The day after Christmas is always kind of lonely; I miss the contrived, pre-planned togetherness that eventually spawns actual feelings of togetherness. I miss making hot drinks last tasted or heard from in the 1949 novelty hit "I Yust Go Nuts at Christmas," and forcing them on friends and relatives. Worst of all, the holiday season is the only time when it is widely accepted to listen to Easy Listening shamltz (of which I have an abundance) and this precious time is almost over. Indulge, indulge, quickly while no one is judging!


"This is California. We can do anything we want to do."

I'm housesitting in San Francisco until January 3rd, lounging in a sort of artist's loft that I will never be able to afford, with sun streaming in through giant windows and attractive houseplants-- species unknown. The house belongs to kindred spirits, I can tell, because the cupboards are bursting with specialty teas and Beach Boys albums. I've only been here 2 days, but already I'm receiving a higher volume of calls than I have during the past 8 months. It's like I'm being born anew into the mythological California of my dreams, with a positive, Donovan-tinged understanding of the world and myself, and a loving community of friends! Either that, or the new vitamins I'm taking are POTENT. The animals I'm taking care of are uncommonly beautiful and well-behaved. The dog responds to commands. I didn't know dogs could actually do this. It's great! They also have some interesting reading material, including the 1990 yearbook of a now defunct college in Vermont (it was a Humanistic Psychology experiment and it failed) and one of the earliest copies of Our Bodies, Ourselves. Finally, I can gain a gentle, 1970s understanding of my body the way I would have liked to at the actual onset of puberty. In reality, I learned everything I know about sex from the school bully, but that's a story for another time and/or a licensed analyst.

You should come visit me while I have this outrageously sweet set up. Throw some flowers in your hair or some shit.
Recommended Reading: Richard Brautigan


Confession: I lack the attention span for NPR; love jello

If you are the sort of white person who has an art degree and whose heart lifts at the sound of the opening strain of the saxophone theme to All Things Considered, you might wrinkle your nose...oh woops, there I go alienating all 3 of my readers! Stay with me now!
This time of year always finds me thinking about my family's holiday menu, full of recipes plucked by my grandma from newspapers 40 years ago. The family holiday menu exists in a kind of 1960s Americana vortex. I didn't realize until I went to college that other people weren't eating Jello salads on Christmas-- that no one had eaten jello salad since 1983. When a marshmallow cream and cream cheese based fruit salad failed to produce the desired oohs and ahhs (and instead produced undisguised disdain) amongst my peers, I realized, with no small amount of shock, that my diet identified me as The Wrong Kind of White Person. Mainly for health reasons, and partially due to snobbery and embarrassment, I've wandered far and away from my food origins, trying, with a fairy-dust sprinkle of nutritional yeast, to make them disappear. Although I've learned to love health food as much as I formerly loved trash, there is no need to deny this part of myself. As a holiday homage to my now deceased Grandma Nina, I provide you with the recipe for Pretzel Salad. I dare you to make it-- though I'm warning you, this desert is in no way sanctioned by Terry Gross, and to your own horror, you'll probably love it.

Pretzel Salad

2 & 2/3 cups broken pretzels, in small pieces
1 & 1/2 cups margarine, melted
4 packages (3 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1 & 1/4 cups sugar
1 container (9 ounces) whipped topping
1 package (6 ounces) strawberry jello
2 cups pineapple juice or water
1 large package frozen whole strawberries (no sugar added) or 2 to 3 cups fresh strawberries

Place pretzels and margarine in botton of 9X13 inch baking dish and bake 10 minutes at 400 degrees. Cool.
Mix cream cheese and sugar. Spread over top of lukewarm, baked pretzels. Spread whipped topping over cheese mixture. Chill.
Dissolve gelatin in boiling pineapple juice/water. Stir in strawberries and allow to thicken almost to jelled point. Spread over topping/cheese/pretzel layer and refrigerate until solid.


My Dearest Friends live thousands of miles away...

