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guilty pleasure monday: magnet and steel (walter egan)
Mar 31st, 2008 by wrekehavoc

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the 80s were often silly times, musically speaking. but there is inherent silliness, methinks, in a lot of music from the 70s (music that now resides mostly on office radio stations and in elevators). that’s around the time band members really started embracing the term artist. yes, a word to describe geniuses like pablo picasso (who was never called an asshole) and my fave, paul cezanne (the father of cubism) was now being bandied about by people to describe people like leo sayer.

there’s something inherently silly about thinking this is serious art. (sorry, OTC. i know that’s a fave of yours.) enjoy it, sure. and i suppose it is art because it simply exists. but don’t get all hoity-toity and pretentious with me. it’s a hershey kiss when what i really want is some serious belgian chocolate or at least a little cadbury imported from england. i like hershey’s, but it’s not exactly what i want on most days.

but today is guilty pleasure monday, so i’ll tell you want i want. (what i really really want.) magnet and steel by walter egan. back in the day, the best way to get a song plugged into sales overdrive was to get some heavy-duty backup singers; and that’s what seems to have happened with this little gem. i think both stevie nicks and lindsey buckingham sing backup on this puppy — you certainly can hear stevie nicks, no problem. i love the way the song lazily propels itself forward, kind of like BC on a school morning when she dawdles to get dressed, eat breakfast, and get her backpack together before she ends up late.

anyway, i love this song precisely because it sounds so 1950ish with a slow rock groove, only to get all 1970s with the bridge/chorus, then revert. the bells, which you can hear if you listen reallyreally closely in that part, add a sort of sonic rainbow. (anyone else feel the love? groovy.)

and, if nothing else, the lyric you are the magnet and i am the steel is just a terribly clever pickup line. i’m imagining guys in leisure suits or mid-70s bellbottomed coolness using this and probably succeeding.

while walter egan is still quite active — apparently, he is teaching a popular music course at georgetown — i don’t think he ever had another hit. (please correct me if i am wrong.) i wonder if anyone else remembers this song. anyone under the age of 40ish, that is.

ars longa; vita brevis.

sigh. i suppose as long as there are light rock stations gently lulling office workers into a midafternoon daze, there will always be a home for a lot of 1970s top 40 fodder, stuff that people probably, at the time, thought was work that would stand the test of time as seriously important, especially with two members of fleetwood mac tied on for good measure. like this one. even if it’s not great art, you can still dance to it.

s l o w l y.

three is a magic number
Mar 30th, 2008 by wrekehavoc

yes it is. it’s a magic number.

and in my case, things come in threes. not always fabulous ones, but three. no more, no less. you don’t have to guess.

1) BC, jools, and i were getting into the car when suddenly, i heard squeals. EWWWWWWWWWW! and NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! i looked quizzically at my kids, who are pointing to a tulip, which has not yet bloomed with flower but which has blossomed with a dead bat beneath it. no, not a mouse. not a rat. not a squirrel. not any of these woodland creatures. a B-A-T bat.

animal removal is not part of my contract.

2) woodland being the day’s leitmotif, BC, jools and i decide to take a nature walk behind BC’s school. we walk all the way up a huge hill, then down a steep one, dodging the woodland creature poop, and visiting the creek. i say visiting because i know better than to tempt fate: i will not take my kids too close to a creek when it’s chilly out and fate is laughing at me, daring me to tempt her. no one is getting soaked on my watch. nature’s no fun when you can’t interact with it, BC complains.

too bad, i counter. fate freaks me out more than nature does. i know fate is waiting for me, waiting for that perfect moment, waiting to hit that perfect beat.[note to self: bronski beat definitely qualifies as a guilty pleasure moment. be sure to annoy people with that down the road.]

we move on to the schoolyard playground and play. i am responsible for snack at brownies, and i figure we can play for a short while and then leave with just enough time to drop BC off for her scouting fun. only, too bad for me. i just give my two minute warning to the kids when jools says: uh. is there a bathroom here?

