Incredible Fortunes.

You ever wake up and just briefly consider the reality of your situation could simply be that Pam Ewing is really out there somewhere, dreaming nightmare versions of people’s lives?

To refresh memories or fill in pop culture voids…Pam Ewing was Bobby Ewing’s wife on Dallas. No, the original version. Season one ended with Bobby being killed. Season two was a shit show and season three started with Pam waking up to find her husband showering after a particularly vivid dream…of the entire second season.

The audacity!

Or that maybe you are her, and one morning you come to wake up to find that the worst was all in your subconscious?

Absolutely insane. It was almost enough to wipe our collective consciousness clean of Fonzi jumping a shark on water skis. Almost.

Anywho. I swear that’s me lately. And, frankly, I don’t know why I haven’t made time to buy a lottery ticket.

This life that I deride and take for granted…well, it’s serving me constant reminders lately that while the bad stuff may not be going on in Pam Ewing’s dreams, it’s not the star of The Xtopher Show that I call my life.

Cases in point:

I think I mentioned I was going to another free concert a week or so back. I was incredulous to have notched another free pass onto my 2022 entertainment belt.

And it was incredible…despite a rocky start.

The Shins were playing two shows downtown and I had won tickets from a local radio station. I had said I wanted tickets to the Friday night show, giving them Thursday night to warm up. I got my winner’s waiver the Monday after winning my tickets and was told further info would follow. It did not. Well, by the day before the show, I finally double-checked that I’d submitted the waiver correctly and then sent an email to the station that I’d won the tickets from using the “contact us” link on their website.

Several hours later, at around 2:30, I got a BCC email from the station saying “Congrats Winners!”, leading me to believe someone was having a really long Monday at the station. It went on to tell us that our tickets would be at Will Call and the gates were at 5, show at 6…that evening.

My mental needle skipped.

Luckily, I live about 9 blocks from the venue. I worked until 4:45 and then set out on foot for the show.

Turns out, the venue is all General Admission. Still, when the guy asked if I needed both tickets – after watching me walk up alone and casually scanning my area as he went through my info – I said “Yes”.

What? I wanted them both. I was definitely going to find a way to take up two spots in GA. Plus, that was just rude, right? It’s not like I had a bogey hanging out of my nose and he asked if I wanted a Kleenex. No, this was him rubbing my nose in my solo-ness. Boo, sir.

Because it’s Portland and this venue is a public plaza when it’s not a venue, there were food carts on the periphery of the fence. I hadn’t eaten, so I grabbed a huge sandwich for $12 and a 16 ounce beer for the same price. That amphitheater where I saw Styx can shove it’s $18 beers right up it…area.

I sat on the brick wall at the back of the venue and ate my sammie and drank my beer while the opening band did its thing. It was another Portland band (I know, The Shins are from New Mexico, but they’ve been in Portland long enough to be called locals) named Joseph. Two sisters with a third woman make up the band named for the Oregon town the sisters’ grandfather was from. I’d heard a couple of their sons on the radio before and liked them, but their 45 minute set was amazing. It’s really just guitar with the sisters’ amazing vocals and that’s it.

I was so mesmerized that I barely noticed the Guy Candy that was obviously hitting on me sat right next to me to nosh on his own sando from one of the carts.

Joseph’s set ended and the roadies started prepping the stage for The Shins. I figured I better grab another beer and stake out a place to take up two places near the stage. While I was in line, a true Portland weirdo native offered me a picture of her cat out of the blue.

My guideline when dealing with Portland’s kookier kooks is “humor them, they might be dangerous”, so I took the proffered pic. It’s now hanging over Myrtle’s food station, just to keep her on her toes. A reminder that there are other cats in the world – versus mine, who seems to believe a week isn’t complete without at least one protest poop or other non-litter box evacuation.

This was me, sipping my fresh beer in my taking-up-two-spaces space by the stage; reflecting on the Guy Candy, the Crazy Cat Lady and watching the sun set while nervously eyeballing the 20,000 crows flying around looking for a place to roost when someone tapped my shoulder.

No, it wasn’t Guy Candy guy. I’m lucky…but not that fucking lucky.

It was Sarizzle, someone I’d worked at Sur la Table with when I lived in Shittatle. I ran the market’s hero store in Kirkland (yes, it’s a real place!) and she ran the original store in the Pike Place Market. I knew she’d moved back to our mutual hometown, but we’d never managed to connect. Just two natives catching up on social media now and again. We hugged and caught up in real life a bit – while I behaved awkwardly because I was still in all my WFH glory and now turn into that person who runs into people they know wherever they go. Eventually, she said her goodbye to go back to her husband as the roadies started wrapping up and the stage hands started turning instruments.

Actually, after running into not one, but two groups I knew at the Bonnie Raitt show…maybe I am one of those people who runs into people I know figuratively everywhere I go.

Not long after Sarizzle left my to my own devices, The Shins took the stage and didn’t give it a rest for about 90 minutes. Their music has a pretty chill vibe, but the lead singer’s voice is haunting, something I figured was a product of some sort of modulator. I still think that, but was impressed that they were able to replicate it in real life.

Their set was so good that for about the first half, I was convinced at a minimum the lead vocals we lip synced. Joseph had come out to sing back up after the first few songs, so I knew it wasn’t the whole setup, but just how was it possible to recreate the lead singer’s otherworldly vocals?!? I enjoyed clicking off the hallmarks of live music that occurred in the set to disprove my suspicion that the lead was dubbed. Just crazy little tics, like singing toward Joseph at the back of the stage and losing the mic’s pickup briefly – nothing too overt.

I enjoyed watching the crowd really get pulled into some of their bigger hits and take over the heavy lifting of vocals or just get caught up in a call and response with the band.

But I’m a native Portlander and I go to shows to watch the show, not be a part of them. To that end, I stood there and tapped my foot, swayed a little and clapped after every song. That’s it. A true Portlander would never risk diminishing someone else’s experience by being overly enthusiastic. I’ve actually been to some fantastic shows where virtually all the crowd did until the end of the show was sit there and clap between songs.

Playing Portland must be an interesting experience for musicians. Well, not as weird as it was back in the day…there’s so many transplants now that the overly polite Portland crowds have been somewhat diluted. Sarizzle and her husband eventually crept closer to the stage and I saw her being true to our concert-going DNA, too. Her husband would occasionally throw an arm toward the sky or do that rhythmic hopping that people do at concerts, but she was doing pretty much the same low key sway in place as I.

