Monday, August 30, 2010

Sex (Deleted), Drugs (Deleted) and Rock and Roll

I was going to write a post about the Rush show that was rife with sex, drugs and rock and roll. Then I remembered: My kids have access to this blog. My kids' friends have access to this blog. Relatives who speak to my mother on a regular basis have access to this blog. Steven Tyler once said, after a stint in rehab, "It used to be about sex, drugs and rock and roll. When you eliminate the drugs, you have a lot more time for sex and rock and roll." (gist rather than a direct quote - I didn't look it up - but I clearly remember reading it...) Well, that's great for his life and all - but if I eliminate sex and drugs from this particular post, we have me talking about concerts in the 70's with no mention of marijuana and - well - that's just plumb weird - not to mention vaguely revisionist. So here's what I did: I wrote the post as I wanted it to read, then I took out all the sex and drug references and replaced them with sexual reference deleted or drug reference deleted. Now. If you were born of my loins, or hang out with someone who was born of my loins, or regularly speak to one of the 'rents, sexual references refer to kissing and drug references refer to nicotine. Clearly. If you do NOT fall into one of those groups, you will have to use what I'm sure are the considerable powers of your imagination to fill in the gaps. I have faith in you that it will lose nothing (and perhaps gain something, ya perv) in the translation.

I was introduced to Rush like I was introduced to so many cool things in my life: by a boy with long curly hair. He invited me to a concert - they were touring A Farewell to Kings (or maybe - Hemispheres - I don't actually remember) and I bought Fly by Night to listen to to gear up for the show. I liked it ok, but I was really more interested in making an impression on this boy than I was in this music. It must have worked, because my drug reference deleted addled memories of the show involve a lot of sexual reference deleted.

It was ok. I wasn't ready.

A few years later, my cousin's drug reference deleted boyfriend became obsessed with 2112. He would expound upon the themes of non-conformity and futuristic societies like he knew what he was talking about. (In retrospect, I'm pretty sure he didn't.) It was all good, though, because he always had drug reference deleted. I was starting to dig the music.

When I went to college, I dated a music major and most of my roommates and friends were music majors or otherwise heavily involved in music. I learned a little bit through them by osmosis. I started to understand musical composition and I learned to appreciate the complexities set forth by this band. My freshman year coincided with the release of Moving Pictures and that went into heavy rotation in the soundtrack of my life. I didn't see that tour, but the boyfriend did - and my favorite nightshirt all through my college career was his T-shirt from said tour.

I got a chance to see them live again when they were touring Power Windows. This was significant, in that it was the first show that ever literally knocked me on my ass. I was standing on my seat (as I was wont to do in the days when I was younger, thinner, and inconsiderate towards anyone who wasn't me) when I felt my knees begin to weaken. I stepped down off of the seat, but found that I couldn't even stand on terra firma. I sunk back into my seat, my head reeling. I really couldn't stand up. I was so overwhelmed by the power of these three men - by the unthinkable talent with which I was sharing the room that I found it hard to even breathe.

I was ready now, kids.

I didn't get another opportunity to see them until last night. While they are promoting a soon to be released album - Clockwork Angels - this tour was really touted as the Time Machine tour. They played a couple songs from the new release - they had a much harder edge to them, which I absolutely dug - but concentrated more heavily on showcasing the old stuff. Their second set, for example, was a song for song replay of Moving Pictures.

Yep. The Time Machine tour. And let's face it: no-one rocks a theme like a nerd. Everything about the stage set was a nod to the time machine theme. There were little movies and even a little live action drama (and pyrotechnics!). Total multi-media experience. I'm not going to give away any secrets, twists, surprises or jokes, because I know some of you will be going to see them yourselves - I certainly hope so, for your sake, anyway. Let me just say, though, that once or twice I could almost feel the elbows of three of the most talented musicians in the world in my ribs while saying, "get it? get it?"

When they opened with Spirit of the Radio, I don't mind telling you, my friends - I wept just a little bit.

One likes to believe in the freedom of music,
but glittering prizes and endless compromises,
shatter the illusion of integrity.

