Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Be all you can be

Strength B&WI’ve been seeing this meme make the rounds that says “When a woman is loved correctly, she becomes ten times the woman she was before.”

I’d just like to say that that is the biggest pile of steaming horseshit I’ve seen for some time.

Obviously, the people posting this are women. What guy would post that? This strikes me as wrong in so many ways. It’s as if these women are saying that they are incomplete without a man who loves them “correctly.” (Who defines ‘correctly,’ anyway?) That they are not good people without this knight on his steed who saves them from their own horrible and imperfect existence. That they cannot be a whole person on their own.

Who still thinks this way? What low self-esteem a person must have to think that another person is all that will make them a better person...that they are incapable of doing it on their own.

I do think that a supportive partner can inspire you and make you strive to be a better person. I see the good things that Ken does and the good person that he is, and that makes me want to be that kind of person, too. However, as a small woman, I am limited in some of the things that I can do safely. I don’t pick up people to give them a ride, for example.

That doesn’t stop me from doing what I can to work on being a better person, but that effort is not contingent upon Ken. We are all a work in progress and we learn from our mistakes. That started many years ago, it was happening before I met Ken, and it is happening now. This is something that I would be doing even without Ken, and although I appreciate him and he inspires me to be more involved and to be a better person, I can’t say that it’s only because of him that I make that effort.

Never think that you need someone to complete you, or that you can’t be the best person you can be on your own. YOU are the one who needs to do that, and expecting a partner to do it for you is lazy and unfair. Unfair to your partner, but also unfair to yourself.

Is this a good time to wish my husband a happy anniversary? I’m not sure...but happy anniversary, anyway, honey!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Beth’s Books: Double shock powah!

Beth's BooksA lot of good books have come out already this month, and I want to write about the new publications from my two favorite authors: Stephen King and Anne Rice.

First is Anne Rice’s Prince Lestat, in which she revisits the vampire world, including the Brat Prince himself. This book was a total delight. It’s been a while since we had a vampire book from her, and seeing the vamp gang again was like seeing old friends. Very old friends. Lestat is his usual irrepressible and impulsive self, but he isn’t one to back down from his destiny.

When a mysterious Voice begins plaguing blood drinkers all over the world, exhorting them to use the Fire Gift to burn the young ones, the vampires who are fairly new to the life (so to speak) are killed horribly. The group of elder vampires come together to figure out how to deal with this threat to their existence. As it becomes clear who (or what) the Voice really is, it is obvious that it is not just the young ones who are at risk; their entire tribe could be wiped out.

It was wonderful to read of these elders coming together again, after so many years of isolation from each other. They really are a family, and they each bring their own beauty and strength to the group. Rice’s description of the reunion, with all of these exquisite creatures dancing as they become caught up in the music, is a thing of beauty. Her writing is spare and concise in this book, able to convey a moment or a scene with minimal verbiage.

There seem to be a few things that are unresolved (what is up with you, Rhoshamandes?!), and I hope this means that Ms. Rice is happily back in the world of her Children of the Savage Garden. I think there are many more tales to be told there, and I look forward to them all.

Next is Stephen King’s latest, Revival. Oh my goodness.

This book gave me the creeps more than almost all of his other books. I still recall how The Shining bothered me so much at the time, and several others have lingered with me. But this one gave me a very uneasy feeling that has stuck with me several days after finishing it, and I don’t think it is going to leave me anytime soon.

I don’t want to give anything away, because you really don’t know where he’s going with this story until late in the book, but I’ll say that it is a bleak novel without any innate sense of hope. This seems like a bit of a departure for King...I usually finish a King book feeling that somehow, some way, every little thing’s gonna be all right. I finished this one with sense of horror, thinking, “Well, I guess we’re all fucked.”

King explores two things extensively in this book: music and religion. The protagonist of the book is Jamie, a good kid who gets into music at an early age and loves what rock and roll makes him feel and where it takes him. Except for that pesky addiction, but I won’t say anything more about that. What was fun to read was the sheer joy that Jamie experiences as he begins to get into music. Although I’m not a musician myself, I’m a huge fan, and I understand how music can move a person. I think it’s fair to say that all musicians start out as fans, so in that regard, I can relate.

