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"This is the most exciting day of my life...and I was pulled on stage once to dance at a Bruce Springsteen concert."
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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Didn't We Almost Have It All

Helloooo blogging world. It's me.

Back by popular demand, I'm attempting to dust off my blogging fingers and jump back in the game. I know it's been a while. Proof? It wasn't too easy getting here today. See, it's been so long since I last updated (almost two years to be exact) that how to access my blog itself has changed. I felt like the prodigal son returning from college only to find out his bedroom has been turned into mom's knitting area. Apparently Blogger no longer supports FTP publishing, which is the equivalent of "No Habla Ingles" to me. All YOU need to know is that I still pay for my old domain over at Go Daddy, but in order to publish here I had to add a lame blogspot to the end of my address. I don't know how to build a redirect page or change how to publish, but I would like to streamline the two if I can. Because you know, I'm worried, I finally return and only 2 out of the 5 people who still care about this blog will know how to get here. So if you can help a girl out, I'm all ears.

So why the long absence and why the return? Well, the long absence is a string of excuses. Some of them are just that, excuses while others are legit reasons that have kept me from keeping up. For starters, I've said it before and I'll say it again, life itself gets in the way. When I first started this blog back in 2003 I I was in a period of flux. AOGB gave me a platform and a voice to write about said flux. Blogging was relatively new at the time and being a girl in her early twenties, I liked finding an outlet for my release. Discovering that people liked me, really liked me was just the unexpected cherry on top. And it snowballed from there.

Before I knew it I was managing and reciprocating blogroll updates, recruiting a redesign, scheduling time to make sure to maintain blogging relationships and etiquette and adding pins, bells and whistles etc...because someone, somewhere said it was the thing to do. Every time I had a semi intriguing thought I'd jot it down, knowing I could turn it into a full-fledged rant as a blog post. Eventually I had a lot of friends, a good core group of fans and little ol' me was even in the running for blogging awards.

But that was then, this is now.

Sometimes I get overwhelmed by the idea of returning and trying to recapture it all. As Eddie Money once said, "I wanna go back and do it all over, but I can't go back I know". Not only has the blogging game changed, I've changed. For one thing I don't feel "hip" to the game anymore. Do people still even read and write blogs anymore? In my opinion it's all about tweets, plus ones and how clever you can be in 150 characters or less. I see your status update game and I raise you a few thousand word post. So this begs the blogging obsolete or even worse, am I obsolete?

Another issue? Anonymity. I created this blog with my identity attached to it. I don't regret doing that. But sometimes there are some things you don't want to share with the world as yourself, if that makes any sense. Sure I could rant about my job or my life, but it's a double-edged sword. The more you put yourself out there, the more risk there is involved. Over the years I've thought about creating another blog and starting fresh, but then I thought to myself, you can't even maintain AOGB and you want to start something new?!

Then there's the last but not least reason. In a nutshell, it all boils down to ego. Don't get me wrong, I'm flattered that people still remember the glory days of AOGB and contact me to ask what happened or where I went. But a part of me always gets sad when I get asked questions like that. The answer is complicated and simple all at the same time. Yes, time and technology are legitimate factors for me. But then there's the looming feeling that I coulda been a contender. Blogging was a party I always felt I came just a little too late, or early, to. At the height of AOGB I was dancing as fast as I could while trying to maintain relationships, my first year teaching, an exercise routine, etc. I danced for a while, but since I was contributing to so many things at once it didn't feel like my best and since it wasn't my best, for me it wasn't good enough. Deep down I was a perfectionist when it came to AOGB and towards the "end" of the heyday I could see the next wave coming in and I just simply couldn't keep up. So instead of trying, I went on hiatus.

But here's the thing: I don't want to be the Debra Winger of blogging. I'd rather be known as Diane Lane. And if you know what I mean by that sentiment, you're in the right place. So I suppose the way to do that is to not make any promises to myself or to others and not expect anything in return. This blog might never have the readership it once did and that's ok. I might never been able to catapult AOGB into something more like I once secretly hoped, and that's ok, too. Instead I need to blog for myself when I can, organically, naturally. The rest will fall into place.

Deep down I think Debra would agree, too.
Friday, August 07, 2009

If You Leave, Don't Leave Now

Yesterday was just a regular day like any other.