Sexual reference deleted - A.

Tom says that's why there aren't many girls at Rush shows. There's no crying in rock and roll. Tom can sexual reference deleted.

Speaking of the men::women ratio - my girls came back from the restroom at intermission saying, "Mom! You've got to go out there! You're not going to believe it!"


"There was a line at the mens' room and NO line at the ladies' room! We just went in and out!"

Yep. It's a pretty male heavy crowd. Women were underrepresented, but we were there. Swooning. That's right, I said swooning. Not because Geddy, Alex and Neil are so incredibly nice to look at (because, seriously - let's call a spade a spade, here...) but because they are masters of their craft - individually and as a group. It is humbling to be in the presence of that much raw talent. It is astounding to think that so much power comes from three men. In several songs, Geddy played keyboards - he kept his bass strapped on and returned to it when he needed to - going back and forth between the two. I don't think anyone would've judged them if they'd brought a keyboard player in for a couple songs (Tom said he would've judged them...), but they didn't. All three were playing with both hands and both feet. Literally. It's quite the amazing little set up, but you don't hear a sound that one of the three of them isn't responsible for. They are what they are.

And can I talk for five seconds about Neil Peart? Nope - turns out I can't. The man leaves me speechless. I will say this, though: I was awfully glad that my little drummer had a chance to see him live.

Was it good parenting, to take our children to a concert the night before their first day of school? It was a choice.

If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

I don't regret it. As aspiring musicians, they saw the absolute pinnacle of musicianship firsthand. As writers and readers they were exposed to some of the most intense lyrics ever written. As kids who live on the fringes of the social dynamics of the suburban high school, they were exposed to the ultimate success of the ultimate nerds. That's an education, my friends, and something they'll remember forever.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Something Cool (For my Heart of Squealy Fangirl Hearts)

Ok, first let me tell you something NOT cool: I am STILL sans camera, so there are no pictures to accompany this post and that is a damn shame. We'll just have to rely on my words and your imaginations and hope that both are up to the task.

Remember a couple weeks ago when I told you about the Heart concert and Lea's panic attack and the a-hole security folks? Two days after I posted that, I got an email from someone within the Heart organization. Wait - let me backtrack. We were at the shore for a couple days - it was one of those vacations where we didn't really sleep in the same bed more than two nights in a row. (Kind of like grad school, but with less tequila.) At the destination farthest from our home, and two days after the concert fiasco, we had tire trouble. As we were wasting precious shore time in the waiting room of the garage I decided to check my email.

"OhmyGodOhmyGodOhmyGod!" I squeed quietly, trying to stay cool in front of all of the other patrons of the Atlantic City Pep Boys - wouldn't want to lose face in front of total strangers in a garage, you know.

"What?" Tom asked with widened eyes - clearly afraid that I was going to cross that line and make us look foolish. I handed him my phone.

It was an email from someone within the Heart organization. Apparently someone had posted a link to my humble little blog on one of their fan pages. She expressed sympathy that our concert experience had been sub-par and asked for the name of the venue so that they could send a strongly worded letter. She also asked for my address so that she could send me 'something cool'.

Something cool arrived today. Cool, cool, cool.

A yellow mailing envelope had been stuffed into my mailbox and the squeeing began the moment I saw the return address. I was tearing it open on my way in to the house, fingers trembling. The fine folks at Heart sent me a beautiful T-shirt, a tote bag (and we all know - I LOVE me some bags!!!!!) and an autographed picture.

I am awash in squealy fangirl glee. The T is white with a cool angel motif. The bag is from the 30th anniversary of the release of Dog and Butterfly (30 years??? THAT can't be right...) and the autographed picture is - well - it's Ann and Nancy. How could THAT not be gorgeous?

They have a new album - CD - release - coming out on Tuesday. We were lucky enough to hear one song from it before we had to leave the concert and let me just say - from what I heard - my girls and their band are in good form. So that will be entering MY collection, for sure. It's titled Red Velvet Car and - in her pre-song banter - Ann described a red velvet car as (I'm paraphrasing) that friend you can wake from a deep sleep and say 'pick me up' and they jump out of bed and come to your rescue, no questions asked.

