Sunday, August 24, 2008

Mamma Mia, Does it Show Again? My my, Just How Much I Miss Them

A few days ago I received this in an e-mail from my friend Ellin:

We went to see Mamma Mia tonight and It really made me think about you guys, maybe it was all the ABBA music or perhaps the friendships.

followed almost immediately by this from my friend Linda:

Oh my God! My mom and I saw Mamma Mia last Saturday and the first thing I told her was that when it comes out on DVD I’m sending a copy to each of you! How wild is that? We roared.

Olivia and I finally went to see it today. I've been trying for weeks to get someone to go to this movie with me. My sister wanted to see it, but we never got it worked out. My mom and my aunt wanted to see it, but that didn't work out either. Tom said he had two reasons for not wanting to see it. Balls. But Olivia and I finally went, and we had a blast.

First of all - Ellin and Linda were both right - when I finally got a chance to see the movie it immediately made me think of them, too. Ellin and Linda and I have been friends since Jr. High. I don't even like to count up how many years that's been. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 30+. That can't be right... but I think it is.

So watching a movie about three lifelong friends (with a subplot about one of their daughters and her 2 dear friends), it was kind of hard not to draw comparisons. Olivia was laughing so hard at the dancing and the costumes. I told her Ellin and Linda and I were going to do that at her wedding. Instead of the "don't you dare" I was expecting I got an "I sure hope so!" So girls, I figure we have 15, 20 years anyway. What do you want to work on? Waterloo?

We bought "ABBA Gold" before the evening was over. Olivia was really digging the music, so I had a perfectly good excuse.

Because, here's the thing: Of course ABBA was quite ubiquitous in the 70's. I was certainly more than a little aware of it. But I wouldn't say I was a fan. I never bought a record (until today). I never squealed "ooooh! this is my song!" when one of their songs was played on the AM radio station (WCRO-the music you grew up with). So why, then, did every commercial for "Mamma Mia" make me happy to an extent that was unreasonable? Why did the movie (despite its bad reviews - whatever) make me tear up over and over? And why did the very same music have the very same effect in "Muriel's Wedding" over a decade ago? (" life is as good as an ABBA song. It's as good as Dancing Queen") I don't know. I don't want to analyze. It's just good, good fun.

I miss having close girlfriends so much.

Friendship has been a recurring theme this week. First a guest poster on The GUI Girl's blog provided a lovely and accurate synopsis of what happens to those friendships when our lives scatter us around. Then Lea spent a lot of time crying about friendship/popularity/false rumor issues at school. Then Olivia burst into tears because it's always been easy for her to walk into a new situation and make friends and middle school just isn't working out that way so far. So all three Howard girls are lonely. And sad.

A movie that features such a strong emphasis on how those deep friendships endure despite the issues of time and space was just what the doctor ordered.

Coupling it with music that - like it or not - it's almost impossible to be sad to was a bonus. And dancing. I so love a movie where large groups spontaneously burst into song and dance. (Always wondered how that would play out in the real world? Check this out) Also, if I may step into the shallow end of the Mediterranean for a moment - Greek boys is purty.

Also, Linda? Thanks in advance for that DVD... Both of you have birthdays coming up - do you already have the soundtrack?

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Horns of a Dilemma

I've mentioned before that my injury lead to an even more sedentary lifestyle which lead to inevitable weight gain.

Since then, I have discovered the size acceptance movement online and it has given me a lot of comfort. I have been presented with research that states that weight is not necessarily an appropriate marker for health. I have been presented with an intriguing study which proved that it is as difficult for a thin person to be fat as it is for a fat person to be thin. I know it would be responsible to link to that research, but I didn't bookmark any of it. Just read it and moved on. More importantly, I have been introduced to a lot of folks who eat right, exercise, and do not lose weight. This is who I was a year or two ago. The difference is, they have come to terms with it and continue to engage in healthy habits just for their health - not with a weight loss goal.

I need to find a way to get there.

