guilty pleasure monday: american tune (paul simon)
Jun 30th, 2008 by wrekehavoc

in honor of the US’s big birthday bash later this week, i’m sharing:

guilty pleasure monday: the patriot version.

(no, we’re not listening to god bless the usa; i think that song and lee greenwood should just be launched into iraq, where the people there will surely think of something suitable to do with them both.)

american tune, a song paul simon produced sometime just after he split with partner art garfunkel, is a very simple, but moving song. i often listen to it; i imagine if woody allen had been a folky, this would have been the song he would have sung. the narrator (who allegedly wrote this, depressed after Nixon won re-election in 1972) is world-weary, wondering what’s gone wrong, a thought sadly still relevant.

what some don’t realize is that the song is an old, old tune, a re-working of a J. S. Bach chorale from St. Matthew Passion (which J. S. ripped off from Hans Leo Haßler, who wrote it as Mein Gmüth ist mir verwirret, which of course translated means my ferret is on fire. kidding on the translation, though the ripoff is true. shame on you, johann.)

this, in turn, has been reworked throughout the ages for other purposes. one of my favorite reworkings, originally sung by the weavers and unfortunately only available as a 30 second sample, is peter, paul and mary’s because all men are brothers. despite the somewhat dated lyrics (yellow, white or brown? not sure where that would put me in the color lineup. someone hadn’t heard of estee lauder’s palette then, apparently), the lyrics still grip me and ring true:

My brothers and my sisters forever hand in hand
Where chimes the bell of freedom there is my native land
My brother’s fears are my fears yellow white or brown
My sister’s tears are my tears the whole wide world around.

(see, i like me some folks tunes about brotherhood.)

which brings us to rhymin’ paul simon, who apparently followed the tradition and ripped the tune off for himself, calling it now an american tune (because apparently early folk incarnations, citing brotherhood, wouldn’t do for america: brotherhood, apparently, is not american. ripping things off and calling them american? now, that’s as american as the original colonists themselves, isn’t it?)

and his tune is personal. it’s not about the greater community of humankind, like those early, dare i say it, socialistically-minded folkies sang. it’s about how he is sad. and tired. and introspective. it fits in nicely with the me generational thinking of the 1970s, which blossomed in the 1980s and which hasn’t quite progressed in much of our populace in modern days.

ah well. happy birthday, america; rest up. we’re not always on the side of right, but we’ve done okay historically, and there’s always time to change the road we’re travelling on today. we have a lot more fight ahead of us to make the world a better place. and we have a lot more fight in us to do the right thing and make it so.

let’s roll.

We come on a ship we call the Mayflower,
We come on a ship that sailed the moon
We come at the age’s most uncertain hour
And sing the American tune
But it’s all right, its all right
You can’t be forever blessed
Still, tomorrow’s gonna be another working day
And I’m trying to get some rest,
That’s all, I’m trying to get some rest.

(words by Paul Simon music by JS Bach/Haßler)
Many’s the time I’ve been mistaken,
and many times confused
And I’ve often felt forsaken,
and certainly misused.
But it’s all right, it’s all right,
I’m just weary to my bones
Still, you don’t expect to be
bright and Bon Vivant
So far away from home,
so far away from home.

I don’t know a soul who’s not been battered
Don’t have a friend who feels at ease
Don’t know a dream that’s not been shattered
Or driven to its knees.
But it’s all right, all right,
We’ve lived so well so long
Still, when I think of the road we’re traveling on,
I wonder what went wrong,
I can’t help it
I wonder what went wrong.

And I dreamed I was flying.
I dreamed my soul rose unexpectedly,
and looking back down on me,
smiled reassuringly,
and I dreamed I was dying.
And far above, my eyes could clearly see
The Statue of Liberty,
drifting away to sea
And I dreamed I was flying.

