Crazy Random Happenstance

Billy: So good... Hey, this is weird. I ordered one frozen yogurt and they gave me two. You don't happen to like frozen yogurt, do you?
Penny: I love it!
Billy: You're kidding? What a crazy random happenstance!
-Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Canada's Shakespeare

Music has always been a huge part of my life. Growing up with my parents, we were always always always listening to music. By the time I was six, I had already attended my first concert (The Monkees) and was a big Beatles, Van Halen, and Squeeze fan (to name a few). Weekends were filled with music around my house. So when I grew up, it was pretty natural that my 17 year old eyes were drawn to the handsome manager of the music store across the hall from where I was peddling pretzels.

Jeff opened my ears up to enjoying country music and listening to The Cure and The Smiths. He talked about bands I had never heard of before. One in particular stood out among the rest. That band was The Tragically Hip. The Canadian rock band from Kingston, Ontario. You know how sometimes when you hear a certain band or song, you are instantly transported back to a specific moment in time? Almost like the soundtrack of your life? The Hip is one of those bands for me. I remember early on in our dating era, Jeff was SUPER excited for their new album. On July 14, 1998, Phantom Power was released. The first time I heard Gord Downie's voice, I was riveted. I didn't want to stop listening. God, that man can sing. We listened to that cassette tape in Jeff's Ford Ranger over and over and over again. It was so damn good. From the first single "Poets" to the haunting "Bobcaygeon," every song was, well, music to my ears.

The first time I saw them live, they were at Pine Knob in late July. We had pretty decent pavilion seats, and I remember looking over before the show started and realizing that Jeff was sitting next to Dino Ciccarelli. Not only were we surrounded by Canadians, we were surrounded by hockey players and Red Wing players that I grew up obsessed with. To say we were happy is an understatement. Already overflowing with an excitement that was about boil over, Gord D, Gord S, Paul, Rob, and Johnny came out on stage. It's so hard to put into words what a live experience with The Hip is like. Gord Downie has such a presence. He exudes liveliness. He sings his heart out, and dances his butt off, and talks to people who aren't there (or maybe they are? Who am I to say?). He shoots hoops and talks to the microphone stand and carries around a signature hankie and paints pictures. He. Is. Mesmerizing. I loved watching him. I loved his black shirts and vests and his hats. When you are at one of their shows, there is no one more alive than Gord. I loved watching him and listening to him. Thereafter, we tried to go to their shows every time they came into town. We recruited Carrie into loving them as much as we did and we went to their concerts together. 

Over the years they released several more albums and Gord even released a few solo records. All the while his words and songs reading like a book of poetry. Believe me when I say, this man is brilliant. On May 24th of this year, I received an email from the band with the subject header, "An Important Message From The Band." Thinking they were announcing a new tour, I quickly opened it up to read it. I couldn't have been more wrong. The email was a statement letting their fans know that Gord Downie had been diagnosed with an incurable brain tumor called glioblastoma. Brain cancer. They were going to embark on a 15 show tour of Canada for one last go round. I stared at my phone, teared up and immediately texted Jeff and Carrie, asking if they had read their email. I couldn't think straight. It didn't make sense. Iconic rock stars aren't supposed to get a diagnosis like that. Especially one as seemingly untouchable as Gordon Downie. 

A little heartbroken that they wouldn't be coming to the Detroit area, we tried to get tickets to a couple of shows close by. Even though we knew that it was going to an emotional roller coaster, the three of us wanted to experience it one last time together and this time bring Charley along. But of course, all the shows immediately sold out. Of course they did. It would have been absurd if they hadn't. We were super bummed. Then the CBC announced that they would be airing their final concert in their hometown of Kingston, Ontario live. LIVE. Have you ever heard of such a thing? This band is so well loved and their country is so devastated by the diagnosis of this one man, that Canada was basically shut down for 4 hours while they aired the band's final show live and uninterrupted. How phenomenal is that?

We made a night of it. Carrie came over and we watched as Ron Mclean (in a Hip t-shirt) and The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau (in a Hip t-shirt) discussed their love for the band and Gord in particular. Thousands of Canadians who couldn't make it to the show gathered from all over to watch the live stream of the concert together in parks, arenas and their homes. We watched as Gord came out in his shiny outfit and his JAWS shirt and feathered hat. We watched him sing and perform his heart out. For nearly 3 straight hours. He took breaks every now and then and spoke a few times, thanking the fans for pushing him. They did an unheard of 4th encore and ended the show with my most favorite song, "Ahead By a Century." It was perfection. You could feel the outpouring of love from an entire nation for this one man and his band. It was absolutely breathtaking. Passion like that is so rare, if ever seen. It was something to behold, let me tell you.

