Monday, June 30, 2008

I, Sucketh ...

So here it is, June 30, a little after 9 p.m.

What are the odds that I'm going to read a book in the next 2 hours and 55 minutes?

Hmm. Right. None. There are no odds. I am oddsless. Odds-free.

The year is half over, if you measure by months, at midnight, and I haven't managed to meet my one-fiction-book-a-month challenge each month. Some months, but not all months. And we're only talking about six months.

I started a couple books but nothing held my interest for long. My brain just isn't on books lately.

At the moment, my brain is being semi-occupied by watching "Flight of the Conchords." It's one of those shows that has some really funny moments, but on balance, I'm finding it to be a bit of a one-note wonder. Which is very much the way I feel about "Curb Your Enthusiasm," too.

Must be an HBO theme with me.

Though the song "Business Time" cracks me up. My hat is off to anyone who can write a song with these lyrics:

Then we're in the bathroom,
Brushing our teeth
That's all part of the foreplay,
Our love foreplay
Then you sort out the recycling
That isn't part of the foreplay process,
but it's still very important

And this song, about love ... and tape:

Love is like a roll of tape
It's real good for making two things one
But just like the roll of tape,
Love sometimes breaks off before you were done
Another way that love is like tape, that I've noticed,
Is sometimes it's hard to see the end

Love. It really is like tape. As Bret says, love is the strongest adhesive.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Evening ...

Oh boy. I think I might regret having that espresso after dinner.

Tonight, mom and I popped into Lucrezia's for dinner, an adorable restaurant in a converted Queen Anne house in Crown Point.

For John's benefit (because he likes it when I write about food), I started with the yellow tomato salad, which I love, but which I must refrain from ordering until later in the season when yellow tomatoes – and every other color tomato, for that matter – are worth eating. But even with a too-firm yellow tomato, the salad holds up. Because even an average tomato is made better when drizzled with pesto, and smothered in sliced red onion, diced red tomato, kalamata olives, crumbles of blue cheese, and a healthy handful of toasted pine nuts. Delicious in late June, it will be mind-blowing in mid-August.

My entree was 100 percent not on the Brandon plan, but I couldn't pass it up: farfalle pasta tossed with grilled chicken, olive oil, garlic, fresh tomato, wisps of basil – practically filaments of basil – and goat cheese. Come to think of it, caramelized onions were supposed to be involved, but they were missing. No matter. It was delicious. How can I be expected to pass up anything containing goat cheese?

We were far too full for dessert (Lucrezia's has great bread and the bus staff keeps it coming, all ... night ... long) but I thought an espresso was in order.

Amazingly enough, I seem to feel a bit sleepy. Here's hoping I didn't set my body's clock ahead several hours tonight.

Dinner wasn't necessarily part of the plan tonight, but it was lightly raining and our plan for the evening required being outside, so we thought we'd wait out the weather over dinner.

Excellent plan. By the time we were finished, the clouds gave way to evening sun – don't you love this time of year? – and a breeze arrived.

Around town tonight was 4th Friday Arts, a monthly happening that pairs artists with various businesses in town: photographers, painters, potters, singers, actors, you name it. There was even a roving band of ballet dancers, young dancers who could not have been cuter in their assorted tutus and costumes.

Dwellings, my friend Lenore's store, was hosting a potter who creates amazing art, but who, unfortunately doesn't sell it. He was just there to exhibit. Which is OK, I guess, to just have people admire your work, but I'm rather accustomed to artists selling art.

Happily, at another store down the street from Lenore's, an artist was selling her art. And I bought a piece.

I fell in love with this face. I have no idea where I'm going to put it, but when I love something, I buy it. And shockingly, it was only $25. After I paid her, I said, "You really need to charge more for your work."

"Really?" she asked. Oh yes, I told her. It's worth much more. She said she'd consider it.

Someday, I fully expect this woman to be wildly famous, and I'll have a great story to tell, about how I bought an original Michelangelo-worthy watercolor from her at Birds of a Feather for 25 bucks.

My mother, by the way, known by half the town by her stunning grey hair and (former) braid (she gets it cut every so often and donates it to Locks of Love), ran into several people she knew, all of whom told me that my mother is amazing. To which I replied, with a smile, "She's my favorite mom."

Not Dreamy ...

This is what I get for going to bed early: weird dreams.

Like the one last night in which I drove to Alsip (don't ask me why brain wanted to me know that my dream was located in Alsip) to go to a funeral.

Except that I don't know who the funeral was for.

