guilty pleasure monday: stay awake (mary poppins)
Sep 28th, 2009 by wrekehavoc

ah, the magic of The Mouse.

those of you who’ve been around here for awhile know i’m pretty ambivalent about disney, disney world, and everything remotely related to walt’s creations. i’ve ranted and ranted and ranted. and ranted yet again about our trips to disney. (and even had some happy moments to share, because like most of their cartoons, disney’s prefab experiences are never black and white.) the kids, however, really enjoy going; so once every so often, we trek down to florida so that we can hear american singing we can spend absurd amounts of cash on items that my kids will begbegbeg for and then probably forget about within one week of our return home we can all have fun as a family in that magical world.

that being said, i do love me some disney movies. sure, there are ones that left me scarred for life (bambi and dumbo, i’m talking about you.) and of course, there’s a certain predictability in their storylines: you know that in the first 20 minutes, something awful is going to happen. but there are degrees of awfulness, i think; and mary poppins never really scared me. i’m thinking julie andrews and dick van dyke singing and dancing all the way through had something to do with that. back then, julie andrews always ended up in a happy ending: hell, only a year later, she escaped the nazis! so a stodgy english banker had nothing on the divine ms. j.

my mother also tells me that when i was being born, the hospital was piping in music. she remembers hearing a lot of chim chim cheree.

anyway, i rediscovered the song stay awake quite by accident. BC had received this baby disney CD as a gift, and she really started to love it. it became a nightly staple; only, too bad for me. the girl didn’t seem to like one song: stay awake. pity, too, because i then found a lovely cover of it by suzanne vega (ignore the grim video), but no dice. see, the song perfectly captured my ambivalence toward nighttime as a mom. on the one hand, i was wiped out: parenthood is exhausting at times, and i wanted girlfriend to conk out so i could get a moment to myself. on the other hand, i enjoyed our time together so much, i didn’t want the day to end.

i guess some things will never change.

guilty pleasure monday: let's hear it for the boy (deniece williams)
Sep 21st, 2009 by wrekehavoc

because he’s a hellboy, but he’s OUR hellboy!

i remember when i was a young mom with a little girl who looked like a precious moments figurine and who behaved pretty damn well, no matter what situation.  i attributed it all to our complete preparation: crayons? check. distracting toys? check. never-ending stash of cheerios? check! i read my books and i was on top of things. but of course, all of her model behavior was simply because we were such awesome parents.

of course.

anyway, BC was about 18 months old when we took a trip to visit my dear friend wah and her family in wisconsin.  wah and i have been friends since we were teenagers; i love the fact that we have been friends so long, we don’t need to sugarcoat anything. this is a girl who will tell you that your butt looks big in that outfit. of course, she will also give you ideas about something else to wear. no malice, just truth with a dose of warmth.

for this and for so many other reasons, i love this chick with all my heart.

anyway, we went to visit wah’s family on two occasions and had a great time with them. but i still remember the first trip. we visited a noodles and co for dinner — my first — and sat down, our family and hers. wah has two wonderful boys, and at the time, i think they were probably about 2 and 4, though i could be wildly wrong. we sat down to wait to be served. i say we, but i mean BS, BC, and me. BC was perched daintily on her booster seat, coloring with crayons and smiling like a little angel girl.  cue smugness here: my, but once again, aren’t we such awesome parents?

wah’s boys, on the other hand, were happily racing around the table, playfully shouting, and basically, not sitting still. i must have looked over with that face with which i am now so familiar — the why can’t you control your child face. the i’m a superior parent face. i. can. make. my. child. sit. still. i. do. it. with. sheer. will. and preparation. why can’t you?

wah caught me. she shook her head, and she said words i never forgot:

wait til you have a boy.


fast forward a few years. i do have a boy; and while he doesn’t run around in restaurants, i can see the lesson she was trying to teach me: different children are built differently. you don’t have to be a piaget or steiner devotee to know this: you need only be a parent who is wise to the ways of her kids. each child is wired differently, and it doesn’t make much of a difference whether you’ve read up on child development or whether you go with your gut. the truth is, different children require different approaches.

and different children should be appreciated for the gifts they are.

so today, here’s one for my boy.  my energetic, spirited, rockin’ little jools.

my beautiful boy.

guilty pleasure monday: photograph (def leppard)
Sep 14th, 2009 by wrekehavoc

the one song where i required actual medical attention.

the creme de la creme of hair metal, english band def leppard (intentionally misspelled by the group so as to not seem like a punk band) are still rocking it worldwide, in spite of losing band members as well as band member body parts. (bionic drummer rick allen has been drumming for the band for decades even though he lost his arm in a car crash. perhaps he was meant to be a spinal tap drummer at some point in his life?)

i have particularly happy memories of def leppard from the summer of 1983, when i was about to enter college. as mentioned in an earlier post, i had worked as a day camp counselor (for the whopping sum of $50/week), which left my evenings free to be a somewhat economically-challenged teenager. some nights, when my oldest brother, BTD, had no one interesting to hang with (i always knew i was asked only after every conceivable person did not pan out before me, but what the hell), we’d drive over to the boardwalk and play pinball and drink cheap grape water and sometimes, sometimes, get cheap pizza at the sawmill. with some financial support from my folks, we’d maybe go on one of the wildly unsafe waterslides at night, which was extra cool because i was afraid back then to wear my contacts when i did that. so there i’d be, a few stories up in the air, in the dark, going down a waterslide (where one false slip and you’d end up as road pizza a few hundred feet down) where i could not see. good. times.