As for the religion aspect, if the right wing religious people get a whiff of what this book says about religion and the existence of any god, they’re going to have a thrombo. This is King’s most damning condemnation of religion that I’ve ever read. Previous books have had a bit of a religious element to them. He has always explored the conflict between good and evil. The prime example is Mother Abigail and Randall Flagg from The Stand (and other mentions in various books). As Mother Abigail tells Nick in that book, when Nick says writes that he doesn’t believe in God, “Well, He believes in YOU!” That sense of possibility and mystery is gone in this book. This is more of an attitude of “if God exists, he’s a sadistic and psychotic asshole.” It’s quite an interesting change, and I wonder about the pathway that has brought SK to this point, and if this reflects his own views or is just a part of the story.

It’s obvious that he has nothing but contempt for religious charlatans and grifters. I share his contempt, and I find it dismaying that there are still so many such people out there. None have quite the dark side of Charles Jacobs, though...at least as far as anyone knows…!

A couple of great reads, and I recommend both of them highly. If you’re into that sort of thing, of course. Not for everyone!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Beth’s Music Moment: The Man Who Stole A Leopard

Beth's music moment6[4]

It’s a single song edition of the Music Moment!

“The Man Who Stole A Leopard” is a song by Duran Duran, from their 2011 album “All You Need Is Now.” When I got this album and was looking at the track listing, I was intrigued by the title. “Hmm,” I wondered. “What is this about?”

Well, it’s about exactly what it says it’s about. A New Jersey man comes across a leopard in the wild, and does some shifty and illegal maneuvering to get the big cat back to the United States, then keeps her in a cage in his apartment. Although the story is apparently fictional, I recall various news stories over the years about people keeping wild animals in small apartments. I wonder if such stories inspired the guys in the band to write this song?

Do you know where we are?
I'm longing for the dark of our nocturnal life
It begins and ends with you
Don't spill my secret

You were once running wild, hiding in the morning mist
Game demands I make you mine
I thought that I could resist, but the leopard in you silently preyed on me

I made my way back home (Did you follow her?)
I handled her with care (Were you in control?)
So elegant and sleek (Were you not afraid?)
I need her to be near (Does she belong to you?)
Don't spill my secret

Deserted by my friends (Don't they understand?)
She's so much more than them (How could they compare?)
So now she's just for me (No one else can see)
I watch her while she sleeps (Be sure she dreams of you)
Don't spill my secret

(It's been quite a while) Since we were last outside
(And do you miss the chase?) Now that we've both been tamed
(Inside this gilded cage) Prisoners of our thoughts
(You saved me from myself) 

Don't spill my secret...

Newscast:

Today a man was taken from his apartment at the New Jersey Shore and arrested under suspicion of entrapment of a wild animal. Police, after forced entry, discovered a caged leopard in the building. The fully-grown feline was said to be surprisingly domesticated by zoological experts who gave her a thorough examination, before preparing her for relocation.

A large crowd had gathered outside to watch the beautiful creature, as s giant cage was lowered slowly onto the street by a crane. From here, the leopard was transfered into the back of a truck for its journey ahead. A startled onlooker said, "It's extraordinary to think that any human being could have lived in such close quarters with such a dangerous animal."

Police are saying that the captive was simply besotted with the creature, and barely left her side. It's alleged that he hunted her in the wild and expertly forged documents to facilitate her illegal export to the United States of America. The incident has already created much controversy, and is now likely to lead to a major international investigation into the life of the man who stole a leopard.

Songwriters
Nick Rhodes, John Taylor, Roger Taylor, Simon Le Bon

Lyrics © BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

I’m not sure what it is about this song, but it absolutely slays me. It is ethereal and somewhat eerie, and Simon’s vocals are just perfect. The music itself is atmospheric and builds slowly. As you’ll hear at the end of the video, there is a spoken portion, a fake newscast. One of the lines is, “Police are saying that the captive was simply besotted with the creature, and barely left her side.”

