Sound of Music, Haters, and Paris Hilton: The Age of Snark

Disclaimer: This was originally written before Christmas and I had forgotten its existence. Please excuse my delay and the many Christmas references. Thank you, The Management.

Last night I was excited to read that NBC is going to show another live performance similar to what they did with The Sound of Music, and this time it will be Peter Pan. When I originally read that NBC was doing a live version of The Sound of Music the dork in me was all a twitter. I was out of town the night it aired, but I had saved it on my DVR, and I looked forward to getting home Friday night so I could cuddle with Saidee and watch three hours of singing, love, nuns, and Nazi subplots. I just knew that Saidee would love it and I was excited that NBC was trying something different. However, the Thursday it aired live my Facebook and Twitter accounts went crazy. Post after post about how terrible it was and many on Twitter were down right mean to Carrie Underwood. I understand that The Sound of Music is beloved by many, but I did not understand the anger being directed at Carrie Underwood. Let me absolutely promise you she did not take this role lightly. I seriously doubt this was her thought, “I will kill this! I will make everyone forget who fucking Julie Andrews even is!” Chances are it went more like, “This is a great opportunity! I can’t believe NBC is even attempting this.” Sometimes I think we live in a world where we don’t want people to be happy and successful. The snark has gotten out of control.

We can all be snarky and a certain degree of snarky is fine.  There is nothing wrong of being critical of something. I, for instance, can’t stand It’s a Wonderful Life.  The scene where the kid gets hit in his ear upsets me and makes me want to enter the television to rip into the hitter. I know many who love this movie and consider it the official movie of Christmas. I am glad they feel that way. I am happy that they enjoy something so fully and it causes them happiness. I feel that way when I catch The Flintstones Christmas Carol on the Cartoon Network. Just because I don’t enjoy It’s a Wonderful Life doesn’t mean I want to trash it to others. I just make the decision to watch something else that night. It really isn’t complicated at all and there is no reason to be mean about it.

Of course sometimes I fall into a pit of snarky and must climb my way back out using a ladder made of earnest. I am snarky about people who I know have done things and then pretend they didn’t to put a good face on social media. I want to list their transgressions for the world to read, but I can’t because it would be mean spirited and my karma can’t take that kind of hit. I am similarly snarky about people who put up inspirational quotes on Facebook that are obviously meant to tear down others.  I am snarky about that teenage bride, Courtney Stodden, because I can’t find any redeeming qualities to this story and I mourn her lost childhood. I am snarky about Paris Hilton because I feel like she plays dumb as a shtick, and that is bad for women. I am vocally critical about many topics, and others I will defend with every ounce of my size 22/24 (sometimes 26) body.

It may make me a hypocrite, but while I turn my nose up at Paris Hilton, I defend Kim and Kanye and wish them happiness. There is no rhyme or reason to what I decide to be earnest about and what I decide warrants some snark. What I do know is that I feel better about myself when I am earnest. Sometimes it is a fight to be positive, just the other day I said something so snarky that I actually felt the need to repent. Often I lose that fight and come out battered and bruised, but I am going to keep trying. I enjoyed what NBC tried to do and thought that the actors did a great job. I am grateful that Saidee loved it and received both the original movie and the NBC version for Christmas. I am grateful that for days we could hear Saidee singing, “I am sixteen going on seventeen.” So, when it is announced who will play Peter Pan let’s take a minute and commend the actress who will try something new. Be gentle with the words you use, unless NBC picks Paris Hilton to play Peter, if that is the case snark away my friends. Snark away.

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Things I Believe Today

I believe that overall people are good and kind.

I believe that staring at a sleeping child can lower your blood pressure.

I believe in smiling at strangers and making eye contact.

I believe this is because I am from Kentucky and not New York.

I believe that having the perfect pillow can make all the difference in how you sleep.

I believe in wearing an undershirt beneath tee shirts.

I believe that the punch people serve at baby showers should be served every Tuesday as a little pick me up.

I believe that my legs are the driest things in the world right now.

I believe that people who like Elvis Costello look good in hats.

I believe in the power of prayer and good thoughts.

I believe that I will never have a haircut that fits my personality.

I believe that I am pretty.

I believe that I am sometimes hideous as well.

I believe that if I was only allowed to listen to one album for the rest of my life it would be Blast Tyrant by Clutch.

I believe this because the lyrics are nonsensical and I could spend hours trying to figure it out.

I believe that a man with a beard is sexy.

I believe that the news wants you to be scared.

I believe this because of the amount of Florida sinkhole stories.

I believe in being kind even when it is really hard to do so.

