guilty pleasure monday: i feel love (donna summer)
Oct 27th, 2008 by wrekehavoc

donna summer’s first hit, to my memory, was love to love you, baby, a song i loathed mostly because it was rumored that she was actually having sex while recording the song, a concept that just was too incredibly repulsive for my ten-year-old mind to wrap around…and something which she wasn’t doing , of course. but just as i hated hearing certain sounds through dormitory walls in college, i certainly have no interest in secondhand sex. i still hate the song. (for all i know, that youtube link above may be cut off. i heard two seconds of it and shut it down. and then, i washed my hands.)

so why, you may ask, am i thinking about donna summer? well, recently, i put together a playlist for a disco bat mitzvah that my synagogue is putting together as a fundraiser. it won’t be my bat mitzvah, even though i actually was bat mitzvah’d in 1978 (and have the hideous pictures, complete with thick, plastic, rectangular glasses to prove it.) i suppose you could say i have a certain level of expertise in this area: i was the DJ for the disco club that year in my intermediate school. (can i get any dorkier, please?) but it should be a fun time. making the playlist allowed me to dip into the magical world of disco, a world i avoided in 1978 — at least around the cool people —  because it just wasn’t done in my family.

and one of the songs i’ve rediscovered is i feel love, perhaps one of the first disco songs to be completely backed by synthesizers. it sounded very futuristic to my young ears, as it still does today. in fact, i would boldly note that it almost hints of the new wave music to come. it’s impossible to talk about this song without mentioning giorgio moroder, the producer of many of summer’s hits (including the loathed love to love you thingy above.) he has worked with some of the most famous names, probably disco-fying or electrifying their works. whether or not you like this stuff, he was especially influential during the ’70s and ’80s. (i have him to blame, apparently, for ruining the band berlin, giving them the song take my breath away, a song which essentially took my band — and the contents of my stomach — away. how could he do this to the band that made sex (i’m a) — with HIM?)

anyway, i feel love is not a terribly complicated song. but you hear summer sing, you are lifted up by the chord progression, and the chorus makes you feel joy. pure and simple.

i’d rather feel the joy myself than listen to someone else’s joy. so to speak.

Note to the six people who read GPM faithfully: Guilty Pleasure Monday will be on hiatus during the month of November so that we can bring you Blatantly Bad ’70s Music ALL MONTH LONG as part of National Blog Posting Month (aka NaBloPoMo)! So think of it as a month of really awfully guilty pleasures. If you’ve a tin ear, that is!

Oct 22nd, 2008 by wrekehavoc

recently, there has been a lot of discussion on a moms list i’m on about FluMist — whether it’s better to get a flu shot or let your older-than-two year old sniff up that misty stuff. as a mom who has a daughter who wildly hates shots, this is something near and dear to my heart. (in fact, i’m embarrassed to state that BC has not had a flu shot yet this year, thanks to her performance when she hid under a desk. it took two nurses, a doctor, and me to get her out. but i’m going to get her there.)

my kids cannot have Flu Mist, and it’s all my fault. see, Flu Mist is a live vaccine. you shed that yummy influenza germy goodness once you get it, and if you’re in the vicinity of a person who has a weakened immune system, you can make them deathly ill. so it’s shots for them, all the way. (we also have fun thinking about other live shots. i just try to make sure they get it right after i’ve had my IVig so that i have maximum infection fighting power in me, should i get sick. don’t know if it would actually work in reality, but it’s the only thing i can do. those kids are not going without their shots. period.)

i do get nervous about FluMist, though — there are a lot of grandmas and grandpas, for example, who may be exposed to their recently-misted grandkids. and they may get really sick because of it. and we’re not talking just a simple cough or sniffle.

still, at least i guess they’re getting vaccinated. it just reminds me of the situation with antibacterial soap and gel: someone devised it, thinking it will be an exceptionally easy way to kill even more germs than regular soap. what it does now is make those bacteria stronger and more antibiotic-resistant. but progress is all about making things easier for us, and this soap and gel was supposed to be emblematic of progress. and it is: progress gone awry. and now, we’re so damned frightened of making our kids have a few seconds of pain that we crave another solution, even if it might mean a public health problem for others.

i wonder whether ours is the first generation to wuss out over shots, as a friend put it.  we do not remember the polio epidemic; we cannot recall smallpox. we don’t know how horrible certain illnesses can be. heaven forbid our children have moments of pain, as if the pain is worse than the medical issue it’s meant to stave off. and some vaccines aren’t perfect; people sometimes get chickenpox even after receiving the vaccine. but the vaccines help more than they don’t; and i feel very strongly about immunizations.

