Thursday, March 31, 2011

Dissing Your Dog

When I adopted Laney at nine weeks old (and I was 21), I read every type of puppy training material I could get my hands on, and I was mostly successful in my attempts. However, there was still a disconnect with Laney when it came to correcting bad behavior, because she never seemed to recognize that she had done something wrong, even as I'm pointing it out to her. Finally, out of sheer frustration, whenever she did something wrong, I would give her a dirty look, make a snide remark, and then ignore her for an hour. So, when she would trot over to me, wagging her tail, wanting attention, moments after ripping the berber carpet up in my apartment, I pretended she was invisible, and it broke her little puppy heart.

I know. I'm shaping up to be the villain of this blog post. But come on, it's not like I slapped her. Ok, I'm not helping my case here. I got the idea from Dr. Phil (I know, I know). He says that when disciplining your child, you have to "define their currency" and use that currency to reward and punish. Basically, if your kid loves his XBox, and he's misbehaving, you don't beat his ass. You take away his XBox. He learns that you hold the keys to the things he holds dear, and that he must obey you to gain access to those things. I thought I'd apply this principle to my four-month-old puppy. Laney's currency is human interaction--preferably with me. Once I withheld my attention, and only acknowledged her when she was being good, she figured out how to be good all the time, so that I would always pay attention to her. I think my unconventional form of dog discipline could be categorized as "shunning". Shunning is something I learned about from Dwight Schrute.
So I guess from time to time I did slap Laney. With silence.

Turns out I'm not the only person to think of this. Will Ferrell filmed a fake commercial on Saturday Night Live for a puppy training video called Dissing Your Dog: How to Train Your Puppy with Mockery and Verbal Humiliation. He explains, "A well-placed sarcastic comment or cutting remark can work wonders where rolled up newspaper fails."

It's true: "There's one thing stronger than a dog's sense of smell: his sense of irony.

I never used Will Ferrell's exact verbiage when mocking and ridiculing my puppy, but I used some colorful language of my own, always in a calm, measured tone of voice:
  1. While driving past the Chinese restaurant on College Street, I informed her that today's special is Sweet and Sour Laney, and that I'd be dropping her off at their back door (this really seemed to get her attention. Sometimes I still tell her the specials. Kung Pao Laney. Moo Shu Laney. Laney Fried Rice.)
  2. I threatened to break up with her in the most dramatic rose ceremony ever.
  3. My brother would tell her, "Your mother is a whore, and your father holds the money. And, oh yeah--you're adopted."
That poor puppy. No wonder she turned out to be so weird. But that's neither here nor there. Laney was acting like a real jerk today, so for the first time in a long time, I had to Diss My Dog. Worked like charm...
[I'm typing on the computer. Laney is sitting in the floor beside me and startles me with an abrupt, aggressive bark]

Me: Whoa! [jumping in my seat] You scared me!

[I smile at Laney, and she avoids eye contact. That means she's ashamed of something. Puzzled, I look down and see Robinson crawling in front of her]

Me: Wait...was that directed at my child? Really? If you don't want to be around him, then you can leave the room!

[Laney lowers her ears and looks up at me with sad eyes, but I'm unmoved because this is the second time it's happened]

Me: Guess what, Laney, you were a baby once. And just so you know, when you were a baby, nobody liked you! Yeah, imagine that. My roommates despised you, my entire family wanted me to take you to the pound, and our other dogs wanted nothing to do with you. I was the only person who was on your side. And now look at you.
The outcome: Laney has spent the afternoon casually lingering in my line of sight, giving me contrite looks, and tip-toeing around the house (yes, she can tip-toe. If you don't believe me, just ask Steve). While we're on the subject, if you're wondering if my dramatic re-telling of events are ever exaggerated, I want to assure you that I am fully capable of flamboyant storytelling without sacrificing accuracy. That is all.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I Might Be a Grown-Up If...

...I rip-off a fifteen-year-old Jeff Foxworthy joke for the title of my post. Ugh. I am so trite. As I mentioned before, I'm catching myself in little moments throughout my day that make me feel like such a grown-up adult-type lady. Here are just a few:

I referred to a female high school student as a "little girl"
Who's that old hag calling a "little girl"? Certainly not us!

I have very strong, positive feelings about both my Shark Steam Mop and my Dyson vacuum.

While discussing household cleaning products on the phone with my friend Kristen the other day (as you do), she told me she had considered purchasing a Dyson during an after-Thanksgiving sale (they normally retail at $550 and up). My exact words: "Oh, you must buy one. It will change your life." Yeah. I said that. Full disclosure: Steve gave it to me as an Easter gift two years ago, and I was thrilled.

