31 October 2006

Sam Phillips: Martinis and Bikinis

Every once in a very rare while you hear a song that grabs you, one that so knocks you for a loop that years later you remember exactly where you were the first time you heard it. Sam Phillips’ “I Need Love” is one of those rare songs for me (March 1994, in a client’s conference room, working on graphics for an air-conditioning repair training manual, tuned to WRAS/Album 88; sounds like I’m Miss Scarlett and I did it with the candlestick, doesn’t it?).

I grabbed my purse, headed to the nearest record store, and spent that afternoon and the rest of that week (heck, that month) listening to Martinis and Bikinis over and over and over. Sam Phillips voice captivated me … and there’s some kid playing guitar who just might make it big one day. Fast-forward twelve years, and this album still mesmerizes me. Lovely, catchy, haunting, sparkling.

Dan and I recently talked about the I-remember-the-first-time- I-heard-it phenomenon. We both know where we were the first time we heard The Cardigans’ “Gordon’s Gardenparty” — a warm Saturday afternoon in early March, listening to Album 88 as we pulled into the Kroger parking lot. We stayed in the car and danced until the end of the song, then went and bought the CD after we’d filled the trunk with groceries.

This week’s album is one you may not have heard. And that’s a sad thing. Martinis and Bikinis is a sublime, unique, Beatlesque beauty, and it’s on my Top 100. The album was produced by her then-husband, the brilliant T-Bone Burnett, with great guitar work by Peter Buck. She wrote most of the songs, and co-wrote a few with Burnett. For those of you keeping score at home, it wasn’t Peter’s guitar that sold me on the album; that’s just glorious icing on the cake.

Yeah, “Beatlesque” is overused. Seems every time an intelligent pop song comes out, we’re raving about its Beatlesqueness. But I think Martinis and Bikinis earns the label. Smart lyrics layered with catchy rhythm (and is it okay if I swoon again about Peter Buck’s guitar?). And, damn, that voice. God, I love Sam Phillips’ voice. I want to sound like that.

Sam Phillips started out as a Christian singer. She didn’t like the way she was marketed, so she changed her name and began recording secular music. You may be familiar with Sam’s voice via “Gilmore Girls”; she sings the “lalalala” breaks, and she was featured in last season’s finale with all the other cool kids. She was also one of the sirens in O Brother, Where Art Thou?.

Martinis and Bikinis is a perfect album. There, I said it. And I mean it. There isn’t one throwaway track on the disc. When I put it on, I want to stop everything so that I can sing and dance and twirl and rock a bit, just get lost in the album. Do yourself a favor. Listen to today’s selections, fall in love as I did, then click the above link and get your own copy. It was hard — damn hard — to pick a couple of tracks, but I think these will give you the flavor of Martinis and Bikinis.

“Love and Kisses” stars the album, fading into “Signposts.” They’ve always gone together to me, so I’ve put them together here. I love the sharp contrast between the two songs.

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I have to admit, it’s Peter’s playing that grabs me in “Same Changes,” but I also love the vocals and lyrics.

Get music codes at Bolt.

I’m very particular about John Lennon covers, and there are few women who can pull it off. Sam nails “Gimme Some Truth” — and her version is further proof of her Beatlesqueness.

Get music codes at Bolt

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30 October 2006

Five Things You Don't Know About Me

Okay, Dale, I’ll play. Here are five things about me y’all don’t know.

1. I collect floating pens. You know, those cheap pens you see in airport gift shops? Love them; they entertain me. I started the collection in 1990 while touring Italy; picked up one in Venice with a gondola floating down a canal, and I was hooked. I now have hundreds of them … and I always have a pen when I need one.

2. I have freckles on my lips. One on the right corner of my bottom lip and one on the top lip. People occasionally scritch my lip with a fingernail, trying to rid me of what they think is a crumb or spot of chocolate. A nail ain’t gonna scratch away pigmentation.

3. I have a closet full of band and concert T-shirts. The R.E.M. shirts take up three-quarters of the rung. I’ve had to stop buying them because there’s no room … and now I’m kicking myself for not picking up a Decemberists T-shirt.