uhm. there is. when school is open. do you need a bathroom? i ask.

uh. it’s ok. i am just a little wet.

i do the mom eye roll. r e a l l y?

uh, well no.

the dude who has been day-trained since, well, since a long time, decides to let the rains fall, metaphorically speaking, just at the moment when i need to pack the kids up and rush them over to the brownie meeting where i must deliver a child and some snack. on time.

crap.

we race home, change, race back, and all’s right with the world. well, for most of the world. not the bat, who is still there, pushing up a tulip.

3) i decide nature is overrated. we are inside now, and inside we will be until tomorrow. for reasons i don’t really understand, jools decides to punch a seedling i have growing in the sunroom. the day before, he took out his little boy scissors and decided to trim some of the leaves of the seedling. leaves it didn’t need to leave. and now, he has given it a whack, something i didn’t know you could do to a tiny plant. it would just have never occurred to me.

i figure the boy is mad at nature. mother nature deposited a bat in our front yard. mother nature neglected to call him in time, so to speak. so whack, take that, mother nature! if only the boy understood: it’s not nice to fool mother nature.

i have a feeling we ought to stay indoors for the rest of the week.

sick city
Mar 27th, 2008 by wrekehavoc

elton

i look a little like this when i’m sick.

after weeks of little people coughing on me, trips to petri dishes teeming with germs the pediatrician’s office, and an evening in cold night air, i’ve come down with a dilly of a cold, preceded by a day of never-ending bloody nose. mmm. you want to come and have a cup of tea with me, i’m sure.

so i’m bummed. i was going to have lunch with some old friends, but i want to share love, not germs. i’m going to nap, but when i’m sick, i spend time just vegetating. last night, while surrounded by tissues and attempting to breathe, i watched a new show, i know my kid’s a star, starring danny bonaduce. i admit that there are times when i am addicted to reality tv like the next person; i remember the early series’ of real world on mtv (you know, before people on the show slept with other people on the show — at least, not on camera.) and i loved watching the osbournes in spite of the fact that the kids made me crazy with their spoiled behavior.

but this show pulls reality tv into a shameful place.

all parents think the sun shines out of their kids’ backsides. and now, there seems to be a serious wave of stage parents who must see their children more as a mealticket instead of as their loving offspring. young people who started out as child film, tv, or movie stars are imploding all around us: britney spears, lindsay lohan, even mccauley culkin. and yet somehow, these people overlook that. they claim their kids want this. and maybe the kids do.

you know, my kids want to eat candy all. day. long. it’s my job as a mom to say no, not just to be mean, but to teach them and protect them.

honestly, i didn’t see a talented kid in the bunch, anyway; but that didn’t stop parents from spending serious money and time on making their kid a star. except for one, all of the parents were clueless about how the business of hollywood works. and it’s abundantly clear that one parent, rocky, is pushing her star fantasy on her child. she clearly needs to be on camera and won’t let her daughter practice alone. the pressure she puts on her kid is unbelievable: let’s buy that dreamhouse.

why not just let the kid get barbie’s dreamhouse instead?

reality tv is exploitative; and if you’re a grownup and you sign up for that, then fine. but there’s something incredibly creepy about the fact that these are children. little kids who are going to be humiliated from coast to coast. it’s wrong.

i’m going to go take some cold medicine. to blot out the pain.

DIY
Mar 25th, 2008 by wrekehavoc

you can pick your friends.

you can pick your nose.

but you can’t pick your friend’s nose.