And except that the funeral was in a place that bore a striking resemblance to a shopping mall, which I was aware of in my dream because I had to walk through most of the mall to get to the funeral location.

When I arrived at the funeral location, it was really more of a holding area outside of a series of hallways. Picture an indoor cul-de-sac with hallways spoking off the common area.

Now picture that the common area contained a collection of bar-height tables and chairs. And televisions. And a source of alcohol. But everything was beige. Like a sports bar in a hospital. With bad florescent lighting.

Now picture that in addition to the tables and chairs, there was a wall of bleachers. Just a few rows.

Got all that? OK.

So I sat down on the bleachers and a guy with whom I went to high school (in real life) and with whom I once had a date, long after high school (in real life), appeared and leaned over to place a very quick, light peck on the lips of the person sitting next to me (who may have been my friend Kelley), and then leaned over and pressed his lips against mine ... and held them there.

For a long time.

Which made me whisper, mid-kiss, "This isn't appropriate. We're at a funeral."

So he stopped. And disappeared. And then my cell phone buzzed.

So I answered it and it was him, saying he needed to talk to me at some point. I suggested that we talk right then, as we were all just waiting for the funeral to begin, and he said, "No, 11:30."

Yeah, like at night. Long funeral, I guess.

The whole time, I was trying to be discreet and talk quietly, but Maybe Kelley kept a rather stern look trained on me.

Apparently, some people aren't down with hooking up at funerals.

In my dream, I presumed that the guy on the phone wanted to tell me that he'd gotten divorced. Not that it would have mattered to me. In my dream, or in real life.

At that point, though, it was time to file into our room, but now we were no longer there for a funeral.

We were there for a wedding reception.

All righty, then.

In Room 5, in case you were wondering.

So me and Maybe Kelley started to follow a woman down one of the hallways and she ducked into a room on the right, even though we're meant to be going into the room on the left, and we went through the room (which looked rather like a carpeted classroom) and out a door on the other side and back up a hallway and into another room where I encountered a hideous green dress on a dress form.

The dress was drab-olive taffeta. Strapless. Knee-length. The front was decorated with gold braid and thin burgundy marabou trim. All rather crudely applied.

This dress was to be worn – along with gold Christmas tree earrings – by my mother.

Apparently, she was part of the wedding party.

She had also followed us into the room, and was staring at the dress with a look that said, "There's not a chance in hell."

But at that point, we realized someone in the room had died, so donning the olive dress would have been inappropriate.

And I suppose the wedding reception was about to morph into a funeral after all.

And I never did talk to the guy.

But later I was hiding out in a car with Sean Penn. He was driving. I was ducked down in the back seat, trying not to be seen. But that's another blog post for another day.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

3-Day Countdown ...

Six weeks from today, I'll be making my way to Northbrook in anticipation of the 2008 3-Day, which kicks off six weeks from tomorrow.

Yesterday, in an e-mail exchange, my friend Chris wrote, "Hey, your walk is coming up. Are you ready?"

To which I replied, "I'm as ready as I am every year, which is to say 'not at all ready.' For some reason, though, my body allows me to walk stupidly long distances for three days because I give it a steady diet of potato chips and cookies. Hey, it's fuel!"

The 3-Day is known, affectionately, as the "60-mile buffet." And potato chips and cookies are indeed part of the offerings at the stops along the route. Potato chips, because you need salt. Cookies, because you need carbs.

But there are also lots of healthy options – banana halves, orange wedges, chunks o' bagel, pretzels, peanut butter, peanuts – and most people choose those.

Still, every once in a while, it's nice to grab a peanut butter and jelly graham cracker sandwich and not feel at all guilty about it. I do believe it's calorically impossible to gain weight on the 3-Day.

This will be my fifth event, my fourth in a row. At this point, I think it would feel weird not to walk every year. It's now part of my life, like Christmas and my birthday.

The fundraising is going well, but it can always be going better. I'm not in the habit of using my blog to solicit contributions unless it's something I really believe in, and I really believe in the 3-Day.

I wouldn't walk 60 miles – in August, people! – if I didn't.

If you're inclined to contribute, you can do so by clicking here. (Or the big pink box underneath my bio.)

This year's personal goal is $5,000. At the moment, I'm just shy of $3,000. But I have a good feeling about these final weeks.

And, as ever, all my love and thanks to those who have contributed this year and in years past. I'm truly touched by every cent.

Update: Thanks to my friends Jeff and Sherry for making the contribution that put me past $3,000 in contributions for the year, so far. Given that this is my fifth event, I've raised a cumulative $10,000+, but this is the first year I've passed $3,000 in an individual year. Thanks once again to everyone for their generosity. I literally couldn't do this without you.

