End of 2017 Roundup

2017 in Review
  1. What did you do in 2017 that you’d never done before? I led a fundraiser for my company. We raised just over $1000 for the Virginia Beach SPCA. It was pretty darn great.
  2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I gave up on resolutions ages ago. They’re honestly pointless to me. A great man once sang, “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”.
  3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Unfortunately, yes. And I only say that because I’m a selfish person who sided with the bad guy in Dan Brown’s Inferno, not because I judge anyone’s life choices. giphy
  4. Did anyone close to you die? We had a close call with my mom in law, but no deaths this year. But a lot of folks I know lost very close loved ones.
  5. What countries did you visit? Didn’t leave the bedraggled USA, but I was in Washington, D.C. a lot, and got as far north as MA.
  6. What would you like to have in 2018 that you lacked in 2017? A decent President.
  7. What dates from 2017 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? Probably November 9th, because this happened:

    Some background: A person asked if you were to sing karaoke with you favorite celebrity, what song would you choose, and Lin stepped the fuck UP.

  8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Being aware of the disgusting status of the US government, and doing my best to resist, march, protest, and help get the right people elected.
  9. What was your biggest failure? Not being able to travel to FL when I wanted to. Due to unforeseen financial issues, the trip to see my Orlando area friends (and visit the Harry Potter thing at Universal) wasn’t able to happen. That really bummed me out.
  10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Nothing major, just gained weight and got an ear infection for the first time since being a toddler.
  11. What was the best thing you bought? Concert tickets. I saw Ringo Starr and the man said hello to me from the stage. 378b8d77ce5a64b408abdf6c24865039
  12. Whose behavior merited celebration? All of the folks who have fought the soon to be Fascist government in power. The Women’s March ladies, the #metoo movement, Jose Andres and what he’s doing to help hungry people in Puerto Rico, and the ordinary folks who have gotten off their butts and done SOMETHING.
  13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Our Voldemort President (daily), and the men I admired that ended up either being super creeps or minor creeps. I’m looking at you, Kevin Spacey, Dustin Hoffman, and Al Franken.
  14. Where did most of your money go? Food, alcohol, donations to good causes, and the occasional geeky bit of clothing or thingie.
  15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? I was absolutely THRILLED to be at the Lady Gaga show. It was magical for me. And part of it was on TV! And then she won an award! Gaga on American Music Awards
  16. What song will always remind you of 2017? Do You Still Love Me?
  17. Compared to this time last year, are you: (a) happier or sadder? (b) thinner or fatter? (c ) richer or poorer? A. Sadder B. FATTER C. Poorer
  18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Definitely hiked more; gotten exercise, been more politically active.
  19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Staring at shit on the internet and wasting time.
  20. How did you spend Christmas? A brief visit with parents, followed by a Game of Thrones marathon.
  21. Did you fall in love in 2017? I fall in love with my dude every day. He’s the best. IMG_8595
  22. What was your favorite TV program? Just one? Nice try. Game of Thrones, Stranger Things, Great News, Legion, The Crown, The Handmaid’s Tale, & Big Little Lies come to mind.
  23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? Hate is a strong word, but I have ended friendships. The state of our nation has made me realize who will be on the right side of history, and I prefer to be friends with those people.
  24. What was the best book you read? I really enjoyed The Devil’s West series by Laura Anne Gilman.
  25. What was your greatest musical discovery? LIZZO, y’all. Water Me
  26. What did you want and get? I got to stay alive?
  27. What did you want and not get? The impeachment of our jackass President.
  28. What was your favorite film of this year? There were a lot of badass films. Dunkirk, Thor: Ragnarok, Wonder Woman, Blade Runner 2049, Baby Driver, & It. But I have to go with Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