There is something about this that makes me think of the human desire to possess and control. Rather than admiring this beautiful animal in the wild and keeping the image in his mind of her roaming free, the man in the song must capture her and put her in a cage, far removed from her natural habitat. This is obviously unhealthy for both man and beast. What is this strange desire of so many to tame and defang and sterilize—even to kill—what should be wild and free and natural? There was a story recently about a young teenager in Michigan who shot a rare albino deer, and a picture of him with the dead animal made the rounds on the Internet. Who could shoot such a creature? Why not let it live?

Duran Duran4I’ll never understand this desire to kill or capture, and the metaphor can be stretched to how we deal with people in our lives. Do we accept people for who and what they are, or are we motivated by the need to control and make others into what WE want them to be? Forcing others to conform to our notions of what they should be is every bit as dangerous as keeping a leopard caged in your apartment. Those who are caged and controlled inevitably rebel. We all need a little coaching as to how to deal with situations and how to be more polished in social settings, but trying to change another’s fundamental nature and personality is a futile endeavor.

I can’t listen to this song without weeping. I feel sad for the leopard snatched from her natural habitat and forced to live in a cage in a small apartment in the city. I feel sad for the man who had to possess her at any cost and who felt that she was his only friend. Yes, I know it’s only a song, but that doesn’t mean that it has no power. Listen to the song, and if you don’t understand why it makes me feel the way it does, then we obviously need to talk about your attitude and how we can change it. [wink]

Embedding is disabled for the band performing this song live, but it really is a wonderful version (seeing them is almost as much fun as listening to them), so watch The Man Who Stole A Leopard via that link.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Infection Connection: Ebola Freakout Edition

Ebola virusI really didn’t want to have to write this entry, guys. I am sick nigh unto death of hearing the ridiculous and inaccurate reports about Ebola. The worst is the conspiracy theories...that President Obama has purposefully brought Ebola to this country, that terrorists are bringing Ebola and other diseases across our porous borders, something about reparations for slavery...wait, what?

ENOUGH.

It has been a constant barrage of misinformation, hysteria, and outright lies. I’m not going to post an entry about misconceptions about Ebola, because there are plenty of those out there. I highly recommend the coverage on Vox and Nerdist, both of which have posted fair and fact-based articles. (Just search the sites for ‘Ebola’ to find the articles.) Of course, the gold standard is the CDC website, which provides updates and detailed information for both health care professionals and laypeople.

My frustration is twofold.

The media I have never seen a bunch of talking heads absolutely lose their shit the way I’ve seen the American media lose their shit over Ebola. The reporting is often incorrect, it is speculative, and it is on the verge of criminal in the way they sensationalize and fearmonger. This time, I’m not singling out a specific “news” source, one often known to stretch the truth in mind-boggling ways. (Not to mention any names, but it rhymes with cocks.) They have all been guilty of some really bad journalism lately, and especially with this Ebola story.

Oh, and isn’t it odd how the Ebola outbreak in Africa—the worst Ebola outbreak ever—wasn’t covered much by the U.S. media until we brought infected American health care workers back here to be treated? Thousands die of Ebola in Africa...a couple of paragraphs in the local paper, and maybe a mention on the news. Ebola patients brought back to the U.S. for treatment? Oh mah gah it’s the end of the world and we’re all gonna die! Get a grip. I’ve been following this outbreak from the beginning, and I am not one bit surprised that there have been cases outside of Africa. In case you haven’t noticed, people travel around the world and do so frequently. We are not a remote island.

Some online people This has been limited to friends of friends and people from my community and around the country that I see commenting on articles. I’m happy to say that my friends either know enough about it to not be freaking out or they are willing to ask questions or do their own research to learn more about it. Those who are freaking out are people that don’t know the first thing about viruses, their effects on the body, their transmission, or infection control practices that have been a part of hospital protocol for decades. They get their information from news sources, and said news sources have ramped up the fear factor to a ridiculous level.