(This is the team that adopted me for last year's event. As usual, I am the tallest one in the photo.)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Joyous ...

I woke up laughing.

Today, I bordered on ebullient.

Smiling incessantly. So happy, so grateful.

This morning, I went for a walk and drank it all in, the breeze, the flowers, the light and shadows.

Tonight, I went for a walk and smiled at the fireflies, flashes of peridot in mid-air, the hazy pastel diffusion of the sunset.

Now, as I write this, I am on my deck, the silhouette of the trees in the gloaming.

There is a musicality to my life. I immerse myself in music all day long.

For many months, though, my life had been resonating at a discordant frequency. Harmony proved elusive.

But last night, for the first time in far too long, I was able to exhale fully, to let go of all the sadness and confusion.

A chapter of my life hadn't ended properly. The volume had been left open, the pages fluttering in the wind, blowing forward, blowing back.

But now an ending has been written, an ending of which I am very fond.

Happiness swells inside me. Tears roll down my cheeks. The future is stretched out before me, beckoning with sparkling eyes. It is amazing.

I've let go of the need to know. Mystery remains. But I embrace it.

Tonight, I sit amid the profusion of tiny green flashes as night falls and decide to simply be.

Hair Oracle ...

I wasn't sure if I was going to go out tonight. The invitation was informal. So I decided that my hair would dictate my decision.

If it came out well, I'd go out.

If not, I'd stay in.

Yeah, I went out.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

CD Saturday (With Special Guest, Coldplay) ...

I own a lot of CDs. How many? I dunno. Probably 800 or so.

It's no easy feat, storing 800 CDs. So over the years, as my collection has grown, I've purchased various CD storage solutions.

But I've never been good about keeping them organized in any meaningful way. I kept chunks together – Springsteen, Sting/The Police, Clapton, U2 – but one- and two-off artists were harder to find.

And when I bought my latest CD storage solution, I just crammed a bunch of CDs in it. No rhyme, no reason.

So yesterday was the day that I took every CD out of every storage location (they don't all fit in the new storage thingee), took them into the kitchen, and started sorting into piles, A through Z. Well, A through Y, really. No Zs. Luckily, I have a very long counter.

Once I had my alpha-piles (lots of Ss, Ms, and Cs), I alphabetized each and started reinstalling them in my new storage thingee. When I ran out of space, I cleared out the dresser on which the storage thingee sits and continued my alphabetizing in the drawers.

Which meant I needed to find a place for all my DVDs. Which I did. So now everything is nice and organized. And last night, when I wanted to find a CD, it was a snap.

CDs organized, I headed to Borders to secure Viva La Vida, the latest Coldplay disc.

The whole impetus for organizing the CDs was the need to stay home until at least 11 a.m. when the second Coldplay show was going on sale. Even with a pre-sale code, I drew crappy seats for the first show, so I held out for a second show. Sure enough, they added one, the day before the first show. The first tickets I drew weren't the greatest, so I threw them back and fished again. The next pair were awful, way up in the third tier of the United Center. But I kept fishing. I had nothing to lose at that point, and ended up with a very respectable pair. Not the best seats in the house, but far from the worst.

The show is a month from today, so I was keen to get the new disc and start getting familiar with it. I'd read a great review of it in Entertainment Weekly as well as a good Q&A.

I popped the disc in on the way home. I listened to the opening track three times in a row. The whole album is really strong. I like X&Y, but it seemed quite similar to A Rush Of Blood To The Head. This album, though, while still Coldplay, is different. Better.

I know a lot of people think Coldplay is a cliché, but as Chris Martin says in the EW Q&A, "... I think it's nice to be big enough to be unfashionable. It's a luxury problem."

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Anti-Successories ...

My friend Forrest is like a lightning rod for e-mails containing mock motivational posters.

Which he then sends around to all his friends, much to my glee.

This was one of my favorites from the latest batch:

Friday, June 20, 2008

'Dancer In The Dark' ...

I'd always meant to see this movie. I mean, who among us was not intrigued by the woman who wore a swan dress to the Oscars?

Tonight was the night. It was already in my Netflix queue, but New John suggested I move it to the top.

As I IMed to New John, post-viewing: Trippy. Trippy, trippy, trippy.

In my book, Bjork is a better actress than vocalist.

And unbeknownst to me, David Morse is a co-star. I love him. Bonus!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Robert Plant, Alison Krauss, Ravinia ...

Tonight was my first-ever Ravinia concert on the sprawling lawn.

It was also my last.

