Monday, February 28, 2011

30 day song challenge - Day Twenty

Hello everyone, 

If you are here because you googled this picture, thanks for stopping in. Please leave a comment and let me know where you're from.

Someone emailed me this picture after I wrote this blog entry, and I had to post it. Hope you like it as much as I did! Would love to give credit to the genius who made it...

Day 20 - A Song You Listen To When You're Angry
"Fuel" by Metallica

Just like going to sleep, I don't use music when I'm angry. But sometimes, I will be frustrated or bothered by something, and I find Metallica helps me expunge that anger. "Fuel" is a great song about driving and it makes me feel good when I'm mad to go fast and it gives me great release.

I know a lot of people think Metallica are hacks. Greedy, pop-metal, jerks. But ... I really enjoy their pre-Saint Anger music...

Sunday, February 27, 2011

30 day song challenge - Day Nineteen

Day 19 - A Song From Your Favorite Album
"Jesus on the Radio" by Guster, off the album "Keep It Together"

It is so hard to pick a "favorite album." I love a lot of albums. "Gordon" or "Rock Spectacle" by BNL rank high on the list. "Born to Run" by Mr. Springsteen. "And You And I" by Yes. There are brilliant Dylan albums, genius masterworks by Rush... All of the first three U2 albums...

"Keep it Together" is my favorite Guster album. The songs off of it never bore me. I absolutely love. From the radio hits to the epic "Come Downstairs And Say Hello," I love listening to this recording.

I was going to pick CDASH because there is a nice video online of the song from Austin City Limits, but I picked this one because of the nice live recording feel from the record store in Boston where it was shot in 2006. I have met a lot of fellow "Gusterrhoids" over the years, and Alex, the owner of this video, has shot lots of different videos over the years. I've had the pleasure of sitting at shows with these fellow fans, so this nice little homemade video makes me think of all the fun times I've had with my friends.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

30 day song challenge - Day Eighteen

*by the way -- I'm getting hundreds of visitors from overseas and around the USA who are coming here by Googling about the 30 day Song Challenge. If you're here, say hello. If you are blogging your 30 songs, I'd love to read them. Don't be shy.

day 18 - a song you wish you heard on the radio
"To Be Alone With You" by Sufjan Stevens

I would actually say I would like to hear almost anything from Sufjan Stevens on the Boston airwaves. Unlike the Eagles, he is nowhere to be found. He is not on the acoustic rock stations, he is not on the progressive/alternative stations. He just isn't anywhere.

Somehow I'm okay with that.

There are songs that he does which are just absolute noise (the end of Romulus is unlistenable, I just skip over that and go on with my life). He has a huge collection of quirky Christmas and holiday music which maybe are thrown up there on the stations at the appropriate time of the year.

This song, and a few others, are rather worthy of being played by mainstream radio. His faith in God and his love for Jesus are hidden in the poetry and are often left to the listener to decipher.

His quirky obscurity probably keeps him off the airwaves. His religious over and undertones keep him off the mainstream, and his weirdness keeps him off Christian radio.

I wish it didn't. I'd like to be scanning around the dial and come across him and his banjo. For as hip as the Decemberists and other bands using alternative stringed instruments are, I'd have thought he'd rise to the top. But not yet.

Suzanne Vega

I'm kind of excited. I won two tickets from a local radio station (the same one I won tickets from to go on the Guster Booze Cruise in 2006 and the Steven Page autographed guitar from a few years ago) to see Suzanne Vega tomorrow night in a local (very local) venue.

Yes, I know that in a previous entry in the journal here I talked about how I don't particularly care for female vocalists. I used a Sheryl Crow song for my example.

There ARE female vocalists that I do like. I didn't name all the names of artists I don't, and artists I do in that entry. Suzanne Vega is one that I do enjoy. I like how she doesn't over sing the crap out of everything (or anything for that matter), I greatly enjoy her songwriting, and her poetry.

I haven't seen a live show since my birthday in November, and before that it was a long time running. I used to go see live music all the time, and this dearth has been sad for me. I greatly enjoy seeing live music, even if I'm not the biggest fan of the band. There is something about watching an artist present his or her wares out onto the stage, and the honesty of that sharing, the reception by the consumer, that I love to see.

Doug and I will go check her out. It's been a great deal of time, probably 25 years, since I've seen her perform. Greatly looking forward to this.

Friday, February 25, 2011

30 day song challenge - Day Seventeen

Day 17 - a song you hear often on the radio
"Hotel California" by the Eagles

It seems that no matter the station, rock, classic rock, adult contemporary, country or even folk, even the stations piped into the doctor or dentist offices, you can pretty much guarantee "Hotel California" by the Eagles will be on. I don't think a day has gone by in the last 20 years of my life that I've been in a car with the radio on, this song comes on.

There are others, but this is the first thing that popped into mind.

There are some radio stations, for instance WBAB on Long Island, that only play five artists, all day long. If I lived on LI anymore, I'd have to say that anything by Led Zeppelin would be the first answer to this question.

