with Lynne and Leslie
Category Archives: music

Things a mom thinks about at 2:25 a.m., five hours before she’s supposed to work out

by SweetMidlife
bed

Scene of the 2:30-something mind crime.

 

This is Leslie. It is 2:25 a.m. As the great Wanda Sykes once said, women’s brains are so full of tasks and thoughts and things we have to do that we can’t get to sleep because even the minute stuff like not being able to remember the name of a teacher we haven’t seen in 30 years just won’t leave us alone. This is happening to me right now. Here is the dumb, deep and sleep-depriving stuff in my head right now. I wish it was not in my brain, because I would like to go to bed now.

You certainly don’t want them in your head, too. But here you are – I have too much on the brain to be charitable at this point,. You understand, of course. You’re awake, too. Shouldn’t you be sleeping?

THINGS I AM THINKING ABOUT AT 2:25 a.m. INSTEAD OF SLEEPING

– “Why am I awake?

– “It has taken me four hours to get through this two-hour finale of ‘Secrets and Lies.’ I wonder if anyone watches this but me, Michael Ealy is fine. I’ve almost grown attached to Juliette Lewis’ character, and she’s kind of awful. i hope they don’t cancel this. They always cancel the shows I get attached to. Dang. Now I’m worried about ‘Blackish.’ Please don’t cancel ‘Blackish,’ Jesus.”

“Jesus doesn’t cancel TV shows, right? He’s busy, right?”

“I finally finished that assignment for work I should have done before I feel asleep. Win for me? Does procrastination count as a win? Whatever. Taking it. TAKING THIS WIN.”

“I am super hungry. I didn’t eat enough last night,. Didn’t I leave some veggie chili in the bowl? I wonder if it;’s in the fridge. Did I put it in the fridge? I wonder if it’s still good if I didn’t put it in the fridge? Or did I leave it on the counter? It’s got light sour cream on it. Is that real dairy? I wouldn’t get that sick, right?”

“Maybe I shouldn’t eat counter chili.”

“I love ‘The Affair’ even if I don’t like any of these horrible people. They’re awful. But they have great apartments. Great kitchens. I like my kitchen. It has chili on the counter.”

“I really ought to get off the stick and get a hotel for Disney this weekend. I canceled the one I had because I am convinced there is a cheaper one out there. Hotwire is an addiction and I need to get help. But…the…deals! There are deals out there and I shall find them. They are the Precious and I am Black Smeagol.”

“I am still so hungry. If I eat right now I can’t weigh myself this morning because it won’t be the real weight. Then again I had hash browns and bourbon for lunch so I probably tanked that thing already. I should eat.”

“I have to sleep, man. I have to work out at 7:15, and if I don’t leave on time the kid will wake up and I’ll have to take him, too, and that running stroller and him together weigh like 70 pounds and he’s a weight wearing an Afro, At least he holds the phone up so I can hear the Andy Grammar song he’s playing. He’s a little DJ.”

“I need to figure out how to make more money. Like, now. I should read that book my friend Kim had me buy about platforms, that I never read, thus I am sitting here at…what…2:47 a.m. now wondering how to get a platform to make money. She’s always right. And she’s got a platform. I bet she’s not asleep either.”

“Maybe I’ll write on that blog I never write on. That’s a platform.”

‘I wonder if that chili’s still down there.”


I Wish There Was A Show Called “American Do What You Love And Get Paid For It”

by SweetMidlife

Lynne here!

Leslie and I watch a lot of “American Idol”, and this is the last season, so they are talking a lot about their legacy and how awesome the show is, and want to talk about Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson, its’ biggest stars, like all of the time. And I get that. Those ladies are the biggest stars that the show has produced, and the show also heavily touts hit-making alumni Phillip Phillips, Chris Daughtry, and Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson. And that makes sense, because the show is called “American IDOL”, which means that they want to produce people who we literally want to be. But we have short attention spans, so the people who we were all nuts about last month kinda fall away to make space for the next new thing.  I was really happy when a few weeks ago, as part of their “You used to really love this show” extravaganza, the show brought back former contestants to sing duets with current ones. Some were ones who had several radio hits after the show, like Daughtry and Jordin Sparks and Fantasia, and some were ones who have had careers in other venues, like Tony-nominee Constantine Maroulis or Haley Reinhart, who has been featured in a bunch of videos by Postmodern Jukebox where they put pop songs to jazz beats. Watch her, She’s amazing. So I got all excited when the show said that these folks were coming back, because I wanted them to highlight that success doesn’t always look hit records. But no. While the show brought on a big display commemorating all of Daughtry’s platinum-selling accomplishments, what it basically did was have the others talk about what they learned from the show, for the show’s sake. And I get that. Talking about all the amazing things you birthed is awesome. But I think that the show missed a great opportunity to send a heartfelt message that could add to the well-being of the young people of America, which I know isn’t their top priority, as well as really secure their legacy as the springboard for greatness, which is their concern.