... and last week, we reunited in New York. We sang oldies while traipsing through the crisp, cold streets. We snuggled. We drank hot toddies. We stuffed ourselves with African delicacies. We recognized that some of the most seminal moments in our lives have been heralded by the arrival of Andrew W.K. We came up with hilarious premises and inside jokes too numerous (and possibly irritating) to mention here, though I'll give you one: live-action movie based off of everyone's least favorite comic strip, Cathy, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfuss (who gains weight for the role) as Cathy. Aack! I experienced a joy so pure that I felt compelled to make cornball proclamations like, "I love the fun that we have!" every few minutes. Loneliness, insomnia, and paralyzing analysis were annihilated in the face of friendship and belonging. I could enjoy the simpler pleasures:

doughnuts from Doughnut Plant in NYC, Dr. Bronner's Peppermint soap, D.H. Lawrence's The Rainbow, genmai-cha, the pictoral inspiration for my free perm, Sesame Street memories.


Theme Song 2k8

I thought for a few hours that I had pinkeye. I don't. Turned out to be a reaction to the mascara that ran into my eye after a challenging night at Club 2me. It is a tradition here in Sacramento, especially among Catholic school alums home from Chico/Cal Poly/LMU/Santa Clara for the holidays, to spend Thanksgiving Eve at Club 2me, a notorious East Sacramento dive bar. For reasons best explained by my facebook wall post (see left), I have declined to attend/tried to avoid/boycotted this event for the last 5 years. Feeling new boldness brought on, undoubtedly, by recent practice at this sort of thing, I decided to attend. You see, in the last two months, my social life has evolved (or devolved, depending on perspective) in a direction probably very typical of most people my age finding themselves back in their home town: on Friday and Saturday night I put on eye makeup and something too short or tight (quite a diversion from my usual), go out to bourgie bars to push through a sea of blue buttoned-down and Axe body-sprayed individuals towards a Vodka soda (or a shot of something that could be radioactive), then attempt to drink it quickly yet demurely whilst chatting with about 5 people from high school that were not my friends at the time but who are now staples, all the while wondering how the evening will play out in terms of flirtations, levels of inebriation, sleeping arrangements, and just what, exactly, will show up on the internet the next day to remind me of my fun if the headache and puzzling text messages fail to do so. To recap:

What I've Been Up To Lately:
  • losing my identity in a shallow pool of alcohol
  • attending a sort of weekly high school reunion
Mostly I'm just thrilled to be making intermittent eye contact with humans. It's been fun experimenting with a lifestyle that I never really tried in college. I do, however, find myself hankering after something more, or maybe something else. The casual levels of interaction made available through the bar scene, and the sort of defensiveness necessary to maintain that casualness is dissatisfying. This, and the desire for something (someone?) to add meaning is described perfectly by Roxy Music in "Mother of Pearl." I think of it as my theme for 2008. Skip the first 1:37 mins, unless you're like me and want to drink in Bryan Ferry for longer.

The search for perfection, your own predilection goes on and on and on and on...

What's your personal theme song for 2008?


Origins: My Name

One of my favorite talking points with my childhood best friend was that we were both named from The Thorn Birds, her after the main female character, Megan, and me after the actress who played her in the successful 1983 television miniseries, Rachel Ward. Our television origins (and zealous, competitive collecting of Garfield memorabilia) formed the crux of our inextricable best friend bond.

Best friend has since disappeared and I've since read the book several times, and am currently watching the miniseries as it's airing on Lifetime Movie Network.

I don't want to expose too much just in case you are poised there with your remote trying to OnDemand or TiVo this "event," but allow me to acquaint you briefly with the plot: Inordinately good-looking priest is banished to the Australian outback for breaking vows of obedience, takes forgotten daughter of large farm family under his wing out of pity, watches her blossom into beautiful, desirous woman before his very eyes. So there he is, graying attractively at the temples, wondering "Do I break some more vows or follow my all-too-earthly ambitions towards moving up the Catholic hierarchical ladder and into a handsome red cardinal's robe?" as Meggie/Rachel Ward shakes her sin-scented hair within inches of sniffing distance. If you are enticed at all by the soap-operatic, this book/miniseries is for you. Come on folks--forbidden sex! Getting gored by wild pigs! Barbara Stanwyk as cruel benefactress!

