Monday, March 30, 2009

Avril Lavigne- I'm With You

I’m very sensitive to songs about runaways. Neither of my boys have ever run away but they’ve each had a friend come to our house after getting into a bad fight with their parents.

Jake’s friend was about 15. His Dad kicked him out and he had nowhere to go. Jake came to me and asked if it would be OK for him to spend the night.

I had to call my pastor for advice because I didn’t want this boy's parents to worry about him. She told me that legally, you can’t kick a child out of the house until they’re 16 and that I needed to talk to the boy’s father.

That’s what I did. I talked to the Dad and offered to drive his son home. I dropped him off in the darkness outside his house but could see his Dad waiting in the lighted doorway. I felt bad about it. I would have liked to have kept him overnight, talked to him, made sure he was OK emotionally. But his Dad said to bring him home.

The next day Jake told me that after we drove away, the Dad blocked the doorway and wouldn’t let his son in. I have no idea where he slept. (That bastard!)

Jamie’s little friend came to us sometime during elementary school. I think the boy was about ten. 11:00 at night, the doorbell rang and here was this friend of Jamie’s asking if he could sleep at our house. It was a school night and Jamie was already asleep.

I talked to the boy and he told me he had had a fight with his step-mom and that he had been walking around for about two hours. He didn’t know where else to go. I explained that I had to call his parents but that maybe they would let him stay just for the night.

His little face was so hurt and sad, I gently said, “come here,” gave him a hug and told him it was going to be OK. I tucked him in in our guest room and reminded him that I wasn’t sure he could stay but that I would ask. I remember his little head nodding as it lay on the pillow.

I called his Mom and of course, she said she’d come and get him. I assume that situation turned out better than the last one. I never heard anything more.

It breaks my heart to think of all the young people out there who don’t have someone like me to go to, who are so afraid in their own homes that they’d rather put their trust in a stranger on the street.

"Isn't anyone tryin to find me?
Won't somebody come take me home
It's a damn cold night
Trying to figure out this life
Won't you take me by the hand
Take me somewhere new
I don't know who you are
But I... I'm with you
I'm with you"

Friday, March 20, 2009

Elton John and Billy Joel:Face 2 Face Tour

Last night I went to see Elton John and Billy Joel together in concert. Oh my. I spent my entire adolescence listening to these guys. I vividly remember laying on the floor, album playing, reading everything on the LP covers.

I had a very handsome date along (my son, Jamie) who has been enjoying both artists from his young perspective in this digital age. He downloads their music on his computer and/or iPhone and is as familiar with their songs as I am.

We found our seats which were behind the stage and waaaay up high. We looked right down on the empty stage. Soon the lights dimmed and two large rectangles opened up in the stage. From these black holes rose two grand pianos. The arena exploded into applause.

Billy Joel took the stage from our left, wearing a dark suit and waving to the crowd. Elton John appeared from the right, wearing what can only be described as his version of a suit and also waved to the cheering audience. The two met in the middle and shook hands.

And then we were off!

Note: To those of you unfamiliar with this whole blogging business, if you see an arrow under a picture, it's a video. Click on the arrow. You may have to click it twice.

They performed together at first, alternating between an Elton John hit and a Billy Joel hit.
Elton John and Billy Joel:

Your Song
Just The Way You Are

Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me

My Life

During thunderous applause, following "My Life," Billy Joel took some bows and exited. His piano sank back under the stage. Elton John continued the show alone.

Elton John:

Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding
Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)

Burn Down The Mission
Madman Across The Water
Tiny Dancer
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Rocket Man
I'm Still Standing
Crocodile Rock

Elton John took lots of bows after his last song and then it was Billy's turn.

Billy Joel:

Billy provided more banter than Elton. Before he started to sing, he thanked the people in the top rows in front of the stage. He pointed way up towards them and said, "Thanks for buying those seats up there in Denton!" (I think it's a town in Texas that's pretty far from here. Gimme a break, I'm not from here!)
Then he turned and pointed to those of us sitting behind the stage and said, "And your seats are better than you thought they'd be, right?" Finally, he pointed behind his head to the folks seated on the side of the stage and said, "But those guys are just screwed."

Actually, they weren't. Billy's piano spun slowly on a turntable, so everybody got a good view of his hands flying across the keyboard.

Prelude/Angry Young Man
Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)
Don't Ask Me Why
She's Always A Woman
Scenes From An Italian Restaurant
River Of Dreams

There's a point in the middle of this song where the music stops for four counts and then resumes. At the concert during this pause, Billy started to tinkle the piano keys in a teasing manner until he finally broke out into "Deep In The Heart of Texas." He didn't sing the words, but we did. And then he went back to "River of Dreams."

When "River of Dreams" ended, Billy got up from the piano and we watched it disappear below the stage. My heart sank. I thought he was done. But then a stage hand gave him a guitar (A GUITAR?! I've never seen him play guitar.) and he launched into...

We Didn't Start The Fire
It's Still Rock'n'Roll To Me

During this song Billy did an amusing 'dance' with his microphone stand. He twirled it, pushed it over and pulled it back, leaned low to the side while singing into the mic and finally threw it straight up into the air at the end. Then he dramatically tossed it offstage to a waiting stage hand. It was very entertaining.

His piano rose up once again from beneath the stage and he launched into a raucous version of...

Only The Good Die Young

Elton returned and the two of them wrapped up this 3 1/2 hour concert with these songs:

Elton John and Billy Joel:

I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues
Uptown Girl
The Bitch Is Back
You May Be Right
Bennie And The Jets
They Say It's Your Birthday
Back In The U.S.S.R.
Candle In The Wind
Piano Man

Everyone sang this song loud. Even my ultra-cool son, Jamie. At one point all the music ceased and the audience sang while Billy and Elton looked out at the crowd smiling.