And, I heard it at work on Jo's iPod yesterday too because she was in a "70s Mood." So... truly, truly I say to you, "You can turn the radio off any time you like, but this will never leave..." cue Joe Walsh's rippin' guitar solo.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

30 day song challenge - Day Sixteen

Day 16 - A song you used to love but now you hate.
"Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana

Oh, 1991. I liked you. I was freshly married, living in Atlanta. I was at a record store in Decatur and they had a giant poster of a naked baby boy swimming underwater after a dollar on a fish hook. Nirvana's album cover for "Nevermind."

Strangely, I then saw the video for "Smells Like Teen Spirit" on MTV's 120 Minutes. I liked the millieu, the filthy gymnasium filled with anarchist cheerleaders, the lead singer with his crazy mop of blond hair and his stripey shirt, the drummer who looked more like Animal from the muppets than even Animal did. The janitor rocking out with his mop. The out of control stands, crowd surfing, and just general fuck you chaos of the shoot.

I couldn't get enough of this song, or this album. I hated living in Atlanta, and this was a great album filled with really angry songs that were also radio friendly and super poppy in a lot of ways.

We relocated to Massachusetts, I had a baby, and the lead singer of this here band, a few short months younger than I am, also had a baby. I kind of felt weird, knowing that in this world both Kurt Cobain and I were parents. Two very different people, with babies really close in age.

And then Kurt blew his head off. And now I never ever want to hear this overplayed song ever again.

I had a copy of the Rolling Stone Magazine with his black and white photo on it. I stood in the middle of my living room while my 2 year old daughter walked around me. I was heartbroken, not for the "world's loss of his genius" but for Frances Bean. For her loss. I thought to myself that no matter how hard life had to be, how do you do that to your baby? How do you just do that?

I'd gone through some very serious depressions in my time. I had been at the end of those ropes. But something always ended up dissuading me, pushing me into a different direction than suicide.

All these years later, Kurt's birthday just passed here in this realm of reality. A whole ton of the kids I'm friends with on Facebook had posts wishing him a happy birthday. "We love you Kurt!" I had a whole discussion with a girl named Molly about how I am still mad at him for what he did, to his daughter. Molly, being 14, didn't really get it.

I hope she never has to.

In the meantime, yeah. I am still mad at him. I don't feel that he robbed the world of his genius. I just wish that as a daddy he just had the strength to fix himself with help. With the help of people who loved him, not for his genius music, but for him.

If you never have, I suggest you read the book "About A Boy" by Nick Hornby. They made a movie about it a few years back with Hugh Grant in the lead role. But they left out the entire part of the book that was the connection between Hugh and The Boy... their shared love of Nirvana, and Kurt's suicide. It is a heartbreaking book. And of all the things left behind by Mr. Cobain, probably the most sad and beautiful part of his legacy.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

30 day song challenge - Day Fifteen

Day 15 - A song that describes you
"American Girl" by Tom Petty

I had a hard time with this one. I don't think of a lot of songs pointing to me lyric-wise. But I can think of hundreds of songs that speak directly to other people in my life. I know that U2's "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" speaks to me about Clayton. Always. "Sister Goldenhair" by Bread speaks to me of my sister.

But a song that describes me?

I thought of "Tupelo Honey" by Van Morrison, but that would be more of what my husband thinks of me. I also thought of "What I Really Want" by Alanis Morrisette because I love the images in the song.

But it came down to this one. I heard it on the radio on the way to work and started laughing. She was an American Girl, raised on promises... I love this song. I love Tom's Bob Dylan voice. I love the straightforward rock and roll of this tune. I love it.

And I love that it makes me think of me.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

30 day song challenge - Day Fourteen

Day 14 - A song no one would expect you to love
"Sober" by Tool

I enjoy metal, but usually the garden variety, popular, big hit kinds of metal. I'm a huge Metallica fan. I love Megadeth. Iron Maiden. That kind of stuff.

Tool is rather dark and scary, not as dark and scary as Norwegian Church Burnin' Death Metal, the kind of stuff my 14 year old son likes listening to. But for me, and the Shiny Happy People good kind happy love is all around kind of music that I like to listen to, this is rather unexpected... I think.

One of the reasons I like the song is the incredible video. It is just crazy, so intricate, beautiful and sick all at the same time. I like Maynard's voice, and I just think it is a great piece of art all told.

I do love Maynard's side project called A Perfect Circle, and one of my very very favorite songs from that group/endeavor is "3 Libras." Which I just simply will always love. Watch the video. Tell me if you like it too. Maynard's pretty side... heh.

Monday, February 21, 2011

30 day song challenge - Day Thirteen

Day 13 - A song that is a guilty pleasure
"Yeah" by Usher

Define Guilty Pleasure for me. Is it a song that you wouldn't be caught dead listening to? A song that you know everyone would shake their heads if they saw you grooving out to it? For some, my post about ABBA would have to be their guilty pleasure. Or perhaps they are metal heads who like the bluegrass stylings of Allison Krause once in a while.