that’s why i am sick to my stomach about a homeschooling network that exists specifically to homeschool because they do not want to give their children immunizations. i find this repugnant. while i have learned a lot about homeschooling since shooting my mouth off awhile back; and while i have a new respect for some who have chosen that path; this, to me, this particular thread is an outrage. this is not about education; this is a public health issue. to me, it’s tantamount to child abuse: these kids are sitting ducks for measles, polio, and other horrible illnesses. and no, it’s not just a week in bed and they’re better again, people.

and what will you do then — pray that they get better? exhaust your healthcare (if you have it) or else exhaust tax dollars (if you don’t)? all because you didn’t want them to get a shot?

i get really sick and tired about parental paranoia over the government. our government isn’t perfect. duh. but people talk about federal agencies as if they are composed entirely of automotons. guess what, folks: government agencies have just as many mindless people as you do in your office. there are people who care, and people who don’t. but mostly, and especially in the health sector, they do. people stake their careers on getting the info right. they know they have other peoples’ lives on the line. they’re not advocating immunizations because they think it’s a fun thing to do: they do it because they think it’s the right thing to do. and not just for your child — they’re thinking more globally. that’s what public health is all about.

so just as i will get extremely pissed at parents who let their babies swim in pools without plastic pants on (they put them in huggies swimmers and then marvel that their poop gets through, closing the pool down for fear of an E coli experience), i get extremely pissed at the parents who don’t immunize. oh, you say, you can’t trust the government. you don’t want the state telling you what to do with the precious children you’ve been entrusted.

i wonder who the hell entrusted you with those babes. if it was G-d, She must have been having a day off and you lucked out and squeezed through anyway.

guilty pleasure monday: fame (irene cara)
Oct 20th, 2008 by wrekehavoc

any movie that could inspire me to iron and press my long, straight hair… any movie that could convince me that i could — and should — actually sing… any movie that could fill me with awe that there were kids out in the world actually living a far more grown-up existence than i was at the time… well, it’s got to be a film great, right?



damn. i spent hours bemoaning the fact that i somehow never even thought to get into julliard or NY PA (never mind that i was living in the wrong state at the time to even qualify.) my high school’s talent show never looked like this:

though we did have a very out-of-tune girl attempting to sing this:

to be sure, when i saw the movie, my 15-year-old-self did not fully understand the plot. in fact, recently, when i read a summary of the film, i scratched my head: that happened? wow, how did i miss THAT?  (i suppose i shall have to find a copy and try again.) but i remember the urgency i felt to be living a more creative life, once i saw these kids singing, dancing, and leaping their way into the world. (it took me until i was nearly 40 to get there, but hell, i never was a prodigy like these kids.)

i always thought irene cara had a voice that could lift a truck in the air and throw it to earth many miles away. i always wondered why she never became huge.

but i always remembered her name.

ring of fire
Oct 16th, 2008 by wrekehavoc

when i was a junior in high school, i was granted a Board of Education scholarship to attend the Bennington July Program at Bennington College in Vermont. it was the best summer experience i ever had, hands down. i took a drama class, spending hours practicing shakespearean monologues (i still can remember my inability to fully imitate my teacher, leroy logan, and his booming voice as he went on…the barge she sat in BURNT on the water… the poop was BEATEN gold…etc), a flute class, a piano class, a music theory class. i still think fondly of a trip to tanglewood, where i dozed on a picnic blanket, listening to ozawa conduct the boston philharmonic in a delicious stravinsky program. i composed the music to a play, and i played osa johnson in another play. i played for hours in the piano rooms. i ran through green fields that made me want to sing like julie andrews.

and, i immersed myself in my writing. i wrote poetry. i wrote an evil short story i wish i could find — i think still it was one of the best things i ever wrote. i wrote everything and anything.

in short, it was a 30-day creative explosion in my head.

one day, my creative writing teacher gave me a poem, my favorite ever since. i kept the ditto’d work with me always, traveling to different schools, different homes, different states. and then one day, i noticed the shreds i possessed were gone.

until now. thanks to the internet, i actually finally found the poem. i never knew it had been written by a hebrew feminist poet, dahlia ravikovitch.

i think i’ll share it in its translated glory.

for Yitzhak Livni

You know, she said, they made you
a dress of fire.
Remember how Jason’s wife burned in her dress?
It was Medea, she said, Medea did that to her.
You’ve got to be careful, she said,
they made you a dress glowing like an ember,
burning like coals.