When I was working out, it became an obsession for me. I truly loved it. Well, not all of it. I loved walking and I loved weightlifting and I loved classes. I didn't love cardio so much - viewed it as a necessary evil - but even with that, I got a real thrill out of setting goals for myself and surpassing them. I loved going to the gym and I loved going to the park and I loved going to total fitness classes and yoga classes - I just loved the whole lifestyle.

So why did I leave it, and why can't I find my way back to it?

Well, as a woman with extra weight, it's hard to not gauge progress by the scale. And I was very aware that others were watching. This is how it goes for a big gal in a small gym: At first, people think you're not going to last. They don't pay much attention to you at all because you're not really worth investing in. A lot of fat people join gyms. Not many of them regularly use them. Then you sort of prove yourself after going very regularly for a couple months. Regulars start to nod in acquaintance and eventually casual conversations begin. And they almost ALWAYS begin with some variation of, "you've really been working hard - how much have you lost so far?". Small numbers seem to disappoint them. "Well, keep at it, you're doing great." A few more months go by and you're up to an hour on the elliptical daily followed by lifting what seemed like MASSIVE amounts of weight a few months ago, sometimes followed by a brisk walk through the park. You are feeling fierce. But you're still fat. People give you unsolicited advice. Mostly people who have lost weight themselves - helpful, kind people who want to share what worked for them.

I started noticing people's muscles. Men and women - it wasn't a sexual thing at all - it was purely aesthetic. And more than a little envious. I could FEEL some of those muscles becoming more developed in me, but I couldn't see them through the extra layer of fat. And they looked so beautiful on other people. Some of whom weren't working nearly as hard as I was. It pissed me off.

The straw that broke this camels back was when my personal trainer told me that a lot of her other clients were telling her how inspirational they found me to be. You know, "if she can keep doing it, I can keep doing it".

I quit doing it.

Now I want to get back. I'm unhealthy. I'm out of breath going up and down the stairs. The size acceptance folks have convinced me that there really is such a thing as a "set-point", but I'm about 30 pounds past mine. I don't feel well. I know what to do and how to do it, but I'm so afraid to start. I'm afraid that if I get some momentum going again I'm going to start forgetting that it's ok to be big as long as you're healthy and start wanting to be thin at all costs. Because, lets face it, it does suck a little bit to be working harder than some of the thin folks just to maintain a fat (healthy) body. Also, repetitive cardio like the elliptical or even walking in the park gives you lots of time to think. And fantasize. "If I keep this up, surely THIS time I'll lose the weight". Realistically, the older I get, the less likely this is to happen.

And well-meaning folks do say things.

The timing is right. The kids are back in school, I only have one more week of classes. The job search hasn't been going well, so I remain basically unemployed (1 night a week schlepping pizzas hardly counts). I have time to devote to myself. How lucky am I?

So the dilemma is: how do I manage to balance taking care of myself and being healthy with accepting my outer shell just as it is?

Seriously. I'm asking.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Back to School

Well, the last child just got on the bus.

This is the part where I usually dust off some variation of: Have you ever seen a middle-aged fat chick do cartwheels?

But it doesn't feel like that this year. Perhaps it's because they're getting older and they weren't so demanding on me this summer. They were just downright fun to be around (most of the time).

Perhaps it's because with one in middle school and one in jr. high, they'll be home so damn early I'll barely get a chance to miss them. And, by the way, how did my babies get to be in middle school and jr. high? Wasn't it just last year that they were waving at me from the kindergarten bus?

Cliche, I know. But like most cliches, it got to be that way for a reason.

So it begins. Both of them in a new school. Another chance to try to get it right. I'm personally torn between envy and relief. I envy the chance to have a fresh start. I envy the chance to meet new people and learn new things in a new environment. On the other hand, I am so relieved that I will never have to face jr. high again. (I never had a middle school, so I have no personal frame of reference there). Kids are so mean. Bodies are changing. Hormones are flying around all over the place - someone's bound to get hurt. Cliques are formed. Exclusion is rampant.

Oh, baby, get off the bus! It's not too late to homeschool!

I can only hope that they find their respective niches, I suppose.

