Tradition, Superstition & Fascination

31 10 2011

Halloween is an annual celebration, but just what is it actually a celebration of? And how did this peculiar custom originate? The origin of Halloween possibly lies in the traditions of the Celtic people.  In celebration of the recently completed harvest, Celts would give offerings of food to the Gods. They often went from door to door to collect food to donate to their deities. Also, young Celts would ask the townspeople for kindling and wood, and take it to top of the hill for the Samhain bonfire. These are two of the possible origins of present day “trick or treating.” The Celts believed that the veil between this world and the next was thinnest at this time of year. Friends and relatives who had died would often return, with their souls inhabiting an animal – often a black cat. Black cats have remained a symbol of Halloween down to the present time. Samhain was a fire festival. Sacred bonfires were lit on the tops of hills in honor of the Gods. The townspeople would take an ember from the bonfire to their home and re-light the fire in their family hearth. The ember would usually be carried in a holder – often a turnip or gourd. They felt nervous about walking home in the dark; they were afraid of evil spirits. So they dressed up in costumes and carved scary faces in their ember holders. They hoped that the spirits would be frightened and not bother them. Today we see people dress in costume for celebration, and we see faces carved in pumpkins for festive decoration.

Halloween was originally called All Hallows’ Eve which means the evening before All Saints’ Day. “Hallow” is an Old English word for “saint”. This was shortened toHallowe’en and finally to Halloween.  All Saints’ Day was created by Pope Boniface IV in the 7th century CE. There were so many saints by this time that there were not enough days in the year to accommodate them. So, All Saints’ Day was to recognize the saints who were without their own day, and to celebrate saints that the Church had failed to recognize.  All Souls’ Day was created for NOV-2 to honor faithful Christians who had died but were not saints. The three days from OCT-31 to NOV-2 was given the name Hallow Tide. This may have been done in order to distract Christians from celebrating Samhain. ( For full definition of Samhain:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samhain . )

The custom of Halloween was brought to America in the 1840’s by Irish immigrants fleeing their country’s potato famine. Halloween has since become a major folk holiday in the US and Canada. “Trick or Treaters” go from door to door and collect candies, apples and other goodies. Hallmark Cards reports that 65% of Americans will decorate their homes and offices for Halloween. This percentage is exceeded only by Christmas. Halloween is the holiday when the most candy is sold; it is second only to Christmas in total sales. North Americans spend over $20 million on Halloween candies yearly. Halloween also is the third-largest party occasion next to Christmas and New Year’s Eve. So, although some cults may have adopted Halloween as their favorite “holiday,” the day itself did not grow out of evil practices. It grew out of the rituals of Celtic celebrations, and out of Medieval prayer rituals of Europeans. After all, the day itself is only as evil as one cares to make it.

Most of us are familiar with common Halloween traditions like trick-or-treating, pumpkin carving, and dressing in costume but there are some ancient traditions I thought might be fun to explore that you may not be familiar with from around the world.

The first one I’d like to mention is one I remember reading about as a child and always wanting to attempt, but being too much of a skeptic or pessimist I’ve yet to try it.  This is the less famous “trick” where a woman is supposed to stand before a mirror at the stroke of midnight and bite into an apple.  The reflection of her future husband was supposed to appear in the mirror or the reflection of a skull, which would signify that she would die an old maid.  In writing this, I saw several versions of this “tradition” but this is the one I remember best from my mother’s tales as a child. Unfortunately, I was unable to find it’s orgin.

Barmback is a custom with Irish roots as well.  Barmback is a type of raisin bread that can be served year round, but on Halloween certain objects are traditionally baked into the bread: a pea, a stick, a coin, some cloth and a ring.  Each object carries significance so if you got a piece of break holding one of these objects, you would know your fortune.  The pea means you will not be getting married in the next year while the ring, of course, means that you would.  The stick signifies an unhappy marriage, the cloth signifies bad finances and the coin signifies wealth is headed your way.

In Whales, families would practice the tradition of Coelcerth. For Coelcerth, a family would build a fire and write their names on stones surrounding the fire.  If they woke in the morning to find that a person’s stone was missing, this meant the person would die in the next year!

Bonfires are very common on Halloween and derived from several traditions worldwide.  One tradition (with European roots) incorporated into the bonfire celebrations that I found interesting is once again used for the ladies to learn who their future husband would be.  The tradition has the ladies cut a lock of their hair and toss it into the fire, and that evening as they slept and their hair burned their future husband was to be revealed to them in their dreams.

Latin Americans commemorate the holiday with a 3-day celebration that begins on October 31.  The celebration is designed to honor the dead whom, they believe, return to their Earthly homes during this period.  Many families construct altars to the dead in their homes to honor deceased relatives and decorate it with candy, flowers, photos and samples of the deceased favorite foods, drinks and water.  Often a wash basin and towel are also left at the altar so the spirit can wash up before indulging in the feast.

Spell to attract a particular lover

You will need:

a lock of his/her hair, a personal belonging of his/hers or a clear photo of their face (though hair works best)

One pink rose,

Ground Vanilla pods

Dried Avocado

Ginger

Jasmine oil

One red or violet candle inscribed with the love Rune 3X’s

A few drops of (your) blood

Red cloth

Red paper

By the light of the candle, grind up the Avocado with the Vanilla pods and the Ginger… when it is a fine powder, add 5 drops of blood, and as you drop each drop say these words: *Note: face the appropriate direction.* ‘Spirit of the South, ancient one of fire and passion, with this drop of blood I call you to bring my lover to me.’ ‘Spirit of the West, ancient one of water and peace ,with this drop of blood I call you to bring my lover to me.’ ‘Spirit of the North, ancient one of earth and fertility, with this drop of blood I call you to bring my lover to me.’ ‘Spirit of the east, ancient one of air and strength, with this drop of blood I call you to bring my lover to me.’ ‘Akasha, the spirit element of all, with this drop of blood I call you to combine the powers called forth, and bind my lover’s spirit to mine.’ ‘So mote it be!’ Using the new paste, draw the love Rune 3X’s (3 times) on the piece of red paper and empower it, wait for it to dry, and then fold the paper in half. Take the rose and smear on any remaining paste. Place the rose in the red cloth and annoint with Jasmine oil. Now, using the red candle set fire to it, and put it in a bowl until it has gone out. Grind up any lumps left in the ash or remove any stubborn bits, then put the ash into the folded paper and put it in an envelope, seal the envelope with a blob of wax from the candle, and get it to the object of your affections however you can.

 

Spell for Luck

You will need:

Ground/fresh cinnamon

Green candle

Pennies (number in the amount of your birthdate, for instance if your birthday is October 31st you will need 31 pennies)

Burn the green candle surrounded by the pennies.  Chant as the candle burns “Let fortuned winds blow my way.  All that’s evil please allay.  All that’s good and all that’s bane give in turn but for my gain.”  Meditate, focusing on the pennies and repeating this chant until you feel the pennies are charged with positive energy.  On the first following Thursday, dispose of the pennies.  If you keep them, the spell will work opposite.  It is best to give the pennies away as a gift, but dispose of them however you can.

 

Well, I was also going to post a spell about revenge but after reading them they were all pretty scary and I started feeling guilty so I decided I’d leave you with just these two and one last one that I made up for you, but I’m pretty sure it will work.

 

Spell for fun on Halloween

You will need:

Your favorite adult beverages

Your favorite things to eat

Your favorite friends

Your favorite Horror movies

Your favorite music

Your house

Mix above ingredients beginning at dusk on Halloween.  Chant throughout the night “Let’s Party”.  Continue process until you run out of supplies.  Have fun & be safe!

 

 

 

 

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Keep it real

6 09 2011

A relationship is rather mysterious and amazing entity in itself, and perhaps a deeper paradox than understanding an individual.  A person is real and can be affirmed at any moment, but a relationship is more difficult to apprehend or define.  In some cases, a relationship can prove far stronger than either individual involved.  Formed by the co-mingling of it’s partners energies (weaknesses, strengths, ideals…etc…) the relationship has it’s own personality.  Therefore, is it possible that what attracts us to someone is less who the other is and more what the relationship is? What we may be able to create together? Personally, as I grow … wiser … I feel that I have learned to focus more on this aspect.  Outside of the here and now, what can we become? I feel it is important to have a solid answer to this question or you could be doomed from the start.  Of course, no one can deny the sometimes dangerous chemistry we encounter when you ask yourself such questions that deserve solid answers, yet you can not justify your actions.

