Monday, January 29, 2007

Flashin Back to the Oldies . . .

Okay, I'm officially old. I'm watching a Time-Life informercial on the "Classic Soft Rock Collection," pretty much songs from the 70s and early 80s. Geez, I know EVERY SINGLE SONG, and ALL THE WORDS TO EVERY SINGLE SONG they have played so far. They are showing clips of the original videos, and I'm having a serious flashback. But seriously . . . in the 70s (aaahhh, a Doobie Brothers song . . .), there weren't nearly as many different genres of music played on the radio, and Top 40 music was what most people listened to. It was the early days of FM radio, which meant they played a lot of music and very few commercials - those were the days - and pretty much everyone in your general age group knew and loved the same songs and artists. Yeah, we bought albums by our favorite artists - for me, Three Dog Night, Linda Ronstadt, Chicago, Fleetwood Mac, Doobie Brothers, Cat Stevens, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Boz Scaggs, Kenny Loggins/Loggins & Messina, and Gino Vanelli, and tons of others I'm sure. But there were lots of one hit wonders that had really great songs and then disappeared from the music scene. They are just playing one great song after another (ahhhh, Waiting by Foreigner is on). The Cars, Phil Collins, the hits just keep on coming . . . along with the BIG hair and spandex and leather. Hee hee.

Now the weird thing about this infomercial - aside from the obvious - is that most of the people they have talking about how great it is (you know, those generic couples that are supposed to look like they are really loving the music) are WAAAAAYYYYY too young to remember any of this music from the 70s. Lord, I was a teenager then, and these folks look not even 40. Maybe it's botox . . .

My point is, a lot of this music is just so great, and you don't hear it much any more, except on American Idol where it may be mangled beyond recognition. Or on the Oldies station. It's amazing how a song can transport you back to a particular time in your life, sometimes to a particular day or event. Music is a very powerful thing, a tangible piece of memory that gets ingrained in your soul. (Ahhhhh, Bread - Baby I'ma Want You - a classic.) See what I mean? I can remember exactly what was happening in my life, exactly where I lived, where I worked, who I was in love with, etc., when that song was on the radio (I actually had an eight track of Bread - but that's another issue altogether).

With the eclectic, often weird varieties of music out there today, I wonder what this generation of teenagers and young adults will flash back to when they hear their own "oldies?" So much of it is sad, angry, unpleasant, misogynistic, and just plain raunchy . . . I'm not sure I'd want to walk down that memory lane.

Don't get me wrong, I like a lot of the music out today, and I listen to a much wider range of stuff these days, from classical to alternative to blues to jazz, and so on. But a lot of it just makes me uncomfortable - or bored. And it's hard to sing along with in the car. I mean, where's your modern day Bohemian Rhapsody? Singing along in the car used to be a bonding experience - or a way to practice your skills where no one could hear you.

Yep, I'm old. But I still like my music loud . . .

I left my mind . . . somewhere

Does it mean I'm getting senile if I ran the dryer for a full 60 minute cycle with NOTHING IN IT?

In my defense, my habit while doing laundry is to take a load out of the dryer, move the basket (the one that always has those few things that you must was SEPARATELY or they will BLEED on everything else or they are DELICATE and must be washed by fairy wings) that normally sits on the washer over to the top of the dryer, open the washer and put in the next load, close the lid and start said washer, move said SPECIAL basket back on top of washer, and then start the dryer. This system has worked for me lo these many years without a hitch - well, except for a few times when I forgot the "start the dryer" step.

Well, last night I had put a load in the dryer before bed - a load I had washed in the afternoon but forgot to put in the dryer. Okay, well my defense isn't going too well here . . . but let me continue. This morning, when I got ready to do laundry, I took the dry load out, but there was no wet load to put in the dryer, as I had not started another load before bed AFTER I took the forgotten load out and put it in the dryer. I know you are on the edge of your seat here, but just stay with me.

Sooooo, I put a load on to wash this morning, in my usual and time-tested fashion, and then proceeded to start the dryer in the usual said fashion and go about my work. Some time later (about 60 minutes, actually), I heard the little "beep beep beep" signaling that my load was dry. I got up, went to the laundry closet (it's too small to really earn the name "laundry room"), opened the dryer . . . and just stood there staring at it for a good minute, trying to process WHO TOOK MY LAUNDRY? Why is there no freshly dried, sweet-smelling and toasty warm load waiting for me to gather it in my arms, breathe deeply and feel that little surge of joy I weirdly get from my favorite smell in the world? Did I suddenly acquire domestic help of which I was unaware?