I had a fun, yet semi-cloud filled day walking on the boardwalk with an old college roommate. We don't get to see each other a lot, so we did what most old friends do- we spent part of the time reminiscing, part of the time catching up. Experiences like that are bittersweet. It's great to look back, but looking back also reminds you of how much time has really passed. That's where the sad part kicks in.

When I got home I went on Facebook to check the old status updates and immediately saw these words, "No! Not John Hughes, too! ..." Immediately, I saw red. Although the words weren't plainly stating what happened, a knot started forming in the pit of my stomach, imagining the worst. So I jumped on Google, typed in John Hughes and got back the dreaded results, "John Hughes dead at 59".

A wave of sadness rushed over me. Instinctively, I turned around and posted my thoughts about John Hughes and his sudden demise. I wrote, "(Janet) is sad John Hughes died. Now the illusion he would ever make a sarcastic, yet heartfelt teenage movie comeback one day is officially dead, too."

So, for the big question that may be on some of your minds, what made John Hughes so special? Well to me, it was so many things. For starters, he captured what it felt like to be a teenager better than any other writer before or since, (although Kevin Williamson sure did try his hardest to claim the title at one point). How a man in his mid-thirties managed to recreate those awkward moments that were so painfully beautiful is what made him a true artist. Not only did he capture a time period so perfectly, he made the portrayal timeless. Sure, those films are riddled in eighties fashion and slang, but somehow their goodness transcends any tackiness. That in itself is a gift my friends.

Not only did he have a knack for wonderful storytelling, he also had an amazing eye for talent. I'm not sure how much involvement he had in this process, but it still needs to be said that his movies made stars out of relatively unknown actors such as Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Macaulay Culkin, John Candy and so many more. Casting of those films was so precise. You knew this because when you tried to imagine the confident Ferris Bueller played by anyone other than Matthew Broderick or the lovable Duckie portrayed by someone rather than Jon Cryer you simply cannot. Go ahead, I dare you.

As if being a talented writer/director/producer wasn't enough, Hughes also had a hand in creating wonderful movie soundtracks. Suddenly songs were synonymous with moments. If I hear "If You Leave" I am instantly transported back to THE prom in Pretty In Pink. When "Don't You Forget About Me" comes on the radio I see Judd Nelson pumping his fist in the air as he did during The Breakfast Club. When The Commitments made a remake of Otis Redding's "Try A Little Tenderness" famous, it was good, but it would never suprass Duckie's lip synching in the record shop. And who could forget the usage, or should I say OVER usage of Yello's "Oh Yeah? Which was prominently featured in two Hughes films alone, Ferris and Planes, Trains and Automobiles, along with many others over the years.

There were many stories about when, why and how John Hughes unofficially bowed out of Hollywood. Some say his downfall started after a falling out with his then muse, actress Molly Ringwald. In fact, some of those same people would argue neither of them would ever be the Lennon without McCartney or peanut butter without jelly. You might be powerful on your own, but never as powerful as you were together.

Others say it was the beginning of the end when Hughes started "going soft" as he went from depicting the jaded, teenage era to the light-hearted family fare of movies like Home Alone or Curly Sue. I have to say I'm more inclined to fall in line with one of these people. While Home Alone was a monster hit, it was never one of my favorites and I never saw the big deal. But then again I think I also held a bit of a grudge. It was almost as if Hughes and Ringwald were the parents and they split up. Culkin was the new wife, or the Hagar to Ringwald's Roth, if you will. Odd comparison, but it works. Sometimes a different kind of magic isn't magical at all.

That's not to say that his death itself isn't sad enough, but to me it was more than the death of a person. Essentially it is the death of an era, too. Not that he ever would have been able to reclaim those glory days of cinema, or that he'd ever really want to, but just the possibility that it *could* happen one day was enough for me. In fact, in looking over some of my old John Hughes related blog posts, I found this one. Written over four years ago now, I had completely forgotten about it. Obviously the movie never came to fruition and even if it ever had it probably would have paled in comparison, but there was hope and on some level, hope was enough.

Since first hearing the news, my awareness of all things Hughes has heightened. Stories about a famous person always surface after they die. That's also when you discover the supposed true measure of a man. It has been refreshing thus far to read nothing but good things about the man and his work. From famous actors expressing their sadness to fulfilled fans conveying their gratitude, all in all, it seems like Hughes was a stand up, non Hollywood sort of guy. In fact, at age 59, an alleged farmer and the father of two children (another rumored reason he left the limelight), Hughes was also married to the same woman for 39 years. A 39 year marriage that not only lasted the Hollywood days, but outlasted them? This is just one of the many reasons why Hughes was so one in a million.