And then it was over. It was an amazing show. My son and I agreed it was rock and roll history. We'll be telling his kids about it.

I have to share that the only other time I've seen Billy Joel perform live was back in college. He did a show on campus. I was aware of him, but not the huge fan I am today. That show turned me on to him. I have every album, including one bootleg. I even saved the review that appeared in our school paper. There aren't many musicians you can say you followed for a lifetime:

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Do You Sudoku?

I'm addicted to Sudoku. I first picked it up while visiting my mother-in-law in the hospital. She got a book as a gift but didn't want to bother learning how to do it. (She was too busy learning to function minus one leg.)

Now I have the puzzle books scattered around my house, in my purse and n my car. I must have a sudoku puzzle to work on while I wait at the doctor's office, stand on line at the grocery store, sit at a red light, or while watching a show my husband chose for us to watch.

It's become an obsession. They come in three or four levels of difficulty and I've mastered 'easy' and 'medium.' I've been known to solve a 'hard' one or two but 'diabolical' is over my head. I'll get there. Just a few more years and I'll have it down.

Do you sudoku?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Ghost Hunting on Star Island

Two of my favorite things are coming together: Star Island, New Hampshire and the TV show, Ghost Hunters.

Star Island is one of seven islands that are about ten miles off the coast of New Hampshire that make up the Isles of Shoals. My sister has been affiliated with Star Island for many years. She started out working summers as a Chamber Maid in the hotel and is now (what are you this year, Nancy?) an advisor of some sort.

My mother has worked out there on two separate occasions for a couple of weeks at a time in the gift shop. I've been there as a guest a few times. It's very isolated and peaceful. A lovely, historic spot where conferences are held.

Last summer we took my sister and her husband's sailboat out to the Isles of Shoales. Here are a couple of the guys taking the dingy out to the sailboat:

I sprawled out on the front of the boat and took this photo of my brother-in-law at the wheel. Look at that big expanse of water behind us.

Then I pointed my camera forward and you can just barely see the islands up ahead:

Looking from one of the smaller islands across to Star Island, where the big hotel is:

Some of our party just hangin' out on the rocks:

Tomorrow night, Star Island will be the featured location on Ghost Hunters. I've been enjoying that show for years. What makes it unique is that Jason and Grant go to various sites to DISprove that there are ghosts about. They look for logical explanations for what people have experienced. But every now and then things happen that they can't explain.

This is gonna be good.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Houston Rodeo

Opening fireworks (click on the arrow):

Last night my husband and I were invited to enjoy the Houston Rodeo from a Sky Box.

There were about twenty of us sharing a room with a buffet dinner, free drinks, TV monitors, private bathroom and access to our own stadium seats. I'm not a fan of rodeos, but this sounded like a civilized way to go. I could watch the action or not.

Chariot races (click on the arrow):

Bull riding:

I was told there would be live music as well, which I'm always up for.

The featured performed last night was Clay Walker.

I've never heard of him. No kidding. The announcer told us he's sold over ten million albums! Still, I didn't recognize him when he came out. I'm not a fan of country music and I guess I've done a pretty good job of avoiding it.

He's good. Though his band was set and ready to rock on the center stage, he entered the arena on horseback. Yee-ha!!

(This isn't actually him, but that would have been great if it was, right? haha)

He served up a very polished show, complete with some simple choreography (tilting his black cowboy hat at the appropriate moments, swiveling his hips, flashing a huge smile), lots of loving words for Houston and Texas and America. *sniff* It was very effective.

Clay Walker (click on the arrow):

I got to wear my awesome cowboy boots, so that alone was worth it.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Wedding Anniversary

Today's my wedding anniversary. We were married in March in New York much to the dismay of many out-of-town guests. (It was cold!) My husband and I had been dating for SIX years and when we finally decided to get married, I wanted to just do it right away. I was more focused on the marriage than the wedding.

I guess we had about six months to plan the wedding. It was everything I wanted, very personal, very ME. All of my bridesmaids could sew, so I let them pick out whatever dress pattern they liked, as long as they all had long sleeves. Then I bought the same fabric for everyone. It was like a fashion show when they walked down the aisle: four women in the same burgundy satin in different styles.

I designed the program that every guest was handed as they entered the church. It included the names of all involved in the service and their relation to the bride or groom. On the back was a poem I wrote for my husband.

I wore my Mom's wedding gown. That woman must have had a hell of a figure because the waist was snug on me (and I was skinny), but the bust of the gown flopped around empty. I told all of my bridesmaids that if they wanted me to store anything for them (like a blow dryer), I had plenty of room in there.

Of course, we had the gown altered. My Mom tells me that when she went to pick up the gown at the cleaners, Billy Joel's wife (at the time) saw it hanging up and commented that it was pretty. (cool!)

At the reception, I insisted on a DJ so that guests could make requests. It turned into a rave (perhaps I exaggerate?), with bodies packing the dance floor, sweaty and laughing until the last song. I wanted a party and I got one. People still comment how fun our wedding was.

Many of the people who knew us back in college thought it would never last because Greg was so immature back then. He stole me away from his friend even though I resisted for a year and a half. He wore me down. I gave in against my better judgment. In the process I broke a good man's heart, but I guess it had to happen.

If you see our friends from Genesee dorm, floor C2, tell 'em they were wrong. Greg didn't break my heart. We're still together and going out to celebrate the fact tonight.