Of course, the truth finally dawned on me. I felt pretty silly, to be sure. I continued on with my laundry system, which I swear to you works MOST OF THE TIME, content in the knowledge that this little "incident" had given me fresh fodder for my goal of blogging several times a week.

So to my massive reading audience, though this may not be the most interesting blog I've ever posted, I am a confessional writer and so there you go - every time I do something dumb, if it is fit to print, you'll read it here first. If I remember to write it . . .

P.S. It has been brought to my attention that when I refer to a ". . . sweet smelling, toasty warm load . . . breathe deeply . . . favorite smell in the world" that SOME people with JUNIOR HIGH sensibilities (you know who you are) might MISCONSTRUE the word "load" to refer to a different sort of fragrant, uh, item. So let me be clear - my favorite smell in the world is CLEAN LAUNDRY. (Thanks TT for the heads up!) :-)

Sunday, January 28, 2007

If I say, they will play . . .

The other day, Sam, my 3-year old grandson, was visiting us. He was in the game room with Andy (my 16-year old son), and I heard him talking to himself as he walked from the game room into the living room where I was sitting with Lindsay (my daughter/his mom), saying "I can't wait to show this to my GiGi (his nickname for me)!" He was carrying the new Monopoly game we had received for Christmas, still wrapped in cellophane, and asked "Can we play this?" I told him that it was a "big people" game and that we couldn't play right now. He said nothing, turned and headed back toward the game room. He said, again to himself, "I can 't wait to show this to Andy!" I chuckled to myself but made no comment to Lindsay.

In a few minutes, he came walking back from the game room, again speaking to himself, "I can't wait to show this to my mom!" He walked up to Lindsay, asked if we could play the game, and received the same response as from me and I'm certain the same as he received from Andy. He was determined to find a willing partner to play this game, and he was having no luck at all.

Of course, the funniest part of all was that each of the three times, he said the same thing in EXACTLY the same inflection, as if saying would make it so. It almost sounded like he was rehearsing his lines. He had to go home shortly after that, but next time he comes over, maybe we'll break out Monopoly and learn about counting money . . .

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

When the Levees Broke

I tried to think of a clever title for this post, but anything I came up with seemed too frivolous, so I'll just stick with the title of the documentary I want to talk about.

I spent last week watching "When the Levees Broke," a documentary about Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans by Spike Lee. I have not been so mesmerized and moved by a piece of film in a long time. As most of you know, I spent a few days in New Orleans last summer preparing for our youth mission trip, and got fairly familiar with the layout of the city, including driving down to the Lower Ninth Ward a couple of times. THAT was an experience I will never forget. As I watched this program, I saw footage and still photos of places I'd driven by, and saw interviews with a wide variety of individuals who lived in various parts of the Crescent City. It was eerie to see the footage during and immediately post-Katrina compared to what I had seen nine months later, but I was really glad that I was familiar enough to have an appreciation of what I was seeing.

This is not a feel-good documentary, but I came away with a sense of hope and inspiration after seeing the amazing resilience of the residents of New Orleans, their refusal to give up and their immense pride in their hometown and the great history and heritage of the city. Some of the interviews were done immediately after the hurricane on location, and then others were done in a studio at various times. Interviews ran the gamut from devastated and displaced residents to politicians, radio hosts, historians, meteorologists, government workers, news anchors, and Sean Penn, who had seen some footage and felt compelled to take action and use his celebrity to do some good.

Some of the footage is hard to watch, but I could not look away. Bloated and rotting bodies, weeping mothers, rubble and devastation everywhere. Angry people, angry and sometimes foul language, but understandable under the circumstances. You need to prepare yourself to have your heart broken and your conscience challenged.

On another note, the soundtrack, by Terence Blanchard, is haunting, melancholy, and will get in your head and live there. I wish I could buy it, but because the program was an HBO special, it seems that the music is not available.

I think every American citizen should see this program. I don't care if you are a supporter of Bush or if you aren't, if you are a Democrat or a Republican, if you are a liberal or a conservative, if you are black, white, or somewhere in between. This is an important piece of film history and we all need to see the reality that America is already forgetting. New Orleans is coming back, slowly, but it's a long way from being the city it once was. But the people there have an indomitable spirit and I pray that they will continue to get the support they need to rebuild this amazing city.

I challenge you to invest the several hours it will require and see this film. It will change you forever.