And I can make sure there are warm chocolate chip cookies waiting when they get home.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Hot List

Recently Dooce renewed interest in the freebies list. As I was reading through everyone's choices (and posted my own), I thought maybe it would be fun to further elaborate on my choices and the reasoning behind them.

First of all, the premise that these are folks you'd have free reign and full permission to sleep with outside of your marriage is bizarre to me (although I suppose that's part of what makes it fun). In reality, Tom is everything I could ever want in every way and I wouldn't cheat on him. Even with someone from the approved list. And I'm not just saying that because he's one of the 3 folks who regularly reads my blog. (*waves* hi honey! love you!)

Secondly, seriously, I'm such a squealy fangirl, if I ever had the chance to meet any of these men, I would dissolve into a puddle of sticky fangirl ooze. Sleep with them? I couldn't even speak to them.

Those disclaimers out of the way, here is my list (presented in no particular order):

Joe Perry
This is probably my choice with the shallowest motivation. It's also probably the choice that remains truest to the spirit of the game. The rest of the guys on this list appeal to me on two or more levels. Mr. Perry's appeal is completely visceral.

In other words, I like Joe Perry because he is H-A-W-T hawt.

There is not a thing about his physical appearance that doesn't do it for me. That lanky guitar god build (maybe "guitar god" is a little generous - I realize this - but "accomplished guitarist build" doesn't pack the same punch, now, does it?), that sculpted face, and that glorious head of hair. Damn, even his "Guitar Hero" avatar is hot. You know, for an avatar.

I'll confess that I always thought perhaps "Spinal Tap" was nodding at him when Bobbi Fleckman points her long manicured nail at Nigel Tufnel and says, "You. Don't talk so much". Nope. It's not his voice or his intellect that put this one on the list. Just pure and simple hot, hot, hot.

John Travolta
Well, this one started out 'cause I like 'em big and stoopid. Vinnie Barbarino fit the bill. Then there was the "American Bandstand" interview just before the movie "Carrie" came out where, when Dick Clark mentioned that "Carrie" was based on a book, the ever adorable Mr. Travolta corrected him, telling him that it was a novel, but they were gonna make it into a book. Bless his big dumb goofy heart, firmly encased in a way too tight turtleneck.

But as my tastes changed, Mr. Travolta did, too. I've always thought it was very generous of him to morph into whatever I needed him to be at the time. He grew up and became softer and more introspective. He gained weight and ditched the too tight turtlenecks. He took on a variety of roles and made me believe them all. And in every one (well, all the good ones, anyway) he danced.

Dance me, Johnny.

So. Thin, fat, young, old, sweet, evil, male, female - John Travolta has got it going on all over the place.

Nicolas Cage
The appeal of Mr. Cage seems to be something you get (hard!) or you don't. I've been known to describe Mr. Cage as "sex on a stick". Folks tend to either respond with "oh HELL yeah!" or "ew".

I was introduced to Nic Cage in the deeply disturbing "Wild at Heart". He played his character in a way that was so sincere it broke my heart. (why oh why do I keep hearing "his lust is so sincere" playing in a loop in my brain?)

I guess I just like dirty, dirty bad boys.

Elvis fetishes are strictly optional.

Johnny Depp
Well, I think it's the law or something that every woman and many men - even more than a couple straight men - include Johnny Depp and/or Brad Pitt on their list. (Brad would be my first alternate) Mr. Depp's appeal is certainly cross-generational. My 12 year old would have him on her list, too, if she were allowed to have a list, which she's totally not.

I scarcely think, given the near universal appeal Mr. Depp enjoys, I need to explain my choice. But I will - a little bit, anyway.

Just because it makes me happy.

I'd love to say I was a fan since "21 Jump Street", but I really didn't watch that. So I guess I've been a fan since he was that cute boy in the waterbed in the first "Nightmare on Elm Street". You know, the one that was actually scary.