The tour was basically a 21st birthday party for the band’s first breakout album, and they played it all, with a few extras sprinkled in here and there. At one point, the band riffed on Rod Stewart’s Do You Think I’m Sexy for a few lines between songs. Just, out of nowhere fun – for them as much as us. No one knew where the idle strumming was going until it careened into that pleasant little surprise.

Another fun moment happened during the encore – unlike Bonnie Raitt, I stayed for this one. No dogs to walk, no parking mess to get ahead of, so I just stayed and watched them completely blow the non-existent roof off of Pioneer Courthouse Square. The next little fun nugget was working a couple refrains of Tom Petty’s American Girl into the middle of one of their songs. I didn’t recognize the song, but I was definitely in the minority.

The following Sunday, I had to set an alarm to wake up and drive out to Hood River – by far the more scenic piece of our wine country. Little Buddy had two tickets to an event at one of their wine clubs called Reds, Whites and Blues. No, we haven’t started making blue wine in our notoriously blue state – the event featured a blues band to listen to whilst stuffing your face with BBQ and sipping on the vineyard’s reds and whites – not in that order.

Sadly, her husband, 2.0, had been tapped for a two-week trip to Germany for work and had to leave that morning, so Little Buddy had a – wait for it…free ticket. Fuck yeah, I went! I even set an alarm to make a day of it – we got a hike in before the event, which was just idyllic.

They set up the event beneath oak trees that are hundreds of years old in the middle of their vineyard and we drove up, parked by some vines and sat under those trees stuffing our faces and listening to blues in the middle of a sea of vines. Not even a barely visible Mt Hood through the smokey haze from our minimal forest fires could dampen the epicness of being immersed in such gorgeousness.

I’d love to sit around and let more of these experiences wash out of my memory and into my blog, but my drinking buddy’s buddy backed out of their plans to go to The Doobie Brothers show tonight this past Thursday. Luckily, I was sitting a barstool away when the text came in, so I’ve got to get ready for another show.

Another free show.

Second row from the floor on the stage side of the second section from the damn stage. It is going to be…epic!

Incredible Fortunes.

The Year of FREE Music

No, this is not a nostalgia post about my Columbia House membership.

Whilst working from home yesterday, I was planning out my weekend. The focus was getting my weekend blogging goal back on track as well as my exercise regimen – which has been off track since my vacation. Add into that the Silver Fox’s return to town. And this is still on top of wanting to maintain my regular weekend misadventures.

But it was also Flashback Friday on my local radio station. Back when I was living that #LyftLife that meant I listened to the weekly Party Out of Bounds radio show from 8-midnight while driving Friday nights.

All 80s and 90s music for four hours? Yes, please.

Now that I’m living the WFH life, I listen to the morning show until 10 Monday-Friday and maybe switch to a pandora station later in the day. But on Flashback Friday I might put in a little longer on the show because they give away tickets to upcoming live shows from 80s and 90s bands every hour.

I’ve set my limit at 5 calls per hour, if I’m able to call when they throw it out. Sometimes I’m on a Teams or Zoom call and can’t.

It’s fine. I’ve already won seats at their free in studio performances twice this year, so if I miss out, I’m still having a pretty good live music year. Some of the shows though…Jane’s Addiction, Garbage, Crowded House. There’s about five shows to choose from each week at a variety of venues: The Moda Center (where the Blazers play), Edgefield (one of our larger outdoor venues), Crystal Ballroom (if you wanna experience a concert on the third floor of a hundred+ year old building, this is your place – and let’s hear it for feeling the floor move beneath your unmoving feet!), or Pioneer Courthouse Square (aka: Portland’s Living Room).

Moda Center
Inside the Moda during concert mode
Edgefield – looking back from the 4th row. More on that in a minute
Crystal Ballroom – home of the “Floating Dancefloor”.
Pioneer Courthouse Square from the air…or an office tower across the street

I’ve been to shows at all of these venues over the years, but my attendance was stagnant recently – pandemic closures notwithstanding. I’ve been to Moda many times, including Fleetwood Mac on three separate tours. I saw Everclear back in the late 90s or early aughts at the Crystal and was “recently” (aka: five-ish years ago!) invited to Echo and the Bunnymen there. Pioneer Courthouse has a couple different summer music events each year. The first is just a “Portland is awesome” type of thing…a free Lunchtime Concert Series every Thursday at noon. Back when our downtown had businesses operating in it, people would throw open their windows in the neighboring non-skyscraper buildings to lean out an watch. People on the streets would be drawn to this packed city block brick plaza. I’ve seen several shows there, too. Notably, the Indigo Girls back in the 90s and I was sad to miss their return to this venue this year. There have also been a couple of community concerts featuring our local Pink Martini to mark holiday tree lightings or punctuate a local event – like a protest concert or to honor the life of a colorful former Mayor.

This is our former Mayor, Bud Clark. I missed his memorial at Pioneer Square, but if it was half as entertaining as he was…

Which leaves us with Edgefield out of the venues listed above. It’s a 7000 “seat” outdoor venue at the edge of town, owned by the same family that owns the Crystal Ballroom, so the music gene is strong. The official name of their music program is Edgefield Concerts on the Lawn…hence the apostrophes around the word seat earlier. I’d been decades ago when it first opened. It was fun to go and cop a squat on a patch of grass with a date or maybe as a foursome with another couple.

But that was decades ago, and my lawn squatting days are behind me.

Enter my drink buddy neighbor. He’s kind of my spirit animal for having a life as a single old man. I don’t know why this eludes me so. I think it might partially be a willful ignorance on my part. It was only a few – ok, closer to ten than five – years ago that I regularly wrote under the blog theme I called the Yes Game. Now I’ve got Jessla fresh off her divorce and recently moved back to the city from the coast talking about her Year of Yes as well as my drinking buddy reminding me that life is meant for living, not waiting for the end.

Anyway, my drinking buddy has adult children with a couple of grands that keep him busy, which is a resource I don’t share. Outside of that, which is plenty for most people, he also has this great life of solo adventures that have inspired me recently to do more than just carouse my way to the grave.

He’s the one that invited me to the Loverboy/REO Speedwagon/Styx show a couple months ago. That, in turn, motivated me to not be resigned to the sidelines of life. I remembered when doing things alone was a source of empowerment for me when I was younger. As I’ve aged, I’ve avoided that source of power while eschewing the source of one of my biggest frustrations: people.

