Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Style that Inspires Stink-Eye!

What, this old thing? I guess haters gonna hate...

This past weekend, I wasn't feeling the greatest about my style or my hair. The roots are growing out and exposing the grays while the ends are bleached blonde from a combination of the sun and the chlorine from the pool at the Y. I was so frustrated I was ready to call up my friend Liz to buzz it all off for charity.

Style-wise, being in-process of changing shape and not having excess money for brand-new clothes, I've been in my usual hunt for affordable fashion by thrifting.

So I was feeling kind of ugly and low rent. Until...

I encountered the ladies.

We were up in Gaylord for a skating comp I was judging. Going down for breakfast, I fluffed the hair and threw on a Liz Claiborne maxi dress I picked up at the Salvation Army for 49 cents. It was cute, in diagonal stripes of green, yellow and cream. I wasn't feeling like I was rockin' it, just wanting some coffee and maybe a bagel.

The first of "the ladies" I encountered was at the coffee station. Prim hair in a bun and wearing a long, pastel skirt and sweater on a day promising to be in the 90s, she took in my wild hair and body skimming dress... and gave me the up-and-down once-over, the sneer on her face making it clear she was not impressed with my lustful appearance.


I joined my husband and son back at the table, and then went to toast a bagel. I was polite, pleasant, and made small talk with a few people waiting their turn at the toaster. Evil appraisal number 2 came from a steel-haired bunhead wearing an ankle to neck denim jumper. She too thought me a harlot with bare leg peeking out of the slit and curls flying free.

I was starting to feel better about myself.

I whispered the incidents to my husband and he laid in wait for the next mean girl to pass judgement. It came from what appeared to be the preacher's wife, earnestly clutching a missile to her woolen breast, sensible shoes flaring out from legs knifing through the folds of her long, heavy gray skirt.

I felt like a whore in church. A HOT whore in church. Instead of shame, which is what I was sure they wished for me, I suddenly felt like I was workin' it.

I've never felt the positive power that kind of negativity can give you, and it felt kinda awesome.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

What's Right in the World: Kid Rock has a Foundation

Bawitdaba da bang a dang diggy diggy diggy
said the boogy said up jump the boogy!

Flipping through the GR Press, inconspicuously on page A17 was the headline "Kid Rock Foundation gives $250K to Music Gallery."

Kid. Rock. Has. A. Foundation.

The story goes on to say Romeo's Bob Ritchie is donating the cash to the Detroit Historical Museum for a Music Lab, an interactive display covering the history of music in Detroit from jazz to blues, Motown to techno and hip-hop.

Curious, I went to his website, and found the mission statement to his Foundation:

"I can't stop the war, shelter homeless, feed the poor. I can't walk on water. Can't save your sons and daughters. I can't change the world to make things fair. This is the least that I can do. The Kid Rock Foundation is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit raising funds for and awareness of local and regional charities helping disadvantaged children, victims of war and natural disasters, and those suffering from illness."

There's something so genuine, so refreshing, so MICHIGAN about this gesture. I've known plenty of badasses in my time that extol the virtue of swigging beers, chasing wimmen and staying out all night who will flag down the ice cream truck and treat all the kids in the neighborhood.

Look no further than Kid's Detroit compatriots Insane Clown Posse. ICP was contacted by MAXIM magazine to do a feature on a night on the town in Detroit, and gave them around $800. Strippers? Casino? Debauchery? Body shots? No. ICP did a benefit concert for a local homeless shelter where the fans brought food and blankets as their "ticket" to the show, dropped a majority of the MAXIM cash in the donation box, took the fans out for a round of drinks to give back, then took whoever wanted to go along over to Green's Hamburgers (LOVE Green's!) for burgers and fries.

I also cite Ted Nugent as an example when I was a teen. Bowhunting with cancer patients. Deer hunting with underprivledged children. Walking through the Westwood Mall buying stuff for people for the heck of it. Generous tipper too.

But back to Kid Rock. He's done rap. He's done rock. He's done country. He brews his own beer. He supports local Detroit business. Even with the Foundation as the face of his charity, I'm sure he does a lot more for the community than he lets on.

He's more than just a cowboy, baby.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Typing Out Loud: Using Bags of Talent

Stills from Metallica's "Unforgiven" video. Heavy, and not just because it's metal.

Olympic hangover: watching television last night was so dull compared to the last two weeks. The United States racked up the most medals, but it was amazing to see perseverance from all corners of the globe. Go World indeed. Closing ceremonies rocked, but NBC did a little too much commercial break editing and screwed the audience out of some iconic performances.