And that’s this.

As wonderful as it must be to be a mega-superstar, there is something to be said for being able to make a living doing what you love, even if it’s on a more modest level, and this is what “American Idol” has done for many of its former contestants, like Taylor Hicks and Kris Allen, who aren’t burning up the charts currently (although both each have had hits), but have used their time on the show to have, well, careers in music. As in people pay them to sing. As in they don’t have to have second jobs. Because enough people want to hear them that they can live pretty nice lifestyles doing exactly what they love to do. I am not hating on Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson, because those ladies have earned the careers that they have. I admire them. But obviously, everybody can’t be at that level and sustain it, and it is bothersome that we chew people up and get over them so quickly, that in the public’s perception, if you aren’t selling out stadiums, you must be living in your mama’s basement cooking grilled cheese on a hot plate. There is a lot of space in between there, and “Idol” alums occupy every rung of that, with many of those folks occupying the higher rungs of that ladder, which means that they earn a living singing, and they appreciate the platform that they were afforded. Most working musicians, especially the ones who were gigging before their “Idol” days, recognize that a place in this show can make you in a big way, but that it can also be a springboard into playing bigger venues and having your own bus instead of taking the Greyhound. Leslie interviewed Phillip Phillips the year that he won the show, and he told her something that has stuck with me. He said that at first, he didn’t have his eye on the title of American Idol, which he went on to win. No, his initial goal was to make the Top 10, because those performers get to go on tour, and he knew that he would have a job for the summer. Don’t miss that. One of the biggest stars to come out of the show’s later years knew that having a well-paid job touring around was a huge blessing, because it offered you the visibility to work that into something more.

Most "Idol" alumsdon't have to play music in their mom's basement anymore, unlike my kid. He is only 3, though.

Most “Idol” alumsdon’t have to play music in their mom’s basement anymore, unlike my kid. He is only 3, though.

And many “Idol” contestants have done that, including the ones I mentioned above, as well as Allison Iraheta, who made it to the #4 spot the year that Adam Lambert and Kris Allen were on. She has her own band called Halo Circus, and also sings backup vocals on “Idol”. And I know that some people look at that and say, “You sing back-up? That must be a letdown. Too bad you aren’t famous.” But she has a job. Singing. And although she likes singing her own music, I am sure, her time on the show has given her a highly visible regular gig, one which many singers would love to have. That is an accomplishment. I am an actor, and the periods of my life where I was only acting were brilliant. I was never famous, but I was able to eat doing what I adored. And shoot, that is everything. That’s a good lesson for everybody, because if only famous people are successful, that means that there is no room for anyone else, which means that everyone else is unworthy, which I refuse to accept. Excelling is awesome, and making lots of money is, I am sure, a wonderful thing, but also living the dream of being JUST a performer is up there. And I honestly think that if “Idol” bragged on the careers that their less-famous alumni went on to, it would make the show look better in the long run, because they would be able to define what success looks like. But since they, and we, are so hung up on “Idol”-dom, they missed a chance to say that they produce people in the big leagues, meaning that they produced people with careers. In music. And to me, that is brag-worthy.

 


Today’s best thing: The “Love” channel on Sirius XM, and the sweet, sweet sap of it all

by SweetMidlife

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After 20 years of car ownership, mostly as a single woman, I had my first experience of having someone else pick my car out for me, which I liked. This is not a statement on feminism or anything. My husband and I share expenses, but it happened to be my turn for a car, and this one was in his name, so while I was inside talking to the people, Scott went outside and chose between the two cars we’d test-driven, for three reasons: One, because he wanted to do something nice for me as a gift of sorts; two, because it was a cute little Kia Soul like all the cool hamsters drive, and he liked the idea of me driving a car with my red ‘fro against a seat that had the word “Soul” repeatedly printed on it. I feel like a commercial for some hip product that would never have me on the commercial.