It was good to be reminded that I can do both by planning strategically. While it will take a lot to get me back to the Moda Center for a show, post-pandemic. It was the show that I lucked into last week at Edgefield that highlighted the reality I’d been missing out on.

My drinking buddy ended up triple-booked on a Friday night: a family thing, a Timbers match (he’s a season ticket holder) and a show at Edgefield that he’d been raving about for weeks. It was the last-minute realization that he had a match that Friday and the laster-minute family thing that ended up with me being gifted his tickets to the Edgefield show.

To Bonnie-freakin’-Raitt, no less.

I couldn’t possibly say no! Even though I’d already said yes to walking the Silver Fox’s pooch while he was at the same show. And yes to walking Jessla’s dogs while she was out of town for the weekend.

On top of having a lunchtime doctor appointment…this was going to be quite the Friday. So at lunchtime I put my Out of Office on and hood it over to my doctor. That runs late, so I go right from there to Jessla’s pups afternoon walk. I’m back in my chair just before 130. At 430, I set my status to offline and head up to Jessla’s for a quick pee walk and dinner for her pups. Then I hop in the car and head east to Edgefield.

Did I mention that this free seat is in the 4th row of Reserved Seating?!? But I still have to wait in line with all the picnickers before the show starts at 630, thanks to this post-9/11 mass shooter gun violence world in which we live.

Getting 7000 people through metal detectors takes a minute. Factor in Bonnie pulls a Boomer crowd and you’ve got a real shitshow of a line scenario.

The venue is up there in that stand of trees, this grass will soon be covered in cars

The Fox had been insisting my seats were good, but the seats he had in the Sponsors Section – courtesy of his nephew, owner of Wyld, a cannabis edibles manufacturer – were better. Well, they came with reserved parking and free tacos and drinks, so he was partially correct. Otherwise, we both learned that they had moved the Sponsor Se ruin sometime in the past couple of decades. Here’s a view from my not-worse-than-his seat.

He’s under that white tent…

But that reserved parking was legit. After standing in a line for 45 minutes, what was I finally greeted by when I was able to branch off the mainline to the two measly metal detectors dedicated to Reserved Seating ticket holders?

I’d know that snow cap anywhere. He hadn’t responded to my bored-in-line inquiries about his whereabouts. Probably because he was driving out so he could walk right up to the Reserved Ticket Holder’s entrance. But it amused me – while I was ignoring my darker inner thoughts that he’s seen me and was ignoring me – that he was so focused on the venue that he didn’t notice me until moments after I sent this…

Remember the basement scene in Silence of the Lambs where Bill is reaching out in the dark behind an unsuspecting Clarice?

Anyway, we were both entertained by his level of surprise. A phenomenon I would repeat as I beat a hasty retreat during the encore to get back to Jessla’s pups for their evening walk and ran into the Fox’s former partner’s parents – with whom he’s still friends. The dad was wearing his Timbers jersey, showing support for his team as a season ticket holder since he’d made a different decision than my beneficiary. So we got to chat a bit until we made for our separate grassy parking spaces – turns out, they left early to get home to their dog, too. Since it’s an outdoor venue, I put down the windows and opened the moonroof to listen to the encore as I queued up to exit the lot.

I’m not the guy who runs into someone I know everywhere I go. I’m always the guy with the person who runs into someone everywhere there go. Seriously, it happened at the top of the Eiffel Tower. But in between this happening to me twice in one night, I saw an incredible show. A week later, I’m still in awe.

Mavis Staples was the opener. Let me tell you, at 83 this woman is absolutely killing it. She’s not tall enough to have ever ridden a roller coaster in her life, but onstage? Well, let’s just say that you can’t miss her – even though it was a good minute or two before I saw her head because it was behind a mic-mounted iPad.

What? I didn’t see her take the stage because I was getting a beer! The McMenamin’s brothers started out as beer makers, not concert promoters.

I watched Mavis in awe. Her band and back up were amazing on their own, but in no way making up for any diminished capacity in Mavis’ talent or skill. She might have had to sit down a couple of times during the set – 83 years old! – and the band didn’t lose a beat, but when she was ready to come back, she let ‘em know that the stage was hers again.

I will never not think of this performance when I hear a cement mixer’s engine idling while its tumble turns. That a voice that big comes out of such a small human. Epic.

If that was all there was to this show…it was still a bargain at twice the price. But wait…there’s more!

Bonnie-freakin’-Raitt!

In my concert-going career I’ve been to myriad shows. Folks touring to promote a recent album, storytellers on tour, spectacles of a show that hid lipsyncing artists, intimate venues, stadium tours, has-beens on the State Fair circuit, perennial favorites, career touring acts…and much, much more!

And it’s not like those options are mutually exclusive. It’s more of a Venn diagram.

I’d always thought of Bonnie as a storyteller on tour given my knowledge of her history touring with the likes of Lyle Lovett and John Prine. In this instance she was that storyteller on tour, touring to promote a new album and perennial favorite. I wasn’t super-excited to learn about the new album since that usually draws focus from the library I’m familiar with. For someone whose first album came out 50+ years ago, though? She is still creating amazing content.

Case in point, after talking about touring with Prine and reminiscing about them performing Angel From Montgomery together and how she can’t imagine performing it without him since his death, she tells how that history and loss inspired her to write a song with a similar story behind it. She’d heard a story about a man who showed up on a woman’s doorstep years after she lost her son in an accident…to thank her for the gift of life her son’s heart gave him.

Being an emotional sap is another good reason to go to these types of shows alone.

A few songs later, she performed Angel From Montgomery, and I think everyone was crying when she hugged her guitar to her like it was her lost, dear friend.

Starting the encore

Like I said, I beat feet at the encore, but didn’t miss anything but a 45 minute wait to exit the lot in doing so. Hearing her voice through the trees in the night air of a perfect PNW summer evening while idling in a grass field? It gave me time to think about what I take for granted: the future. Not for granted, so much, more something I look forward to with a sense of dread or contempt.

But this coming-up-on-73 year old and her 83 year old touring companion showed me that people can continue to give to the world around them well into the years of life when others have left their careers. And my Generation Jones aged drinking buddy is giving me an example on how to live life as a single-person without waiting for someone to live it with to enable it – and without caring what others think of my solo-status.