The vast majority of R&B/Dance/Hip-Hop music is poorly written lyrically, has be ungh-chk ungh-chk drum machine driving force to cover it all up, and what vocals there are seem to be auto-tuned beyond belief. I find it unlistenable, even for the summer windows down Hampton Beach drive by that most of us up this corner of the state seem to like doing.

This song though, is a lot of fun. I am drawn in by the keyboard bits, I like Usher's voice, and there's something bizarre about Lil'Jon's "guest" vocal. I find it irresistible, and my daughter can attest to this because if we come across it on Radio Station Roulette as we drive through Central Pennsylvania, I am guaranteed to stop.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

30 day song challenge - Day Twelve

day 12 - A song by a band you hate
"Leaving Las Vegas" by Sheryl Crow

I have never liked Sheryl Crow.

Overall, I'm not a big fan of female singer songwriters. I like some Ani DiFranco, I like a little bit of the Indigo Girls... the first album is spectacular. But a lot of stuff after that just bores me. Everyone loves Sarah McLachlan, but I kind of feel that she too is overrated.

I know a lot of people like her, but I just feel she is so boring, so pedestrian. I don't GET why so many people like her. And so I've chosen her for this honor, a song by a band I hate. And yeah, I know. She's not a band. She's an individual. But I really couldn't come up with a band that I hated.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

30 day song challenge - Day Eleven

day 11 - A song from your favorite band
"One Man Wrecking Machine" by Guster

Day one I went with my other favorite band, picking my favorite song. Seeing as BNL has already gotten representation on this list, I had to go with Guster, and I picked this song specifically because of the lyrics. And the video.

"One Man Wrecking Machine" looks at the idea of going back in time and tearing things apart and putting them back together in your high school years. I have for many years wished I had a time machine so I could go back and fix things, damn the Butterfly Effect. Damn it to hell.

I wish I'd gotten my drivers license and a car.I wish I'd told a few choice people to fuck themselves. I wish I'd realized that obsessing over certain things and people who were not going to pan out for me or be there for me was a bad thing, and that I'd focused on the people who really did like and love me, and spend more time with them before it was too late. I wish I'd left my bedroom more often, gone out and had some fun. I wish I had told that certain special kid that I liked him in 1983, before he left to go home. Maybe he would have wanted to go to the prom with me. Not that my prom night was bad, I had a great time with Rob getting drunk in Donna's hot tub in the pouring rain. That is a memory that I shouldn't want to trade. But there are so many things I wish I'd done differently. Just a little.

I am happy with my life, my family, where I am. I recognize that going back in time and changing things wouldn't work. And at the end of this song, the narrator realizes just that thing. There is no point in living in our adolescent dreams inspired by true events and movie screens.

Still. Hmm.

Please go watch the video. It is expertly made, and is truly a sweet little song. Enjoy.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Today was a pretty awesome day

This whole past week, even with the cold, as a matter of fact, kind of rocked.

First -- working for Jo at has been so fun. I felt alive and awake like I haven't felt in months. Doing something, working, being in an office, with grownups instead of just my dogtourage following me around... it has been great.

Yesterday, we had our court of honor and Geoff advanced in rank to Star Scout. Quite awesome. He is on fire to move up to Life Scout, won't be able to until June because you need 6 months at this rank (He actually advanced in December but got his badge last night). I'm proud of him like I cannot express.

I bought Jessica's bus ticket to come home for spring break. I miss her, and I am looking forward to her coming home.

Today, I got to hang out with my friend Dave for the whole day. He has a seizure disorder, and can't really be solo. So he has a caretaker who hangs out with him, a guy... they do guy stuff. Yard work, errands, stuff. But that guy had a doctor's appointment today, so Dave's wife (my friend Tree) called me and asked me to hang with him. She told me he'd be sleeping when I got there but dude was all dressed and ready to go. We sat and had coffee, enjoyed the dog, talked about the kids and life. Went to lunch with two other friends, my girl Janet from college (who Dave had never met) and Jen, who Dave is already friends with and Janet knows from other circles. We had a blast, totally enjoyed lunch. I thought we'd head back to Dave's house and he said "You know where you're taking me after lunch, right?"

"Uh, no?"

"The Tap."

The Tap is a brew pub in Haverhill, and I guess Dave just wanted a beer. We went and had a couple pints, made fun of people on ESPN, talked about our shared dislike of NASCAR and Bass Fishing, and just generally had a blast. It was 60 degrees, beautiful, sunny, and I'm hanging out at a bar with a good friend shooting the shit in the middle of the afternoon.

I came home, and Geoff and I went and picked Doug up at the train station. We headed out to the Cafe Azteca in Lawrence for dinner -- best Mexican food around. A huge pitcher of Margaritas and a delicious dinner, complete with "Flan Impossible!" at the end, and I'm convinced that life is GOOD right now.

