Wow.

November 15, 2016

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Soooo…it’s been quite a week. Anybody else make the mistake of taking their daughter voting last week? “Nevermind! Turns out the country is a lot more sexist that we thought.” Whew! Glad I’m not the only one who screwed that up.

My 9 year-old cried bewildered tears Wednesday. This was a very black and white issue for her, and she is a sensitive soul. Naturally, I felt like crap for having exposed her to needless sadness. I just really, really thought she would value being able to tell her kids that she was there, for this important day. She pushed the button. Yes, I’m that idealistic. Wednesday morning we explained that, though it seems like people liked the bully more than the smart girl, there are many other things going on, and she was safe. I wish every mom could have been able to say that, Wednesday morning.

Policy, anti-establishment sentiment, those damn emails – these were all cited as justifications to vote for Donald Trump. Unfortunately, the multitudes cared more about those justifications than about saying “NO” to racism, sexism and a whole host of other crap we shouldn’t allow out of basic human decency. The prevalence of that mindset was not something I could previously conceive of in my NPR-listening, blue state-living, white, middle-class, privileged bubble. I didn’t realize that so many people actually thought policy was more important than people. Holy crap, America.

Thinking as a parent, since this is a parenting blog (most of the time), I’m offering the following: No, Clinton was not an ideal candidate with an ideal track record. There are NONE OF THOSE. They don’t exist. Ok, maybe Justin Trudeau. #dreamy The problem is that in this election we have journeyed past politics. We are now disassembling basic morality for our children. Think about what we teach kids: You treat people the way you want to be treated. You take care of people. You welcome new friends. Your body is yours alone, it is a good thing, and it should be respected. How about the one preschool teachers keep on repeat, all day: “Keep your hands to yourself!” Dear Donald, “grabbing” means you are doing it wrong. 

Not to mention the tired old slogan, “Girls can do anything boys can do.” *sigh* Hang on, girls. Change comes slow, but it does come. Look at where we started.

Speaking of girls, as Clinton was on Wednesday: “And — and to all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.” Forget the sadness that we have to state that at all. “Valuable” is my favorite word, here. I’m still more of a believer in the social commentary and symbolism of this election than in specifically electing Hillary Clinton – remember, I just wanted a girl to win, for once. I just thought this was immensely cool to hear. They knew, she knew, that little girls had serious stock in this election. And she asked them to hang on, too.

You know what else was cool? A friend of a friend of mine made a beautiful design of the above quote, and posted it on Facebook. I shared it, and the designer was kind enough to send me the high resolution version. I grabbed a frame, and this actually cheered my kid up. She moved a My Little Pony art project off the wall to make room for this! This was important stuff!!

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Thank you to Nataliemcguiredesign.com for this lovely print. You do good work, girl!

Moving forward, I’m choosing to be hopeful and expect the best from people, including President-Elect Trump and his future cabinet appointees. I’m going to repeat the closing of my previous post. I’m praying it’s still true, though now it refers to a different “someone”. We’ve done enough of tearing people down. It’s my fervent hope as a mom and teacher that tomorrow our nation will raise up someone who will makes it their job to raise up others.

Also, I’m posting a link to a wonderful article containing the names of non-profits. If you liked this post, chances are you will find one whose ideals you agree with. If you’re feeling powerless in the wake of last week, and looking for something to do to feel more empowered, donating to any of these amazing charities is a great way to feel like you, too, are valuable.

Click here for the list of charities. Thank you.

 

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Alice and Sexy Cheeseburger

October 17, 2016

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This ad just makes me sad. I can’t find it on Youtube, but ispot has it up here.  I’ll break it down for you. (Sorry about the play buttons in the middle up of the photos – I screen-capped the video.) Don’t mind me including my own voice-over.

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“OMG, aren’t we totes adorbs as Sexy Queen of Hearts, Sexy Mad Hatter and Sexy…Jenny, what are you, a Red Riding Hood/Wolf hybrid? Whatevs, we’re cute.”

 

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“OMG WHAT is that Alice chick wearing? She looks… Like she works… At the deli.”
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“OMG u guys we can NOT let her trick or treat with us, she is blowing our whole “Sexy Literary Character” vibe.”
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“OMG she’s transforming! Is that the new Bright Idea Illuminating Stick from NYX Cosmetics?”
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“OMG! That satin bustier = totes adorbs!”