Are you going to wear it, she said, don’t wear it.
It’s not the wind whistling, it’s the poison
You’re not even a princess, what could you do to Medea?
Can’t you tell one sound from another, she said,
it’s not the wind whistling.

Remember, I told her, that time when I was six?
They shampooed my hair and I rushed out into the street.
That shampooing
trailed its scent after me like a cloud.
Then I got sick from the wind and the rain.
I didn’t yet know how to read Greek tragedies,
but the scent of the perfume spread
and I was very sick.
Now I can see it was an unnatural perfume.

What will become of you, she said,
they made you a burning dress.
They made me a burning dress, I said.  I know.
So why are you just standing around, she said,
you’ve got to be careful.
You know what a burning dress is, don’t you?

I know, I said, but not about
being careful.
One whiff of that perfume and I’m all confused.
I said to her,  No one has to agree with me,
I don’t trust Greek tragedies.

But the dress, she said, the dress is on fire.
What are you saying, I shouted,
what are you saying?
I’m not wearing a dress at all,
what’s burning is me.

kill the poor (blog action day)
Oct 15th, 2008 by wrekehavoc

welcome to blog action day 2008. the subject: poverty.

morning in america has become the evening of the poverty of the soul.

those go-go 1980s, the ones which promised everyone mo’ money, mo’ money, mo’ money; the decade which started the true rise of the walmart-ization of the US [motto: you can have everything you ever wanted — you can pay less for it, and we’ll buy it all from china, where we can pay eight year olds to make this cheap, unsafe crap — damn the social, economic, political, health, or even environmental ramifications]; the era where we forgot all consequences of our actions — consequences, shmonsequences, a president teetering around 80 won’t need to deal with the consequences for more than a few more decades. remember them? the ’80s psychological fallout is present all around us.

in short, the 1980s, as fostered by ronald reagan, made it quite acceptable to bash the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. it made it okay to be mean to those less fortunate.

it made it okay to not care. period.

people on welfare? they all want to be on welfare, those lazy good-for-nothings. (i’m shocked that they didn’t bring back debtor’s prisons.)

damn taxes all around. the government shouldn’t be taking my hard-earned cash to pay for infrastructure. if it doesn’t affect me personally, i don’t need to pay for it. schools? i have no kids. elderly? i’m young. and those ‘special interest programs’? i’m a white male. no one’s looking after me. why should the government be paying special attention to minorities or women? we’re now a nation of knee-jerk, egocentric whiners: whatever it is, i’m against it.

sound familiar? these self-serving attitudes permeate the land to this very day. they’re even celebrated in places like Fox News, i daresay.

yes, the decade that made selfishness a G-d-given-right has helped to shape our current circumstances. the clinton era, while clearly not nirvana itself, attempted to swing things back some through failed efforts for the common good, such as the push for universal health care (though the flourishing tech boom reinforced the whole greed is good bit — believe me, i met my fair share of ’90s gordon gekko geeks), but somehow, americans then voted in droves for a president who would revalidate their selfishness about everything.

how patriotic can you be if you don’t wave a flag and affirm america the greatest country in the world?

how much can you possibly love this country if you spend time criticizing those in power, just because you wish the country to be a beacon to the world for freedom… and compassion?

we have become a nation where so many have lost connection with others. so many do not see themselves as part of a larger whole. so many only want what’s in it for them. they may sacrifice others in the short term for their profit; but eventually, they, too, will suffer.

and we’ll all be poorer for it.

Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.
Mother Teresa

here you come again: my latest trip to disney
Oct 14th, 2008 by wrekehavoc

i didn’t love disney enough last year.




no sirree.

so we went back again last week.

i made some brief notes to myself about the event. i suspect i will write in more length about it, but for now, here are some abbreviated, up-to-the-minute thoughts from a person who probably was under the influence of too much sugar, both literally and figuratively speaking.

