Friday, August 14, 2015


Several years ago, Ken and I went to our first Cirque du Soleil show. It was in Chicago, and it was called Verukai. The company Ken worked for at the time was a sponsor of the North American Cirque shows, so we got VIP tickets for it!

It was so much fun. We were in a tent, there were performers meandering through the crowd, there were hors d’ouevres, and champagne! Yay champagne! When we made our way into the venue, our seats were only three or four rows back from the stage. I still remember sitting there with my mouth hanging open several times as we watched the performers and saw their amazing feats of strength and gymnastics.

We’ve seen several Cirque shows since then, all of them in Las Vegas: O (the water one), Ka (the samurai one), Viva Elvis! (probably self-explanatory), and Love (the Beatles one). I loved them all, but Love is probably the most fun. We had front row seats for the Elvis and Beatles ones, and that makes them even more special.

Tomorrow we are heading up to Chicago for another Cirque show, this one based on the premise of a Cabinet of Curiosities. Matt dubbed it “Cirque du Soleil: COC,” and we all cracked up over that. But the real name is Kurios. It seems to have sort of a steampunk feel to it. We are doing the VIP thing again, and I think our seats are once again in the third or fourth row. Did I cheer for champagne already? I don’t care. Yay champagne!

This is going to be a quick Chicago trip—up on Saturday and back on Sunday—but I’m really looking forward to it. It will give me a chance to get dressed up a little bit and enjoy an evening of the spectacle that is a Cirque du Soleil show.

And champagne. Yay champagne!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone

Under the rocks and stones
There is water underground

~ Talking Heads “Once in a Lifetime”

Things were going swimmingly yesterday—haaaaa, see what I did there?—until the well pump gave up the ghost.

No running water.

After some frantic texts and phone calls with Ken at work, we came to the logical conclusion that we were screwed. I called a local company, someone called me back right away, and he came out within the hour. He checked a few things, tested a few gizmos, and said, “Yep, you’re screwed.” Not really. He just said, “Yep, you’re pump’s blown.”

He gave me an estimate, I okayed it, and although he tried to get the service guys out by the end of the day, they just couldn’t do it. I zipped up to the store and got several gallon jugs of water and we decided we could get by for a day or so. They came first thing this morning and got us all fixed up. What a wonderful sight to see water coming out of the tap, even if it was kind of black and debris-laden from sitting in the pipes! It cleared up quickly, and I can say that the shower I took just a little bit ago was one of the most enjoyable showers I’ve ever taken.

It made me think about how easy it is to take something as simple as running water for granted. We did without for a day, but we were still able to get enough bottled water to get us through. There are people in the world who never have access to clean running water, and are subject to so many water-borne infections and dehydration. It may seem like a simple thing to us, but thank science for organizations like who work to help communities around the world have access to safe and clean water. Such a simple yet vital part of a healthy life.

It also made me think about how woefully unprepared I really am for the imminent zombie apocalypse, but that’s a story for another day.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Teenage Music

Buy time don’t lose it

~ Duran Duran “The Reflex”

John Taylor and Roger Taylor of Duran Duran recently did a Q&A session on their Tumblr page, and among the many gems (I love the ‘70s Batman show, too, Roger!), I was struck by this answer from John Taylor about his thoughts on today’s music scene.

I seem to recall reading an article about research that shows that our brains are more susceptible to lasting imprints when we are adolescents, but anecdotal evidence would seem to bear that out as well. I think John summed that up very nicely.

I grew up listening to quite a bit of different music (my Dad liked country, especially Johnny Cash, my Mom liked gospel, and my big sis Diana was a stone cold Beatlemaniac!), but I really got serious about listening to music in the ‘70s, when I was in high school. So much of it was Top 40, AM radio stuff, but when Shane and I discovered Devo, the B-52s, and so many others, that was all she wrote. We became obsessed, and the nascent MTV fueled the obsession. Duran Duran was obviously a big part of that.

So here I am, some 35 years later, still loving all of those bands, so much so that we’re flying to Berkeley in October to see DD! (More on that in the coming months.) I still seek out new music, and there is a lot of great stuff out there. One of my pet peeves is to hear someone say, “Today’s music SUCKS!” No, it doesn’t. You’re just too lazy to look for the good stuff. There are plenty of newer bands that I dig a lot.

But when it comes down to what moves me the most, what touches me inside and brings out my inner lizard, it’s the stuff of the punk/New Wave era. It was a time when Shane and I pored over the liner notes of albums and learned the lyrics. I subscribed to Creem and later Rolling Stone and learned everything I could about the bands I loved. I was a little musical sponge soaking up everything I could.