The "convenient" express train from downtown took more than 50 minutes to arrive at Ravinia's gate. Then we had to wait for our train to depart and another to arrive and depart before we could cross the tracks to the park itself.

Luckily, Gretchen and Norberto were already there and had snagged space, but space far away from the pavilion and not really near speakers, to boot. They would have grabbed space closer if they'd been able to, but they were stuck in traffic and then on the shuttle bus to the park.

Did I mention it was freezing? I wedged myself into the gift shop, along with about 50 other shoppers, all in the market for sweatshirts. Happily, unlike most venues, Ravinia is not in the habit of raping people: My hooded sweatshirt was only $29.95.

We noshed on our dinner (thanks, you two!) and half-listened to the opening act, but by the time Robert Plant and Alison Krauss took the stage, we were already itching to go.

The thing of it is, sitting on the lawn at Ravinia and listening to the music is almost exactly like sitting in your yard and listening to a CD.

Doreen and I hopped the first train back to the city, the 9:38. Not an express train. And we got back downtown in less time than it took us to get out there in the first place.

As we were leaving the grounds, though, Robert did launch into a bit of "In The Mood" from The Principle Of Moments.

And that made the night almost worth it.

That and laughing with my friends.

Next time, though, I want pavilion seats or none at all.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Swell Season ...

Glen Hansard: He's just so cute.

A brilliant musician, sure. An enviable voice, you bet. But he's just so cute. Not just his tousled red hair – or is it brown, or maybe reddish-brown? – but his whole demeanor. The man's an Oscar winner but last night at the Chicago Theater, he seemed sincerely awed at the size of the venue he and his band were playing to for the second of three sold-out shows.

And the Chicago Theater's not that big.

(His opening act, Daniel Martin Moore, said, the audience was 36 times bigger than any audience he'd played to before. He was great, too. Has an album coming out in the fall, I believe. Be on the lookout.)

Glen and Marketa and the rest of the band (which comprised everyone from The Frames) played for well over two hours, songs from "Once," songs by The Frames. A great, great set.

But I'm sure everyone agreed that the best moment of the night came when someone in the audience called out for "Broken-hearted Hoover Fixer Sucker Guy." (It's in the movie, which you need to see.)

Glen peered into the balcony and said, "Ethan? Are you here?"

And a little voice answered.

Turns out, Ethan recorded the song and posted it on YouTube and became a bit of a viral sensation.

So Glen called him to the stage to perform the song. Ethan made his way down, the red and blue lights in the soles of his shoes twinkling in the dark theater with every step.

When he arrived on stage, the place went nuts. It's a short song, but we all clapped along and cheered him loudly.

Glen stayed on his knees for the set, helping Ethan when he blanked on the lyrics a bit, giving him a big hug before and a big hug after.

This is the video that started it all, as best I can tell:

I'm pretty sure that's Ethan. Everyone in the comments seems to think it is. I wasn't close enough to the stage last night to see his little face.

And during the last song of the evening, the band broke into "Pure Imagination," the song from "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," and Glen, channeling Gene Wilder, said, in his charming Irish brogue, "You won, Ethan. It's all yours."

I nearly started crying. But then, when don't I?

He also introduced one of his songs with an anecdote that I'll condense into this: When you're standing in front of a brick wall, and you've tried everything you can to get to the other side and nothing has worked, turn around, start walking in the other direction, and eventually you'll end up on the other side of the wall. You might just have to walk around the planet to get there.

I love that.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Boss Moments ...

Earlier today, I started poking around YouTube, hoping to find a clip of Springsteen performing "Reason to Believe" from the Devils and Dust tour.

I saw that tour both in Detroit the night before the album was released and in Chicago, a month or so later.

Both times, Bruce opened with this tune. It was completely spellbinding then. And it still is, now. And it sounds nothing like the cut from "Nebraska." As I wrote here the day after the show in Detroit, "The first tune wasn't so much a tune as it was art. The man sings with his soul." See for yourself:

I sent the link to New John and he watched some of the other related videos and sent this link to me. Bruce. Performing live. On the street. In Copenhagen. Because all the cool stuff happens in Denmark:

It's a fabulously sensual song to sing, but the lyrics make it very much a guy song.

Not that I'd ever presume to sing a Springsteen cover.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Me 'N' My Gee-Tar ...

For years, I've wanted to learn how to play the guitar. It's one of my carryover New Year's resolutions. Like cellular rollover minutes, but different.