I’ve seen comments ranging from people knowing that Ebola is airborne and horribly contagious to people thinking that it is a verrrry strange coincidence that this is happening around election time. It’s all nonsense, but these people are genuinely frightened (if horribly mistaken), and the only ones to blame for that are the media. To be fair, I will also place part of the blame on the individuals for thinking that they know everything about it because they watched a news show about it. An hour with Brian Williams doesn’t make you an expert on anything other than how cool Brian Williams is. Watching a news show does not make you a doctor or a virologist or an epidemiologist.

The politicization

Dammit! Threefold! My frustration is threefold!

Somehow, this has become a political football. Instead of focusing on the threat to public health and on the people who are dying in Africa, certain politicians are using this to score points against the opposing party. This disgusts me. The sleaze factor is through the roof. Many are calling for “closing the borders,” whatever the hell that means, despite the numerous health care professionals who deal with outbreaks as a part of their job saying that such tactics are counterproductive and do nothing to solve the problem. If we really want to stop such infectious diseases from coming to our country and causing an outbreak here, we will ramp up our efforts overseas and spend a lot more money on public health, both here AND there.

The cognitive dissonance

I give up. My frustrations about this are endless, and I’m not going to try to keep count anymore.

Ebola chartAs some people lose their collective minds about Ebola, they are somehow ignoring the more present and real threat of viruses like influenza. In 2010, 50,000 people died from influenza in the United States. There is a vaccine for that, but there is still a significant portion of the population that refuses to get the shot. There are many viral and bacterial infections that can be prevented with vaccination, and we can even prevent a certain type of cancer with the HPV vaccine...but there are still people who refuse vaccinations for whatever stupid reason they have. I can’t begin to tell you how irritating it is for me to see people lose their minds over Ebola and at the same time they think that influenza is no big deal and they don’t need to get the shot. You have a much higher chance of dying from influenza than you do of dying from Ebola. Why don’t people understand that? Go get your damn flu shot, people!

I could go on and on about everything that I find so maddening about what I am hearing and reading about this outbreak, but you get the idea. If anything good can come of this sheer clusterfuck of public health failure, it’s that people will wake up to the fact that we are NOT prepared as a country for something of this magnitude. Remember several years ago when we had an H1N1 pandemic, and a lot of people scoffed at the concept of pandemic preparedness? I wrote about it here and here. We had a plan at the lab where I worked, and the place where Ken worked had a plan—Ken was even on the committee that formulated the plan. I suspect that the people who thought that was a waste of time and money are the same people who are screaming the loudest about being unprepared. You know what? If you want to be ready for something like this, you have to prepare for it. That involves time, money, communication, education efforts, and practice. Lots and lots of practice.

From what I’m reading, one of the biggest failures of this whole mess was expecting health care professionals with no additional training in dealing with such infections and stringent isolation practices to be able to follow some sort of checklist and do things correctly. There is a protocol for not only putting on personal protective equipment (PPE), but also for removing it. It has to be done in a certain order and in a certain way, otherwise you risk contaminating yourself and others. It is obvious that the hospital in Dallas had not properly trained its workers to deal with something like this, and as a result, two of them have contracted the virus...and I would not be surprised if more do in the coming days.

We can do better, and we must. I suppose that as wake-up calls go, this is one of the better ones to get, because Ebola is not easily transmitted. If this had been an agent that passed easily between people, we’d be in deep shit right now.

I know the dangers of this virus, and I know that this is a serious public health threat, at least in Africa. However, I also know that we have the knowledge and technology to stop it from spreading here. That is why I have no qualms about boarding a plane on Sunday and spending some time in Phoenix and Las Vegas. Of all the things there are to worry about in this world, Ebola is really far down on my list.

I choose not to live my life in fear, and I can’t imagine waking up every morning and fearing what disaster will strike today. Terrorist bombing? Power grid interruption? Ebola? Rise of the apes? Shame on the media for trying to scare people in the interest of ratings, shame on those who are trying to score political points from a tragedy in which thousands have died, shame on those who don’t respect the microorganisms enough to realize that we have NOT mastered them, and most of all, shame on everyone who didn’t give a rat’s ass about Ebola as long as it was killing poor people in another hemisphere.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Beth’s Music Moment: Shake Before Us

Shake Before UsIt seems like this is on the verge of turning into a music blog, doesn’t it? That’s not my intention. It’s just that at this moment in time, it is what I am obsessed consumed with. I’m revisiting old favorites as well as finding new bands to show some love.