1) i used to like people. then i came to disney. yes, mr. ripley. i am not by nature misanthropic. not until i hit the magic kingdom; then, all bets are off. people — grownups and kids alike — are on their worst behavior. i cut kids slack here — they’re kids, after all — but the grownups?

we were waiting on line for the animal safari in animal kingdom — a neat place and a neat ride, incidentally. i like to use lines as a teachable lesson for my kids. you know, an exercise in patience and fairness? a woman and her two kids continually tried to push ahead of us, the family ahead of us, and the older couple on the motorized scooter in front of them. eventually, they succeeded, hitting their trifecta of triumph. what we didn’t know: the woman’s friend and the friend’s young son did not push ahead and remained behind us. why are you so far behind? miss pushypushy asked her friend. why don’t you come up here and join us?

in one of the rarest moments ever, BS and i said in unison, NO! we had had it. for 20 minutes, this woman kept on pushing, nearly trampling over people. i added, if you’d like to join your friends, you can move back and join them.

i noticed that the friend behind us suddenly had a few words with BS. i didn’t hear them at first, so i asked BS what the woman left behind had said.

he replied: she told me “have a nice day! hope you get sent to iraq!”

yes. it’s a small world, after all.

2) don’t walk? don’t come. no, i don’t mean people who really need wheelchairs. but i continue to be shocked by the number of strollers housing children who are old enough to accomplish long division. conversely, if you aren’t old enough to walk, you probably are too young to remember the experience. i suspect if you’re child #3 and you’re being dragged along for the ride thanks to sibling #1 and sibling #2, i can cut some slack. but seriously? we went to the halloween party, where we walked in with two parents, two grandparents, and a baby girl who was maybe a wee bit over one. let’s see: an evening that costs $50 per person. you’re bringing a baby in at 7 pm. it’s going to be dark in five minutes. yep. a worthwhile expenditure.

BC started pumping my hand every time we passed a child in a stroller who was older than 4. (it’s almost a dead giveaway when you see them reading.) (yes, my daughter is becoming as snarky as her mom.) i tried to take the high road on this, but it’s awfully difficult when you see kids who are too damn lazy to move. which we saw. incessantly.

at one point, i ended up talking to a disney employee, who noted in amazement about the number of people who arrive, pick up wheelchairs (especially those zippy motorized ones), and zip around from ride to ride. they just don’t want to walk around the park. you know, she said with great candor, i understand if someone has a disability, a bad knee, that sort of thing. but these people just come here and pretend to have an issue when they’re just plain lazy.

whoa. i thought the employees were shiny and happy all the time.

3) freaky people. then, there are the scary people who live for disney. you know the ones, the folks with personalized disney plates? the ones who visit the place every month? they’ve gotten married here, they’ve given birth on the monorail, and they plan to have mickey mouse circumcise their baby boy? while waiting for dinner one night, we saw a couple there who made me hold tight to my children. (it didn’t help that the guy looked like charlie manson.) i suspect they each wore about 50 pounds of disney pins.

yes, i’m here to tell you that i am clearly deficient as a mother. we did not dress up in homemade, matching disney costumes like so many families did at the halloween party. i am not crafty enough to make one costume (unless you count taking a bedsheet, poking two holes in it, and calling it a “ghost suit.”) frankly, i was lucky that i remembered to pack the kids’ costumes.

speaking of matchy-matchy fun,  when we were poor, starving newlyweds, BS and i bought matching polo shirts at montgomery wards to wear to the bahamas, an ill-fated trip which i spent in the bathroom, barfing my guts out for a full 24-hours before skeedaddling back to the US for medical treatment. thus, i am also not one of those chicks who makes my husband and kids wear the same shirt as i while we travel to walt’s world. too much bad karma.

besides: BS would look dorky if i made him wear a tinkerbell shirt.

anyway, there’s so much more to share, including the folks who brought their Ipods to watch shows while waiting on line rides. see, every. minute. must. be. filled. silly us, we talked to each other while we waited. (well, that, and we watched this young girl toss her cookies massively while we were on the Toy Story Mania ride line. most people were grossed out. several found a way to step around the sea of woof. they had waited a long time, and dammit, they were not going to be hindered by that!)

oh, the humanity.

guilty pleasure monday: naughty naughty (john parr)
Oct 13th, 2008 by wrekehavoc

there are so many unsolved mysteries in life. how was the world created? how will we get out of our national financial crisis? is there really a G-d?

and why the hell do i like this song?

one day, my old pal leifer, the first boy i became friends with who shared my passion for music (but not for each other, which is why we’re still friends, nearly 30 years later), smacked my exhausted college brain: who sang naughty naughty? he asked. (leifer does this to me from time to time; he’s been a little bitter with me over the years, only because i whipped his sorry butt every year in the rock trivia competition at camp in high school. heh.)