And three: Because of the already-installed Sirius XM satellite radio. I never had it before, except in select rental cars and whenever my dad wasn’t looking and I got to drive his Honda CR-V. But it’s amazing, because not only can you listen to the newer music of the day, if you so choose, you can also just pretend it’s still 1987, or 1977 or 1998 (Backstreet’s back, all right!) by sticking to the decade specific station of your choice. OR you can pretend that the world is a giant American Top 40 Long-Distance Dedication and just park on Channel 17, also called “Love.”

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“Love” reminds me of the light rock stations of my teens and 20s, where the rest of the world was into Duran Duran or Prince, but that one station was doubling down on England Dan and John Ford Coley and Bread. Lots of Bread. Enough to make you want to cry and go check on singer David Gates, because that dude was depressed. But it was glorious – I loved studying to those stations in college, because they were background enough not to be distracting but had lyrics stirring enough to keep me awake. Songs about finding your beloved’s diary and reading it thinking you were finding out how much she loved you and then realizing she wasn’t writing about you? That sticks with you.

“Love” is just like those stations, but without the commercials. It’s amazing the stuff they come up with – in 48 hours I heard both the Rita Coolidge and Boz Scaggs versions of “We’re All Alone,” which made me happier than it should. Yesterday they played 4PM’s version of “Sukiyaki,” and an Air Supply song I can’t even remember because I was too excited to be hearing Air Supply on the radio in 2015.

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I have never been cool, so I don’t care what anyone thinks of me gushing over possible 24/7 access to Barry Manilow and Anne Murray. Its what I like. And it’s not just me, because there’s a whole station appropriate for spontaneous hand-holding at lights, or crying, in the case of Josh Groban’s “To Where You Are.” Your car is your fortress, and my kid and my husband have learned not to touch the radio if I’m driving. I’ll listen to other stuff, but Love is my default.

LOVE SHOULD ALWAYS BE YOUR DEFAULT.

 


So then there was that time I ruined “The Little Mermaid” for my friend

by SweetMidlife

Leslie here!

Mickey and his friends have told some good stories. And some are about compromising your dreams for a dude.

Mickey and his friends have told some good stories. And some are about compromising your dreams for a dude.

I swear I am not that person.

I am not that awful pop culture ruiner who lives to horn their buzz-kill way into conversations they aren’t sometimes even in, lying in wait to hear others discuss their entertainment loves, the things they hold dear, and then crap all over those dear things because they are evil. Nonetheless, yesterday I innocently but completely ruined “The Little Mermaid,” a favorite movie of my friend Carol, not because I was trying to, but because I couldn’t shut my trap.

I was right about what I said. But now I feel bad about saying it.

Here’s what went down: Somehow, Carol and I, who sit near each other at work, started talking about Idina Menzel, of whom Carol is a huge fan and whom she saw in concert with her daughter. We laughed about how at her upcoming show, 80 percent of the audience won’t know her as the Tony-winning Broadway legend but as the voice of Queen Elsa from “Frozen,” because that movie’s so over-the-top popular with the young kiddies that they’re practically a cult now. And then we laughed about how “Let It Go,” the cult theme song, isn’t even all that good a song, and how we liked “Frozen” OK but didn’t love, love it. (Stand down, “Frozen” fans. I am not the enemy.) And for that second we were so connected and chill.

And then Carol said “Well, my favorite Disney movie is actually ‘The Little Mermaid,'” to which I should have responded “Really? That’s so great! What great music!” because those are things I believe, without mentioning the thing I most believe, which is that “The Little Mermaid” is a movie with great music and a heroine who actually gives up her voice – HER VOICE – for a chance at meeting a guy she’d never actually spoken to when he was conscious. She gave up her voice for love. She had no voice. I don’t know what to say here. But her voice though.

I should not have maybe said that last part, or at least as emphatically as I did. But I did, and I saw Carol’s eyes kinda widen and try to figure out whether she should laugh, cry or smack me.

“You overthought it, girl. You’re getting too deep and you ruined my thing,” she said. “You’re evil.”