I am kind of happy about my reluctance to return to larger venues for this reason, too. Fringe benefit of going solo to smaller venues alone? I stand out as alone easier in a smaller setting. Hey, if I’m going it alone, I want credit for the finger I’m giving my failure at achieving an enduring relationship. Can’t get that in a crowd!

All of this is by way of telling you that on my fifth attempt at winning tickets in the Flashback Friday offerings yesterday, I succeeded!

Jessla would point out the time was a triple number as an indicator of this luck

You’ll notice it took 22 attempts – versus the weeks of effort that came before yesterday – but someone finally answered the phone! A few minutes later, I was the proud owner of a pair of tickets to the upcoming Shins show at Pioneer Courthouse Square and could not have been happier. Until a few minutes later when the texts started rolling in…

The year of free music rocks on, friends!

The Year of FREE Music

I’m Tired of Always Running

Dark title, eh?

Worry not.

I promise, it refers only to an earlier post I was working on that I accidentally discarded instead of saving. Apparently, that means something else in WordPress-land than deleting. There’s articles dedicated to recovering deleted posts on their FAQ page – which boils down to “go into the trash tab and hit ‘restore’”, however, nothing on recovering something you accidentally discard versus save.

And why are those two buttons so damn close, anyway?!?

Anyway, that post was depressing, hence this post’s title.

Well, that and the subject matter.

I recently heard an interesting factoid about how much Kate Bush has earned off of streaming royalties since her 1986 hit Running Up That Hill was featured on s5/ep1 – or is it season 4? Can you tell I’m not watching?

In two months she has earned $2.3 million off of streaming royalties. For that song alone.

Ok, let’s set aside that that is probably more than she earned in a year during her heyday and focus on the reality that her most recent 60 days’ earnings is only for streaming royalties! It does not include actual sales or what Netflix paid her for the usage rights originally.

And I couldn’t be happier for her. I think it sets an example of what talent and fame are for a new generation. Or two. Generations who are increasingly conflating talent and fame with pervasiveness and infamous.

Which reminds me of a conversation from earlier about an invasive species of snails, but that’s a different hill.

I’ve been on Kate’s hill in some way, shape or form for about three years now since Meg Myers released a cover in ’19. I thought at the time that it was an impressive homage, staying true to the original – and I loved that about it. Hearing the original now – when the remake had barely faded from my local station’s rotation reinforces that faithfulness and also the reality that it was still just a copy.

I love that the world has lost its mind for this song like a certain college-aged person I used to know. Although, not everyone agrees…

From a chat with a Gen Z musician on Social Media…

I love that this song is number 1 in 2022, eclipsing its number 3 performance in 1986.

I love that Meg Myers didn’t just pay homage to the original by staying true to it in her remake, but also that she and Kate Bush look like they could be related. And that their photographers clearly studied with the same professors…

Kate.
Meg.

Maybe that’s just me.

But after the massive step(s) back our country has taken in the last 10 days from 2022 to 1972 or 1950 or 1868…maybe there’s hope of at least dragging us back to the late 80s. Because reading the news anymore makes me yearn for a life that modern-thinking.

I want my MTV.

At a minimum.

I’m Tired of Always Running

cRapture

I keep proChristinating this post, thinking it will become a moot point once this leaves my consciousness. But this song is either in heavy rotation on my local station or I’m simply attenuated to it.

Perhaps finally writing this ridiculous post will jar it loose.

Plus, I’ve kinda been on a Chris’ Musical Musings World Tour lately, so…why not? Add to that I’m getting a little I.V. anesthesia soon and I assume you’ll see my moderate urgency in finally completing this. Maybe.

When was the last time you heard the song Rapture by Blondie? Better yet, when was the last time you listened to it?

High School?

College?

Ask yourself this, were we listening to it or hearing it? Because, I gotta tell ya…hearing it is one completely enjoyable bop. Listening to it however made me wonder if this is suddenly the first time in my life I’ve not been…impaired while hearing it.

Witness:

Fair enough beginning, right? Until the shopping part, you could fairly assume it’s a song about dancing. That spine themed stanza or verse is particularly evocative of dance.

Then this…possibly the first breakdown – that’s what rapping used to be called, kids – in musical history by a white woman. Arguably one of the best – although reading said breakdown may cause fresh arguments on that topic.

Were we collectively high when we were grooving to this? No? Just stupid?

Fair enough.

Who knew Subaru was a plural form of itself? Also, RIP: Mercury Motors. Clearly they didn’t get the celebrity spokesperson memo…

But that breakdown just keeps going. Like it’s finished digging its absurdity hole and decides to pull the dirt in after itself.

Ate all the cars. Switched to bars, but not bars with TVs playing and then went on a guitar diet.

What the heck?

I cannot decide if I need to just admit to myself I was a stupid kid when it came to lyrics like these or if I should fabricate a backstory that includes a little stay at this little place I know of in the desert. That would be a good cover…

cRapture

Toxic Positivity

Yup. This is a thing now. If you’re curious as to what falls into The New Negative

What I’ve highlighted above will be important in a minute. But lemme be straight, even though I call it The New Negative, I understand the message. Loathe am I to quote our country’s Worst Lady – er, First Lady – but the message of her Be Best campaign and this Dallas Yogi are eerily similar.

Well, they are the same, at least in spirit. Until five posts later, my Instagram Yogi posted this

I mean, come on.

But, lest you think I’m going easier on a yogi versus a de facto hypocrite…I have said nothing to either about how their action made me feel.

I sat still and sipped my coffee and thought about the message while Sheryl Crow played at the cafe.

Be Best is a simple idea, with entirely unsurprisingly vague follow up. Maybe the meat of that campaign is the examples the Worst Couple – darn, did it again! – set for us as a bar to be better than.

But when you give a behavior a name, you set a different and specific bar. Something to focus upon to indeed, become better. In that regard, I like this Toxic Positivity thing.

If recent events and years have taught me anything, it’s that self improvement is a journey, not necessarily a fixed destination. Which is why I actually liked that one of my sources of motivation made such a basic error.

It proves that we are moving together on this journey, helping each other up along the way when we stumble. I think it’s too easy to assume that someone is at the finish line encouraging us to join them, but that finish line keeps moving.

As a former runner and current misanthrope, I don’t need to tell you that I prefer solo sports. One of the things I enjoyed doing on a run was talking myself into mini-goals.

