waiting for me on the bookshelf as I went on something of a book buying bender last month.


I am boring myself as I type this.

What a loser.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Try to keep up.

This is going to be one of those all-over-the-map posts because I have nothing and everything to talk about.

I have about a gagillion songs in my iTunes. I am a music hoarder. It is my one regular financial indulgence. And having all of that wonderful stuff at my fingertips is a great source of joy to me. So, several months ago, I decided to make a playlist out of all of the songs in my iTunes that had no info in the "Last Played" column, i.e., songs that, in theory, I'd never listened to before. That playlist had something close to 6,000 songs in it. Crazy, no? So I started embarked on a journey of listening to each and every one of those songs, in alphabetical order. At work. In the car. Sometimes at home (when I was alone, which is almost never). After songs in the playlist are listened to, I delete them on the list. Sometimes they get added to other playlists (for example, my large "Mellow Dudes and Dames" list) and sometimes, if they are simply unlistenable, they get deleted altogether. I am now in the songs-that-begin-with-N part of the playlist. It has been an interesting journey, and only reaffirmed my great need for music in my life. I love how in just a few songs I can go from Young MC to The Spinanes to The Mingus Big Band to Calexico to Judas Priest. It's like an awesome radio station run by an insane person. Maybe, in a previous incarnation, I was a composer or accomplished musician because I am absolutely voracious when it comes to the stuff.

Another thing I love? Really good stand-up comedy. Tomorrow I'm going to get to see one of my absolute favorites, Patton Oswalt, at The Paramount. Over the past year, I've gotten to go see Aziz Ansari, Louis CK, Tim & Eric, Jerry Seinfeld and David Cross. In my lifetime, I've also gone to see Eddie Murphy, Wanda Sykes, Jon Stewart, Sam Kinison and Janeane Garofalo. Comedians fascinate me. I just can't imagine what it must feel like to stand in front of several thousand people, just KILLING them with your jokes and stories. I only wish there were more really, really funny female stand-ups, but it's just not a medium that many women find success in.

For about two weeks now, I have been in allergy Hell. Like most of the population of Austin, I dread January because it means that cedar season has arrived. People just start dropping like flies--hacking, coughing, sneezing and generally feeling like hammered shit. Shelves of antihistamines sell out at Walgreen's and the allergy report on the evening news becomes regular elevator conversation. And to add insult to injury, usually January is also host to some really beautiful, crisp sunny winter days--the kind that you want to spend the entire day outside, but if you do? You pay. Dearly.

I watched the President's speech at the memorial event for the victims of the Tuscon shootings. This whole episode--or more accurately, how this episode has been turned into a finger pointer's wet dream--really had me nervous for him. What would he say? What COULD he say? But, aside from his halting delivery (which bugs me no matter what the topic), his message was beautiful, and he came across as more sincere and presidential than he's seemed in a long time. This was the man I voted for.

I've got around 500 Facebook friends, and a LOT of them are very right-leaning, conservative, Christian, Obama-haters. Which is fine. To each his or her own. But oh MAN am I ever sick of them a) posting Bible verses and b) posting photos of them and/or their kids holding up the limp head of some deer or other animal they've just killed. It just makes me want to post a photo of a really awesome dump I take along with some passages from Dianetics. ANNOYING!!

And not to get too far in the political weeds, but I have just got to spend some time talking about this asshat, Louie Gohmert. You know how much the existence of Toby Keith, Justin Bieber and Nancy Grace pisses me off? Well take that, and multiply it by about 10,000, and you get some idea of how I feel about Mr. Gohmert. Why? Well, I have several reasons, but the main one is that he's an absolute embarrassment.
He comes across as a paranoid, small-minded doofus. Don't believe me? Go to YouTube and put his name in the search box. Watch just a few minutes of him speaking on the floor of the House. Maybe about "Don't Ask Don't Tell" or about terror anchor babies. Go ahead. I'll wait.