Friends like that restore your faith in humanity, don't they?

Organizations like Heart's do that, too. They didn't owe me a darn thing. The email alone thrilled me to my squealy fangirl core. That someone found my little blog - and went to the trouble of linking it - and someone else went to the trouble of contacting me - it was enough. It was more than I'd ever dreamed of in my heart of squealy fangirl hearts. But they went further. They didn't have to do that, but they did.

I'll have to think of a way to pay this forward.

I'm going to bed tonight confident in the knowledge that (at least some) people are good.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Liv loves The Wizard of Oz. She loves it to the point of obsession. When she first discovered the movie, somewhere around the time she was three, she put it in constant rotation. She cried and carried on when anyone wanted to watch anything else. I told her about how back in my day, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, we only got to watch it once a year. Her reaction clearly demonstrated that she felt that this was tantamount to abuse.

She had the movie. She had the soundtrack. And she had the ruby slippers. Oh boy, did she have the ruby slippers. She had ruby slippers through at least three size changes. I think she may have worn her ruby slippers to bed.

She didn't stop there, either. My mom made her a (spot on!) Dorothy dress for Halloween one year. She wanted to wear it every day. When I told her she couldn't wear it EVERY day, because I had to WASH it sometimes, tantrums of epic proportions ensued. Memaw to the rescue. She didn't make her another full on costume, but she made her two little blue gingham jumpers. So now my daughter could dress like Dorothy every day. And did. When the weather got cold, making it necessary to cover her bare legs, more tantrums occurred. "Dorothy does not wear tights! Dorothy wears blue socks!" I told her she could wear blue socks over her tights, but that wasn't authentic enough. I finally found some flesh colored tights in toddler sizes and she reluctantly acquiesced. She still shot me the stink eye when she had to put them on, but at least her little legs were covered.

She yelled at me one day for having been so thoughtless as to name her Olivia, when clearly she should have been named Dorothy. She asked if there was anything we could do to change it and make it right.

She had a blue gingham comforter and my sister painted a mural of The Emerald City on her wall. Above her bed we wrote, "There's no place like home." We had the playbill from the local Childrens' Theater Company's production of The Wizard of Oz framed. She had the Barbie's and the Madame Alexander's as well as every other toy available. She had music boxes and snow globes and figurines. If this makes her sound spoiled, rest assured, she was not. She was just so obsessed - she really had little else. It made her pretty easy to buy gifts for, because she absolutely did not mind duplicates.

Once she became old enough to read - she'd ditched the costumes by this point, but the room decor remained - she started obtaining copies of the book. She had several - picture books and abridged versions and unabridged versions and pop-up books and annotated versions. Tom read an original version to us as a family between Harry Potter books one year. Do you know I'd never actually read it before that? Once she learned that the ruby slippers were really supposed to be silver - well - let's just say there was a minor crisis of faith and leave it at that.

Somewhere in that time period Tom and I read Wicked. We didn't exactly become obsessed (Giving your suburban home a steampunk makeover isn't unusual, right? Right?), but we did squeeeee every time Gregory Maguire released a new book. When the musical came out, there were large displays in Barnes and Noble (a frequent haunt of cool folks like us) and Liv was immediately intrigued. "This is about The Wizard of Oz?" Tom and I explained the basic premise, and she was in. We bought her the soundtrack and it got heavy rotation. The show, however, was a little out of our financial reach.

It toured once and we had to miss it. That was a rough month.

Liv became old enough to read Wicked. And she did. Several times. She informed me that the name Elphaba (the Wicked Witch, if you've been living under a rock and didn't know) came from L. Frank Baum's initials. Try to pronounce LFB and see what you get. I hadn't known that. If you hadn't known it either, you learned it from Liv, not me.

I loved watching her grow - watching her follow her own yellow brick road, if you'll indulge me. From the little girl in the ruby slippers to the young lady discussing the politics of Wicked; watching her go from black and white to vivid color to muted hues.