I am suddenly very concerned with preventing limescale and rust buildup in my dishwasher.
We must stop it!
Issues of Redbook have inexplicably begun appearing in my mailbox, much to my delight.
All my life, Redbook has been a "grown-up ladies'" magazine. Not like Seventeen, which 12-year-olds begin reading because they think it's for high school girls. By sophomore year, Seventeen readers graduate to Cosmopolitan, because 15-year-olds think it's written for 21-year-olds. But guess what? You won't find a 21-year-old girl casually picking up Redbook because she thinks it speaks to the hip, sophisticated woman she wishes to embody. Redbook doesn't represent the type of woman you aspire to be. It represents the woman you inevitably become. My early twenties were spent flipping through the pages of Vogue and Harper's Bazaar, which, while beautiful and entertaining, celebrate a sort of upper-class, jet-setting fashionista lifestyle that is so far beyond my reach, it's completely unrelatable. It's all highly impractical, and filled with ads for shoes and handbags that cost more than our mortgage. Now, Redbook...these editors know their audience. Their content speaks to me. Quick, easy recipes to cook for dinner tonight? Where to find this season's tasteful, stylish trends at affordable prices? Weight loss tips? Stress reducers? Tips on how to make more quality time with your husband? Yeah, it's all in there. It's just been waiting for me to realize that yes, I'm old enough to read Redbook. It's not a glamorous life, but it's my life.

When my mom asked me what I wanted for my last birthday, I asked her to paint the interior trim of my house.
Maybe if there's time later, we can steam clean the carpets or clean out the gutters. It is my birthday after all. We should spend it doing something special.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Robinson's First Playdate

Steve and I took Robinson to his first playdate the other day--with an adorable ten-month-old little boy named Grayson. Robinson and Grayson don't go to daycare, so they don't regularly have the opportunity to socialize and play with babies their age. I want Robinson to make friends, and at 7.5 months old, I felt that he's reached an age where he is more interactive and likes to play, so it's a good time to start placing Rob in social situations. Grayson is 2.5 months older than Rob, which for babies is a pretty big age gap. At the time of this playdate, Rob was days away from crawling, and Gray was days away from walking. Gray has lots of fun toys in his living room that he sweetly shared with Rob, and all but the most basic of toys were too advanced for Rob. It was still cute to see the boys interact with one another, and all the parents considered the playdate a success. We're already discussing plans for our next playdate, so that Robinson and Grayson see each other often enough to remember each other and become real friends.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Teach Your Children Well

This post will be submitted with my "Mother of the Year" nomination. Children love imitating whatever they see their parents doing, and based on these photos, it's very clear what this baby's mother spends her time doing:

The last photo is of Robinson holding a remote control. Let me assure you: this is not this mother's attempt at a cutesy staged photo-op. Robinson cries for these objects. I give him the DVD remote, because it's small enough not to hurt him when he hits himself in the head with it, and he can't change the cable channels or tamper with my DVR settings.

I always have a back issue of Us Weekly or a J. Crew catalog on hand for when Robinson sees me reading a magazine, otherwise he will rip the pages out of my current issue of Us Weekly while I'm still reading it.

My phone is Robinson's favorite toy. He cries and waves his hands wildly until I give it to him. His clumsy little fingers do all sorts of things with my touch screen phone. He moves around the icons on the Home Screen. The other day, he added a Starbucks Finder app and the Facebook Phonebook to my Home Screen. Both are helpful additions, so I kept them.

The embarrassing part is that his compulsion to always be holding a phone, magazine, or remote control is not a great testament to how I spend my day. If he was crying to push a vacuum or scrub a bathtub or fold laundry, it would make me look much better. Robinson, I hope you're taking notes.

Friday, March 25, 2011

I'm Officially Living in the Year 2007: I Signed Up for Netflix

If you're asking, "What took you so long?" I don't have an answer. I believe I've mentioned a time or two that I'm a procrastinator.

I am having a ball adding films to my Netflix queue. The last movie I saw in the theatre was Up in the Air. Steve and I used to love going out for movie dates, and I don't know why we stopped. I think it's because I was choosing the movies, and I was choosing bad movies. 

The first film in my Netflix queue is Easy A, starring Emma Stone. I love her.
In an effort to complete more items on my list of 101 Things in 1001 Days, I have begun adding movies to my Netflix queue that are Academy Award Winners for Best Picture, to fulfill item #73: See all of the films that have won the Best Picture Oscar.