Oh good! You're back!! See what I mean? WORLD-CLASS DOOFUS! And I, for one, am so sick of the south and Texas being, literally, represented by slow-witted nimrods like this. It just perpetuates the negative stereotypes that people have about us southerners/Texans, and that irks me. Also, he's one of these elected officials who really blurs the lines between religion and governance to the detriment of those whose religious beliefs are not the same as his. Was this guy really the BEST option for the voters in my hometown's congressional district? If so, wow. That's just sad as Hell.

I had the biggest, nastiest zit on my right cheek this week. That's right: allergy-ridden AND pock-marked. Anyway, The Geej was pretty fascinated with it. "What IS it, Mommy?" "But what IS a pimple?!" "It's disGUSTing!" Sigh. She also told me one morning this week that my jeans were too little, and she often asks me, "Are you going to brush your hair?" Nothing like having a little diva around to keep you humble...

Okay. Maybe that's enough rambling for now. Thanks for hanging in there with this weird post. Hope you don't have change-of-topic whiplash.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

What "Kick Ass" Means

I was lucky enough to be able to surprise my friend with a "Kick Ass" award tonight. Yes, it's a real thing. With a trophy and everything!

Here was her nomination:

As we live our lives, we each experience regular, lower-case “days”. We go to work. We grocery shop. We send some emails. We eat a sandwich. We hang out with our families. We do the stuff and have the somewhat unremarkable, rather forgettable experiences that make up the bulk of our lives. But then there are life-altering, stunning upper-case “Days”. A parent’s death. A child’s birth. The day we get married. The day you get laid off. The day you run your first marathon. These Days can be filled with joy and excitement or pain and terror, but they fundamentally change us and how we live our lives from that point forward.

My Kick Ass Award nominee, Courtney Moore, had one of those Days last December. Her daughter, Georgia, hadn’t been feeling well. She’d been fatigued and pale looking, but had no fever. This was odd because a) Georgia is one of those kids who hardly ever get sick and b) this funky feeling was lingering and so atypical. It was the holidays, and getting in to see a doctor was a challenge, but they went, thinking it was some sort of flu or virus. But it wasn’t. After a series of tests, Georgia was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) on December 30th—her 10th birthday. Two days later, she began her first round of chemotherapy.

Anyone who knows Courtney will tell you that she’s one of the most involved, supportive, patient mothers they’ve ever known. Her daughters (Georgia has a younger sister, Ivy) are her life, and making sure that their lives are filled with love, fun, adventure, and happiness is a job she is very, very good at. But even knowing that, I was not prepared for the amount of Kick Assedness she has exhibited over this past year as she, Georgia, and the rest of their family traveled on this unknown, scary journey.

Rather than let fear rule how she reacted to Georgia’s diagnosis, she instead chose to circle the wagons and fight like hell. Here are just a FEW examples of the efforts she led to kick cancer’s ass:
• She immediately started a blog to tell Georgia’s story and garner support:
• She formed “The Peachy Keens”—Her family “team” that was fighting with Georgia
• She had orange “Keepin’ Georgia On My Mind” wrist bands (a la Livestrong bands) made and sent them to whomever requested them so that people could wear them to support Georgia’s fight
• She led an effort to get comments from all continents on the globe on Georgia’s blog, and even got a comment sent from OUTER SPACE. No, really!
• She’s organized blood drives that collected 152 units of blood for Georgia (52 more units than their goal of 100)
• She shaved her head on LIVE TV to publicize an event at Dell Children’s Hospital called St. Baldrick’s, where people (including several more members of the Peachy Keens) shaved their heads to earn money for childhood cancer research
• She vowed to keep her head shaved until Georgia finished treatment
• She started a “Keepin’ Georgia On My Mind” group page on Facebook to let people know about blog updates and upcoming events and donation/support opportunities
• She met Will Ferrell (in town to host a celebrity charity golf tournament), gave him a “Keepin’ Georgia On My Mind” orange bracelet, and then documented him wearing it (which he was photographed doing…a lot!)
• Participated in the “I Ride For Livestrong” virtual Tour De France in honor of Georgia
• Threw an Amy’s ice cream party to thank friends, family and supporters
• And seriously much, much more

I could go on and on, but I think you already get the idea. In addition to all of the stuff I just listed, she was also by Georgia’s side at every treatment and every doctor’s appointment. She made sure that they celebrated every milestone and every test result that showed Georgia was winning her battle. And she also made sure that Ivy felt included and important throughout the entire year.