I feel so grateful that I was able to share in that experience with some of the closest people in my life. People are going to remember that show for years and years. Even though the event that brought everyone together is so tragic, it was an exquisite thing to be a part of and witness. 

Thank you, Gord. Thank you for your words and music and your impeccable showmanship. Thank you for letting us celebrate you. Thank you for letting us say goodbye and wish you well. Thank you for bringing an amazingly close friendship between 3 people even closer. Most of all, thank you for being a part of the soundtrack of my life, because after all, no one's interested in something you didn't do.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Happy Valentine's Day!

Let's talk fun things!

One of the things I have been doing to brighten this winter is watching Friday Night Lights (the show about a high school football team, in a small town in Texas, and the happenings and goings on of all the people within the city)... ten years late. I remember this show (along with Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton) getting so much hype when it was on. I was always curious but never jumped in to fully commit myself to watching it. I guess I just didn't want to add another show to my already overflowing TV regime. Better late than never I suppose because I adore it. The acting is so fantastic, I feel like I'm watching a real life documentary most of the time. Listen guys, I am in love with Kyle Chandler. He could act an entire episode just by making facial expressions and not uttering a single word and I would be riveted. He's so good. SO GOOD. He's so grumpy and serious and dedicated as coach Eric Taylor, that when he smiles you know something great is happening. His whole face lights up! Those who know me know how much I hate football but this show makes me so anxious when the games are played. Seriously, my heart actually beats faster and I get all nervous, hoping they'll win. It's so stupid but I love it. I just finished the first season and I can't wait to watch more. Also? Jeff likes it too. Don't let him fool you. He always ends up watching the episodes with me and asking questions. I love it.

The UP network has started showing reruns of Ed. Remember that show? It aired from 2000-2004 and starred Tom Cavanaugh as Ed Stevens, Julie Bowen as his crush, Carol Vessey, Michael Ian Black as Ed's co-worker Phil Stubbs and a plethora of other big name actors nowadays. It's such a fun show and I really love Tom Cavanugh and it makes me want to move to Stuckeyville. They are showing an episode every day at 4pm. Needless to say, our DVR is crammed with episodes but it's the only way to watch this series right now, so we are slowly but surely working our way through.

Speaking of working my way through... My Doctor Who journey has officially been put on hold until further notice. I just wasn't quick enough with trying to catch up and Netflix stole it away from me like a Dalek extracting information from a human's mind. This makes me sad but I am hopeful that if enough people bitch about this (and I know EVERYONE is mad about it), maybe they'll change their minds and bring it back.

Have you all seen the Fuller House trailer? It looks super fun. I hate Kimmy Gibbler but any cast who is willing to go back to their roots and relive the roles that made them famous in the first place gets huge, major, major props in my book. So much respect for people like that. It starts February 26th, on Netflix.

Continuing with more Netflix news... The Gilmore Girls revival is currently taping. I am not exaggerating when I say that I CANNOT WAIT FOR THIS TO COME OUT!! Going back to what I was saying before about actors reprising the roles that made them famous? This is the perfect example. Pretty much every single actor that starred on the show in one way or another is coming back to be in the revival. I freaking love that. I'm holding out hope that Sebastian Bach will pop in to portray Gil from Hep Alien once more. Come on, if they are bringing April back (blech), they can bring Gil back.

A couple new shows that we have been watching are... The Shanarra Chronicles, based on the book series by Terry Brooks that airs Tuesdays at 10pm on MTV and The Magicians, based on the book of the same name by Lev Grossman on the SyFy channel, Mondays at 9pm. Both of these series fulfill our magic/adventure cravings, with the former leaning more toward Dungeons and Dragons/Lord of The Rings mythology and the latter being more similar to Harry Potter/Chronicles of Narnia, with a twisted, adult, raunchy edge thrown in. I think I am currently enjoying The Magicians more than the Shanarra Chronicles right now but both series are pretty new and I'm interested enough to see where they go.

Do any of you ever watch Dinner at Tiffani's on the Cooking channel? It stars Tiffani Thiessen and she's on Wednesdays at 8pm. She has simple recipes (which I am all about) but mostly I watch to see who her guests for dinner will be. Last year she had her White Collar husband, Tim DeKay on, her 90210 co-star, Jason Priestley and none other than Jesse Spano herself, Elizabeth Berkley. Well, this season she is having Mark Paul Gosselaar on and I am so excited (ha, no pun intended), I can't stand it!! If you love food and pop culture like I do, you should check it out.