Fitness goals continue, I was informed by Mike, the personal trainer at the Y that has been watching my progress, that I am currently sitting in 6th place in the Y's Summer Sweat Challenge. I have been diligent but not competitive about participating... until now. I'm not going to go crazy, but I might step it up a little to score a few more points and see if 5th place is in reach.

That said, the last of my size 16 pants (I guess it's OK to reveal the size I was now) have retired to the Goodwill pile. Out went the khaki, gray and black dress pants. I am now down to only two pairs of dress pants, both size 12 - giddy! - that will have to do until I can go shopping again.

Dad's birthday is looming this Saturday, and my mom is being so optimistic and insisting we celebrate his life instead of mourning his passing. Lesson learned, how nice.

I had leadership training here at work last week, and although it was a little hippy-touchy-feely, I learned quite a bit about myself. *blows out breath* Where to begin?

Day 1 we were asked to punch circles out to give our assessment of how well we take care of our mind, body and spirit. I punched out two medium circles for mind and body, then punched out a smaller but still medium sized circle for spirit. Then we took a quiz that stunned me, all my parts were more or less perfectly equal and in sync. When asked, as the youngest member of the "balance" group how this could be, I explained that significant life changes forced the issue. Overwhelmed, I cried, thinking "I'm going to be OK..."

For years, I have been wondering about my life path, most significantly, what the hell I'm doing here. Working in hospital admissions is not my career path, and was certainly not part of my life goal. When asked to reflect on why we were attending the conference, I prayed for an answer that would satisfy my ego, which had been battered by my layoff several years ago.

After three days of lectures, dialogue, skits, "sharing circles" and such, I began thinking about my favorite parable, that of the man who gave three servants bags of gold that they were to use to amass a fortune. The one he gave 5 bags of gold to returned with 15; the one with 3 returned with 9; but the man who was given only one bag returned the bag unused and untouched. When asked why, the servant responded that he was scared to lose it and didn't use it. The man explained that it was like having a talent and not using it, was worse than robbery.

For a clearer explanation, I refer to Metallica's "Unforgiven."

Anyway, I have bemoaned the last few years the loss of opportunity to use my talents as a copywriter, event planner and designer. Well, I've used this blog to keep up my writing, don't really care about the event planning, and I have overachieved in the designer thing with all the art shows this year. But I hate the feeling my career is over.

Ah, but I have one little bag of talent that while I have used it, has gone unnoticed and under appreciated by me.

Back when we were living in St. Louis, I was hired by a top accounting firm to be a graphic designer. Sure, they liked my work, but when I agreed to work for them, I was pulled aside by the hiring manager and told exactly why I was hired: I was the kind of person that would unite instead of divide and at present, the current staff hated each other. Wha...? I ended up staying in the job for 6 months, the only reason I didn't stay longer was because we moved back to Michigan. And because of that, I was offered a position in the Detroit office, the hiring manager a little off on her geography.

Working in admissions is not easy, you see lots of anger, lots of tears, lots of confusion. I don't get to use all of my talents, but I do use one, that being a welcoming, pleasing person that can smooth over a crisis as a minor bump in the road. It's a talent I didn't see as a talent,  yet I am using it willingly in service at my job.

Was this God's answer to me? Are we sometimes allowed to exercise freewill, but in other cases, he rearranges the chess board, so to speak, as a request that we serve Him in a capacity for which He needs us?

Pretty heady thoughts for someone answering phones.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Why Art Matters: This is Sportscenter

Little early for an Art Matters post, but I'll be at training all week. Plus, with the Olympics, it's time to talk sports!

Few commercials sell their show, and sports culture in general, better than This is SportsCenter for ESPN.

The ads began running in 1994. Depicting office culture in and around the ESPN studios, the ads feature the anchors interacting with each other, athletes, celebrities and mascots. In any given spot you may see NASCAR drivers fixing potholes in the parking lot, Sparty in the break room with Floyd Mayweather, the Manning brothers acting like boys and getting in trouble while touring the facilities.

Why I love them: they're clever, laugh-out-loud funny, and perfectly blend sports culture with the very day life experiences of the viewer. Michael Phelps in a cube stealing back a medal his office mate was using for a coaster, even if "it's only the bronze." Michelle Kwan setting up a kiss 'n' cry for anchors waiting for their marks after a broadcast.

Ever the geek, I have envisioned my own SportsCenter spot. Two anchors and a mascot (gotta have a mascot) standing around a cube telling light bulb jokes because the one above them is burnt out, and one of them asks, "how many ice skaters does it take to change a light bulb?" A pairs team approaches, decked out in competition attire. The man sets the girl up in a lift and rotates, allowing her to change the light bulb, they exit the lift with flair, and they walk away setting up yet another lift. One anchor deadpans, "two apparently" as the mascot mimics the lift.

