Friday, August 28, 2009

California Dreamin'

This post is inspired by one of the songs on Kym's recent play list post.

One of these days, if it ever comes to fruition that I rule the world and education is no longer held hostage by bureaucrats, I am going to introduce into the curriculum for incoming Freshman, a class called Rock as Poetry. Don't get me wrong, I loves me my Donne and Shakespeare and Yeats and Plath as much as the next person. But I contend some of the best poetry that's been written in the past fifty years or so has been written as a rock and roll lyric.

Don't believe me? How about this, from Nirvana's "Heart Shaped Box"?

Meat-eating orchids forgive no one just yet
Cut myself on angel's hair and baby's breath
Broken hymen of your highness I'm left black
Throw down your umbilical noose so I can climb right back.

Take that, Anne Sexton.

Here's another song that gives me goosebumps every time I hear it (thanks, Kym, for reminding me!):

What's your favorite piece of rock and roll poetry?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

We Were Liberated From the Fall That's All

Writing about the crowd who pitched up for last fall's Rally for the Republic in Minneapolis, in an article called "The Republic Strikes Back," political writer Bill Kauffman was heartened by what he sees as a newly skeptical attitude towards the Old Boss ethics on either side of the aisle:

"Liberty has a constituency . . . bright and enthusiastic kids afire with the spirit of liberty, of resistance to regimentation and the tyranny of standardization. Homeschoolers, homebrewers, punk rockers, evangelical Christians, radical Kansans, and reactionary New Englanders. These were American girls and boys, beautifully stained in the American grain, hip to Republican lies and numbing Democratic statism. Hell no, they won’t go. They’ll not be cannon fodder for the wars of Bush-Cheney or Obama-Biden. They demand honesty and liberty and respect for all things small and smaller; they have nothing but scorn for the liars and whores who run the empire.

"They reminded me of Emerson’s description of the Loco Foco generation: 'The new race is stiff, heady, and rebellious; they are fanatics in freedom; they hate tolls, taxes, turnpikes, banks, hierarchies, governors, yea, almost laws.” (Spare me the mewling about “ordered liberty,' please—50 years of conservative pieties about “ordered liberty” led to Dick Cheney and a movement full of “men” who dared not open their mouths to defend liberty when she needed it most. Give me disorderly hinterland rebels any day.)"

Yippie kay yay, I say.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Love Hurts

Sometimes, it's also downright embarrassing. Especially when it comes to music. You know, those songs that every tenet of good taste begs you to eschew but that nonetheless manage to stick in your head like a fist full of spaghetti after it dries on the wall. Songs that make you break out into spontaneous, against-your-will sing-a-longs just as traffic comes to a complete standstill during rush hour and you've left all the windows open.

The ones you furtively stash in your iPod because who else besides you is going to know they're there? Well, you and the BofA account executive that sends you your eBill every week, but Suresh lives in Mumbai and most likely hasn't gotten around to Lady Ga Ga's latest yet. The songs you try, try, try to kick to the curb but they keep getting right back up like sister christian and her eye of the tiger to hit you with their best shot because everybody was kung-fu fighting.

So, tell Moi: what are the Top 10 Songs You Know You Shouldn't Love? If you show me yours, I'll show you mine, and we can all hate ourselves in the morning.

1. Even Better Than the Real Thing – U2. I can't abide U2 for very long. It's Bono's fault, I readily admit; he's just so insufferably earnest. Still, on this song, the Edge's sibilant guitarwork is like waves breaking one after the other on a sunlit, white sanded beach. Sparkling, hypnotic, and impossible to ignore.

2. Beautiful - Christina Aguilera. Yeah, yeah, the tuned-to-eleven, poor-poor-pitiful-me wince factor outdoes even that of Janis Ian's "Seventeen," but the vocals are scary good.

3. Zombie - The Cranberries. If Boudicca decided to raise herself from wherever she's been spending these past, what, one thousand years, she'd probably want to inhabit Dolores O'Riordan's body.

4. Poker Face – Lady Ga Ga. Girl's a hot ass mess just begging for some Paglia-esque psychoanalysis, but I dare you to try to mum mum mum mah this song out of your head.