Jeff and I watched Kingsman:The Secret Service with Colin Firth and Samuel L. Jackson. What a great movie. Full of all the fun spy stuff that I love, humor and I got to look at Colin Firth for 2 hours. You can't go wrong with that.

How great was The Force Awakens, you guys?? I know it's been out for a few months now but I haven't had a chance to voice how much I loved it. I am so proud of JJ Abrams for doing such a spectacular job with it. The acting was phenomenal and Harrison Ford was wonderful and I think Charley has a bit of a crush on Daisy Ridley. What a kick ass lady she turned out to be, eh?? I can't wait to see what the franchise has in store.

Jeff and I recently watched a movie called All's Faire in Love, starring Christina Ricci. It came out in 2009, and I think Jeff bought it during one of the many FYE closings on clearance. Our January was pretty crappy so we wanted something to laugh at. It's super silly and takes place during a Renaissance Festival. !! They shot a good portion of the movie at the Michigan RenFest, to be exact and I THOUGHT THAT WAS SO COOL! We didn't know that going in, but we recognized a lot of the signs and stands while we were watching it. I googled it and low and behold, we really were watching our beloved RenFest on the screen. How much fun is that? Anyway, it's a goofy little movie but it sure made me smile. Huzzah!

I watched Top Gun for the first time ever a few weeks ago. I enjoyed Tom Cruise's smile and the relationship between him and Goose. Let's be serious though, it's basically just an advertisement for white t-shirts and aviators, with Berlin's "Take My Breath Away" thrown in as background music. Am I right??

Sidenote: Remember that VH1 show, Bands Reunited back in 2004?? It was only one season, but Jeff and I loved it. They should bring that back and do one with Barenaked Ladies. Oooh, or Guns n Roses!

I've given up on a few shows this year. I don't know what the deal is. Either I am losing my patience with the shows I once loved moving too slowly or they just aren't as good as they used to be. Either way, I have little time and not enough DVR space for mediocre TV these days. Here are a few series I have recently broken up with:

Castle: This one hurt. I love Nathan Fillion so much. SO MUCH. But I can't handle the "will they? won't they? yes they will! no they won't... just kidding, yes they will!" storyline anymore. I've had it. Get together and stay together or break up and stay apart. No more yo yo'ing. It's not interesting. It's annoying and the crime stories themselves aren't enough to hold my attention. Now, if they brought back Michael Mosley as the 3XK killer, I'd be all about it.

Once Upon a Time: Ack. I'm going to get yelled at for this one. But before anyone does yell at me, know this... my time apart from OUAT was more of a break so to speak and less of a full on break up. That's right, WE WERE ON A BREAK. I hated the Dark Swan storyline. I felt like all the characters were whispering all the time and I didn't like seeing King Arthur as a bad guy and I hated Emma's hair, but now that they are passed that nonsense, I am thinking of jumping back into it when it returns in March. I miss my Hook. So here's hoping they make things a little more fun and a little less blah this time around.

Reign: The show is somewhat based on real life events so I always knew that Francis wasn't going to be around forever, I just didn't realize how sad I would be once he was really gone. The combination of missing his character and hating Queen Elizabeth intensely made Jeff and I give up on it. They turned Elizabeth into a whiny (ugh, sooooo whiny), crying, lovesick Queen instead of the confident, strong ruler she should have been. I can't take it anymore and I have serious doubts that the show will get anywhere near a renewal for a season 4.

Shadowhunters: I read the first book, City of Bones and did not like it at all. I know I'm in the minority when it comes to that series but I just didn't care for it. I was curious about the TV show and Jeff seemed interested in it, so we checked it out. The first episode was pretty okay but the second one was like nails on a chalkboard. I just don't like the storyline. I think it's dumb. That's really all it amounts to.


I loved Rainbow Rowell's latest, Carry On, based on the characters with whom Cath was obsessed with in Fangirl. It made me sad that there wasn't a sequel to continue with after I finished it. I loved being in the world of mages if only temporarily and I adored Simon and Baz's relationship. That woman could write and entire book on a role of paper towel and it's pretty much a guarantee that I will be obsessed with it. I love her.