Last week, I was poking around an antique store which is really partly an antique store and partly a "stuff" store. And I spied a guitar that was hard to miss because of its color: pink. Not all pink, mind you, but pink is involved. I strummed the strings and it sounded reasonably in tune. The price was crazy cheap and included a case. (A nylon case, not a hard case, but I like the nylon case idea better.) And to top it all off, it was 20% off.

So I didn't buy it.

Why? I dunno. Because I'm a dork, that's why.

But I thought about my Barbie Dream Guitar this week, thinking I should buy it because 1) it's so cheap that even if I lose interest in the whole guitar-playing idea in a week or two, I'd hardly be out any money, and because 2) it's pink!

Pink is far from my favorite color, but this baby was just too kitchsy to pass up. Even though I passed it up.

So today, I took a walk to the antique/stuff store and told myself that if the guitar was still there, it would be mine.

And there it was, right where it was last week. And I noticed that it was missing a string, but I didn't care.

The sales lady wrote up a receipt and when all was said and done, I paid just over $27. We slipped it into its case, I slung it over my shoulder, and instantly felt about 1,000% cooler. How many uncool people walk around with guitars on their backs? Um, none.

When I arrived home with my BDG, I IMed L.A. Dave and he wanted a picture immediately, so I fired up my laptop with the built-in camera, snapped a couple of shots, and sent one off to him. This one (note the excellent – and completely unintentional – use of chiaroscuro):

I had described the guitar to L.A. Dave, pre-picture, and he wrote, "It sounds flamboyant," which is the word that was hanging in the air when he suggested that I name it.

"Flamboyant" made me think of Hank Azaria in The Birdcage so I decided to name my guitar Agador.

I also IMed New John (who plays guitar) about my purchase and he pointed me toward the first chords I need to learn and then asked me what song I'd like to learn to play first, which was a terribly good question and one which I couldn't answer immediately, but then I had a flash.

One of the next songs I'd like to try in the studio is "You Believe in Me" by Jeffrey Gaines. It's a pretty simple song, or so it seems, so I've decided that that should be the first song I learn to play because it would be fun to sing it, but it would be awesome to sing it and play it.

I think Agador and I will be very happy together. Inside a pocket on the case is a guitar strap, which set me to thinking that I should get extra campy and BeDazzle it with "Agador."

Right after I buy a BeDazzler. Which will be never.

For campy I am not.

But musical I am. So I'm excited to learn how to play.

It's pink!

Some Of What Makes Mr. Right ...

Last night, I had a dream about my friend Steve. A long, protracted dream. I tend to remember my dreams in great detail, so I was mulling it over this morning and it got me to thinking about his many good qualities, qualities I hope to find in an available man someday. Mind you, if Mr. Whomever doesn't embody every one of these qualities, I won't write him off, but they're nice-to-haves.

Which made me think that Steve's qualities and those of other male friends would make a handy list for my male readers who might be interested in male-female relations and what goes on in our girly heads. They're presented in no particular order, except for the last item, which is the last item because almost no man does it these days and because, for me, at least, it's the epitome of manners.

(I'll add to this list as others come to me. I haven't had any coffee yet this morning, so my brain might be holding back in protest.)

Opening doors/holding doors. Pretty obvious, but even this nicety has fallen by the wayside. And because of its rarity, it's a pleasant surprise when it happens. And it's not just a male/female thing. I routinely open doors for people or hold them for people coming up behind me. Still, when a guy does it for me, I'm touched.

Knowing something about food and wine. Granted, not every woman will care about this, but for those who do, finding a guy who can navigate a wine list and knows what to do when a bottle arrives at the table is pleasant indeed. Not that every guy must become an oenophile, but psst!, wine tastings are a great place to meet women. Beyond wine, though, a basic grasp of basic foodstuffs is a plus. I once went on a date with a guy who didn't know what a cappuccino was. In this Starbucks age we live in, is it too much to ask that a guy knows about cappuccino? He doesn't necessarily have to drink them, but he should at least know what it is.

Walking closest to traffic. While walking down sidewalks, Steve always walks closest to the street. If we exit a building and he's not automatically in the right position, he'll hang back a step and appear on my other side. When crossing the street, he makes sure he's walking closest to the traffic in motion. I've noticed that other guys do this, too. Points for them.

Extending a hand. Whether it's exiting a cab or stepping over a pile of snow or a puddle in the street, nothing beats a guy who goes before me then turns to take my hand.