–anonymous

maybe you can’t pick your friend’s nose, but you can hire people to pick the lice out of your kid’s head. in fact, you can outsource all sorts of parenting challenges, from toilet training to saying no. some of the things you can get someone else to do for you, quoting NY Magazine:

  1. … TEACH HIM HOW TO RIDE A BIKE
  2. … TAKE HIM FISHING
  3. … TALK TO HIM
  4. … IMPART GOOD BREEDING
  5. … TEACH HIM THE BIRDS AND THE BEES
  6. … GO ON COLLEGE TOURS
  7. … DRIVE HIM EVERYWHERE

understand that i’m not completely innocent here. when BC was young, we had a hell of a time teaching her how to sleep, compounded by a never-ending ear infection, reflux, and an inability to gain weight, which meant she needed to be fed around the clock. i read books, i tried a zillion things. the girl wouldn’t sleep. it caused problems in our health, our family life, our work and everything else.

to make a long story short, when jools was beginning to exhibit serious sleep issues, i heard of a magical person who would help us teach hellboy how to sleep. it was a good thing, too, because BS and i could not agree how to handle the problem. i probably would have never let jools sleep anywere except in our bed or in my arms until he was 40; BS would have simply closed the door and walked off into the sunset, leaving the boy to scream. all. night. long.

(when you’re sleep-deprived, few ideas seem insane.)

this was nearly five years ago, but for $300, this person performed nothing short of a miracle. she taught us how to teach our son to sleep. her sleep solution, somewhere between my and BS’s ideas about sleep training, put us dazed parents on the same page, allowed us to continue dream feeds for a time (jools, too, was underweight), and get the boy to sleep through the night pretty rapidly. the dude is still the best sleeper in the house, and it’s all thanks to the extremely wonderful magical sleep person. if i ever see her again, i will hug her endlessly.

by teaching us, she saved my family.

i often wonder about why some people have children. i think kids are just sort of part of an expected tradition in our society: get married, get a house, have kids. but some people simply should not breed. maybe they simply aren’t ready; maybe they’ll never be ready; maybe other things are more important to them. get a cat; don’t make a baby. unlike any other relationship in your life, the parent-child bond cannot be broken. you can divorce your spouse, ignore your siblings, end friendships.

but your child will always be your child. not an accessory. a living person who requires your involvement and your guidance. it doesn’t matter whether both parents work inside or outside of the home. it’s not the quantity of the time you spend — it’s the quality. and while every single solitary moment does not need to be a Mr. Rogers moment, there are certain things that a parent ought to do. and there are certain things a parent should want to do.

i wonder why parents outsource certain activities. teaching your kid to ride a bike and taking them fishing (or shopping or whatever your recreational activity of choice) — these are fun times not to be missed. and what parent doesn’t want to be there to ask and/or field questions when touring a college? (you can bet your ass i am going to make sure i find out about the party situation on campus and be as involved as the kids will let me when the time comes.)

and simply talking to your child? discussing sex? teaching him/her how to be a decent person? hello??? this is why you’re here. to share your ideas about how to be a kind and contributing member of society. it’s one thing if you need guidance on how to do any of these things; as the cliché goes, kids don’t come with a manual. so seek out help if you need it with some of the thornier parts of parenthood. read books. talk to clergy or professionals. ask friends or relatives.

but when the actual doing needs to get done, do it yourself.

guilty pleasure monday: what’s he got by the producers
Mar 24th, 2008 by wrekehavoc

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ah, it’s guilty pleasure monday again. all the guilt. all of the pleasure. (at least for me, anyway.) if you’ve heard of this one, then you’re probably my age, or maybe a teensy whit younger or older. it’s a tiny little subset of american humanity, and it’s probably the only group who may actually recall this evanescent blip on the new wave radar.

the producers were an very early staple on very early MTV — you know, the station which formerly played music videos but now shows music videos only at random hours and moments, sandwiched between stupid reality shows and dorky dramas featuring incredibly spoiled people who have no grasp of reality? yeah, that one.

i loveloveloved watching videos on early MTV. didn’t care if people were just standing and faux playing in front of a moving background. loved it anyway. before that, i would watch videos during half-hour shows on my local cable station. i still remember watching split enz and devo being sooooo awed by the direction in which music seemed to be going. finally, something different from the 1970s pap which, while i loved, i had outgrown.