5. Mmmbop – Hanson. Speaking of mmmmm . . . come on, you know you like it, too.

6. I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That) – Meatloaf. Everything a woman needs to know about a man's approach to relationships in a near 15 minute opus for which rock opera status is just a chorus line out of reach.

7. I Used to Love Her (But I Had to Kill Her) – Guns N' Roses. Is it funny or is it misogynist? I vote funny because, come on ladies, admit it: sometimes we all just need a good bullet to the head.

8. La Vida Loca - Ricky Martin. So, sue me.

9. If I Could Turn Back Time - Cher. I have been quietly waving my freak flag for Cher ever since "Half Breed." I even forgive her all those Bob Whacky outfits.

10. Once Bitten Twice Shy – Great White. Everything that was sooooooo wrong and yet soooooooo right with early '90s hair band music. Plus, it was written by the great Ian Hunter, so there.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men

Every time my in-laws come to visit from Louisiana, they bring with them a bounty of goodies that includes things like crawfish pie, Boudin, fig, mayhaw, and muscadine jellies, a box of salsas of varying degrees of hotness made by one of my father-in-law's clients, and, of course, a big ol' honking box of Gulf shrimp. Only problem is, the shrimp comes frozen. Which means short of sticking the thing under S.B.s table saw and risking my life and limb, I have to unthaw the big brick of shrimp and cook it all within a few days.

No worries, though. After a couple years of this, I have the routine down pat. I usually start with a lemon, parlsey, and shrimp pasta, move on to the ubiquitous shrimp 'n' grits (a new recipe this year, thanks to Shamu), then end it all with a big pot of gumbo that we can eat on for a couple days more and still have some left over to freeze for later.

Last night, to celebrate the fact that today is a rest day in our workout schedule, S.B. and I decided to allow ourselves some alcohol and a new dish that we could cook together while sipping our drinkees and enjoying the mellow summer evening: grilled skewered shrimp wrapped with fresh basil and bacon. Mmmmm . . . bacon.


It was with major anticipation that, after spending a full thirty minutes on the messy, slightly tipsy business of skewering and wrapping shrimp, S.B. opened the lid to the BBQ grill to find that a mouse had not only taken up residence in the smoker box, she was also in the process of giving birth.

Needless to say, Momma Mouse was none to happy to see us (actually, scared out of her mousie mind was more like it) and although we tried to snag her while she was in her box in order to relocate her and her little family, she was having none of it. She quickly ran up the wall on the side of the house and wouldn't come down.

A sad, sad sight greeted me when I finally got up the courage to peek in the box: Two tiny newborns the size, color, and texture of jelly beans were squirming helplessly in a nest crafted out of the Pepto Bismol colored insulation that protects our pool pump. No doubt stolen by momma on one of her daily foraging expeditions. How she managed to get by both Ivan and Maddie is one heck of a testament to the evolutionary success of these wily little critters.

Yes, I realize that the vast majority of mice are simply up to no good. Scratching in the walls, getting into the pantry, gnawing through car engine cables, spreading Hanta virus. Still. Only seconds into their life on this great and glorious earth and this is how they are greeted? After I made a big enough fuss, S.B. finally sighed his S.B. sigh, agreed not to shoot the lot of 'em, and instead pulled the baby birthin' box out of the grill and set it in a larger box on a law chair next to the wall where mamma had attached herself.

And then we proceeded to grill our shrimp. Because hungry eventually trumps blubbery and tearful in Moi's household.

We should have thought to replace the birthing box in the grill once it cooled down but I'm ashamed to admit I forgot about the mice. This morning, S.B. had to remind me. When I checked on them at 8:30, I was surprised to find them still alive and squirming. But no sign of momma. So S.B. took the smaller box and placed it back in its original spot in the grill and shut the lid, in the hopes that mom would come back.

It's two o'clock in the afternoon and I just lifted the lid. The jellies are squirming up a storm, but mom isn't in the box.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

It Was Bound to Happen

I first got to know the Pirate a couple years ago when I was doing a Google search for local triathlete blobs. Little did I know THEN that she would turn out to also be a kindred spirit of another sort. A girl who thinks nothing of sweating herself silly on bike, in pool, or on foot one day, and the next texting me from Dillard's seeking support for a spur of the moment purchase of a pair of 4" heeled red patent leather peep toe Jessica Simpson pumps.

