Sunday, November 27, 2011

I Hope They Catch a Lot of Fish

Greg's father lives in the Tampa Bay area and is an expert fisherman.  Recently he started operating a charter fishing service.

Greg's dad called Greg and said, "Hey, do you know who Rob Halford is?  He just booked a fishing trip with me."

Greg said, "Rob Halford?  You mean the lead singer of Judas Priest?  Going fishing with you?  THE Rob Halford?"

It is, in fact, the Rob Halford, lead singer of the famous British band who arguably invented heavy metal. They are on tour, will be stopping in Tampa on Wednesday 11/30, and apparently wanted to do some fishing.

Judas Priest

Greg's dad: "He said he can give me some kind of passes, backstage or VIP or something, but I'm not going to go.  Do you and Ellen want them?"

Greg:  "OH MY GOD!!"

So I was able to take Wednesday and Thursday off work, and will be going to see Judas Priest.  We have no real idea exactly what we are getting, if it'll be concert tickets or VIP tickets or backstage passes or what, but it'll be an exciting adventure, I'm sure.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Antmusic for Sexpeople, Sexmusic for Antpeople

Good things, part 3.

I've mentioned my enduring love for Adam Ant and his music a couple of times before on this blog:  HERE, when I talk about how my 14-year old self first discovered his music, and HERE, when I briefly mention seeing Adam in concert with my friend Hellione.  I felt compelled to at least try to write about how I love Adam Ant and his music, but truly, it didn't even begin to describe the scope of my feelings.

I'm going to try again.

When I bought that first Adam and the Ants album (Kings of the Wild Frontier) and had never heard any of their music previously, I fell in love immediately.  Music was a big part of my life and I liked all kinds: classic rock, pop, punk, things that would be called goth now but back then that word didn't exist yet.  The songs on this album had a screamy, punky edge, with tribal drums and such incredible energy.  I'd never heard anything like it before, and still now, 30 years later, I love every song on this album.  Not only have I not gotten tired of it, I love it more than ever.

Here is Adam and the Ants performing Kings of the Wild Frontier on Top of the Pops (a British show similar to American Bandstand).  They are clearly lip-syncing to the recorded track, and in fact Adam isn't even bothering with the pretense of a microphone.

Lyrics from this song, co-written by Adam Ant and the guitarist, Marco Pirroni:

"A new royal family
A wild nobility
We are the family"

"No method in our madness
Just pride about our manner
Antpeople are the warriors
Antmusic is the banner"

That inclusive, "outsider but part of our family" message really struck me.  As a lonely, shy girl living in the middle of nowhere, this idea of Antpeople was extremely appealing.  I loved the music, I loved the message, and I have to say the fact that Adam was hot as hell didn't hurt.

I found that Adam had had one previous album that had only been released by a small label in England, and I had a local record store special order it for me.  It was called Dirk Wears White Sox, and was completely punk; very angry and very poetic.

Here's a clip from Derek Jarman's movie Jubilee, with Adam performing the song Plastic Surgery.  This is very early, before he was known at all, and very punky.

My admiration for both Adam and his music was cemented in my soul with these songs.  Regardless of the poppy stuff that that came afterwards, these two albums are still some of my favorite music to listen to.

Adam and the Ants had been tremendously popular in England, much more so than in the US.  They had dozens of hit songs and legions of loyal fans.

And thus began a decade and a half of buying every Adam and the Ants album and single, and then when the Ants broke up and Adam Ant was a solo act, buying all the Adam Ant stuff.  I went to Georgia twice to see Adam in concert, one to Washington DC, once to Norfolk VA, and I saw him on his last tour here in Orlando (the Wonderful tour, in 1995).

After that Adam disappeared for a while, not releasing any more music.  In 2002 he announced a new album, and started doing promotional appearances and interviews.  But he was behaving erratically and saying things that sounded strange.  He did one promotional single for charity that was so bad it kind of scared me.  Then Adam got arrested for threatening patrons in a pub and pulling a gun on the police when they arrived. He was given a suspended sentence and he ended up spending nearly a year as an in-patient in a psychiatric hospital.

By this time, I had a computer and internet access and was trying to keep up with Adam.  This was extremely upsetting news. I was glad he was getting treatment and really hoped he'd get better.

In 2006 his autobiography was released, and he told about how he had suffered for years with undiagnosed bipolar disorder, and had attempted suicide.  He made it clear that he was working with doctors to manage his illness with medication and was doing well.

Then about a year and a half ago, he popped up in the news again, talking about a new album and a tour. He started doing public appearances at charity events and things, and then doing actual shows in small clubs around London.

This really worried me, as it really appeared to be the same type of manic behavior that preceded his breakdown before.  I watched YouTube videos of him performing, and he did seem a little off, forgetting lyrics to his songs sometimes.  But as the months passed, he seemed more and more in control and happy.  I watched videos of him being interviewed on British tv shows, and he looks healthy and, really, pretty damn good.  The more recent videos show him performing in bigger and bigger venues around the UK, looking and sounding amazing.  I started to feel better.  Maybe his illness is under control, and his creative spirit is returning.  He spoke in interviews about wanting to return to that early, punky type of music, and the set lists posted online from his recent concerts back that up, he's been doing a lot of the really early songs along with the big hits.

Then on Monday a miracle happened.  I had taken a random vacation day from work, putting in for it a few months ago when I realized how stressful this time would be; I figured I'd need it.  Late morning I was pooting around on Facebook when I see an announcement from the Hard Rock Live Orlando.