and i adored watching music on TV. i lived for those moments when i could watch videos on don kirschners’ rock concert or even american bandstand (with the ever-so-creepy dorian grey dick clark. he made me nervous, but i wanted to see and hear music, so i made some sacrifices.) so when MTV exploded into my world, i wanted my MTV, and i wanted it bad. at first, my cable carrier didn’t carry it, and i would go to friends’ homes in other towns and hope that they would put it on if they did have it. but soon enough, i had my MTV.

and i loved it. for awhile, anyway. then i got a life. but that’s a whole other story… 😉

so back to the producers. they burst onto MTV as a peppy, adorable new wave group. i think they even hosted an MTV new years eve show, or were on it, anyway. i don’t think much happened for them after that — i often wonder why. but they still tour, playing their brand of peppy pop. and i love pop. i don’t care who is singing it: a good hook is a good hook. it pulls you right in. and what’s he got has one.

it also has a favorite prom memory for me. (shut your eyes, dad. i know you’re reading this.) a fairly well-known jersey shore bar band, bystander, played my prom, a fairly non-memorable evening for me, as my then-boyfriend was away in north carolina or somewhere equally interesting. so, i went with a good friend from out of town whom i adored and who happened to be very, very attractive — just not to me, i had a boyfriend, remember? — and so several girls in my school were practically hanging all over him (poor guy), wondering what the hell he was doing with me.

naturally, i didn’t want to watch the good women of toms river north fawning all over my date (who, i’m sure, was enjoying the attention. and, as a good friend, i didn’t want to ruin his evening.) bo-ring. so, i took off for awhile and hung out with my friend sebouh, a guy who i hope i see again one day, in spite of the fact that he lobbied the entire senior class to vote for me as class pessimist just because he thought that would be hilarious. (i won.) (can you believe it? i can’t.)

bystander suddenly broke into a cover of what’s he got. sebouh and i started to pogo (yes, children, things like that passed for dancing back in those early 80s days). and as they sang:

what’s he got that i ain’t got?

immediately, i yelled out: A DICK!

(well, it’s TRUE! i am a girl, you know. a seriously classy 18 year old girl at that moment, to be exact. dad, i told you to cover your eyes.)

people around us thought that was hilarious. girls and guys began to chant that at the appropriate place in the song.

yep. i don’t remember much about my prom. but i remember that moment, thinking wow, i couldn’t unite these people to do a hell of a lot. but i could unite them into screaming an obscenity.

that, my friends, is power.

(or, perhaps, a lot of kids just dying to rebel.)

peep show
Mar 22nd, 2008 by wrekehavoc

IT’S EASTER! time for the washington post sunday source’s peep diorama contest!

my vote of course, when not going for my friend wah’s contribution, would definitely go for say anything, if not reservoir peeps.

words
Mar 20th, 2008 by wrekehavoc

i was tagged by that crazee, childbearin’ gal who-comes-from-alabama-with-a-coupla-babies-on-her-knees (while simultaneously cooking, cleaning, and creating nuclear fission in her kitchen) — ms. onthecurb (via amy derby, whose blog i also like to read) with a meme: share a favorite quote and dedicate it to three other hapless lucky bloggers who keep the love going.

i am a lover of words and quotes, so this is a toughee™ for me. yes, beware the jabberwock english major, for she, yea she, possesses a poetic license and is not afraid to use it. yep. i can quote myriad biggies. there are so many who have inspired me. but anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that my favorite poetry comes from music. and although i know i am supposed to pick only one, there are two lyrics, one by aimee mann, and a simpler one by bruce springsteen, that are hugely influential for me and which seem to work together here.

first aimee mann, from it’s not safe:

All you want to do is something good
So get ready to be ridiculed and misunderstood
‘Cause don’t you know that you’re a fucking freak in this world
In which everybody’s willing to choose swine over pearls

for those of us who are (or think we are) relatively pure of heart and truly aim to do the right thing every day — teaching our kids to be decent people, treating other people kindly, and viewing issues in a global way — even though the world sometimes seems to be in conflict with that goal. for those days when you marvel at other people’s children, or other people’s parents, or just people in general who just loathe you or rip into you simply because you’re living your life your way. it just seems, as mann points out, not safe, to live that way. it rips your heart in two; it occasionally embarrasses or hurts your loved ones; it might not seem like you’re doing the right thing after all.

but then bruce simply and succinctly cuts to the chase. from new york city serenade:

It’s midnight in Manhattan, this is no time to get cute
It’s a mad dog’s promenade
So walk tall or baby don’t walk at all.

or, more to the point, as the divine ms. m once quipped, fuck’em if they can’t take a joke.

i tag these folks, four of the many who inspire me to walk tall every day, even when i step in a field of dog doo:

o for obsessive

nylonthread

everyoneisdoinit

and

mamabird

okay. so that’s four. two quotes and four bloggers. see, math is hard for us english majors 😉

in my house
Mar 19th, 2008 by wrekehavoc

dear playdate person who seems to have mysteriously landed here friend,

welcome to our home. we’re very glad you’re here! please enjoy your time with my child. let me tell you a little bit about what i expect, conduct-wise, when you’re in my house.

i am honestly delighted to provide you with a snack or lunch or whatever foodstuffs i might have on hand. please let me know whether you have any food allergies; i don’t have an epi-pen handy and would prefer the playdate not end in the ER.

also, regarding food, i have been teaching my eldest child that when she is a guest, she can indicate preference for food if her host gives her a specific choice; however, she is not to turn up her nose at things but try them unless they are pork or foods she knows she cannot have because she’s a red sea pedestrian. (i’m quite proud of the way she actually ate a sandwich on whole wheat bread the other day at a playdate and didn’t say boo about the bread. that’s one major leap for parentkind.)

how nice it is that your parents will make you a completely different meal if you don’t like what they’ve made for dinner. that rule, unfortunately, does not apply in my house. please, if you don’t like something, simply say no thank you. diatribes about how nasty a food is are not necessary. further, i’m sorry if you don’t like the brand of frozen pizza, peanut butter, or what have you. if it is unsuitable, i suggest you eat before you arrive.

you may not go upstairs and play in my room. that’s my room. i’m the mom, and i say so.

the vents come out of the floor. i don’t know why. that doesn’t mean you ought to pull them out. they actually are somewhat functional and probably aren’t appropriate for use as a child’s toy.

that pinball machine? it’s a vintage 1980s piece of our family history. my husband, BS, looked for three years until he found it and bought it. he carefully had it shipped first to the airport and then to our home, where it was put together. is it a little crazy to have a 20 year old pinball machine in your home? perhaps. but it is the same game we played when we were dating back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, and it is probably among the top five of the most romantic gestures my BS has ever made for me. hence, while i don’t mind when you and my child play the game, i would appreciate it if you did not angrily bang the glass each and every time your turn ends.

do not act mean to my younger child. while he is a major bruiser and is known in these parts as hellboy, he is still nearly 5 years younger than you are and doesn’t take kindly to insults. as he is a boy of a certain age, he also may resort to physical expressions of his displeasure. and, if i know he has been provoked, i will of course attempt to stop him from such expressions, as i know he can probably hurt you a lot worse than you can him. and i will make a mental note.

despite the fact that casa de wreke usually looks like a bomb hit it, do not be fooled into thinking that the floor is a proper receptacle for trash.

i love loved the pretty tulips. the ones you just trampled. is it customary to step on garden flowers in your own yard? please do not step on them in mine.