I got the idea from my friend Jill, who began a similar project a few years ago. Last time I checked, she had made impressive progress. I should have taken a close look at the films on this list before committing to the task. No backing out now.

A few guidelines: I'm beginning with the most recent winner and working my way backwards. I need to ease into this by starting with current films. If I have already seen a Best Picture Winner in its entirety, I do not have to see it again. Halfheartedly watching the edited for TV version and missing chunks of it doesn't count. That's why you'll see classics like The Sound of Music, Casablanca, and The Godfather on the list and wonder how in the hell I've been on this earth, in America, for 29 years and have managed not to see these films. I haven't not seen these films. I just haven't really seen them. I don't remember The Sound of Music having Nazis, let's put it that way. I also have to re-watch Driving Miss Daisy, because I saw it once, in the theatre, in 1989. I was seven. My memory of the film is hazy at best.

I'll update this post to denote when I've watched a movie. I'll even grade it for you--taking a cue from In Living Color's Men on Film: every film I watch will get a grade of "Love it" or "Hate it". If it really rocked my world, I'll give it Three Snaps in Z Formation, known as the Zorro snap.
I don't want to rattle off a list of winners, you can find that on Wikipedia. I will,  however, give a quick run-down of my lineup:

Best Picture Winners I've Already Seen
2009 - The Hurt Locker - Loved it
2008 - Slumdog Millionaire Loved it
2007 - No Country for Old Men Loved it
2006 - The Departed Loved it
2005 - Crash Loved it
2004 - Million Dollar Baby Loved it
2002 - Chicago Loved it
2001 - A Beautiful Mind Loved it
2000 - Gladiator Loved it
1999 - American Beauty Loved it
1997 - Titanic Loved it
1994 - Forrest Gump Loved it
1991 - The Silence of the Lambs Loved it
1989 - Driving Miss Daisy Loved it
1983 - Terms of Endearment Loved it
1979 - Kramer vs. Kramer Loved it
1939 - Gone with the Wind Loved it

Films I've Always Wanted to See
1993 - Schindler’s List
1985 - Out of Africa
1977 - Annie Hall
1975 - One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
1954 - On the Waterfront
1953 - From Here to Eternity
1950 - All About Eve
1943 - Casablanca
1940 - Rebecca
1934 - It Happened One Night
The Theme Here: Highly acclaimed classics. I want to see what all the fuss is about.

Films I Wouldn't Normally Watch, but I'm Now Looking Forward To
2010 - The King's Speech
1973 - The Sting
1969 - Midnight Cowboy
1967 - In the Heat of the Night
1955 - Marty
1949 - All the Kings Men
The Theme Here: Crime, Drama, Classic Films

Films That Will Make My Husband Happy
1995 - Braveheart - Hated it
1992 - Unforgiven
1990 - Dances With Wolves
1988 - Rain Man 
1986 - Platoon
1978 - The Deer Hunter
1976 - Rocky
1974 - The Godfather Part II
1972 - The Godfather
1971 - The French Connection
1970 - Patton
The Theme Here: westerns, action, war, crime dramas

Films I'm Kind of Dreading
2003 - The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
1996 - The English Patient - Hated it
1987 - The Last Emperor
1984 - Amadeus
1982 - Gandhi
1962 - Lawrence of Arabia
1959 - Ben-Hur
1957 - The Bridge on the River Kwai
1956 - Around the World in 80 Days
1952 - The Greatest Show on Earth
1948 - Hamlet
1935 - Mutiny on the Bounty
The Theme Here: epics, war movies, period pieces

Movies My Husband Will Refuse to Watch
1998 - Shakespeare in Love Hated it
1968 - Oliver!
1965 - The Sound of Music
1964 - My Fair Lady
1963 - Tom Jones
1961 - West Side Story
1958 - Gigi
1951 - An American in Paris
1944 - Going My Way
1938 - You Can't Take It with You
1936 - The Great Ziegfeld
1928/1929 - The Broadway Melody
The Theme Here: musicals, films set in Europe, films featuring a cast of carnies and/or street urchins

And All the Rest
1981 - Chariots of Fire
1980 - Ordinary People
1966 - A Man for All Seasons
1960 - The Apartment
1947 - Gentleman's Agreement
1946 - The Best Years of Our Lives
1945 - The Lost Weekend
1942 - Mrs. Miniver
1941 - How Green Was My Valley
1937 - The Life of Emile Zola
1932/1933 - Cavalcade
1931/1932 - Grand Hotel
1930/1931 - Cimarron
1929/1930 - All Quiet on the Western Front
1927/1928 - Wings

Wow. This looks like I'm taking on quite the endeavor. How long do you think this will take to complete? Are there any movies I'm dreading that you think I will like?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thursday Morning with my Boys

Is it nap time yet? I'm totally spent, and the fourth hour of Today with Kathie Lee and Hoda hasn't even started. Somebody save me!