ADAM ANT IN CONCERT IN FEBRUARY!  Tickets were going on sale that very day at 5pm!

This was a complete shock.  His new album is supposed to come out in January, and there had been vague talk of a US tour afterwards, but it seemed way too much to hope for.  Then that not only is there a tour, but the first concert date to be announced and go up for sale is right here, where I am!

And how lucky that I was off work and saw the announcement, and was at home to call and buy tickets immediately!  Obviously, I called and bought tickets the second they went on sale.

I seriously want to cry a little just looking at that.  FRONT ROW CENTER!

So, anyway...  good things are happening.  This is a good thing of such miraculous importance to me that it has literally changed everything around in my head, and I have trouble thinking about anything else for very long.

Adam Ant!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Good Things, Part II

We finally had enough money saved up and we bought a 13" Macbook Air.

I have never had a laptop before, and being able to carry around this awesome tiny machine seems like magic to me.  How did we ever get along without this?  It's so light, I think it really is made mostly of air.

Being me, I am doing obsessive research about what kind of case to get to carry it around.  After looking at skins, covers, sleeves, bags and backpacks, I think I've decided that I'm just going to go with buying a quilted padded zippered cover on Etsy.  I like the idea of getting something handmade and supporting a creative person, instead of giving business to a big impersonal electronics store.  I just need to find one that has a fabric that isn't so girly my husband would be embarrassed to carry it around - I might really like the one covered with tiny lavender butterflies and pink flowers, but I don't think he'd appreciate it on quite the same level.

Adam Carolla calls his computer his "magic porn box" and similarly I now think of this laptop as my "magic writing box".  I've installed Scrivener (my writing program, see it here) on it, and it really does seem positively magical that I can carry around this tiny thing and not only have my novel and my novel in progress, but all my research and notes and everything right there in my little hand.

Speaking of writing, I completely stopped all writing a few months ago.  I was just getting into my second novel, and I was having an extremely difficult time.  I needed a get-some-perspective break.  I also needed to stop beating myself up.  I did some reading (including the Hunger Games books, which I seriously cannot recommend highly enough, very fun to read) and did some thinking.

And now I can see that I was going the wrong direction with my work-in-progress.  I still really like the characters and the overall plot arc, but I was trying to take it the wrong way.  It's funny, I felt like if I think something is a good idea, then it is, I'm the writer and therefore what happens within my writing is all up to me.  But I can see now that the severe events I had planned were wrong for the relatively gentle tone of the book, and I now have a better idea of what the theme is.  I am probably going to scrap what little writing I did actually do, and start over, with a much clearer plan.

But not yet.  I think that my first novel was written somewhat fearfully, in that I kept hearing critical voices in my head that, despite my attempts to ignore them, still steered me in the wrong direction about several things, including the personality of the main character.  I wrote Megan fairly ditzy, and sweet, and a little naive, and I see now that if I put more of my own personality into her, it would be a lot more interesting.  I think she should be funnier, more sarcastic, and a little darker.  And even though the novel mostly takes place in her office, I really shied away from having too many scenes there, especially with other characters that she works with.

So here I go with My First Novel: The Second Draft.  Yay!

I've already re-written the first scene, and I am positive that it is much better now.  I am tremendously excited to get going with the other changes, and I can confidently say that the joy is now back in my writing.

And therefore, back in my life.  And holy crapmuffins, I could use some joy right about now.  Work remains horrifying.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

There are some good things, too...

... in between the stress and sadness that is my job now.

Like so many other people, I don't get any exercise, yadda yadda yadda, my muscles are congealing into an ever-expanding Jabba the Hutt style mound of goo, blah blah blah.  Virtually everybody, other than, I assume, actual professional athletes who have negative four percent body fat and work out for 12 hours per day, bitches and moans about needing to get more exercise and eat healthier.  I do not know for sure that professional athletes do not also bitch and moan since I do not know any actual professional athletes, I mostly know people like me who sit down all day and then come home and eat mashed potatoes for dinner and then complain about having to walk more than two feet to get from their car to the grocery store.  But I have had so many sincere, heartfelt, passionate conversations with my husband and my friends and my coworkers about how much I need to get some damn exercise every now and then, and then not actually doing anything, I am sick of hearing myself talk about it.  Shut the hell up until you actually do something, me.

And then a month ago I discovered that our cable provider has a whole On Demand exercise channel, with buttloads of workouts.  They have one entire section of ten minute workouts.  TEN MINUTES.  Who am I kidding to say I don't have ten freaking minutes?  So I looked around, some were too hard for me, but I found one I really liked:  Denise Austin's Daily Dozen.  It's actually twelve minutes long, and it's one dozen different exercises, stretchy and jumpy and lungy moves, one minute each.  It's mostly cardio, and it actually makes me sweat.

It was hard, and I had to seriously force myself to do it.  I am amazed at those people who really enjoy pushing their bodies and exerting themselves physically, I have never, even as a child, liked that.  During each 12 minute workout there are at least two or three points where my body is yelling at me, quite convincingly, to stop it right now and go sit down.  Stupid body, what does it know?  I keep looking at the clock and telling myself: for heaven's sake it's only a few more minutes, don't be such a wuss!

But I am now in my fifth week, and I can honestly say that I can actually see a difference.  The workout is less hard than it was in the beginning, my back feels better, my sore shoulder feels better, and I do have a bit more energy.  And that's with only doing 12 minutes a day, four or five days a week.  I have no doubt that this has made it easier for me to deal with the stress at work, and I have to admit...  I am proud of myself.