 

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“OMG u guys, we r🔥!”

Yes, these are (very young) adults and not teenage girls. However, teens are going to see this ad and assume it’s for them. They just are. Just like when we started reading Seventeen magazine at 13. Or was I the only one sneaking peeks at that at the dentist’s office?

Yes, this is a commercial for a costume store. Of course they’re going to show homemade costumes in an unfavorable light. They want you to plunk down $40 for an Alice in Sluttyland outfit, not make it at home!

Yes, Sexy Witch, Sexy Cop, and Sexy Pirate are your results when Googling Women’s costumes. Actually, I Googled “top women’s costumes” and got Sexy Cleopatra, Sexy Oktoberfest Girl, and – no lie – Sexy Freddy Krueger.

But: I do not like this ad, Party City. Besides perpetuating the Sexy Halloween epidemic, it’s just mean. I want to hug poor Alice. She does not deserve ostracization just because of a half-assed outfit. Actually, let me rephrase that: She does not deserve ostracization JUST BECAUSE SHE DOES NOT HAVE HALF HER ASS HANGING OUT. This makes me sad. It also makes me really, really proud that my daughters are going as Hermione Granger and a werewolf.  However, the sexy costumes are here to stay. So, in the spirit of embracing modern Halloween…

Submitted for your approval: My favorite “Sexy Halloween Costumes That Didn’t Need to Be Sexified”.  I will take votes as to which one I should buy and wear while I walk my kids around in suburbia.

deviledeggs
“Sexy Deviled Eggs”

 

cheeseburger
‘Sexy Cheeseburger”

 

dorothy
“Sexy Dorothy Fish from Elmo’s World”

 

yoda
“Sexy Yoda”

 

olaf
“Sexy Olaf”

And, sorry, but you can’t un-see this one…

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“Sexy Donald Trump”

I’ll take your votes in the comments.

Also, if your kid is going as something you’re particularly proud of this year, share it here! 

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War on Thanksgiving?

November 24, 2015

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We have RULES in this family, dammit. There are certain expectations for all of us. We must uphold our values, no matter how societal pressures influence us. These restrictions are hard and fast and non-negotiable.

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I am exaggerating. A little. But a certain sisterly person of mine…she better watch.

You can do whatever you like in your own house, of course. And if I don’t like a store’s policy of putting out Christmas decor or playing Christmas music before Thanksgiving, I don’t need to shop there. Oh wait, it’s Target and Walmart mostly, so yes, I do. But anyway. If it makes people happy, who am I to want them to delay their happiness?

However, I want to get up on my non-tinseled soapbox and explain why there is no Christmas music or decorations in my house before the turkey has had his due.

  • Because I love Christmas. I love it so very much, and I don’t want it to lose its meaning or specialness by stretching it out earlier and thinner.
  • I have an almost spiritual relationship with Christmas music (said the corniest dork in the world) and I don’t want to hate it because I hear it too much. Please. Occupational hazard: We music teachers start our Christmas concert rehearsals in September. Ugh.
  • It’s not “the most wonderful time of the year” if it’s like 1/4 of the calendar.
  • The pushing-it-earlier thing really seems to be mostly about consumerism. You can see this in the big controversy of whether stores should be open for Christmas shopping on Thanksgiving. I vote “no”, but with gratitude for anyone who is there for me to buy Tums or cooking supplies I forgot to get the day before. Love you. Hope you get off early. 
  • The giving part of Christmas isn’t emphasized in the earliness much, it seems. I’ve seen lots of ads for flat screens and toys, but not one Salvation Army bell ringer person yet. We have taken gift suggestions off the giving tree at work, though.
  • Remember the “War on Christmas”? I also embrace it as a cultural holiday that doesn’t need to have anything to do with religion, if you want to tar and feather me for that while we’re here. Shouldn’t we be outraged about a lack of (Christian, or whatever) gratitude?

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  • My BIG (hippie, buzz-kill, left-wing, Scrooge) reason: This is very “Ugly American” to me. We are sweeping under the rug the holiday in which we celebrate the cooperation with and gratitude towards the native people who made it possible for European settlers to, oh, I don’t know, not DIE, and the only holiday for pausing to recognize that we are SO. DAMN. LUCKY to be alive and well. We should push for more GIVING in the “Thanksgiving”, too. I’m working on that in my own home this year, slowly but surely, I swear.