Run to that next tree.

Pass that runner a block ahead of you.

Make it across this intersection before that car hits you.

That was fun, it got me there. But sometimes that runner I passed would turn right around and pass me back.

Guess what?

That could be a real “wah-wah!” moment, but instead of being de-motivated, I would just tell myself

Welp, now you’ve gotta pass that person again…

Even though this was usually my motivator

Anyway, I’m not posting today, am I? It’s not a weekend and I gotta work on other writing stuff. So I better wrap this up. Here’s what I’ll leave you with:

Sometimes these movements have consequences that reach across time. I hope this isn’t one of them.

Hollywood without Kevin Spacey and Jeffrey Tambor makes me sad.

There, I said it.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t think they should be held accountable for possible crimes or inappropriate actions. Joaquin Phoenix seems to be doing ok…why is that fair?

Congress working without Al Franken while our President presides unpresidentially every day seems like a gross incongruency.

But I hope in both cases we have learned that due process is one thing and Buzzfeed justice is another.

I am completely over woke. It went from a catchphrase to a…well, this

way too easily. And fairly unchecked, if you ask me.

From a woke culture to a bunch of thugs with microphones and twitchy trigger fingers. And this bothers me in regards to Toxic Positivity because while I’m writing this, If It Makes You Happy by Ms Crow comes on

…and that’s some Toxic Positivity, right there, y’all.

But I want to hear it.

Toxic Positivity

Going Their Own Way…

Several months back, Big Word Ben gifted me a much belated birthday present: tickets to the 2018 Fleetwood Mac tour.
Not a bad gift, right?

There was much scandal and speculation about this tour, dubbed An Evening With Fleetwood Mac, after it was announced that Lindsey Buckingham would not be touring with them. Point in fact, the rumor mill – oops, rumours mill – was reporting that he had been fired from the group.

Again.

The rumor ripples of this announcement were fast and choppy. Buckingham is their male vocalist as well as lead guitarist. The last time I had seen Fleetwood Mac he had easily done over half of the vocal heavy lifting.

Christine McVie had just returned from about 15 years of retirement – at 71! – for the last tour and was easing her way into the band’s routine last time around, so it’s not like they aren’t used to changing up the batting order for their shows.

Still, as the “young one” in the band – he and Stevie were ~66 last time the group came through Portland – he had been the real mover and shaker on stage. Stevie did her trademark twirls, but for the most part, her dancing was in place, usually with her feet planted and just consisted of some pretty wild upper body gyrations. Lindsey, on the other hand, had been out to make a point. Jumping around stage like a flea and spinning, squatting, kicking with a true frenzy. It was kind of annoying since it looked like he was showing off to some degree, but also made the show a real visual presentation.
So, what’s it going to be like in 2018? Lindsey and Stevie are both 70, Lindsay isn’t coming, Christine is 75, John and Mick are sitting pretty in the shadows at the back of the stage, as usual. Well, except for Mick’s crazy audience shout-back solo at the midway point. For the record, that was and is still a pretty amazing part of the show.

Filling the bill and rounding out the band, it was announced that Mike Campbell from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Neil Finn from Crowded House/The Finn Brothers/Split Enz would be taking on the guitar work and male vocals.I was left quite curious whether this would still be a really heavy male vocals show, though. Newcomers notwithstanding, the band ended up leaning on Christine for what I would call about half of the vocal numbers in the Portland show. Now, there’s a reason she was not the primary vocalist in the band in the first place – but as much as I’ve always loved her one or two numbers on each album and even her solo work – at 75, you could tell her voice was getting tired during the two hour show.

But keep in mind, that’s about half the singing in a two hour show…down from a three hour production with Lindsey.

I was ok with the shortened show, because I’m older, too. A three hour show starting at 8 PM makes me tired just thinking about it.

Plus, as it turns out, in addition to Christine leading the vocals charge, the band also chose to steer fairly clear of the Buckingham library. For the most part. Neil did some great lead solo numbers as well as sharing some duets with each of the ladies.The show ended up being a walk way down Memory Lane, for the most part, though, with a great deal of what I would call deep tracks from the Peter Green era of the band.
I was fairly impressed with the band’s effort to acknowledge the stand ins for Lindsey throughout the show, too. It wasn’t just a “hey, here’s these guys” type of situation. After Mick’s World Turning drum solo at halftime, he came to the front of the stage and talked about the next number. It was a song, he said, “that he heard at a time he needed to hear it”, which was an interesting turn of phrase. I was pretty surprised when he went on to introduce Neil to sing Don’t Dream It’s Over, arguably Crowded House’s biggest hit. It was actually a highlight in the show for me as an audience member and as a HUGE Crowded House fan.Big Word Ben seemed to know about this number in advance and warned me, “Just wait until the halfway point”, which I didn’t fully understand until Stevie wandered out onto the stage toward the end of the song and joined in.
It was exciting. Hearing these two voices working together to recreate something I was so familiar with. Until Stevie basically fell off the stage trying to keep up with Neil. He’s only ten years her junior, but it demonstrates the truth behind the old adage about teaching and old dog new tricks. After the number, she kind of joked about her effort, but it was just super unclear whether she forgot the words or if she just got lost.

Here, have a little levity that I found in my Google suggestions while digging around for pics and info for this entry:

My answer to that question:

Attempting this number.

But I am still one to give an E for effort, so I was ultimately happy that they had at least tried to integrate the newcomers.

The back half of the show included a bit more visibility overall for Stevie, so it was good that she had an opportunity to redeem herself after the Crowded House number. Again, though…at 70, she’s not so much the twirling hippy girl she once was. You could tell that her dancing was more an exercise in remaining upright versus it’s former lost in the moment self. The same was evident with Christine when she left her keyboard and came forward for some maracas work during a solo number of hers. Both were very stiff hipped in their movements, which I noted, before immediately reminding myself of how I must look when I get off the couch to pee during a Netflix binge. Yeah, “Shut up, Me”. Both get high marks from me for just showing up, that’s for sure!

We got to the end of the show, with the band being led off the darkened stage by stagehands with flashlights…gotta be careful to not trip on a wire going across the equipment-packed stage. Hips are expensive!