4. I worked for the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games. I was the forty-fourth employee and the first in-house creative. I was there from 1991 through 1993, and got to work on projects such as the logo redesign (although I think we should have stuck with the five-As logo). I had nothing to do with Izzy. I met Janet Evans, Carl Lewis, Wilma Rudolph, Prince Albert of Monaco (it’s a good story; worth the click), and — most thrilling — Muhammad Ali. Dan Quayle came by once, but I didn’t get in line to shake his hand. Second greatest thrill: Andrew Young was the chair, so he was in the office regularly. I was walking down the hall one day and Andy was at the far end; he gave the big wave and yelled, “Hey, Beth!” Andy Young, at least for a short moment in time, knew who I was!!!

5. I’ve never stayed at a job longer than five years. I’m clocking in at four years, five months right now. Will she break her employment record? Or will she follow her pattern and flit away to another life? Ah, the excitement builds as we draw closer to that five-year mark.

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29 October 2006

What’s with the Weirdos?

Not again. Someone hacked into my blog sometime this morning and destroyed A Cup of Coffey — wiped away my main page and most of my blogroll. WTF? A page hijack two weeks ago … the entertaining Jeffrey haunting my comment boxes … and now this?

I don’t understand why I’m attracting weirdos this month. I avoid writing about politics since my beloveds are on both sides of the fence. I write about music and life as a single Southern woman. Nothing offensive … well, except maybe for the boob shot a few weeks ago, but it wasn’t that offensive, was it?

So …

I’m in the process of rebuilding my page. If you look to the right, you’ll see that the blogroll was obliterated. I’m now putting that puzzle back together. If you know I had your page listed on my blogroll and you’d like to see it listed again, send me an e-mail at the address on the navigation bar. I have all of your pages bookmarked … but I have tons of blogs bookmarked, many not included on my blogroll, so it will save time if I have your URL in an e-mail.

And please let the Cup be.

Here I Dreamt I Was a Concertgoer

I saw The Decemberists Friday night at the Tabernacle with the Scriveners — Papa Scrivener, Mama Scrivener, and Baby Scrivener, who was attending her first rock concert (you gotta love and respect parents who raise their children properly, and the Scriveners have priorities in check).

I’ve been a fan of The Decemberists since I got Castaways and Cutouts in 2002, but I’d never seen them live — none in my circle were fans, and I didn’t feel driven to see them by myself. Lucky for me, Scrivener has been raving about their shows for months and kept reminding me to get a ticket, and the Northwest doppelganger has yet to stop raving about the show she saw a couple of weeks ago. So I bought. I anticipated. I went.

What. An. Amazing. Show.

Not sure what I was expecting, but Friday night wasn’t it — it was much more. The band was full of fun and so much joy. Yes, the music was glorious. If memory serves, they performed everything from The Crane Wife (which is a wonderful album; go out and pick up your copy today). Every Decemberist had a great time on that stage — jumping up and down, running across the stage, playing in the crowd, climbing on speakers to shake balconied hands. Scrivener says they’ve been looser in previous shows, but I was still enchanted. I’d act the same way if I were on stage.

If you’re wise enough to catch The Decemberists when they come to your town, and you’re torn between catching the opening act, Lavender Diamond, or having one more cocktail at dinner, I strongly recommend the cocktail. Couldn’t stand the precious little miss, not at all. I think she’s trying for a Ditty Bops vibe, but she has neither the natural boppiness nor the good songs to back it up.

After the show, we walked down to the stage so Ella could see it. Decemberist Chris came over to chat, telling us the band saw us at dinner and were impressed with Ella and her Decemberists T-shirt. Tattoos were shared and photos snapped. I think I may take Ella with me to upcoming shows since she attracts the cool kids.

My only complaint? I was a bit disappointed that they didn’t perform “Here I Dreamt I Was an Architect,” one of my ten favorite songs from 2002. But the show was so good, I didn’t think about that until I was halfway home.

If I’d known The Decemberists would be this good live, I’d be crashing on French’s floor right now, after catching them at the 9:30 Club. Anyone up for the Amsterdam or Paris shows in February?

UPDATE: Scrivener has great Decemberists posts here and here.

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26 October 2006

Now Andy, Did You Hear About This One?

Saw the original broadcast. Laughed hard then. Laughing hard now.


