Monday, June 22, 2009


Summer has started off with not so much a bang, but more of a bong. Not in the smokin' sense either. Those days are behind me. I mean in the sense of some recent events which have been memorable, but in an odd sort of way. Not bad, but just a bit odd.

However, I did take a major memory trip back to my bong/hot knives/bt days when attending a Steely Dan concert just a week or so ago. My dear friend Deb scored some awesome (4th row, center people; read it and weep!) tickets to hear/see/embrace Donald, Walter and their amazing ensemble at the McGloghan (sp?) Center here in Charlotte. I told Deb of course I would love to go, but that she might never invite to another show after that. I promised her it was going to be a full-on, sing-along for me. And, a total trip down a foggy memory lane. Steely Dan completely represents my entire college experience. I spent years in a circle on the floor with my opinionated (journalism majors), brilliant, hilarious, groovy-ass friends talking politics and shit with "Babylon Sisters" playing in the background. I smile at the memory and my heart aches just a little to go back in time, if only for just a visit.

I digress. Anyhow, the odd part was not the concert itself, but the company I kept. It seems this concert was part of a "Music With Friends" series, in which those upper echelon Charlotteans with cash pay a flat rate to attend some of the best shows in town. Problem is, they aren't necessarily going to hear the music. Many are going just to go. I guess that's what rich people do. Otherwise I just don't know why women in St. John knit sets and lots of bling wanted to hear a sometimes disdainful, wry, often smart-alecish old rock/jazz band from the 70s. I was totally expected a bunch of disgruntled but cool former beatniks and instead rubbed shoulders with the Who's Who of the Queen City. Totally odd. Many of them left mid show. They came, ate lobster, made their appearances and split. That left just the real fans to enjoy the rest of the brilliant show, which was fine by me. I tried hard not to be annoying but just could not refrain from singing every word I knew. Deb swears it was fine and promises to invite me again.

Within a two week time period I ventured out again on my own (which means sans children) for another adult night on the town and experienced odd again, but at the complete opposite end of the spectrum. A friend of a friend invited me to a 40th birthday party, in honor of one of the moms of my kid's classmates. I went with another mom and decided that despite the free alcohol, I must be on my best behavior. After all, we were all moms of children which is how we bonded, and besides which, I work for a parenting magazine, which means I have a certain obligation or expectation to meet.

Let me tell you, this crowd couldn't give a rat's ass what I do or who I work for. They were just happy to be out and participating in the birthday. And this was no ordinary house party. The festivities were held at a local bar/pool house/restaurant/karaoke haunt and there was some hootin goin on! The pressure to perform was on and I decided that I probably would never see these people again, and they couldn't care who I am, so what the hell? Flo's book (yes, her real name is Flo) was full of country songs, ballads and hits of the 70s, with a mix of current pop tunes. I was stymied.

Normally when forced to sing karaoke, I go for jazz standards. Sadly, Flo only had one Ella Fitzgerald tune. Fortunately, it's the one song I have actually performed or karaoked before, and I managed to get it out. "A Tisket A Tasket" wasn't totally embarrassing. Deb, the other mom, is also a Canuck and we decided to honor our brethren with a number by a Canadian artist. After concluding that A) I don't know any Celin Dion B) They didn't have any Barenaked Ladies C) I hated all the Bryan Adams choices, we agreed on a Neil Young tune. This one wasn't so much a salute as it was a slaughtering. My most sincere apologies, Neil.

Things were going to go from odd to bizarre the moment the honoree announced jello shooters were in order and Flo qued a tune that had something to do with "get me the ammo", to which most of the bar knew and sang along. It was at that precise moment I knew I was no longer in Kansas with my little dog and a drag-queenish Lion. It was time to go.

As odd as these events were, the frivolity of last night balanced everything out. The Burtonwood neighborhood Summer Solstice/Father's Day/Block Party was a smashing success. Kevin and Ethan played beautiful, sweet music, neighbors shook hands and shared food, kids splashed in the pool, painted their arms and legs and had a wondrous, wonderful time. Even Alfie enjoyed himself, sniffing everything in sight and being named "dog of the night". It was the perfect anecdote to a strange beginning to summer. I am looking forward to more interesting events.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Definition - A Correction

OK, so I was right. The theme from "Definition" was lifted and used for Austin Powers. MM is a Scarberian, for goodness sakes. What I didn't realize however, is that it's originally a Quincy Jones number. I know, and I'm married to a jazzer.

I'll take a couple of lumps for that one.

The End Is Near - Summer Plans

No, I haven't been reading Nostradamus. That dude is waaaaay too depressing. And a total downer. And off the mark, I'm afraid.

The end of the school year is coming and I am ill-prepared to deal with a month of bored kids. Did I sign them up for camp? Nope. They aren't really campers. Definitely not overnight campers and don't have buddies to hang with at camp either. Their closest friends are kickin around town most of the summer. Good, in the sense of we can arrange play dates. Bad, in the sense of I haven't arranged any yet. No time like the present right?

I wish it were so easy. My summer is going to be consumed with work and after that, getting ready to get out of dodge. Sure I'll take them to the amusement park, the swimming pool and for drives in the country. But my schedule just isn't as flexible as it was last year. And they got bored last year. And, they had neighbor kids to play with last year. And, they weren't nearly as demanding as this year.

Remember in the "olden days", as Keller calls it (makes ME think of covered wagons, bonnets and Little House, somehow) when we just hung out all summer? Mornings were spent watching cartoons until mom kicked you out. If it was raining or she was busy, your morning TV might get extended to noon which meant you could watch The Price Is Right, King of Kensington, The Trouble With Tracy and Definition (cue theme from "Austin Powers"; side note - am I the ONLY person who figured out that MM "borrowed" the theme song from that wonderful show???) If you aren't Canadian you probably won't know those last three shows. Total TO shout out!!

Anyhoo, I like to think life then was much simpler. We would go to the pool a couple of times during the day, ride bikes, go to the store for a freezee (yes, back then we were allowed to ride somewhere on our own without total fear of being kidnapped) and wait for dinner. After that it was time to gather outside to play Red Rover, Capture the Flag or Nicki Nine Doors, and then wait for the street lights to come on. That was pretty much it.

I had always hung out with our neighbors and lifelong friends The Wilsons, and around the age of nine or so, I started to spend more time in their basement learning how to dance. Those were the heady days of the Jackson 5, and disco. We did the hustle, the bump, and the slide. My favorite songs were "Do The Locomotion", "Disco Inferno", "I Want You Back" and later "Nice Legs, Shame About Yer Face". OK, I didn't really understand the lyrics back then...

Maybe it's because my mom was way too overburdened or there was always a lack of funds, but only the few of us who had rich and sympathetic friends ever got to go to a cottage. Camp was OK, as long as it was on a scholarship. I did manage a couple of scholarships and I did go to a friend's cottage once, but my summers were mostly spent at Eringate pool and the baseball diamonds surrounding it. Someone in my family or The Wilsons always played ball and that meant scrounging up change to buy an orange pop and a box of popcorn. (I know; soooo Canadian.)

The company I work for puts out an intense camp directory. If there's a camp within a 200 mile radius of Charlotte, we know about it and chances are, they're advertising with us. I'm a little embarrassed to not have an answer to the "where are your kids going to camp this summer?" question. It's already been asked once by one colleague and I dread having to repeat "no where, really." Is it a southern thing? A Charlotte thing? An American thing? A generational thing? Do all kids go to camp????


If anyone has helpful suggestions with what I can do with my kids that's fun, doesn't cost much and doesn't take much time, please send them along. Please. My kids don't like the Jackson 5.