As everyone knows, not all relationships are easy.  There are many types of relationships you have throughout your life with people if only known briefly.  Your co-workers, fellow students, your boss, your clients, your hair dresser, and of course the people you love.  Relationships of any form are work.  Your relationship with your best friend is work, even if he/she is your best friend.  Maybe they make bad decisions you don’t agree with and it’s work sometimes to remain their friend when they make such decisions … but “keep it real”.  Tell them! “I don’t like your decision to sleep with your boss, but I still like you.  I’m not going to bombard you with advice because I know the real you so I will leave you to decide what is best.”  This is just one example and I made it up … so don’t go thinking I have a friend who’s doing their boss, okay!?!? Your relationship with your mother is work … well at least mine is.  It’s exhausting.  The most exhausting part of mine is “Keeping it real” because sometimes she doesn’t like the truth. But, I have learned not to lie to her because then I only get caught up in a web of lies and can’t keep up … and, well frankly she always knows the truth anyway and then I end up looking like a fool for not keeping it real.  But in romance, ahhh sweet romance, perhaps that is the hardest time to keep it real when it should be the easiest.

Naturally, the relationship that engages most interest is the much sought after romantic relationship.  Unfortunately, not all couples are suited to be in romantic relationships together.  Common love is based on illusion which is initially pleasurable but can ultimately end destructively.

I believe that love means different things to different people.  Just as different people have different tastes, styles, beliefs …etc…  Just as the way two different people may view a piece of art … seeing two different things perhaps even still different from what the artist intended.  Regardless of how one interperts love, all people are driven by the promise of love.

Most relationships are due to chance.  Whether you are related or working together or lovers, it was a twist of fate somewhere along the way that created your relationship.  To build a good relationship I believe you have to view it as if you are building and not working.  What you have to work with is what already exists, but building is a higher level of understanding.  What can we become? Can we build anything together? What is the value of what we can build? What steps will it take to build it? Ultimately, we all want to know if it will be worth the effort in the first place, but alas there are no guarantees.

Some things I have learned that are important blocks in the building process are: trust, respect, sharing, listening, understanding, and communication.  It is important to recognize when your partner is not helping you build, or when your partner is damaging what you have built.  Be aware of possessive behavior because it can be a negative foreshadowing or a disguise for guilt.  Not only do you want to give respect, but you should demand it for yourself as well … and know to act immediately when you are not receiving it.  Much can be learned from self observation.  If you find yourself in an argument, try to back down and observe your behavior.  Also, choose your fights carefully … Is this really necessary? What will we gain from this argument? Is this the right moment to argue this topic? Will we both feel differently tomorrow? And the ever important and often ignored need for space. People need space no matter how in love they are.  People need the freedom to do their own thing without being questioned.  Without this freedom, your construction will never be complete.

The truth will set you free even when you don’t like the truth.  I’m a firm advocate of “keeping it real” and I mean that in the best possible and most logical way.  I realize the term is slang, but the meaning behind it is still pure.  As a goodbye to a friend, “Keep it real”… it means don’t change.  Seriously, don’t change … don’t become someone you’re not.

More often than not, the precursor to a romantic relationship is based on a few falsities.  First of all, regardless of what you try to tell yourself (unless you are blind), you take interest in someone because of their appearance.  That is not a solid foundation, but it definitely is a necessity because if you are not attracted to someone than there is no long term hope.  Don’t get me wrong, though, there are those special few that attract you because of who they are in other ways and, while that is a better foundation, if you don’t eventually grow a physical attraction the relationship will be doomed in the long run.  However, there is always hope that you can grow a physical attraction to someone because of who they are rather than their looks.  I’ve been there, done that and it does work IF you are keeping it real!!! In fact, I have learned this type of physical attraction is far better than the norm.  You’ve heard that old joke where you look at someone hot and say “Somebody, somewhere is tired of putting up with his/her shit.”  Trust me, it’s true.  For the most part, the hotter they are – the more shit you have to put up with because, well … let’s face it … Hotties are high maintenance because they know someone else is just around the corner waiting to take your place in line for their attention.  Don’t blame me, I’m just keeping it real.

But the reason I’m writing this is to maybe help someone who is having a hard time in their relationship.  Bottom line is: you or your partner or both of you aren’t keeping it real.  As you grow older,  you will learn that is the main key.  But it’s not as easy as it sounds.  There’s a lot to keeping it real.

Say you’ve been together for 3 years or so, you know each other … you know the smell of his farts know each other … So when he takes a double glance at some young hottie in a tight dress across the room, you’re offended.  Don’t be! It’s human nature!!!! It’s that spark inside of him that keeps the fires burning and if you try to smother it you’re sure to lose him.  Let him look, and have a look yourself.  This WILL keep the passion burning in your personal relationship with him.  When I’m in this situation, I don’t get my feathers ruffled.  I watch him take his glance, then when he turns back to me I giggle about it.  This lets him know that I’m well aware of his wandering eye and I’m amused by it, not threatened.  Seriously, she may not want to get to know the smell of his farts the way that I have and if he’s willing to take that chance, well then we were not meant to be anyway … and probably he will end up smelling his farts alone.  Jealousy is deadly.  Don’t let it consume you.   If your partner is jealous, you should just get out now.  Why? Two reasons: First and foremost, it has been my experience that when someone is overly jealous it is usually spawned by the fact that they are actually doing something wrong and are paranoid and projecting their crime on you.  Oh how many times have I been accused of cheating by a cheater? I can’t even count.  But, after several accusations, I usually start studying harder to learn that Mr. Paranoid himself is cheating! Secondly, if your paranoid partner is not cheating then you’re just dealing with someone who is overly insecure which can lead to a whole bunch of baggage that you’ll be carrying around … for what? For nothing! Either way, get out of that shit because jealousy and paranoia lead to much bigger issues and I’m hoping you would rather just keep it real, right??

Now, let’s say your partner wants to know how many people you’ve slept with? Ouch! Don’t you hate that? But it always seems to pop up eventually and without any good reason.  Listen, I’m not telling you this … I’m not going to give you a false number or a real one because if we’re keeping it real, it really doesn’t matter.  The last thing I want to know about is my partner’s past.  It just opens up the door to too many insecurities that I don’t want to deal with.  He could very well be the one, but if I know too much about his past relationships I will always measure myself against them and never feel adequate and eventually I will personally destroy what could’ve been a good thing, so why bother?  Don’t ask questions that you wouldn’t want to answer honestly or that you wouldn’t want the honest answer to.  Seriously,  NO ONE answers this question honestly anyway … and NO ONE is ever happy with the answer anyway.  In this day and age most people start having sex in their teens, do you really want to know the truth? If you’re worried about disease, use protection instead of seeking out lies to make you feel safe.  If you’re worried about your worth, your question should be “How many times have you been in love?” Not all sex is love.  If it’s getting serious and you want to stop using protection, get tests instead of asking stupid questions and looking for your security in false answers.  KEEP IT REAL!!!

Don’t try to control everything.  If you’re in a relationship with a guy who loves sports and you hate it, don’t go with him to the sports bar to watch the big game only to find yourself miserable the whole time.  Let him go with his buddies while you do something you enjoy.  If you don’t trust him enough to go out without you, he’s not the one!!! If he’s trustworthy, he’s just watching the game, drinking some brew and will be eager to slip between the sheets with you after the party is over.  He’ll be even more eager than usual because you gave him space and trust.  Now, it IS a chance you have to take because there is always the possibility of cheating but if he does, then he wasn’t the one anyway and it’s best that you invested so little time rather than continued to invest time to learn this later.  By keeping it real, you find out the truth much earlier.  And, remember, the truth WILL set you free.  Chances are, f you are both mature adults, he will appreciate and desire you more if you give him the freedom to make his own decisions.  Now, if he starts deciding to be out more without you than with you  face it he’s just not that into you and you need to move on.  I’m using “him” as an example, but the same goes for the ladies.  A girl’s night out is just as important.  No one likes to have a ball and chain.  Most people who have a ball and chain are more apt to cheat because they just feel that urge to revolt even if they do love you.  Just like rebelling against controlling parents, something about the rebellion makes it all worthwhile even if it cost you something more valuable, like a relationship.  Being overbearing forces the rebellion, trust me!