It Was a Really Crappy Day

You know the day, the one where everything in your universe goes wrong. A dot of red ink on the cream sweater. Project FUBARs. The crabbiest man this side of Mr. Wilson’s fence. Blogger crashing every couple of hours. Just a general argh, followed by a scan of the circus want-ads.

How did I deal? Maturely and sanely: I went CD shopping. After all, I want to be Ben Heller when I grow up.

I don’t go CD shopping much these days. I’m an MP3 addict, so I get most of my music from eMusic and iTunes — instant aural gratification, open twenty-four hours. But sometimes I need to wander the aisles, listen to something new, discover something I didn’t know was out. I grabbed my purse, hopped in the Beetle, and zipped down to road to Ella Guru, where I spent a glorious hour wandering and listening and discovering.

So what did I buy? On first listen, a damn good stack of discs.

The Decemberists: The Crane Wife. The Scriveners and I going to see The Decemberists on Friday, so it was imperative that I get the new album (which, surprisingly, has yet to be offered on eMusic). The album is brilliant; I’ve listened to it four times since I ripped off the cellophane. Very excited about the concert; the Northwest doppelganger saw them a couple of weeks ago and has yet to stop raving about the show.

The Hold Steady: Boys and Girls in America. The Connecticut beloveds are huge fans, and turned me on to The Hold Steady years ago. I didn’t know this album was out (I guess I need to call Renae and Greg) until I found it on the new releases shelf; getting a high thumbs-up so far. They’re a great Brooklyn-via-Minneapolis band; if you have yet to hear them, I recommend checking them out.

Badly Drawn Boy: Born in the U.K.. I love Damon Gough — his voice, his songs, his thoughts. On first spin, this is a worthy addition to my BDB collection. Will over at Will and Ben's Record Room wrote a very good album review last week (those two always do).

The Pernice Brothers: Live a Little. A great eMusic discovery from a couple of years ago, I enjoy Joe Pernice’s slice of indie pop and think he has a lovely voice. The new album is quite good. Hey, Atlanta and Atlanta-bound readers: The Pernice Brothers are going to be at The Earl in early December; anyone want to join me?

Lambchop: Damaged. I think Lambchop is recording some of the best alt-country music out there these days, and this album doesn’t disappoint. In fact, it’s quite good. Ben, I’m looking forward to reading your review later this week.

At least the lunch hour went well. Been a while since I bought a stack of CDs and really enjoyed each one. Maybe that’s a good sign for the rest of the week? There's a concert and a costume party this weekend, so hopes are beginning to soar.

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24 October 2006

Not My Playlist, But Well Worth Mentioning

I’m working the night away on a big, brainless project, so I’ve turned my TV to the music RetroActive channel — post-punk and new wave, pretty much my favorite genre. The station always plays great songs; I often end up dancing and pogoing all over the living room.

I’m not paying super-close attention to the list since I am working, but here are ten played in the last hour or so:

Replacements: Unsatisfied
B-52’s: Roam
Smiths: How Soon Is Now?
Alarm: Rescue Me
Love and Rockets: Holiday on the Moon
Waitresses: I Know What Boys Like
Church: Fading Away
Trio: Da Da Da I Don’t Love You You Don't Love Me
X: Burning House of Love
Talking Heads: Love for Sale

Now they’re playing The Vapors’ “Turning Japanese.” I worked for a Japanese company when this little ditty came out, and my Japanese bosses always begged me to sing “No sex, no drugs, no wine, no women, no fun, no sin, no you, no wonder it's dark.” That, and they loved my lying on my back to dance, a la Gregory’s Girl. They were great, fun bosses.

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Hedwig and the Angry Inch Soundtrack

Hedwig and the Angry Inch is, hands down, the best soundtrack in my CD closet — better than Saturday Night Fever, better than Garden State, yes, better than Grease. Well, there is Help! and A Hard Day’s Night, and Pete Townshend’s rock operas rock … so let’s say it’s my favorite soundtrack of the last thirty years.

Movie synopsis, courtesy of Wikipedia: Hedwig and the Angry Inch is an off-Broadway musical theater play (1998) and film (2001) about a fictional rock and roll band fronted by a transsexual singer. The text is by John Cameron Mitchell and the music and lyrics are by Stephen Trask. The story draws on the life of Jayne County, the original transgender rocker, the androgynous glam rock era of David Bowie (who produced the original run of the show), early punk rocker Iggy Pop, and the gender bender fashions of the early 1980s. The show was repeatedly workshopped by Mitchell and Trask at New York's famed Squeezebox Club before opening at the Jane Street Theater (located in the Hotel Riverview) on February 14, 1998.