I'm always left with questions after the completion of this story. Namely, "Mom...Dad, what were you thinking, exactly, when naming me after this?" and "At what point did you equate 'taboo temptress' with 'our new baby girl?'"

Also, Megan, where are you? Not on the facebook, apparently. Do you still have your Garfield collection?


New Ways to Forget: Old School and R&B

Pharmaceutical-grade herbal mood stabilizers doing nothing? Up each night trying to silence that gnawing inner monologue with no success? Adopt the lyrics to "Boogie Nights" as your personal credo: "got to keep on dancin', keep on dancin'"--ignore your seasonal depression through incessant DANCE! Swap the word "dancin'" for "drinkin'" if you need to-- just make it your own! Use the following Dream Old School and R&B Playlist as your new guide to happy times!

1. Boogie Nights-Heatwave

2. I Like It- Debarge
3. Get Down on It- Kool & The Gang
4. Mary Jane- Rick James

5. Wishing On A Star- Rose Royce

6. I Wonder If I Take You Home- Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam
7. I Wanna Be Your Lover- Prince
8. Love Come Down- Evelyn Champagne King
9. Tell Me Something Good- Chaka Khan

10. Rock Steady- The Whispers
11. You Dropped A Bomb on Me- The Gap Band
12. No Parking on The Dance Floor- Midnight Star

13. Push It- Salt n Peppa

14. Special Lady- Ray, Goodman & Brown
15. Glamorous Life- Sheila E.
16. Tonight Is The Night- Betty Wright


Subliminal Loneliness, other ad mistakes

There is an ad for a laser skin treatment center that runs daily in my local paper. It has a picture of an attractive, smiling girl and says, in bold, "Reclaim Your Confidence." I consistently misread it as "Reclaim Your Co-Dependence." Yeah...

Also, I word on today's google ad: I'm not sure what about the content of my blog allowed Google to generate a "Yes on 8" ad, but this does not reflect my own sentiments. I am staunchly against Prop 8. Staunch, I tell you!


Where Seclusion and Gaudiness Meet

"The Blue Room" often plays on my internal AM Radio. The algebra of secluded hideaway+ secret life with cherished loved one+garish monochromatic decorating+Rogers & Hart jazz standard= stuck in my head since 1998. I like the concepts. I like the tune. Had I but known that the blue room, blue rooms, even, existed I would have taken my sentimental ass to the Madonna Inn long ago. Trip slated for winter 2k9. How excited am I?

all pictures by Phyllis Madonna, from the Madonna Inn site.


High School Rehashbrowns

I'm going to go see High School Music 3. I haven't even seen the first two, but I think Zac Efron must be emitting yet unheard-of tele-pheromones, against which I'm powerless. Tie me to the mast so that I cannot heed his siren song! Incidentally, that siren song is about winning at basketball.

Picture Provided By: TeenIdols4You.com

High school has been on my mind lately, probably because:
1. People I know from high school have been hanging out with me, and it's been nice/sometimes I hang out with people who might be in high school, and it's been... I'm old.
2. The tentative flirtations exchanged with my math teacher during that time continue to eclipse the emotional intensity experienced in any of my actual romances.
3. My interactions with friends have been colored by an uncharacteristic unwillingness to be forthcoming, and my communication has taken the least-forward form modernity has to offer-- texting. Hey, I'm just fearing rejection(s) and savoring that high school flavor! (Tastes weirdly like caffeinated mints).


Dyspeptic Daughters of the Golden Fried West

I looked into joining the fraternal organization The Native Sons and Daughters of the Golden West, because I'm a 7th generation Californian. I took a peek at the group picture of my local chapter, only to find about 20 overweight, middle-aged, dyspeptic-looking women in voluminous hairdos looking like they should belong to a club called Hometown Buffet and Applebees Enthusiasts of The Golden West. I'm not sure what I was expecting to find-- either something younger and hipper or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, women in prairie dresses and blue bonnets, having freshly escaped from some kind of Mormon sect. I don't need to join--the spirit of the pioneers manifests itself in my restlessness and wanderlust. I hear the El Camino Real bell ringing in my ears! The trains rattle my house at night and I feel I must go! Sometimes my grandpa gets up from the dinner table and inexplicably says, "Last of the frontier" as his parting remark!