We come on a ship we call the Mayflower,
We come on a ship that sailed the moon
We come at the age’s most uncertain hour
And sing the American tune
But it’s all right, its all right
You can’t be forever blessed
Still, tomorrow’s gonna be another working day
And I’m trying to get some rest,
That’s all, I’m trying to get some rest.

it don't come easy
Jun 28th, 2008 by wrekehavoc

today, i share the tale of the Easy Bake Oven. it will be a tale much like another famous tale, though it involves no curtains. mercifully.

it’s starts with a little girl. let’s call her BC, shall we, as we always do around here. when BC was about three years old, she went to a chanukah party at her uncle BTD’s house. there were many children there, as her uncle has five kids, and her uncle’s wife’s family has a lot of children and cousins. at this party, everyone had presents to exchange; everyone, except the uncle, who had presents for all of the other children but no present for his beloved (and at the time only) niece, BC. probably a little oversight on the busy present shopper’s part.

in any event, bless BTD’s heart: this is conjecture, of course, but it appeared that after BC’s beloved uncle scrambled upstairs, and then downstairs, he presented BC with a gift he had plucked from an upstairs closet from thin air: a brand-new Easy Bake Oven. BC loved this oven; only, too bad for her. EBOs are for children age eight and up. no matter how mature madame was at this age, she was not ready for an EBO. carefully, her grandmother whisked the present away to toys r us, where she exchanged it for something a little safer for a spunky three year old.

fast forward to our hero, the now-eight-year-old BC. that same grandmother, remembering how much her granddaughter wanted that EBO, got it for her for chanukah. her other uncle, the lovable, right-wing nutball larry, supplied a whole bunch of EBO mixes to keep her own personal glycemic index at about 1000. happy days are here again, right?

not quite.

for our hero, who had not yet fully developed her ability to read fine print, took the giant long cattle prod pushing tool and shoved it into the oven, lodging it permanently inside the oven, even before she had any chance at baking anything. oh woe, she cried. her mom, desperate to dislodge the long plastic thingy, called up hasbro for guidance. unfortunately for all, hasbro and our friends at the cpsc had just announced a recall of the EBO. apparently, other things were getting entrapped in the ovens. (things called fingers.) dutifully, BC’s mom and dad packed it up and returned it, as they had been instructed. the mixes lingered, but the oven was gone with the wind postal service.

months went by, months when hasbro said they might rebuild it; or then again, maybe not. eventually, they issued a $25 gift certificate for any item on considering the shipping, it wasn’t the best offer in the world. (BC’s mom promptly lost the offer, so in truth, she’s just rationalizing because she felt so guilty.) in time, BC’s evil mom, fearing that the mixes were going to be nastier than nasty, chucked them as well.

fast forward once again to this very date, a date which shall be remembered for so many things. for one thing, BC’s brother jools celebrated a whole week of dry nights; he was to be gifted, as promised, with a shark slip and slide. (after weeks of obsessing about this item, he decided to choose two other items instead as his reward.) for another, BC achieved straight As on her report card. and, remembering that a child had been denied her EBO for so many years, BC’s parents caved bought her her very own EBO.


but woe to BC: her mixes are gone. BC’s mother, being cheap industrious, located DIY EBO recipes on the internet, as she knew the three included mixes would last about two minutes. and after BC’s dad returned from the store with a lightbulb (the secret to those crispy crusts delicate cakes heated plastic oven walls), we set forth on our baking adventure.

#1: yellow cake (one packet) with chocolate frosting (one packet), baked especially for the man who bought the lightbulb.

#2 and #3: chocolate peanut butter fudge, one serving shared by wreke and jools, this serving was affectionately dubbed gloop for it’s consistency. imagine the fine taste of confectioners sugar with a slight brownish tinge. the second attempt, eaten by BC after a stint in the fridge, fared a little better.