Steve: [calling from work, duh] Where do you buy a Neti Pot?
Me: At the pharmacy or grocery store. You'll find it in the cold/allergy relief section.
Steve: How much do they cost?
Me: Umm...can't remember really. Not too much.
Steve: Like, $8? $10?
Me: That sounds about right.
[Steve repeats all of this to somebody. That person presumably leaves to buy a Neti Pot]

Steve: How's it going with Little Poot?
Me: Argh, I'm exhausted! He's not having it today. He's sobbing crying unless I'm singing, dancing, juggling, tossing him up in the air, tickling him. [Robinson begins to sob loudly] I'm about to throw a parade in his honor. Maybe that will make him happy.
Steve: Wha--
Me: [singing loudly to a crying Robinson and bouncing him on my lap to the beat] I got a pocket, got a pocketful of sunshine, I got a love and I know that it's all mine, oh, oh oh oh, Do what you want but you're never gonna break me, Sticks and stones are never gonna shake me, oh, oh oh oh
Steve: Uh--
Me: [Rob is laughing hysterically] TAKE ME AWAY! A SECRET PLACE! A SWEET ESCAPE! TAKE ME AWAY! [breathless, to Steve] You wanna come take a shift?
Steve: NoI'mGoodHaveAGoodDayLoveYou [hangs up]

If you're wondering how I went from contemplating staging a one-woman production of Hello, Dolly! in my living room to entertain my fussy baby, to blogging about it five minutes later, it's because I tried giving him a change of scenery and carried him to our computer room and set him down on the floor. He's happily making shadow puppets and blowing spit bubbles and yelling just to hear the sound of his voice. That is all. Good day to you.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I'm a Grown-Up Now

There have been many occassions where I thought to myself, "I'm a grown-up now." Turning 18, graduating high school, grieving the loss of my childhood pets, graduating college, landing my first big job, getting married, moving away from my hometown...

I am sure everybody has experienced that feeling of being older, grown-up, and mature. There is no set timeline for these personal realizations, and there is so singular rite of passage or milestone that makes somebody a "grown-up". I'm sure you can all think of specific people in your life who serve as proof that "grown-up" things like working in a high-pressure career or having a child do not automatically make somebody a mature adult.

In recent months, I have gone through a lot of changes that make me feel different, and more like a grown-up than any of my previous milestones or achievements. In the past twelve months, my high school graduating class celebrated our 10-year reunion, I became a mother, celebrated my fifth wedding anniversary--which is something of a milestone--and this year, I turn 30. I could consider it a "perfect storm" for creating personal growth, but I have begun to notice changes--some subtle, some very profound--that on many occassions have made me feel my age.

As I run down my mental list of future blog topics that I will write about whenever Robinson's naps allow for it, I find this grown-up metamorphosis I'm currently experiencing to be a recurring theme. This is why I am writing this post, as a sort of introduction to what I guess will be a new series. I'm even creating an "I'm a Grown-Up Now" tag on the blog to collect the posts. I think a lot of people who read my blog are probably experiencing these same things, regardless of age or your station in life.

When did you know that you had officially joined the ranks of the "grown-ups?"

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Robinson is Eight Months Old!

The last month with Robinson has flown by so quickly, but there have been so many milestones and developments during this time. It's been very exciting in our home!
Check out my tooth!
Early in the month, it became clear that Robinson has outgrown the bouncy seat. What was once our go-to lifesaving device used to soothe, entertain, and occupy our little boy was no longer useful. Our busy little boy doesn't want to be strapped into a seat anymore. It was a bittersweet moment when I removed it from our living room and put it away in the back of Robinson's closet.
Bye-bye bouncy!
One of the biggest reasons the bouncy seat is no longer appropriate for Robinson is because our big boy is sitting up all by himself!
After weeks of rocking back and forth on all-fours, our little man took off crawling on St. Patrick's Day! It's a good thing I've been childproofing our home. I have to keep a close eye on him now, because his favorite place in the house is on our ceramic tile floor in the kitchen. He crawls across the living room just to get there, so he can slap his hands on the tile. He loves the sound it makes. Can't get enough of it, in fact.
Since Rob is a big boy, sitting up and crawling, I decided it is high time for a high chair. I ordered it online, and was so excited when it arrived at my doorstep a few days later. I immediately began assembling the chair all by myself! I was very proud. So proud, in fact, that I preserved the memory in photos. Rob now eats all his solid meals sitting in his high chair, and if he gets fussy while I'm cooking dinner, I strap him into the high chair and roll him into the kitchen so he can watch me cook.
this is where Mama used to feed me...
about an hour later!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Baby's First Ballgame | Robinson: 1, Mavs: 0