Being kind. This applies to everyone in my life, because I won't associate with people who are rude. But simple acts of kindness still score big points in my book. Many years ago, my friend Rick and I were headed somewhere (probably to a bar) and a man in a wheelchair asked Rick if he could have a cigarette. Rick not only shook one of out his pack for the man but stopped and flicked open his lighter and cupped his hands against the wind so the man could light it. That moment is forever embedded in my brain. As a general rule (this used to be on my match dot com profile back in those days), you should treat the janitor with as much respect as the CEO.

And here's the swoon-inducer: Standing up when I leave or return to the table. I haven't had occasion to find out if Steve does this, too, but I have another friend who does, and the first time he did it, I nearly fainted it was so gallant. Yes, clearly, these men aren't in their 20s. They're old enough that they were taught such things by their fathers, back when such things were considered good manners.

Ladies, any others you'd care to add? Pop 'em into the comments and I'll amend the list (and credit you, of course) accordingly. Men, feel free to add your two cents, too, of course.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Danger: Beware Of Failing Memory ...

Yesterday at the gym, as I was on a machine that I'd never been on before, a machine that made me say, "Ooh! It's like Disneyland!" (you know, if Disneyland was all about resistance and guaranteed to screw up your knee), Brandon asked me, out of concern for himself, "Do you ever feel like you've lost your mental edge?"

I laughed and said, "All. The time."

To wit, this afternoon I was driving home from a quick jaunt to the post office, and while waiting at a light, thinking about a blog post, I though of this: "In the next installment of National Treasure, Nicolas Cage will search for my birth certificate." Now, though, I have no idea what I was going to blog about in order to include that line.

I was reading someone else's blog yesterday, someone who is on the brink of 30, and I laughed at what they perceive to be their concerns about getting older.

If only. You 29-year-olds have nothing to gripe about yet. Why not? Because you're 29, that's why! You're TWENTY-NINE. When you tell someone how old you are, you still lead off with the word "twenty." You might as well hold up your hands and say, "I'm this many."

Here's a better age-related reality check for you: A person who was born the day I graduated from high school can now legally drink.

The thing of it is, the 30s are so much better than the 20s. I truly wouldn't go back to my 20s if I had the chance. And I'm really looking forward to my 40s.

I don't understand people who freak out about their age, who claim to be "29 and holding." Sure, how you react to aging is relative to where you thought you'd be at a given age – I, for example, figured I'd be married with kids by the age of 40 – but really, if you could stay stuck at 29, a la Groundhog Day, would you do it?

I wouldn't. I like getting older. I like the passage of time. I like learning new things and seeing new things and meeting new people – most of the time. I've already started planning my 40th birthday party. I have every intention of making a big deal out of it, of throwing one helluva party, because, hey, I might never have a wedding, so why not gather my friends and family around me to celebrate the dawn of a new decade?

And as for my memory, eh, I'll just start popping some ginkgo biloba.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

All Hail The Arrival Of Summer ...

Warning: What follows is a terribly serious post. Consciousness-expanding content that is truly Earth-shattering in its importance.

Today, at the gym, Brandon was wearing a sleeveless T-shirt.

Brandon, my insanely built, young, handsome trainer, was wearing a white sleeveless T-shirt. Not a tank top, mind you. And not a shirt off of which he ripped the sleeves. But an intentionally sleeveless T-shirt.

Those of you who know me know I have a thing for guys' arms. Hands, wrists, forearms, upper arms.

This picture is a few years old, but you get the idea. Going to the gym just got a little more fun. Bring on the warm weather!

And now for something completely serious: Brandon competes in bodybuilding competitions and is looking for sponsors. Drop a line in the comments if you'd like to get in touch with him.

'When The Sun Meets The Sky' ...

Some songs are simply captivating.

The great thing about having a lot of songs in my iTunes is that I often forget what's in there.

This morning, with iTunes set on Shuffle, as it almost always is, Eric Johnson's "When The Sun Meets The Sky" shuffled up and stopped me dead in my tracks.

Sure, I own the album. The album cover caught my eye years ago when I worked for Thomson. A copy was in our bin of books and CDs that weren't destined to reviewed in our entertainment publication.

When importing tunes years ago, I pulled in three tracks from "Venus Isle." Somehow, though, my brain erased my memory of this song, to this morning, it was like hearing it for the first time, even though it wasn't the first time I'd heard it. I love the feel of it. I have a visceral reaction to very few songs, but I'm in love with this tune.

I've listened to it many times today, even pulling out the disc so I could put it in my CD player and crank it through my pretty speakers. And then I took the CD with me when I went to the gym. It's an excellent song to play on a sunny day with the windows down and the moon roof retracted.

Here's the album cut:

And here's a clip of Eric performing:

Monday, June 09, 2008

Playful Pill ...