Additionally, I just broke my cassette player listening to The Sons of the Pioneers tape. Outdated technology... last of the frontier...


Recession Romance 2k8

I'm pretty sure the number of eggs I consumed today exceeded six. The weather's changing, so that means the same Danish clogs, but with the diabetes socks (bunching, as they do, at the ankles), and scarves over 2006's most threadbare shirts. Despite the cooling temperature, I seem to be developing what could only be called a sweating problem with accompanying smell problem (like pine-scented solvent meets carne asada).

And yet, I've never been more on top of my game. I'm just gonna kick back in my pajamas that double as evening wear with a Garfield anthology and a mug with my astrological sign on it and let the popularity roll on in.


File Under: Terrifying Early Childhood Memories

In addition to Greatest American Hero, my other earliest childhood television memory is Zoobilee Zoo. Zoobilee Z00 was essentially a half hour of humans dressed as stuffed animals making wild facial expressions and erratic movements whilst singing about problems every human child faces-- like making silly mistakes. Or being an anthropomorphic cockatoo.

I mainly remember Ben Vereen, dressed in what appeared to be a dusty, bedraggled leopard costume stolen from a dumpster behind an off-Broadway production of Cats and one of Prince's least favorite jackets, slinking over the top of a piano while attempting to impart a condescending moral lesson. As always, I turned to YouTube to jog my memory further. I was pleased to find that the voices are badly out of sync with the characters' mouths, and sound as if they were recorded separately using a YakBak.

The characters whine and shriek in infantile voices while capering about an obvious soundstage, scattered with irrelevant props painted in garish day-glo colors. There is a pink thing that looks a lot like a live-action Popple, but is supposedly a kangaroo flautist. There is a beaver who looks like Orville Redenbacher, a Teddy Ruxpin-esque "adventure" bear (whatever that is), an irritating squawking bird with a Chiquita Banana style accent and headress (easily the most believable character), a lion whose interest in art is eclipsed only by his uncanny likeness to Chaka Khan in the "I Feel For You" video, and finally, the most terrifying character, Bravo Fox.

Bravo Fox, I believe, must have been styled heavily after John Worthington Foulfellow, the manipulative fox in Pinocchio, only with a curious middle Atlantic accent that usually sounded like he ran afoul of Betty Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. He is played by a statuesque balding man in a threadbare butler's uniform with orange tufts of "fur" bursting from every seam. Bravo Fox haunted me for years after I stopped watching the show, and was the subject of several recurring nightmares when I was seven. In these nightmares, he was usually a criminal mastermind with supernatural powers. He would send me puzzling letters ala the zodiac killer detailing his evil schemes. I eventually published a book about him and appeared on talk shows to educate the good citizens of our country about the impending danger. This only made him want to kill me, and I'd spend the remainder of the dream seeking protection from the skeptical, unfeeling police department.

Probably the weirdest thing about this show is that it's only weird in retrospect. When I was a kid, I loved it and wanted to be a Zooble.


