Tuesday, July 12, 2016

But What About Sister Christian?

A line up throwing back to the 70s: Tesla, REO Speedwagaon, and Def Leppard. It's gotta be a summer concert. It's gotta be at Jones Beach. It's gotta be awesome. And it was.

More than several years ago, I saw Cinderella opening for Poison, and poor Tom Keifer could barely hit the high notes. For those of you unfamiliar with the Cinderella catalog, it's almost all high notes. Last night, I saw three lead singers hit high note after high note, holding them out, raising the roof, and bringing the house down. Though we were outside and there was no roof and no house, but you get what I mean.

When my brother told me Tesla was one of the acts, I was like, Oh good! I like that one song! You know--Signs, signs, everywhere is signs....

Come to find out that they have other songs. AND I knew another one! It's a love song called Love Song. And it's good! That's what they closed with. Then my brother and I had a conversation about Tesla, meaning Nikola Tesla. The guy who invented things that other people like Marconi and Edison stole. Poor Tesla.

Fun Fact: He had an affinity for pigeons.

Yes, this is the conversation we were having when the roadies were breaking down the stage. Because we are educator nerds. But then we talked about REO Speedwagon.

Fun Fact: An REO Speedwagon is a fire truck.

Yes, this is the conversation we were having. But then I was trying to figure out what songs I'd know. My brother has their greatest hits album and listens to way more music than I do, so he'd know more. Then I asked, pretty sure the answer would be no, if they sang Sister Christian.

He laughed at me and was like, No, that's Night Ranger. Still, I didn't see why they couldn't sing Sister Christian. Maybe they would. I was pretty sure everyone playing would know it. And the crowd would love it.

Then REO came out and that lead singer can get a crowd going, even when the amphitheater is not yet filled. They sang some newer songs I'd never heard. They sang some older songs I'd never heard. These were songs my brother knew, so he sang along, and I took pictures of the sunset while pretending to sing along.

I did not have to pretend to sing along to Take It On The Run or Keep On Lovin You or Heard It From A Friend. I knew songs!

The sky grew really dark and finally finally finally Def Leppard came out.
The first thing I noticed was Phil Collen and how he doesn't wear a shirt and how he was already shiny as if he were sweating but he hadn't done anything yet so I had a sneaking suspicion that he had oiled up before the show but then thought how can you play a guitar with all that oil all over so maybe he was just warm. The reason all this was distracting is he's almost in his 60s and he looks like this:
He was shinier!
Other things I noticed:

Joe Elliott thinks he's a magician. He ends almost every song with his arms straight out to the sides and his head back, very Copperfield-like, and sometimes he wears a top hat.

Rick Allen is still the hardest working drummer in rock. Obvious reasons.

When you sing a Def Leppard song, you don't necessarily have to form full words to sing along. Some of the songs are so high or so low that you can screech or grumble, and you're singing right along. Take the lyrics to Love Bites: Love bites. Love bleeds. It's err eh eee oh ah eeeeee. See? Singing.

They have a new album out, and I've yet to hear it. My brother new some of the new stuff, but there was one song where we were like, Huh? as the video played behind them of a mannequin head--I don't know, maybe that's a throwback to Sugar? Aside from that one song (when everyone seemed to go get a snack or take a bathroom break so we were not alone in this), we knew everything else in some capacity. Speaking of everyone, there was quite a cross-section of humanity there. My brother said that a lot of the young people (omigod, I said young people--you know, because I'm old) were there because of the new album. I figured most of the older older people were there for REO. Who was there for Tesla? Well, there had been about twenty people standing right in front of the stage cheering and jumping when they were singing, so they had their fans, too. Also, we were in the upper upper seats. Like we were in the very last row, which had the best and prettiest views, so I figured that it was also a cheaper way to take the family out to something fun.

Actually, I'm not that old. He asked Who here was alive in 1977? And I wasn't. Which puts me in the category of Young People At The Concert, and he said he needs us young people, Def Leppard needs us young people, and all of rock needs us young people. 

Anyway, back to the leppards. JE had three wardrobe changes, including the aforementioned top hat. Rick Savage and Vivian Campbell and Phil Collen and Rick Allen had solos.

Oh! BTW, if you search on Bing for def leppard band members (because you aren't being lazy for once and want to spell their names correctly), this guy's picture comes up as Rick Allen.