All of that is some important S#*T!  That is not Christmas Part 1!! I go on little rants about this to my own children and they stare blankly and think I’m weird. 

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In your own home, you should do what you want. I will roll my eyes when I drive by your tree-filled window, and you can roll your eyes at this post. Whatevs. Nobody is over here telling me when to do stuff. Except the smoke alarms. The fire department is pretty keen on us checking those every time we celebrate Daylight Savings. 

Christmas is awesome. There are traditions and parties and special moments that are like yearly spiritual renewing in our busy lives. It’s a connection to our childhood and a stepping stone into the future as we build traditions with our kids that they will remember just as fondly.

But we owe it to the universe to emphasize the importance of truly counting our blessings first. That’s all.

thanksgiving2

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Spotify and the Music Streaming “Problem”

November 8, 2014

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Taylor Swift  made news this week by pulling her entire catalog of music from Spotify.

“…I just don’t agree with perpetuating the perception that music has no value and should be free”, says Ms. Swift in the Us Weekly article linked above.  

Oh, Taylor. You have it so very wrong. The model for the production and consumption of music is changing forever, and your attempt to drag your collection of work backward in time is, though as willful and valiant as a toddler stomping her foot, cute but pointless.

A statement from Swift’s Op/Ed piece from the New York Times, suggests that streaming artists’ work is “taking the music out of the music industry”. I respectfully disagree. I pay for the music streaming service of Spotify every month, and every month I listen to literally HUNDREDS of pieces of music I would never have been exposed to, because of the streaming model of music consumption.  Small-time, local groups have their music on Spotify, right along with the big boys. No corporate radio station or giant record label is deciding what I hear; I am. I can get suggestions from (real, live) friends I follow and who follow me on Spotify, based on what we listen to daily. (My Spotify username is megderrico.) Practically any and all songs, and several covers of each, are at my fingertips. Phone, car stereo, or home computers are able to play whatever song, list, or mood music I’d like, constantly. I’ve never felt so gratified as a listener, musically speaking.

Poor Taylor; Honey, embrace it. Cause they’re just gonna download you anyway. Or, they’ll skip you altogether and listen to Selena Gomez. 

To prove my point, I’ll share my relationship to the music streaming industry:

First of all, there are many other music streaming services. There’s iTunes radio for you fanboys. There’s iheartardio and Pandora, if you want a certain sound but don’t care about the wonder of The Playlist. I do. There’s Google Play and Grooveshark, to name a few more. I have used all these services and then some, and as it stands now Spotify wins, hands down.

As it is the addiction I have chosen from the above list, I DO pay Spotify for my music consumption. Subscriber music services charge a monthly fee and pay a royalty for each time a user plays a song. Whether they pay enough is debatable. As a (sort of) musician myself, I vote NO. But I’m not going to ask them to charge me more at the moment. I am a part-time graduate student at West Chester University, so with all that loveliness and part-time stress, I get the Spotify student rate of $4.99 a month. To me this seems almost criminal. The regular Spotify montly rate is $9.99.

spotify

Screen shot of the program on a user’s computer.  I don’t know who they are, but if I could read the print I’d probably playlist stalk them.

In contrast to “radio” streaming services, you can create playlists on Spotify (and Google Play, and others), by searching for and dragging titles. Now remember, I have an addiction. This is not just convenient for making the perfect party playlist. I have dozens of lists, ranging from mood lists that include “Pissed” and “Quiet”, to more functional ones like my “Jog”, “Cleaning Lady”, or “Alto Part is Better”. (For this last one,  you generally get female soprano vocals and me singing along in the car to the imaginary Alto part I make up in my head when NPR gets boring.) I also have “Guilty Pleasures” which includes some Meatloaf (I secretly love the songwriter Jim Steinman – tell no one!) and “Never Sick Of” (self-explanatory, of course). There’s also “Weird Al Inspirations” – for each song I have the original, then his version. I also have a whole folder of lists for my kids, some seasonal stuff, and the lists that Spotify publishes like “New Music Tuesday” that introduce you to new releases. I also subscribe to my friends’ lists and music-stalk them.