People immediately started leaving as soon as the lights dimmed. Big Word Ben indicated that he didn’t think there was an encore, either, by way of explanation. It’s rare to see that many people take off after a curtain call. Usually it’s just the competitive drivers or people who have to work super early. This audience was moving. We were soon the only people in our immediate area. We chatted briefly about the show. How the set list was so different without Lindsey, but both still glad to have added another notch to our Fleetwood Mac Concert Belts. Mine is nowhere near as long as his, but he’s got a few years on Neil, so I chalk it up to him just having more opportunities.

All that said, I certainly didn’t feel robbed when the lights came back up and the group returned to the stage. Quite honestly, when Freefalling started, I felt like the show was just made. What a perfect way to ice this cake. Stevie nailed a rendition of one of Mike’s former bandleader’s biggest hits while a slide show played behind the band. It showed lots of concert pics of Petty, who had died just over a year earlier at only 66. It was also a very poignant reminder of the connection between the two bands. Mike Campbell joining for this tour was the top of mind connection for most, but then there was the Leather and Lace duet between Petty and Stevie, too. The picture show behind the stage reminded us all of just how much history there was with Stevie and Petty touring together over the years. I think most of the people left in the arena ended up pretty choked up by the end of the song.

At the end of the show, we were left with quite a different Fleetwood Mac experience. We were able to get a good debriefing in during the walk down to Old Town, were BWB had parked. Old Town is just a hop, skip and river from the Rose Quarter and at 10-ish at night a 15 minute walk over the bridge versus waiting to exit a parking garage for who knows how long or even waiting to board what were overflowing MAX train cars for a one-stop ride over the bridge. We talked about everything I discussed above and both agreed that different or not, it was still easily worth going.

The one thing that surprised us both? The show was billed as starting at 8 on the tickets, 8:15 on the Rose Quarter website and by golly, that show started just as we found our section at 8:15!

A rock band starting on time? Yeah, these guys are getting to a point where bedtime is important. But they still deliver a show worth seeing!

Going Their Own Way…

Sleep Deprived Thoughts…

Billy Joel has been creeping into my Pandora cycle more and more frequently. Never a bad thing, really.

That said, I woke up at 5 the other morning and resigned myself to remaining conscious, I popped on my Sonos and there he was. My groggy brain had some input as the song played out.

Myrt was stretched out, purring between my crossed legs, so I just started blabbing to her. Color commentating on the song as it went along.

Now, Bill is a real estate novelist

What the hell is that?

Does real estate need to be novelized? You might be able to stretch a novella out of it, but I’m pretty sure the main real estate collateral consists of fliers and pamphlets.

Who never had time for a wife.

Likely story.

And he’s talking to Davey

Oh?

Who’s still in the Navy

Oh?

And probably will be for life.

Myrtle, Bill and Davey are gay.

GAY!

Myrtle gives me a look that suggests I need better hobbies. Or at least hobbies that are less disturbing.

That Billy Joel, man. What a storyteller, eh, Myrt.

<slow blink>

Sleep Deprived Thoughts…

Friday Morning Dance Party

I’m not sure what’s gotten into me this morning, but when I woke up, instead of flipping on the tube, I put on some music. Nothing special, I use Pandora and I’ve been letting the Thumbprint Radio do the heavy lifting for me instead of selecting a specific artist station. I really am enjoying that feature. So I’ve had random great music playing throughout the house as I wander from room to room.

Queen and solo Freddie Mercury

Cranberries and solo Delores O’Reardon

Cowboy Junkies

Genesis and – you guessed it – Phil Collins. Still waiting on some Peter Gabriel

Katy Perry

Sting…but no Police

The Outfield!

Pandora had to dig pretty deep into my musical tastes for that last one…

But all this goodness vibing around my little slice of Portland has had me shaking my groove thing as I’ve puttered through my morning.

While I was making breakfast – oatmeal, I swear – I was dancing in place in front of the stove.

Folding laundry at the counter.

Turning my towel into a dancing prop after my shower.

It’s all made me feel good.

Then I look up after reaching down to dry my legs and see this

She’s so judge-y.

I still laughed. Let her judge. Realistically, she’s probably thinking, “I can’t believe this idiot is who I rely upon for food and water…”

Friday Morning Dance Party

Here We Go…Again!

There are constants in the universe.

Good news, right?

For instance, ABBA music is just good.

Oh, were you expecting something more serious?

Wrong blog.

Ok, how about, “The inter webs are a cold, hilarious place”? I was never not going to see this sequel.

Sidebar: Hey, Donny Trump…that’s how double negatives work!

So, yeah. I had my heart set on seeing this movie. The build up on social media in the days before its release just whet my appetite further. My favorite moment occurred on Twitter as someone let fly the outrageousness and extremely unlikeliness of three women keeping the same hairstyle for 40 years.

So brilliant, but I digress.

Anyway, it is a universal truth. I never hear anyone say the don’t like ABBA music, probably because I simply refuse to hear it.

But sometimes you think something is a constant, like “Pierce Brosnan can’t sing” only to later doubt yourself.

We’ve all seen it.

Endured it.

And if you love Pierce Brosnan, you’ve made excuses for what you saw. “He can sing, it’s just that his character wasn’t supposed to be able to, like Ado Annie in Oklahoma!”

Because, seriously…he’s a big star! Why would he expose himself to the ridicule a poor performance brings?

It’s not a bad bit of logic-slash-rationalization.

By the way

Not bad logic morphs into harsh reality, though, in this prequel to 2008’s Mamma Mia when we meet Pierce’s younger self.

Who.

Can.

Sing.

He can also set your loins afire, too. But that’s a poor offset for the burden of having to accept the universal truth that Pierce just can’t sing.

Seriously, Pierce. Big star, remember? Get Julie Andrews to dub you or something. A ceiling tile dropped out of the theater’s roof during your number.

I can only assume that he broke auto tune, it’s the only reason I can give for why they wouldn’t have used it.

Y’know, on this inaugural post using – testing, really – the new Facebook mandated blog page versus linking to my personal page, I had a choice of topics. I promise, my choices were both feel good options that allowed me to write about something fun or positive.

Mamma Mia! or people doing good things in the world. See? Both positive topics!

I’ll get to them both eventually, but I think people are used to or expect my grumpy old man persona to come out in my writing. With Mamma Mia! I can do both. Let’s face it, ABBA music makes people happy, so that feel good moment is built in. I’ve waited a week to write about seeing this movie, to reasonably respect spoilers, which is also a kindness…so when I knock Pierce Brosnan around for not being able to sing or rip on the story, it’s only to temper your expectations.