Last night? We finally took her to see Wicked. It was a good show. Changes were made from the book (which I read once and Tom read twice and Liv read countless times) but we all agreed that they worked. The music and showmanship were amazing. Far better than that, though, was the look I saw on my daughter's face every time I glanced her way. It was like the culmination of a lifelong dream for her. My baby girl was experiencing pure, uncut joy.

Maybe I should've let her buy three T-shirts instead of just one. I'm going to have to wash it SOME time.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Mixed Bag

Alice Cooper never did a song about going back to school, but he should have. Staples cashed in on that idea brilliantly a couple years back.

In years past, my running joke on the first day of school has been: Ever see a middle-aged fat chick do a cartwheel? I still might dust that one off. I've got a week and a half before the big yellow buses start running through my neighborhood.

But this year is a little different in that I'll be going back, too.

Sort of.

I got a part time temporary gig that corresponds to the school year. It'll keep me off the streets, for the most part. A public service, no doubt.

Now - this will be the first time I've had rather regular hours at a job in - well - in a long time. That will mean lots of things. I'll need better clothes, for one. But also? I'm going to need to anticipate lunch. In my years as a stay-at-home, my lunch habits have become rather - haphazard. Sometimes I skip it. Sometimes I graze through leftovers. Sometimes I forget I'm going to be hungry and grab fast food when I remember. I know. Special kind of stupid. But now I'm going to have to think about packing a lunch when I'm eating my breakfast. This is a little problematic, because I am not a huge fan of sandwiches and that is certainly the go-to lunch food for a reason. Don't get me wrong - I'll eat 'em - I'm just not a huge fan.

Ok, I know I said I wasn't going to do any more product reviews on this site, but - well - I didn't sign a contract or anything. Here's what happened: I was musing over the fact that I would have to pack lunches for work now, when I got an email from a gentleman asking me to review - you guessed it - an insulated lunch bag. I thought to myself, I thought, "Well isn't that weird? Being asked to review a lunch bag just as I'm thinking about packing lunches. That feels sort of like kismet. I think it's time to reconsider my views on product reviews."

So I did.

I reconsidered, not just because of the spooky kismet thing, but also because he and his wife operate this small business and I am a big fan of mom and pop organizations.

I reconsidered, also, because - I've said it here before - I love bags. I have been able to turn down many product reviews and giveaways, but when someone offers me a bag to review? I'm sorry. Saying no goes against my very nature.

The bag arrived more quickly than it took me to decide if I wanted it to say Tam in turquoise, Tammy in fuchsia, or Mommakin in red. (Ask my kids. This was a serious debate.)

It is black, quilted, and insulated - and I opted for Tammy in fuchsia, in case you were dying to know. There is a small pocket on one side and a zippered pocket on the other. I'm thinking cell phone in the side pocket (though it's big enough to hold more) and a granola bar in the zippered pouch for an afternoon snack. The main compartment will easily hold the average lunch. Maybe even a little bigger than average lunch. I think that side pocket might even hold my flask. Not that I'd ever need a flask to get through a work day, but it's nice to know it's an option.


It's functional, it's attractive, it's personalized, it supports small business, and the customer service is out of this world. Not too shabby.It looks just like this (except - you know - it says Tammy, not Ashley. But I bet Ashley digs it, too...)

There would be pictures, but my camera REMAINS out of commission. So if anyone asks me to do a product review for a camera, I'm totally in.

You might be wondering where YOU could get such a swell lunch bag - especially considering that it's back to school time in YOUR neck of the woods, too. Glad you asked. Click here OR the SB link conveniently located in my sidebar, and away you go. (They have a LOT of cute bags! Not just lunch bags!)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


I went to see Heart last night with my family.