Then there’s the monthly lists… I have had monthly playlists running for back for years, even before Spotify was a thing. Remember Zune? Some songs return almost every month, earning them a place on the “Never Sick Of” list. At the start of each month I copy over from one month to the next only songs I am not tired of hearing. Then I go check into a few oldies, visit a few other genres, and perhaps put a few pieces that remind me of what I was doing that time of year, years ago. Hello, bad high school music. November  2014 is not my best work, but I’ll share it below anyway.

Then there is Tom Waits’ “Picture in a Frame”, which has been making the rotation for over two years, I think. Why so stuck in this song rut? Because you can hear the piano bench creak and the sax solo is so simple yet perfect and yes, Willie Nelso did it first but Tom’s voice gives you the roughened but tender side of the narrator who is just now realizing that he’s fallen for someone, and…Ok I’ll stop. It’s right here…

Tom Waits: “Picture in a Frame”


I have never laid hands on a Tom Waits album, and don’t I intend to. I feel absolutely no need to physically own this beautiful song. Nor do I need to own  Meatloaf’s “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”. What? It’s on the “Guilty Pleasures” list, and I know every last word of those 8 minutes and 30 seconds. A friend can post about a song on Facebook and I can immediately look it up and fall in love with it. I can pull up a song for my students instantaneously. “Hey Meg, do you have any Chinese music we can play for the kids?” Why, yes I do. Want to hear what Mahler’s 1st symphony or The White Stripes sound like? I can have them whenever I want them, and that’s the point. This may be old news to some, but I’m still having a total What-An-Age-We-Live-In moment. Artists who haven’t embraced the streaming movement haven’t gotten the point yet.

In general, Spotify and businesses like it are perfect for us annoying music consumers who adore one or two songs of an artists’ repertoire but can’t commit to saying, “I LOVE Tom Waits, I have all his music.” Have you heard anything else by Tom Waits? Little scary, some of it. However, Tom is still getting something every time “Picture” comes up on one of my lists. As he should.

So to be blunt, Taylor Swift, young and fresh as she may seem, needs to get with the times. Like it or not, something so wonderful can’t possibly be going away. Especially in light of the entertainment world moving towards TV and movie streaming.  It’s here, and it’s staying. We are consumers who demand instant gratification, after all.

SO, Taylor, do these sound like the words of someone who does not value music? I would certainly pay more for this gift, if that’s necessary. It might help me cut back. Sometimes I’m basically a prettier version of John Cusack from High Fidelity, just making the perfect mix tape.

FpyZ6

Now, to further bare my soul, here are some playlist snippets for you. You can scroll through the songs on the little widget here, but  NO JUDGING ME – THIS IS A SAFE SPACE.
November 2014 List: Work in progress. Already I acknowledge the total absence of instrumentals on this list. I’ll get right on that.

Edit: I should not post after midnight. Can’t believe  I didn’t share “Never Sick Of”.  Tell Fitz and the Tantrums I’m very sorry, please.


And the “Guilty Pleasures” list. There’s actually much more to add here, too.

Comment below about how you get your music fix, and your thoughts about the industry’s direction. Or, your playlist. I always need new stuff to listen to!

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Why Blogging Feels Dumb and Why I Do It Anyway

September 28, 2014

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It was a pathetic joke that Barney blogged on How I Met Your Mother. And that was how many years ago?

barney blog (2)

The “actual” Barney Stinson Blog is here, and it’s fun. But I’m still mad about how that show ended. Boo, HIMYM!

From August 2008 to April 2013 I published 294 blog posts at LaFamigliaD. Today, like reading a bad 10th grade term paper, I roll my eyes at a lot of what’s there. Including the site’s title.

But Mustapha Hamoui, writer of Geek Blog, talks about Why the Blog Still Wins over the microblogging-style posts of Facebook and Twitter.  His beef with Twitter – mine too – is that writing in 140 characters can be brief and disjointed. It doesn’t “leave you in a strong relationship with the source”. And regarding that life-suck that is Facebook? We all know an algorithm decides who and what we will see, all the time. I’ll get into my dysfunctional relationship with Facebook some other time, when I can stay up and rant. It’s a school night.

By contrast, the personal blog is not owned or controlled by a company. I don’t even use sidebar advertisements here.  I’m so old-fashioned. Maybe someday I’ll decide to creep out my half dozen readers with banner ads for whatever product they last searched on Amazon. The difference between little status updates and a personal blog is control; your writing is your product, you control what of you is viewed, and social media just ships it out there.

