Friday, October 30, 2009

Music: A Time Machine

Music plays a very important role in my life. Especially since I am such a movie fanatic. All movies have soundtracks or scores. Well, my life often seems to have a soundtrack as well. Music has the uncanny knack of taking me back in time. Certain music sparks memories so vivid, it almost seems like they happened just days before. There are songs that have truly special meaning to me and bring me back to some of the best moments of my life. I thought I'd share some and then ask a question that I've always wondered about.

I'll start off big. One of the greatest moments in my life came the day before I home for college. A group of friends and I went to a night club to celebrate. I was the first to be heading off. Among the group of friends was a girl, who will remain unnamed, who I had a crush on literally all through high school. She had a steady boyfriend though and was therefore off limits. We had so much in common. *Side note: WHY COULDN'T YOU HAVE BROKEN UP WITH HIM?? NO, YOU HAD TO DATE HIM FROM SOPHOMORE YEAR TO GRADUATION!!!! There, I feel better.

Anyway, she had recently finally broken up with her boyfriend. We were always pretty good friends, so seeing each other in this social setting wasn't that uncommon. Well, I finally worked up the courage to ask her to dance. During our dance, I reminded her of my feelings for her (she had known before) and we kissed on the dance floor. I remember the song that was playing vividly. I even recall that my first ever purchase at college soon after I got there was that CD.

Now, every time I hear that song, I get goosebumps. The hair on my arm literally stands on end. The music magically transports me back to that time. That was our last "romantic" encounter and I've always kind of thought she was "the one who got away." But that song will always transport me back to that day when I kissed the girl of my dreams. *Side Note: I AM HAPPILY MARRIED. I WOULD NOT TRADE MY WIFE FOR THIS GIRL. IT'S JUST A FOND MEMORY. THERE IS NO NEED TO CONTACT MY WIFE AND SUGGEST THAT SHE DIVORCES ME.

Other songs:

"Creep" by Radiohead brings me back to Nantucket island. Three summer visits with friends. One of my friends played the song a lot so now I associate that song with our Nantucket adventures.

"Lady in Red" by Chris DeBurgh. Takes me back to another evening I had with the girl above. Side Note: I'M NOT OBSESSED! I JUST WISH SOME THINGS COULD HAVE FALLEN DIFFERENTLY IN MY HIGH SCHOOL LIFE.

"Brass Bonanza." The Whalers theme song. Brings me back to all those wonderful games at the Hartford Civic Center with my dad.

"Never Gonna Get It" by En Vogue. Cruising around with my friend in his Dodge Omni.

"I Don't Think I Will" by James Bonamy. The moment I proposed to my wife.

"Ain't Much Fun" by Toby Keith. Freshman dorm room with my hockey playing roommate who introduced me to country.

I could go on and on. But now my I the only one who gets so caught up in music? Am I the only one who can be taken back to an earlier moment so vividly (that my hair can stand on end)? Maybe I'm weird, but I don't care. Time moves so fast. It's nice to have something like music that can rekindle such vivid memories so that I can re-live them, allbeit just for a moment.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Toes in the Water...

I am writing in a conflicted state right now. I want to feel strongly one way, but I can see the arguments another way. I'll start out with my gut but then play Devil's advocate.

There is a song on the radio right now by the Zac Brown band. The main verse contains the lyrics: "Toes in the water, ass in the sand." The "a" word said clearly and strongly during daytime hours.

I have a problem with this. There are kids out there, already exposed to way too much language and violence on TV, who might hear this. I certainly don't want my kids listening to the song and singing it. I used to be able to have no fear turning on a country music station while driving with my kids in the car. No longer I guess.

I can think of several other alterate lyrics that Mr. Brown could have used in place of "ass." Furthermore, why can't there be an alterante "radio edit" that uses a different word or mutes it out like many other songs? I distinctly recall Taylor Swift's album version of "Teardrops on My Guitar" featuring the line "because it's so damn funny." But if you listen on the radio, she says "it's just so funny." A different version of the same song was created for the radio.

Why couldn't this be done for the "Toes" song? Especially since the Toes song features an "adult" word more prominantly? I am very surprised that this song is played on the radio during peak hours. After 8pm, fine. But not when most kids are awake and could hear it.

But now the other side. I look at other countries where censorship is not as strict as the United States. You never really hear about problems with children hearing or seeing offensive material. Maybe, since it is such commonplace, parents can monitor what their children see and hear more easily.

Secondly, I believe an artist should be able to creat his/her work as he/she sees fit. If it has violence, fine. IF it has nudity, fine. Bad language, fine. No problem. That is their creation and they should be able to make it as they want and express themselves as they want to. So if they want their creations played on the radio, on TV, or on display in a museum...they should be allowed to. It's the radio station that chooses to play it and the customer (or in my case, driver) that chooses to turn on the radio to hear it.