I needed a good week, a good day, and I'm looking forward to a good weekend. Geoff's on vacation next week, and I may take him to Boston for a day trip, go to the museums, generally goof off together, grab Doug and have dinner somewhere else too. Who knows.

30 day song challenge - Day Ten

Day 10 - A song that makes you fall asleep
"Fever Dream" by Iron & Wine

This was a difficult one for me because I do not use music to put myself to sleep. I never have. If I listen to music in bed, I am connected to it, and listen intently. I am relaxed by it, but never put to sleep by it.

I used music to put my children to sleep. I would sing several different songs to them from "Yes, Jesus Loves Me" to "You Can Close Your Eyes" by James Taylor. I also used some Bruce Cockburn ("All The Diamonds") and Mamma Cass' "Dream a Little Dream of Me." Even some Jon Svetkey with "Copper."

But I never put myself to sleep with music.

I recalled when I had a job, which seems like a million years ago at this point. I would listen to at my desk, and once in a while a song would come on that would completely relax me. This son would come on and I'd feel my pulse slow, I'd sink deeper into my chair. And I think if any song on earth could lull me that way, it would be this one. Thank you Sam Beam for your soothing, sweet voice. You send me into a sleepy state, which could eventually turn into true sleep if this song was longer.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Work and Cold; BOA lawsuit update

This week, I started a part time gig helping out my friend Jo, formerly of Counting Sheep, at her business. She runs a cooking school, and has asked me to help with with office stuff. I think I put in 5 hours this week. I missed Monday and also missed today due to a massive head cold that I'm struggling with.

I tried using a Neti Pot to irrigate my sinuses. I think I either did it wrong or need someone to do it for me, because it was like Self-Waterboarding. Very unpleasant, no fun, and disgusting. I almost threw up afterwards.

Now, I know a lot of people swear by this. I did it specifically because so many friends told me how awesome it was. Let's just say, not everything is for everybody, I guess. At least I gave it a try.

Anyway -- Working with Jo is an absolute joy so far. She's funny as heck, the office is awesome. Her iPod is just jam packed with joyfulness. I'm cranking through things and doing stuff and making myself very happy. I'm glad she asked me to come in and help. I just wish it wasn't an hour away. Or that I had a hovercraft that could bypass all the roads that take one to Newton.

But that said, it's fun and I like it. I just need to be un-sick so I can not suffer from sinus pain and pressure (or, I need to find the right medication cocktail that works) and go to work for 3 straight days.

Yesterday we met with our lawyer to go over what needs done next. I need to produce proof of payment for the last 2 years on our account so I have a call into our bank to get that as a report. We then will submit it back to the credit report agencies as a dispute with the FCRA, the credit report agency will contact the lender (BOA) and say "Is this correct?" BOA will say, no, we're right. The Credit Report agencies will say "BOA claims they are correct and you are not." And then my lawyer said that's when we file the lawsuit. Against the credit agencies and BOA.

About 5 weeks from now we will have a court date, and hopefully will get our way.

In the meantime, I got 2 fedex packages from BOA in the mail on Monday. Both of them were offers to join the Making Home Affordable program.

Then I got three more.

And a fourth.

So a total of six offers to join the Making Home Affordable program came this week, and I felt kind of like Harry Potter must have felt when all the acceptance letters from Hogwarts were flying into the mailbox.

I figured I ought to call them and tell them to knock it off. I didn't get a chance to call, they called me to make sure I got them. When I asked the girl why would they send six of these, she said "we have to make sure you get one, so we send multiple copies."

Again, yet another example of how flat out stupid this company is. Those FedEx envelopes have to be twenty bucks a pop. Thanks for pissing away 120 bucks, guys! They couldn't send it that signature is required instead? Send one copy with confirmation? I'm baffled by how they do things. So inefficient and stupid. I hate them. So I told her that my attorney was getting copies of the documentation. She yelled at me and told me that I had to respond by March 15th or the offer was off the table. I told her that was fine. Thanks. Whatever. I hate you people.

Anyway. That's where we are right now. I'm going to go back to bed because my head is killing me.

30 day song challenge - Day Nine

day 09 - A song you can dance to
"Scarlet Begonias" by the Grateful Dead

Now, a lot of people have specific images of Dance. R&B, Dance Hall, Disco... Ballet even. For me, none of those things really work. I'm not a big dancer. But I am a big fan of the Jam Bands and Hippie Music for dancing to. There's something about the funky drums and the liberation of the jam. You don't need to know steps to anything like "Macarena" or "Electric Slide." You just go with it. Arms, Legs, Booty... put it all together and have a great time.

I have seen the Dead a few times, and getting a good groove on is a lot of fun. Scarlet Begonias is also a sweet little song because in my mind's eye, I like to think I'm like the girl Jerry is singing about. Maybe not in real life, with my exterior, but in my soul.

That said, wait until we get to my "guilty pleasures" option in this game.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

30 day song challenge - Day Eight

Day 8 - A song you know all the words to
"Sabotage" by the Beastie Boys

IIIIIIIIII can't stand it! I know you planned it!

