Two quick bits o’ eye candy for any neon junkies around here:
Route 66 in New Mexico. Can’t beat it.
The only thing better than watching Judy Collins from the front row is watching an old friend watch Judy Collins from the front row. Especially if the friend in question loves her as much as you do, and doubly especially if you’ve owed said friend a favor since 1998.
Of course, the mark of true friendship is the ability to one-up each other’s personal favors, so naturally, after I rustled up a pair of front-row tickets for us, Jeff had to use his longtime entertainment writing gig to score a phone interview with Ms. Collins, which led to a couple of passes to meet her in person during intermission.
This meant I got to see not only the look on Jeff’s face when she smiled at him from the stage during “Open the Door,” but also the look on his face when she gave him a hug and autographed his copy of Colors of the Day.
Now, you know this would not be an Emily Priddy moment if it did not involve some sort of circular plotline.
I said I owed Jeff a favor from 1998. That was the year the principal at my first teaching gig called me into her office and told me she couldn’t renew my contract because I was a lousy teacher. Dear, sweet, unfailingly loyal Jeff handled this situation by taking me out, buying me all the whiskey sours I could suck down, and telling me I was beautiful and brilliant until I was just schnockered enough to believe him.
Every girl ought to have a Jeff in her life.
Earlier that same school year, the district’s PR flack had given me an occasional writing fix by letting me put together press releases for him. I think he knew how miserable I was, and he went out of his way to make me feel better.
I hadn’t seen him in 15 years, but he was one of the four people invited backstage during intermission last night.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Heart of Gold. We are now cruising at at a level of two to the power of twenty-five thousand to one against and falling, and we will be restoring normality just as soon as we are sure of what is normal anyway….
P.S.: Please ignore the craptastic photo quality. My iPhone was having serious depth-of-field issues last night. Apparently iOS 7 needs bifocals.
Folk Thursday didn’t happen here, because I wasn’t home. I was busy having The Greatest Folk Thursday Ever at the gorgeous Stiefel Theatre in Salina, Kansas:
Recognize her? Here’s another clue:
Fine — I’ll just spill it:
My awesome friend Greg — pop culture connoisseur, photographer extraordinaire, and proprietor of TheLope.com, which you should bookmark if you haven’t — has some well-connected friends who arranged a little meet-and-greet with Ms. Collins after the show. Greg is often known as “Ace Jackalope’s Driver,” as he is the owner of Ace Jackalope, a flocked toy jackalope from Wall Drug, who dresses up in appropriate costumes and poses for photos with various celebrities. As you can see, Ms. Collins was willing to play along, which I thought spoke well of her. (I don’t trust people who refuse to be seen with Ace.)
In that top picture, which Greg shot, I was laughing because I had just informed Sweet Judy Blue Eyes that I was a couple of days away from moving to Rush Limbaugh’s hometown — whereupon she turned into Sweet Judy Side-Eye. Like Chantal Biya caliber. It was, as the kids say, epic. We also talked about her recent anti-Monsanto activism on behalf of honeybees, which of course I as a beekeeper appreciate more than she will ever know.
Even if I hadn’t gotten to meet her, it would have been worth the trip, because my seat was awesome (second row, but nobody was in front of me), the theater was gorgeous (more on that in a future post), I had a wonderful time with Greg and his friends, I got to hear part of the sound check from the lobby, and for her encore, she sang “In My Life,” which particularly resonated in light of the timing.
This isn’t from last night, but it’s fairly recent:
We’re moving tomorrow, so I’ll probably be out of pocket for the next few days. I hope to have Internet service set up at the new house by mid-week. I’ll try to post pictures of the new house, the new office, and various other things then.
The other day, I found myself entangled in yet another Facebook conversation with a low-information voter who gets all his ideas from talk radio and direct-mail propaganda and thinks that changing the subject is a valid debate strategy.
You know the type: He starts a debate over something like whether ordinary civilians should have military-style assault rifles with high-capacity clips, and as soon as you start asking questions he can’t answer, he starts citing statistics about handgun bans. Nobody was talking about banning handguns, but he thinks he’s the second coming of Stephen Douglas because he’s managed to prove a point, and never mind that the point has absolutely nothing to do with the subject actually being debated.
Talking to one of these people is like trying to have an intelligent conversation with the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It gets tiresome after a while, and if you unfriend him, you only reinforce his bad behavior by making him think he scared you away with his Mad Debate Skillz.™ (“Come back here, you pansy! I’ll bite your legs off!”)
I solved the problem by announcing that from here on in, every time I saw a conservative blathering about guns, gays, abortion, President Obama, or Hillary Clinton on Facebook, I was going to donate a dollar to Hillary’s presidential campaign. (If she doesn’t run, the money goes to the Democrat of my choosing.)
My Facebook acquaintances now have three options:
1. Shut up.
2. Help pour money into the enemy’s war chest.
3. Unfriend me.
I don’t particularly care which option they choose. If they choose 1 or 3, I don’t have to listen to them. If they choose 2 … well, after watching her destroy a mansplainer the other day, I’m willing to make some sacrifices for mah-girl. I put two bucks in her jar this afternoon, and I’ve never been happier to see obnoxious political spam crawling across my feed.