I only heard Courtney cry one time: It was on the phone the evening that they received the diagnosis. She was understandably freaked out and scared shitless and we sobbed together over how fucked up and unfair life can be sometimes. But once the doctors gave her a plan and a path to go down, she was an unstoppable force who never, ever, for one second let her daughters know that she had any fear whatsoever. All they saw was positivity, strength, and grace. She drew inspiration from the remarkable courage that Georgia showed each and every day and, as a result, inspired those of us who watched from the sidelines. And I’m happy to report that Georgia is doing great—she’s in full remission and started back to school this past fall. Her hair is growing back (so is Courtney’s), and they’re heading to Disney World for her birthday this year—a world away from where their family was December 30th of last year.

I have known Courtney Moore for more than twenty years, and during that time, she has always been kick ass, but this year has shown me how Kick Ass she truly is. I am in awe of her and cannot think of someone more deserving of a Kick Ass award than this amazing woman who I am proud to call my friend.

Love you, gal!

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Liveblogging While The Geej Watches "Xanadu" for the First Time

FYI: I gave The Geej the 5 min. "Greek Mythologies for Dummies" lessons that one needs to fully appreciate the premise of Xanadu just prior to us starting the movie. And then I told her there would be, "lots of music and magic and roller skating." And then, that shit was ON!!

What follows are the questions and conversations that happened during the movie. If you don't know Xanadu like I do, this probably won't make a lot of sense.

Scene: Muses being awakened off the wall due to Sonny's tearing up his painting:
GJ : "Did Santa Claus make this happen?"
"They're small people."
"That's a lot of sisters."

Scene: The album cover art workshop, right after they see Olivia Newton John (Kira) on the cover he's supposed to paint.
GJ: "Was that Lady Gaga that went by him?"

Scene: Sonny with Gene Kelly on the beach:
"Why is he supposed to paint a picture of Lady Gaga?"

Scene: When Sonny discovers Kira skating in the (future) Xanadu location:
"He's really small now. I thought he was bigger."

Scene: Back in the album cover art studio:
"They're really small people, aren't they?"

The Gene Kelly (Danny McGuire) apartment scene:
"Why do you keep turning it up, Mommy?"
(During their kiss) "Wait! Isn't that the roller skating lady who is in love with the other boy?!"
"Is she dead?"
"Why is she a spirit?"
"So...this is fiction, right?"
"Tap dancing! Whistling!"

The "Suddenly The Wheels Are In Motion" scene:
"They were flying!"
"Is it really raining?"

The 80s v. 40s imaginarium scene:
"Why are they all nekkid?" (during the 80s/Tubes scene)
"Why is she showing her butt?"

The cartoon ELO "Don't Walk Away" scene:
"He turned into a prince?"
"How many more hours, Mommy?"

During the "All Over the World" clothing store scene:
"What is THAT?!" (In response to the androgynous African-American person crawling through the spider web legs.)
"I think he looks nice in that." (Gene Kelly's 15th outfit.)

The scene when Kira's trying tell Sonny about her being a muse and shit:
"They're going to marry each other." (Right after Sonny and Kira's first kiss.)
"Can I have TWO oatmeal cookies?"

The scene where Sonny's contemplating skating into the mural of the muses:
"Why is she not alive anymore?"

In the Tron-esque "Suspend Me In Time" scene:
"That's where his girlfriend is."
(Right after Sonny gets banished from Tron/Heaven) "They're going to be together, and they're going to marry."
"Will you record this to my iPod?"