I was trying to think of my favorite role, but when I started running them through my mind I couldn't remember one I didn't like. Some are certainly more obviously sexy than others ("Edward Scissorhands", "Chocolat" and "Pirates of the Carribean" jump to mind), but he's such an amazing actor beyond just being a great looking guy that it's difficult not to love his portrayal of Ed Wood, George Jung (the guy from "Blow") and Hunter S. Thompson. (3 guys who, let's face it, wouldn't make it to a lot of people's lists on their own merits. Well, maybe Hunter, if you were a certain sort. But I'm not)

Such a pretty boy. Such a talented actor. So gloriously weird.

Henry Rollins
Ok, I'll admit it. I'm a little intimidated to even be writing about Mr. Rollins. so meeting him, speaking to him or - you know - are completely, absolutely and utterly out of the question.

That being said, Mr. Rollins is the total package. Chiseled good looks, superior physique (because I am a master of understatement), talented writer and musician, and unflinching, articulate spokesperson for all things good and right.

I am so intimidated by his physical and mental perfection, as a matter of fact, that a little bit of me fears he's going to reach right through the interwebs, grab me by the throat, make and maintain eye contact, and call me out (loudly!) on being a wimpy, shallow, unworthy hypocrite.


Then I'd never wash said throat again.

I hate myself for loving you, you magnificent bastard.

The Alternate
If, for any reason, one of the above choices is unable to fulfill his duties, his spot may be taken by Brad Pitt. Because he's beautiful, he walks the walk, and his voice is like buttah.

Also, he brought Tyler Durden to life, and for that I will be eternally grateful.

So. That's my list.
Who's on yours?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Read Any Good Books Lately?

Since I have been such a voracious reader this summer, I decided it was time to pare down the "What I've Been Reading" sidebar. Clean it out and start fresh for fall. I did not want to do so, however, without taking a moment or two to talk about the books that have kept me company this summer.

Books I Learned Something From
This summer I indulged in a lot of fun learning.

I read Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers , Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, and Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex all by Mary Roach. I had heard Ms. Roach speak on NPR a couple years ago - when Stiff was first released. I knew then that I wanted to read her, but I just never found the opportunity. I am so glad I finally did. All three are brilliantly researched and chock full of interesting facts. They never even for a paragraph become dry, despite presenting some pretty heady scientific data, because Ms. Roach's humor and human-ness are in constant evidence. I highly recommend all of these books. Mary Roach has a gift.

I also read Quantum Wellness: A Practical and Spiritual Guide to Health and Happiness by Kathy Freston. I was less than blown away by this one. I took a few points from it, but I guess it just wasn't really my cup of tea. All the Oprah endorsements should have been a tip-off. It did provide Tom and I with a line we brushed off several times throughout Festival Season, though: "Ribs! From the backs! Of babies!" (her actual line was: "Ribs from a babies back?" p. 109)

More my speed was The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan. This book was really thought provoking. It got a little dry (for my taste) on occasion, but the payoff was worth it. I learned a lot about the food industry that I didn't know and reinforced a lot of what I did know. I wish I could tell you it completely changed the way I eat/view food. It didn't, but it has certainly made me more conscientious.

Tom recommended This is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession by Daniel J. Levitin and, while it took me a while to get through it, I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in brain development, music, or both. Mr. Levitin has a great style and he is very knowledgeable. He referenced a lot of music to make his points and I think I might have benefited from a companion CD. I learned a lot about the various effects music has on the brain and some of the findings are probably things I will utilize in my teaching. Some remarkably interesting stuff.

Biographies, Autobiographies and Memoirs

I read several biographies and autobiographies this summer and I'm not sure why. When I choose to read in this genre, it is usually because I want to know more about someone I admire (or am, at least, curious about). More often than not I'm disappointed.

Case in point:
A Boy Named Shel: The Life and Times of Shel Silverstein by Lisa Rogak. Now, who doesn't love Shel Silverstein? Our author clearly liked and admired him. But he was just - not such a swell guy. I didn't want to know that. I probably shouldn't have informed you, either. Sorry.