This band falls into the latter category. I don’t recall now how I came across them. It might have been one of the satellite radio channels, or maybe it was Amazon’s new music feature, or maybe it was via a free download site whose mailing list I am on. Whatever the reason, I’m glad I found them, because I was immediately in love!

I found their website and ordered a CD/t-shirt combo. I got an email from Will, who plays keyboards and sings co-lead, and he said they were out of the women’s size I wanted, so did I want a refund, did I want another CD…? What would I prefer? After a little discussion, I went with both of their CDs, resulting in a slight refund. That was the perfect choice, because I absolutely love both of them!

Shake Before Us is out of San Diego, and they have been active since 2010. Their first album (self-titled) came out in 2011, and their most recent, “Radio Time Bomb” came out in August of 2014. They’ve got a fantastic sound that is a throwback to ‘60s garage bands, but with a bit of a harder edge. Bonus: THEREMIN! Yes, the theremin is listed as one of the instruments played by the drummer, and personally, I don’t want to live in a world without theremins. Major props to any band that tosses a little theremin into the mix! The keyboards are a big part of their music, and it really adds to their garage band sound. I like my keyboards like I like my men: loopy, jangly, and a little fuzzy. Wait, that doesn’t really make sense….

Anyway, the first album sounds raw and fresh. It was apparently recorded live directly to a reel-to-reel, and if this is what they sound like live, I have got to see them at some point! My favorite tracks on the first album are “All Day And Night,” “Angels of Altamont,” and “Devil May Care.” But no lie...they are ALL good.

The second album sounds a little more polished, and a little harder. Personal favorites are “Figure It Out,” “You Started It,” “It’s What You Wanted,” and “Gottago!!!” “Button Up My Black Shirt” is also tasty. Again, they are all good. Not a bad track on either album, in my opinion. Whether you like your music more raw or more polished is a matter of taste. I say, “Why can’t we have both?”

One of the great joys in my life is finding something that seems like it was made just for me. A perfect combination of things I love. I’ve encountered a few books like that, that’s how I feel about “The Walking Dead,” and that’s how this band struck me. So thanks for forming and playing songs just for me, guys! Ha! I hope a lot of other people check them out and decide that they like them, too.

As an aside, I would like to have it on record that one of my pet peeves is when people say, “There’s no good music out there nowadays.” First of all, stop using the word ‘nowadays,’ because it makes you sound like a grumpy old person. Second, I call bullshit! There is all kinds of good music out there right now, and lots of bands that are working hard and really bringing it. But if you expect to hear it on a Top 40 radio station, you are barking up the wrong soundwave, my friend. That IS mostly crap music, but there are more great sounds in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your little radio philosophy. Get out there and look for it. Seek it out. Go hear local bands. We’ve got a great music scene going on right here in South Bend, Indiana and the surrounding area. The truth is out there. It is up to you to find it...because it’s not going to come to you. A true seeker will look and will find.

[stepping down off my soapbox]

Check out a couple of videos and see what you think. I know my musical tastes aren’t for everyone, but I am really diggin’ these guys, and I think you might like them, too! First, “All Day And Night” from the first album, followed by “It’s What You Wanted” from the follow-up, “Radio Time Bomb.” TURN IT UP!



Friday, September 26, 2014

Beth’s Music Moment: Music is Magic

Bob, Beth, WinstonImagine, if you will…

You’ve admired a musician for decades. Three decades, in fact. You first saw their band on MTV, and then you saw them live, back in 1987. You have almost all of their albums, you know the words to many of their songs well enough that you can sing along. As you are recommending the band to a friend (who is also a musician), you decide to visit the band’s website again, just to see what they’ve been up to.

As you look through the pictures, the tour dates, the updates...you see a spot to contact the band. Because you’ve loved them for years, and because your Official Fan Motto™ is “show the band some love,” you send a message saying that their music has meant a lot to you over the years and you tell them how much you’ve appreciated them and loved them all this time.