Some of you reading this, mainly those who were not touched by his work in the same way, might be thinking I'm crazy. To you, John Hughes was just a man who made noteworthy films some twenty years ago. It's the same mixed mentality about Michael Jackson's death. Some were appalled regardless of what he did or didn't do over the years. Then there were those who felt he was iconic and no amount of time passing could take that away from him. Others felt his day had come and gone and that his death now was not nearly as prolific had it would have been at the height of his fame and fortune. It's all about perception. But when it comes to the untimely deaths of men like Hughes and even Jackson, I always revert to what once was. Somehow, on some level, their mortality, even if unexpected, reminds me of how much time has really passed, thus bringing this post full circle.

Sometimes it's not even about the death of a life but rather, a life change. The example that comes to mind in all of this was the day the world found out Michael J. Fox had Parkinson's Disease. Not only was Fox so young, his image was synonymous with active, spunky youth. Although the optimistic Fox still lives on, the memory of what he once was would only be that, a memory. It's the fact that things would never be the same again. That's not to say that they ever really would. Looking back is pointless anyhow. But that doesn't stop the nostalgic part of me, a big part, from doing this every so often anyhow.

I don't know what it is that makes so many of us look back with fondness, but it's a popular phenomenon evidenced in pop culture in so many ways. As a society, we're always either looking back or looking forward. It's so hard to truly enjoy living and appreciating the here and now. But as the great character of Ferris Bueller once said, "Life moves pretty fast. You don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it".
Sunday, August 02, 2009

Off The Deep End

As anyone who has ever known me can tell you, I'm a rather simple girl. In fact, there are really only two things in my life that, on a grand scale, I've consistently wanted. Those things are a dog and a pool, and not necessarily that order. I also want a full on waterfall wall in my house and a personal salad bar that is stocked at all times, but that's not important now.

Last fall, after getting married and moving into our new home, we attempted the dog thing with disastrous results. It's weird how you can spend so much time wanting something, but still give no thought to what wanting said thing actually means. While I wanted the dog, when it came right down to it, we rushed into the actual decision, if that makes any sense. We took on a puppy that would require a lot more maintenance and care than either of us were prepared or ready for. We also took on a puppy that within a few short months time would clearly pass me in height and weight. So needless to say the dog, that dog, didn't work out. But most of you knew that already.

However what we did inherit when we bought this house was an above ground pool. I was so excited to get this pool as all my life, my parents had a huge yard that was oh so pool ready, however ready for a pool they never were. I think I could have talked my dad into it easily. My mom, on the other hand, was another story. So when I moved into this house I was super excited to finally have a pool of my own.

Only the problem was this. Last year we moved in in mid July. A few weeks after that we were getting married, and a week after that we would be on our honeymoon. Then, a few weeks after that the summer would be over and I'd be back at work. So last summer, although my first official summer with a pool, was not the summer to truly enjoy said pool. Instead it became an expensive headache of maintenance worries. My husband wanted no part of the pool, swimming or otherwise, so the burden, since I was the interested and seasonably unemployed party, rested on my shoulders.

Last summer I had to make a lot of phone calls to get someone to come out and help stabilize our pool and try to teach me some of the basics. Some people laughed at me when I called 1. because I couldn't answer their "simple" pool related questions and 2. that I wanted so much help to maintain a *shudder* above ground pool, of all things. Ultimately I did find one guy, and his son, who were willing to come out and assess the situation. He was a little rough around the edges, but a nice enough guy and hey, he was probably making more money than he should of off of us anyway.

When the season came to an end, the pool was stable, but our cover was not. Still, not being home the day we got the pool closed, my husband who wanted to be done with it just had the pool man put the old cover on the pool. Apparently the pool guy did warn that the cover was not in great condition, but my husband was tired of dealing with it for the season and just wanted it to be over for now. Of course that was a decision he'd pay for some eight or nine months later.