i truly enjoyed your explanation of how you get your way in your own home. it was especially entertaining to hear how you have taught your sibling your technique. i would humbly suggest that when that child is a little older, he/she will respond as hellboy would: he/she will whack you. worse, he/she will use it on you. just so you know.

i know you think i’m a mean, hardass mother. please be aware that i expect the same behavior and deportment from my own children. i really do like you, you know. but just as i am teaching my own children how to behave when they are guests in others’ homes, i am expecting that your parents have been doing the same. alas, to paraphrase something my BS often reminds me about others, i cannot expect that everyone in the world has been raised by me. (more’s the pity.) so don’t be alarmed if i gently remind you of our home rules as the situation arises. i am treating you, in essence, as i treat my own.

yours,

wreke

p.s. you’re not sleeping over.

you never give me your money
Mar 18th, 2008 by wrekehavoc

as my MIL always says, class shows — no matter how low.

unhappy with her ex-husband’s lawyer, heather mills decided to throw water all over fiona shackleton, former solicitor for paul mccartney during their less-than-collegial proceedings. this, after being granted about $48 million dollars after only four years of marriage… oh, and that figure doesn’t include money for their child beatrice’s education and protection, jewelry, and important works of art. and no, we don’t mean some candlesticks from the wedding — this means works by warhol, haring, john lennon, and julian schnabel. not too shabby.

the UK papers are having a field day with her latest ranting: it’s hard to pick which is better:

The former model’s face is all over today’s front pages, accompanied by unfavourable if funny headlines after she was awarded £24m in the couple’s acrimonious divorce. The Sun excels with “Mucca chucksa cuppa water over Macca’s lawyer Shacka“. The Mirror plumps for “Wet it be“.

all the laughter aside, what i find appalling about this case is that mills’ rants are so self-centered. it’s all about her. when she speaks of beatrice, apparently conceived immaculately, as she is always her child, she worries that the little girl will not be able to travel first-class like her dad does. i suspect sir paul won’t let beatrice languish — heather is fighting to have information about what paul will pay for bea’s care kept private —  but one does wonder — if she’s concerned about stuff like that, what about all the acrimonious things that may end up as public record down the line? what happens when bea reads that stuff? what is she to think? and will mills poison the child against her father?

in every breakup, everyone shares some piece of the blame. macca i am sure has contributed to the breakdown of this union. but mills bizarre public behavior, ranting, and obnoxiousness generally makes one wonder whether she got what she deserved? she probably got more than she deserved. as a feminist, i am somewhat appalled by those who would stand up for her and say that she is a deserving partner in all of this. these are monies earned long before she entered the picture. what makes her entitled to them? i don’t begrudge the child a thing, but the mother?

ugh.

so sad, so sad. it’s just another day.

guilty pleasure monday: lady (styx)
Mar 17th, 2008 by wrekehavoc

i’m really going to get laughed off the internet for this one. or at least sent to hell via a certain river.

no, not the chickenmaster’s lady. not lay lady lay (which makes me want to vomit — what the hell was dylan thinking? was this recorded pre- or post-motorcycle incident?) not even layla, a fantastic ode to patti boyd harrison clapton boyd-again.

we’re talking styx here, people. lady. as sung by dennis de young, maybe vocally separated at birth from my very favourite professional poker player, daniel negreanu.

i love this song. and it ought to be against some law for anyone else to sing it.

i glommed onto this song when i was a wee lass of nine. there was something cool about it — it was slow and pretty, and, at the same time, it was fast and rrrrrockin’. (yeah. for those of you under the age of 40, that’s how people talked in the 1970’s. far out, man!) i remember being reminded of the song one night when i heard it while watching a late, lamented show, freaks and geeks.

and i hearted it all over again, much to the chagrin of my BS, who probably prefers something like, uh, i dunno, mr. roboto.

which just goes to show you. styx, in one way or another, is probably on everyone’s guilty pleasure list.

anyone over 40, that is.


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