Yeah, boyeeeeeeee! I love me some Beastie Boys. All day every day. From the Old Skool to the now, I find their mysoginistic Jewish Brooklyn White Boy Rap to be insufferably addictive and I love them. Love love love.

I'm not a huge Rap and R&B fan. I've found that I know a lot of songs by heart, every single word. But knowing all the words to a song that has a LOT of words is kind of impressive.

My back up choices for this category/topic were "Blinded by the Light" by Springsteen and "American Pie" by Don McLean. More impressive songs with lots and lots of words.

30 day song challenge - Day Seven

Day 7 - A song that makes you think of a certain event
"Right Here, Right Now" by Jesus Jones

The Revolution Will Be Televised...

I am truly a child of the '80s. No lie. When I read this day's topic, I immediately thought of this song, and the environment all of us children of the '80s grew up in. We got to witness on TV, live and right in front of us, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the jubilation and exhilaration of all of Europe as the balance of power shifted from oppression to freedom.

Hell, we even got to see David Hasselhoff in a jacket studded with little lights as he sang on top of the Berlin Wall.

It was a crazy, crazy time. And my young eyes had never seen anything like it.

Fast forward to now, and I'm watching TV as Egypt's government implodes and Mubarak is removed from power. I'm watching the protests, the announcements, and the celebration. I'm watching as men and women take to the streets peacefully, and I'm then watching them celebrate after a many days struggle to get their message across.

And I'm automatically drawn back to this song.

Right here, right now there is no other place I'd rather be.
Right here, right now watching the world wake up from history...
How many of you are reading this who do remember the Berlin Wall, the Brandenburg Gates, the Cold War and the Red Scare? How many of you lived there? Lived in Europe? Traveled to Eastern Europe when it was in the shadow of communism? Poland? East Germany? Do you even remember there was an East and a West Germany? I remember being in German class and learning about BDR and DDR, and the cities on either side of the "fence." I remember reading about how Berlin was carved in half, how there was a FREE "western" half of Berlin, in the middle of East Germany. How insane is that?! Traveling in and out of Berlin was a nightmare for anyone who had to do it. How they kept that insanity alive for so long is beyond me.

How many of you reading this are too young to remember or weren't even born yet and have no idea of what happened in the 1980s when President Reagan said "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall..." Berlin is part of your history books, it touched on lightly as you gloss over the end of World War II in your history classes in high school because it is the end of the year and you still have to cover the 1950s, Korean War and the Hippies. You have no idea what happened, and just want to get a good score on the test and get on with it.

Well, kids... you have the opportunity right now, if you're paying attention, to pay mind to the Middle East. The fall of Mubarak's government, the revolution in Egypt, and the shift in power that is happening across the Middle East is reminiscent of what happened in the '80s with the fall of the Soviet Union.

My only fear is that freedom, which is being called for and demanded by the people, will not be the result. I also remember the '70s with Iran... and what has happened in the last 30 years there.

My hope for Egypt is that a truly democratic state rises, and that the people who cried freedom will look back in 30 years and say "see? We did it."

Right here, right now.

Monday, February 14, 2011

30 day song challenge - Day Six

Day 6 - A song that reminds you of a place
In God's Country - U2

In 2001, Doug and I took the kids to Arizona and Utah. "The Joshua Tree" was the soundtrack to our journey through "the super desert" as Geoff lovingly called it.

Right now, I have a horrible sore throat, and I'm very tired. Otherwise I'd write a real entry about this song. But suffice to say, I would love right now to be in July heat in the Escalante Range, with a cold beer in my hand, a campsite behind me, and happy little kids running around in the sand and dust, climbing the rocks and loving it. This winter has beaten me down. And this song makes me long for summer and Arizona and Utah.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Eagle Court of Honor

Most of you know that I am actively involved in Geoff's Boy Scout Troop. I am on the committee, and am the troop Chaplain. They say that adult volunteers give "an hour a week" but normally it turns out to be a lot more than that, and sometimes entire weekends.

Today, we celebrated the elevation of our latest Eagle Scout. C is the fifth Scout in two years in our troop, which is a lot considering that about 3% of Scouts make it this far.

We have about 28 boys in the troop, so I think our stats are a little higher. We have one boy who is about to present his Eagle Service project next week to the Eagle Review Board. Keri will hopefully be glad to know that he is wants to do a supply drive to benefit Evgeny and his Scout Troop in Kemerovo. We've already been in contact with them and have found out exactly what their needs are... Evgeny's Troop serves the town and the orphans at Keri's special orphanage. When I shared information on Scouting in Siberia with the Troop last year, this boy had it put on his heart that he wanted to help to support them.

I truly hope that the Eagle Review Board agrees that our community extends PAST our town and region, and that this kind of support will make a world of difference. My heart is hopefully. International Scouting efforts are huge right now, so I hope that his project is blessed and that we can get this ball rolling so they have the equipment Evgeny requested before their big trip in August.