Heh heh. I love the interwebs.

When they got to Hysteria, my voice started to go and I fell back in time as photos of them popped up on the screen from when they first started (when I had yet to be born) and when the album Hysteria came out (when I was like 11). If you've never listened to the Hysteria album, stop what you're doing and go buy it on iTunes (if you can navigate that horrible site--if not, get it on Spotify or whatever else you tech-music people use) and listen to it straight through at least three times. It'll change your life. And if it doesn't, listen to it until it does. Even if you haven't heard the whole album, you've probably heard most of it since they had at least 7 singles from it that all played on the radio and were all popular, including Armageddon It and Pour Some Sugar On Me, and if you watched MTV when those songs came out, then you know that those two videos were almost exactly the same and no one cared because the songs were just that popular.

Singing along is such a treat because if you actually do know the words, you know that a lot of the time, they are a little bit silly. Like, well, Pour some sugar on me in the name of love. Which would be really sticky, but that comes up, too: I'm hot, sticky sweet, from my head to my feet.

Or really simple like: What do you want? I want rock n roll. What do you want? Long live rock n roll. And back to silly: Still rollin, keep a rollin. Because a rock rolls, you know.

This? Is brilliance. And no, I'm not being sarcastic.  

They encored with Rock of Ages (of the aforementioned rolling rock lyrics) and then Photograph, which is my brother's favorite song, so I'd like to think they did that specifically for him. Because it was his birthday. Which is a great way to celebrate. If not for my brother, I probably would've never listened to Def Leppard or any of the hair metal bands of the 80s or the classic rock bands before them, so it's more than kinda great that I have an older brother who listened, and still listens, to damn good music. Even if I don't get all of it. Still great.

No one played Sister Christian, unless Tesla sang it before we got there. Probably not. But who needs Sister Christian when you've got an entire discography of Def Leppard at your fingertips? No one, that's who (in case you don't get rhetorical questions).

Ok, so he also likes the Stones, so I badly photoshopped this photo to add his name over that guy's.

And now for the encore:

[As usual, not proofread, but this time, any errors can be blamed on my feeling hung over because I was out late and woke up early.]

Monday, June 27, 2016

Dancing Girls And Poetry At The BookMark Shoppe

In 2014, dancing girl press accepted and published my first chapbook For The Girls, I. I was over the moon excited. I'd loved the work put out by dancing girl for such a long time, and then I was one of those works in the catalog.

I've always been a get-it-together kind of poet, so as soon as I had book-in-hand, I put out a call for other dgp poets to do a reading together. I got a lot of takers. I contacted stores and cafes and things would line up and then fall through. The poets dropped out and the poets signed up and this happened over and again.

Poetry rarely makes itself easily available. Poetry likes a challenge.

In the meantime, WakeBreatheMove found a home at Finishing Line Press. Kimberly Jackson also had her chapbook published by FLP in 2015, so she put out a call for other FLP poets to read for At The Inkwell, a series that runs across the country; in NYC it's at the KGB Bar. I got to read there along with a few other FLP poets.

Now that I'd read with other FLP poets, the dancing girls needed to make this happen. Almost two years later, I dropped a line to The BookMark Shoppe. They were like, sure thing let's do it.

Sometimes poetry is just that simple.

After emails and calls and poets signing up and dropping out, we coordinated a reading--we had a date, we had a time, we had a plan.

Then it happened. I don't usually go whimsy, so when I say it was magic, you know it was truly magic.

Susan Lewis has authored several beautiful collections. Her prose poems captured and stunned.

Abigail Welhouse offered a wealth of poetry, pictures, and ephemera of life. I now know I have to have my colors done to see if I'm an autumn or a spring.

Janeen Pergrin Rastall shared quiet, powerful verses. Her visions of lakes and nature resonate imagistically. (apparently imagistically is not a real word, but it's the only word that describes what her words do).

I've known Vicki Iorio for years, and I've enjoyed hearing her read over these years. This reading, however, she shined at her best.

Katie Longofono's work is fresh and gripping. She tells stories with her poems in a lovely way. I'm thankful that she read my bio to introduce me so I didn't have to read it myself because that would have been weird.