As fall turned to winter and winter to spring we slowly but surely started to see our crappy cover, the one we were advised not to use, cave in bit by bit. So when it came time for the big reveal, a stable pool that really should only need to be shocked needed a hell of a lot more than that. In fact, my husband and my father in law ended up having to drain the whole thing after finding a slew of organisms, both dead and alive, inside. It's probably better off I didn't see this first hand for myself. I did however, get to see the husband actually put on waders to do the job which in itself, was a sight to behold. Apparently the pool drained, but the last bit of "stuff" wouldn't come out so some thing a ma jig had to be rented to finish off the job.

Once the pool was drained, it had to be filled up like new and stabilized from the start. But stabilizing a pool, if you remember, was something I never fully mastered from the year before. Oh and did I mention that I had about a week to figure it all out as we were having our first bbq and told people to bring their bathing suits? So off to the pool store I went. Now going to the pool store is a funny experience. While I love handing over a sample of my pool water and being told what to do, the skeptic in my always wonders how much of it I really have to do, or if it's just another lame attempt to get me to buy more chemicals than I really need. It's just like when I take my car in for an oil change and they inevitably tell me I need something else, like fuel injection service, whatever that is. Maybe I do need it, maybe I don't. But the fact that I don't know if I can trust the source is what upsets me the most.

One thing I will say though is the girl I got at the pool store to help me totally gave me instructions like pool maintenance for dummies. Not only did she tell me which chemicals to use, she saw how panicked and overwhelmed I looked, so she went that extra step to put specific sticky notes on each container telling me what I had to do and in what order I had to do it. Thank you pool girl, wherever you are. Yet even with the directions it was a time consuming and somewhat awkward process, mainly because of the way our pool is situated. It's hard to explain, but I'll try. Our backyard is a little bit hilly, so it's almost as if our pool was built into a hill. Nice shrubbery surrounds the perimeter of our pool, too. Together this gives the appearance of our pool being an in ground pool although it's not. It also makes say, broadcasting chemicals over the surface of the pool harder to do because it's not easy to actually walk around our pool. It also makes plugging the vacuum in a two person job since you can't be in two places at once and like I said..there's the whole "you can't easily walk around the pool" thing.

So for the most part, I maintain the pool solo as much as I can. We bought these test strips and I stared learning pool terminology enough to at least halfway hold my own if a pool related conversation should ever arise. And since I am home a lot this summer, I've been using the pool a lot, too. I have no idea if I'm maintaining it the way I *should* but considering I haven't grown any extra arms or legs and my hair hasn't turned green, it can't be all that bad. And while we run the filter faithfully and I need my husband's help to vacuum, overall skimming it is easy since I go in every few days and clean out the miscellaneous bugs and leaves in their majority before they settle at the bottom. Yes, overall things have been a lot better since last year.

That was, of course, until yesterday.

Yesterday started off like any other, sun filled day and so I decided it would be a good time to vacuum the pool since I was going to be out there anyway. My husband plugged the vacuum in and all was well. After about a minute he told me he wanted to turn off the filter pump for a second to add more water. I couldn't see what he was doing. All I know is that when he went to turn it back on, it wouldn't turn on. At first we thought it needed a minute or two...or ten. But a few minutes turned into a few hours and still nothing. All we did get was some humming which might have been a good or bad thing, who knows. He swears he saw smoke at one attempt so I told him to cool it for a while. He was certain that the next day it would work fine as it has happened before. I'm certain that was just a feeble attempt to try to stop me from worrying about the inevitable.

This morning I woke up and tried the switch again. Not only is it still not working, now the humming has stopped. I don't know if I should have or not, but I liked the humming. The humming gave me hope. Now all I hear are the sounds of silence and as a result, I feel frustrated. I have no idea how to troubleshoot a problem like this safely, even after researching possible causes. It could be a clog or a tripped circuit, but while both of those are I suppose easy enough to fix, neither are easy to fix by ME. In fact, I'll be honest and say that playing with electricity+water scares me anyhow.

So now I feel like my false sense of security has been snatched out from under me. My husband says he'll look at it again today, but that doesn't give me hope as we both know he does not know what he's looking for. I suppose there are some ways he can troubleshoot it if he does try. But more likely he'll want to call someone to come out. And once again I feel that burden falls on me....and our wallets, too. It might seem like a shallow thing to want your pool to just be usable, but that's really all I wanted. Right now though I feel like I'm more inclined to sink than swim.
Sunday, July 19, 2009

New Girl In The Neighborhood

Before I begin, I'll give mad props to who can figure out what pop trivia nugget served as the inspiration for the title of this post. Here's a few hints. It's from the eighties, as if you even needed to ask and all I did was change one word!