I didn't go into Losing It: and Gaining My Life Back One Pound at a Time by Valerie Bertinelli with high expectations, and that's a good thing. I took it out of the library, though, because I thought it would be a fun little read. I'd watched her do the talk show circuit, and I was expecting a juicy summer read full of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. While all of those elements were present, they were all just mentioned. There weren't a lot of anecdotes. When she did see fit to provide an anecdote or two, in my opinion, that's when the story got interesting. Our little Barbara Cooper. Sigh.

Born Standing Up by Steve Martin was an easy little read. I'd read Mr. Martin's fiction, so I knew I enjoyed his writing style. It was fun to see a little deeper inside this "wild and crazy guy" to see what made/makes him tick. Did you know he dated the daughter of Dalton Trumbo? Well he did. He also shares a lot of wonderful photos.

I've included Armageddon in Retrospect by Kurt Vonnegut in this section, although it might more accurately be cataloged in the "essays" section. I love Mr. Vonnegut and am enjoying working my way through his books. I still have a way to go, but I find his work to be so thought provoking that I need a little break in between each one to fully digest it before moving on to another. "Armageddon" was published posthumously and is a collection of fiction and non-fiction short stories punctuated by his deceptively simple drawings. The usual themes are presented: War, peace, love, hate. Not too deep...

Fugitives and Refugees: A Walk in Portland, Oregon by Chuck Palahniuk might not really belong in this category either, but I couldn't decide where else to put it. It is a weird little travelogue of Portland Oregon and Mr. Palahniuk (who shall hereafter be referred to as Fucked Up Chuck) says it's as close to an autobiography as he's likely to get. It's an offbeat little book which includes phone numbers, directions, and even recipes.

I've saved the best memoirs for last. When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris was everything I've come to expect from arguably my favorite essayist. (hmmm - maybe this should have been listed under essays? Nah, they always feel like memoirs to me. And I'm the boss of this post.) I laughed out loud (all by myself on my deck) more than once reading this volume. But then, that is, as previously stated, exactly what I expect.


This section is ruled by the previously mentioned "Fucked Up Chuck", the incomparable Chuck Palahniuk. Tom and I started referring to him as that after reading a couple of his books a year or two ago. His books always leave me wanting a little something to cleanse my palate when I'm done with them, so I didn't read these all in one big lump. The social statements that he makes, also, generally leave me wanting to take a little while to think before jumping immediately to the next. In no particular order this summer, I read:
Choke, Invisible Monsters, Fight Club , Snuff, Survivor, and Haunted. I cannot believe Fight Club was his first novel. Wow. Survivor, another favorite of mine, was actually written before Fight Club, but published after. I really enjoyed Choke. It is being made into a movie which is looking at a late September release. I believe Tom and I will be there opening night - something we usually reserve for Harry Potter or anything Christopher Guest has had a hand in. I'll look forward to it. I'm usually disappointed when novels I like/love are made into movies, but Fight Club was awesome in both mediums, so I'll remain guardedly optimistic. Also, both the green band and red band trailers tickled me silly. Snuff wasn't my favorite, but it definitely wasn't a waste of my time. If you're new to Mr. Pahlahniuk's (I mean, fucked up Chuck's) work, I wouldn't start with it. Invisible Monsters started slowly for me, but just past the middle it became impossible for me to put down. I'd figured out one or two of the many twists, but nowhere close to all of them. I'd figured out one of the twists in Snuff, too. Tom hadn't. He ALWAYS figures things out before me, so it made me a little nervous. I'm starting to think like Chuck... It's hard to say much about any of these books because there is just so darn much going on - it works in novel form but I could picture it becoming pretty hard to follow pretty darn fast in blog form without revealing major spoilers. I won't even attempt.

Someday this Pain will be Useful to You by Peter Cameron was my obligatory YA book this summer. It was a really well done character development story. Sometimes I think I like YA books better than I like adult fiction. Does that say something about me I wouldn't want to hear? The narrator of this story is a young, affluent, gay male. These are four things that I am not, yet I found him to be very relatable. Though very different from me on a superficial level, I found a lot of common ground.

I loved The Kite Runner, so I was very anxious to read A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. These books have truly been eye-opening. It's nice to sort of cocoon ourselves and pretend events such as those presented in these books happened long ago and far away. Far away? Check. Long ago? Not so much. Highly recommend.