The Man with Golden Buttered Popcorn Tresses

I realize that, originally, I started this blog to catalog my adolescent experiences with Easy Listening. I realize, also, that I have become very tangential. Gentle reader, I apologize for straying, but I've only just begun. I want to share with you my first crush ever, who I had forgotten about until yesterday.
Here's how I remembered:
I'm on the horn with Amanda, discussing the trajectory of our journeys through life as ENFPs (I wish I were joking). I admit to her that sometimes, when confused about my personal trajectory, I listen to the original Broadway recording of Pippin. I identify with the main character, I say. I explain that the themes of Pippin-- coming of age, the restlessness and confusion of early adulthood, trying to find one's place-- are very relevant now. Pippin, I suggest, is a total ENFP. "Rachel," she says, "you sound like some kind of second rate theater school reject." Fair enough. This derisive comment didn't stop me from watching Pippin on Youtube for the next hour. I wrote the lyrics to this song in more than one high school yearbook. Second rate theater school reject. Once I saw William Katt as Pippin, I got a strange feeling of familiarity. Where had I seen him? After some truly wild synapse firings, I remembered:
Of course! He's Ralph, AKA Greatest American Hero AKA My First Crush Ever. Considering the competence of my television babysitter, it's no small wonder that the opening sequence of Greatest American Hero is, without a doubt, the cradle of some of my earliest memories. I remember forcing my dad to rush me home from my grandparents house so that I could watch this show, it being a life or death (tantrum) situation. I also remember him fashioning some homemade "I Love Ralph" stickers on a primitive label maker for me. I stuck them on the blue chair I sat in during rapt Greatest American Hero viewings. I'm not sure why, at age 3, I found him so appealing. Perhaps I was just recognizing the universal appeal of semi-androgynous men with hair the color and texture of buttered popcorn (see also: Christopher Atkins). I can't remember what the show is about, really... I think Ralph found a red suit which, when worn, imbued him with superhero powers. He never really mastered flying in the suit, and would usually make hilarious crash landings.
This is my first crush. This is my earliest memory. Second rate theater school reject. Something worse?


In Search Of...?

"But, I want you to give me-- to give your spirit to me-- that golden light which is you--which you don't know--give it to me--" from Women in Love, D.H. Lawrence

I spent the last month or so reading Women in Love, and I experienced many instances of "Yes, yes exactly" along on the way. The fact that the movie of the same name is very aesthetically pleasing probably didn't hurt my affection, either. So often, that dark thing called What I Want is totally nebulous until the right combinations of words or images, in a book or song or movie, help give it its true shape. Then I'm struck with an epiphany; I know it is always what I wanted. Eureka. Insomnia is abated, if only temporarily, while I set to work obtaining What I Want.

For a long time (I'm talking most of my teen years here), my most penetrating desires could be expressed succinctly and perfectly with this early 60s folk-pop song.

I think I may have had (or at least, was on the long and muddy path to) What I Want before, both in the loftier, philosophical D.H. Lawrence sense, and in the simplistic cornball "Angel on My Shoulder" sense. So now what? How goes the "obtaining" part? Imagine me with a dog-eared copy of a Penguin Classic in one hand and a half drunk mug of Constant Comment in the other, searching for the answer now. A sillier picture you never saw, but just between you and me, I haven't slept well in days.


2008: Mission to Render Myself Totally Ineffectual Is A Success

A quick timeout to acknowledge my self destruction:

Guilty of putting all of my eggs in one basket, the horse before the cart, and several other adages related to poor planning, I face, yet again, the monumental task of deciding what I want to do for money and where I want to live. Evidently, having no previous forklift driving experience can really hinder your ability to find meaningful work! I find myself pulled in so many different directions, that usually I just wind up wallowing in indecision and, let's face it, self-pity. I spend a lot of time on self-indulgent, masturbatory tasks like rating every single song in my itunes library, writing down dreams that I had (Nyquil + B Vitamins= hideous psychadelic landscapes), and worst of all, writing blogs. Refusing to build a life for myself here out of pure obstinacy and for fear of getting stuck here has left me, well, stuck here. Once a week I leave town to visit one of my many far-flung friends, wondering, "Should I live here? Should I get a job here?" then going back home to 4139 Pity Party Lane, Sacramento, CA before any progress can be made. At what point did I decide that I can't do anything by myself, and how do I unlearn this? Advice, lectures, and silent disapproval are welcome.

Indulge me now, as I'm so fond of doing for myself, and watch this Dean Martin clip. The song is about being pathetic, so it's the official anthem of this post.


"I caught a good one, it looked like it could run..."