Blogging is the act of writing about whatever you want, for everyone and no one but yourself. You keep in mind your audience and your own standards. You try to express yourself as artfully as possible.  You accept that whatever you publish is “out there”, for every eye in the world. You also accept that NOBODY could ever read it. I used blog a lot. I wish I did more of it. I also used to write Star Wars fan fiction in 4th grade, but you don’t see me doing that any more.  And this was 1990; Star Wars was not even cool again until ’99.

So… Lately I get asked, “Why are you blogging again?

Well, to be honest, I have no concrete reason. This feels kind of dumb. Oh God. I am Barney. For a while (10 years ago…) it seemed like everybody had a blog. Then it was just that every Mommy had one, and they were all about recipes and how cute or unique their kids are.

The scary and wonderful part is that anything you write, 140 characters or 600 words, makes you vulnerable. I second-guess many of these posts, publishing and deleting them 10 minutes later. Then I have a little drink and pray that no one saw.  I worry that I’ll offend somebody with an outrageous statement. Or worse, that I’ll bore them with a perfunctory one.

I actually wish more people did this. I love reading real people’s writing, when it hasn’t been edited and sanitized for mass marketing. It’s pretty easy on WordPress or Blogger, people give it a try!

So, why blog?

Remember my love of bulleted lists…

  • Because I’ve always loved writing.
  • Because my kid loves writing and I want to show her that you can keep enjoying it, for life.
  • Because there’s some pretty cool stuff in this world, and blogging gives me the illusion that I get to share it with you.
  • Because life is about the connections we make.
  • Because we get “Amish TV” (no real cable, on purpose), and House of Cards doesn’t come back to Netflix until February.
  • Because I’ve always loved writing.

Oops. I said that last one twice. 🙂

 

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Dear NFL: REALLY?

September 16, 2014

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So can we talk about the NFL? Sorry, I must be on the wrong blog…*door slam*

Can we talk about why they think it’s totally forgivable for their players to beat up people smaller than themselves? Wait. Isn’t that everybody? 

But really, NFL? Really? 

  • Carolina Panther Greg Hardy was finally dropped this month, after being convicted of assaulting his girlfriend – and throwing her on a pile of automatic weapons – in July. Wow. There’s a stable guy you want representing you. Quick work there, boys. 
  • Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings was indicted for criminal neglect for beating his four year old son with a switch. He was deactivated Sunday. But he played Monday. This is not his first time defending himself against child abuse allegations. I guess someone in charge of the NFL (is there someone actually in charge anymore?) had a change of heart. If they have one…? Just asking. *After this post was published, Peterson was again deactivated until the child abuse charges are sorted out. Glad to see the NFL reads my blog…ha.
  • And then there’s the Ray Rice mess ridiculouslness atrocity  …thing?

Damn it, Ray, if there was one team I actually felt a tie to, it was the Ravens. We used to have band camp on the college campus where they held pre-season training.

Professional football players are the best in the sport, in a very high-pressure game. They worked very hard to be where they are. I’m going to be naive and assume they deserve all their success. But it’s my feeling that they should be held to a HIGHER standard of personal conduct. Not a lower one. Whether they (or the league) like it or not… whether they should be or or not… they are societal icons. And when one of them behaves in a way that would be (hopefully) inexcusable for a normal man, the NFL instead knowingly shelters and basically forgives violent behavior. Because…money.

In this Washington Post Article: 16 female senators are calling for a one-strike-and-you’re-out stance on domestic violence for NFL players. Some readers commented that senators should not be trying to interfere with business policies. Personally I feel that these women have every right to call for action, as high-profile citizens. Besides, it’s not drafted legislation related to football; it’s a letter:

(excerpt)

We were shocked and disgusted by the images we saw this week of one of your players violently assaulting his now-wife and knocking her unconscious, and at new reports that the NFL may have received this video months ago. …Tragically, this is not the only case of an NFL player allegedly assaulting a woman even within the last year. …If you violently assault a woman, you shouldn’t get a second chance to play football in the NFL.”

I will readily admit that I don’t understand the nuances of business policy and law. I also don’t understand football beyond its association to marching band, chips, and beer. But is it not a privilege to play here? Isn’t this the epitome of a career in sport? Yes, it is a highly competitive and stressful life, and counseling should be readily available. Yes, therapy and education can go a long way.  These are very ‘nice’ offerings by the NFL’s new female-fronted counsel for preventing domestic abuse. You know what else goes a long way? Knowing that, if you get caught smacking a woman unconscious, you don’t play for the NFL anymore.

