Music


(I wanted to post this on his real birthday, but in a later post I’ll explain why I couldn’t…)

The other day would’ve been The King’s 74th birthday. I knew this only because the radio dude reminded me but my sister would remember because she looooooved him.

It was an unrequited love, of course, but as far back as I remember she watched all of his movies every time they were on, knew all of of his songs, and was thus the inevitable target of much mockery.

Mocking Elvis came early and easily. It was the ’70s and this was the height of his cliché period: the Vegas shows, the over-sweating, the bejeweled white bell-bottomed jumpsuits, the whole bit…

yah baybayyyy…

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I’m sorry but he couldn’t act.

The ability to mock him was reinforced by knowing my sister loved him and later by visits to the late-lamented “Elvis is Alive Museum,” located nearby and where they took his aliveness very seriously.

The museum tried to explain how they had proof he was alive but I never quite got it – something about undercover work for the FBI? – but I had to really try not to laugh because they were so serious about it.

This was part of their proof:

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Huh?? Yes, of course that proves he’s alive…

The real charm of the Museum was in the individual rooms, each of which was surrounded by the various framed proofs of his aliveness:

  • the funeral room: where the Elvis mannequin rested in a real coffin, complete with sad funeral music playing and bad fake bouquets. The “corpse” didn’t even look like him and not just because his head was a little off-center. His head was off-center because it got damaged in shipping and the head fell off. Not surprisingly the museum didn’t have a professional conservator to repair it so the head was delicately balanced adjacent to the body.
  • the wedding “chapel”: Really just a plastic archway with tacky plastic flowers around it. You could rent it for marriage ceremonies. And remember there was framed “evidence” of his aliveness around this room, so it really added to the celebratory ambiance.
  • the research room: full of primary sources like the National Enquirer, Star, and other documentation proving his existence. You could sit and page through the “evidence.”
  • the movie room: I remember laughing a lot but do not remember one thing about the video proof that he is alive.
  • the gift shop: The real reason any of us goes to a US museum is for the tschochkes (sp?). I don’t remember any of those either, but I DO remember they had things with Graceland price tags on them. Not surprisingly the Museum was being sued by Graceland, but for some reason the woman in the store thought that subpoenaing Priscilla and Lisa Marie would help them. No, of course it made no sense.

That’s probably why it eventually went under.

The guy who ran it was a real estate agent – minister – restaurant owner who apparently thought he was Elvis’s twin brother: he wore a white jumpsuit, drove an old ’70s convertible Caddy, had dyed black hair (and was too old to carry it) and “the glasses.”

The museum visits simply reinforced everything I thought about him: tacky, dated, can’t act, dead.

Fast forward many years…I heard an Old Navy commercial and loved the song so much that I went to their website to look it up. Turns out it was a Paul Oakenfold remix of Rubberneckin’ and once I went through denial, anger and acceptance, I got a copy of the song.

It snowballed from there. I heard Suspicious Minds somewhere (another commercial?) and then rediscovered and listened to A Little Less Conversation, which is a little dated because he uses the word “groovy” but is still catchy. I’ve added all 3 to my “boppin’ in the garden” playlist.

Now, I have a good friend who works at a major travel company and she got 4 of us plane tickets and we all met up in Memphis a few months ago. I’d always wanted to go to Graceland but we all thought it such a cliché and tacky but I knew I’d regret not going. I needed the full picture, not just the Elvis is Alive Museum picture…

We ended up going and oh my god…it was everything I imagined and…everything I imagined.

The rooms with all the awards and costumes were amazing…

Look at all these awards. This is one room, about 1/2 way down the corridor. Photo is crappy but you get the sense of how many awards / gold records the dude got.  And this is only half of one hallway!!

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More crappy pictures showing another award room in the former racquetball court:

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And how about the infamous TV room…what’s up with that monkey?!

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Here’s the adjacent fabric ceilinged and walled billiard room. The ceiling was actually done really nicely, with some serious pleats ‘n’ stuff:

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But really, nothing was more impressive than one of his planes, the Lisa Marie. For example, check out one of the bathrooms on the plane:

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See that cushion on the right? That’s really the toilet seat (leather of course). The sink? Gold-plated.

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All the seatbelts have gold-plated seat clasps. I’m hoping to god that the plastic was not present when they were using the plane. That would be tacky.

Of course, nothing could surpass the sofa bed. I’m betting it was used more as a bed since I think he got this plane during his pill period…How many women went on that plane hoping to join the Mile High Club with Elvis, only to find out that the King needed a nap?!

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And again, let’s hope the plastic wasn’t on the bed when it was in use.

So on this, the King’s non-74th birthday, I have to apologize to my sister all those years of Elvi-torture. More importantly, I hereby publicly acknowledge that I do like some of his songs. The dude couldn’t act his way out of a paper bag but still, he was (in many ways) the King.

I never know how to phrase that: it’s not that you need to know any of this right now, it means that it’s about me right now…and I would like you to know, but not necessarily now, just whenever you get to this. OK, whatever — you get the point.