What makes the soundtrack great? It has some of the best rock and glam and punk tunes released in 2001. The music is as much a character of the film as are John Cameron Mitchell and Michael Pitt and Miriam Shor. But it works on its own, too; in fact, I fell in love with the album a month or two before I saw the film. (Damn, I wish I’d seen the stage play.)

John Cameron Mitchell penned the lyrics and Stephen Trask wrote the music. Mitchell sings all of Hedwig's songs, while Trask sings the Tommy Gnosis tunes. And Bob Mould plays guitar. How cool is that?

Hedwig and the Angry Inch — the movie and the soundtrack — have long been part of my wannabeau litmus test, along with R.E.M., Patch Adams, Letterman vs. Leno, and The DaVinci Code. I don’t know if I could fully love a man who didn’t enjoy the movie or soundtrack. Deep, aren’t I?

Forget that this is a soundtrack. Just listen to the songs. It was hard to pick just three; I feel guilty for not including “Origin of Love” or “Midnight Radio” or “Nailed” or “Exquisite Corpse” or … well, you get the idea. It’s that good, kids.

“Angry Inch” gives you the background of Hedwig and her angry inch. I hope you’ll be singing “Six inches forward / And five inches back / I got an angry inch” all day long.

There are certain songs I must listen to while getting dolled up for a night on the town. “Wig in a Box” is one of those tunes. I get to have a little cabaret moment as the eyeliner dries, singing and dancing and prancing all over the townhouse. I’d love to be Miss Beehive 1963. (That’s not Rachel Griffith in the video; it’s John Cameron Mitchell.)

The Tommy Gnosis version of “Wicked Little Town,” sung by Stephen Trask, is the loveliest song on the album. It’s on my Sunday morning playlist; the sadness and heartache and letting go is perfect for those early morning drives.

The Hedwig love doesn’t stop with the soundtrack. Wig in a Box, a tribute album from 2003 that benefited the Harvey Milk School, includes the best performer list in years: our beloved Minus 5 with Cyndi Lauper, Rufus Wainwright, Frank Black, Robyn Hitchcock, Bob Mould, Sleater-Kinney with Fred Schneider, The Breeders, Spoon, Yo La Tengo with Yoko Ono, The Bens (Kweller, Folds, and Lee), They Might Be Giants, Jonathan Richman — even Stephen Colbert. Click the link and buy a copy; it’s brilliant.

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22 October 2006

The Bard Beckoned

Sometimes McCity has cool things to offer. I saw a production of Twelfth Night last night, performed on the lawn of Barrington Hall, a historic home in our area. Added bonus: The cast included one of our favorite bloggers, Scrivener.

The Pirate Scrivener opens the show

Both meanings of “cool” were in play last night.

The performance was lovely and funny, with wonderful costumes and one groovy soundtrack. (Scrivener, you must send me the songlist.) The cast was good. This is, I think, the players’ first or second season, but they come across as a seasoned group. I caught their spring production of Love’s Labour’s Lost, which I also enjoyed.

The performance at Barrington Hall

But, damn, it was cold last night for sitting outdoors in beach chairs. Being one helluva smart woman, I stopped at Target on the way and picked up a blanket. Fortified by margaritas, topped with hot chocolate and that fuzzy blanket, we were fine.

Dan, chilled and filled with ‘tude

Fun night. Probably the last outdoors night of the year. But the Halloween costume beckons for next weekend. Which persona shall I don?

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21 October 2006

I'm Strong ... I Can Kick

Thanks to Bubs over at Sprawling Ramshackle Compound, I got to once again experience this beautiful moment, something I haven’t seen since its original broadcast nearly twenty years ago.

“Late Night with David Letterman” (July 28, 1987)

My sister and I were watching Letterman together that night, and kept asking each other if it was real. And, yes, it was. Sublimely surreal.

Enjoy, kids.


20 October 2006

I'm in Love ...