In the opening night scene:
When Gene Kelly's opening the scene: "What is he DOING?! He's on roller skates!!"
"What are they saying?" (Me: "Xanadu.") "What's Xanadu?" (Me: Sigh)
"Are they going to be back together? Mom, just TELL me!"
(When Kira/Oliva makes her big "Xanadu" entrance): "Look! She's back! How did she get back? Are those her sisters? Are they back forever too?!"
"Is he in love with someone else?"
(When the freaks on the tightrope are being shown.): "What is THAT?!"
"I like what she (Kira/Oliva) is wearing. Do you?"
"Please record every song she (Kira/Olivia) has on to my iPod."

Immediately after the closing credits started rolling:
"Mom! Let me show you how I'm going to roller skate the next time I put on my skates." (Folllwed by much galloping around the living room.)

And my job as a parent is pretty much done.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Mojo Risin'

You know how it feels when you're inspired and "in the zone" and you're mental wheels are really turning and you feel like you're being listened to and maybe, just maybe, having a positive impact? Well, it's been a long time since I've felt this way at work, which has been hard for me. But over the past couple of weeks, that has started to change. I feel like I'm beginning to get my professional mojo back, and it feels pretty fucking good.

And you know all it took? Someone having confidence in me and listening to me and respecting my opinions and experience at this place. Someone treating me like I may actually have something valuable to add to the conversation. Someone trusting me.

It's a simple equation, really: If someone believes in the best me, then I am motivated to be the best me. Sounds cheesy, but it's true.

I'm hoping this isn't a honeymoon-period thing since it hasn't even been quite two months since my team's move to our new parent team. It certainly doesn't feel ephemeral, but I suppose time will tell. I am choosing to be positive about this and believe things have really turned a corner.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

New Year Musings

2010 is in the books. 2011 begins.

Christmas was calm and lovely. The Geej woke up super early Christmas Day to find pretty much everything she'd asked for (except that Moxie Girl crap) had been left by one Mr. S. Claus. She got the iPod Touch (Santa found a pre-owned, 2nd generation model and got if for a bargain), and has barely put it down since. Dah and her man came over Christmas morning to hang out and have brunch. And then BH's boys came to town for the week. It was all good.

The boys went back home yesterday, and New Year's eve was suuuuuuuuuuuper low key. The Geej and I lunched, shopped, and practed her roller skating. It's pretty difficult to teach roller skating when you're not actually wearing roller skates. She's had a couple of minor spills (that have scared her, but not hurt her), but she's plugging away, trying to learn. The weather has been pretty amazing, so we've gotten to spend some nice time outside.

Speaking of outside, our cat Doug has been expressing a LOT of vocal interest in exploring the outside. So I got a wild hair up my butt and bout a harness for him, thinking that he could explore the back yard while on a lead. (I just don't want him cruising around outside without some safeguards because he's not too bright and we live very near a busy street--bad combo.) So how's it working out?

Like this:

Redonkulous, right?

This evening we'll have the traditional cornbread, blackeyed peas and greens (none of which pleases The Geej) in order to get our new year started out right with starch, luck and money, and then life returns to normal whe The Geej heads back to school on Tuesday.

I have no major resolutions, but I do have some wishes and hopes for this year:

Finish up the updates we're making to our carpet and kitchen.
Travel outside of the U.S. at least once (Canada? United Kingdom? I really don't care at this point.)
No surgeries or major illnesses for anyone in my family.
More writing.
Major purge of the storage room and garage.
Get The Geej into some sort of music lessons.
New glasses.
Vegetable garden.
Happy, wonderful wedding for my mother.
Professional happiness and success.
Read more books.
More bonding with my stepsons. (Perhaps an actual family trip.)
A better football season for the Longhorns.
And much, much more.
And I also hope that if you're reading this, that you have a prosperous, healthy 2011. Keep reading, okay?