As I'm trying to settle back into my blogging digs, I've noticed that some things aren't the same as they used to be. After all, it was a wise Ferris Bueller who once said, "Life moves pretty fast. You don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." That being said, I honestly don't feel like I've been absentee THAT long. Yet, the speed in which the internet digests, regurgitates and regenerates things is insane!

For instance, when I started blogging, way back now in 2003, it was still a relatively new medium. In the beginning I would tell people I had a blog and I would get wrinkled up nose reactions that implied they had no idea what I was talking about and/or didn't care. While I still get reactions like that, mainly it's from people like my grandmother or an aunt who can't work the remote control on her new fangled television, much less "log on" to the internet.

After a while, however, I felt I would mention my blog and it was all but passe. Suddenly having a blog was like having a cell phone, everyone, except your grandma and that aunt had both. The fact that you do also doesn't make you special, it makes you the same. About two years into blogging I noticed that the medium was starting to get saturated with anyone and everyone who had something to say. And really, who was I to judge? If I even remotely thought someone, somewhere might find my daily musings mildly interesting, it would be naive to think that someone wouldn't think the same about someone else's goings on, right?

But the more I think about it, I don't really feel it's about how mundane (or exciting) your life really is, but more so it's all about the presentation. For instance, you can write a whole post about going to lunch that could bore someone to tears (and believe me I've read PLENTY of those) or you can make light of the conversations that happened, the food that was eaten, the waitress that was get the idea. In other words, making the uninteresting interesting is an art form. It doesn't really matter if you are good at it or not though because like it or not, there are plenty of bloggers out there, the good, the bad... and the boring.

Then, in the past year or two, I noticed an even newer trend. Long before my self-imposed, though not preferred absence, I started seeing other bloggers fall off the blogging face of the earth, too. The worst was finding out the hard way. I'd go to click on a link only to discover the dreaded, "this url no longer exists" message, or something along those lines. There's nothing worse, by blogging standards, then completely losing a blogging connection without any warning or any way of reaching said blog contact. Return to sender. Address unknown.:(

Which reminds me of a sub related, blog link issue. You know it's been a while when my blogroll is like an overgrown garden that needs a lot of weeding, but I don't know where to begin. In fact, I went to add a link the other day and would you believe I don't even know how to add links to my own blogroll anymore? I can log on to blogrolling, but I can't update it. Instead it keeps adding links to this mythical blogroll I allegedly have entitled "Tell It To Me Tuesday", after a weekly entry I used to do. I have no idea where blogrolling got the idea that I want other people's blogs saved under there, wherever there is, but even worse, I can't seem to figure out how to update my current blogroll since blogrolling itself has evolved into something I no longer recognize. I mean maybe people don't even use blogrolling anymore, and I'm just THAT out of touch. As a result, any help on this matter would be much appreciated. (On a related note, what is up with so many blogs being by invite only now? I am trying to visit my old links and I have gotten a few messages that say I need an invite. What is this madness??)

Recently, as I mentioned to you in my last post, I had become very lazy when it came to blogging related matters as it it became even easier to update via Facebook. Suddenly, traditional blogging with like complete paragraphs of five sentences or more was downright prehistoric. And now I can already see the new wave will be the phasing out of social platforms such as My Space or Facebook and the ushering in of Twittering. Once twittering started taking over that's when I knew.

I was officially old.

Now I feel like twittering is like blogging's version of the Fight Club. You can't talk about twittering unless you are in fact, twittering yourself. I still don't see the difference between twittering and Facebooking and when I ask someone to explain I feel like I get the passion of a defensive teenager who will protect their twittering superiority to its death, yet never pause to explain what it is they are actually defending. So another question is out there for you...if you can explain to this old blogger what is so great about twittering I'd be much obliged.

This is just a sampling of how I feel things have changed and how I'm trying to figure out where I belong now in this great big and new blogosphere. I imagine this is what Teri Garr's character in Mr. Mom must have felt like after she was out of the workforce for so long. She didn't know where she fit in either, nor did she know what she had to do to fit in again with so many other things to juggle. But she managed to get through it, with or without Martin Mull's help. In fact, I would venture to guess this is how Teri Garr feels like a lot these days. But perhaps that's another post for another time.
Monday, July 13, 2009

Welcome Back, Welcome Back, Welcome Back...