I pronounced everything right with my mad hosting skillz except for calling Katie's next book Angelitis, making it sound like a disease rather than what it's really called, Angeltits, making it sound heavenly. Otherwise, it went great.

I also made crazy poet face only a few times.
Credit: emilyhegarty instagram
Credit: Abigail Welhouse instragram
Credit: Eddie
Riding high on the poetic magic, I gushed to Abigail that we could do this again, and then had the thought that we should do it every year, an expanding reading of dancing girls across the land. Starting to plan right now.
Looks like we've got it all together
Then again....

Friday, June 17, 2016

Thanks, Toronto: The Epilogue

We were out of our hotel in the 6 AM hour. We got to the airport super early. No lines. Security was a little confusing because we were suddenly going through it without even realizing it. Also, there were no signs and the people were telling us Go To Line 1 and there wasn't any line so Line 1 was hard to find considering it didn't exist. We found kiosks that took our pictures and scanned our passports and asked us if we had anything to declare. Then we found our gate, which was the furthest from anything in the airport. We walked all the way back to get some food. We found the one main food place, and I found out that they had bagels, so Eddie got one and I got fruit and a yogurt, and the cashier let us unload our Canadian money and then pay the 71 cent difference with our credit card.

We ate slowly and then walked all the way back to the gate. Then we saw that the gate had changed, so we walked all the way across the airport again. This is why I didn't mind eating the crepes and the ice cream the day before. It all burns off when you travel.

Our gate was beyond glass doors that would not open until 45 minutes before our flight, so we sat in the main corridor. I read while Eddie talked to me as I read after he told me, you should read your book. The doors eventually opened and we found different seats near the window to watch the planes. I did some stretching and he told me I looked like a weirdo.
Nice sunny window
Then we found our friend. Our friend was a young guy with a giant blonde afro who we'd seen on the street our first day in town. He'd been shirtless, pushing a bike, singing to himself. We saw him a few times that day in different parts of town, always shirtless, never actually riding his bike, bobbing to his own tunes. Here in the airport, he was wearing a shirt and had no bike. He also had no bag. He sat down and bobbed his head and shimmied his shoulders to what I assume was a song he was listening to--he had in earbuds. Then he got up, walked around, jostling and jiving, singing to himself. Then he sat down and continued the same thing. This went on for at least an hour. And I'm the weirdo.

I was slightly surprised that no one said anything to him. I mean, we were in an airport, and this behavior wasn't exactly "normal." But nope, no one cared. I figured he either had ADD or was working out the nerves of flying. I don't think he wound up on our plane.

We got snacks on the plane!
My husband doesn't do creepy things at all.
The most important thing that happened at the airport was that Eddie got his passport stamped. Yeay! He's legitimately international!

We got home pretty quickly, and then waited for airport transportation to pick us up. When the van arrived, the driver said to Eddie, They told me it was one passenger. As if we were all going to decide to leave me there since they told him something wrong. Then we drove home and I looked like this:
In case you can't tell, this is me clenching my jaw and gripping first the seat and then Eddie's forearm as the driver careened down the Belt Parkway, asking us maybe 30 times how to get home. Dude, GPS. Also, don't drive like a maniac. I practically shoved Eddie out of the way and jumped out of the van when we pulled up to the house. I was alive! And Canada had been swell.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Thanks, Toronto: Part 3

I don't make a habit of going to places where Guy Fieri has been on purpose. I do love diners, however, so when Eddie and I were in DC, we found out that the diner we were in had been on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. There was a big poster on the wall. We looked it up afterwards, and what it was on the show for had nothing to do with the menu we'd seen. Basically, it was an overpriced diner.

In planning our trip, I looked up a bunch of places to eat and found that Toronto had diners, too.  Ooh, I love diner food. I love everything about a diner. The diner I found, The Lakeview Restaurant, had also been on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. What fun! The third day of our trip, we hopped in a cab and headed over to it because it was pretty much away from everything else.
We were the only ones there when we walked in. The lights didn't seem to be on. The server seated us in a tiny booth and served us water, which she spilled all over my menu, saying Oops! and giggling and then walking away. Great start to breakfast.

I ordered a decaf. It would take a few minutes because it had to be brewed. They were incredibly prepared for breakfast.

Eddie ordered a coke. They had coke but no ice. He got it anyway, and she came back with three ice cubes in the coke--I found some! she said. The coke was gross.