As of August 28, League rules stood like this: The first offense would mean a six-game suspension, without pay. The second would lead to immediate banishment from the league. There are, sadly, caveats: the first suspension could be shorter or longer, depending on “mitigating factors”. Anyone who is kicked out after a second offense will be able to apply to the league to play again, after a year.

You know what? Nevermind. I get football just fine; There’s a ball. There are “downs”. There’s nachos.  Combine the above crap policy with THIS:

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…and THIS is what I really don’t understand about football: The NFL has a huge line of clothing, jewelry, nail polish colors, even  $500 designer handbags with team logos – marketed directly to women. Women are also usually responsible for buying junior his kiddie NFL gear. Women are clearly important to the NFL’s income. I know lots of girls who don the jersey and jump up and down when the Eagles score.  So how the heck are we women content giving our money to an institution that allows one of its stars to be convicted of beating his wife or indicted for abusing his child, and a short time later walk back onto the field like a hero?

I have to say WELL DONE to the Radison Hotel chain, who pulled their sponsorship of the Vikings today. More businesses should cut their association with the NFL, to show respect to their customers, until the league gets its policy correct and consistent.

A person commenting on a story in the Washington Post about Mr. Rice’s shorter-than-unconscionable suspension, listed as Anthony_McCarthy,  said: “What a shock that men who were raised in a game that consists of brutal violence, who are praised, lauded, worshiped, privileged and paid fabulously for it sometimes figure they are entitled to do the same in life.” 

Guess what? Someone who they might listen to *AHEM, Commissioner*  needs to decide that they are not. If they do, they are done.

If players are beating people off the field, they shouldn’t be on the field at all. If the NFL keeps forgiving players who do, for the sake of the dollar…

rue-la-la-nflshop

…their fans and sponsors need to send them a message.

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Now Hear This: “American Pie”

September 7, 2014

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Despite spending a torturous 3 weeks in a “graduate level” music history course this summer…

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Don’t know what this is? Neither do I.  And I did it.  

…I am not all that great at regular Music History classwork. My head still hurts from July. However:  I find the cultural events and personal stories behind the music fascinating.  You’d think we would still get VH-1.  So, let’s listen to “American Pie”.  Yes, we all know this song, it’s been covered by several singers- thanks, Madonna, that was really necessary.

Don McLean released “American Pie” on his album, titled the same, in 1971 .

American-Pie

There’s a hilarious unfortunate line of teen-humor movies by the same name, so watch what you Google. And then there’s Weird Al’s parody version, “The Saga Begins“, a re-telling of “Star Wars, Phantom Menace” that’s way more interesting than the actual “Star Wars, Phantom Menace”.

In the original, with metaphorical references to popular music, politics, and events, McLean gives his personal account of a decade.  It’s common knowledge that the song’s refrain refers to the February 3rd, 1959 plane crash and death of singers Buddy Holly, Richie Vallens, and The Big Bopper (Jiles Perry Richardson). But there’s a lot more there.

My “research” for this post (I could hang out for days with rock.genius.com and YouTube) is completely incomplete. It’s mostly based on message boards, wikipedia, user comments, and what my dad told me. I am placing the most value in the last of these sources, because when I was a kid, the man had a pretty epic collection of vinyl.

You can look up the whole song on Wikipedia here, or visit Rock Genius and click on each section of lyrics for an explanation here. However, my favorite explanation of “American Pie” is this video by Lone Star Sound & Pictures.  There is So. Much. History here. Someone could write a small book on the cultural references behind this song. Someone could. Not me. This post took too long as it is. Before you check it out (or at least start the video and get bored), here are some extra special points that aren’t exactly covered. Remember: This is all theory, I’m a nerd, and you love me so you have to at least entertain the following possibilities:

  • The end-of-an-era feeling that McLean references on “the day the music died” is big, but probably late. Music was already moving away from its clean-cut state in 1959.
  • 2:56: Jester is Bob Dylan, with “a voice that came from you and me”. McLean eventually moved away from rock and embraced folk music. Pete Seeger was his hero. Dylan lived somewhat hypocritically, as a folk singer, because of his mainstream success.
  • 2:59: The King & Queen are JFK & Jackie O. in the video, but we know who the real “King” was, right?
  • 3:07: The Jester has become more influential than Elvis. That’s kind of a big deal.
  • 4:21: The Jester  was “on the sidelines in a cast”. Bob Dylan had a relatively minor motorcycle accident in July 1966. Although he was not hospitalized, he later said the recovery gave him a chance to get out of the business for a while and mentally recuperate.  Meanwhile, other artists tried to advance to fill his place. The Beatles’ enjoyed constant success, but their music, notably from the ‘Sargent Pepper’ album (band uniforms, anyone?) wasn’t the dancing type anymore – “we all got up to dance…the marching band refused to yield”.

 picture

  • 5:47: The Altamont Freeway Festival is referenced in pictures. This concert was termed “Rock & Roll’s Worst Day Ever”. This day clearly disturbed McClean, possibly influencing his preference for Folk.  Four deaths and much violence were occurred, and Hell’s Angels were offered beer in exchange for providing loose “security”. Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones is (probably) the devil McLean is talking about. “Sympathy for the Devil” was being played at the time that a possibly racially-motivated murder took place close to the stage. Holy crap, I’d be disillusioned too. 
  • 6:36: Janis Joplin is obviously the “girl who sang the blues”. The change in accompaniment when she is mentioned suggests sadness at her early death due to a possible accidental overdoes of heroin. McClean seems to think she knew something we didn’t, or had more to offer, because “She just smiled and turned away.”
  • 7:19: The “Is God Dead” cover of Time Magazine from April 1966 and the perceived decline in religion in the country are possibly the source of the line “The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost” lyrics. However, there the holy trinity being referenced here are actually thought to be JFK, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King Jr. They are pictured in the video. But, this ‘trinity’ idea is also intended to remind us of the three deaths in the 1959 plane crash. And bring us back for one more chorus…

There is so much more here too. To quote a expert (Ok, to quote my dad) Don McClean was a troubadour-type. There’s a lot of story to tell.  Feel free to add interpretations of these and other lyrics below. I’ll be happy – I love this stuff. I realize I may be the only one in my vast audience of readers who finds 1960’s pop music history interesting. Don’t worry, I’ll post snarky mommy stuff later this week. I guess sometimes we bloggers do write for ourselves… #easilyentertained

Don McLean – The Meaning of American Pie Video

In later interviews McLean refers to the song as a “dream” in which music and political culture run in the same “trough”.  I’m not sure they do today.

So, what would an “American Pie” look like for the current generation’s music?

Let’s all give ourselves a moment to cope with the fact that Miley Cyrus and just Bieber would probably get a mention. 

 

 

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I Love Louis

August 28, 2014

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A (smart) relative told me years ago that I’d love Louis C. K.

She was wrong at the time. I hated him.

At her suggestion, I checked out his TV special called “Hilarious” on Netflix, which was supposed to be pretty good. Hilarious, in fact.  It started out with a pudgier, red-haired guy ranting about the word “faggot”. When he was younger it didn’t mean what it means today. Why is it such an insult now? “Faggot” had nothing to do with a judgement of one’s sexual orientation; it meant your social behavior was annoying and you were being, well, a “faggot”.  And he went on like that.

Already I feel like apologizing for this ugly word, and I’m just quoting someone else.  I got tired of hearing that word pretty quickly then, too, and turned off the TV. I wouldn’t blame you if you already clicked off this post. You didn’t, did you? Still here? Well you did better than me. At the time, I completely missed the point in his opening bit: Though societal factors affect their connotation, words have only the power that we give them. I know, deep, right? I still turned it off. I just didn’t hear the message over voice expressing it; swearing like a sailor. Or a crabby, balding, 8th grade boy.

I recently gave him another chance when he came up on a comedy radio channel on Spotify (more about this addiction another day). I was driving through several states to see my sister, and there was Louis. He was explaining both sides of the spanking issue. Kids are tiny, barely-formed people who trust wholeheartedly and whose behavior is mostly our fault, and we’re BIGGER than them, yet we hit them as punishment…but on the other hand, parenting is a high pressure job that sucks you dry and he can completely understand life’s stressors contributing to someone lashing out – because he’s wanted to a billion times. Me too, buddy. Me too.

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