I’ve said it before What you need to know about me right now ; I’ll say it again: I would really welcome and appreciate suggestions for a better way to phrase that. I’ve put too much enough a lot time into thinking how to better phrase it.

Anyhoo…

  • Still keeping fiber intake high, but not with those icky Fiber One bars <see My moral dilemma at the grocery store > Now I’m trying more of those rip-off (though tasty) Kashi bars but this time it’s cherry and REAL chocolate, unlike Fiber One’s “chocolate chips with confectioner’s shellac…ethanol, shellac…” Now if seeing this doesn’t make you start reading labels better I don’t know what will (from FiberOne.com). Sometimes I’m grateful for government interference in our lives. You have to wonder if the 35% of your fiber needs is coming from one of those ingredients, don’t you?

  • Now listening to: Grateful Dead// It’s funny, I’m listening to the song, Sugar Magnolia, which takes me back to the cassette I made of the album. I used to visit my friend in northern Wisconsin in my teenage years, and made friends with this guy. We brought that tape out into his boat on the lake, and he accidentally pressed the “record” button. First you hear the music “she’s my daydream…sing sing…NOOOOOOOOOO!!!” That last word was me realizing he’d pressed the wrong button. That was at least 25 years ago, but every time I hear that song I still “hear” the music stop in that one spot and me going “NOOOOOOOOOO,” only now the music doesn’t stop.

Same thing happens when I listen to digital versions of other albums or songs. I listen now and still remember exactly where the album would skip in particular songs. Which is creepy since I forget more important things. Guess that was part of the charm of the music in older media.

  • # time spent in garden this spring: a LOT (one reason I’m slacking on the blogging)
  • # of bags of mulch I have right now: 10
  • # additional bags I’ll need: probably 10
  • # of bags spread so far: 0
  • # of weeds in weed patch garden: unknown but incalculable anyway
  • Why it’s incalculable: Last fall I scattered several partially-filled baggies of seeds I’d gathered over the past few years, thinking not too many would sprout but hoping some would. I now know for sure that cleome seeds don’t spoil in the fridge after 3+ years…There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of seedlings out there. They’re just clumped together like one big weed. (Side note: how can I kill 3 peonies but the violet leaves (weeds) are as big as my hand?!)

  • # of Siberian Iris in bloom now: more than I’ve ever had. I took pix, but with my real camera. I’ll insert them here later maybe, but I’m happy ’cause they contrast really nicely with the variegated hostas, which are larger than the one here, but you get part of the idea at least.

<update 6/2: Here is a muted shot of the iris (more in back but not shown)>

  • Craziest thing I did today: buy a (full-sized) bag of Lay’s baked BBQ chips
  • 2nd craziest thing: not eating the whole bag in 1 day

Today I spent a lot of time in the weedpatch garden.

(Side note: I am so happy I have the physical strength and ability to garden again so now I — major cliché alert — make hay while the sun shines and get while the getting’s good.

Both of those clichés have gotten me into trouble <hello, last relationship> but for the most part they’ve served me well <hello, last relationship>. It’s complicated.)

Anyway, for some reason I couldn’t get my mp3 player external speakers to work (probably the dead batteries) so I wore the player on the beltclip holder like the geek I am.

(Another side note: I’m proud to say that I didn’t get the earbud cord caught in anything today. Thank you. Do you how hard that is to accomplish?)

Anyway again, I sang away the day, rocking out, using the spade as my mike. It was a perfect day.

Well, mostly perfect. Almost all day long, the new dog in the ‘hood barked, but since I had earbuds in I could ignore it.

Someone stopped by and I (of course) turned off the music while they were here. Interestingly, when I stopped singing the dog stopped barking. It didn’t start barking again until I started singing again.

Coincidence? Obviously, this is what I choose to think, so please don’t tell me if you think otherwise.

If you know me, you know I’m an NPR-aholic. I do like my music though, especially in the winter.

With such a short commute now I’m lucky to hear 2 songs before I get to work (NOT that I’m complaining). That, combined with something I thought was “just me” (which I’ll discuss in a sec), means I’ve basically listened to the same 2 or 3 cds in the car all winter now…

I’ve done an informal survey and there’s a previously undiscussed condition that I’m going to break the taboo on and discuss. Since I’m breaking the taboo I get to name it too, so I’m calling it “OCL” for Obsessive Compulsive Listening.

OCL is an order, not a disorder (I’m breaking the barrier so we play by my rules). Anyway, OCL is an order in which you listen to the same song or cd over and over.

Informal research shows it runs the gamut from playing a cd start to finish over and over, to listening to the same song over and over, so much that you might as well just burn only that song to cd, repeating it enough to fill it (or your iPod, if you’re a Pod-person).

And it’s not like you’re all CDOCL or all SOCL (Song OCL) — you can be both, which makes it harder to diagnose, and thus more fitting to me.