Typically, my mom would put on KCTC early in the morning to wake me up for school. There's a real absence of logic in using "easy listening" to wake somebody up, but this is the same woman who put me in itchy robes made out of what could only be leftover bedspreads from midwestern hotels every morning from ages 6 to 13. I guess she thought the music would combat my sour morning attitude, and it probably did. "Tom Dooley" and "El Paso" were two of my favorites to hear at that time, as the feelings imparted by their tales of rash stabbings or shootings, love triangles, and violent, inevitable death seemed in keeping with the horrible feelings of waking up before it was light, after having only fallen asleep 4 hours prior. The melodies were just jaunty enough to keep me from nodding off in my Cream of Wheat, and stuck with me all day-- much like the itchy neck from the frilled rayon zip-up collar of my robe, only not nearly as annoying.

Here, Steve Martin acts out the lyrics to Marty Robbins' "El Paso," along with a cast of chimps. I love Youtube so much.


Revisiting 'Friendster': Assumption That I'm Cooler Now Debunked

My dad used to wear this tacky shirt around that said "Still Perfect After All These Years" on the front. What's tackier still is that I may have unwittingly adopted this as a personal philosophy.

Following an unlikely thread lead me back to the Friendster account I forgot I still had. It stands, along with my 2002-2006 livejournal, unedited, as a monument to age 18. Yes, that's Amelie you see under "favorite movies." Cringe along with me.

The worst part: my friendster is not really the relic I think it should be after nearly 5 years. I mean, remove about 5 of the bands, The Bell Jar, the highly affected side ponytail, and you've got a reasonable facsimile of Current Me. I consider it a great injustice that I have not become monumentally cooler since then!

And yet, I believe that taking the gradual (natural?) approach to identity building is more respectable than the wild and desperate taking up of (and rapid abandonment of) pre-made and readily available identities. The person who can shift from bro to ska kid to juggalo to radical vegan bike punk to Buddhist nudist every 6 months bewilders the hell out of me.

Of course, what I'm calling a commitment to authenticity could also be called stubbornness or unwillingness to try things. It is possible that I have changed too little. After all, I'm here in my childhood bedroom again, which is hardly a Madonna-style reinvention of myself. I've made gradual, minuscule "improvements." I've traded friendster for myspace, myspace for facebook, and livejournal for this blog; I'm still erecting internet monuments to myself. Despite the fact that one of them emphasizes what I feel to be the uniqueness imbued to me by a steady diet of grandparent-friendly music as a teen, I am still a product of our times. What's more, I am still well represented by my friendster account. Dammit.


While You Were Sleeping, Pt. 2

I've always had trouble sleeping. When I was a kid, proposed 8:30 P.M. bedtimes would find me awake, sneaking out into the living room at 9:00, 10:00 and 11:30 P.M. I didn't want to miss something. I felt that as soon as I fell asleep, outrageous fun, secret lifesaving information, and greater truths would be immediately revealed to all awake persons. Time and time again, my parents proved this theory wrong, as their secret revelatory nighttime rituals involved nothing but Law & Order reruns and, occasionally, Hercule Poirot. Unfortunately, this lesson goes unlearned. I'll still spend nights awake, thinking I can prevent something unpleasant that might happen to me tomorrow by being awake to intercept the sandman and refuse to sign for his packages tonight. Is this line of reasoning totally nuts? Yes. Do I think it was influenced, in part, by over-analyzation of easy listening hits in my early teens? Well, that, my friends, is the hypothesis on which this entire blog is predicated.

"Softly As I Leave You" is the perfect example of an idea that might fuel my late night paranoia for years to come. The song is about a man who leaves his wife or girlfriend of many years in the middle of the night, because he "can't bear the tears to fall." How can I be expected to sleep when there is a possibility that I could date someone this craven? See, I'd never be in this situation. I would be awake, waiting for the opening strains of "Softly" and the sound of feet slipping into shoes. The fellow would have to overcome his cowardice and just tell me he wants to break up, or, if he's still hell bent on sneakin', slip a heavy sedative into my mid evening kombucha.

(A lot of artists have recorded this song. I chose this video because the accompanying montage is inexplicable and really stupid).