We took Robinson to his first sporting event. It was an NBA game between the Dallas Mavericks and the Memphis Grizzlies. Steve, Rob, and I dressed out in our Mavs fanwear, and brought along Uncle Scotty.
We have quite a walk from the parking garage, and Scott is happy to carry Rob, despite Rob's persistent squirminess, until we reach Will Call and Rob pukes all over Scott's sleeve. That's always the point at which Baby is handed back to Mama.

Now I'm loaded down like a pack mule with my bulky diaper bag and a baby who gets heavier by the minute and seems determined to wriggle out of my grasp as I cautiously navigate through the crowd of fans, across a very hard floor, wearing heels. I should have stretched first. Steve and Scott don't seem to notice my struggle, and frankly, I don't want to be seen as somebody who isn't capable of carrying her own child, so I have my game face on. I stand patiently with the guys at the concession stand as they order one of everything.
As Steve is moving away from the concession stand, armed with an assortment of snacks, he asks me if I can hold one of his beers. "Are you kidding me? It's taking every ounce of strength and coordination I have not to pull a Britney right here!" Steve laughs, and what I love about him is that he knows exactly what I'm talking about.
It's been five years since I attended a Mavs game. Steve says I jinx the team. I also jinx the Texas Rangers and the Dallas Cowboys. Eff "The Curse of the Bambino", I am apparently the Mistress of Destruction. I just made that up. I don't know how my presence can be responsible for all of those defeats, but I can count the number of games I've attended on two hands, and we've lost every time. It must be my fault. Superstitions aside, I sat with the guys in some fantastic seats on the lower level behind the goal. I'm a person who has a much better time at sporting events if I have great seats. I think it's because I have ADD and am never fully invested in these games, and having great seats helps me to pay attention.

I forgot how loud these games are. Had I remembered, I would have thought Robinson was too young for this. Having forgotten this detail, I had my seven-month-old out at an NBA game that tipped off roughly an hour before his bedtime.

Before tip-off, an usher came by to see Rob. She was probably in her early-60's, and as she greeted me, arms outstretched, it occured to me that she was "asking" to hold my baby. This had never happened before. That's probably why I stared at her, confused, before handing my baby to a complete stranger. She talked to him while he stared at her. She told him that she could be his great-great grandmother, presumably because like Robinson, she has (dyed) red hair. I wanted to ask her exactly how old she thought she was, because Robinson's great-great grandmother is 99.

This is also the day I come to the realization about the subjectivity of color. Because every redhead in my family has either bright copper or deep auburn hair that is undeniably red, I've never viewed Robinson's strawberry blonde strands as "red". I've been telling people for months that I have a blonde baby. However, everyone who meets him says, "Look at that little redheaded baby!" This happened at the game too, and that's when I realized: if everybody is referring to my baby as a "redhead", then that makes him a redhead. My distinction of "strawberry blonde" is meaningless when the general public perceives him as a ginger. So, until further notice, I am the proud mother of a ginger kid.

As the game tips off, the noise reaches a fever pitch, and Rob understandably bursts into tears. The silver lining is that the noise drowns out his sobs, and he quickly calms down. Granny Usher returns, this time with Paw Paw Usher, because she wants to show him the baby. "Look, he goes right to me!" she tells Paw Paw Usher, as she plucks Rob out of my lap. Paw Paw Usher notices Rob is drooling and makes a comment about teething. I was genuinely impressed by his keen observation.
Now, if you're going to attend a sporting event, and you have good seats, and you carry with you an impossibly cute redheaded baby wearing Dallas Mavericks fleece footie pajamas, you're going to draw attention. We were on TV, and on the jumbotron, and at some point during the game, an announcer-type girl approached me and asked if I wanted the chance to win Dave and Busters dollars. I could have said no, but that would have been a lie. When she returns during a timeout, I stand up (holding Robinson facing out for all to see) and she announces that after the timeout, for every point the Mavs score in the next minute, everyone in our section will receive $10 Dave and Busters dollars, but I will win $25. Dirk scored a three-pointer, and instantly I was $75 richer. In Dave and Busters currency, of course.