It’s probably the last warm day of the year, in the low seventies. Driving home at dusk, sunroof open. A hint of rain sprinkles the top of my head. The Replacements’ “Alex Chilton” comes on. (I’m lucky; our dueling alt stations play The ‘Mats regularly.) Who can sit still during “Alex Chilton”? A favorite band singing about a favored singer? Doesn't get any better.

Children by the million sing for Alex Chilton when he comes 'round
They sing "I'm in love. What's that song?
I'm in love with that song."

That perfect, pure joy of driving while a favorite song plays. Singing to the top of the lungs, dancing as much as the seatbelt will allow. And enjoying Paul Westerberg’s use of words. Is there a lyricist from the 1980s better than Mr. Westerberg? I think not. (Sorry, Mr. Stipe; he beats you nearly every time.)

Cerebral rape and pillage in a village of his choice.
Invisible man who can sing in a visible voice.

I never understood why The Replacements didn’t get the airplay or attention that R.E.M. did. Great balls-to-the-wall rock. Not out there like Sonic Youth, but accessible and out of control and fun, with beautiful ballads thrown in to sweeten the album. You rarely meet someone who’s so-so about the ‘Mats; if you’ve heard ‘em, you love ‘em. They were rawer, wilder … but don’t we love that in our rock bands? A sage musicologist by the name of The Haahnster said it best: In the 1980s, R.E.M. were The Beatles and The Replacements were The Rolling Stones.

I never travel far without a little Big Star.

And I hope that you, beloved readers, are also familiar with Big Star. No? Keep reading this page. Yes? Welcome, dear friend.

Get music codes at Bolt.

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18 October 2006

A Hijacked Cup?

I guess my lack of posting is driving others to liven up my blog. I’ve heard from some regulars that a tinfoil-hatted reader hijacked A Cup of Coffey earlier today. The Hatted One left a long, rambling comment that has since been deleted; we don’t encourage site-jacking in this corner of Blogspot.

If you notice any weirdness on this page, e-mail me at the address on the navigation bar. Or just enjoy the nuttiness of it all. I’ll also be happy to e-mail you the deleted manifesto, if you need a giggle.

To thwart future blog coups, I’ll be back tomorrow with an exciting, scintillating post. Or maybe I’ll just let you know who I’m listening to this week.

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16 October 2006

Ode to Monday

This morning’s song dedication goes out to that sweet bastard gone underground … and to those of you dreading another work week.

Get music codes at Bolt
Warren Zevon: “Bill Lee”
Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School (1980)

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12 October 2006


Some of my favorite bloggers have recently listed their shuffle play-by-plays. I haven’t been able to do much more than listen to music the last couple of days, so I logged today’s selections. My MP3 player is cooking like gas on the front burner:

  • Sonic Youth: Superstar (yes, The Carpenter’s tune; Thurston nails it)
  • R.E.M.: Turn You Inside-out
  • Wilco: Thirteen (great Big Star cover)
  • The Decemberists: Here I Dreamt I Was an Architect
  • Bruce Springsteen: Tunnel of Love
  • Marvin Gaye: Trouble Man
  • Johnny Cash: It Ain’t Me Babe
  • Serge Gainsbourg feat. Jane Birkin: Je T'aime Moi Non Plus
  • Nina Simone: Mississippi Goddamn
  • The Replacements: I Will Dare
  • Elvis Costello: Tear off Your Own Head (It's a Doll Revolution)
  • Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians: Freeze
  • The Pipettes: Tell Me What You Want
  • Rilo Kiley: Portions for Foxes
  • Dave Mathews Band: Crash into Me
  • Prince: My Name Is Prince
  • The Minus 5: Coffee, Cigs, Booze
  • Elvis Presley: Kentucky Rain
  • Ramones: I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend
  • Oh Ok: Such n Such
  • Beck: Black Tambourine
  • Moby Grape: Omaha

God, I love the shuffle option …

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10 October 2006

Gram Parsons: GP/Grevious Angel

Gram Parsons was a brief, beautiful moment in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He started a new genre — country rock — discovered a beautiful voice in Emmylou Harris, made the Nudie suit cool, influenced every alt-country band performing today (whether they know it or not). And he grew up in Georgia, just one of many influential musicians from my home state.