  29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? Ugh, thanks for reminding me that it’s my 43rd year on this blue marble. I didn’t really do anything on the actual day of my birth, but my favorite present was experiencing the music of Game of Thrones, live. It was lovely. A taste: Winds of Winter
  30. What one thing made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Seeing so many fun concerts with my dude, and being able to contribute to my favorite podcast, even if it was just a playlist. Check out The Hooray Show with Horatio Sanz.
  31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2017? Fashion is a concept that will forever allude me. My mom in law gifted me a sweet wrap/sweater thing, however, and I wore it to the Lady Gaga show and felt most fierce. gagaselfie
  32. What kept you sane? Animals. My three cats, the cat we rescued from the streets (who may belong to us in 2018 – stay tuned), the foxes behind my backyard, the critters we helped at the shelter, and the elephant fosters I gifted to family (and the foster I received – Check out the elephant babies!).
  33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Horatio SanzLin, and Ryan Adams were the boys who made me smile the most. 
  34. Who did you miss? I miss Carrie Fisher. Some funny Carrie moments
  35. Who was the best new person you met? I can’t recall meeting someone new, in person that is. But the guys who run the Crooked Media podcasts have been a welcome addition to my internet “pals”.
  36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2017. Do not put up with anything you don’t want to put up with. This world is too short and fucked up for that. But be kind and good. And funny.
  37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year. 
    Are we crazy?
    Livin’ our lives through a lens
    Trapped in our white picket fence
    Like ornaments
    So comfortable, we’re livin’ in a bubble, bubble
    So comfortable, we cannot see the trouble, trouble
    Aren’t you lonely
    Up there in utopia
    Where nothing will ever be enough?
    Happily numb
    So comfortable, we’re livin’ in a bubble, bubble
    So comfortable, we cannot see the trouble, trouble
    Ah, so good
    Your rose-colored glasses on
    And party on (woo)
    Turn it up, it’s your favorite song
    Dance, dance, dance to the distortion
    Turn it up, keep it on repeat
    Stumblin’ around like a wasted zombie
    Yeah, we think we’re free
    Drink, this one’s on me
    We’re all chained to the rhythm
    To the rhythm, to the rhythm
    Turn it up, it’s your favorite song
    Are we tone deaf?
    Keep sweepin’ it under the mat
    Thought we could do better than that
    I hope we can
    So comfortable, we’re livin’ in a bubble, bubble
    So comfortable, we cannot see the trouble, trouble
    Aha, so good (so good)
    Your rose-colored glasses on
    And party on (woo)
    Turn it up, it’s your favorite song (oh)
    Dance, dance, dance to the distortion
    Turn it up, keep it on repeat
    Stumblin’ around like a wasted zombie
    Yeah, we think we’re free
    Drink, this one’s on me
    We’re all chained to the rhythm
    To the rhythm, to the rhythm (woah)
    It is my desire
    Break down the walls to connect, inspire
    Ay, up inna your high place, liars
    Time is ticking for the empire
    The truth they feed is feeble
    As so many times before
    The greed over the people
    They stumblin’ and fumblin’ and we about to riot
    They woke up, they woke up the lions (woah)
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The Laugh Makes The Voice

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Voice Work.”

I read a lot of books. Not as many as I would like, but sadly I am not wealthy enough to stay home and allocate the majority of my waking hours tearing through tons of them. The idea of listening to audio books is an appealing one. I enjoy many different podcasts on my work commute, so why not get some “reading” in too? It’s always been a fascinating tidbit for me to find out who reads these versions of books I’ve already devoured, so why not get into the spirit and actually listen? Well, I’ll do it eventually. Who wouldn’t want to hear the intelligent, gentle tones of Stephen Fry read the Harry Potter series? Or Johnny Depp narrarate Keith Richards’ autobiography, Life? Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Wait a minute! I’ve had a thought!

rustreaction

Don’t worry, Rust, I’m not going to get all “time is a flat circle” on you. That’s your job. Anyway, what if I wrote a book? Who would read the audio version? I wouldn’t read it myself, because I can’t stand my dorky sounding inflection. Ick. I would choose two narrators!  A boy and a girl! How they’d tag team it, I don’t know. I’d let them decide. Or my publisher. Whoever is in charge of that sort of thing.