When she emailed me from London two weeks ago offhandedly declaring that she had to hold off on a couple Karen Millen purchases until BofA's head quite spinning from all the recent activity, but, but, but, at least she'd snagged the Vivienne Westwood heels before all the kerfuffle, well.

A co-authored fashion blob was only inevitable.

Come check it out.

Bitches of Fashion

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Thursday, August 13, 2009

You've Got To Move It Move It

Eunice Kennedy Shriver understood this. In the early 1960s, she and her husband, Sargent, began to hold a series of day camps in their backyard in order to meet the physical fitness needs of mentally retarded children and adults. It was the beginning of what would eventually become a world wide physical fitness movement known as the Special Olympics, which today encompasses over 180 countries and three million-plus athletes aged eight to eighty. Every athlete who participates receives free training, coaching, and support to compete in 26 Olympic style sporting events. In the U.S. alone, over 500,000 volunteers and 250,000 coaches devote their time and energy to 54 chapters.

A few years back, I had the honor of writing a lead story for a now defunct local publication on New Mexico's Special Olympics program. During my research and interviews, I was awestruck by the dedication of hundreds of volunteers who help athletes of all abilities do what the human body was designed to do: find joy through movement.

Thanks, Eunice, for understanding this, and for your organization's motto, that we should all keep first and foremost in our brains as we go about our daily lives: "Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."

Eunice was laid to rest today, after 88 years of service to her causes. May she rest in peace eternally.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Meme Moi

Everybody's doing this meme (Troll started it?). I may as well, too.

* * *

Been arrested? Yes, but it wasn't for a fashion felony. I swear.

Kissed someone you didn’t like? Yes.

Slept in until 5 PM? No. I mean, who DOES that other than the terminally ill or rock stars?

Ran a red light? Yes. It was to escape a stalker, though. Oh, and today, after spending three bazillion hours at the mall school shopping with my niece. All y'all with kids? WTF is up with the "teenage hooker" look? I needs me some major Chanel therapy to get over all that Wet Seal and Charlotte Russe.

Been suspended from school? No.

Totaled your car in an accident? No. I'm an excellent driver. Seriously. Never even a near miss.

Been fired from a job? No.

Fired somebody? Yes.

Sang karaoke? Absolutely not. Want to make me squirm? Make me sing.

Pointed a gun at someone? In reality, no. In my head? What, are you kidding me?

Done something you told yourself you wouldn’t? Yes. Like wear those shoes with that jacket. Oh, that and voting.

Caught a snowflake on your tongue? Yes. Tastes like chicken.

Kissed in the rain? Actually, no. I live in the desert, so not much opportunity for that.

Had a close brush with death (your own)? No.

Seen someone die? No.

Played spin-the-bottle? Yes.

Smoked a cigar? Yes. Love them.

Sat on a rooftop? Yes.

Smuggled something into another country? No. From an early age, my father instilled in us a healthy fear of fern police forces.

Been pushed into a pool with all your clothes on? No. I avoid situations that put my shoes in mortal danger.

Broken a bone? No.

Skipped school? Yes.

Eaten a bug? Yes. DOES NOT taste like chicken. Yew.

Sleepwalked? No. But I talk in my sleep a lot. Very embarrassing.

Walked a moonlit beach? Yes. On three different continents, no less.

Rode a motorcycle? Yes. Howevah. No Harley's por Moi, por favor. I prefer me some old school British bikes – Triumph or BSA.

Oh, so prettttttyyyyy . . .

Dumped someone? Sadly, yes.

Lied to avoid a ticket? Actually, no. But I've always managed to escape them.

Ridden in a helicopter? Yes and it was a most terrifying experience.

Shaved your head? Yes. Sheena was a punk rocker.

Made your boyfriend/girlfriend cry? No.

Eaten snake? Yes. Tastes like . . . uh, snake?

Marched/Protested? You betcha.

Had Mexican jumping beans for pets? No. I did try to cook them, though.

Puked on amusement ride? No. But, afterward.

Seriously & intentionally boycotted something? All the time.

Been in a band? Yes – drummer. No singing required, I might add.

Been on TV? Yes.

