Taking even the trash for granted
You could even call my time away from this blog a true sabbatical, since the point of a sabbatical is to chill, not do what you regularly do, and massively study something and produce something out of all that study, and that's exactly what I did. See, part of what took my time was studying for (and passing! Yay Me! #winning) the PMP exam. It's a 4 hour test that I had to study for like I was in College or something. I even took a final day off before the exam, grabbed my laptop and study guides, and headed to Sven's to study in a coffee shop like a real college student. It worked. Took the test and now I've got my life back.
I've also dealt with the two birthdays of my kids and shopping for high schools for the older one. This is a totally new concept for me. I'll brag here -- she's been accepted to the number one school in the city (uh, make that the STATE) and acceptance/denial letters for Number Two (which is a great school as well) go out in December. She's also accepted at a really good straight up city school. So, Stella will have choices now between high schools, and she will ask kids who go to her various choice why they go there, and they will give her answers such as "I like the arts program" or "There's great football here" or "They have this wonderful engineering track" or something of that ilk. Whereas, if somebody asked me "Why did you go to Rich Central?" I will answer very simply, "Because I lived South of 184th Street." The End. We didn't have to apply to get in, and RC was an excellent high school that served the needs of a wide variety of students, from college-bound kids to those who would hit the jobforce upon graduation, from artists and musicians to cheerleaders and jocks. So this brings me to a rant about why we even have to worry about this at all: really, why do we have to worry about getting our kids into a good high school. Shouldn't all high schools be good high schools? Shouldn't every kid have a chance to get into a high school that's going to meet their needs, be they academic or whatever? I didn't have the opportunity to go to Rich Central because I had good test scores or because I "showed potential." I got to go to Rich Central because my family were taxpayers! That was it! We just took it for granted. This whole worrying about if I'm going to get in was not something I was going to have to deal with until college. So maybe this is just getting me used to this idea.
Still, there was election this week, and the candidate who believes that we should invest in education won. I declared my politics in this blog a long time ago, and I spent this past Tuesday night watching CNN (with the kids) like it was (thanks for the analogy, Lisa) the Super Bowl and my team won and won big. And I have to say, my favorite moment was Megyn Kelly's "Is this just math you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better?" question to Karl Rove. The look on her face, right before she got up and walked down the hall to talk to the number-crunchers to get the actual facts of the situation was a look of this sudden epiphany, as if to say to herself, "Wait, wait, wait.... I took a class about this in college once.... we had to do things like get the facts and then we had to tell people the facts no matter how much we liked or disliked the facts.... oh, what was the name of that class.... there was a whole department at my school of professors who taught this stuff like it was something that required discipline and practice... oh, right, it was JOURNALISM! That was a fun class! And I'm gonna do it right now! I'm gonna go get those facts!" I kinda felt sorry for her at that point. She looked like, at least for that moment, she really wanted to be taken seriously as a journalist, and to do that she was gonna have to piss off some people and tell people who had taken this election for granted their bad new. Girlfriend, you didn't just report on a school bus full of children being firebombed. That's bad news. That's something you put your pen down, dip your head in respect, and sadly report the horrifying facts. No, Megyn, your boss' guy lost the election, that's just news. Look straight into the camera and report the breaking story.
My kids both had birthdays and their inching toward adulthood is kicking me in the ass. I kind of took their childhood for granted.
Musically, I'm embarassed to say I didn't see much. I shamefully missed the Steve MacKay show at the Jazz Gallery and reports say it was as transcendant as the last time he hit town. Missed Kneel to Neil the other night at Linneman's but heard it was good. How could it not be? You're doing Neil Young all night, you can't really go wrong.
I did make it to Trash Fest, as i had missed it last year and I didn't want that trend to continue. The regulars all gave me the warm fuzzies: The Nervous Virgins were dependably trashy to open, and Rob McCuen closed the night with Cheap Dick (a Cheap Trick "tribute" band) but played a lot of Cheap Trick's more obscure stuff without hitting even so much as a chorus of "I Want You to Want Me." Really, Rob, the rest of the Greatest Hits were trying to ensure Mark Shurilla's legacy across town in a Buddy Holly tribute show, and here you were, violating the Rule of Shurilla: PLAY THE HITS! YA GOTTA PLAY THE HITS! Mark GE and his band of XPosed4Heads reprised their Lest We Forget shows and well, they're practically re-formed. Dr Chow branded themselves as Zombie Apocalpse Now, dressed in camo and singing Zombies hits. Paul Setser and Lemonie Fresh covered ELO trashily, and Peder Hedman reunited the mighty Detroit Jewel for a wonderful set.
I basically take all the above bands/acts/pieces of trash for granted, so it may seem like they weren't their usual stellar selves (and indeed they were) -- but it was more of a matter of I just *assume* they're going to be wonderful. Because of this, the highlights of the night for me were the return of Nevenka Crnjovich (someday I'll learn to spell, and maybe even pronounce, her surname correctly) who wailed her blues with the same intense concentration I remember from that time 20 years ago I saw Blue Room in the back of Quarters. Also returning to the fold after too long an absence -- Tony from the Moths, back with a man in black tribute band called Cash Removed Nightly. A bunch of kids (literally) called Cala Raquette turned in a great set of straight up, earnest rock too early in the night for the size of an audience they deserved, and Lemonie Fresh also spent a set as Melatomica that worked wonderfully. The "Oh, this isn't just a trash fest act, they actually are a REAL band!" award goes to November Criminals, whose set confounded me until I finally realized what they were earnestly doing: Hip-Hop POLKA. And it works -- they grab hold of the "hey, we're all together, let's PARTY" essence of "Roll Out The Barrel" and twist it up into an all-out Hip-House bash, complete with samples, rapping, cordless mics, and accordion. They're definitely on my must-see-this-again list. Here's photographic evidence of the entire night.
A couple of weeks later, I finally made it to the Bay View Pumpking Pavillion (after years of saying, I really have to get out there) and the band that night was the Dick Satan Trio, whose surf ("We're not a surf band, we're an instrumental lounge act," Mr. Satan himself insists, whatever...) stylings fit the fun of the season. Really creepyass makeup completed the picture. Another band I'm starting to take for granted.
So here we are, a week away from Thanksgiving, and here I am taking way too much for granted. I think the cure for that might be to go out and see some more bands.....