Can’t have you thinking that I’ve turned over a new leaf just because I have a blog page on the Facebook now.

PS: I’ve already realized the motivation behind Facebook’s new rules, they are trying to generate income off these new, mandated pages.

Anyhoo.

I tend to temper my expectations with sequels. Especially sequels that come out right away…it’s like the studio is trying to get away with something. A cash grab before we realize that we’re being served up a stinker.

Here We Go Again took a decade to arrive.

Plus, ABBA!

Naturally, I was there for the first show…but still watching with a guarded side eye.

And some popcorn, duh.

I was checking off boxes to confirm this sequel wouldn’t be worthy:

Pierce still can’t sing ✅

They used all the best songs in the last movie ✅

The story suc…wait a minute. What’s wrong with my eyes? Why are they leaking?!?

Yeah. The story is pretty good. Not great by any means. As a stand alone first run story, this would be nothing more than a flop.

But we know these characters.

We come in pre-programmed to care about their struggles and enjoy the highs of their excitement.

Also, ABBA.

I can’t avoid admitting it, the story was just better than the original. Amazing.

We know that Cher pops in to be a great grandma, we are poised to handle Sophie’s pregnancy story. Not so with the early news of Sophie and Sky’s potential estrangement.

Definitely not so of the casual drop in of Donna’s death the prior year.

So – yeah, questions that are never answered. I’m pretty sure that tidbit dropped in the first 90 seconds.

Brace.

Yoself.

We never learn how she died. I dunno…maybe we do but I missed it because I was debating whether or not to leave the theater to verify Meryl Streep was listed with the cast on the movie poster.

But, in Meryl’s absence, we are treated to a significant flashback upgrade. In the original, when Sophie’s potential fathers are referred to in the past, we get Pierce, Stellan and Colin dressed up as ridiculous 70s drag versions of their younger selves. Here, we get the beefcake treatment.

Thank gawd.

Young Pierce.Young Stellan. With peek-a-boo crotch shot.Young Colin.

I mean…yes, please and thank you!

For worrying that most of the “good” ABBA songs were already taken up in the first incarnation, I have to admit that these B-side songs, as it were, did a great job of supporting the story. Not a bad trade off against the original. Plus, they recycled a couple of songs that were used in the first flick…honestly, the revamped Dancing Queen outdid the first movie, and it was good in the original!

The returning cast is great. You can see the truth behind the stories of stars wanting to do a sequel simply because the first was so much fun. And the writing and acting folds the new cast in well.

When Tanya meets the hotel manager, Fernando (played by Andy Garcia), and greets him with a “Be still my beating vagina” as only Christine Baranski can deliver…yeah, welcome to the team, Andy.

The writing delivers plenty of those quotable moments. They are generously spread out amongst the stars and supporting cast, too. Julie Walters gets “I think carbs might be my soul mate”.

But then a supporting player, the owner of the shack that Donna squats in, gets to deliver a real ball buster of a line to young Sam. He’s just returned from breaking off his engagement, looking for Donna – who has taken off on young Bill’s boat to get over him. Our sassy barkeep delivers the news and then follows up his disappointment with, “Its called Karma and it’s pronounced ‘HA!'” in her heavy Greek accent.

These moments of levity – along with great, nostalgic music – balance out the somberness of the underlying story as Sophie stresses about the opening of her mom’s remodeled hotel.

On top of all of that

For good measure, Cher drops in to the final few scenes, just to steal ’em. When I first heard the casting rumors, I though it impossible to cast her as Meryl’s mother with only a few years between them in real life.

Well, problem solved, as I learned.

Realistically, by my calculation, Cher is playing a character around 79. Definitely closer to her real age than playing 50-something’s is to the rest of the original cast.

Not to mention that her singing is just. so. absolutely. Cher! She steps up to the plate and just lets her low, smooth voice loose on Fernando and it’s sublimely amazing.

Seriously, she did such a great job that fireworks went off as she finished.

But watching the choreography both in this number and as she kicked off the end credits, I couldn’t help but be reminded – and filled with awe – of the fact that Cher is old! Not getting old, she’s there…but redefining it. As she sings Fernando, she descends a flight of stairs. I watched as the camerawork cut back and forth between her and her Fernando, her taking a couple of steps down each take. Similarly, during the end credits, she walks up the three or four stairs to a small stage and then dances in place as she sings. She’s very stiff-hipped and fragile looking, but she’s in her mid-70s and still doing it.

Gotta admire that. I’m not the only one, either. You hear it in interviews when her cast mates are asked what was it like working with Cher. You see it in the extras around her as they watch Cher move past them.

It’s amazing.

She spends a short time on screen in the final few scenes, but her story arc covers the entirety of the film. From our first meeting of the hotel manager to the seconds leading up to her first song, you eventually learn how interwoven her story line is. From mother to daughter to granddaughter.

For whatever reason, Fernando doesn’t end up being Donna’s father and Sophie’s grandfather. It’s a weird decision for a Hollywood ending. Sure, it would have been incredibly trite…but we learn from Fernando early that he had his life’s love decades ago and has made peace with its short life. We hear young Donna downplay a fling with a foreigner while traveling abroad because it hasn’t gone well for her family, namely when her mother had traveled to Mexico as a young woman. She tells this story right before her own three back to foreign flings. Why not bring it full circle? It’s kind of the only way to explain Fernando randomly making his way from Mexico to a small island in Greece…and working at a hotel owned by his true love’s granddaughter.

If you’re gonna jump a shark, might as well make it a big shark!

While were transitioning toward my small finish…can I just mention how weird it is to watch Lily James play a young Meryl?

It’s a little jarring, since she looks exactly like a young Jessica Lange!

But don’t take my word for it…

Just me?

Nah…unless I’m the only one right about this!

Not that I’d ever want to work a little Cher magic and turn back time to cast Jessica as Donna just so the looks lined up. Still

You’d think that while I was grabbing those pics off of the Google, I would have bothered to check and see if there was a familial relation.

Lazy.

Not that you’re worried that I’ve given away the whole movie, don’t be. If you haven’t seen it, go. On top of all of this happening, there are little moments strung along the way that sometimes help resolve a plot hole and other times are just fun.