Eddie asked for white toast. They had no white bread.

The food took an extraordinary amount of time to arrive. Two more people had walked in, so maybe this was a crowd for them. Overall, the restaurant didn't look like it got very busy. In some places, it looked like it was falling apart.
Skimming the wet menu
There's that Guy Fieri again
The food arrived eventually as did my decaf. Eddie and I dug into our meals. I don't know if this is a Canadian thing or not, but both breakfasts we had, the one the day before and this one, came with orange slices we hadn't ordered. And the orange slices were delicious!

 I ate some eggs. I looked at Eddie. He had eaten some eggs. I asked, Do you like your eggs? He was like, Ummm... I was like, These eggs are gross. He was like, Oh, good, I didn't want to complain but they taste terrible. I don't know if they were powdered or old or the chef simply couldn't make scrambled eggs, but there was something really wrong with them. We ate as much as we could, and nibbled at the potatoes and I had some of my toast which was the best thing on the plate.

Then our side salads arrived.

Yes, you read that correctly Our salads. The server was like, These come with your meal. And she put down two small bowls of salad that we could eat at 9AM. The salad looked really good, like a salad I'd make for myself, complete with sunflower seeds. 
We did not eat the salad. We asked for the check. We left, kinda still hungry but too appalled to eat.

To burn off that large and scrumptious meal, we walked a little down the main street, passing a park and some odds and ends shops. Then a man we passed caught up with us and asked, Hey buddy you got a cigarette? Eddie said he didn't smoke, and I prayed that we wouldn't be murdered in Canada.

Then we found a cab and the driver motioned for us to get in but stayed on his cell phone so we sat and waited. We told him we wanted to go to Nathan Phillips Square. He started up the car and it chugged along. Slowly I realized that this car was going to break down. And it did. As soon as he had to come to a full stop, it turned itself off. I prayed that we wouldn't be exploded by a car in Canada.

When we approached a street I recognized, I asked Eddie if he would mind getting out there. He was like, We can keep going. The car shuddered back and forth, and I was like, Are you sure? He shrugged so I was like, Here's fine! We'll get out right here! This is far enough! Thanks so much!!

And then Eddie paid the guy in American money and he had to give us Canadian money back, and that's exactly when we realized that the exchange rate had been very beneficial for all of our cab drivers. Eddie is a rock star among taxis.

My feet hit the pavement and it was like touching down from outer space. So happy to be alive. We walked the few blocks to the square and went underground into the path to do some souvenir shopping and window shopping. Then we went to the Eaton Centre so I could find a small bag to bring with me to the baseball game later because the one I had seemed too big. The Eaton Centre is like another small village. I've been to the Mall of America, and this puts that to shame.

We made it to lunch without passing out from malnutrition without having eaten a satisfying breakfast. We found the food court, and while Eddie grabbed a burger from A&W, I had myself a fancy crepe meal.
She gave me two sets of utensils as if I was going to share these.
Since we had the game that night, we went back to the hotel to pack. We'd be leaving at 6 something the next morning. Our hotel had two sets of elevators, and I was mesmerized by this one.
It lights up so pretty!
And in case you missed it, here's the view from our room.
AND our hotel phone had a pizza button.
We packed, I set up a car for the next day to the airport, I pressed the pizza button (no, really, I did and it's just guest services--I suppose they can order you a pizza), and then we got ready for the game. But first, we checked out YouTube for Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives to look up The Lakeview Restaurant, and the segment on the show was nothing like our experience. The place had lights on and was packed with people and everyone who needed ice seemed to have it. For shame, Lakeview and Triple D, for shame!

We took a cab down, and man was there traffic. The driver explained that traffic in Toronto's downtown, especially at rush hour and on game night, was horrific. Then he gave us a grand plan of how the US and Canada should be one country, citing population and land mass and unshared holidays that could be shared. It was quite informative. When we got close to the stadium, he told us not to waste our money--we should get out and walk down the street and turn and we'd be there. That was helpful.