but, most of the time, my oldest brother was having a life (and my middle brother larry did not want to be within one mile of my presence because i was that annoying moody 18 year old sister (tonight on ABCFamily!)). so i spent the bulk of the summer with my buddy, simone. simone would drive like a big ass bird (to quote her dad) to toms river, pick me up, and we’d end up pretty much where we’d always end up: the ocean county mall. we’d rock the stores, gossiping about everyone we knew, then finish up at friendly’s (where my freshmen 15 started before i entered college thanks to the reese’s peanut butter cup sundae). many times, we were obliged to bring her younger brother, joel, along for the ride. joel was so cool, we nicknamed him chilly willy. [i’m not certain, but i believe he is now an accountant, a profession which would suit him to a T, considering he was so calm, cool, and collected, even as a young guy. it’s important to be cool when people are crapping themselves after realizing their tax realities.]

i’m pretty sure it was joel’s def leppard tape.

we listened to def leppard’s pyromania c o n s t a n t l y that summer in simone’s dad’s car. it must have been a tape. but what a killer summer soundtrack. foolin’ — what a great song to scream out a window! the videos made no sense, of course (and this was back in the day when we watched videos, boys and girls born after 1980) but the music wailed — and of course, gave us important words to live by, like:

Gunter glieben glauchen globen

you betcha.

anyway, it was a special summer for me, thanks in no small part to simone (and chilly willy’s soundtrack).

fast forward to 1990. i was a newlywed in VA, back in the days before the internet had been invented by al gore. it had been a long while since i had heard pyromania; it wasn’t in my CD collection, so i went sadly without for many years. i was upstairs in our tiny, two-level WWII-era townhouse. suddenly, i heard the opening chords to photograph coming from the TV downstairs. SQUEE! my little bear brain yelped. i ran down the upstairs hall (official olympic length: 5 feet) and proceeded to run down the steps to see the video — because we WATCHED our music back then, you know. only, too bad for me: i was wearing brand new, slippery-soft cotton socks. i slipped and tripped while running down those recently-redone wooden stairs.


i fell on my back and my butt, all the way down the damn staircase. (about 16 stairs, i believe, for those of you keeping track.) i landed, badly banged up, at the landing. lucky for me, i had been hired the month prior at a place that offered me a crappy level of health insurance; i ended up going to a quack who did very little for me. and voila! i started down the road of back pain bliss that i still experience to this day. sweet!

anyway, i love this song. and i will always hope that my first memory of it involves driving in a car and singing at the top of my lungs (which probably didn’t go over well when we were passing by members of the chasidic community in the town where simone lived.) to be sure, BS still looks at me funny whenever photograph comes on the radio in the car.

i think he’s afraid i’ll lose control and smack the car into the nearest pole, ending up with my not-so-glamorous photograph in the paper.

for all the wrong reasons.

flashback: safe and sound
Sep 11th, 2009 by wrekehavoc

because i’ll never forget 9/11.

and i suspect you won’t, either.

guilty pleasure monday: millworker (james taylor)
Sep 7th, 2009 by wrekehavoc

perfect for labor day.

when i was about 17 or so, i remember one afternoon, putzing around, watching TV. we had recently gotten cable, so i was happily clicking the giant buttons on the big brown cable box (years and years before a little remote would enter my life.) lo and behold, i landed on PBS, which was showing a musical, working, based on the book by the brilliant author studs terkel. i was transfixed; it was one of those moments where i realized that other people were fascinated by the exploration of the lives of people, whether thrilling or mundane. different composers wrote songs for the musical; james taylor contributed three.

but the song that stopped me in my tracks was millworker. in the song, a woman explores her life as a millworker, noting the path that her life took to bring her to that awful boring job. it’s moving in its simplicity, it’s anger, and its poetry. she knows she’s a cog in a tiny corporate machine; she’s resigned to the fact that this is her apparent destiny.

So may I work your mills just as long as I am able
And never meet the man whose name is on the label

(it’s still)me and my machine
For the rest of the morning
And the rest of the afternoon (and on and on and on…)
for the rest of my life

i think it may be the most beautiful song james taylor has ever written.

on this labor day, i am thinking of my friends who have lost their jobs in the past year or so. i am thinking about the difficulties they face; i am thinking of the courage they have been displaying.  i have known so many of these people while i was that TV-watching teen; it pains me to see them struggling, as i feel like they are family to me.

americans let it happen; it was all about the almighty dollar. first, the trend was to take jobs away from more expensive company people — you had to pay them benefits, you know — and then contract those jobs out to others who required no benefits from the company. then, the trend seemed to take the jobs away from those contractors and move the work overseas, where labor is cheaper. eventually, greed sold a lot of people down the river in this country, and it has imploded on itself.

anyone who inherited the mess of the past nine years was bound to hit an uphill struggle. it’s a pity that the President is making efforts to improve the plight of people, and he is being fought every single step of the way. sure, question authority — but this is a time when things are bad and getting worse. these are times when we all need to pull together as a team. while people are wasting time on non-issues (the President’s birth certificate, the President’s ethnicity, etc.), we lose time and traction on trying to improve things. sure, it isn’t nirvana — but some people don’t have the luxury at present to sit and pontificate over bullshit. they need a home; they need food; they need health care.

and they need jobs.

and i’ll leave you with this particularly fine cover of the song by none other than my beloved bruce who, i believe, really makes the song speak for working people everywhere.

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