So it's a tough call for me. Despite my feelings about censorship, I still find myself upset. I guess I'm mostly upset with the radio station for choosing to play the song during daytime hours and not muting that one word. It can be dones. Just ask Taylor Swift.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Birthdays: No Fun Anymore

I remember a time when I looked forward to my birthday. I couldn't wait to open presents or reach one of various milestones (16 to drive, 18 to get into clubs, 21 to drink, etc.). But somewhere along the line, birthdays just kind of started sucking.

Today I turned 33 and I realized just how unfun it is to have a birthday now. The older I get the more I realize I can't stop time. There's no going back. There are no more milestones to look forward too. I'd rather go backwards and relive previous milestones.

I think a lot of my frustration stems from the fact that, as depressing as it sounds, I have nothing more to look forward to in life. I'm talking grand scale. I am looking forward to seeing the Blue Jackets play on Saturday, but I'm talking big picture. I'm married, can't look forward to that. I have three kids and do not plan on having more. Can't look forward to that.

Some people suggested that I can look forward to watching my kids grow and seeing them reach milestones of their own. I say phooey to that. I don't want my kids to grow up. I want them to stay young and dependent on me forever. Everytime they reach a milestone, it will just remind me that I'm getting even older and it's just getting closer and closer to the day they move away to live their lives.

So that's the main reason I don't look forward to birthdays anymore. But I can also say that birthdays used to be magical. It was the day you felt special. You felt like the world belonged to you. You felt like the most important person on the planet. You couldn't wait to open your presents and blow out the candles. Now, the only reason I even have a cake is to please my children. It's so neat to see how excited they get about it and how special THEY feel for helping to make the cake and for giving me a present.

So I guess I have to admit, that part of birthdays still provides me with some joy. But they are just not what they used to be. To me, birthdays are just reminders that "you ain't gettin' any younger."


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Top 10 Driving Annoyances

I am an impatient driver. But I am also the best driver in the world. Of course, everyone thinks that about themselves, right? Well, as the best driver in the world, there are many things that drive me nuts while I am on the road. Here is my list of things that I annoy me the most. Fair warning...I did not proofread this before I posted. There may be quite a few gramatical errors.

Honorable Mention: Rotaries. I don't know what they are called out here in the midwest, but back in the New England we called them rotaries. Instead of an intersection, it's just a circle that you drive around and exit on the street you choose. I don't like them at all. For some reason they confuse me!

10. Long Lights. Traffic lights are essential in order to regulate traffic flow. I'll give you that. I love the ones that are intentionally timed properly so that on a long street, you only really have to wait for one light. Then the other turn green as you proceed down the road. But what drives me bonkers are the lights that obviously the traffic department did not think about when they were setting it up. I'm talking about the lights that take FOREVER to change. Where I live there is one, on a major road, at which you will sit for 1 minute and 6 seconds. What makes it worse is that there is a parking lot to a car dealership on one side and a road to an industrial area on the other. Simply no need for a red light to last that long in such a location.

9. Intersection Standoffs. You know what I'm talking about. When more than one car gets to an intersection at about the same time or when drivers can't figure out who has the right of way. You end up sitting there for a few seconds wondering who is going to go. Then you decide to go...just as someone else does too. Very awkward and very annoying. Pay attention to the order in which you arrive at an intersection people! Is it a tie? Then the person on the right goes. Drivers Ed 101.

8. Cell Phone Distracted Drivers. Put down the cell phone and pay attention dammit! If you are not awesome at multi-tasking like me, you should not be calling/receiving calls when you drive.

7. Drivers Who Don't Signal. That is why car makers put them on cars. Use them!

6. Drivers in the Left Lane Who Refuse to Get Over. When you drive, you are supposed to be alert. So when a faster driver comes up behind you and you are in the left hand lane (and nobody is next to you in the right hand lane), GET OVER. People who do this are either oblivious to the fact that there is someone behind them or are just plain stupide, ignorant of the rule. The right lane is for traveling. For slower drivers. The left lane is for passing. For faster drivers. If you are slower than me, fine. Just get the heck over.

5. Drivers who take forever to pass you. If you are going to pass me, fine, do it. Find the gas pedal and use it. It drives me crazy when someone decides to pass me and takes an hour to get past my vehicle. By the time he/she is almost past me, I myself have come up behind a slower driver and now need to slow down and wait before I can pass.

4. Want to Pass, But Can't! This occurs mostly with semi trucks on the highway. You are doing what you are supposed to do and are staying in the right lane until you are ready to pass. You come up behind a slow driver (again, usually a truck). You look in your mirror and see that you can't pass because there is a car (or cars) in the left lane, too close for you to safely change lanes. So you are forced to slow down. Then, to make matters worse, since you have slowed down several cars form a line behind you. Then they decide to pass you as soon as they can so you are stuck waiting for a whole bunch of people to pass you before you can speed up again.