BC had a great time, though her mother, wreke, was left with the realization that the same woman who would not buy wreke an EBO was willing to do so for her grandchild. no, instead, wreke realized that her own mother, aka the grandmother, was willing instead to let wreke use the real oven instead.

in retrospect, it was probably safer.

lift me up
Jun 26th, 2008 by wrekehavoc

i’ve just returned from lifting at the gym. it was uneventful, i am glad to report. the only one there from tuesday was the original man, who stared at me when i walked in. i grinned big and said, “HI!” and he left me alone after that. there were several other men in there, and eventually, one other incredibly fit woman. no one paid attention to me (though one guy was staring at the other woman at one point. i only noticed because i was waiting for the barbell, and he was waiting, in between reps with the barbell, watching her. still not wonderful, but whatever.), and i paid little attention to them.

it was a beautiful thing.

exercise lifts me up. i seriously end up sad when i cannot take care of myself the way i need to. if i keep this up for life, i may end up corraling some of you into becoming a sort of online workout club. i want you all to grow old with me and to feel as good as this 🙂 it’s great to do cardio, but i feel like women don’t get a strong enough message to do strength training. gaining muscular strength is where it’s at, as those old hipsters would have said. you help your bones, you help maintain (and obtain, in my case) a better weight situation (especially since muscle burns more calories than does fat), and you probably can kick someone’s ass in a dark alley.

(just kidding on that last one. well, at least for me, anyway.)

and no, you don’t have to spend your life on machines. in fact, when i am using machines, i am more likely to “cheat” and be too comfortable. (in other words, yes. i am actually doing pushups.) (commence laughter.) the workout i’m following, which uses few machines, lasts only about 35 minutes and a three-day/week commitment. it’s great to do cardio on two or three of the other days if you like. but i see these cardio bunnies on the elliptical, men and women. they spend an hour on a machine and don’t push themselves much. (there’s one woman who regularly reads the Washington Post on one of the machines. you should see her toss the sports section.) if you don’t push yourself to a higher intensity, you’re not really getting the full benefit of the time.

of course, i have my little POS hot pink sansa clip with me, loaded with my usual assemblage of weird songs. (who knew that i was thinking i could clean up for christmas would be an inspirational workout song?) at some point, i would love to start amassing suggestions for workout playlists which don’t include any current crappy pop. (i’m very open to new music; i’m just not open to the stuff that stuffs up the Top 40.) if you’ve any suggestions, drop me a comment.

after all, i need a change. i may be the only person who hangs out on the elliptical tripping to this:

i probably look like a complete dork, but it’s almost a religious experience 😉

well the madcap laughed at the man on the border…

pump it up
Jun 24th, 2008 by wrekehavoc

during the school year, i hit the community center gym roughly at 9:15. it’s a great time to be at the smelly cheap wonderful facility, as the pre-work exercisers are on their way and the only ones left are:

1) the senior citizens, who play some weird, cultish game that is a cross between tennis and badminton (and they’re out for blood, man. seriously.);

2) the stay-at-home moms, including the new moms who do stroller stride around the track, desperately wishing for post-birth fat removal;

3) the junior high kids at their PE class — the community center gym is their gym, so you see four or five track stars running gym teacher mandated laps, followed by the herd, followed by four or five kids who you just know are already heavy smokers;

4) the one token woman who shows up in the weight room and who looks like a tough prizefighter; and

5) the fire fighters, who, during their non-call moments, are bulking it up in the weight room.

there are a few other regulars, mostly men who i wonder about. unemployed? shift workers? serial killers? who knows. one approached me when i was new and wanted to help me work out, but i casually flashed my wedding ring and tried to pawn him off on another lady. i rarely wear my rings, as i lift weights, so that was my lucky, albeit inexperienced, day.

but it is a known experience.

this week, i have to get to the gym after 1 pm, as that’s when i am childless for a few hours. i like to work out before i hit the supermarket; working out keeps the world safe from ring-dings. so i hit the gym, precisely at 1:00. it is summer now, so there are no PE kids to dodge. and apparently, at 1:00, the seniors must be having their naps. the new moms aren’t there, either — it’s prime baby napping time, too. and no firefighters to speak of. (sigh.) even ms. prizefighter is gone.

this left me with several men, some older, some younger, in the weight room. the only girl. i brought my new weightlifting bible with me, set it down on an unused bench, and started my routine. as i picked up my barbell and started lifting, i saw an older lifter looking at me. looking angrily at me. a look that said: what the fuck is a GIRL doing here? he glared at me pretty much for the entire 40 minutes i was in the room. i just focused on my workout. i mean, maybe he was just having a crappy day? or maybe he was constipated? i dunno.