And please, for the love of keeping it real, don’t talk in circles! You want something? Come out & say it! Don’t beat around the bush, candy coat it, hint around it or just assume your partner SHOULD know it and if he/she doesn’t than he/she doesn’t really love you.  Bullshit! If you want something, need something, have a problem with something, whatever the case may be … COME OUT AND SAY IT POINT BLANK.  Don’t give too much credit to the human race, we are not as smart as you’d like to think.  We need the full facts to handle the situation properly.  If you’re not getting what you want out of your relationship, you have no one to blame but yourself. Be straightforward and discuss openly what is on your mind.  You know what they say “Assume is spelled ASS U ME.  Assuming makes and ass out of you and me”.  So very true.  Keep it real.  Don’t assume.  If your partner doesn’t like what you have said, hear him/her out.  He/she may have a good reason, and you might just learn something.  If you don’t agree, like it or not, this relationship may not be the one for you.

Life is short, don’t waste time on being co-dependent or living a lie. The right person is out there for you as long as you keep it real!





When good times go bad

3 08 2011

It was a special event.  The kind you dress up for.  The kind, when you’re an adult, is less frequent because you don’t have proms, dances or any of this anymore.  So, when you do get to wear a little black dress, strappy black stilettos, and pearls … when you do get to carry a little black sequined purse … well, it’s something to get excited about.  It was this kind of event.  Fine dining and champagne followed by 3rd row seats (right beside the orchestra pit) for the Moody Blues at the Sanger in New Orleans.  The concert itself was not a dress event, mind you, but boasted the class of people who would dress for such an occasion and frankly if there’s even a hint at the opportunity to dress up, I’m all over it.  But, dressing up wasn’t the biggest issue.  Fine dining wasn’t the big issue (though one of the fastest ways to my heart). Wanting the night to be special wasn’t the biggest issue.  It was all about seeing a brilliant band playing with an orchestra in a beautiful, classic and personal setting that made it worth the anticipation.

I’m a huge concert goer, as you can plainly see from the likes of my page.  More commonly I attend such shows as Aerosmith, AC/DC, Ratt, Motley Crue, ZZ Top, and the like.  These types of shows are more frequent for one, and my taste is mostly based in that of rock and roll.  Though I do like a very wide variety of music, but most bands that I like do not tour.  Now, when I go to a good old fashioned rock show I expect good old fashioned rockers.  We’re all geared up in our best concert shirts, holey jeans and biker boots.  We’re ready for action.  We may get caught up in a brawl or have a draft beer spilled on us … and if we’re lucky that will be the worst of what lands on us.  But the Moody Blues is a very different scene.  You don’t expect Lynard Skynard fans at a Moody Blues show, but if they are there … those with diverse taste like myself … you expect them to act like me, or at least I do.  I expect that if someone has enough taste and intelligence to appreciate anything from Skynard to the Moody Blues then they know the very clear differences between songs like “Gimmie Three Steps” v/s “Tuesday Afternoon”.  Right?!? This would mean one would behave differently at a show boasting an orchestra in a beautiful theater v/s the behavior at a stadium filled with pot smoke and stacks of speakers.  But anyway…

Our group excitedly took our seats early enough to watch the orchestra practice.  We could actually read the sheet music from our seats.  It was so exciting.  This was our usual outing.  A group of 6 of us who are huge Moody Blues fans who get together and make a big night out of it each time they come.  This would be our third time to see them together over a 10 year span.  They don’t come often.  In fact this was about 12 years ago and I think they have only come to this area again once since then.  Anyway, we were all looking fancy and enjoying ourselves … anticipating the concert.  Now, please don’t think I’m judgmental or a snob … but I couldn’t help but be taken aback when the couple seated behind us arrived to take their seats.  They were both overweight and dressed in their best red neck rocker gear.  She was wearing a lovely Lynard Skynard T-shirt with the sides cut out so that is would hang slightly loose over her barreling bounds of pale white fat rolls, and clearly revealing her black lace bra from either side of the shirt.  She also boasted a tight, leather, mini-skirt with leather biker boots.  Her belly peered out from under her designer t-shirt, laying gently atop the waist of her skirt.  She struggled to squeeze into the theater seat probably as hard as she struggled to squeeze into that skirt.  Her date was a complementary match to her as he was also rather large, wearing a matching Skynard T, jeans and a blue jean vest with the sleeves cut off leaving frayed edges and a trucker hat (before that was the in thing to wear, mind you) that boasted a rebel flag.  Don’t get me wrong, their attire did not bother me nor did the fact that they were overweight.  Sure, they stuck out like sore thumbs, but appearance really means nothing to me.  It’s something I can look away from and not think twice about … which is exactly what I did.  I looked away and went back to anticipating a great show as our group discussed previous shows and took note of the playlist that we could clearly see.  As time passed, I couldn’t help but to overhear the couple behind us in their own chat about anticipation.  I’m not one to eavesdrop, well … not one to eavesdrop conversations that have nothing to do with me anyway (tee hee) but I couldn’t help but hear them as they excitedly discussed their most repulsive plan.  “No!” I cried in my mind “God help me, please let their plan fail miserably!” Now I know some of you crazy overly open minded people will say that I was being selfish or snobby for not wanting them to succeed … you may think I’m a prude, but seriously … I think there is a time and place for certain activities and sitting behind me at a Moody Blues concert is not the time or the place to have sex, which is exxxxxxxxxxactly what they were planning.  Oh how my stomach churned at the very thought of this unfolding.  You see, apparently, “Knight’s in White Satin” was a meaningful song to this couple and the whole purpose of them attending this concert was not to enjoy a beautiful musical event, but to make sweet love when the band preformed “Knights in White Satin.” They were not Moody Blues fans, they were just a couple with a plan to do something outrageous because it had a certain value to them and that was it! Period! Our group began to cringe as we all couldn’t help but hear their plan unfold in dirty, disgusting detail.  We all grumbled softly to each other, hoping they would change their minds about their public display of love during such a respectable event.

Of course, the show began without a hitch.  Fantastic as always, with the crowd in awe.  Our group was enthusiastically enjoying themselves, and whispering only a few comments here and there about how great the performance was.  Then, it happened … a song I once loved began to play.  I heard the couple shuffling into action behind us and cut my eyes to my buddy, Walt, seated beside me.  He shook his head and glanced at the floor.  As much as I struggled to continue to enjoy the performance, the sound of blubbering, sweaty fat smacking together with God awful moaning and groaning bellowed from behind … and an occasional thrust against the back of my seat throwing me forward.  It was unbearable.  Seriously unbearable! I don’t like the sound of anyone having sex …. Except, of course, myself! I don’t like it even more when I am at an event that I’ve paid quite a bit of money to enjoy … an event that I paid to listen to and enjoy … an event that I want to remember for being beautiful, not awful.   But it happened, none the less, and scarred me for life.  To this day, unfortunately, I can not hear “Knights in White Satin” without envisioning this hideous duo getting it on.  So, as a Moody Blues fan, people are often surprised when I say I don’t like “Knights in White Satin”.  “What?!?! How could you not like their biggest hit?!?!?!” They ask in shock.  Then I have to explain the painful story of when good times, like this, go bad … many laugh at my torrid tale, but if it were you who had to hear, smell and be consistently thrust forward in your seat by this revolting sexual act during such a beautiful song you too would no longer like the song.  (Trust me, the only thing worse than the sound of others having sex is the smell of others having sex!!)