The five-second Gram Parsons biography: Started with The International Submarine Band, played with The Byrds (check out Sweethearts of the Rodeo), then went the next level of country rock with The Flying Burrito Brothers, finally going solo in 1972. He died of an overdose on September 19, 1973 (click here if you don’t know the legend of his cremation at Joshua Tree National Monument).

Will from Will & Ben’s Record Room is writing a wonderful series on The Byrds. You can start reading it here; I highly recommend the click-and-read.

But that’s not why I love Gram Parsons’ music. I love it because he was a sublime singer, an honest performer, a brilliant songwriter.

GP/Grievous Angel was released on one CD. GP came out in early 1973 and Grievous Angel posthumously in 1974. Both are perfect, and I’ve always thought it made sense to include both on one CD. He wrote or co-wrote all of the songs featured here.

My favorite Gram Parsons tune is “She,” from GP; it’s probably in the top 250 in my mental jukebox. It’s sublime, very visual as he sings the story. It’s the best use of pronouns I’ve ever heard in a song. Plaintive, atmospheric country guitar and pedal steel wrap around Gram’s voice perfectly. Listen to him stretch “hallelujah.” Stops my heart every time.

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Grevious Angel’s “Brass Buttons” is a lovely heartache song. The opening piano, followed by the steel pedal sets the mood. I dare you to listen and not spend the rest of the afternoon singing the chorus: “Brass buttons / Green silks / And silver shoes / Warm evenings / Pale mornings / Bottled blues.” Every line in the song is perfect. “And the sun comes up without her / It just doesn’t know she’s gone” always chokes me up.

Get music codes at Bolt

I couldn’t skip one of Gram’s duets with Emmylou Harris, so here’s “Ooh, Las Vegas,” also from Grevious Angel. I love the energy of the song, and their voices blend perfectly. I have to sing along, and I often catch myself slapping the beat on my left outer thigh, as if I’m Emmylou on stage with Gram (a girl needs her fantasies).

Get music codes at Bolt

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07 October 2006

Have I Lost It?

I prefer not writing about the romance side of my life, but this one screams to be posted.

There’s a new wannabeau in my universe — a charming, handsome, clever man. We’ve had fun getting to know each other the last few weeks, and our humor is in sync. Great banter (an important part of my flirting ritual). And did I mention that he’s cute?

I sent the wannabeau a rather saucy e-mail this evening, one that was very flirty, with just enough of the suggestive to keep it interesting. He replied quickly, showering me with praise … about my grammar.

Mrs. Barrett, wherever you are, I hope you’re proud of your prize student.

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05 October 2006

It's a Pink Ribbon Thing

The cousin Marni made me proud last month when she spent a beautiful weekend walking thirty miles to raise more than $1,000 for breast cancer research. She’s my hero.

I couldn’t be bothered — it was, after all, the Georgia Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony weekend, and I had to spend the day getting dolled up for my beloved R.E.M. But I donated money.

Well, I should be ashamed. I can do more than write a check. (Heck, I didn’t even put forth that much effort; I just plugged my credit card number in the online form.) I need to do something for those I love, those who have been touched by breast cancer, those who may one day face it.

My sister-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago. She’s doing well, and it appears the surgery and treatment knocked out those evil cells, but it’s still a frightening experience. And she has to live with the fear every day.

My great-aunt, one of the relatives who helped raise my mom and her sister, was hit with breast cancer in the early 1960s. She had a radical mastectomy and was fine — but eventually died of another form of cancer in the late 1970s.

Marni’s mother battled breast cancer. Her maternal grandmother died from it.

A very dear friend's husband has had breast cancer. Twice. And my CEO — a man I respect and adore — has a form of cancer related to breast cancer. Yes, guys, it can hit you, too.

Tenacious S wrote a great post this week about her mom’s battle with breast cancer. It’s worth the click-and-read. Bluez628 will be a four-year survivor in February. Applaud her bravery and good health.

I needed to do something.

So I took the plunge. I joined Lulu, Tenacious S, and Schmeckman in donating photos for the Fifth Annual Boobie-Thon — one covered, one uncovered.

One of My Boobie-Thon Contributions

The organizers have raised thousands of dollars over the past five years by posting these photos (anonymously, I might add). You can check out the covered breasts for free … but you must contribute at least $50 to gain bare-breast access. I’ve peeked at those pages … and (as Teri Hatcher said on “Seinfeld”) they’re spectacular, well worth the tax-deductible contribution.