While You Were Sleeping

As a lifelong devotee to insomnia, I've always had a soft spot for songs about being awake at night. Some of them just don't exactly fit my experience, though. Case in point: KCTC played at least 3 songs wherein male singers tenderly contemplate their female companions in the wee small hours while they sleep or cry nearby. Rather than offer any kind of tangible comfort or respectful silence, the fellow singing chooses instead to either ignore or annoy his groggy and distressed lover, (with the exception of John Denver's "My Sweet Lady").

Item #1: "She Believes In Me," Kenny Rogers
Kenny Rogers is working harder than a shoemaking elf to get some decent songwriting done in the middle of the night while his wife sobs in the other room over his repeated failures. All those circled newspaper want-ads smuggled in between the pages of his copy of Hustler and hours of despairing glances from her are enough to stymie his creative process, apparently, and he has to do all of his "work" at night. Insisting, with determination, that she "believes" in him, despite her audible weeping suggestive of the contrary, he hopes that this song, the one he's singing right now, the one that's keeping her awake as he belts it out, mouth filled with Gardetto's Snack Mix, will finally pay off the 2nd mortgage and make up for 4 years worth of unfulfilled promises.
(Be sure to watch for the fabulous surprise ending in this video!)

Item #2: "Mary in the Morning", Glen Campbell
Early bird Glen Campbell creepily catalogs every movement of his sleeping lover, Mary, noting the way the dappled sunlight freckles her face and hair, likening her somnambulist beauty to summer flowers, and similar flourishes evocative of a Summer's Eve douche commercial. He pauses from his dewy-eyed reflection only to disturb her ever so slightly with unauthorized kisses. If he loves her so much, maybe he should consider using this valuable time to make her a pancake surprise instead of inspecting her moles/trying out the shaving-cream-and-feather trick on her.

Item #3: "My Sweet Lady", John Denver
A wakeful John Denver, no doubt thinking about conservation and a New England Christmas with Kermit and Piggy, consoles his sweet lady as she awakens from a tearful nightmare, assuring her that he will never leave her. Honestly, I can't make fun of this song; I cried when I first heard it. At age 13, and now, I well up with emotion (and estrogen?) whenever I hear him wail, "I wish that you could know how much I looooooooooove you!" For some reason, the idea of waking up next to an overwrought balladeer who can silence any disparaging thoughts with vows of everlasting affection is really, really appealing to me.

Sweet dreams, readers.


Nat King Cole Urges You To Stop Crying, Retreat from Society

Why does Nat King Cole have so many hits encouraging his listeners to become positivity-obsessed human automatons who play the song "Walkin' On Sunshine" by Katrina and the Waves on repeat while their unacknowledged negative emotions turn into ulcers and kill them? Granted "Smile" and "Pretend" are probably about the power of positive thinking, and not about unhealthy emotional practices, but as my mother noted earlier, I always assume the worst.
In "Smile," he suggests: "light up your face with gladness/hide every trace of sadness." Even if I made an honest attempt, I would fail. My emotions are always luridly displayed and inappropriate. Barely muffled hysterical laughing over the syntactical errors portion of the SATs. Open weeping over a movie called Electric Grandmother. Open weeping over nasal allergy commercials. Open weeping over an episode of Roseanne on the tube in a suite in the Sands Hotel in Reno. Open weeping in the trunk of a car on the way back from a biscuits n' gravy run at a local diner. What was I doing in there and why can't I just take Nat King Cole's advice?

The keep-on-the-sunny-side emphasis is maintained in "Pretend," with a further suggestion for keeping "bad" emotions at bay. Instead of facing your public with an insincere smile plastered on your face, don't go out at all. Why put in the effort to sustain friendships, buy groceries, or change out of those foul smelling tie-dye sweatpants when you can seek refuge in your daydreams, where you are never lonely and forever glamorous? Now, Mr. Cole, you are speaking my language.


Pre-Teen Obsessional Love and Glen Campbell

He was about 36, with thinning black hair and red facial hair. He liked to wear a gray oxford shirt with a pattern of trout on it (irreverent!) He loved Elvis and The Three Stooges. Sometimes, whilst assisting me with some troubling pre-algebraic equations, he got close enough for me to smell his deodorant (the "spray-on kind," according to my friend, Kim, who knows about these things) through his Polarfleece zip-up. We bonded over 70s ephemera-- he lived through it, and I admired it. He was my 8th grade teacher, and because he was my only non-familial example of a real live grown man, he was also my first crush.