Tom had heard good things about The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon so when I happened upon a copy on the library bookshelf I snatched it up without a thought. I didn't really know what to expect, and I was so pleasantly surprised! What a lovely little read! This novella is written in the voice of a young autistic boy. Mr. Haddon handles it in a way that is neither pitying nor mocking. It is warm and funny and just generally lovely.

Short Stories/Essays

I read Wild Ducks Flying Backward by Tom Robbins because I thought I'd read everything he'd ever written, and was surprised to find this in a search. Turns out I do prefer my Robbins in novel form, but this was far from a disappointment. I laughed out loud a couple times and grinned like an idiot most of the way through. Let's face it, I love his style so much I'd read it if he wrote a review of breakfast cereal. So, um, yeah. I might have a little bias.

The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted: And Other Small Acts of Liberation by Elizabeth Berg was the other collection of short stories I indulged in this summer. Total chic-lit, but I'm not above that from time to time. I found many of these stories almost uncomfortably easy to relate to. A few, I believe, will stick with me for awhile.

Chuck makes his way into this category, too, with Stranger Than Fiction - a collection of short stories and essays. It was a neat read for a fan of Mr. Palahniuk, because he gives us a tiny little glimpse inside and allows us to see from whence some of his ideas germinated. I'll warn the more gentle reader that this one starts off in particularly nasty graphic territory, but it calms down.

Coming Attractions

What's on tap for fall? I've been craving a little more Vonnegut, so I think I'll start there. But I am so very very very open to suggestions! What absolutely needs to go on my fall reading list?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

They Say It's Your Birthday...

You're the birthday, you're the birthday, you're the birthday boy (or girl)! Have a happy happy happy, sweetie!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Festival Season (Part 3)

This week we headed to Bethlehem PA for the 25th annual Musikfest. When I lived out east, this was one of my favorite festivals. I haven't been back in years, so this felt like a homecoming of sorts.

Aside from the great music (and lots of it!) the food isn't provided by standard fest food vendors. There are a lot of local regional offerings. Saturday night Tom and I split cheese fries smothered with chili bacon and sour cream. Oh. My. Sweet Loving God. Also, it's a Coke festival, not a Pepsi festival (like all the rest have been so far), so, yay.

Thursday night we had tickets to see Jethro Tull, and I don't mind telling you, I was psyched. Too old to rock and roll, too young to die. It was a pretty middle aged crowd, as you'd probably expect. Some still looked pretty cool (like Tom), but most didn't (like me). It didn't matter, we were all there to recapture a little bit of our youth. The Tull thing started for me when I was in 3rd or 4th grade. My cousin played a lot of Tull (as well as Cat Stevens and The Guess Who) to teach me that there was a world out there beyond what Tiger Beat was showing me. Good bye, Donnie Osmond; hello Ian Anderson. He wasn't as cute, but rock flute? Are you kidding me with this? It was the time when my school had us choose instruments for band/orchestra and there wasn't a moments hesitation before I said, "flute, please". Well, I never became a virtuoso or, you know, what you might call - good. I gave it up in 9th grade and never looked back. Someone should've made me watch footage of Mr. Anderson's flute hero imp on a regular basis.

The show was great. He still dances around that stage and rocks that flute every bit as well as he did 15-20 years ago when my friend Terri and I saw him in Philly. That night we joked about what a testosterone driven show it was. There were a lot of guys there, and a scattering of couples, but we were really the only two single chicks we saw. I remember she and I pointing out couples where the dude was rocking out and the chick was looking bored and saying, "I'll watch your Jethro Tull, buddy, but you're bringing me back next week for Milli Vanilli". That should help you date it. That should also help you figure out that nice isn't really what Terri and I generally aimed for...

This was, as it was oft announced, the 40th anniversary of the band. Mr. Anderson himself pointed out that that was, "really kind of pathetic".

I saw a guy with a vintage Aqualung tour shirt. How cool is that, right? Well, this is how cool: He had it tucked into khaki shorts with a belt. He wore it with white socks and shoes like my dad wears for walking. It was - a sight.