I believe that I fail at this every day.

I believe that I will eat way too much tomorrow.

I believe that black Friday shopping is crazy.

I believe this because I get nervous around people.

I believe that about ten people are going to read this.

I believe that I am grateful for those ten.

I believe everyone should own orange shoes.

 

Track #9

I found out Lou Reed had died between football games, house cleaning, and pumpkin decorating. During a quick Twitter break, I noticed a press release saying that he had passed away. I am sad for reasons that I do not completely understand. I have never been a big Lou Reed fan and can only name maybe a handful of songs off the top of my head. One being “Sweet Jane” and another being “Heroin,” which is really The Velvet Underground as was explained to me.

“Heather, Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground are two different things,” Trey, not so patiently, tried to tell me.

“Yes, but Lou is part of The Velvet Underground.”

“Yes, but they are different. It is like saying “Crazy Train” is a Sabbath song. It is an Ozzy song. The two things are very different.”

I enjoy Neil Diamond, Everclear, Johnny Cash, and Kanye West equally. There are bands that I had never really enjoyed that I became a fan of through listening with Trey, and I have high hopes that one day I will get Elvis Costello. I have no musical identity and I am married to a man who prides himself on his. This has led to the occasional argument and the occasional musical discovery. When we drive anywhere and have the radio on he says, “What is this? I have never heard this in my life.” This leads me to say, “Of course not, it was released after 1994.” He doesn’t find that joke at all funny.

In the 90s I was a fan of The Doors. It would be safe to thank Oliver Stone for this particular stage of my musical heritage. I fancied myself a poet at the time and Jim Morrison had fancied himself the same thing. I was 16 and full of hormones. Morrison was charismatic and had very tight pants and beautiful hair; he had also been dead for 20 years. It was love. I bought all the albums (on tape of course) and listened to them on the boom box that was seat belted into my yellow Cavalier. With the window down and my left foot propped up on the dashboard, I would drive to work feeling alive. After work I would change into one of my many Jim Morrison tees, shirts that were purchased in a hole in the wall shop next to a bowling alley. I bought poetry books by Jim Morrison and made a necklace of red and white beads to match one I had seen him photographed in. In the absence of my own identity, I decided to wear Jim Morrison’s instead. At some point I moved on from The Doors, but I never again felt so connected to a group and their music.

Maybe that is why I am sad for Lou, his family, and his fans. They lost something that connected them. Some spark that made them feel a certain way at a certain moment. Maybe they remember the freedom of driving with their feet propped up, warm sun on their arms as they hummed away to “Sweet Jane.” For me Lou Reed (and The Velvet Underground) will remind me of my parents and our Florida vacation when I made them play my The Doors soundtrack, and track number 9 was “Heroin.”

“Cause when the smack begins to flow
Then I really don’t care anymore
Ah, when the heroin is in my blood
And that blood is in my head
Then thank God that I’m as good as dead
Then thank your God that I’m not aware
And thank God that I just don’t care
And I guess I just don’t know
And I guess I just don’t know”

Today I thank Oliver Stone for leading me to The Doors and I thank The Doors for leading me to The Velvet Underground and I thank The Velvet Underground for reminding me of a long car trip with my family. I may not have much of a musical identity, but I feel for those who have lost a part of theirs.

Things That Cannot Be Denied

  1. Rainy days are best for sleeping.
  2. When I am angry I feel like my hands are electric.
  3. Breaking Bad was an excellent show and I miss it very much.
  4. The old haunted house at Noble Park was very loud.
  5. My kids are cute.
  6. Google is an excellent source of information gathering
  7. A Facebook meme is NOT a good way to gather information.
  8. If you find an evil book and the first page says, “You have found the answer.” The next line would not say, “I wish that you were dead.” That is silly; an evil book would not warn you away.
  9. Heaven and Hell had questionable (but awesome) song writing skills.
  10. If ever given a chance to nap you should take that opportunity.
  11. My love of Pine sol verges on weird.
  12. As does my love of hoarding candles and Scentsy.
  13. Chili is a soup.
  14. I never stopped cheering for Walter White.
  15. If the dead pig on The Walking Dead is not referred to as “Zombie Wilbur” we have missed an excellent opportunity. 

Thank you for your time.