Once again, we walked in 80 degree weather. The stadium wasn't open just yet, but there were lines forming to go in. We stood on a line and went in pretty quickly. We found our seats easily. The positive: the Yankees were warming up on the field and we were in the third row along the first base line watching them. The negative: the dome was open (I wanted it closed) and we were in direct sun, which is great when you're not wearing jeans. The dome does not seem to open all the way, so I was still pleased by it. We waited to see if any players would come over, but they simply waved a lot.
Not wearing sunglasses
Fancy hat
This is pretty cool to see when you look up.
We found food. Eddie got chicken fingers and fries which cost about 15 bucks and then a soda that cost 5  and he got a pretzel that is half the size of a New York pretzel and that was 5, too. Ballpark prices never cease to amaze me. Seeing that I ate my weight in crepes for lunch, I got only peanuts. Another 5 bucks.

Now let's talk about these chicken fingers. They were not those frozen to fried things. They were like actual pieces of actual chicken, breaded and fried. There were two pieces, but they were large and filling. And the fries overflowed and also tasted delicious. I had a bite of each. Wow. Good food. The pretzel was fine. The peanuts were fine and I took them home with me because there were enough in the bag to last me a few days if I needed to live on peanuts.

We settled into our seats. In front of us were two couples. The girl in front of me spent a lot of time looking at herself in her cell phone by using the selfie camera mode. Then she took a selfie of herself and her boyfriend, and I could totally see I was in it, so I smiled.
See that phone? I'm in that selfie.
 The girls were decked out in NY gear and the guys wore Toronto jerseys, but the girls didn't seem to be really into the game. They were really into the alcohol though. Lots of it.

The largest man in the world sat next to me. He was just very large and wearing heavy jeans and big work boots and I was sweating for him.

Then the game began. I'm not really interested in baseball games. I do, however, like what goes on at them. Two fans competed in a tie tying competition, and the one who tied his tie the quickest won a suit. A suit! And his row got gift cards for pizza or something.

Then another guy won a lawn mower. A lawn mower!

They played a few more games, all with great prizes. And then there was singing. During the seventh inning stretch, they did Take Me Out To The Ballgame, which I sang along to. They also did some Toronto song I'd never heard before. Clearly I didn't sing along to that.

Oh! The National Anthems. I almost forgot. So before the game started, a children's choir took the field and first sang the American National Anthem. This was Memorial Day, so the announcer also said something about that. It was nice to hear. Then they sang the Canadian National Anthem.

Now this is when Eddie and I were set to shine. Before our trip, we looked up the words to the anthem. I mean, we've heard it thousands of times because we watch a lot of hockey, but we didn't know all the words. We first looked it up maybe a year or two ago after we saw a hockey game when the mic went out and the Canadian fans sang the American National Anthem. We wondered if we'd be able to do the same, so we looked up the lyrics, preparing for the day when the two of us who can barely carry a tune would save the day at a hockey game on American soil when the mic went out and we would lead the crowd in harmony. Pretty much, we were prepared for this moment.

Then the kids started singing in French.


Anyway, it was nicely done and the baseballing happened. There was a guy behind us who had some sort of odd hatred for Teixeira. Every time he came to bat, the guy would yell at him, tell him he was on steroids, call him ugly, say his wife should leave him. It was really strange, so much so that the very large man next to me wondered aloud what exactly Teixeira did to that guy. I have my own Teixeira thing. I think he has a lady butt, so when he comes up to bat, I say to myself and to Eddie, Mark Teixeira has a lady butt. My thing seems to be less confrontational.
Lady butt
Lady butt
Lady butt
We were also entertained by the mascot. I don't like adults in costume usually, but this mascot was pretty entertaining. As long as he was rows away from me, I was fine with it.
All this side entertainment proved to be the bright side of the game because the Yankees played dreadfully. Towards the end of the game, they scored one run, so I put on my rally cap, which really meant turning my hat backwards.
It didn't work, so we watched as the Yankees lost to the Blue Jays. Still, we had amazing seats.
There was a guy in that building waving a Blue Jay's flag from his balcony.

The night grew so pretty and not very dark, so we walked back to our hotel. We passed by some really fantastic street performers playing drums. We also saw the CN Tower all lit up on our way out.
As we walked, Eddie decided that we should find soft ice cream. We found a few food trucks, but none were for ice cream. Until we hit Nathan Phillips once again and found the ice cream truck. I normally do not eat ice cream, but this was too good to pass up. I wanted to feel like a baseball cliche--peanuts and ice cream and a rally cap. A perfect ending to our Toronto trip.