The male reader would be Ricky Gervais. I worship the English accent, and Ricky’s is adorable, earnest, and lovely all at once. He can express all of the feels. Like, crying;

But my favorite, is laughing. Ricky has the best laugh on EARTH.

That’s who I want telling my stories of getting my period for the first time, while wearing a white skirt. AMIRITE? Maybe the lady-woman should read that bit. Scratch that. So who is that lady-girl? Why, Amy Poehler, of course. Because she ALSO has the best laugh on EARTH.

Ms. Poehler also has that earnest quality about her voice, with a faint hint of New England thrown in. I come from Massachusets folk, so it’s comforting to me.

I Can Has Autumn?

As I type this, the month of May is almost over. Summer is upon us. Sunshine, beaches, barbecues, shorts, tank tops, flip flops, all that stuff. Stuff I hate.

The heat, my god, the heat! Who wants to roast like a pig on a spit? How is heat and humidity a nice feeling? I do not enjoy sweating at all. It’s a shame, since in my older years I’ve become what some people call a “Sweaty Betty”. Any little rise in temperature starts the swirl of dampness around my pits and forehead. Then paranoia sets in. Do I have B.O.? Do I look like I just ran a marathon? And don’t get me started on what the hot air does to my hair. Curls turn into a frizzed out clown wig in seconds. Give me the cool, crisp, fall surroundings. I feel fresh and so clean, clean. Hair’s on point and my armpits are dry and smell like lavender (thanks, Secret!).

Beaches? I don’t need no stinking beaches! Sure, I live in a city that has the word Beach in it, but that doesn’t mean I’m at the oceanfront in a swimsuit (horrors). That sand gets everywhere, even if you take a barefoot stroll fully clothed. Somehow, it will end up in your butt crack, I’m telling you. I love the ocean and all the critters in it, but I’ll view it from the deck of my lovely Cape Cod mansion (imaginary, naturally). At dusk, in mid-October. No grains of sand in my butt in that scenario.

When you don’t eat meat, barbecues are a drag. Unless I’m hanging out with my tons of vegetarian/vegan friends and we’re grilling tofu burgers and veggie shish kebobs, but I don’t have tons of those friends. And I don’t have a grill. So I’ll enjoy some tater tots and a burrito in my heavily air conditioned (imaginary) Cape Cod mansion. Followed by some dairy free ice cream.

Summer attire is the worst. The WORST! I’m 41 years old, not in the greatest shape, and am as pale as a White Walker in Game of Thrones. My legs are always dry. I could soak them in a giant vat of cocoa butter for three hours, and they’d still look like rhinoceros skin. Who wants to gaze at those things? Wearing shorts hurts my soul. And tank tops? I can deal with them slightly better, since it’s an excuse to show off my sweet tattoos, but the ink is attached to pasty, freckly arms. In constant fear of getting burned by the evil yellow orb in the sky. Give me sweaters! All of the hoodies! Jeans! Boots! Converse! Layers upon layers of clothing to keep my fragile white skin safe from society!

I Feel Bad For The Woodpecker

Remember that amazing photo that turned into a “hilarious” meme? The weasel riding the woodpecker? Here, look:

WeaselPecker031

It came from amateur photographer, on a lovely walk with his wife, who wanted to show her a Green Woodpecker. He got his wish, he snapped this picture when he heard its distressed call, and that turned into stuff like this:

gandalfwoodpecker

Comical, right? Well, not really. Sure, it’s an incredible wildlife shot, the kind of stuff you’d never normally see, unless Sir David Attenborough was narrating in the background on your television. I understand that something so magnificent does things to the Internet. It inspires creativity and whatnot. But it’s not cute or laughable to me. When I look at it, honestly, it reminds me of this:

monkfire

I’m not comparing weasels and woodpeckers to a monk self-immolating in protest, I’m saying my emotions were jarred looking at both photos for the first time. I saw faith and sadness and selflessness looking at the above picture. When I looked at that woodpecker’s horrified eyes, I felt its terror. There was a predator on its back, trying to snap its neck and it was fleeing in a desperate attempt to save itself.