Now I thought I would give you all a chuckle, and I know I’ve needed one because the news has been rather tragic lately where I live.  A topic I have chosen to avoid at this time here; the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  If you have interest in this topic, you can read what I have written here: http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=48953274&blogId=533668062

But, in the meantime, I thought we’d have a little fun … so, Have you ever had a bad concert experience like this? I’ve been stepped on, puked on and such, but none of that really scared me quite like this.  Have you ever done anything like this? I’ve never had sex at a concert, maybe because I’m too consumed with the concert to be distracted by something as silly as sex.  Lol.  Have you ever been trapped in a situation where someone funky was having funky sex near you? Thank God this is the only time I’ve been in such a situation.  Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my painful recollection of this life changing experience … LOL

And for those who don’t know the song, here you go…





Video killed the radio star

1 08 2011

On August 1, 1981 Music Television (cable network) launched with John Lack’s announcement “Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll” followed by the famous theme song (a hard rockin’ guitar riff by Jonathan Elias and John Peterson) and equally famous scene of the Apollo 11</a> moon landing boasting astronaut (Neil Armstrong) pushing an American flag into the moon below his feet, of course for the hip theme it was an MTV flag.

It was the beginning of a new era in music.  VJ’s (video jockeys) were the answer to radio’s DJ’s (disc jockeys).  Five young, unique, fresh faces were hired to fill these shoes.  A different world than what the radio generation was used to.  The original VJ’s were; Martha Quinn – your cute and spunky punk rock girl, Alan Hunter –  the clean cut, hip blonde male, Mark Goodman – a hunky, suave, dark haired male, with the hot rockin’ blonde Nina Blackwood and J.J. Jackson, the most experienced member of the group, always smiling and probably the most talented host.

The original format offered something new and different to music fans, the music video.  A music video is basically a short film created to accompany a song mainly for the purpose of marketing.  Although music videos were actually in existence prior to the debut of MTV, they were far and few between.  Prior to MTV, these videos were considered promotional videos that artists used to generate interest among producers, record companies and on rare occasions to promote new records to fans.  These promotional videos somewhat paled in comparison to what followed after the birth of MTV and were rarely shown on television.  Videos on MTV required much more than a simple live act, they needed to be a short film that would cultivate more interest among fans.  For this, a wide range of styles in filming technique had to be exercised including animation, live action film, and basically storytelling within abstract films.  This heightened the competition in the music industry because not only did your music have to sell itself, but you’d best have a good video to back it up.  In fact, often the popularity of the video outshined the music itself but still enabled the song to be a best seller.  Because visibility was used as a promotional tool in the record industry, the network was criticized for devaluing the importance of music by replacing quality with pure visual entertainment.  Ironically, the first video to debut on MTV that early August morning was “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles.  It was their only real hit, but rather historical and revealing as the song was written about the end of an era; telling of the golden days of radio ruined by television. (included in video above.)

Since it’s premier, MTV has made an intense and long lasting impact on the music, entertainment and media industries.  Slogans such as “I want my MTV” became etched in the minds of the 80’s pop culture generation and remained throughout.  MTV has also been referenced countless times in song lyrics, movies, books, and shows on other television stations.  One of the best known music references to MTV is  Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing” as the lyrics mock how the working man struggles to survive but the “yo-yos” on MTV “ain’t workin’” and are getting “Money for nothin’ and chicks for free.” Ironically, the video for this song became one of the most popular videos shown on the channel at that time.

The moral influence of MTV on young people has been debated throughout it’s existence. Parents Television Council (an American interest group formed to inform parents of television programming that is both beneficial and harmful to children) claims the network is a bad influence on it’s targeted audience.  The American Family Association (a non-profit organization that promotes conservative Christian values) has also criticized MTV for it’s negative moral influence.  In the 80’s the parent-media watchdog group, Parents Music Resource Center, fought MTV over certain music videos that were claimed to have explicit imagery of Satanism.  On the other side of these debates, the network was also under fire for being too politically correct and censoring too much of their programming.

Against all odds, MTV prevailed and in it’s early days was a catalyst to stardom for a large number of artists in the 80’s such as; Duran Duran, Def Leppard, Madonna, Culture Club, Mötley Crüe, Cydni Lauper, Adam Ant and countless other 80’s icons. MTV also played some famous classic rock acts heavily, placing them on a new plateau of popularity by reaching a wider spectrum such as; David Bowie, Journey, Genisis, Fleetwood Mac, Heart, Van Halen, ZZ Top and many more.

In it’s early years on air, MTV featured very few black artists in rotation.  Many black artist’s videos were rejected because they didn’t fit the rock dominated format at the time. During the uproar of black artists and other supporters of the fight to break the color barrier on MTV, Michael Jackson was among those artists denied airplay on the network.  In an effort to pressure the network to re-think the format, the president of CBS records made a strong statement by threatening to remove the network’s ability to play any videos by artists under the CBS label.  MTV claims they chose to add Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” video without being pressured, while CBS claims otherwise.  Regardless, “Billie Jean” seemed to be the video that broke the color barrier but is also claimed to be the video that brought the network out of struggle and into major popularity.  Jackson’s videos from the multi-platinum “Thriller” album (including “Billie Jean”) were credited for the mega success of MTV, thus causing the network to change the format to add R&B music.  This change also helped other black artists such as Prince and Whitney Houston enter the music revolution.

MTV is credited for turning music videos into both an art form and a marketing machine that became beneficial to artists.  Over time, MTV added several genres to the format and somewhat even created those genres such as alternative rock. Today, however, the general public seems to be disappointed with the ironic lack of music videos played on MTV.  While the original MTV network still broadcasts 24 hours a day, the actual showing of videos has (over time) dwindled to a maximum of only 3 hours per day.  The rest of the air time focuses on a completely different format, currently a large amount of reality shows and news programs about entertainment and politics.  However, today the network owns several sister channels that do broadcast more music videos though all pale in comparison to the original days of Music Television.  And to this, I say … I WANT MY MTV!!!

To see more of the early days of MTV, click here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LATTM7DkvWo
because TOO MUCH IS NEVER ENOUGH!!!

ABOUT THE ARTISTS MENTIONED IN THIS BLOG:

The Buggles:
An English New Wave band with only 2 studio albums and one hit single, “Video Killed the Radio Star”.  Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Buggles

Dire Straits:
British rock band active between 1977-1995 known for hits including “Sultans of Swing”, “Money for Nothing”, “Walk of Life” and “So Far Away”.  This band boasts one of the greatest yet most underrated guitar players in rock history, Mark Knopfler.  They’ve had 6 studio albums, all of which are very good.  Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dire_straits

Duran Duran:
An iconic 80’s new wave band from England who dominated the early days of MTV and were widely known as the “pretty boys of rock”.  They are still very popular today and have released 13 studio albums so far during their career with numerous top 40 hits.  In my opinion, this band represents the epitome of MTV in the 80’s.  Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duran_duran

Def Leppard:
Though their sound is mild by comparison today, Def Leppard was considered a British hard rock band when they crashed the scene on MTV and won the popularity contest with hits like “Photograph”, “Bringing on the Heartbreak”, “Pour Some Sugar on Me”, and “Hysteria”.  Like Duran Duran, this band also has the gift of longevity and is still popular despite their rough history which includes the death of 2 guitar players and a crippling auto accident leaving their drummer with one arm.  They have 11 studio albums and also numerous top 40 hits.  Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Def_Leppard

Madonna:
Perhaps no star from MTV’s golden era knows more about longevity than Madonna.  This All-American 52 year old sex goddess still holds the throne of top rock diva for many reasons.  While her image is ever changing with the times, her music has been and remains hip, happening and chart topping.  She has a remarkable legacy not only in music but in film and entertainment in general.  She also has 11 studio albums and countless top 40 hits.  Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madonna_%28entertainer%29

Culture Club:
The band Culture Club had one of the most controversial front men in music history, Boy George.  Another British new wave band to parade onto MTV and steal the hearts of many viewers, Culture Club had several popular dance hits including “Do Your Really Want to Hurt Me?”, “Time Clock of the Heart”, “Karma Chameleon”, and “Miss Me Blind”.  Though the band is no longer together, the music still remains popular and is featured in many films and documentaries based in the decade of decadence known as the 80’s.  In more recent years, Boy George has made the news in a negative light and has even dealt with criminal charges and remains recluse.  But, in their better days, the band 5 studio albums – 3 of which were big sellers.