Have I mentioned lately that I'm old?

(My mom just said, "You're not old, you're older." Right, Mom? Did you sleep well?)

OK, maybe I ain't old, but I also ain't as young as I used to be. Yessirre, 40 is coming at me like an anvil in a Road Runner cartoon and I am Wile E. Coyote.

My latest almost-40 malaise, my elderly ennui, stems from a nagging back pain. Ouch. Back pain is insidious. Back pain affects everything you do. Try not using your back. You see what I mean? There it is, between your arms and your legs. Try to roll over in bed without using your back. Or sitting. Or standing. Ow, ow, ow.

So I've been popping Advil Liqu-gels for the past couple days. Judiciously. I try not to take drugs if I can help it, but sometimes, a girl's gotta go for the meds.

Until this latest bottle of Advil, I've been a tablet taker, but I figured that Liqu-gels probably speed relief to the affected area, so I bought a bottle the last time I was at Target, the happiest place on earth. (Is it sad that I can be made so happy by the simple purchase of Puffs and Brita filters? Yeah, I thought so.)

Anyway, this weekend, I cracked into the Liqu-gels and was immediately struck by the striking resemblance between my pills and ... Lite-Brite pegs. Really. Check 'em out. Don't you miss Lite-Brite?

I never had a Lite-Brite, but my cousin Lora did. We, however, never turned out anything like this:

That's right, it's The Last Supper, rendered in Lite-Brite. Click on it to make it larger and see it better.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

'Cloverfield' ...

My nephews told me to see this movie. Fresh off a trip to the cineplex, Nick couldn't stop raving about it.

Having just watched it, I'm bummed that I didn't catch it on a big screen. With a theater full of people with whom to whoop it up.

I don't read movie reviews until after I've seen a film. I don't want to know about a movie before I see it, but afterward, I want to see if my experience matched others' experiences. In this instance, I'm in the majority. It's a "guy" movie – lots of 'splosions and freaky CGI monstery things – but I totally loved it.

And to those who didn't like it, I say, "Pa ha! You're cracked!" Yes, I know we're all entitled to our opinions, but seriously, what's not to like in this movie?

I started to pick it apart, plot-wise, and then thought, "Who cares! It's really cool!" Well, actually, I used a colorful modifier for "cool," but this is family blog.

Since summer has arrived (as measured by the need for me to turn on my air conditioning, and yes, I did have my heat on just last week, thanks for asking), add this bad boy to your Netflix queue, make a big bowl of popcorn, maybe whip up a pitcher of lemonade, and kick back for the best hour and 24 minutes you'll spend, uh, the next time you want to spend an hour and 24 minutes.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Too Busy Being Rich ...

Melania Trump has an official web site. It contains press releases. Two, to be exact. One was posted in October 2005, "Melania Trump Hosts 250th Anniversary Party For Vacheron Constantin" at which "made just a brief appearance." (If you're the host, aren't you supposed to stick around?) The other in November 2005, "Melania Trump Hosts Exclusive Preview of 2007 Cadillac Escalade."

Since then, I guess she's been busy birthing little Barron (subtle name) and otherwise being richer than you and me.

For those scoring at home, she was born in 1970. Trump was born in 1946.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Garden By Twilight ...

My peonies are starting to open. I love their ruffled blooms. Alas, they quickly fade.

Hey, Men: Why Are You Still Single? ...

An interesting story from Reuters today, in part below:

SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - Bachelor Carl Weisman got fed up of being classified as a playboy, a loser or a commitment-phobe so he set out to find out exactly why he and a growing number of eligible men were steering clear of marriage.

Weisman, 49, conducted a survey of 1,533 heterosexual men to research a book aiming to give women an insight into why some smart, successful men opted to stay single -- and help lifelong bachelors understand why they are still the solo man at parties.

He concluded that most men were not afraid of marriage -- but they were afraid of a bad marriage.

"Men are 10 times more scared of marrying the wrong person than of never getting married at all," Weisman told Reuters in a telephone interview.

"This is the first generation of people who have grown up with bad divorces. People assume there is something wrong if you don't marry but these are men who have made a different choice and not given in to social pressures."

The release of his book "So Why Have You Never Been Married? - Ten Insights into Why He Hasn't Wed," comes amid a growing trend for more people to stay single, with less social or religious pressures on men -- and women -- to tie the knot.

Weisman said U.S. figures showed that in 1980 about 6 percent of men aged in their early 40s had never married but this number had now risen to 17 percent.