i walked over to pull on some other weights. i noticed a younger guy looking at the bench where my book was laying. shoot, have i broken some gym etiquette, i wondered. i walked over and apologized. no, he replied with a smile, i was actually just looking at your book. well, the cover with the picture of the hot chick, anyway.

i started to do some step ups on a box that was covered in astroturf. these things kill me, but i feel better in the end after doing them. in the gym mirror, i noticed another one of the younger guys, just staring at my wisconsin-sized ass from behind. was he admiring my form? was he pissed that i was taking up space in the tiny room? was there a rip in my capris? i’ll never know. i was a little creeped out, but i just kept on.

finally, i had to get a ball and do these weird-ass jackknife things. an older man somewhere in the 50-60 range, hair parted and maybe bob dobb‘s dad, walked right up to me. what the hell are you doin’? he asked, snottily.

by this point, i had pretty much had it with the men. i can understand why some women join wimpy-ass places like Curves, but when i did a trial week there, it didn’t do anything but aggravate the shit out of me and waste my time.

i got up and looked him in the eye. it’s called a prone jackknife.

he looked at me. what the hell are you doing that for?

to get stronger, i replied. i’ll show you how to do them, then why don’t you try a few?

hell, no, he replied.

then, he left me the hell alone.

no one, but no one, is kicking darla out of the he-man woman hater’s club.

what's the frequency, kenneth
Jun 24th, 2008 by wrekehavoc

this week, one of BC’s best pals is hanging out with us. because their names rhyme we decided they’d go by codenames. don’t ask how we got there, but BC’s pal is now going by moose and BC is going by the moniker of squirrel. (somewhere, jay ward is laughing. i know i am.) the plan is that every morning, we do something (or nothing), then every afternoon, the girls go over to the ice skating rink for skating camp. BC’s pal is one of the nicest kids around; they have been friends since they were about five or so, and having her around is a pleasure.

yesterday, things didn’t go completely to plan, though. jools had to stay home, as i needed to take him to the pediatrician’s to get his friday TB test checked. (happily, he is TB-free.) so i had two young ladies of around nine and one little newly-minted five year old. jools only wanted to play with the girls, and the girls preferred playing without his presence. there was much whining and gnashing of teeth. i took them to one of our great sprinkler parks, hoping that there would be something for everyone. and there was, for a time, until jools was too chilly and moose needed a knee repair after getting a bit of a scrape.

re-enter the whining. i don’t think i have ever seen jools so whiny. it was frustrating. hours and hours of never-ending whining. they took my scooter! they won’t let me in BC’s room! they don’t want me around! as the youngest child in my family, i knew all-too-well the joys of this scenario, as i experienced in many times over. i talked to him about it, too. but as he was over-the-top in his mood, i was beginning to wonder whether he was actually not well.

we dropped the girls off at camp. i encountered an obnoxious parking deck checkout woman who looked at her nails while my free 15 minutes in the parking deck turned into 16 minutes and a $1 fee. we hit the doctor’s office — no TB, remember? and then, we went for a swim, just mr. whiny-pants and me. and d’ya know something? the dude was happy. he was swimming to me, diving after his spiderman dive stick, and playing with his little girlfriend, jo-jo. in fact, when he gave his dive stick to jo-jo to borrow and some young cad of about their age came by and took it from her, you had to see mr. man inflate himself and yank it back. i thought they were going to come to blows, so i ambled over, only to watch jools get out of the pool and put the dive stick back into my beach bag. he then returned and just continued to swim with jo, who was not bothered by the loss of the stick (and who then got whacked in the head by a volleyball gone wrong. poor kid.)

all in all, a most pleasant afternoon.

we picked up the girls. moose is a more skilled skater than is squirrel, and apparently, the powers that be at the rink noticed this and wanted to place her in a different camp. no, moose told them, my father signed me up for this camp and this is where i want to be. what a loyal, sweet girl! i dropped off moose, and the fighting continued.

ah, sibling rivalry. is there no one it can’t unhinge?