On days that seemed particularly fraught with bittersweet longing for this man-- those days when I really wanted to believe that his compliment on my Scooby Doo sweatshirt contained codewords of romance--I would typically get the song "Wichita Lineman" stuck in my head. I like how Wikipedia puts it: "The lyric describes the longing that a lonely telephone or electric power lineman feels for an absent lover who he imagines he can hear 'singing in the wire' that he is working on." Frankly, knowing all the words to the Brady Bunch theme was perhaps impressive to my teacher in a way, but it wasn't the sort of talent that would whisk a happily married man away from his family and into my skinny, though loving, arms. I knew this. The longing and loneliness described in Wichita Lineman seemed to match my own feelings; in my adolescent fashion, thoroughly unsure of what a "lineman" might even be, I felt that I understood the Wichita Lineman's existential predicament.

Of course, existential predicaments are hard to keep under wraps, especially at an age when subtlety is an unknown concept. My little obsession performed its grand finale on the night of our 8th Grade Graduation Dance. This final opportunity to fraternize as a class to the sounds of K.C. and Jo Jo was heralded by the removal of the tables from the cafeteria and the addition of fish or pineapple party decorations that barely fit the dance's Hawaiian theme. At previous school dances, I always asked a chaperone to dance. It was a running gag that my classmates seemed to find funny. Sticking within the parameters of my popular joke, I thought it would be a good idea to ask the teacher to dance. My friends would get some laughs, and I would get at least five minutes of dreams-coming-true. It seemed foolproof, so I asked him. He was reluctant. He pulled me aside, not for some dancing, but so we could have a chat. The I'm Old Enough To Be Your Father, You Should Probably Dance With A Nice Boy From Your Class, Very Serious and Concerned chat. He knew! All the time, he knew! Humiliated, I managed to choke, "Well I only wanted a dance, sheeesh," as I walked away. Back with my friends in the cafeteria's corner, I wondered how I blew it, what I was going to do now that my life was essentially over, what to do with these stupid pooka shells once this lame dance ended, and why I chose sheeesh as my parting retort.
Well, that witty zinger must have made an impression, because he changed his mind.
He tapped me on the shoulder and led me out across the linoleum, generously giving me back my silly fantasy for the night. "Hey, I think you're short enough for me to rest my chin on your head!" he said. My only wish at that moment (besides that it could last forever) was that Wichita Lineman could be playing.


"Your Music and Memories Station..."

There used to be a radio station in my town with the call letters KCTC, AM1320. It played music from a syndicated station, first called Your Music and Memories Station, and later, The Music of Your Life. It wasn't meant to be the music of my life, exactly; PSAs about prostate cancer awareness ran between ads for Geritol and Centrum Silver, and any sweepstakes giveaways were usually all-expenses paid trips to Branson, Missouri. It was, after all, my grandparents' radio station, and upon my first introduction to the sounds of Sinatra and his contemporaries winding their way fuzzily out of the speakers (in mono no less), I reacted with the appropriate indifference of an 11-year-old.

Coinciding perfectly with discovery of the most sickeningly sentimental songs ever recorded was my hormonally influenced and ever-growing awareness of cute boys. The nostaligic songs on KCTC, with their euphemistic yet passionate lyrics, were giving me a sort of mental language for my new preoccupation with the adult world of love and loss the way the sexually explicit songs marketed towards my own generation could not. While I was aware that L.L. Cool J was "Doin' It," I was not--I was merely daydreaming about "some enchanted evening", the way that it seemed Perry Como must have been daydreaming. I would spend hours just listening, imagining what my grown-up life would be like.

So here I am, graduated from college, sitting in my childhood bedroom yet again, anxiously awaiting the passage into that mysterious next stage of my life. I wish Your Music and Memories station was still on the air to ease me through it. What better left to do in this strange, transitional time (besides send out resumes with ferocity) than return to, and re-examine my relationship with The Music of My Life?