I was going to write some typical squealy fangirl fare about how the first album I ever bought with my own money was Dreamboat Annie. I would've probably mentioned my massive girl crush on Ann Wilson. I might've mentioned that their concert shirt is my new favorite favorite - leave it to Ann and Nancy to offer a shirt that is feminine and pretty and SOFT and still has a respectable amount of sleeve. I will wear no sleeves before I'll wear those dumbass cap sleeves that draw a line across the fattest part of my arm. But not my girls. They gave me a PRETTY shirt that I'll actually wear. I love them so much. (Well - they didn't - you know - GIVE it to me - but they provided me with the opportunity to buy it - which is more than I can say for most bands who draw a very firm line between masculine and feminine and the pretty, feminine options are never an option for ME.)

I would've told you about the anticipation I felt - knowing they were backstage - knowing I was already breathing their air. I would've told you about the way I grabbed Liv's hand and screamed when I saw Ann preparing to walk onto the stage. I would've told you about how Nancy still looks like she did when I saw them last - in 1980 - touring Bebe le Strange. Her guitar hero poses are so full of girl-power and feminine/ballsy paradox that it makes me weep in a happy confusion of vulnerability and strength. I love them so much. (I said that before? No apologies. It bears repeating.)

I would've told you that I was singing every word (well, lip synching every word - no-one had paid their hard-earned to hear me sing). I would've probably mentioned that Liv leaned over during Dog and Butterfly and asked me to help her remember which song it was so she could learn it when we get home.

I would've told you all of those things and more, and you would've been pea green with envy.

But these dreams have a way of ending like a needle scratching it's way across a beloved LP. It just hasn't been that kind of summer for me.

About five songs in, I allowed my adoring gaze to leave the stage and take in my family. I just wanted to see if they were all still 'with' me. I wanted to see my own enjoyment reflected back at me through their faces. To my immediate right, Liv was digging it. To my far right, Tom was digging it. But where was Lea? She was sitting down; shaking and crying. Panic attack. Shit. "Do you want to leave?" I mouthed - concerned. It was very hot and crowded. She shook her head in the negative - not wanting to ruin this night for me. Tom offered to take her to the car and said they'd just wait it out in the car until the show was over. I said, no, we came as a family, we'll leave as a family. I thought if we could just get her out onto the concourse, away from the stifling heat and crowd she'd be ok. We could listen to the rest of the show from there and watch it on the screens. Not exactly the experience we'd hoped for, but it would do. (I think the title of my memoir might be in that last sentence somewhere...)

We made our way out of our row (To the great annoyance of all the people we walked in front of, I'm sure. Sorry.) and were immediately descended upon by a team of rent-a-cops. Just one couldn't have possibly handled the imminent threat of a family trying to get some air for their shaking, crying child. They were - hmmmm - less than gentle. They added a heaping dose of humiliation to what was already an unpleasant situation.

We left - about halfway through the show. I spent the whole walk back to the car composing a strongly worded letter to the venue in my head. (It never made it any further than that. They rarely do.) It would've talked about all the people who were actually breaking rules and being public nuisances while their crack security staff concentrated on keeping the perimeters safe from the clear danger presented by my little family trying to make it's way to an exit. It would've talked about money and how long we have to save to buy 4 tickets (and 4 T-shirts) for a show, but that we do it, because exposing our children to music is a priority of ours. It would've talked about how long I've been attending this festival (somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 years) and how, thanks to the quick and completely thoughtless actions of their security folks it is unlikely that I will return. I was attending this festival before I had my children - before I met my husband. It has been a part of me. I am SO over it. My little boycott will hurt no-one but me. I'm not stupid. I know this.

For anyone who might be wondering, Lea started breathing easier as soon as we walked out, and by the time the air conditioner in the car was hitting her full blast, she was fine.

I'm fine, too. It was only one concert. What's that - really - in the grand scheme of things?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Guilty Pleasures

We've all got them.

Maybe your day isn't complete until you've watched Kathie Lee and Hoda.

Maybe when no one is around you sing Barry Manilow hits from the seventies and weep a little bit when you get to the part about it all being very nice but not very good.

Maybe you can't wait for the next Danielle Steel project to hit the bookshelves.

(Two lies and a truth in the above, regarding the guilty pleasures attributed to yours truly, by the way. I don't think you'll have to tax your powers of deduction too hard to figure it out.)