Then imagine that you get an email back from the FREAKIN’ LEAD SINGER of this band that you’ve loved for decades, and he thanks you for your email and for your kind words about his band and their songs...and he happens to mention that he does house concerts on weekends, and to let him know if you’re interested.

Thus was born one of the greatest nights of my life.

The band is the Rainmakers (I’ve written about them before) and the lead singer is Bob Walkenhorst. We started an email correspondence, and I scared him at first. I mean, I was writing to Bob Walkenhorst! And he was responding! Tell me everything! What about this song? What about that song? What does this lyric mean? I assured him that I would calm down, and I was true to my word. It took me a bit, but I did calm down. Bob is also an artist, and we bought a gorgeous painting from him, one that I get to look at every day.

I mentioned the house concert to Ken, thinking that he’d say, “Nah, we’ve got enough other things going on...we really shouldn’t spend the money on that.” He totally surprised me by saying, “That sounds pretty cool!” But we knew that our house wasn’t big enough to host 20-30 people in one room to hear Bob play, and that’s where Shane and Matt came in. They were on board immediately, and we started to plan this shindig.

We initially planned it for late May, but because the Rainmakers were leaving for a tour in Norway soon after that, Bob really needed to be home the weekend of our scheduled show. It was obvious that he felt really bad about having to reschedule, but it all worked out okay!

The big show was on Saturday, September 20th, and we had a nice turnout of about 20 people. I wish we could have invited more, but space was limited. Bob got there about an hour and a half before we asked people to start arriving, so he had plenty of time to get his stuff set up and we were able to get to know each other and do all the fan stuff like get things signed. I’m often very nervous and shy when meeting a new person, especially if that someone happens to be one of my favorite musicians! However, I didn’t feel that way at all. He put me immediately at ease, and was wonderfully friendly and kind. Of course, we’d been corresponding a bit for several months, so I had a pretty good idea that he was going to be a nice, fun, and funny person...I just didn’t realize how nice and fun and funny! He had said he’d bring me a t-shirt, but ended up bringing me three, and I got one signed. Awesome!

Bob brought along two of his friends from the Chicago area, Joe (an author) and George (an engineer and Notre Dame graduate). Joe brought some of his books, so we got a few of those, too...a couple of them signed. I was in fangirl heaven. They were both a lot of fun, and I enjoyed meeting them and getting to know them a little bit. I hope I run into them again one day!

Bob2People started arriving right on time, and we had an hour to talk and have some food before Bob played. I tried to invite people who I thought would appreciate this kind of show, and I think I nailed the mix. Everyone from a friend from high school, to a friend from college, to a friend from the lab (and a guitarist in a local band...another friend who came is the bass player for the band), to a recent friend we met online, to my sister Diana. I don’t know if the party planets were aligned just right, or what, but it was a perfect mix of people who love good music and love a good time. Everyone was talking and laughing and primed to hear some music.

Then Bob played, and it was great.

The End.

HA! No, there is much more to the story.

Bob didn’t just play. He told background stories about these songs I’ve loved for years. He talked and laughed with us and just generally charmed the pants off of everyone (not literally, of course...it wasn’t that kind of party!). He blew everyone away by how good he was. You know, I remember him always having a great stage presence, but to experience it up close and personal was a whole other story. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that he had us in the palm of his hand.

His voice was strong and clear, and it’s amazing how much sound he can get out of one acoustic guitar.

He took a half an hour break, giving everyone a chance to talk and laugh and eat and drink some more. He played a second 50-minute set, and then he was done.

I could have listened to him play two more hours. I could have listened to him play all night. I was mesmerized.

Then it was time for more talking, laughing, eating, and drinking. It really was a wonderful mix of people, and we had such a great time together. My sister told me that she’s never heard such a “buzz” among a party crowd. I couldn’t have asked for a better evening, and I think everyone felt the same way. We wound down around midnight, and Bob headed off to the guest room for some snooze time. (Shane and Matt were thrilled to have him spend the night there!) Everyone said their goodbyes, then it was just me, Ken, Shane, and Matt. We cleaned up a little bit, just what we had to, and talked about how it had turned out perfectly and how happy we were that it worked out that we could do this.