guilty pleasure monday: to sir with love (lulu)
Jun 23rd, 2008 by wrekehavoc

as the school year closes (at least around here — most of the rest of the nation has been out of school probably for six months by this point, but not OUR schools, which stay open practically until the next millenium), i am inspired to revisit an old chestnut from the teacher-who-tames-the-unruly-and-impossible-class genre. it’s another one of my 4:30 movie favorites, to sir with love, starring brilliant actor sidney poitier and a host of other mostly-english actors you’ve probably never heard of.

in typical hollywood fashion, the movie completely bowdlerizes the novel, down to the fact that when the girls burn something in poitier’s classroom, no one ever tells what’s causing that smell. (it’s a sanitary napkin. used. yech.) not to mention the fact that london’s east end in the mid-1960s was a very rough place, thanks to kray-zee guys like these. (i, of course, follow the east end of london closely, the current bowdlerized version anyhow, via eastenders. so i should know. of course.)

but i rabbit on digress. and this is about guilty pleasure songs, not films. apparently, the american idol folks had lulu on in the not-too-distant past, reviving this old chestnut. i’m sorry i missed it but am glad i can still see it, for while i avoid AI like the plague, i do like seeing old singers trotting out their hits. and it is a lovely song, much better than the crap lulu ended up singing for eurovision a few years after.

too bad for her, though: she can no longer feel parts of her lovely face. no more botox for you, lulu!

so is there a point to all of this? let’s see:

1) the east end of london is not a groovy disneyland;

2) you ought not set fire to your kotex under any circumstances;

3) love your teachers and sing to them often;


4) botox — or buttocks, as BC mistakenly calls it — is probably not a good option.

pictures of you
Jun 19th, 2008 by wrekehavoc

props to onthecurb for stealing this groovy idea. and i’m stealing her verbage, in case kids want to try this at home:

The concept:

a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first page, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd’s Flickr Toys: mosaic maker.

The Questions:

1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food? right now?
3. What high school did you attend?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert?
9. What you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One Word to describe you.
12. Your flickr name.

1. Sheryl Crow -Vancouver, 2. Peanut Butter Cup Heart, 3. Toms River High School North Marching Mariners, 4. eccentric beauty, 5. you really don’t have a blog?, 6. Fishin’ Remuz, 7. Arched people, 8. Spicy Mini Chocolate Lava Cakes, 9. We are fuckin Rock Stars, 10. wildwood crest – windblown, 11. colorful world12. Not available13. Not available14. Not available15. Not available16. Not available

wise up
Jun 17th, 2008 by wrekehavoc

i’ve been on a cleaning and purging kick lately. i am of the opinion that the things which have been collecting around my house are weighing me down, both from a neatness perspective as well as a psychological perspective. which is why i thought this was a bit interesting.

every now and again, i have chosen to write about something which got my proverbial goat. it’s probably why i blog. i write for release, for therapy, and cos it’s so gosh-darn fun. so it was fascinating to me what i found when i cleared out my old franklin tool from the organizational cult of all cults planner. i’ll just type it verbatim. i would point out that this was written while i was a new mother of an eight month old who was struggling to balance work and home, with no one to help me except for BS.


Today, S [my then boss] and I met for lunch to discuss my future. She is retiring on Nov 30 and wanted to know my plans because she wanted to know whether I wanted to be recommended for her job or whether i wanted to do something else. I told her I would be pleased to manage the XXX group, that I thought very highly of my XXX colleagues, and that such a position would be instructive to me — that I would bring plenty to the position, having managed people before, but that I would learn much, too. But I also told her that I enjoyed strategic work and liked figuring out process.