We brought a toy for Rob to play with, but all he wanted was my Miller Lite draft. I was nervous that we would be seen on the jumbotron or on TV: me, holding Rob in my lap, while he is eagerly gnawing on my plastic cup full of beer. I think that would make me look like a really great mother.
The Mavs lost in the final second, furthering my reputation as the Mistress of Destruction. We waited for the arena to clear out, as Robinson quietly sprawled across my lap, sucking his thumb, attracting smiles from passers-by. He did look very sweet. We considered the outing a big success, and can't wait to take Robinson to his first Rangers game this spring!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Celebrating Five Years of Marriage!

Five years ago today, I became "Mrs. Steve". This is the point in a traditional blog where I gush about how Steve is the best husband, and I'm the luckiest woman, and on, and on. But this isn't that type of blog, and I'm not that type of girl. I'm not gonna ramble on about how my husband is better than your husband. Plus, I think it would embarrass Steve. Or he'd be flattered. See? After all these years, he still keeps me guessing. Instead of simply lavishing Steve with praise (it would just go to his head), I'll describe our marriage in a nutshell; in case you were curious.  

I'm genuinely very fond of Steve. That sounds like I'm stating the obvious, but when cohabitating and merging finances, liking your spouse is key. The dynamics of marriage are complicated. Shit gets real, and when one of you can't balance her checkbook and repeatedly adopts puppies without discussing it first, and the other clips his toenails in the bed and leaves his dirty clothes all over the house, it helps if you can make each other laugh. Also, I highly recommend marrying somebody whose neuroses and idiosyncrasies are in proportion to your own. It reduces your chances of annoying the hell out of your spouse. Steve and I are equal parts OCD and ADD, and it works.

Five years of marriage feels surprisingly refreshing. That sounds like I'm describing Sprite, but I'm not going to edit. As I was saying, we're really comfortable, yet we're not bored with each other. I'm still excited when I see his name on my Caller ID. And we laugh at each other's jokes. Laughter seems to be a key element to a happy marriage. Steve has made me so happy, and I love the life we've made together in Texas. I'm really excited about what the future holds!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Rob's Ready for the Pub "Crawl" | St. Patrick's Day 2011

"They're always after me lucky charms!"
Yes, it's true! My redheaded Irish baby is crawling just in time for St. Patrick's Day! That's my boy!

For a little festive entertainment, see last year's St. Patrick's Day post. Have a great day! Maybe if I'm still in a celebratory mood this evening I'll put a little green food coloring in my Miller Lite? It'll probably just make the beer taste funny and turn my teeth green...worth it!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I Wanna Hold 'em Like They Do in Texas Please | Lady Gaga in Concert

Monday night, Lady Gaga played in Dallas and my friend Robin and I went for a much-deserved Moms' Night Out. After sushi at Kenichi, we headed over to the American Airlines Center to take our seats for the show. As you may recall, Lady Gaga tickets were Steve's birthday gift to me way back in October. I had a blast, but am still so tired (we stayed up way past our bedtimes), that I'm still trying to catch up.

I learned two things while at this show: her fans are enthusiastic, and holding your hand up in the air like a "monster claw" for Lady Gaga is the equivalent of holding up "three fingers" at a Nascar race.

Steve: That's weird.
There were basically two types of concert-goers: Gaga's "Little Monsters", folks who went all-out dressing up for the show. We're talking wigs, wild makeup, leotards with fishnets...well, see for yourself:
The other type of concert-goer was the curious combination of parents with young children. "This is no place for children", I remarked matter-of-factly as Robin pointed out an jubilant pair of little girls running up the escalator to the upper level seats. I understand why a little girl wants to see Lady Gaga. I understand why a loving parent might think taking their little girl to a Lady Gaga concert is a fun idea. I just hope that in all the excitement of the show, that the little girls at the concert were too overwhelmed by their surroundings to pick up on all the explicit language being screamed from the stage by their idol. Otherwise, there is going to be an inappropriate scene on the playground the next day when those little girls scream, "Dance, you motherf*ckers, dance!" to their classmates while re-enacting the concert.
At one point, she lifts up the hood of that car and begins playing a keyboard that's inside.
The concert went as I expected. How amazing are the sets for this show? She sang all of her hits, and she sang them LIVE. It was obvious there was no lip-synching, and she made a point of exclaiming that she will never let her Little Monsters pay money to watch her lip-synch. She used more colorful language, of course, making a thinly-veiled jab at Britney Spears. Nothing you'd want your little girl to repeat.