Midway (I'm guessing) through the second set, they ran into some technical difficulties. They announced this from the stage and set about trying to make it right. The crowd was drunk and antsy. They started screaming for Locomotive Breath. It was obnoxious. Then I noticed that there actually was a train going by. Maybe they're just attempting to be clever? Maybe? Maybe middle-aged folks can attend a concert - even one with a technical glitch - and not behave like asshats? Maybe? Not a chance. When the problem was fixed, Mr. Anderson came to the mike and announced, "I'd like to thank you for making so much noise while we tried to work that out. It was very helpful. Delightful." Oh, and if you couldn't tell? He was BEing sarCAStic. They played Thick as a Brick (where it fell in the playlist, or a statement?) and left the stage. It took a LOT of coaxing to get them back out for a callback, but they did come back out to close with Locomotive Breath. Mr. Anderson, who had been really engaging and charming up until that point didn't say another word to us. We were punished. A lot of hits remained unplayed that I have to assume would've been played under other circumstances. The kicker was, as we were walking out we overheard a guy in a sort of bragging voice stating (loudly), "and the funniest part is, this isn't the first concert I've fucked up". Delightful indeed.

Saturday night we had tickets to see the Christian McBride Band. This concert was held in an inside venue on campus at Moravian University as part of the Candlelight Series of Musikfest. My cousin got us awesome seats - 5th row, center aisle. I was pretty confident that the crowd would be more subdued. They were. Subdued enthusiasm. Enthusiasm, because holy cow what a lot of talent was packed into that little room! The show was going great - the crowd loved them and they loved the crowd (the audience loves me... and I love them. And they love me for loving them and I love them for loving me. And we love each other. And that's because none of us got enough love in our childhood. And that's showbiz... kid. ) I'm not the jazz fan Tom is, so I can't - with any degree of authority - say anything other than that it was really good. Then, quite abruptly after all that lovin', they stopped after one short hour. We tried for the callback, but when he came back out he told us they'd love to play for us all night, but we were all being asked to evacuate the building. There was an electrical fire. Insert your own "hot band" joke here. Go ahead. I'll wait.

Festival season is dwindling down, but the fat lady hasn't sung yet.

In the car with the radio on doesn't count, smarty pants.

Baby, You Can Drive My Car

But I don't want to drive yours, if it's all the same to you.

My husband and I have a running joke. He calls me a "car chick", which I'm totally not, (not that there's anything wrong with being one, I'm just not) because I tend to gasp a little bit when I encounter old muscle cars. (gasping occurred, also, when we got an up close and personal look at the new Dodge Challenger, too, but I digress) I like looking at these cars, but I can only assume that a true "car chick" would also want to drive one - maybe even know what's what under the hood. I am only interested in the aesthetics. I couldn't car less about what's under the hood if I tried really hard to care less. And I am waaaayyy more interested in being a passenger than in being a driver. I drive because it's what one has to do to get from point A to point B. I get absolutely no pleasure from it.

Sometimes I full on hate it.

Last week was one of those times.

A little back story: The girls (my daughters and my niece) had gone to Western Pennsylvania to spend a week with their grandparents. From there, my parents were taking them out Eastern Pennsylvania, to visit my aunt, where Tom and I were going to join them mid-week, spend a few days, then bring them home. We warned all three girls that we would all five be coming home in my mid-size car - not the motor home my BIL took them to my parent's in; not the van my parents took them to my aunt's in - my mid-size. They needed to pack accordingly.

When the morning came for them to head out east, my eldest calls me crying because she knows her guitar won't fit and she'll have to leave it till next time (not a tragedy - next time is in 3 weeks, and there are a couple few other guitars around the house). She is crying and carrying on in the hormonally charged end of the world way only a 12 year old girl could manage. Then my niece starts crying, too, because the last time she rode in my car for any distance she got car sick. The obvious association was "Aunt Tammy's car makes me puke". She called her mother and insisted that she let Tom and I borrow her SUV. My sister had no problem with this. The girls were happy. All was well.