Shot a gun? What are you kidding me? Of course.

Skinny-dipped? Yes.

Ridden a surfboard? Does a wind surfer count?

Drank straight from a liquor bottle? Yes. Sometimes, it's just quicker that way.

Had surgery? Does wisdom teeth removal count? Other than that, no.

Streaked? No. Look, Party People, bouncing around buck ass nekkid is not really a good look on ANYONE, 'kay?

Taken by ambulance to hospital? No.

Passed out when not drinking? No.

Peed on a bush? Well, that would be a trick, wouldn't it. But, no.

Donated Blood? Yes.

Grabbed electric fence? NO!!!!

Eaten alligator meat? Heck yes. Talk about your useful animal – when you're done eating it, the skin makes a mighty fine set of matching shoes and handbag.

Killed an animal when not hunting? Yes. I ran over some baby ducks that were following their mother across a very busy street. I was rounding a corner and didn't see them. Unfortunately, because there was no shoulder and traffic was heavy, I couldn't stop. The car behind me picked off the ones I didn't get. It was terrible. I was so traumatized, I called into work and went home and drank half a bottle of tequila.

Peed your pants in public? Oh come on. NO!

Snuck into a movie without paying? No. The one thing I hate worse than a politician is a thief . . . Wait a minute . . .

Written graffiti? No. One thing I hate more than a thief is a litterbug.

Still love someone you shouldn’t? Yes. Who doesn't?

Been in handcuffs? Yes. Snicker.

Believe in love? Yes. It makes the world go around. I truly believe that and not in a hippie dippy patchouli and incense and flowy skirts kind of way, either.

Sleep on a certain side of the bed? Yes. Even when S.B. travels or I travel, I stick strictly to the right side of the bed and do not wander.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Clowns to the Left of Me Jokers to the Right

A couple years ago, I asked my father this question: When we were growing up, it seemed that my brother and I were always at the doctor. There were bones broken from bicycle wrecks and falls out of trees; road rashed knees and out of joint noses from school yard sports; on-going battles with childhood maladies like chickenpox and strep, colds and flu, ear aches and stomach upsets. How on earth did he and mom afford it all, given his salary as a butcher and hers as a housewife, neither of them insured?

He thought a minute. Then he shrugged. "I don't know, " he answered. "We just paid for it. It was in the monthly budget."

Huh. Imagine that. Medicine as a cost of living, just like groceries, rent, and utilities.

Why doesn't anyone on either side of the issue and the aisle see that? That health care reform shouldn't be about guaranteeing – by whatever means necessary, even if it's criminal – that every American has health care insurance. That if we continue to perpetuate the idea that insurance companies – backed by the government – are responsible for ensuring our health, we only perpetuate a system already bloated to the bursting point with greed and corruption. A system that has about as much to do with health and with care as I do with Crocs.

What neither side understands is that the only acceptable reform is returning medicine to the free market, so that individuals can contract with doctors, hospitals, and other providers directly, without meddling middle men. The only role of insurance in all this is as providers of catastrophic coverage. In other words, you get cancer, hit by a bus, or give birth to a disabled child, you got coverage. But those are separate policies for extreme circumstances that you choose to purchase, similar to life insurance. They're not shoved down your throat.

Seems to me that once we eliminate middle men for every day medical care and as doctors once again enter a competitive marketplace, the money we spend on taking care of ourselves becomes a simple cost of living, just like groceries, utilities, and clothing. Which, by the way, you truly can't live without. In fact, try living for a week without food, hot water, and underpants. Should the government provide those as well?

If it sounds too simple, well, what's wrong with simple? Thanks to Nixon, we already have a nationally managed health care system. The government is already involved. So, why more involvement when the system clearly doesn't work? Why another 1,000 indecipherable pages and dozens of sweaty PR flaks scrambling to turn a sows ear into a silk purse? Oh, yeah. I forgot. Washington isn't about simple. It isn't about care. It certainly isn't about real change. After all, why change a system that's all about keeping everyone's fingers in the Big Money Pie? Well, except your fingers and mine. Ours just dole out the dollars.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Opinions Are Like . . .