It was a really beautiful day today, with C being very shy and modest, almost embarrassed about the attention he was getting. A great meal was had, and I am reminded again how very much I love this bunch of guys and the families associated with this Troop.

The thing that struck me the most was the district commissioner saying that a verb change happens to him today. He can say I was a cub scout, I was in troop XYZ, but he will ALWAYS be able to say "I am an Eagle Scout." That never goes away.

Driving home, Geoff said to me "I can't wait for my Eagle Court of Honor." Each time we go to one of these, he starts to really think about the reality for himself. He has to do a lot of merit badges to catch up, and start thinking about a service project, but as he gets a little older these realities are seeming more and more .... real. He has some great ideas, so I'm glad that our Troop is so active and we have so many older Scouts setting fantastic examples for the ones coming up.

Geoff will advance in rank next week to Star Scout. After that, the next rank is Life Scout... and then ... Eagle.

Please pray for him as he gets closer, that he does not lose his love for this. I think it would be kinda grand.

30 day song challenge - Day Five

Day 5 - A song that makes you think of someone
"Heartache Tonight" by The Eagles

This was a challenge not because of having to find a song that makes me think of someone, but narrowing it down to only one song that I wanted to use. I have about 99 million songs that I could have picked from, or so... but this one has a fun story with it. At least, I think it is a fun story.

I chose "Heartache Tonight" because it brings me back to the summers between school years in Huntington, NY about twenty five years or so ago. My friend Rob would come pick my "doesn't have a license ass" up and we would drive all over the town, go to Burger King, consume adult beverages on hills outside castle like estates and on private beaches. He would often have his dad's Nimitz Class sized station wagon, fondly refered to as "The Ajax Mobile." That thing could haul 20 ne'er do well high school aged nincompoops, so it was a great vehicle to have access to.

One particular night, "Heartache Tonight" came on the radio and Rob, being ever so funny, started to alternate between the horn and brakes on Main Street in the middle of town with "Beep, Stomp, BeepBeep, Stomp. Beep, Stomp, BeepBeep, Stomp" and we were ROARING laughing. I believe that was also the night we put trash into a mailbox in town and "special delivery" was born.

I've atoned for that sin, so don't judge the 16 year old me, please.

So anytime I hear that song, it is all Beep, Stomp, BeepBeep, Stomp in my head. Good times.

30 day song challenge - Day Four

Day 4 - A song that makes you sad
Evanescence - "My Immortal"

I don't know if I can even write about this one. It kills me.

I blogged about it here a very long time ago. Please go over and read and you'll know why it makes me cry. It is a beautiful song, and still to this day brings me to tears. I haven't listened to it pretty much since that 2003 blog entry because I just can't handle it.

Also, in addition to the reasons outlined in that blog entry from 8 years ago, I miss Clayton. And I know how much he would have LOVED Amy Lee's voice. Clayton had a thing for voices like that. I doubt he ever heard the song. And it makes me sad that I never got to share it with him at top volume in my car driving to work. How strangely different my life has been for the past 9 years without him in my life, but with him constantly in my ear.

Friday, February 11, 2011

30 day song challenge - Day Three

Day 3 - a song that makes you happy
ABBA, "Dancing Queen" (video on YouTube)

This song could fall into multiple categories for me on the overall song list. Song from my childhood, song that is a guilty pleasure, song that people might be surprised that I like.

All told, there is something about ABBA for me that makes me laugh and makes me happy. The cheesy 70s costumes, the hair! The weird Swedish pop look and feel to the overall band. The ... bell bottoms.

I think a lot of how I feel about this song is married to my relationship with my sister. We weren't very close growing up, due to my being a bitch and her being, well, a little sister. But we shared a great love of music, thanks to our mom. Mom had a crankin' 8-track stereo in the car, and we grew up on the best that the 60s and 70s (and sometimes the 50s) had to offer.

I think of my sister's platinum blond hair, the blond Swedish chick, and the two part female vocal harmony, and dancing around in a circle. I also think about roller rinks, skating with boys (falling on my ass) and good friends from Junior High School. I also love the fact that you can tell they maybe have no idea what they're saying, that they're singing in a language truly foreign to them (maybe) especially when they sing "Where they play the rock music." It's so cute to me. I have this thing for Scandinavians and their accents. It's adorable.

So ABBA overall is a band with super cheese factor, 70s charm, and this song really makes me smile.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

30 day song challenge - Day Two

Day Two - Your least favorite song
Jimmy Buffett - Margaritaville

I know this is something that a lot of people can't believe. She's a chick who enjoys feet in the sand, drink in the hand, Hawaiian shirts, Cargo shorts, summer sunshine songs and jam bands.


But I cannot stand Jimmy Buffett, and this song is primarily the reason.

Let me explain. Before you send me scads of hate mail and flaming comments.