Animal photos and videos are a major staple of the internet. They can be adorable, funny, mean, goofy, and everything in between. However, things can be misinterpreted. I don’t think it’s funny or viral when there’s an animal in distress featured in a video or photograph. Here’s another example:

A Cute Cat With A Funny Meow? No, that cat is clearly upset about something and I don’t think it’s amusing.

Not everyone can realize when a critter is scared or reacting negatively to something. It’s not a perfect world, but I wish humans would educate themselves about our fellow citizens of Earth. They are going through some tough things too.

 

 

Top Ten Madonna Songs, AKA Hard Decisions

Before I get to what the title of this post indicates, I want to say I tried out the new live streaming app, Meerkat, yesterday, and it was pretty fun. I have no idea if I’ll use it on a regular basis, but I streamed a short bit, chatting about Madonna and the songs I’ve picked for this list. I had five people watching at one point; one from Mexico and another from The Netherlands. It seems like a pretty cool “on the go” way to stream something and interact with other folks. If you’re reading this because you watched my goofy stream, thanks and hello!

Well, let’s get to it. Madonna has a new album out, Rebel Heart. As you probably know, Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone has been the queen of pop music, fashion, reinvention, and provocation since the early 80s. It’s hard to remain relevant for such a long period of time, but, despite a few bumps along the way, Madge has managed to do it. Rebel Heart is a pretty decent pop album, more so than the previous two (Hard Candy and MDNA). When a legend releases a new album, however, we like to think back to the beginning. Us music lovers want to compare and contrast the new stuff to the old stuff. Instead of doing that, I began to think about the songs that have meant the most to me over the years. Should I make a top 20 list? Top 10? Ugh, THIS IS HARD! There are so many songs! Seriously, so many. I have a Spotify playlist of 44 favorites, for Pete’s sake!

I grabbed a pen and my trusty notepad, and made a damn list. Because I am an adult and I can do this! *deep breaths* I’ll probably change my mind in the future, or wish the order was different, but who cares. For the most part, these Madonna tunes give me the feels and/or the urge to dance around the room.

10. Don’t Tell Me

The standout track from 2000’s Music. I love the guitar sample at the beginning. I love the strings and the emotional, sweeping ending. The lyrics are great, as well. And who doesn’t think Madonna looks fab in a cowgirl outfit?

 

9. Hung Up

Does this make you want to bust out a leotard and get to grooving? If not, you might be a weirdo. Between the sample of ABBA’s Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight) and the actual pounding beat, Hung Up is one of the greatest dance tracks ever. I dig the breakdown towards the end; just that beat and the ticking clocks. A strange thing I love about this song is the way Madonna enunciates “hesitating”. Alrighty then! Fun fact I learned about the video – it was shot only a few weeks after our queen had a horse riding accident and broke some bones. The woman has some determination.

 

8. Beautiful Stranger

Madonna. Austin Powers. Could that combo be wrong? Nope. This uptempo number has a great feel to it. It’s a total ear worm, too. The swingin’ 60s sound mixed with the late 90s production is a win. Let’s talk about the video for a second: How can Madonna make a pair of khakis sexy? I mean, they seriously look like something I sold when I worked at Lerner back in the day. But somehow she throws on a pair of heels and dances like she does, and those pants become HOT.

 

7. Causing A Commotion

This was one of my favorites as a kid in 1987, and has remained so. Back then, I don’t even think I knew exactly what a commotion was, other than it rhymed with motion and sounded fun. I recall memorizing the dance moves and wishing I had a conveyor belt in my living room. I recently learned this song was written about Madonna’s marriage to Sean Penn. Which makes sense.