End scene!

McLaughlin and Brubaker in their prime:
she could totally change a light bulb in a cathedral ceiling doing this lift.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

August Playlist: Beatles Tribute Band

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. The Fabs as little charms for sale on etsy. 

Oh, the Fabs. Have I bored any readers *crickets* with my devotion? I regretfully have not been able to get Will hooked on them, his interest in the movie "Yellow Submarine" was lukewarm at best.

But it's nice to know that outside of my home, I am not alone in my devotion. Lots of acts have paid homage to John, George, Paul and Ringo by doing some serious remakes that are equal to the original. A few of my favorites:

Fiona Apple, Across the Universe: from the Pleasantville soundtrack, one of my favorite movies.

The Verve Pipe, Taxman and Strawberry Fields Forever: TVP is another band I've rehashed here time and again. We've seen them live so often and have had conversations with them, it's strange knowing a famous/almost famous band. When they were in their art rock/REM phase, the first encore song was Taxman. When they were on the verge of breakout hit status with the release of their national album Villians, they busted out SFF at their album release party at the Orbit Room and got everyone whipped up in a peace/love frenzy.

Aerosmith, Come Together: from the trainwreck Sgt. Peppers Lonely Heart Club Band movie. Aerosmith was billed as the FVB (Future Villian Band) and shredded this song.

Earth, Wind and Fire, Got To Get You Into My Life: the original was McCartney doing white boy funk and you could just hear EW&F thinking "Lord, let me take a crack at it." Blistering disco horns and they don't pretend to be anyone else in the movie but themselves.

Siouxse and the Banshees, Dear Prudence: my college roommate Missy was musically all over the map, from gothy alternative to yee-haw country. She got me into Siouxse, and this remake, on the greatest hits album, was a pleasant surprise.

The Black Keys, She Said, She Said: as I'm getting older I'm getting less hip, less indie. I don't have time for that crap anymore, I'm two months behind in reading Rolling Stone and SPIN as it is. How did I find this one? My husband enthusiastically pried my nose out of my Kindle, forcing me to listen. I felt my ear fold in pleasure. This rarely happens.

Rolling Stones, I Wanna Be Your Man: what cracks me up in music snob circles is the Elvis v. Beatles v. Rolling Stones debates that go 'round and 'round. I was teased soundly by my bully Kelly freshman year because she was a Stones fan and I was a Beatles fan. All debates aside, John and Paul gave this rocker to Mick and Keith right around the time they gave it to Ringo to have a go at it. High respect among the two factions, not only was the Shirley Temple doll on the cover of the Sgt. Pepper album wearing a Rolling Stones sweater, the Yellow Submarine in the movie briefly sported a RS banner on the tail. Mick was in the audience singing along to "All You Need is Love" as the first satellite broadcast in 1967, and John was in the Stones Rock and Roll Circus movie. Don't see this kind of bond with The Who...

Pearl Jam, I Gotta Feeling: another one from the hubby, this via a mixtape from his college roommate Stork. Eddie Vedder's voice is pushed to the brink, then he comes back and glides over Lennon's bridge.

Bonus: Beatle Wish List!  This may be a moot point as some of this may have already happened, but what songs would a fan like me want to hear redone by another favorite artist?

Lady Gaga, Eleanor Rigby: would she hone in on the drama, the loneliness, the creepiness or does she disco out the woman who was supposed to be darning socks? I would be fascinated to see what Stephanie could do with it.

Madonna, Lady Madonna: duh.

Tori Amos, Here Comes the Sun: a sweet song that she may twist into something melancholy.

Train, Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight: this band is moving up the dial from mere like to something more after last year's "San Francisco" and this year's mariachi-pop. I think they would do a bang-up job on this one.

One Direction, I Feel Fine: what? The latest pop candy on my list? Have you heard how sunny sweet these kids are? I think they would turn the joy up a notch if it were possible.

Rush, Only a Northern Song or Savoy Truffle: The guys in my husband's favorite band have eschewed the Beatles in favor of heavier British influences like Zeppelin and The Who. Methinks they protest too much. I throw this challenge to them, and see if they can handle the heavy organ and dreamy vocals of Northern Song or tackle the inside joke directed at Eric Clapton.

Foo Fighters, Hey Bulldog: recent post on facebook states this is Dave Grohl's daughter's favorite song. He is raising her right.