Speaking of love, After You by the lovely JoJo Moyes was excellent. I was so happy to be with Lou again and see what she's been up to, (Sidebar--- I know I sound like a crazy person talking about these characters like they are my bff's but cut me some slack. They ARE my bff's and I love them.) If you liked Me Before You, do yourself a favor and read the sequel. It will make you happy. Also, check out the trailer for the movie because it looks absolutely exquisite (heart emoji, heart emoji)

I read Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll and really enjoyed it. The story kept me riveted and I loved the way she wove the flashback stories into the present day occurrences. It was so seamless. Writing like that inspires me. I'm sick of stories being compared to Gone Girl or trying to be the next Gone Girl. This book was one of the ones that was compared to it but really, the only similarity between the two is that the main female character is basically an emotional mess. It's kind of disturbing at times but definitely intriguing. Check it out if you are looking for something to read.

I saw this commercial the other day:

Guys, if you are having that much trouble cutting your nails, just kindly ask someone else to cut them for you, okay? My goodness.

Charley wants you all to know that the series finale of Gravity Falls is on Monday at 7pm on DisneyXD. He's super bummed that it's ending but secretly, it warms my pop culture loving heart that he cares so much about a TV show.

Enjoy your Valentine's/Galentine's Days! Read some books, eat some cookies, smell some flowers or sit in your jammies all day doing nothing!

The Walking Dead comes back tomorrow, so we will be hanging with Rick Grimes and some zombies. Nothing says love like murderous brain eating walkers!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Magic Dance

One of my most vivid memories of being a kid was when I was 6 years old and my Aunt Mary was babysitting my brothers and I at her apartment. She sat us down and popped in a VHS tape and wanted to show us the new Jim Henson movie that had just come out. The movie was Labyrinth. I remember feeling really awful for Toby and thinking it was super cool that I had the same name as the main character. I was mesmerized by David Bowie's hair, I loved the songs, Dennis and I wanted to take our heads off like the Firey guys and we laughed hysterically at the Bog of Eternal Stench. I wanted Hoggle to be my companion, Ludo to be my friend and I really wanted to have a cup'a tea with the worm and his misses while Sir Dydimus and Ambrosius guarded the door. To this day I proudly say that Labyrinth is my most favorite movie ever. It's magical and funny and thrilling. I love sharing it with Charley and making any friend who has never seen it, watch it while I mouthed all the words to every scene. Plain and simple, it makes me happy.

So, on this day where everyone is saying goodbye and paying respects to David Bowie after an 18 month battle with cancer, and while I appreciate him for his music, his originality and his enticing portrayal of Jareth the Goblin King, I want to take the time to thank my Aunt Mary for introducing me to this movie. You see, today my family and I, along with my uncle and cousins, laid her to rest. Needless to say it has been a shock to my whole being this past week. 

Grieving for someone who was so damn good to us as kids and seeing my Grandpa and mom and dad, brothers, sisters, niece, nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins pay their respects and celebrate her life has brought back a flood of memories these last few days. So many of my childhood memories include her. She had a way of making everything fun. Whenever we would have a family get together, we would always ask "will Aunt Mary be there??". She took Dennis and I to a double feature of Scrooged (another one of my most favorites) and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? when they came out and I remember it being one of the most fun days ever. She always made a point to make us feel special on our birthdays. I used to bite my nails when I was a kid and to get me to stop, she told me there were little worms in them that I was biting every time I did. I never bit them again. We spent countless weekends at her house with my cousins, where her and my uncle would let us transform their basement into a studio and we would spend hours upon hours making music videos. From Guns n' Roses to Envogue, we covered every song we could think of. She would help us hang sheets and set up the tripod for the video camera, call us up for meals and make us popcorn after we had finally called it a night. I remember I loved just sitting and talking with her. I may have talked too much and drove her crazy but she never showed it. She always always patiently listened to whatever teenage story I had to tell her. She loved Halloween. Boy, did she love Halloween. I would bring friends over to her house just so I could show them her Halloween display. When she loved something, she loved it hardcore. 200%. She was creative and giving and loved to have fun. She loved taking pictures and we always gave her a hard time about it because we never got to see the pictures she took.

As time went on and life happenings happened, we didn't see each other as much. We all got a little older, had our own families and tried to see each other when we could. It may not have been as much as of late but I hope she knows how much everyone loved her because she truly was. She always made her own path in life, and I think one way or another, she made a point to love all of us too. As I say my final goodbyes to her, I will always have her in the back of my mind every time I watch Labyrinth from here on out. I always thought of her when I watched it before but I guess every time I watch it now will make it that much more special.

I love you, Aunt Mary. I hope you saw that beautiful service Mike gave you today and felt all the love and laughter in the room. As my mom said, we celebrated your life these past few days. I kept expecting to see you walking around, mingling and telling silly jokes every time I looked up. Until we meet each other again, dance that magic dance and give our love to Grandma wherever you are and know that you will be sorely missed.