I believe that JT is right. The music of our adolescence is what remains the least for us. I’ve made an effort to not stagnate or be stuck in a musical rut, and there is so much fun music being made out there even as I type! But for those of us a certain age, pop in “The Reflex” and see how we react. You’ll probably be a little embarrassed for us, but we won’t care!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Lost in Suburbia

I’m all lost in the supermarket. I can no longer shop happily.

~The Clash, “Lost in the Supermarket”

I’m doing kitty care for Shane and Matt while they’re on vacation, and because of some road construction, my usual route to their house is going to be closed. So I made sure to map out the back way and successfully navigated the twists and turns of the neighborhood when I went over today. I was pretty proud of myself until I went to leave. Just do the opposite, right? Doesn’t that make sense? I almost immediately took a wrong turn and ended up on a road that was not supposed to be on my route.

I consider myself a fairly intelligent person. I’m no brainiac, but I can usually work my way through a problem and find a solution. There are a few things that I find perplexing, though. One I wrote about yesterday. (Trump? Really? WHY?) One is figuring out which way time zones work, although I’ve gotten better with that over the years (sun rises in the east, Beth). A big one is a sense of direction. I have none. ZERO. If the sun is rising or setting, I can figure out which way is east and west, but I was over there right around noon, so the sun was of no help to me whatsoever. Stupid sun.

I finally pulled over to check my phone and saw that I was very close to a main drag that I could take to get home. Thank science for smartphones! I could have meandered all over that neighborhood until I managed to stumble across a place I recognized! It doesn’t help that it’s not laid out in a straight grid. The roads curve around all over the place—lovely to take a drive through and look at the cool houses, but a bitch to find your way out!

I’m all set for tomorrow, though. I made sure to map out the return trip, too.

The worst time I got lost was when we went camping at the nearby Potato Creek State Park. We were down by the lake, and I said I was going to head back to the cabin—on foot—to get cleaned up and start dinner. I ended up wondering if they were going to have to send out a search party for me, because I was hopelessly lost. We’re talking about over 3,800 acres, folks. Visions of Baby Jessica down the well started springing to mind, and helicopters with searchlights, and was I going to have to sleep in a tree? I was rescued when Ken and the kids pulled up beside me and Ken said, “Need a ride?” There was amusement in his voice, but he figured out pretty quickly that I wasn’t in a real freakin’ jocular mood. I can laugh about it now, but at the time, it really was kind of scary.

I envy people like Shane who seem to have a roadmap in their heads. I have never feared getting lost when I’m with Shane, and we’ve been out in the cornfields of Indiana trying to get back to to a main road and avoid the Children of the Corn.

I’ll say it again. Thank science for smartphones and MapQuest!

I don’t really get lost in the supermarket, though. I’ve got that one down.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Something like a phenomenon

Can someone please explain the reason for this strange behavior?

~ Duran Duran “Skin Trade”

I know I’m not the only one who is completely and utterly perplexed by the appeal of Donald Trump to a portion of our electorate. Has a segment of our population lost its collective mind?

I also know I’m not the only one trying to figure it out. I’ve been reading quite a few political articles about it, and have even gone back to watching (lawd help me) “Meet The Press” as the political class tries to come to grips as to how we have gotten to this point.

The best explanations that I have found have come from those who believe that Trump is tapping into a simmering rage that is happening with these people. His supporters seem to applaud him for “speaking the truth” and “telling it like it is.” They love his chest-thumping, America-is-the-greatest rhetoric, and they love that he is ready, willing, and able to offend multiple groups of people, including immigrants and women. They’re sick of political correctness and they’re not going to take it anymore!

It all seems to tap into the idea that their country is being taken away from them, made weak by all of those browns and blahs and wimmins and everyone else who isn’t a white conservative Christian. I can’t help but think of Richard Hofstadter’s “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” written in 1964, but eerily accurate in today’s atmosphere of toxic politics and this almost inexplicable support for Trump.

Given Trump’s lack of policy specifics, I also have to believe that Trump supporters are low-information voters. When asked about the Affordable Care Act, his response is that it’s terrible, and as president, he will repeal it and replace it with “something terrific.” How can anyone support a candidate who says something like that? It is preposterous. Maybe I’m weird, but I want my candidates to lay out specific policy details, and go into quite a bit of depth as to how they will fund and make it work. Anything less is posturing and bluster.

I don’t like the implications of this for our country. If people are willing to ignore policies because they like a guy who “tells it like it is,” that doesn’t say much for the intelligence or depth of our voting populace.

While this all plays out, my fellow Democrats and I are popping some popcorn and settling down to watch it all play out. Trump is the candidate they have been building towards for the last few decades, so I hope the Republicans are enjoying what they have wrought. You built this!