Lady Gaga is really very talented and has a beautiful singing voice. Sometimes that gets lost in all of the "performance", but for a few songs, she sat at the piano and sang while she played. The girl has a set of pipes. She reminded me of Adele and Fiona Apple. If Adele and Fiona Apple were crossed with some hybrid of Elton John and Ozzy Osbourne.
She played a stripped down version of her latest hit, "Born This Way". It sounded better than the original version, which she sang during the encore. I might get clawed in the face by a Little Monster for saying so, but "Born This Way" is my least favorite of all her singles. Michael K from Dlisted probably said it best when he described "Born This Way" as a bad Xerox copy of Madonna's "Express Yourself". I just find the lyrics so overly simplistic and lacking any poetic quality or nuance, it sounds like something that a very earnest class of middle schoolers would have written and submitted as part of an "It Gets Better" songwriting competition.
Now we've reached the point in the concert where we discuss social activism and charitable causes. She champions the cause of gay rights, and she makes a donation to fund homeless shelters for LGBT youth in the cities she visits while on tour. She chose a lucky audience member (who she selected by calling them from her cell phone while on stage) and she made that lucky Little Monster the "Ambassador" for that donation, and also invited him to have a drink with her after the show. She has the phone conversation with him while she's on stage, and he's in his seat with a camera and a spotlight on him. It was really very adorable, because the guy was the cutest little twink, whose wig and makeup appeared to be a nod to KISS. When Lady Gaga complimented him on his look, and said that it reminded her of KISS, he nervously replied that it was his "KISS meets Black Swan moment". It was so endearing. the rocking out reaches a fever pitch, and everybody's all amped up as she just finished performing "Show Me Your Teeth"...
...she goes off on a tangent about bullying and being different and...being "Born This Way". It's important to her to make this statement, but she makes her point, rephrases her point, repeats her point some more, rambles on for several minutes, to the point where the concert lost all momentum. After ten minutes of patiently listening, I lean over and whisper to Robin, "Seriously, we just need to hear 'Paparazzi' and 'Poker Face', and then the show's over."

It really was a great show, and Robin and I had a blast. We walked across the street to the W Hotel bar, where we chatted a while longer until the lights came up. Then, we drove our sleepy-yet fabulous-Little Monster butts home.

Blogger's Note: This also fulfills Item #28 on my list of 101 Things in 1001 Days

Monday, March 14, 2011

Concert Attire

During my high school and college years, I attended dozens of concerts. I've always loved listening to live music. Since college, I'm lucky if I see a concert once every two years. Tonight, I'm going to see Lady Gaga.  I'm getting excited, and am once again facing the age-old question: What am I going to wear?

When attending a Lady Gaga concert, attention must be paid to one's wardrobe. Her fans are very creative and theatrical. I certainly don't want to show up dressed like Meg Griffin. While considering the possibilities, it reminded me how much I've always loved getting dressed up to go to concerts--and then I remembered one concert in particular. Of course I'm going to tell you about it, but first: a little background information:

To appreciate this story, I need to introduce you to my 10th grade biology teacher. She was considered a beast by many. A former Army soldier, she was hardened by her years in the military and her time spent overseas fighting in the first Gulf War. She never, ever smiled, and on the first day of school let us know that she already hated us. In case there was any doubt. Sitting among my classmates, many of whom were mumbling the word "bitch" under their breath, a fire lit inside me. I have a strange need to please authority figures. Earning an "A" in her class, along with gaining her respect and acceptance would be my primary goal this semester. By Christmas, Mrs. H. was gonna like me. She would be my Everest.

I accomplished my mission. She loved me.

Over a year later, I'm going to a concert with my best friend. Let's say it's the Matchbox 20 concert. They're playing at the Amphitheater, and so we park a few streets away and are making our way through the Applebee's parking lot towards the main entrance. I know, that sounds sketchy, but trust me when I tell you that "through the Applebee's parking lot" is a totally valid point of entry. I'm dressed to the nine's for the occasion: an Express black cropped tube top (with the optional spaghetti straps), low-rise hip hugger Mudd jeans, and Candie's platform sandals. Not to be outdone, my bestie was in a halter top and mini skirt. So there we were, bonafide jail bait, struttin' that ass through the Applebee's parking lot. I bet you can't guess who is also in the Applebee's parking lot at that exact moment, taking her daughter to dinner: Mrs. H. What a pleasant surprise!