She said I didn’t seem so enthusiastic about managing the team and that she really needed to lobby if I really wanted the job because someone is concerned that I leave at 4:30 each day. I told her that whenever I am needed to stay later, I have made arrangements (such as when I was covering SP2 for her a few weeks ago and had to stay late to deal with a problem it had.) And I come in earlier, which is better for my customers [who were in Europe and Asia.] She said I should come back to her on Monday and let her know what I think.

eventually, i was lateralled into another position. someone i had trained got the position. the same person who was promoted over me while i was on maternity leave because i looked so tired when i brought the baby in to visit that they didn’t think i was really coming back to work after maternity leave. i especially appreciated it when S, my direct supervisor, tried to sugarcoat the whole thing. yep. made it all better. not.

for nearly 10 years, i have been trying to clean and purge the anger i have felt about being penalized at work because i was a new mother, penalized by a company which, incidentally, won a best company to work for by working mother magazine. (what a laugh.) i did my job — and i did it well, if i may say so — and yet i was scolded for not keeping the same hours as my boss’s boss. nevermind that i was available to my customers who were in different time zones. nevermind the conference calls i had to take some evenings, while my colicky baby fussed.

i had to suck it up. for financial reasons, i had to suck it up. plain and simple. i had to feel tremendous shame and anger at being passed over — twice — because basically i was a mother. no one else in my group was a parent at that point. (i still remember when some of the women freaked out because i had to pump in the ladies room. it’s not like i could do it in my cubicle.) and every day, i had to come in with a smile, a smile which hid some incredibly venomous feelings, feelings i had to swallow in order to continue doing what i was paid to do.

i sucked it up until march 2000 when i was free at last. ironically, i was called back to the same company to work again, only to eventually leave because a new supervisor had a serious issue with my prenegotiated schedule. you know, the ironclad one i ensured i had before ever starting work there again — the one that gave me my tuesdays with my girl? it never impacted my work. and yet the new supervisor — childless, btw — could not deal with the situation. instead of talking to me about it, she yelled at my direct supervisor. for hours. fortunately, i was in a position this time to leave at will. which i did.

i am so lucky to say that i have had some amazing bosses in my life. i still communicate with several of them; i count them among my friends. and yet here i am, remembering an experience which really and truly soured me. i often wonder how many women end up in this situation?

i need to wise up and purge it. it’s done.

but sometimes, that’s easier said than done.

guilty pleasure monday: we live for love (pat benatar)
Jun 16th, 2008 by wrekehavoc

Actually, there are three girls at Ridgemont who have cultivated the Pat Benatar look.

-Linda as played by Phoebe Cates, Fast Times at Ridgemont High

admit it. if you’re a girl of a certain age, you remember that spikey, longish-short hair cut. the stripey tops with the slightly puffy sleeves. that swollen, chipmunk face. that heavily overdone eye makeup that we all wish we could have pulled off ourselves. and those deadly, operatic pipes.

pat benatar was definitely a killer queen of sorts in the early 1980s. she and her band rocked with such hits as hit me with your best shot, you better run, and heartbreaker. for my part, i was simply glad that we were moving away from those aurally-boring earthmamas and ladies who graced the world with to-the-floor gypsy wear (paging stevie nicks!) i welcomed the chipmunk chick — she seemed like someone who would kick christopher cross’s ass and eat peter cetera for lunch.

of course, i still have nightmares about the embarrassment that is love is a battlefield: careful. piss me off and i might shake my tits at you. i can’t remember whether it was letterman or conan o’brian who showed that one relentlessly, though i suspect it was the former (who also showed stevie nicks’ edge of seventeen relentlessly, too. just so you know: no woman singer is immune.)

but that came later. for now, i will share with you the fact that i adore pat when she sings we live for love. sure, it is a shameless disco song by a rocker chick who was probably begging for airplay by any means necessary. but it is a fun song, filled with her sweet, high voice.

back in the days when we, too, could experiment with makeup and no one would say: oh, that’s just too young for you. when we could cut our hair really short and wear extremely tight leggings and not care about whether our circulation was going to be negatively affected. we could wear too much makeup, and, well, so was everyone else. and we could wear those incredibly awful shirts and look like frantic bumblebees.

cos back then, we lived for love, too.

Jun 14th, 2008 by wrekehavoc

so very, very sad. tim russert was a part of our sunday mornings for years.

and now he’s gone.

my heart goes out to his oft-mentioned family. this was a guy you knew was a real person and a proud dad. in fact, his son had just graduated from college.

public figures die all the time. but i feel this one profoundly, if only because he was so very, very real.

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