Mötley Crüe:
Reminiscent of the glory days of Alice Cooper, the New York Dolls or Kiss this band brought back the theatrics of flashy rock music and they added a sound heavier than most on the market at this time.  Mötley Crüe were the true pioneers of what is labeled today as “hair metal” or “glam rock”, but in the 80’s this was considered a rather hard core sound and scene.  They were one of many up and coming metal bands from the Sunset Strip of L.A., California.  Still widely known and popular, they’ve sold nearly 100 million albums worldwide.  If any metal band has a colorful past it’s these guys.  They’re notorious for  bad behavior, bad reputations and just all around bad-ass-ness! Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C3%B6tley_Cr%C3%BCe

Cyndi Lauper:
Though she wasn’t quite Madonna’s nemesis and the two artists were very different, the uniqueness and charm of Cyndi Lauper made her tough competition … especially since she happens to be incredibly talented as well.  This American icon quickly rose to fame with her aptly titled debut album “She’s So Unusual” that including chart topping hits like “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and “Time after Time”.  She has always been a stand out artist among her peers and still tours for sold out audiences today.  Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyndi_Lauper

Adam Ant:
This British pretty boy’s career originally began with Adam and the Ants and later he went solo as Adam Ant.  A real heart throb for all the ladies during the 80’s, he seemed to bring a steamy sexuality to the small screen with his well known hit videos for “Goody Two Shoes” and “Strip”.  He was once voted the sexiest man in America by the MTV viewing audience.  Unfortunately, similar to Boy George, his almost come-back was shattered with criminal charges for bad behavior that landed him in a psychiatric hospital.  Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_Ant

David Bowie:
It would be impossible to sum up this brilliant artist in a few sentences and I’m not even going to try! Bowie is best known for his work in the 70’s, but his hit making career spans from the late 60’s to current works.  He has released 24 studio albums, all of which are a must have for any avid music fan.  During MTV’s high point, Bowie released the album “Let’s Dance” which included popular videos for “Modern Love”, “China Girl”, and the title track “Let’s Dance”.  To learn more (and I suggest you do) click here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Bowie

Journey:
Journey boasted one of the most iconic lead vocalists ever to grace rock music, Steve Perry.  Though this All-American rock band debuted in the mid-70’s, the 80’s was their time to shine.  Their catalog of music is a catalog of top 40 hits and I struggle to think of a song they recorded in the 80’s that wasn’t a chart topper … I don’t think it exists.  While they didn’t share the theatrics and style of video making that many of their competitors did during the 80’s, they won audiences over with classic simple videos that displayed their talent lyrically, musically and vocally.  This band is always imitated and never duplicated.  In 1998 Perry left the band with no rumors of a reunion since and, though Journey still tours with numerous replacement singers, without Perry things have never been the same.  Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Journey_%28band%29

Genisis:
Genisis formed in the late 60’s with Peter Gabriel as their lead singer.  And, much like Bowie, it would be hard to sum this band up in a few sentences.  But, in the 80’s they became famous with  Phil Collins as their lead singer as well as drummer.  Though they were considered progressive rock in their earlier days, during the 80’s I think they would be best described as controversial in some ways with their political lyrics and thought provoking music.  However, they were also know for some meaningful love songs.  Collins brought them into the mainstream and to the peak of their popularity, but left the band for an equally popular solo career in the mid 80’s which kept him as a familiar face on MTV.  Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genisis_%28band%29

Fleetwood Mac:
Like Genisis or Bowie, attempting to summarize the history of Fleetwood Mac is nearly impossible.  This was, however more of a 70’s band than 80’s though MTV did help keep their career in tact with a few hits like “Little Lies” and “Big Love”.  The band seemed to have a revolving door with members and their romances which included Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham who seemed to be more popular in the days of MTV with their solo works.  But, never the less, Fleetwood Mac is historically one of the best known bands in rock history with top selling albums and singles decade after decade and are touring today with all of the original band members… well, the 2nd wave original band members anyway.  Yeah, there’s no way to sum this history up so just learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fleetwood_Mac

Heart:
This great band went through 2 major phases of popularity, or you could say it didn’t end.  In the 70’s they were a pleasant surprise or alternative to mainstream rock music because they were a sister power duo with the phenomenal lead vocals of Ann Wilson and the sultry lead guitar of Nancy Wilson.  In the 80’s they gained popularity on MTV with power ballads and videos showcasing their sex appeal such as “What about Love”, “These Dreams”, “Alone”, and “Nothing at All”.  But, most people will remember their iconic hits from the 70’s like “Barracuda”, “Magic Man”, and “Crazy on You”.  However, nobody was complaining about being able to see this vixens in video! They’re still popular and still touring… and their still kicking ass, take it from me cause I just saw them live a couple of months ago and was left feeling satisfied yet longing for more! Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heart_%28band%29

Van Halen:
I have to laugh because probably the main reason I can’t sum up this band in just a few sentences is because they are unequivically one of my all time favorite bands.  My opinions would be biased here and perhaps unfair to the reader… but here goes…
Van Halen has had 3 lead singers over the last 3 decades, but in my opinion only one that matters … the iconic and unmatched David Lee Roth (who recently reunited with the band and they are touring and doing a fantastic job!).  So, I have to warn you that I will  only be referring to the David Lee Roth era (even thought he Sammy Hagar era was very popular as well).  Van Halen burst into rock music fame in the late 70’s with their multi platinum self titled album that included the unforgettable hits “Running with the Devil” and “You Really Got Me”.   Now, I could comb over their entire history in fine detail here, but I’ll just cover the 80’s MTV era of popularity for Van Halen which is the height of their career.
“1984” was the album of the 80’s.  Everybody who’s anybody had that album! While this album brought the band ultimate success with chart topping hits such as “Hot for Teacher”, “Panama”, “I’ll Wait” and “Jump” it also brought the demise of the David Lee Roth era as egos began to outshine the talent and caused band members, namely David and namesake/lead guitarist Eddie Van Halen to butt heads until David left to persue a solo career which also brought him much fame in the 80’s/MTV era. Anyway, you can learn more from me personally (lol) or click here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Van_Halen

ZZ Top:
Was well known for their classic videos of the 80’s, even though they were a very popular 70’s band.  ZZ Top videos told a story, and because they were so downright cool the songs behind them became wildly popular such as “Legs”, “Sharp Dressed Man” and “Gimmie All Your Lovin”.  This Texas Based Southern Rock band has a bluesy rock sound backed by legendary musicians Billy Gibbens, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard.  Though MTV may have given this band commercial success, ZZ Top had been a success for many years before and has remained a success to this day.  Unfortunately, time has not been kind to the band and even though they still have music in their hearts Billy Gibbens’ health issues has crippled touring and any new projects.  Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zz_top

Michael Jackson:
In all seriousness, I’m sure I haven’t had to define who any of these artists are in this blog but at the very least I know I don’t have to explain Michael Jackson.  He is, after all, “The King of Pop” and one of the most well known artists in the history of music… ever… only to compete with Elvis Presley or the Beatles, but in all seriousness… probably more known.  I have to say I feel it would be a waste of my time to try to summarize his career or life at all in this blog or anywhere else.  There are countless movies, documentaries, news articles and so fourth about him and he is particularly in the current news as the world mourns the anniversary of this death one year ago this week.  I doubt I even need to offer you a link to learn more about him, but here it is anyway: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Jackson

Prince:
In my opinion, no truer an artist (musically) by definition than this man.  He can and will do anything… anything… and do it amazingly well.  He writes, composes, plays every instrument, acts, and just downright shines at everything he even attempts! He spews sex appeal, emotion and passion in all of his works.  He’s controversial, political, and phenomenal at all times.  His career began in the 70’s and was an underground success that overtook the 80’s with steamy videos and unforgettable movies of his own as well as his work with other artists (song writing, record producing…etc…).  A real genius in my opinion and yet another artist I couldn’t possibly summarize.  Prince manipulates multiple genres of music including rock and R&B (an incredible feat).  Some of his more notable MTV era hits are “1999”, “Little Red Corvette”, “Purple Rain” and “When Doves Cry”.  But, really, summarizing Prince just does him and you a real injustice so please, learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_%28musician%29

Whitney Houston:
Actress, model and notable performer, Whitney Houston had a million dollar act the moment she danced onto the small screen with her first hit “How Will I Know”.  America fell in love with this knock out vocalist who had all the elements missing from the 80’s female R&B scene.  Once MTV got a hold of her, there was no turning back on one of the most notable careers any female artist could ever hope for.  She seemed to be a hit making machine and as her career grew she also dominated the big screen.  Recognized as one of the best known divas in music history, Whitney became a multi-millionaire almost overnight with hit after hit, but behind the scenes she led a very troubled life that would end up crippling her career and today she struggles to make a comeback.  However, she still has the talent so I suspect that once she gets her act together she can have a very strong return to the industry.  Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitney_Houston

Who do you remember most from the MTV era? Did you love it or hate it? What are your thoughts on this topic? What do you think of MTV today?