shockingly, my little mental musical encyclopedia drew a blank. i couldn’t tell. and it took me awhile to get my head around it: john parr. john parr, later of st. elmo’s fire (man in motion) fame. who later, i learned, wrote roger daltrey’s under a raging moon, another guilty pleasure of mine that is riddled with 1980s musical cliches (not to mention those imitative keyboards, so evocative of, uh, i dunno, who are you perhaps?)

i don’t remember whether i ever answered him; he may be laughing at me to this very day for not answering his question. i don’t recall (though i suspect he’ll remind me. and soon.) but i do love this song. yes, in spite of the fact that john parr looks like the mulleted love child spawn of mel gibson and billy ray cyrus; despite the fact that the scary, she-men women in this video could probably beat me senseless in a dark alley; and that the words to the song are relatively filthy, i can’t help myself.

the chorus kills me every time, especially the point in the song where the song seems to melt for a second.

i’m so grateful i don’t have to go up against my dear pal leifer in any more rock trivia contests. i’ve killed far too many brain cells to be able to compete.

but at least, 20+ years later, i can finally answer this one.

sorry seems to be the hardest word
Oct 8th, 2008 by wrekehavoc

yom kippur is a day when we jews apologize for our sins and ask G-d to inscribe us in the book of life.

there are so many things for which i am sorry. a few:

i’m sorry i lose patience with people, especially with my kids.

i’m sorry i am occasionally horrible to the people who love me the most.

i’m sorry i don’t always keep my promises to myself.

i’m sorry i am not doing more to make the world a better place for my kids and for everyone else’s kids.


i’m sorry i make assumptions about other people.

guilty pleasure monday: something about you (level 42)
Oct 6th, 2008 by wrekehavoc

level forty-who? that’s what people in the states might say when they hear the name of the band responsible for my next guilty pleasure.

in fact, i thought of this song after thinking about last week’s guilty pleasure monday selection. wow, i thought, didn’t simply red sing “something about you”? no, they didn’t — level 42, another uk band with a mellow sound (clearly destined for soft rock stations everywhere), are the guilty party.

now, the kids of today (yes, please lecture us, granny wreke!) cannot remember the time when people actually looked forward to watching music videos! (YES! and there was a time when we had no such thing as “the real world,”  “TRL,” and rap actually was decent and said something interesting.) but, yeah verily, we folks of a certain age can remember actually watching music videos.

and something about you has a video that completely freaked me out. the video, seen above, appears to show something scary about each band member’s relationship with their (real? who knows) girlfriends/wives. that’s not so bad, i suppose. i mean, every relationship has a downside. but then…


that freaky clown scared the crap out of me.

to this day, i wonder: when BS and i are arguing, is the clown behind me, glowering? when we drive away in the car, is the clown peering through my doorway? is he performing a song and dance in my attic?

so i knew i must nominate this song for guilty pleasure monday.

the clown told me i had to do it.

all those years ago
Oct 1st, 2008 by wrekehavoc

when i was growing up, there was a boy in my class. he was always in my class. and i was always behind him, as his last name started sta and mine was ste, from elementary school through high school. we were both precociously smart, always doing the extra work since this was the world before gifted and talented classes.

i couldn’t abide him back in the day. (i suspect it was mutual, as i wasn’t exactly the human cakewalk then.) it wasn’t really personal; frankly, i couldn’t abide most boys at school back in the day. i think it was one of those ewww, boys have cooties sort of life decisions. and after high school, i never heard a whit of him again. i moved away from my hometown, and this, of course, was the land before facebook and twitter and blogs. but now, he has found me. and you know what?

i’m so very glad he found me: he’s funny as hell.

i say this because recently, i joined facebook. and in an instant, i found — or was found by — all these people i knew 25 years ago. its unbelievable that people i’ve wondered about for years now can simply IM me any time i’m on FB. and it’s a hoot re-meeting people as grownups.

its a little weird at times, admittedly.

but that being said, it is also rather healing. a girl i was best friends with my junior and into-senior years of high school — she found me. i was furious with her when she went after the only boy i liked. and we stopped talking; in truth, i probably simply stopped talking to her.

and what a shame. because when we started talking again, it was like we had only talked last tuesday. it’s nice to walk down memory lane with people who remember you as you were, but only a few people can pick up from there and start to appreciate you as you are now. and she could, and i could, and i wondered about all those years i had squandered in a pig-headed moment.

ah well. it’s nice to look forward with people who knew you when you were a bit more backward.

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