I actually struggled with this, after reading the list songs I'd have to think of. It was exceptionally hard for me to think of a "least" favorite song. There are songs that I don't like, but I think for the most part I can respect that someone took the time to work on and create something, and that I can always respect even though I don't enjoy the song.

There are songs that I'm bothered by, usually because of language use. Not because I'm a prude or anything but I think that songs that have exceptionally violent or filthy language are ... useless. Sometimes a good ANGRY song a great thing to behold, but obscenity for the sake of obscenity just bothers me. The English Language is a beautiful thing -- work on finding words other swears. Craft something of value, please.

There are songs I never ever need to hear again, like "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana. Or "Good Times, Bad Times" by Zep, or "Comfortably Numb" by Pink Floyd. But they do not fall into a least favorite category. They fall into a "I'm totally over this song" category.

Sometimes, I hate cover songs. I could give you a list of least favorite cover songs, but the songs themselves are songs I like or even love, and the artists are people I like or love. For instance, I cannot stand Shawn Colvin's cover of "Every Little Thing" by the Police. I cannot stand Counting Crows' cover of "Big Yellow Taxi." They are cringeworthy to me. But they didn't fit into this category.

I had to find a song that I actually disliked. And that is a hard thing.

So I boiled it down to an artist/genre/song/culture combination that bothers me, and that turned out to be "Margaritaville" by Jimmy Buffett.

Now, I know a lot of you LIKE/LOVE Buffett. You are die-hard Parrotheads. You enjoy the pre-game shenanigans, the tailgating, the motor homes and the lawn chairs in the parking spaces. I like that too when I go to a show. Good times, good times are had indeed.

But there is just something about Jimmy Buffett's looks, his voice, and this song that make me barf. Combined with the fact that 90% of the audience is utterly obliterated from drinking in the parking lot since 8am the night of the show, it makes for a rather unappealing package for me.

And this song is the "WOOOOOO!" song that everyone wants to hear, and raise their drunken red keg cups up in celebration to when they hear it.

My good friend Ben came into my office one day and I was listening to Dave Matthews. I love Dave. I love his music. I love everything about him. Well, except the past two albums or so... Anyway, Ben HATES DMB the way that I hate Jimmy Buffett. He blames all the stuck up, tank top wearing, big breasted drunken DMB fan girls that he was exposed to in high school and college. He associates the band directly with the "bitches who love that talentless ass." I think he feels the same about John Mayer.

Someone pointed out to me that the song is culturally relevant and important, having been used in an episode of the Simpsons, when Barney and Sherry Bobbins are sitting drunk on the floor singing this. Sure, yes. Culturally relevant. I'll give it that. But not important, or even interesting to me.

Perhaps I am like Ben in my lumping together the Parrotheads, the drunkenness, and the pedestrian lyrics and blaming this one song for everything. But. It is what it is.

I also hate that Volcano song, and I dislike the Cheeseburger in Paradise song. Again, even though I like Margaritas, volcanoes and cheeseburgers, I do not like this man's musical representations of said topics.

So perhaps my least favoriting

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

30 day song challenge - Day One

There is a little meme on Facebook called the 30 day song challenge. I figured I would share my thoughts here in a slightly more expanded version, rather than leave them hidden from my non-FB friends. I've placed a tab at the top of the blog where, if you are interested and inclined, you can read each of my song choices, and visit the blog entry describing them. So, click on that for more details.

Day One - Your Favorite Song
Barenaked Ladies "When I Fall" (video on

I had written about how Ed Robertson made me cry in November when they performed this as their final encore. This song has stuck with me for years and years. I remember the very first time I heard it. Doug was in one of those CD membership programs and kept forgetting to send back the card saying "I do not want the CD this month," so we'd end up with CDs that we didn't like. BNL's "Rock Spectacle" came in the mail, and I knew two of their songs, "Brian Wilson" and "Old Apartment." I liked those, so I thought I'd give the CD a try. I opened it instead of shipping it back.

Best decision I ever made for myself.

This is the fifth song on the CD, and takes the energy of the lineup of tunes down from the rollicking opening of "Brian Wilson" and creepy high energy insanity of "Straw Hat and Old Dirty Hank." Simply put, it defines what I love about BNL -- Ed and his guitar. I like their silliness, I LOVE Steve's voice (a couple tracks before this song on the CD, I was introduced to "Break Your Heart," which to this day still does break my heart, though for all the wrong reasons since Steve left the band).

The video that I link to for this was recorded a couple years ago in something Ed called "The Bathroom Sessions." He went through their song catalog and performed dozens of their songs live from the edge of his bathtub in his brand new refurbished bathroom. I love how he sings it, I love the guitar work. I love how beautiful he is. I love that it is a song about a window washer, and what goes through his mind. Is he talking to someone he loves? Is he talking to God? The whole pondering of his life in the balance, while up on a scaffold, just brings tears to my eyes. The whole dilemma of "what am I doing with my life" and the sadness about one's vocational choices has always struck me so deeply, I can't even express it. And the final verse always does me in, with its simple poetry:
"I look straight in the mirror, watch it come clearer
I look like a painter behind all the grease.
But painting's creating, and I'm just erasing.
A crystal clear canvass is my masterpiece."
I remember hearing that for the very first time, and just crying. I don't know why. I think I was deep in hate with my own job, not sure what I was doing with my life, pregnant with my second child, wanting to swap places vocationally with anyone, almost anyone. And to have this simple, sad song about a suicidal window washer just melted me.