So for example, I’ve been CDOCL with Daniel Powter‘s debut cd,

but have also been SOCL with Yael Naim’s New Soul (the song for the commercial where they pull the new Mac out of an envelope) <– which I even downloaded and BOUGHT:

“I’m a new soul,
I came to this strange world,
Hoping I could learn a bit about how to give and take.
But since I came here,
Felt the joy and the fear,
Finding myself making every possible mistake.

La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la…
La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la…

I’m a young soul,
In this very strange world,
Hoping I could learn a bit about what is true and fake.
But why all this hate?
Try to communicate.
Finding trust and love is not always easy to make.

La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la…
La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la…

etc.”

and KT Tunstall’s Other Side of the World,

“Over the sea and far away
She’s waiting like an iceberg
Waiting to change
But she’s cold inside
She wants to be like the water

The fire fades away
Most of every day
Is filled with tired excuses
But it’s too hard to say
I wish it were simple
But we give up easily
You’re close enough to see that
You’re on the other side of the world to me…”

And the beauty of OCL (as per my rules) is that you can have the same song fit every mood. So if you’re bummed out you can cry along with the words, but if you wanna roll down the windows and singing loudly on a sunny day to it, you can do that too.

All with the same song or cd. The right song or cd will meet all your needs all the time. It’s a great thing, really. That’s why it’s an ORDER, not a DISorder.

I realize this subject has been taboo for years now, so I don’t expect a lot of comments, but it’s okay. I know there are more of “us” out there than are willing to come forward at this time.

Someday we won’t be embarrassed about it, we’ll be embraced for it. Until then, “I’ll stay right here, On a silent sea, On a silent sea.”

Warning: This is so full of clichés that I can’t even pre-identify them all with my normal —cliché alert— warnings. It’s so bad that I’m going wait awhile to post this, like I do before I send a “flamer” email.

Seriously though, I just can’t believe how much better I feel when spring starts peeking out. It’s like a buzz or something. Maybe that’s why they call it “spring fever”—duh.

I have to work hard to get through winters here. To this day, I know the only reason I survived those Wisconsin winters was because I was in school and working 2-3 jobs at a time.

It’s definitely not as bad here as it was there, but it is an annual challenge to my mental health. My winter trip to somewhere warm and sunny is a “medical necessity” as far as I’m concerned. It gets me through. And my mom started giving me an amaryllis every Xmas too, which is simple, beautiful and therapeutic.

The transition from winter to spring is also a bit difficult — losing that hour of sleep last week just about sucked the life out of me — and when the alarm goes off it’s still dark, which makes me want to snoogle down into the covers more.

But at least now when I wake up I hear birds chirping, not silence. The first morning I hear birds before the sunrise, I swear my heart just jumps.

Strangely, I want to break into song:

"Why do birds suddenly appear 
Every time you are near? 
Just like me, they long to be 
Close to you."

Yes, that was the Carpenters. I referred to it, I sang it, and if you know the tune I bet you’ll be humming it all day now (heh heh heh).

Once it’s light, the cardinals, chickadees, tufted titmice, and goldfinches come out more readily and I can see them right at the feeders outside my window.

If I have time, I’ll “survey the manor,” check the bulbs’ progress, do overall “ooh, the xyz is coming back up!”s, and until this year I enjoyed my forthythias (yes I KNOW it’s not spelled that way—do a search of blog for more background on it).

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I see my bulbs coming up and —major cliché alert— it brings me such relief, peace and joy. Winter’s almost over! The cycle of life is beginning again!

I already sense my parents’ disappointment that I’m not their religion, but this could send them into conniptions if they saw it: In many ways, spring is better than is the original easter. It’s the time for rebirth, renewal, and the shedding of deadness. It’s energizing.

On the day that you were born, the angels got together and decided to 
create a dream come true. 
So, they sprinkled moon dust in your hair, with gold and starlight 
in your eyes of blue.

mooh ahhh hahahahahaaaaa

We are officially OLD. And when I say “we,” I mean of course “I.”

A PBS ad recently caught my ear: a “Sound Stage” episode with Peter Frampton, one of those people I kind of forgot about. Sorry, Peter—nothing personal—they just overplayed and (we overlistened to) you there for awhile.

When I looked at the screen I just about had a heart attack, though. The shock wasn’t hearing him sing—he sounds great. (I say that based on the 10 seconds I wasn’t in shock.) No, the shock was seeing him—I literally did not recognize him.

It was Frampton’s voice, but it was coming out of this middle age, mostly bald, gray-bearded, guy!! I couldn’t make the connection between the voice and body until I saw the smile, which gave him away.

Then, to my surprise, I teared up. I don’t know if it was from hearing his music after so long (crisp and acoustic), or seeing him, from a combination of the two, or from “post seeing-aging-rock-star shock syndrome.” I was just so surprised! And now, waxing nostalgic, I present the following mini-exhibition: “Peter—Then and Now”:

Then…

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And now…

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