Because it's Friday and because it's either this or a poll about politics and because Miz Kmwthay recently called me out on my on-the-fencedness regarding Viggo Mortensen's hotness factor, I hereby throw the question to the masses.

Which is, basically:
Viggo Mortensen: Hawt or Nawt?


Viggo circa Perfect Murder. Gwyneth Paltrow was insufferably insipid in the thing, but with Viggo as eye candy, nobody cared.

Viggo circa Lord of the Rings trilogy.
An elegant, restrained performance,
albeit a little limp-locked for my taste.

Viggo in Eastern Promises, one of my favorite recent movies.
He was totally brilliant in this and that naked sauna fight scene took major balls.


I know the gals will have an opinion, but that doesn't mean the dudes should be shy about weighing in. I find it funny that while most women can freely and openly discuss another woman's attractiveness, men are always all, "Well, I can see how women would find that guy good looking."

Come on.

Y'all know when another of your kind is hawt or nawt. So spill it.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Blame it on Ray

Although I wasn't even born when Ray Charles's "Hit the Road Jack" made it to number one on the pop charts, the album on which it was later featured, Ray Charles Greatest Hits, was on constant rotation on my parents' record player for years. As the first song I ever remember hearing, it would serve as my gateway drug into a lifelong obsession with popular music, an obsession for which I solidly blame my parents.

Inveterate audiophiles, mom and dad used every bit of spare change left over after feeding and housing us to buy records. So "Hit the Road Jack" was followed by Joan Baez's "Farewell Angelina," which was followed by the Beatles' "Get Back," which was followed by Roberta Flack's "Killing Me Softly," which was followed by Carly Simon's "You're So Vain," which was followed by, well, you get the picture. By the age of ten, I was well on my way to amassing quite a record collection of my own, beginning with one of those Ronco Record compilations of '70s super hits, Elton John's Greatest Hits, and Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon.

Ironically, I couldn't sing a single solitary note if you gave me a Bottega Veneta bag to carry it in and any attempts at playing an instrument have ended in hair pulling frustration. Regardless, I remain obsessed.

Which leads me to the topic of conversation the other night, when I challenged a couple folks to list the ten greatest rock songs of all time.

There were, of course, guidelines. To me, greatness should not be limited solely to a subjective feeling (what I like to call the ability of a song to produce goose bumps in the gut), but should also encompass a song's over-arching influence on the pop music scene in general. Finally, I asked that we not go back earlier than the Beatles or later than Nirvana.

Here's my list:

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band – the Beatles
Sympathy for the Devil – Rolling Stones
Gene Genie - David Bowie
Baba O'reilly – Who
Purple Haze – Jimi Hendrix
Dreams – Fleetwood Mac
London Calling – Clash
Heart of Glass - Blondie
New Years Day – U2
Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana

Yes, you're right, there's nothing here by Bob Dylan. That's because although I recognize his utter genius as a musician and pop cultural icon, I don't particularly like any of his songs, and that goes for "All Along the Watchtower," too. What, no Led Zeppelin, either, you may also ask? Well, let's just say, if we were making a list of the most freakin' annoying pop songs of all time? "Stairway to Heaven," like, for sure. Although, I'll give them "When the Levee Breaks" – one of the greatest blue-eyed blues songs ever produced. This version is brilliant. But still not on the list.

How about you? What's on yours?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Too Pooped to Party

Well, actually, too pooped from partying. The one we had last night to celebrate my fourth running of the La Luz Trail Run and our good buddy's first. He posted a MOST EXCELLENT time of 2:30. This from someone who only started running two years ago. On flat roads. At sea level. Whoa. I'm so proud of him.

I ran it in the time I usually run it in: 2:50. I'll take it. But next year I'll do better. At any rate, after a celebratory greeting by SB, Doris Rose, and good friend E!, a post race plate of pancakes and bacon, and a Kansas City-style BBQ dinner at home with some of the best ribs I've ever had, accompanied by cheesy corn with ham, baked beans (thank you, Shamu!), one bottle of champagne, two shots of tequila, and a couple glasses of Malbec (so shoot me, I was off the booze two weeks prior), a debate over the 10 top pop songs of all time, four Bayer aspirin, and seven hours of sleep, I got nothing for Mute Monday. 

But I got one hell of a perfect day under my belt.