3. Drivers Cut You Off...They Could Have Waited. Again, this occurs mostly with semi trucks it seems. You are driving along in the left lane about to pass a slow vehicle or line of slow vehicles. There is absolutely no one behind you and a driver in the right lane decides to pull into the left lane in front of you. The driver may be going faster than others in the right lane, but he/she is going slower than you want so you have to slow down anyway. It makes me mad because if they were paying attention, they would notice that you are moving at a high rate of speed and there is nobody behind you. They should just politely wait for you to go by, then make their pass.

2. Slow Drivers. Simply put, I'm a fast driver. Yes, I even admit to going a few miles over the speed limit every once in a while. :) In my opinion, there should not only be speed limits. There should be speed mandates. In a 55 mph zone, it should be a mandate that a driver goes 54 (or something like that). Actually, it's worse on residential roads. I was driving in a 35 mph zone the other day and the driver in front of me was going 22. TWENTY TWO. Granted it was an elderly driver. If you are going to drive that much lower than the speed limit, you shouldn't be on the road. Sure speeding is dangerous, but going so slow is also dangerous...and freakin' annoying.

1. Trucks Trying to Pass Other Trucks. I drive an hour on the Interstate every day for work. This happens all the time. Semi Truck A is going 60. Semi Truck B decides to pass Truck. The problem is that Truck B passes Truck A at a speed of 60.5. I am trying to get to work and want to go as fast I can. But I get stuck behind a truck in the left lane trying to pass a truck in the right lane. Sometimes, no exaggeration, it is several MILES before a truck completely passes another truck. If you are going to pass, PASS! See #5 above! Find the gas pedal!

So there you have it. My top 10 driving annoyances. So what did I forget? I'd love to hear about them!


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Top 10 Chick Flicks of All Time: a Guy's Perspective

This will be the first of many blog entries that I import from my myspace blog (which I don't use anymore). I'm proud of many of those entries so I am going to repost to share with (hopefully) and expanded audience. Here goes...

I am not ashamed to admit that I have seen my fair share of chick flicks in my lifetime. I have a wife. She sits through Aliens vs. Predator and GI Joe, I'll sit through something she wants to see. Furthermore I'm not ashamed to admit that there were plenty that I actually enjoyed. Some like "The Mirror Has Two Faces" and "The Other Sister" I have absolutely HATED, but there were some I really liked.

So here it is, my top 10 chick flicks of all time. Please note that some of these may not be considered true chick flicks. A vague definition that you can keep in the back of your mind as you see these entries are "movies that a guy normally would never admit to being a favorite" or better yet "movies that a chick would normally list as a favorite before a guy would."

Honorable Mentions: Ghost, 27 Dresses, and Top Gun. Sure Ghost was a love story but it had some other cool elements like revenge and the supernatural. 27 Dresses had Katherine Heigl (mmmm...Katherine Heigl...from Connecticut!) and some funny parts with Cyclops. Top Gun had many testosterone elements like jets, arial battles, motorcycles, hot topless guys playing volleyball...I mean, um, sports.

10. Sleepless in Seattle. Feel good movie with many funny parts. My favorite part is when Tom Hanks and Victor Garber are describing a Dirty Harry (?) movie.

9. Holiday. This movie spawned Mr. Napkinhead at my house. My kids love it and I owe that movie and Jude Law for it.

8. Doc Hollywood. Just an all-around good comedy. This is one of the movies that really made me want to live in small-town America. Plus Julie Warner gets naked. Gratutitous nudity, especially for a PG-13 movie. "We're doin' a pollination rap song!"

7. Return to Me. The old Italian/Irish guys in that movie remind me of my family in some ways. David Duchovy was very good as a man who lost his wife only to find love again. Unique story.

6. Notting Hill. Few chick flicks can make me laugh out loud several times. This is one of them. Spike, Hugh Grant's flatmate in the movie, is utterly hilarious. "You daft prick!"

5. Chances Are. An oldie and not a very well-known one. This is an 80's movie starring Robert Downey Jr. and Cybil Shepherd. Her husband dies and he is reincarnated as Robert Downey Jr's character. Chances are that they would never meet and reunite....but they do! If you'e ever heard the song by Peter Cetera and Cher "After All"'s from this movie.

4. Nine Months. Another Hugh Grant movie. Any movie with "Let's Get it On" used in a humorous capacity is usually a good one. I think I just like seeing the SUV get air-borne while driving to the hospital.

3. The Cutting Edge. Any chick flick with some hockey mixed in has got to be a good one. "Ah Doug...Douglas."

2. Titanic. Kiss my butt, I love this movie. Great love story, great effects, great historical aspects, great epic scale,...great boobs. "It's made of iron sir, I assure you she can. And she will. It's a mathematical certainty."

1. The Princess Bride. Not only my favorite chick flick but one of my all-time favorite movies, period. Top 5 non-Star Wars or Lord of the Rings movie in fact. Just about everything said in that movie could be considered a memorable quote. "Life IS pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something."

So what did I miss? What should I have included in this list?