(See all the photos here.)

Bob and BethThe seven of us met for breakfast the next morning before the guys headed out and we got to chat a little bit more. Everyone agreed that it had been a great party and a fun show. Shane told me later that either Joe or George asked him, “So what did you think?” Shane thought for a moment and said, “You know, I’d have to say this was one of the highlights of my life.” I completely agree, and feel the same way. It’s something that we’ll be talking about for a long time to come. I can’t begin to convey how special it was for me, and what a pleasure it was to meet Bob. He is a genuinely nice guy who is an incredibly talented songwriter and performer. What a wonderful evening. I was a little blue as we parted ways.

After he got back home on Monday, I emailed him to tell him how much everyone loved it and that I was getting some wonderful feedback from people. I said he’d made several new fans that evening, and that made me very happy. I’ve known how good he and the band is for years, so what a pleasure for me to share that with others who didn’t know! I got an amazing email back from him in which he said many nice things that absolutely stunned me, but the upshot was that everything was perfect for him, and that the evening would stay with him as one of the best nights he’s ever had playing. Wow! He thanked me for giving him a night that makes him know that what he’s spent his life doing has all been worth it, and said that “music is still magic” when you can share it with people like us and all the others who are brought together by it. Music IS magic, Bob, and I think we were all touched by your magic on Saturday night. I know I was.

I think that feeling is conveyed quite well by this song, one that he played for us that night. I don’t know if I have one single “greatest night,” but I can say that Saturday night is right up there. (And thanks to Eddie for posting this video!)

“Thanks for being here with me
On the greatest night of my life.”

Monday, September 8, 2014

Well, THAT was quite the weekend!

ND vs Michigan 14Aaaaand, I’m spent.

Well, I think there’s still a little kick left in the girl, so a brief update.

This weekend was a total blast. Saturday was the big football game between Notre Dame and Michigan. For those of you not from these parts, I can tell you that this is one of the biggest rivalries in all of college football, and this was the last game they will be playing in the foreseeable future. Notre Dame is an independent team, so they are not in a conference. They have made some kind of deal with the ACC to play more of those teams. In some ways, that’s good, but ending the games with Michigan is kind of a bummer. It’s a great rivalry, and they’re right up the road! A lot of friends and former coworkers are Michigan fans, so it was always fun to talk a little smack.

Saturday was an absolutely perfect day for football. Mostly sunny, but a few pretty little clouds, and temperatures in the low 70s falling to the mid 50s in the evening. The game was at 7:30, so we had plenty of time to tailgate. We had hoped to meet up with a couple of friends, but that didn’t work out...so we made some new ones! A couple from Illinois was parked near us, and we ended up chatting and played a couple rounds of cornhole. (Feel free to laugh...it cracks me up every time. It’s also known as bean bag toss.) We talked to a guy that went to the same high school that I did, and he was a couple of years ahead of me. It was nice to remember that it really is a small world, and that’s all I’ll say about that.

If I thought the day was perfect for football, the Notre Dame team showed me that there was plenty more fun to be had. We shut out the Michigan Wolverines, 31-0. I can’t begin to tell you how huge this was. Notre Dame vs Michigan is one of the great rivalries in college football (I think I said that already), and we smoked ‘em. They haven't been shut out since 1984. The games with Michigan have always been tough, but on the last game we played with them (at least for now), in our house, we completely spanked them. It was bad enough that a Michigan cheerleader flipped off an Irish fan for waving his hat while the Michigan band was playing their fight song. Way to represent your university, dude!

I am truly sad to see the association with Michigan end. Those have been some of the best games over the years, and I hope we’ll see them again in the future. But I really couldn’t have asked for a better way (as an Irish fan) to end the series. I know that my Dad would have loved it!

On Sunday, we were able to have lunch with our pal Andy, who was in town from California for the game. We always have such a great time talking with him and we love it when he is in town! Now if we can only get him to move back here and be a part of a revitalized and growing city…!

I really couldn’t have asked for a better weekend as summer winds down. We’ve got a couple more fun and exciting weekends ahead of us, so we are milking this summer for all it is worth!

More to come!