I started apologizing because I was not trying to be that person, or blow her mind or change it or do anything to her mind. I was just frothing at the mouth about a thing that has been a thing for me for a while, and which, again, I am right about, because it is exactly the wrong message to send to girls that giving up the most treasured part of yourself like Ariel did. She was young and sheltered and felt sure that this burst of wonder and curiousity she felt for Prince Eric, who she saved from a shipwreck, combined with the fantasy importance she’d already built up about the people on land who understand and don’t reprimand their daughters, was worth not only her beautiful singing voice, but her ability to speak at all. She also got a painful mystical tail-ectomy to form legs she had to learn to walk on, meaning she could never go home to the sea and travel freely in her natural state. Of course, when kids see it they might just hear the wonderful songs, or the silly fish and crabs and stuff, or thrill to the adventure.

But then they’ll learn that the title character, admittedly misguidedly, traded her voice for a guy. No…not even a guy. The chance to get a guy. And then the evil witch her she traded it to stole it, tried to pass herself off as the lady who’d saved the prince, and then tried to kill them both. As you do. I have thought this for 25 years, but Carol had not, so I took her out of a place where she could just enjoy a thing and into a reality where she could never look at the movie she loved the same again.

I felt awful.

“Do you feel awful? I don’t think you feel awful enough.”

But I do. I really do.

By the time I left the office and she had literally walked me to the stairwell to tell me again that I was an evil thing stealer, Carol smiled and told me that when she spoke to her awesome college-aged daughter next, she was going to ask her if she ever thought about Ariel’s sacrifice and what that actually meant, because even though I had messed with her head – “Mind blown!” – I had given her something think about.

“You’re still evil, though.”

Yeah. I know.

Her voice, though.


RIP BB King: That time he helped put closure on my worst relationship ever

by SweetMidlife

bb king

 

Leslie here.

It’s kind of fitting that my husband, who is cool and nice and sweet and generally seems to like me most of the time, was the one to wake me up just now and tell me about the sad passing of B.B. King, blues pioneer, showman, diabetes awareness spokesman and namesake of a chain that sells the world’s best fried pickles. And that’s because although I’ll always remember him as all those things, he will also always be the guy who’s concert marked the bittersweet coda of the worst relationship I ever had.

I will not bore you with the details – let’s just say that I was younger, dumber and desperate to mean something to someone in a guy-girl situation, and this man was wrong, wrong, wrong for me, like big blinding billboard so bright you can’t sleep at night WRONG WRONG WRONG. But he liked me OK, and so that was close enough. Until it wasn’t.

There is a line from a Patti Griffin song that goes “Ain’t no talking to this man, he’s been trying to tell me so,” and indeed he did all the time. He used to break up with me all the time, sometimes to be cruel but mostly because he knew something I couldn’t see, that we were WRONG WRONG WRONG and toxic and incompatible and blech. This is the guy who was so wrong for me that one of my best friends used to make me take him to dinner every time I got back to together with that guy because “When you get sick of paying for my food you will stop going back to that guy.”

So after a lot of really gross breakups over maybe 8 months, dotted with too few oasis-like moments of happiness, or whatever fake carbon copy of happiness I’d settled for, it finally ended, to the and delight and relief of my friends, my daddy and my wallet, because I was getting sick of buying that one buddy dinner all the time. I think it started with him offering to help me move and not showing up, and then offering to come over for dinner that night and me sitting on the steps with the cordless (yes, a landline!) for an hour watching the car lights that weren’t his pass by until I knew I was just a cliche from an ’80s movie and went inside. Fortunately, I did not then sit in the freezing cold in my furniture-less living room in front of a giant and unexplained painting of Billy Idol’s head, because that would be weird.

And then I went to his apartment and begged him to talk to me and he wouldn’t even walk me to the door and I said “You’d walk a hooker to the door if only to make sure she didn’t steal anything, so I’m never coming back” and he was like “Don’t believe it,” and I was like “If I ever start to I will remember this moment you made me feel like less than a hooker and stop myself” and then Carly Simon started singing about running rivers and the new Jerusalem in my head and that was that.

That was, until I don’t know how long later…a couple months maybe…of judiciously avoiding each other at work, and he came over to my desk and said “Streeter, you wanna go see B.B. King with me?” And it was clear for both of us that this was not a date – I got the feeling I was his last resort, like he bought them for someone else and he couldn’t find anyone else to go. The show was in Philadelphia, about two hours away and I had a moment of panic – this was a person who made me feel as low as anyone ever has, with my permission, and I was a crazy psycho toxic person to him as well, and what would we talk about?