Except for two little things.

First, my car gets about 28 MPG and my sister's SUV gets about 17 at best. Perhaps you haven't noticed, but gas? she ain't cheap. So this immediately makes a huge difference in our budget.

Second, for some reason I had told Tom ahead of time I'd share the driving with him. I knew he was really tired and thought it would be nice. We hadn't agreed on a 50/50 split, but I offered to take the middle leg of the journey - about 2 of the 8 total hours on the road - not a terribly generous offer, but more than I'd ever offered before. He happily accepted the opportunity for a little road nap.

I made the offer when I still thought we were taking my car.

My turn was supposed to begin as we got on the PA turnpike. I took the wheel of my sisters car. It's much bigger than mine. Not, you know, the wheel, but... anyway... From the moment I was handed the keys, my body went into full-on muscle awareness. I was tense from head to toe. From my hands - holding on to 11:00 and 2:00 with a death grip - to my fully engaged abs. This is total body driving. I don't really have a good explanation for why I was so tense and upset, but I was. I woke Tom at one point because I was entering a tunnel and I couldn't find the headlights. Yes, I'm that much of a pain in the ass. When I turned the car back over to Tom at the end of my shift I actually had to do a few stretches to cool down before getting back in the passenger seat where I belong.

Tom drove all the way home.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Festival Season! (Part 2)

This weekend found us at the Dublin Irish Festival and the Olde Pickerington Village Jazz and Blues Ribfest. The Dublin Irish Festival is a really large scale festival while the Pickerington Festival was more of a community event. The weather all weekend was just perfect, really enhancing the festival experience. Both were lovely, and they provided a nice contrast to each other.

At the Irish Festival, we spent a little time learning about traditional Irish instruments and crafts. We spent a little MORE time shopping a very wide variety of Celtic craftspersons wares. We ate a little; Killian's were consumed.

As for the fashion show, whereas last week the show belonged to the women, at this festival, the show belonged to the men. More specifically, men in kilts. There were a LOT of them, and there certainly was not a stereotype established. There were utilikilts (also doing what appeared to be a thriving business on the festival grounds) and tartans. Men wore them with tasseled knee socks and dress shoes, with sandals, and with tube socks and sneakers. They wore them with T-shirts and rugby shirts and polo shirts. These men were skinny, muscled, heavy; old, young; clean-cut, pony-tailed - you name it, they were wearing a kilt. I know Tom slowed down every time we passed the utilikilt vendor. I encouraged him to try one on, but he's not quite ready. He pointed out - probably (sadly) correctly so - that this festival would really be the only place he'd feel comfortable wearing one. A pricey investment for once a year.

The main reason we attend the Irish Festival each year, though, is the music. Five or six years ago we discovered that we really like Celtic rock/punk. The paradox (at least it seems paradoxical by our established cultural standards) of having a high energy punk/rock sound supplemented by accordions and bagpipes is so wrong it's right. (Side note: perhaps this goes back more than 5 or 6 years. When I was in college and boys were playing air guitar, one of my roommates always played "air bagpipes". We thought it was high-larious. Perhaps the stage was set then...) One of our favorite bands for several years now has been The Prodigals, and they were headlining the Irish Festival on the night we attended. They did not disappoint. They put on a great show. The perfect ending to a pretty swell evening.

Saturday night, I was scheduled to work in the Beer Garden at the Pickerington Jazz and Blues Ribfest. As opposed to the sprawling Irish Festival, this one had more of a block party feel. Tom and I went down early to listen to some music and eat some ribs before I had to start working. I surely do like me some ribs. Then I settled in at the Beer Garden and Tom headed home. I spent the night selling beer tickets and pizza in what was essentially someone's back yard. It had a really cozy community feel to it. Everyone was so friendly, I had so much fun talking to folks and listening to the blues. I ran into friends and acquaintances I hadn't seen in months (stoopid arm!) and, after a few beers, strangers were pretty friendly, too. The lines between very small festival and very big party got blurry and I liked it a lot.

I'm not tired yet! More festing, please!