Have you ever gone down in your basement and uncovered a bunch of old, cheesy memorabilia? Perhaps it was a bunch of photos of yourself with a bad 80's hairdo, or maybe it was your New Kids on the Block cassette shaped bubble gum. No? Well, I digress.

The point I'm trying to make is that when you revisit a part of your past, a few things are certain. One, it may be equal parts comforting and discomforting, and two, it may be awfully, awfully dusty. That's how I feel about returning to writing here at AOGB, but I'm doing my best to embrace the dust and the cheese and forge ahead.

I'm fortunate that many of you have allowed me to maintain, or at least, reenter your lives by Facebook which by the way, has made me extremely lazy in terms of formal communication. In fact, I think if I hadn't found Facebook to be so easy, I would have returned to blogging a lot sooner. But Facebooking is really the fast food of blogging. By default, Twitter is the fast food of Facebook. (which by the way I deem is completely unnecessary) I shudder to think what is coming next. Perhaps an internet version of Charades? Anyway, courtesy of FB, I know what some of you are doing from day to day, even if it's just kissing a girl....and liking it. You in turn, learn the same things about me, minus the kissing the girl part, of course. Things haven't changed THAT much.

So what have I been up for those of you who don't think the world revolves around me and/or haven't been on Facebook? Well the answer is everything and nothing all at once. In the four months since I last wrote, another school year came to a close. Although I didn't write much about this school year, it's really only because all had been pretty quiet on the chalky, western front. For the first time in my five years of teaching I had a really nice bunch of "normal", age appropriate students. Even better, I only had thirteen of them! Some might think of thirteen as an unlucky number, but not with this class. There was no drama in this bunch, and believe it or not, no retentions either! They got along with each other and tried their best to listen. Rarely, if ever did they see my really mad face, or as former students would have told you, "the when Miss B gets red" face. Even when I was mad at them, justified or not, I still felt extremely guilty afterwards about getting angry. Who knew that normal children could have such an effect on me?

Some of the parents, on the other hand, were another story.

Other than that, I've spent a lot of time trying to work on the house and learn how to be a wife. Never been in my life have I had to take care of a house, or a husband for that matter, so that has taken some of my time (and energy). Now for the most part the house is under control, although as I'm sure you older, wiser homeowners will tell me that it is constantly a work in progress. The same can be said for marriage. Boy, do I miss the lazy days of my twenty-something, carefree blogging. Remember them?

So new resolution. Starting small, but I'm doing so while I have the time so that I'll try to keep my promises. My guarantee to you, if I can keep it, is one new post a week, at least. If I don't write one new post a week, you get your money back. Well, I mean if you want to give me money to begin with, that is. If not, then all bets are off.

Actually, if I act now, I might even squeeze out TWO posts this week, if you're good that is. Because after all, this is the trillionth "getting to know you, let me apologize for being such a crappy blogger" post I've done over the past year that it's really a bit redundant now isn't it? Redundant, albeit on some level, necessary. I don't like just walking back into blogging as if nothing happened. I leave that form of disillusion to the likes of B movie and tv stars who return a la reality TV.

So on the count of three here we go...the question is...who's with me???
Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Drive By Blogging

Hello again one and (probably also) all! I don't really have the time to compose at length, but I wanted to write a quick note to let everyone know I'm still alive. I always hated when bloggers would drop off the face of the Earth unannounced and I'd hate to be associated with that lot. Seriously, I really, really do.

In an effort to micro-manage my life I am touching base with blogging friends via Facebook these days. It's quick, easy and digestible. It's the microwaved meal version of blogging, if you will. I haven't forgotten any of you, even those of you who don't do social networking, I just don't have the extra time to mix and mingle like I used to. I always intend to catch up on a weekend, but it never seems to actually happen. *sigh*

Once again I reiterate this blog is not now, nor ever, planning to going away. It just unfortunately takes long bouts of forced hibernation at times. Yet I was thinking that perhaps there might be a way to squeeze a painless entry in here or there....with a little help from you, that is. If you are willing to tell me what you want to hear about, I will be willing to try to blog about said things more often.