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karma in a brown paper bag

4 07 2011

I blog here & on myspace as many folks know.  I told myself I would use this new blog location for fun blogs, fiction, funny stories and such and try not to get political here or write my editorials here like I do over there.  Of course, recently, with this disasterous oil volcano spewing into the Gulf of Mexico I couldn’t help but write about it here, there and everywhere in an attempt to spread the word.  But, in these dark days even though I know it is important to spread the word I also know that sometimes we need a good laugh.  I certainly know I do because lately this situation has put my in a somewhat depressive state and I need a little escape.  That being said, most of my readers know I love to post funny stories from my past that usually poke fun at moi but are always good for a laugh.  This one is no exception, so please enjoy a tale that I call…

Karma in a brown paper bag

TJ & I were walking home from school one day in the fall of ‘87.  It was about a 3 mile walk for us and we lived a street apart.  We weren’t the best or worst of friends, just 2 kids who lived near each other and would sometimes walk together.  We were both sophomores, had a couple of classes together, no big deal.

All the cool kids were passing us by in their cars, playing loud music and being cooler than us.  We would shrug our shoulders and keep on truckin’.  Just another day in the life of the underclassmen (or women in my case).

For some weird reason, a brown paper bag in the ditch caught my eye.
“I wonder what’s in it?” I pointed it out to TJ.
“Who cares?” He replied.
But something drove me to it.  I don’t know why, but I just had to look inside.  Annoyed, TJ waited for me to check the bag.
“Holy shit!” I gasped when I looked inside.
“What is it?” Suddenly he was interested.
“You won’t believe it!” I exclaimed as he joined me to peer into the bag.
“Hooooollllllllly shit!” He smiled wide. “Hurry up, let’s get outta here!”

We quickly stuffed our treasure into his book bag and rushed to his house, beaming!

Fortunately, TJ was a latch-key-kid … for those of you who remember that old 80’s term.  A kid who’s parents were still at work when he’d get home from school.  So, there we sat, just the two of us, at his kitchen table … pouring the contents of the brown paper bag onto the table.

“Unbelievable!” He gasped.
There sat before us, a gallon sized ziplock bag stuffed with marijuana, rolling papers, 2 cassettes and a scale.  I jumped for the cassettes, one was Ratt’s “Invasion of your Privacy” and the other was AC/DC’s “Back in Black”. 
“Cool!” I exclaimed.  “I’ll take the Ratt!”
“That’s good, I wanted the AC/DC,” He said.  “But, what are we gonna do with the rest of it?”
“Let’s split it up!” I said, logically.
“And then?” He asked.
“And then we do whatever we want with it,” I said.  “But we don’t tell anyone where we found it.”

Yeah, I you had to think someone was looking for that shit! I mean, that was a hellova lot of pot, right???

“All right,” TJ said.  “Deal!”
So, we shook on it and began splitting it up.

Now, at this stage in our lives … TJ and I were not all that familiar with pot.  I mean, sure, as you know from my previously mentioned blog I’d tried it a lil’ bit … but I wasn’t the type of person who needed at least a half a’ pound of marijuana on hand, so there was no way I was interested in keeping my half.  I saw it as a career opportunity … but it was far more than that …

Nothing brings popularity faster than being the gal with all the killer weed.
Suddenly, hot senior boys were carrying my books to class for me, sitting with me at lunch and being my friends.  Yep, that’s right, dorky little Susan was suddenly the most popular chick in school … if only till it was sold out … at least, for a moment, everyone was abuzz about my fame among the famous.

So there I was, high rolling in the dough and being doted on by hot senior dudes … ahh, it was the life … at least for a couple of months anyway.

But, alas, in the end … all that was left was a Ratt tape and a few bucks once the well ran dry.  I still have no idea what TJ did with his half.  I still have no idea who was probably looking for that great, lost bag of weed, but I did often wonder … would they ever get back at me if they found out I sold all their goods and was rocking out to their Ratt? Hmmmm…

So, there we were, about one year later … my good friend Sherrie and I, once again walking home from school along the same ol’ path that TJ and I walked.  She knew the infamous story about the brown paper bag and the glory days it brought to me, so when we stumbled upon yet another brown paper bag in a ditch yet again she encouraged me to check it out.  It didn’t take much encouragement as I had been so lucky in the past, I couldn’t resist wondering if lightening would truly strike twice.

As I eagerly and hopefully opened the back, she watched to make sure no one was spying.
“Ahhhhhhh!” I screamed and quickly threw the bag down and began to run.
She ran with me.
“My God!” She exclaimed.  “What the hell was in the bag??”
“It was a dead half rat!” I explained.
She stopped cold in her tracks. “Do what?”
“A dead half rat,” I said.  “A rat, bloody and cut in half.”
“Bullshit!” She argued.  “Who the hell would cut a rat in half and throw it in a bag on side of the road?”
“I have no idea!” I said.  “But it was the rear end, all bloody and with his tail and stuff… it was awful!”
“That doesn’t make sense!” She argued …

And we argued for about a half a mile when finally we bet on it and we had to turn around so she could see for herself.
“You’re going to be sorry,” I warned her as she opened the bag.
I closed my eyes, waiting for her shrill …
waiting…
waiting…
And suddenly, she burst into wild laughter.
I opened my eyes and peered over at her as tears rolled down her cheeks.
“A dead half rat, huh?” she choked between laughs.
“You think it’s funny?!?” I was stunned.
“It’s a used tampon, you dumb ass!” She replied … and continued to laugh all the way home…

And so there it was … my karma in a brown paper bag.  I guess lightening doesn’t strike twice, but the first strike was good while it lasted and the dead half rat became equally as famous around the school as I was picked on for ages about that little discovery.

Weird and interesting facts for your amusement

The current street value of what I found is estimated at around $800, back then it was probably valued at half that price.  Want to know the current street value of marijuana in your state? Visit http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Street_price_of_weed

The ancient Egyptians invented the first disposable tampons made from softened papyrus. The ancient Greeks created tampons made from lint wrapped around a small piece of wood, recorded in writing by Hippocrates in the fifth century B.C. (Ouch!!) Want to test your tampon knowledge? Visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tampon

Paper bags are eco-friendly, easy to recycle, and have many uses.