"Samantha?" Mrs. H. asks with a puzzled expression. She's never seen me decked out in my finery.

"Hi, Mrs. H!", I wave with enthusiasm. I am so happy to see her!

"Samantha! Does your mother know you're wearing that outfit?"

"Oh, Mrs. H," waving my hand dismissively, "my mother bought me this outfit!"

Mrs. H. gasped and hurriedly ushered her daughter inside the restaurant, as if she were trying to shield her pre-teen from my exposed midriff. I had completely misread her look of horror as one of mock-horror. I always do that. My It's A Wonderful Life Violet Bick, "Oh this old thing? Well I only wear it when I don't care how I look!" moment just blew up in my face.

Excuse me, but I was a good girl and an honor roll student, and if my mama let me out of the house in that outfit, I don't think anybody else should have an opinion about it. Seventeen-year-old Samantha had a 25-inch waist and was celebrating the moment.

After that, Mrs. H. didn't like me. Between classes, she would stand in the hallway and monitor the students as they changed classes, and was always questioning my mini skirt or plunging neckline. She even took issue with my "conservative" clothes! I never thought my clothes were inappropriate, but my interpretation of the dress code was like the proverbial tree in the forest: "If I'm showing a lot of leg, but the boys still don't notice me, is it a dress code violation?"  I had to re-route my path from chemistry to algebra, taking two unnecessary flights of stairs while wearing five inch platform heels, just to avoid being hassled. It was great for my calves, but I always arrived to Algebra class late (and feeling winded).

All that being said, I still don't know what I'm wearing to Lady Gaga, but it will be considerably more subdued than my past outfit choices.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

It's Anchorman, Not Anchor Lady. And That is a Scientific Fact.

It was my girlhood aspiration to be a broadcast journalist; not an uncommon dream amongst girls my age. More specifically, we wanted to be Katie Couric. By my senior year of high school, I had become a bit more jaded. I recognized that there is only one Katie Couric, and that my future in broadcast journalism would most likely involve standing on an overpass in Missoula during a thunderstorm, wearing an anorak and describing the rain drops and gusts of wind to viewers of the local affiliate. This was not my dream.

Just because I allowed the voices in my head to discourage me from pursuing this "unrealistic" goal, doesn't mean I can't enjoy watching my local newscast. I rather enjoyed this segment I watched on my local morning news cast Saturday, about a dog named Valentine that was up for adoption. See if you can spot where I got the giggles. Non-essential dialogue has been omitted.
Anchor Lady: He's a cutie! Is he a Pu-- He looks sort of like a Pug in the face...
SPCA Guy: This, this is a Pug-Beagle, or better known as a "Puggle"
Anchor Lady: A Puggle? Is it bigger, is that why?
SPCA Guy: Well, it's just a Pug and a Beagle mix. A few years back there were these whole "designer breeds" where people were mixing certain purebred dogs, but uh...this is Valentine, and she's a two-year-old Pug-Beagle...
Anchor Lady: Is she normally this sort of...domicile?*
SPCA Guy: When you get her out and play with her, she's pretty energetic. She is Heartworm positive...She would prefer to be the only dog in the family. She's a very dominant dog. And her easy nature--
Anchor Lady [interrupting and condescending]: You can't really tell by her easy nature--
SPCA Guy: Yeah, well, I don't have another dog in my lap, either.

[Anchor Lady changes subject, they discuss how it's more expensive to treat Heartworms than prevent it, but the adoptive family doesn't have to pay for Valentine's Heartworm treatment. They made a few "Valentine" puns]

SPCA Guy: We're open from noon to six every day

[More "Valentine" puns. They talk about a recent fundraiser]

Anchor Lady: We're glad you had wonderful fundraising for that Beagle! I mean, Beagle...Valentine! Which called her a what, a "Peagle?"
SPCA Guy: A Puggle
Weather Lady: Puggle
Anchor Lady: A Puggle! And she's available for adoption today from twelve to nine? [SPCA Guy shakes head] Nine to six?
SPCA Guy: Twelve to six.
Anchor Lady: Twelve to six!

Anchor Lady thanks SPCA Guy for joining her, and then she challenges him to a push-up contest the next time he visits. This only makes sense if you listened to the banter that segued from the previous segment. Blogger's Note: SPCA Guy wasn't a horrible slouch or anything, but I'm guessing he hasn't done a push-up since Jimmy Carter was President.

*domicile: n. One's legal residence