Old Lady may join us; why don’t you? Or pay the $50 to check out real women trying to make a difference. Or make a donation to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

Just do something.

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04 October 2006

My Moment in the World Series Sun

My hometown team is out of the playoffs for the first time in fifteen years. But maybe that’s a good thing. We fans have taken winning for granted for a decade; we forgot the joy of winning. So let’s look back to that first great year.

The Atlanta Braves made it to the World Series in 1991 — a worst-to-first team that captivated the city. The Braves were young, cute, excited, ready to win. Many of them had come up together through the Braves’ farm system. So many come-from-behind victories that year. Baseball was damn fun that summer.

That October was one of the most thrilling times in Atlanta, even more exciting than during the 1996 Olympic Games. Whether you were pumping gas, or buying groceries, or watching the game at Manuel’s, everyone talked to everyone else about the Braves. It felt like a small town again.

The Braves didn’t win that series against Toronto (they won just once, in 1995) — but that didn’t crush the spirit of the hometown fans. And so we honored them with a parade. As an employee of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, I was selected as an escort for the players, assigned to David Justice and Mark Lemke. I got the cutest one … well, next to my beloved Tommy Glavine.

Mark Lemke, David Justice, and me
I was naughty; I put my hand on David’s inside thigh
while talking to him. Do you blame me?

David Justice was The Man that fall — young, beautiful, sassy, talented (and Rookie of the Year in 1990), not yet too full of himself. The ladies went wild as he drove by. All of the cars were mobbed — but ours had the biggest mob, thanks to all the women following Justice. I was getting knocked around by these desperate debs, so he pulled me into the car. I sat down between Justice and Lemke, waving like I was a proud wife. I was spotted by friends, who wondered what the hell I was doing in the Mustang with those two popular Braves. Renae even saw me on Peter Jennings!

After the parade, we got to hang out for a few minutes with the team. On a dare from an ACOG friend, I went over to Ron Gant and told him we’d voted him Best Ass in the NL East (oh, sweet Jesus, it was, too). He blushed, laughed hard ... then had me tell the rest of the team.

Go Braves.

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03 October 2006

Squeeze: Argybargy

I’ve been in a very happy place for the last several weeks, so this week’s album needs to be a happy one, one that will get us up and dancing. And few bands make me happier or dancier than Squeeze.

I love British new wave. Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson, and Squeeze ruled my turntable from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s. There was a wild, free, crazy happiness to the music — at a time when I was having that damn good time you get between nineteen and twenty-four. Responsibility, planning for the future, and sleep weren’t necessities — dancing and singing and blowing every spare buck on records and hitting several music clubs each night were the only importances of my life.

Yes, I know. Those still seem to be my priorities, and I’m a long way from that twenty-four cutoff. But at least I’m happy, right? And do you ever get too old for the pure, liberating pleasure that music brings your soul? I think not.

Squeeze — thanks to the songwriting team of lyricist Chris Difford and lead singer Glenn Tilbrook, who wrote the music — was heralded as the next coming of The Beatles. Okay, what semi-great British band hasn’t been called that? But Difford/Tilbrook came damn close. They crafted wonderfully danceable pop tunes with funny, sardonic, catchy lyrics. Tilbrook’s voice soared beautifully, always at his best when the lyrics were a bit snarky. The music is intricate but uncomplicated. And I just want to dance … dance … dance around the room whenever I listen.

Plus, I still have a crush on Glenn Tilbrook. He’s so damn cute.

I went to Europe for the first time in 1984, with my parents and my sister, spending the first several days in London. I was still mad about Squeeze and the adorable Glenn Tilbrook, and I’d read that he deejayed once a week at The Wow Club (or something like that). Mama said if I could find the club, she’d go with me. Sadly, I couldn’t find it. But I’ve always loved that she was willing to go with me.

My love for Squeeze began with Argybargy. Still can’t comprehend that this album was released more than a quarter century ago. I’ve been listening to the album for days, and it still sounds fresh, current. Or maybe I’m as outdated as my record collection.

Argybargy starts what I consider the Squeeze Trilogy — followed by 1981’s East Side Story and Sweets from a Stranger in 1982. I don’t think there are many British power pop albums from that era that can top the fun, the feeling, the brilliance of these albums.