That Time My Kid Was Kind of an Ass

As a parent I have always felt like my one job is making sure that my kids aren’t assholes. Overall, I am feeling pretty good about my success rate. The oldest two are neither racist nor homophobic. They are witty and have opinions. They work, travel, and have varied interests. I know that Kiaya would never walk down the mall corridor with her hand in someone else’s back pocket.  I don’t think that Selena would do that, but I do think she may have at least once made out behind a mall Pro Active machine. Selena has a larger sense of whimsy than her older sister. The one I worry about is Saidee. She is the youngest, only six as of this post, and she is our princess. She is sweet and loving. She weighs a lot and still wants to be carried to bed every night. She is our third daughter; she is both the youngest child and an only child, due to the large age differences. She also had an invisible vampire friend named Spike.

The girls and I are TV people. We love it and many of our conversations revolve around the lives of fictional people. We talk about them, dissect their intent, worry about them, and question their decision making. Here are examples of text messages I receive:

“What is Meredith going to do without Christine? Christine is her person, Momma.”

“If Jesse dies I don’t know what I will do. They won’t kill Jesse, will they?”

“I have really thought about it and I think I could be Jax’s old lady.”

“I need you to make sure Supernatural and The Walking Dead are Tivoing.”

These messages are not unusual; they happen at least twice a week. One of our biggest bonding experiences is a love of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I watched the show when it was originally on and I may or may not have cried once when I missed it. On a list of 100 things I wanted in a mate, number one was someone who will shut-up while I watch Buffy. They don’t have to like it, but they do need to be silent. Kiaya was the first to jump on my Buffy bandwagon and later Selena. It was Kiaya who introduced Saidee. They would spend long hours cuddled up together watching on the portable DVD player and later the laptop. The questionable parenting skill part comes into play when I bring up that Saidee was three when this practice started.

Saidee was never scared of the violence, she was oblivious to the sex, and didn’t get the humor. What she did get was the knowledge that if something went wrong you could blame Spike. Spike was a few hundred years old vampire who looked like Billy Idol. Actually Billy stole his look from Spike. He was funny, crafty, evil (but with a heart of gold), and the best part was he wasn’t all whiney and put upon like Angel. The three year old was pretty quick with blaming everything she did wrong on that blonde vampire. Some of his crimes included: coloring on the walls, coloring on shoes, throwing toys, shredding paper, and trashing bedrooms. Spike was a busy invisible friend/petty criminal.

To Saidee, Selena’s room is a fascinating land of things she isn’t allowed to touch. It is a toddler Vatican, filled with figurines, paintings, art supplies, and treasured baby dolls from Selena’s youth. Much of Spike’s atrocities took place in Selena’s room. We once found a strip of blue fabric on the floor. When I asked Saidee what it was she shrugged her toddler shoulders and said she didn’t know. When we found a second strip we began to investigate and noticed that “someone” had taken scissors and cut up the bottom half of Selena’s sheets.

“Saidee why did you cut up the sheets?”

“I didn’t.”

“Saidee, it was you, you are the only other person in the house.”

“I didn’t do it.”

“Saidee, really.”

“It was Spike.”

At this point we have tears.

“Saidee it wasn’t Spike it was you. Please, admit it.”

“It was Spike. Or it was my toes.”

I put a high premium on creativity; but come on, this kid and her vamp were just being assholes. Kiaya and Selena were busy when they were little, but their busy was nothing compared to the busy that Saidee and Spike laid down. I refuse to blame the 15 year age difference. I am still young and spry, right?

One night I had been in the back of the house and had lost track of the toddler. Only a few minutes had passed when I started walking towards her bedroom. With each step I took I heard a small voice.

“Spike did it.”

“Spike did it.”

“Spike did it.”

With each step I took her voice became louder and more insistent. It held a panicky waiver.

“SPIKE DID IT!”

I found her covered in lipstick. Most of her face was covered in a lovely Revlon wine color. It was on her hands, the wall, and the mirror. She cried hot tears and swore that this was all the work of that blonde vampire. Carvell had come running and we were unable to stop laughing.

“God, Heather, that vampire is a fucking asshole,” he laughed.

Eventually Saidee stopped blaming Spike. We tried to convince her that he had moved, that he had packed his bags, blacked out his windows, and drove off in his DeSoto. She really just outgrew him and no longer needed someone to blame her crimes on. Oddly, I miss him sometimes or more likely I miss the three-year-old she was.

One of Spike's crimes, of course.

One of Spike’s crimes, of course.saidee spike 1

 

Vegas Baby

The streets will be crowded with people: tourists taking picture with their cell phones, women teetering in heels that are much too high, Hispanic men will stand on sidewalks flicking their porn cards to get our attention. It will smell of heat, body odor, decay, and desperation. I am going to Las Vegas and I couldn’t be more excited. Carvell and I are going on a kid less vacation with a few friends and I expect the trip to be nothing less than a hybrid  The Hangover and Very Bad Things. If a body does not get buried in the desert than the whole trip will be in vain.