So today I’m running an errand for work, minding my own business, when I walk into a store and hear a spectacularly wretched cover of “I Think We’re Alone Now” come over the speakers.
I don’t know who was responsible for this monstrosity, but as a child of the ’80s, I cringed.
I know it was originally recorded by Tommy James and the Shondells, but if you ain’t Tiffany, I don’t wanna hear you sing “I Think We’re Alone Now,” because I spent most of seventh grade belting that into a hairbrush and trying to decide whether to be awestruck, inspired, or just wildly jealous that she had a record contract when she wasn’t even out of high school. (I think I mostly opted for awestruck. I harbored no delusions about how my own pipes compared to hers, and even at age 12, I recognized how frickin’ brilliant that mall tour really was. Talk about marketing to your target audience — a teen pop act playing shopping malls in 1987? Holy crap. That’s genius.)
There wasn’t much I liked about junior high, but dammit, Tiffany makes the short list. If you’re anywhere close to my age, I bet you can’t even listen to her voice without remembering the scent of Salon Selectives hairspray, the taste of raspberry New York Seltzer, and the sound of an Apple IIe powering up. (You just heard it, didn’t you?)
Here she is a couple of years ago. Stay with her through “Could’ve Been.”
Girlfriend’s still got it … and how great is it to hear her sing it like she knows what she’s talking about this time? ‘Course, y’all know I’m a sucker for that sort of thing anyway.
I’ve waited 11 years for this shot. I got it this morning. The snow was probably gone by the time I got to Amarillo, but it was perfect while it lasted — wet, fluffy, and just deep enough to be photogenic without impeding travel.
Here are some of the visual highlights from my weekend trip to New Mexico:
This is the Tucumcari Motel. It’s on old U.S. 54, a few blocks north of the Mother Road. It’s a pretty cool old building.
Here are the motel cabins. I’m a sucker for little adobe buildings….
More shots of the Swallow in the snow this morning. I can think of only once in my entire life when I have been more excited to have a camera in my hand. If every day started like this, I could get the hang of mornings.
Love the fog over Tucumcari Mountain.
A few scenes along Route 66 between Tucumcari and San Jon.
I’ve always loved this old property on the outskirts of San Jon.
You know I can’t resist any excuse to shoot the Western Motel in San Jon.
While I was getting this shot of the Bent Door in Adrian, a very good-looking firefighter saw my hazard lights on and pulled up to make sure I was OK. Cute Texas firefighter, if you’re reading this, thank you for watching over the travelers when they get to your stretch of 66. You’re one of the reasons Route 66 remains the greatest road trip in America.
I intend to ring in 2013 with a cup of Red Zinger, some ’60s folk on vinyl, and a few hours of work on the novel.
Hope your New Year’s Eve is good, wherever you are.
Thanks to an outrageously inaccurate weather forecast, Ron and I cut our holiday visit to Illinois about 18 hours short and drove back from his parents’ house last night instead of this morning.
When the snow and ice didn’t materialize, we took advantage of the day off to go see both of the Christmas film releases we’d been anticipating.
We caught the Circle Cinema’s 10:30 a.m. showing of Django Unchained. It’s pretty typical Quentin Tarantino fare: great dialogue; lots of violence; plenty of f-bombs; dark humor; exceptional badassery; Samuel L. Jackson; and my favorite addition to the Tarantino universe, Christoph Waltz, who is probably going to get another Oscar nomination. Great movie. If you’re fond of Tarantino, Westerns, revenge fantasies, or all of the above, go see it.
We headed down to Riverwalk this afternoon to catch the matinee of Les Miserables. It was magnificent. Anne Hathaway deserves an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Hugh Jackman made a terrific Valjean; Samantha Barks is probably the best Eponine since Lea Salonga; and Amanda Seyfried does a nice job with a relatively thankless role. (Grownup Cosette requires some technical skill and a decent soprano range, but she doesn’t get a real showstopper song like Fantine’s “I Dreamed a Dream” or Eponine’s “On My Own.” Which is too bad, because Seyfried is pretty good. Makes you wonder what she could do with a meatier role.) The little actor playing Gavroche about tore my heart out, too, and the sets and costumes were spectacular.
The weakest link was Russell Crowe’s Javert. Crowe obviously has the acting chops, but vocally, he just sounds like a rock singer who’s strayed way too far from his comfort zone with way too little training to help him over the bumps. That said, I’ve heard far worse vocal performances in movie musicals, and it’s definitely not a dealbreaker; just a little disappointing for a girl who loves both the actor and the role and really wanted them to be right for each other.
Longtime fans: Watch for the Easter egg the casting director left for you early in the film — and if you go with someone who hasn’t been along for the whole 25-year ride, be prepared to explain why you’re suddenly grinning like the Cheshire Cat.