Did you notice that my Argybargy in the upper right is autographed? A happy moment in Cupland, kids.

Here’s the hard part: Which three songs do I link up for you? There are the singles — “Pulling Mussels (From the Shell),” “If I Didn’t Love You,” and “Another Nail in My Heart” — all great three-minute ditties that will make you dance and feel nineteen again. But I need to introduce you to new tracks so that you feel the need to run out at lunch and pick up the CD, right? So, we’re going for a two/one mix.

“If I Didn’t Love You” is a wonderful slice of power pop with the oh-so-true line “If I didn’t love you, I’d hate you.”

Get music codes at Bolt

“Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)” is probably the most popular tune from the album (and it was hard to not include “Another Nail in My Heart”). Again, beautiful, catchy pop from the British New Wave era.

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For the lesser known, I’ve chosen “Separate Beds.” I love Glenn Tilbrook’s voice in this tune, as well as the simple beat. Difford and Tilbrook did a good job telling little stories in their songs, and this is one of their more visual ones. I love singing along.

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Yes, Renae, I should have bared all and told the story about the 1985 concert at the Fox … but I’ll save that for Sweets from a Stranger.

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Who Needs Miss America?

Our Little Miss Sunshine Online Pageant was a grand success, with nearly thirty participants and many more readers. Thanks to Dale, Coaster Punchman, and Old Lady and their mockery, idea, and plugs, we pulled it off and entertained our little blog world for a couple of days. Although Just a Cool Cat (with his lovely, flowing mullet locks) thinks we played it safe with cute photos (um, hello, did you see my Coke-bottle glasses and knock-knees?), many of us brilliantly embarrassed ourselves, to the awwww of others.

I think sKincarver, PinkFluffySlippers, and I need to get together and breed a mutant race of four-eyed, large-collared geeks. Our offspring will set the bar for nerdiness in the early years, coolness and simmering resentment in the later years.

Now, get back online and read the blogs you may not have visited until the contest. They’re all damn good.

My Tuesday soundtrack column will appear later today so that I can keep the pageant front and center a little longer.

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01 October 2006

I Was Little Miss Sunshine

That’s me, front and center in my fourth-grade class photo.

Notice that pose, that flirty sideway glance. You’re probably thinking I’m voguing, working that fabulous ensemble of every possible shade of green and flashy gold hair ribbon. But you’re wrong. As a four-eyed child of the sixties, I had to look off to the side so my glasses wouldn’t cause a glare on the photo. And that year I was the only kid in the class posing the nerd turn.

I’d actually wear that outfit today; Mama always had style and knew how to shop for me. And the reading glasses I’m wearing right now look scarily close to those cat-eyes I’m sporting in the photo.

Yes, I was one hot little minx when I was nine.

p.s. That's gospel great Kelly Nelon next to me, in the red dress.

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The Little Miss Sunshine Online Pageant Is Here!

Here they are — our Little Miss Sunshine contestants and they're adorable! I have some schoolgirl crushes brewing here ...

Barbara at looking2live *

Ben at Ben’s Treasure Trove *

Beth at Cup of Coffey *

Bluez at Lame Stuff *

Bubs at Sprawling Ramshackle Compound *

Coaster Punchman’s World *

Creepy at Church of the Lost Souls *

Dale at Passion of the Dale *

Dan at All Things Dan *

Dystopia at Rantings of a Mad Seamstress *

Haahnster’s Hallucinations *

Jacob’s Mom at My life and You're Welcome to It! *

James at Heavy: Lift with Caution **

Jeremy at Str8jacket *

Johnny at It’s a Pug’s Life *

Just a Cool Cat ... with a mullet! **

Katy at Okay, Fine! Whatever?!?!? *

Land-o-Lulu *

Marni at It’s a Pug’s Life *

Mellowlee at Mellow-Like-Jello *

Mizbubs at Sprawling Ramshackle Compound *

Mother of Intention at Spilling Out! *

The Official Site of Grant Miller *

Old Lady at Eclectic Tales **

PinkFluffySlippers at Cello, Et Cetera *

Scrivener at Scrivenings *

sKincarver at Creeping Darkness *

Tanya Espanya at Blog Worm *

Tenacious S

** Brand-new posts!

* Posted

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