Now I'm not promising anything and the wackier topic you give me is not necessarily the better, I just feel that whenever I do get the chance to sit down and write, I either have too much to say (past readers can attest to my long-windedness) and not the time to write it, or nothing at all because basically, I'm in the need of a good nap. So it's up to you, AOGB reader(s). Inspire me. Ask and you shall receive. Demand and I shall supply. Seek and you shall...well, you get the idea. :)

Oh and speaking of finding, if you haven't found me socially yet, let me know or remedy that, pronto!
Saturday, January 03, 2009

The Best That You Can Do: My Media Thoughts On 2008, Among Other Things

In general, I'm not one for resolutions. All resolutions ever are are promises made, pressures you put on yourself that are overall, pretty much unnecessary. As it is, there are enough things in this world that are out of our control. If you manage to accomplish something positive in any given new year, good for you. But no one arbitrary day should be the catalyst for change.

Another thing I see a lot around this time of year are reflective posts regarding the personal opinion of "best" and "worst" of the year that has just come to a close. Every year around this time I kick myself for not having been a better secretary so that I could contribute to the conversation. If only I kept track of what I liked and didn't like all year long, it wouldn't be so hard to recall when the time came to do so. I suppose what I need to do is resolve to keep tabs on such things, but if I say that aloud, I'd be calling the thoughts I just stated in the previous paragraph null and void, now wouldn't I?

I also notice, as I've stated before, that as time goes on that there is less and less to be passionate about. I watched the movie The Lather Effect the other day and there was a line in there about how when you're in your thirties, you realize that nearly all of your "firsts" are now over and that realization is what depresses so many people. I can't truly say objectively if I would be excited about things like emo if it was MY generation. But the fact of the matter is it isn't and so I stand back and look at the entertainment of today and find myself saying, "Really?, Is that the best you can do??"

One thing is certain. As the years pass, I find things like events and releases get more muddled in my brain. The other day Orange Crush by R.E.M. came on the radio and my husband and I debated about the year of its release. He said early nineties, I said late eighties. I said late eighties, I might add, with complete certainty, even adding the specific year of its release, 1988, to the mix. It's not even like I was ever a huge R.E.M. fan because I wasn't, I just know things like that are ingrained in my brain. Ask me what I was about to tell you before you put me on hold for call waiting though, and I simply can't recall.

The way I see it the mind is like one huge computer. Documents from long ago are easily retrieved because they were stored when the system was free and defragged. But as time goes on, the hard drive gets overloaded with new information. At some point there simply isn't any room anymore. Now with a real computer, this problem is easily solved. Either you add more memory or you replace it with a newer, shinier model. But when it comes to your brain, there is no backup. The closest analogy I can come up with is something like blogging. If you forget something and you record it, it's there indefinitely for posterity's sake, to remind you it actually happened once you inevitably forget. Whether or not that's a good thing, well, I'll leave that to you to decide.

So if I want to recall the best of 2008, I must do so by whatever means necessary. In this case, I'll cheat. I'll do so by looking at my iTunes "listen to" list which I will warn you, is by no means a comprehensive system. Still, if I can share with you something new, it will be worth it.

Best Albums That I Heard In 2008

1. Alphabeat- This Is Alphabeat
Remember the eighties when pop was fun and innocent? I do too. If want to recapture the fun of your youth, look no further than Danish pop band, Alphabeat. Their songs are downright infectious. And if a song like Fascination doesn't conjure up memories of Footloose days gone by, I don't know what will.

2. Lady Antebellum- Lady Antebellum Normally I'm not a country music fan in general, but this album is just amazing. This young, fresh trio of two guys and one girl has the perfect mix for built in duets or flying solo. Their music is fun when it needs to be as on Looking For A Good Time, or poignant when appropriate as with All We'd Ever Need. They manage to make country cool which in my book, is nearly impossible.

3. Katy Perry- One of the Boys Katy Perry is one of those artists I wanted to hate, but the fact of the matter is, I can't. She's the Cyndi Lauper meets Madonna of a new generation, infusing many generations of styles and a dash of outlandish antics in for good measure. With her debut single, I Kissed A Girl, I thought for sure she'd be a one hit wonder. And then I listened to her whole album and believe it or not, it's a great pop record. And her videos (gasp) tell the story of the song! Remember when something like that wasn't novelty? Just watch Thinking of You or Hot N'Cold if you don't believe me. The only thing I worry about here is novelty. I have a fear that she's a go with the tide kind of artist which can hurt or help. Only time will tell for sure.