Want to make a piniata like this one? This pinata is made using a paper bag, tissue paper, glue, and a few other supplies you might already have laying around your house.  All you need to make this is; candy, small toys or whatever you want to stuff it with (even $800 worth of weed will work if you’re having that kinda party!), newspaper, colored tissue paper, string or yarn, glue, scissors and a hole puncher.  (See, I bet you already have all that lying around the house, don’t you?) Start out by opening your bag and setting it on your work surface. Put the candy and/or small toys into the bag. You do not want your bag to be more than half way full or it will be too heavy to hang! Now, fill the rest of the bag, stopping about 2-inches from the top, using scrunched up newspaper. Once you have your pinata filled, pinch the top of the bag together and roll it down 2 or 3 times. Staple it shut. Cover the bottom of your filled paper bag with a piece of tissue paper. Set your bag on a piece of tissue paper and cut the tissue paper so it is about 2-inches larger than the bottom of the paper bag all the way around. Glue the edges of the tissue paper up around the bottom of the paper bag. Handle the corners as if you’re wrapping a present. Now cut several strips of tissue paper long enough to completely fit around your bag and about 4- 6-inches wide depending on size of bag. You will need about 5 strips (this may vary by bag size). Use your scissors to cut fringe along a long edge of all of your tissue paper strips. The fringe should go about half way up your tissue paper strip. The fringe should be cut about 1-inch apart. Start near the bottom of the bag, just above the piece of tissue paper you glued onto the bottom of the bag, and place a bead of glue around the bag. Stick your first piece of fringed tissue paper, fringed edge down, onto the glue. This should hang over the bottom tissue paper and slightly overhang the bottom edge of the bag. Stick another strip onto the bag, hanging about halfway over the first strip. Continue this until your entire bag is covered by fringed tissue paper. Punch two holes along the top, folded edge of the paper bag. Cut a piece of yarn or string a few yeards long. Thread one end of the piece of yarn or string through one hole, pull it across the top edge of the bag, and then back through the other hole. Tie it using a few overhand knots so it will not come apart when you hang it. Cut several strips of tissue paper, about 1-inch thick and 6-inches long. Glue them to the bottom of the pinata. Voila! You’ve got a homemade pinata! For more crafty ideas using paper bags, visit http://familycrafts.about.com/od/paperbagcrafts/tp/PaperBagCrafts.htm





Dazed and Confused

9 05 2011

It was spring 1987, I was a sophmore in high school.  He was a junior, Italian, tough … the silent type.  His big brother Eddy was a senior, a hunk, and my best friend’s boyfriend.   I’d had a crush on Phil for over a year, and desperately tried to get his attention in the smoking circle for a couple semesters to no avail.  He didn’t speak much or show interest in anyone.  I thought it was because he was too cool for anyone at that stupid school.  I didn’t blame him, even though I wished he’d give me a chance.  Eddy was insistent on getting his little bro out of his shell, he wanted him to start dating, having sex and be a man like he was.  Phil wasn’t taking the bait, so it seemed.  Personally, I was thrilled by it because I knew he would’ve ended up with someone other than me anyway.  I liked that he didn’t talk to anyone and I could just stare at him, alone smoking his cigs with one leg propped against a tree looking like an Italian James Dean.  I was a social butterfly, but more like a dorky kid sister.  Even though I was the same age as the other girls hanging in the smoking circle, I looked like a junior high kid hanging out with the older crowd.  I never really smoked or anything, I just hung out for the heated discussions about rock and roll and to fetch things for the cool kids when they asked.  But they liked me, or so I thought … nah, they liked me.

One night Suzy called me up with great excitement in her voice.
“Eddy says Phil’s coming out with us tonight and we’re going on a double date!” She exclaimed.
“With who?” I asked, thinking how unexcited I was about the aspect of Phil going out with another girl and the four of them having a good time while I’m at home bored.
“With you, stupid!” Suzy laughed.  “We’re going on a double date with the Dimaggio brothers!”
“What? Really? Me?” I was in shock.  “Phil asked for me?!?”
“Well, sort of,” she stammered.  “I mean, Eddy arranged it, but yeah.”
“Does he even know who I am?” I asked, thinking that if he did he probably wouldn’t have agreed.
“Um, well, sort of,” again she stammered.  “But, I mean… isn’t this what you’ve been waiting for? Now’s your chance!”
“Yeah, that’s cool,” I agreed.
Sure, I would’ve liked that it was all Phil’s idea and that he had some secret crush on me like I had for him, but I decided I’d take what I could get.

Later that evening, the phone rang again.
“Susan, telephone!” Mom called out from the kitchen, where the only phone we owned was kept.  “It’s a young man named Philip Dimaggio.” She stared over her glasses down her nose at me.
I tried to stay cool in front of her.  “We’re in school together,” I said.
“Uh, huh,” she nodded sternly and handed me the phone.  Staying close by, pretending to be busy in the kitchen.
“Hullo,” I tried to keep cool.
“Susan?” He said in a rough, sexy, Italian teen boy voice I’d never before heard.
“Yes,” I choked out.
“It’s Phil Dimaggio,” he said.  “I hear we’re going out tomorrow night with my brother and you’re friend.”
“Uh, huh,” I agreed.
“So, I just wanted to know a little about you first,” he said sternly.  “Do you like Led Zeppelin?”
“Yes, very much,” I lied.  My older sister, whom I shared a room with, loved Led Zeppelin … me, not so much but I lied as it seemed necessary.
“You smoke?” He continued.
“Yeah, I’ve seen you in the circle,” I replied.
“No, I mean do you smoke?” He repeated the question, emphasizing the smoke.
“Oh!” I understood.  “Yeah.” I lied.
“Ok, cool,” He said.  “I’ll bring the smoke, you bring all your Zeppelin.”
My mind quickly races through my sisters cassette collection and I know I can pull this off.
“Ok,” I agreed.

Dressed in our 80’s best, Suzy and I were ready for our big date with the Dimaggio brothers.  Suzy had been dating Eddy for a while.  They’d already been to third base … something I knew nothing about.  I had a purse full of Led Zeppelin cassettes. We were anxiously awaiting the big night.  Eddy drove up in his Ford truck, and we had some tricky seating arrangements as Suzy had to sit beside Eddy and I had to sit on Phil’s lap.  Me, with my big hair smashing against the ceiling in my little mini skirt.  It was awkward.  He smelled like cheap cologne, yet somehow I was turned on.  Though I’m sure my bony ass and the scent of Aqua Net was doing nothing for him as Eddy drove down a darkened, bumpy trail to the infamous oak tree.  The oak tree was tucked away off the beach in a slightly wooded area. It was where rebellious teens went to make out, drink alcohol, smoke pot and generally be rebellious.  It had been a hot spot for years as I remember my older sisters and their friends telling stories of hanging out by the oak tree.  This would be my first time to visit and I really felt like I was going places.  In a truck, with two hot Italian studs, parking under the infamous oak tree … yep, I was really going places.

We settled in, all seated in the back of the truck with an ice chest full of Miller ponies between us, jamming to WRNO “The Rock of New Orleans” F.M.  Classic rock bellowing up into the stars, and those cold brews I had never before tasted seemed to take the edge off and go down smoothly.  Ice cold Miller ponies are the perfect way to break into beer drinking.  They were delicious.  I was choking on cigarettes as I tried to pretend I was a smoker.  Yep, I thought as I looked up into the starry sky, you’re really going places.  However, the only place I was going was backwards falling from the edge of the truck to the ground.  I guess those cold brews are serious business when it comes to losing your balance while star gazing.  Though I was rather embarrassed, it was a really touching moment for me when Phil quickly sprang from the edge of the truck to aid me in getting up and briefly I was in his arms as he helped me stand.  Honestly I wasn’t as loaded from the beer as I was the entire situation.  High on life, I guess you could say.  Feeling like this was the pinnacle of coolness for me, and hoping that I didn’t just blow it by star gazing too hard from the edge of an old Ford.

After a good laugh from Eddy and Suzy, they decided to go for a walk into the woods for a bit of privacy.  Before their exit, Eddy took his little brother aside and put his arm around him to whisper some brotherly advice in his ear as I pretended not to watch while trying to eavsdrop.
“I think Phil’s going to try to get to third base with you tonight,” Suzy said excitedly.
I was a little nervous.  I’d never really been to third base and I was dizzy from beer and landing on a giant oak tree root.  I wasn’t really ready for all this action, but I wasn’t about to back down because I was at the pinnacle of coolness for me … or so I thought.

“So,” Phil broke the very long moment of silence between us once we were alone.  “Did you bring that Zeppelin?”
“Oh yeah!” Finally I could get something right! “It’s in my purse!”
“Why don’t we sit in the truck, catch a buzz and jam out to some then?” He suggested.
“Great Idea!” I was probably too enthusiastic, but the thought of sitting inside the truck listening to the stereo sounded a lot less dangerous than anything else at this point.  Plus, I was the keeper of the Led Zeppelin cassettes, so my cool points surely had to be rising.

As we eased onto the bench seat of that old Ford, Phil pulled a joint from his shirt pocket, popped in the “Physical Graffiti” cassette and pushed play.  The lighter flame kissed the end of his perfectly rolled joint and a sweet and unfamiliar aroma filled the air just as “Houses of the Holy” began to play.  I watched him intently, how he inhaled, his every action.  He passed it to me, and I mimicked his actions perfectly.  Inhaling, wheezing a bit but not exhaling, then after a moment or two very slowly exhaling.  It was quite a process.  After a few times, I got it.  Yep, I was really going places … I was really cool now.