I am ready to go. I started with my list making about a month ago.

Clothes:

Bottoms                                   Tops

Green chevron                         Madonna t-shirt

White chevron                         green t-shirt

Orange skirt                             blue t-shirt

I have planned my debauchery just as I planned my wardrobe.

Things I think I will drink:

Margarita

Amaretto sour

Daiquiri

Things that should happen in Vegas:

Tattoos

Gambling

I want to see a hooker (not sleep with just see)

Need to see those dancing fountains

Pretend that I am in Oceans 11 (only in my mind)

Decide if I am playing Brad Pitt or George Clooney

I need this trip to be fun. I need to laugh and feel carefree. Sometimes everything feels very heavy, and when that plane takes off I want to leave behind my feelings of melancholy in the contrails. In those trails will be the people who yell at me on the phone, the endless cases that I can’t work fast enough, and the classes I no longer give a damn about. In the contrails will be my lingering depression and desperation.

In Vegas we will laugh.

Three teachers, a musician, a scientist, a medical professional, and an enforcement worker will laugh at each other until we almost can’t take it.

This will be healing. This will be good.

Elvis and Quinton have a Conversation

Elvis Costello said that writing about music is like dancing about architecture, because of course Elvis Costello would say such a thing. I feel pretty sure that he was wearing a black hat and suspenders when he said it. I have made an executive life decision that I would like to listen to a conversation between Quinton Tarantino and Elvis Costello. Due to the unlikelihood this will ever happen to me I have decided to take actual quotes from the two men and create what I believe would be a likely conversation.

Here we go.

Q: To me, movies and music go hand in hand. When I’m writing a script, one of the first things I do is find the music I’m going to play for the opening sequence.

E: I believe that music is connected by human passions and curiosities rather than by marketing strategies.

Q: I’ve always thought my soundtracks do pretty good, because they’re basically professional equivalents of a mix tape I’d make for you at home.

E: Obviously I got known for some other songs early on, and some of those were rock’n’roll songs. Some of them were melodic pop songs. And I’ve done lots of different things, as you know, but every so often I get drawn back.

Q: I’m a big collector of vinyl – I have a record room in my house – and I’ve always had a huge soundtrack album collection. So what I do, as I’m writing a movie, is go through all those songs, trying to find good songs for fights, or good pieces of music to layer into the film.

Q: Movies are my religion and God is my patron. I’m lucky enough to be in the position where I don’t make movies to pay for my pool. When I make a movie, I want it to be everything to me; like I would die for it.

Q: My mom took me to see Carnal Knowledge and The Wild Bunch and all these kind of movies when I was a kid.

Q: My parents said, Oh, he’s going to be a director someday. I wanted to be an actor.

It is at this point of the conversation that I imagine Elvis being highly annoyed with Quentin. If you have ever watched Tarantino in an interview the energy is kinetic. He never stops moving and thinking, his hands wave wildly, and each gesture is like a small lightening strike. Watching the man makes me a damn nervous wreck. I generally enjoy his movies, but he makes me feel like I am on ecstasy while riding a roller coaster that is bound for a hell dimension. Does everyone feel that way when watching his interviews?

Now, back to the conversation:

E: And I don’t feel any form of music is beyond me in the sense of that I don’t understand it or I don’t have some love for some part of it. And over the last ten years, after my work with the Brodsky Quartet, I had the opportunity to write arrangements for chamber group, chamber orchestra, jazz orchestra, symphony orchestra even.

Q: To me, America is just another market.

Elvis would now cock his head to the left and look at Quentin with vague annoyance.

E: I believe that music is connected by human passions and curiosities rather than by marketing strategies.

Elvis has now repeated himself. I cannot help but think that this perceived conversation is making Elvis as nervous as it would me.

Q: I have loved movies as the number one thing in my life so long that I can’t ever remember a time when I didn’t.

E: I used to be disgusted; now I try to be amused.

I have been watching Elvis Costello videos on YouTube for 30 minutes now, and I can see he has integrity and wit. My goal is that by age 40 I will be a Costello fan. Two years, this gives me two years to complete this goal. This week’s blog was actually supposed to be about why people hate Kim Kardashian and how I once had sex against the wall of a gas station bathroom, but it lost focus. I have written 49 blog posts so far, and I worry that I am running out of things to say. So, this week I decided to let two men who have interesting things to say speak for me. All quotes are in italic and came from www.brainyquote.com.