But then I thought about being an adult, and I remember looking at him across the newsroom and trying to conjure any attraction, any gasp of that craziness that used to make me throw all common sense and self-preservation to the winds, and…nothing. Maybe this is what being grown-up looked liked. I felt I had put it all behind me, but going to this show with him and getting through it without incident would be a nice coda. So I said yes, sure, and it was really casual, and we were both overly emphatic on the platonic nature of the event. It was so long ago I can’t remember a lot of it, but I know we had dinner, and there was a conversation in the car – I think sitting outside the restaurant? – in which somebody said “So we’re cool, right?” and the other one said “Yes” and there were apologies and nods and some brief wave of relief and the understanding that it would not be quite so weird for the rest of the evening, because we still had a whole concert and a ride home to get through.

The show was great, but long. I tend to fall asleep around 9, no matter what’s going on – friends call me Narcoleslie – and after Bobby “Blue” Bland’s set, and then BB, I remember nodding off, and the guy elbowing me during “The Thrill Is Gone” and saying “You are missing this and you better wake up.” So many years later, it seems to have been that he knew this was our final thing, and he had taken a gamble that we could do this as adults and not be insane and I was ruining the closure by falling asleep. I remember how impressed I was with King, because at that point he was already elderly, sitting down a lot. But he talked, and he laughed, and when he held Lucille and closed his eyes and wailed, I felt a jolt of genius and inspiration that kept me awake.

Until the ride home, where I nodded off probably immediately after the seat belt clicked. I remember the guy nudging me awake, parked across from my house, the one whose steps he’d left me sitting on like an idiot, and saying, jokingly but quite emphatically, “Alright, get out,” because he wanted to make sure that this was not our old dance, that we were not gonna kiss or hug or have some sort of anything that was anything other than a goodbye. The girly inth of me that watches too many movies was, even then, a little taken aback because that girly part likes being kissed goodnight, but the other parts of me wrestled the girly part to the ground and slapped her around and bound her in the corner until we could all get out of the car.

That was the last time we did anything just the two of us – months later we were part of a group that went to see a band in Baltimore, an hour away, and we talked about the girl he’d fallen in love with across the country, who he moved away to marry, and I talked about whatever loser I was losering with at the moment. And it was even more final, but more relaxed, and happy and goofy and something like friendship. It was a huge relief to me, a huge sigh, a thing to put behind me, which is weird because I didn’t usually deal with things that well.

That was it. But it wouldn’t have happened without B.B. King. Thanks for helping me act like a grown-up.


Lynne Reviews “Pop Goes Lullaby 4” by Jammy Jams, Kid Music That Won’t Make You Want To Punch Yourself

by SweetMidlife


Hi! Lynne here!

I have a 2 year-old, and thus spend a lot of time watching and listening to things aimed at my kid. Some of it is very good, while some of it makes me want to tell my son that my computer is broken so we don’t have to listen to one more horrible, horrible song that sounds like it was sung by elves on drugs. I don’t even know what that means, but it’s bad.

 

This is why I was excited when we got a chance to listen to kid music that promised to not make me sad.  Jammy Jams is a company that produces lullaby music that relaxes and prepares your little ones for bedtime but also entertains parents, because the songs are lullaby versions of popular songs that grown-ups know. And they have collections for all kinds of tastes, including soothing takes on hip-hop and rock. The CD I got to hear is “Pop Goes Lullaby 4”, the latest in Jammy Jams’ low-key tribute to current popular music. AND I LIKED IT. The songs are played on xylophones, marimbas, and other instruments that give them a breezy, happy tropical feel, so while your baby is being taken to La-La Land, you feel like you are being taken to Key West. And I could use a trip to Key West. This volume features lullaby versions of recent hits by Katy Perry, Meghan Trainor, Sam Smith, Taylor Swift, among others.  Having “Shake It Off” played while I was rocking my kid made me smile because I love that song, and also because he was being asked to shake off the awake-ness. See, it all works!

Now, this is where I admit that upon first glance, I only knew half of the songs covered on this album, and that is because at 43, I am not the average age of a mom of a toddler. This means that I am not as familiar with some current chart-toppers, but that is another cool thing that this CD did for me: it made me go back and listen to the original versions, and introduced me to some really great music that I didn’t know (I preferred the Pop Goes Lullaby versions to some of that, actually). So, if you are looking for good music that will really aid you in putting your kids to bed, but will also make you happy at the same time because it’s based on good music that you like too, check it out (you can listen to samples and buy the CD here, as well as on Amazon and iTunes. Seriously, you and your kids, but also you, will really enjoy it.


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