 

6. The Power of Good-Bye

One of Madonna’s best ballads, for sure, from the Ray of Light record. Perhaps this is a companion to Causing A Commotion? I’ve read rumors that this one was about ol’ Spicoli as well. Regardless, it’s a lovely, sad, but hopeful tune about a breakup. The electronic bleeps and bloops blend well with the guitar. Since we also have to discuss the video as well as the song, how sexy is Goran Visnjic? Talk about hubba hubba. I adore the blue tint of everything, as well. Matthew Rolson always makes things and people look gorgeous in his videos.

 

5. Rain

Damn, this song is pretty, hiding among all the sexy songs on the Erotica album. That awesome crescendo, though! So good. I also love the homage to Here Comes The Sun by The Beatles. I could do without the spoken word part, however. As for the video, it’s beautiful. Madonna in short black hair and perfect eyebrows? Yes please.

 

4. Deeper And Deeper

Put this track on and you are guaranteed to see me start boogying. It’s super fun to sing, too. Deeper And Deeper also gets cool points for referencing Vogue. I have a soft spot for artists dropping their previous hit song lyrics into new songs. Why? Don’t ask me. I have to say that the video for this song is…. weird. I get the Andy Warhol references, but I thought he was weird too, so there you go. Udo Kier is a total creeper and watching Madonna fawn over him disturbs me. At least she looks badass in an afro wig.

 

3. Ray Of Light

Ray of Light is Madonna’s best album, in my humble opinion. The title track blew me away the first time I heard it. It was like she rose like a phoenix from the ashes of a naughty pop princess and became an electronic Mother Earth. The beat is so fast paced, I don’t know if I want to dance or start a mosh pit. The video has that same crazy frantic feel. Brilliant!

 

2. Oh Father

Madonna at her most vulnerable can be incredibly outstanding, and this song is an example. It tells a story about loss and coping with that loss, breaking free, and coming to terms. We all know this is autobiographical. Madonna lost her mom at a young age, and had difficulty with her father as well. The odd sounding violin arrangement complements the melody extremely well; it’s my favorite part of the song. As for the video, there really isn’t much to say, since it’s a perfect representation of the song.

 

1. Live To Tell

This will always be my favorite Madonna song. Period. It was the first song I heard of hers that hit me in the gut. I was 12 years old and had no idea why a man would tell a thousand lies, but I knew that holding a secret until the death was some powerful grownup stuff. I remember being impressed that Madonna could release a serious ballad – she wasn’t just a sexy minx for us girls to admire and the boys to drool over! Now that I’m an adult, the song still packs an emotional punch. I love her soft and simple look in the video, as well. I never did see At Close Range, so I’ve no idea what the hell is going on with the movie scenes. Christopher Walken’s mustache is scary to this day.

 

What did you think? Could you list your favorite Madonna songs? Feel free to leave your list in the comments. I’m curious! I’m glad Madonna has graced us with so many tunes, and I’m proud that she continues to do so.

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Shadowfax, Lord Of All Horses

This scene is guaranteed to give me goosie-bumps and/or tears every time I see it.

Why is this? I’m not a big horse lover. I mean, I love all animals but I’ve only ridden a horse twice in my life. The first time, the big black stallion had an itch in a sensitive place, and insisted on scratching it while my terrified 10 year old self sat on top of him, waiting to be thrown off and stomped on. The second time was only a few years ago. She was a lovely mare named Cinder, and I chatted her up the entire trail, because it seemed like the right thing to do. Anyway, that’s it. So what is it about Shadowfax, appearing out of nowhere, running in slow motion in response to his friend Gandalf’s special whistle?