We leaned back, my head somehow landed on his shoulder and for a moment we were like a couple.  I felt relaxed and dazed as I began to soak up the moment like a sponge.  Once “Kashmir” bellowed through the speakers and out into the perfect night, I was hooked.  It was something far better than third base, something far better than hooking up, it was Led Zeppelin.  It was my new favorite thing and a very defining moment for me, and to this day “Physical Graffiti” is still my favorite album.  At the time, I tried to maintain my overpowering joy at this magnificent new sound that was just unveiled to me as I was supposed to already be a fan and I had to control my passions for Led Zeppelin and pretend I was just in it all for the date.  But there was no pretending, as he was just as passionate about it as me and what was supposed to be a cheap sexual virginity losing experience set up for both of us turned out to be a really rewarding music lesson … among other lessons … and a night that changed me forever.

Was it the pinnacle of coolness? Yeah, I’d say so.  Did we get to third base? Nah, I think we both got something cooler out of it than that.

My love for Led Zeppelin grew leaps and bounds continuously over the years that followed. Though nothing ever grew romantically between Phil and I after that night, we did remain good friends throughout our late blooming years and continued to enjoy Led Zeppelin together for many other smoky, starry, dazed and confused nights under the infamous Oak Tree.

Led Zeppelin was born in1968 by Jimmy Page (guitar), Robert Plant (vocals, harmonica), John Paul Jones (bass guitar, keyboards, mandolin), and John Bonham (drums). With their heavy, guitar-driven sound, Led Zeppelin are considered one of the progenitors of  heavy metal/hard rock music.  However, Led Zeppelin’s unique style drew from many sources and transcends all genres still today as well as remaining one of the most influential bands in the history of music.  Even 30 years after disbanding (following Bonham’s death in 1980) Led Zeppelin continues to be held in high regard for their artistic achievements, commercial success, and broad influence. Having sold over 200 million albums worldwide, the band is known to be one of the best selling music artists of all time.They have had all of their original studio albums reach the top 10 of the Billboard album chart in the US, with six reaching the number one spot.Led Zeppelin are ranked #1 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock.  Rolling Stone magazine has described Led Zeppelin as “the heaviest band of all time”, “the biggest band of the ’70s” and “unquestionably one of the most enduring bands in rock history”.Similarly, when inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame they were described as being as “influential in the 70’s as The Beatles were in the 60’s”. Led Zeppelin’s popularity in the early years was dwarfed by their triumphant mid-seventies successes and it is this period that continues to define the band.  At this point in their career, the band was considered the world’s #1 rock attraction.  All of their albums released from their inception through their super stardom remained in Billboard’s top sales.  After a decade of being on top of their game while also facing many trials and tribulations, as they set fourth toward a new tour, John Bonham died from asphyxiation stemming from drinking too much vodka and choking on his own vomit.  It was a sad waste and a sad day in music history.  On October 10, 1980, Bonham was laid to rest and two months later the band announced they would no longer continue as Led Zeppelin due to the “deep sense of undivided harmony” in the wake of their “dear friend”s death.

To view Led Zeppelin performing in the height of their fame, visit this link for a performance of “Kashmir” at Earl’s Court in 1975: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1yFQ6vcRNk

To learn more about Led Zeppelin, this is an awesome website: http://www.ledzeppelin.com/

Enjoy these links and if you enjoy Led Zeppelin even half as much as I do, you’ll thank me for it.  Though, I can’t imagine anyone is reading this who doesn’t already enjoy them! 🙂

 





“People misinterpret my passion for anger”

6 03 2011

Charlie Sheen was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.  He never had to worry about anything or want for anything.  He was given free reign at birth to do whatever he pleased.  Today, he blames his father (who basically gave him that silver spoon and freedom) for his wreck of a life.  Is that wrong? In some ways, not so much.  If you have lived your entire life doing as you please, no matter how bad it may be, and not suffered any real consequences then why not? Sure, this path of destruction began with the freedom of being a rich, spoiled, Hollywood son but in his adult life is his father really still to blame? Well, being so spoiled in his youth was the groundwork for not having to mature and deal with reality but how has he evaded reality in his adult life? He has done things many common men would still be sitting in a jail cell over, yet Charlie Sheen has never had to do so.  Our legal system has continued to polish the silver spoon forever planted in his mouth by continuing to allow him to avoid the consequences of his actions simply because he’s a rich celebrity who can afford to buy his way out of any situation he may find himself in.  His only real consequences have been that he is under the media microscope.  Is he crazy? Maybe not.  If I had such a silver spoon in my mouth and a microscope over my actions, perhaps I too would be beyond obnoxious.  It only seems logical.  Why are we so shocked? I’m not.  I love it.  I think he’s spitting in the faces of all the fools who enabled him.  He really is winning… at least for now.  Even though there are no legal consequences for his actions that we’ve really seen, I do believe there will be some health issues in his future.  There probably already are and we just don’t know it yet.  But, while we all sit back and enjoy the showing of Charlie’s melt down  there are bigger questions left unanswered.

For instance, why is this man’s moronic behavior headline news when so many other things are going on in this world that are far more worthy of our attention? Is this part of the media’s game as they work closely with our favorite Uncle Sam to distract us from real news?  Is Charlie Sheen’s decline really more important to our daily lives than the unraveling of the middle east, the raping of the middle class American or the push to continually feed racism? Is Charlie Sheen an optimal candidate for the destruction of his name because he was once on the front lines fighting against our government with his support of the 911 conspiracy? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyKR2-A0KPU

Granted, the government didn’t drive him to the ultimate insanity that we are eating up daily but in all seriousness, he’s 1 in a million… a million egotistical addicts who think they are winning.  He’s really not that different than anyone else.  He got paid over a million per episode of “Two & ½ Men”.  Nearly 200 episodes have aired in 7 years.  That’s a butt load of cash.  Do you really think you’d be the same person you are today if you had that kind of cash? Seriously? Ok, well you can lie to me if you want but don’t lie to yourself.  Personally, I have a bit of a demanding nature and if I was worth over 200 million I think I’d be a raging bitch.  I probably wouldn’t do any of the hard drugs but I’d try like hell to keep up with my new friends in the Hollywood scene.  I guess I’d be drinking a lot of Starbucks Double Shots to stay up, maybe shooting up some B12 and such.  I’d be the healthy freak.  I can’t deny that if I got interviewed I wouldn’t go out on a limb and say some crazy shit like “I’m high on Susan Monti” because…well, frankly I would be.  I always like to joke and be sarcastic though, and having the world as my audience would probably fuel my fire beyond description.  Being obnoxious is fun, but us regular folks can’t get away with it the way a celebrity can.  Money really is a God.  With money comes freedom, power, immediate gratification, and so many things us regular folks can’t acquire.  I’m sure having millions upon millions of dollars is quite the high in itself and spending it any way you like is probably pretty addictive.

I’m only human.  I’m enjoying the Charlie Sheen show just as much as everyone else.  I’m in no position to judge anyone, especially if I’ve never been ‘in their shoes’.  I can say, in my current pair of shoes, what I’d do if I were worth millions and it would be sharing with everyone I love, traveling, raising awareness on the causes that matter most to me and donating to them, and more of that kind of stuff.  And, of course, having a good time all the time.  I can also honestly say, I’ve never wanted to be a celebrity.  Truly.  Now, of course I’d like to be rich but there’s only so much money you can spend in a lifetime and even though it can buy a lot of fabulous stuff, it can never buy true love.  I would be happy if I was in a financial position where I and those I love would never have to do without anything we needed.  My dream has always been to write a best seller and be known for that.  When that happens, then I will be winning.

Anyway, in all of my recent viewings of Charlie’s chattering I have to say my favorite quote is “People misinterpret my passion for anger”. Oh come on, who hasn’t felt that way?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Od9FkRvvnrg

Have a great Saturday night everyone & be as obnoxious as you can afford to be