This is my favorite song. And it is okay that a favorite song makes you cry. It's also incredibly powerful for me, because it started my mad love affair with Barenaked Ladies. I wore out that CD, I raised my children on it. They could do the whole Bryant Street Theatre "Lady, you're an idiot!" riff in the bonus tracks. I love this band, and this song made me do it.

And the Dogs Jumped Over the Fence

My worst fears came to fruition last night.

As many of you know, we've had a lot of snowfall over the past 7 weeks. Right now, my knees are level with the branch that we keep our bird feeder on, one that is usually 3.5 feet up in the air when it is weighed down by the full feeder, and over 5 feet up when the feeder is empty.

The dogs have been making trails around the yard to do their business. There are circles and zig zags. There is one trail straight over to the neighbor Janet's. There is another one to the back fence, where they are making their deposits.

We had a deep freeze and some freezing rain, which has made the snow super hard, hard enough to hold up an 80 pound dog.

Last night, Brodie and Jack figured out that they can just jump/step over the fence.

We were sitting here, Gonzo had come inside but the other two did not. Doug figured they were along the back fence doing what dogs need to do. He waited 10 minutes, and usually by that time Brodie is "knocking" at the door. She stands on her hind legs and jiggles the door handle.

They weren't knocking.

So Doug opened the door and called them -- no stampede resulted.

We figured they had jumped the fence, and suited up with boots and coats to go look for them. Doug went out to the driveway to head to the street, I went into the back yard to see where the low point was and try and dig a trench to prevent future jumpings.

Both dogs were sitting on the other side of the fence wagging their tails... happy to see me. They were obviously confused. They couldn't get DOWN off the high snow to get to the street, so they were running around in the second driveway on the corner ... only, that driveway hasn't been plowed so they were just able to run around and look stupid.

Doug came out to me when I called him to tell him they were here, and he hoisted them back over the fence. Funny angle, difficult stretch, 80 and 55 pound dogs successfully retrieved.

They did it again this morning, only with light they figured out how to get down off the snow. Doug was making coffee and Brodie walked into the patio area outside the kitchen. He opened the kitchen door and found Gonzo and Jack in the driveway. Luckily, they didn't walk down the driveway and out into the street. Usually they stick to the sidewalk when they escape, but there are no sidewalks right now, and they would be hit for sure. So relieved that they were wise enough to run around in the driveway, and that Brodie went where she did, getting in Doug's line of sight, otherwise he would have just gotten in the shower and gotten ready for work.

So now we have a "No Dogs Outside Without Adult Supervision" rule. I have a huge sign on the door for Geoff in case I am not here when he gets home, letting him know this. His routine is to come home, let the dogs out, make snack, let the dogs in...

I cannot wait for spring at this rate.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Damn Ice Dam

The first winter we were here we had an ice dam on the back of the house. Essentially, the snow melts, drips down, gets into tiny little crevasses where it doesn't belong, refreezes, builds up... wash, rinse repeat. It wasn't too bad, went away and we just didn't worry too much about it again, until just now.

The wall above our dining room window bows out a little bit from being old, and from getting ice dams in it I am sure. So the water goes straight there, freezes, thaws, refreezes and drips into the picture window.

And then drips into the kitchen.

The ceiling and the entire wall are trashed. It is all going to need to be replaced. The wide pine flooring is incredibly old and has absorbed a lot of water and one of the boards cracked and bowed.

Doug would go out before it got to this point each winter and whack the snow and ice. It kept things from getting out of hand and pissed Doug off to no end. I'd have to listen to him bitch and moan about it. But we had them in our last house too, and we had them in our apartments in Lynn and Marblehead. It seems to be part of living here. Our attic needs to be insulated. There was work done up there in the past but whoever did it didn't put in soffits to the facia boards so ... thanks ass. That would have helped.

Right now though, the snow is beyond hip-deep on a 6foot tall man. I tried to go out there twice yesterday and got completely swallowed up. Snow in the boots, fell down, soaking wet. It was actually kind of funny. I was a little pissed until I realized what I must look like and then I started to laugh.

We have to clear the ice off the back of the house. It is a sheet, all the way from the roof to the basement. So ... I'm going to get the snowblower out, and snowblow in my backyard. You heard me. I'm going to go out in the yard, and make trails so we can get out there safely. Without drowning. Snow has undertow pull like you wouldn't believe.

And... we will need to get a contractor to fix the back wall of the house and do something about that window. I am afraid this is going to be a $10,000 job at this point. In the meantime, here we go with the snow blower...