Weisman said his online survey found there are three groups of bachelors -- about 8 percent who never want to marry, 62 percent want to marry but of which half won't settle for anything less than perfection, and about 30 percent who are on the fence.

"... half won't settle for anything less than perfection"?


There are men out there not getting married because they're not meeting the perfect woman?

Am I allowed to presume that they are themselves perfect and therefore warrant the perfect mate?

Magazine Junkie ...

As I confessed to you here, nearly two years ago, I am a magazine junkie.

I wrote then, "I tell myself that for every magazine I subscribe to, I have to let one go."

Yeah, that rule hasn't stuck.

I don't like cats, see. But I do like magazines. So instead of becoming a crazy cat lady in my fast-approaching dotage, I'll become the crazy magazine lady instead.

Actually, I can hardly be held responsible for my addiction. Subscriptions beget subscription offers. And most of the time, I can resist. Well, OK, I'll usually send away for the free trial issue, but I have no problem with scrawling "CANCEL" across an invoice and sending it packing in the postage-paid envelope.

But when a magazine offer is combined with a good cause? I'm sunk. I first subscribed to Better Homes and Gardens because my editor at the Tribune was selling subscriptions for her son, for a school fundraiser. Magazine for a good cause, see? And I've subscribed ever since. I've also added my mom and my friend Gemma to my tab over the years. I happily subscribe for all of us.

So you can imagine my dilemma recently when I received a solicitation to subscribe to a bevy of potential titles, all for only $10 each, to benefit breast cancer research.

Whenever I receive anything in the mail that contains those sheets of stamps, I feel compelled to study the stamps to see if I'm interested enough in the offerings to consider becoming a member of whatever club's at hand.

I believe this fascination with all things perforated and adhesive began early in my childhood when I would spy the Publishers' Clearinghouse stamps in the garbage. What the hell were my parents thinking?! They were throwing out stickers?!

Stickers are a very big deal when you're a kid. Even if you have to lick them yourself.

So I perused the magazine stamps and found many possible titles. I spread the stamp contenders out on my desk and began my elimination process. The offer restricted me to four titles. (Or maybe it didn't. I didn't read the fine print closely, but really, four new magazines is plenty.)

Today, the first one arrived: Newsweek. Doreen has shared copies with me in the past and I've liked it. And I thought it was high time to subscribe to a grown-up magazine. I've read a good chunk of it already. There's a polar bear on the cover!

I'll also be receiving Martha Stewart Living because I love what I despise, Everyday Food because I like to eat food every day and I flipped through an issue at Gemma's house last month and thought, "Huh. I should get this," and Glamour because I think it's good to have it lying around so that the opportunity exists for me to become glamourous by osmosis.

So then, the new subscription list looks something like this:

Cook's Illustrated: The best food magazine ever. Period.

Entertainment Weekly: Every week, in every issue, I immediately flip to the back page to see if Stephen King's written the final feature of the issue (he writes once a month, yet I look every week) and then I flip to the TV section to read Sound Bites, a collection of quotes from the previous week of TV, because they're funny.

Country Home: Pretty pictures for me to tear out every month and put in my "design" file.

Cottage Living: The new kid on the shelter-mag block (though not so new anymore), and, I have to say, the best of all of 'em.

Better Homes and Gardens: Always a good mix of house and garden features, with projects that don't require a degree in engineering or metallurgy to complete.

Ladies' Home Journal: Because I thought I might like to write for them (big-name mags pay well), but I got addicted to "Can This Marriage Be Saved?", not that I'm married. But I might be, someday. Though I'd love to see one of the therapists simply say, "No. No, I'm sorry. Your marriage cannot be saved. I'll send you my bill."

Fitness: A complement to my gym going, I thought. But I won't renew my subscription. I think the advice on food is half-assed. No self-respecting fitness publication should be advocating some of the crap in those pages. I don't care if it's low-cal.

Newsweek: See earlier comment about feeling like a grown up. And seriously, I felt the need to be better informed about, well, everything.

Martha Stewart Living: I don't like her as a person, but I love the ideas that spew forth from the minds of her minions.

Everyday Food: Another Martha title, but from what I've seen, the recipes are realistic. I watch the show on PBS sometimes, but sometimes they're just too damn enthused about everything. And the camera work bugs me. Seriously, I don't need to see them washing their hands.

Glamour: Because buying Cosmo immediately makes me feel like I should take a shower. And because I'm not part of the Cosmo demo: 22-year old, oversexed Size 0s who make $200,000 a year. Or those who wish they were.

And yes, I do recycle. And before I recycle, I share copies with others.

Any others I should be reading? As if I need to read more?