It became apparent this morning that I actually have quite a few - maybe more than my share. I was reading the paper over the breakfast table when I said aloud, "We ought to go to this!"

"To what, Momma(kin)?"

"There's a book signing today."

"What's the book?"

"It's a rockumentary (if you will)."

"About who?"

"Who's my number one guilty pleasure?"

"Kid Rock?"


"Beastie Boys?"


"Lady Gaga?"

"Crap. I have a lot of guilty pleasures, don't I?"

"Yep. Is it about show tunes?"

"No. What does that say about me? That I have so many guilty pleasures?"

"That you harbor too much guilt?"

Mouths of babes.

"Yeah.... I don't wanna play this game anymore. It's about Poison."

A guilty pleasure two-fer, if you will. I like good music (and I like Poison). I like good literature (and I like rock tell-alls). And I am on vacation. If you can't indulge yourself with a double shot of guilty good stuff on vacation, when can you?

I've been taught not to judge a book by it's cover, but I think this cover just might be the selling point when I ask Tom to take me to the mall on what is HIS vacation, too. He makes fun of my occasional fondness for trashy books and trashy bands, but he can't deny his own fondness for trashy women. (You know - looking at them - not marrying them or dallying with them. Just so we're clear.)

Oh my God, look what the cat dragged in.

Ok, I showed you (a small portion of) mine - you show me yours! What are your guilty pleasures? Inquiring minds want to know! (You got that reference, didn't you? Aha! You read supermarket tabloids! I knew it!)

ETA: I went to the book signing and met the author, Christopher Long, who was quite gracious and charming. One of the primary photographers was there, too, and she even took a little time to talk to Lea about rock photography. Haven't read it yet, so I'll let you know. (Goodreads, ya'll!!! Join it and make me your friend, if you haven't already! Check the sidebar!)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Might as Well (Not) Jump

I was going to write a nice little post about my High School reunion. It was gonna be full of old friends and jello shots and puppies and gobs and watermelontinis. You would've loved it. I was going to mention the sound grown women make when they greet each other after such a long time apart (kind of a hybrid of the tween/teen squeeeee! and the college girl/young adult woman wooooo! - and don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about, 'cause you do). I was going to mention the things that change and the things that don't. I was going to talk about actually putting your arms around someone you've been virtually (((hugging))) for two years - and feeling theirs around you. I might've made a gentle winking reference to reading glasses and pill-minders and hot flashes. It would've been the feel good post of the year.

It would've been those things - it was all written out in my head - I just needed to find some computer time.

Between the time I wrote it in my head and I actually got computer time, though, something awful happened.

Classmates posted their pictures.

And I died.

There were seriously tears as I looked through the first batch, and numb resignation as I looked through each subsequent batch. That is NOT me. How can that be ME?

The pictures weren't the only reminder that things had indeed changed (for me). A lot. Let's just put it this way: If you're significantly overweight and have degenerative arthritis in your knees and David Lee Roth tells you you might as well jump, you should probably ignore him because it will be a very bad idea and hurt for a week. It won't hurt as much as looking at those pictures, but still...

Damn, I wish I could find a way to make the outside match the inside.

I'm not - this.

I'm nothing like this.

I guess you're just going to have to trust me on that one. Can you trust me more than you trust your eyes? Can you take that leap? Can I? Or will what's inside eventually morph into something as ugly as what's outside - just to bring balance to this dichotomy?

I know - there are people in the world with real problems. Hell, there are people in my very immediate world with real problems. People I love are hurting - and I am literally brought to tears because of what I look like. It is shallow and ridiculous and vain. I need to get over myself and put it in perspective.

And yet...

People tell me the pictures are great, and I die even more - because in most cases, the people who are saying this would die - DIE - if they looked in the mirror and saw something that looked like me gazing back at them. (Wow - drama much? Read that sentence again and see if you can't manage to swoon just a little. You know. Before you DIE!)

I just need to avoid cameras. They are a serious buzzkill. And - despite all I've said here - the reunion really DID provide a pretty darn good buzz.

And as badly as my knees hurt now? I'm still glad I jumped.