4. Journey- Revelation For the most part when super groups break up or fall from grace, it isn't like it is in the movies. They don't have comebacks, at least not where they make new fans or new hits on the charts. But this was the year of the unexpected comeback having the last laugh as was seen by bands like New Kids On the Block and even Journey. What blows me away about Journey though was that they came back without their powerhouse, legendary lead singer, Steve Perry. Instead, they replaced him with a virtual unknown, Arnel Pineda that if you close your eyes, you most certainly could believe he was indeed Perry. Not only does he nail old classics like, Separate Ways, he also brings his own flavor to new hits like After All These Years.

5. Leona Lewis- Spirit Remember when Mariah Carey burst on to the scene in 1990? She was a young unknown, only twenty years old who had a magnificent vocal presence on her debut single, Vision of Love. Little did we know that was the beginning of the baton being handed from Whitney Houston to Mariah Carey. But nearly twenty years have past and while Mariah is still technically going strong, she's also gotten a lot tackier, and her skirts just keep getting shorter although she keeps getting older. That's why the debut of Leona Lewis is so great. She reminds me of when Mariah first started and was untainted. Just a good singer without all the flash. My personal favorite is still Bleeding Love.

6. Saving Jane- Supergirl Technically I didn't fall in love with Saving Jane's Supergirl album, but considering that their previous release, One Girl Revolution, was 2007, I couldn't include it here. But the weird thing is that Supergirl is pretty much a reissue of One Girl Revolution, so I get off on a technicality by including it here. Unlike most of my favorites, this album actually reminds of the nineties, not the eighties. (Yes, I've recently begun to feel nostalgic about that decade, too). They've had minor success with songs like Girl Next Door and Supergirl, but unknown gems like What I Didn't Say and Grace are really worth a listen, too.

Best Movies of 2008- Once again I will acknowledge that there are many movies I've yet to watch from 2008 so by no means is this list an end all be all. It's just the best of what I've seen, for what it's worth.

1. Ghost Town- This movie was an unexpected gem that had just the right blend of comedy and drama. It also introduced me to Ricky Gervais, a comedic actor I knew, but never had the experience of watching for myself. I'll be on the lookout for more after watching this.

2. Wall-E THe posters for this movie reminded me of Short Circuit and Johnny Five Alive! Normally I'm not a huge fan of animation, although I do acknowledge how it is so amazing what they can do nowadays. But this movie was so so sweet and actually had a bit of a message, too. It's one of those great family movies that is good for kids of all ages, even just those that are young at heart.

3. Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight
- My lack of love for the action/comic book genre prevents me from listing this movie as one of my actual faves, but I will acknowledge that for a fan of the genre, I could see how The Dark Knight could have been a real treat. I'm one of the rare few who are bored by the bang, bang shoot 'em up scenes, so the wow factor is lost on someone like me. But in the quieter moments, where the late Heath Ledger is riveting as the menacing Joker makes this movie worthy of honorable mention. The fact that the world viewed his performance posthumously only makes it more eerie. Although I was always a Ledger fan, I never would have guessed he had such range in him. It's bittersweet he got to go out on such a bang.

4. Definitely, Maybe- Most romantic comedies overshoot or just miss the mark. This one was actual a quiet release, but managed to hold its own. I know it was a good romantic comedy because just like Ghost Town, it held my husband's interest, too.

5. 21- Sometimes I think movies that were released early in the year get lost in the shuffle. I was surprised that no one that I saw included the gambling movie, 21 on their list (until now, that is). Not only did it shed light on some rather unknown actors, it also marked the somewhat return of great Kevin Spacey. If that's not worthy of a watch, I don't know what is.

6. Forgetting Sarah Marshall- Another romantic comedy that did it right. Film maker Judd Apatow is proving a forced to be reckoned with as is much of the former Freaks and Geeks crew that he has taken along with him for the ride including Seth Rogen, Jason Segel and James Franco. (Before you ask, no I have not seen Pineapple Express yet). I knew Freaks and Geeks was the start of something special. It only took a few years for the rest of the world to catch up.

7. Step Brothers- Cinematic greatness it's not, but when you get Will Farrell and John C. Reilly in the same room, it still manages to be something magical. Of course you have to be a fan of pure silliness. If you're looking for plot twists and a script that makes you think, this movie is not for you.

And so I'm off to make good on keeping better track of 2009, before I forget to do so. If you have favorites that you want to share, I'm always looking for something new so let me know!



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