Perhaps one reason is his pedigree. Legolas seemed pretty damn impressed, didn’t he? Well, he’s right to feel that way. There aren’t many horses in Middle-earth who come from the most majestic and swift Mearas. They’re said to have been tamed by the first King of Rohan, and they can understand human speech. Shadowfax was the current Lord of the Mearas, and was “given” to Gandalf by King Theoden. Apparently Shadowfax wasn’t going to be tamed by any Rohan royalty. He was bigger than that.

Which brings me to the special bond shared by Shadowfax and Mithrandir. They trust each other. They’re both super brave and have the confidence of good over evil to spur them on their quest. It’s like Shadowfax knows how important it is to defeat Sauron and will do whatever it takes. He speeds Gandalf all over the place, gathering the Rohan army to help at Helm’s Deep. He takes Gandalf and Pippin to Gondor so Denethor will get his shit together and fight Mordor (so that doesn’t work well, but you can’t cure crazy). And look at this friendship!

He isn’t going to run away and leave his wizard and hobbit bros to suffer at the hands of pure evil. Oh no, he will STAND STRONG. That is one amazing horse.

How could such an amazing fictional horse be portrayed on the screen? It should be quite the talented actor, right? Also, he’d have to be ridiculously good looking. I don’t know much about horses, but what I do know, in relation to their participation in the LOTR trilogy, is from the most excellent DVD extra feature called Home of the Horse Lords. If you haven’t seen it, I highly suggest you correct that. You’ll learn how the amazing equines were acclimated to movie sets, the friendships they made with their human costars, and the lasting effect their fellowship had on everyone involved. Shadowfax was played by two stallions: Domero, who was used in mostly stationary shots, and Blanco, who is the one you see galloping around Minas Tirith and Rohan with Ian McKellan or his stunt double. Both of those beautiful horses are no longer with us, sadly. They are immortalized in these films, however, and for that I’m grateful.

I suppose it’s a combo of my immense love of all creatures, my adoration of Tolkien’s stories, and Peter Jackson’s movies that give me the special feels for the 54 second sequence, in which The White Wizard calls for his friend. It sums up the sentiment of the LOTR trilogy, in a way. When your friends need you, they’ll be there to help fight for good. Thanks, Lord Of All Horses!

lighthorse

 

 

Funeral Songs. My Demand.

First of all, when I die, and there people around who feel I deserve some kind of send-off, I have one demand. If it’s not met, I’ll become a mean force ghost and haunt everyone. That demand is, THESE SONGS BETTER BE PLAYED:

1. Into The West by Annie Lennox

I may be crying right now, by the way. It is impossible for me to hear that song and not do a bit of ugly sobbing. Speaking of sobbing, back to the matter at hand. I’d like to get all the tears out of the way at my funeral, and this lovely piece will do it. Everyone will imagine me in my hobbit cloak, boarding a ship with Gandalf and the other ring-bearers, giving that final smile to everyone. But don’t be too sad, folks. Once I get to the Undying Lands, me and the Valar are going be FULL ON PARTYING.

 

2. White And Nerdy by Weird Al Yankovic

It’s as good a theme song as any, amirite? I mean, it’s by Al, my comedy music hero. It defines me. I’ll ace any trivia quiz you bring on, I memorized Holy Grail really well, I can recite it right now and have you R-O-T-F-L-O-L, even made a homepage for my dog, yo. So at this point you all can talk about my nerdy accomplishments in life. I’m sure there will be many of them. Maybe do a slide show of all the photo ops I managed to get at comic conventions. There better be one of me and Tom Hiddleston, or I will have lived for nothing. Just kidding. Sort of.

 

3. Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life, by Eric Idle

This will be the grand finale, people. And everyone will have to sing along. My force ghost powers will increase and I will torture every attendee of my service if they aren’t belting this out at the top of their lungs. And after it’s finished, and everyone has wiped their tears of joy and laughter, go to a bar and get shit faced. Then move on with your life. Because remember that the last laugh is on you.