Trust me, keep an eye out for the Greek customs agent at the boat dock. He’s friggin’ hilarious. I think there’s a reason he and Cher don’t appear together in any scenes. He’s totally steal them. Or Cher would kill him on screen for critiquing her look as he does with everyone else that happens by his little customs shack.

Remember him as the movie’s final scene plays out. It might help you not completely lose it as Sophie and Sky’s baby christening takes place and Spirit Donna pops in to sing My Love, My Life with her daughter.

It’s a killer. Never in danger of becoming my favorite ABBA song, but it was the perfect way to end this sequel.

Maybe see this movie at night so it’s dark when you leave the theater and no one notices your “been crying” face.

Pro Tip.

Oh, and if you enjoy my writing, please don’t forget to…

And

some more!

Here We Go…Again!

World Of Confusion.

This is it, maybe. Well, I guess this is not it, but still…it quite possibly could be.

Do you use Pandora? I do, I’m proud to have every room – not a huge feat in my 700 square feet – in my place set up with a Sonos speaker. And I love it.

There’s not even walls between my kitchen and living room, but I have a speaker in each. Well, a sound bar in the living room for the TV, but I can also stream music through it. Likewise, when I’m watching a show, I can link the bathroom speaker to the TV so if Nature calls, I can answer without having to pause.

Unless it’s porn, of course. There’s two activities I’d like to keep at least an appearance of separation between.

I joke.

I don’t watch porn.

In my living room.

There’s no curtains.

Nonetheless, the TV and music sound situation is quite handled. It would appear that I’ve got my entertainment game all together.

So, Pandora…there’s this feature called Thumbprint. Have you heard of it? Used it?

I love it. It culls music from your playlists and just lavishes your favorite music upon you. I’ve noticed that sometimes Thumbprint will get stuck on a certain artist or decade or what-have-you…but, again – favorite music, so who cares?

Then this happened today while I was folding laundry.

Yeah.

Phil fucking Collins.

Basically, I made the same face.

And I’m just wandering from utility room to kitchen with clothes to be folded and then to my bedroom and dresser to put stuff away without really realizing what’s happening until that needle skip moment occurs.

I realize it’s not an acceptable Phil fucking Collins song, like In The Air Tonight.

It’s Land Of Confusion.

That’s just not ok.

I actually kind of enable a slight prophetic moment, as I think back to the last couple of years in America. Maybe Phil saw it all coming vaguely down the pike.

Doubtful.

Semi-comforting to think that someone at least saw this shift in sensibilities coming. Actually, then again…no. If someone knew this was coming and didn’t stop it.

The Doctor could have stopped it.

But not Phil…no.

I’m going back to the dryer for the rest of my laundry, thinking that I can just grab the rest of it. My utility room is kind of a shotgun situation.

Long and narrow. My bike is in there during winter months, too. Right by the spare tires in the left corner. I walk in and I’m loading my arms with the remaining tee shirts, socks, undies and whatnot and I’m thinking I got it.

I can do this.

Mistake.

Huge.

I pull out a tee shirt that has a stowaway pair of undies in it that drops to the floor. My arm is somehow full to my chin with the rest of the load – shut up, Diezel – and I’m still thinking, “Yeah, I can do this”.

I squat straight down – there’s no room to bend at the waist in this room – and grab the pants.

Admit it, you’re glad I stopped saying “undies”, right?

A single sock falls out of my arm as I tuck the pants under my chin.

Great.

I reach down and am fishing around with my hand, feeling for the sock because I can’t risk moving my head to look down. I don’t know why, but moving my eyes side to side helps me focus my intensity on the search. Maybe it’s that looking around keeps my attention divided just enough that I don’t stress out and overthink and overcorrect…I. Don’t. Know.

But my eyes swiveling in their sockets take in the mayhem of the room and the song clicks.

I bet you were wondering when I’d get back to that.

This is the world I live in?

There’s a paper bag of recyclables from when I ran out of the green BottleDrop bags – some of them were carried over by The Fox because he supports my redemption habit…probably I should square up with him by buying him a beer. But once I bought more green bags, I never transferred the accumulated cans into it. Now, as you can see in the front right, the bag is too full.

There’s a black trash bag of donations that Myrtle likes to pull at if I leave the utility room door open. Have I taken them? No. No, I have not.

And I wasn’t able to see it from where I was squatting, but in my mind’s eye, I was looking at the dustpan that has the remnants of the glass lamp shade that Myrtle broke one night about a month ago now.

So, it’s been there through about 3 trash bag changes…you’d think I could’ve taken those shards to the trash by now, right?

No.

Having successfully retrieved the errant sock, I start to stand up, expecting to hit my head either on the dryer door or the shelf. I usually do this once a month or so…but miraculously, not today.

I leave the utility room with the last of my laundry and look right at the naked lamp as I exit.

Yeah, I haven’t even taken the rest of the broken shade off the damn lamp. I think that’s partly because I want the base of the shade for when I replace it.

Probably, mostly as a potential punishment for Myrtle if she tries to get frisky with the lamp again.

This is the world I live in.

As I’m looking at the lamp, I’m reminded that I have yet to replace the battery in the thermostat directly above the lamp. I’m meeting Diezel for a couple beers at 3:45 and wanted to check the time on the thermostat to see how much time I have left.

An hour, I realize after mentally adjusting for Daylight Savings fuckery.

All of the clocks in my house are set to one of two times: right or wrong. Every six months, that switches. Some of the clocks adjust automatically, like my phone, microwave and oven clocks. Typically, the bathroom, living room and – inexplicably – thermostat clocks do not.

So, I change them mentally, depending on the time of year. Sometimes all the clocks are set to right, others, only half of them.

Unless

Like in the case with the thermostat, I need to change a battery. Then that clock gets set to the correct time.

I gave old Phil a thumbs down, finished folding my laundry and mused that with as crazy as the outside world is these days, it’s even crazier that I’m not controlling all the minutia I can in my own four walled world.

I’ve got a half hour before I need to leave, I think I’ll spruce the place up a bit. Undo some of the non-Myrtle chaos. That’s a fair starting point. I’d self-diagnose Myrtle’s mayhem as a partial root to my housekeeping apathy. The way she sheds incessantly and kicks litter out of her box and shreds cardboard boxes to literal litter creates such a mess that I’ve kind of given up.

On everything.

I don’t know why

But I can clean some dishes and switch out a battery at least. Hell, maybe I’ll even dust!

I’ll make this a world worth living in…

World Of Confusion.