29 November 2006

The Moviegoer: A Meme

The always entertaining Write Procrastinator tagged me while I was livin’ la vida Balm’er loca.

Popcorn or candy?
Popcorn. Always popcorn. With a Coke.

Name a movie you've been meaning to see forever.
Midnight Cowboy. I was a kid when it came out, and I was fascinated by all the X-rated hoopla. Runner-up: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.

You are given the power to recall one Oscar: Who loses theirs and to whom?
Gawd, there are so many. I didn’t think Shakespeare in Love was worthy of Best Picture (best awards campaign, maybe), nor Dances with Wolves or Forrest Gump. And Pacino overacted in Scent of a Woman.

Steal one costume from a movie for your wardrobe.
The white gown with red strips Deborah Kerr wore in An Affair to Remember.

Your favorite film franchise is...
Probably The Godfather. Or the Evil Dead trilogy.

Invite five movie people over for dinner. Who are they? Why'd you invite them? What do you feed them?
The guest list: George Clooney, for his entertaining, intelligent, flirty conversation (is there anyone on earth having more fun than George?) … Emma Thompson, because she’s literary and funny, and I’m sure she has a bawdy sense of humor … Charlie Kaufman, to see how his mind works … and Bruce Campbell and Colin Firth, simply because I love them. What would I feed them? I’d go simple because I’d want the focus on the conversation. Maybe carbonara with lots of wine … or my French farmhouse garlic chicken, again with lots of wine.

What is the appropriate punishment for people who answer cell phones in the movie theater?
Toss ‘em out on their asses, barred forever from the theater. Same punishment for those a**holes who bring toddlers to 10 p.m. movies.

Choose a female bodyguard: Ripley from Aliens, Mystique from X-Men, Sarah Connor from Terminator 2, The Bride from Kill Bill, or Mace from Strange Days.
Ripley, hands down. She’s fearless and kicks serious ass.

What's the scariest thing you've ever seen in a movie?
The body leaning against the wall, its eyes poked out, in The Birds. For a solid year of my childhood, every night after the lights went out I could see that body between my twin beds.

Your favorite genre (excluding "comedy" and "drama") is...
The romantic comedy. We rarely get films as great as those beauties produced in the thirties through fifties, but Richard Curtis gives me hope.

You are given the power to greenlight movies at a major studio for one year. How do you wield this power?
Produce strong stories about fortysomethings and fiftysomethings. And nothing based on old TV shows or video games.

Bonnie or Clyde?
You can’t have one without the other.

I’m tagging …
The adorable Jeremy at Str8jacket … my favorite Aussie, Lee … Peter at Daydream Vaccination … Dayle at Looking for Taller … and Bubs over at Sprawling Ramshackle Compound.

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28 November 2006

Marvin Gaye: What’s Going On

Next to punk/post-punk/new wave/alternative (yes, it’s one large, inclusive genre in my world), 1970s R&B is my favorite. It was the heyday of soul, the birth of funk, probably the greatest era of male voices in my lifetime. We’ve covered my favorite R&B crooner, Al Green, on these pages. Now it’s time for Marvin.

We found a great record store last week in Baltimore — Sound Garden, in Fells Point — where I discovered new bands while flirting with the blushing, shy record store boy. But the best part (yes, even better than the flirting) was I found a copy of the remastered What’s Going On — for just seven bucks. I have it on vinyl, but the CD is long gone (damn exes), so finding it was a thrill. (But who the hell could sell such a beauty?) I bet I haven’t listened to the entire album in ten years. And I haven’t stopped listening since I got home.

Marvin Gaye changed the world of R&B in 1971 when he released What’s Going On — the first concept album in the soul bins. It came out years before Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life or Innervisions. It’s a sublime song cycle of protest, supposedly sung from the point of view of a disillusioned Vietnam War vet upon his return home. The war and poverty, ecology and injustice are covered in some of the loveliest songs to cut the edge that year.

Put the album in context of what an R&B album was in the sixties and early seventies: a collection of hits with filler tunes. At that time, R&B and soul were, for the most part, recorded for singles, not albums. What’s Going On changed that.

You youngsters out there have heard “What’s Going On” and “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology).” Both are great pop songs that stand on their own … but you need to hear the album from beginning to end to get the full effect. Don’t worry; you’ll thank me. Think of What’s Going On as a symphony or an opera. The songs flow from one into another, following a theme in music and subject. Marvin wove in jazz and classical influences in these nine R&B tunes, taking his music to a new level.

Trivia: If I remember correctly, What’s Going On was the first album to list The Funk Brothers in its credits. If you don’t know who The Funk Brothers are, rent Standing in the Shadows of Motown this weekend.

My three favorite tracks? Can’t do it. What’s Going On really needs to be heard from the opening bars of “What’s Going On” until the last note fades on “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler).” If you like the two hits, you’ll love the album.

Do I need to say how much I love this album, how much joy it brings me every time I listen?

Rolling Stone named What’s Going On the album of the year in 1971, and it’s often (and deservedly) included the top ten of any definitive music list. Not just R&B, but all popular music in the rock era. And, damn, it deserves every accolade it gets.

You’ll want to come back every Tuesday in December, kids, as I feature my favorite Christmas albums. Yes, a full month of Christmas albums. And you’re gonna love it.

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26 November 2006

Reality Bites

I took a break from reality for the last ten days … and it was wonderful. I danced and sang along to great live music. I ate and drank and shopped like a trust-fund baby. And tomorrow I rejoin the world of grown-ups. I hope you hear the sad, resigned sigh in that sentence.

Quick rundown of my recent adventures:

Death Cab for Cutie with Ted Leo & The Pharmacists (11.17.06)

The night before I bolted to Baltimore, Dan and I hit the fabulous Fox Theater to see Death Cab for Cutie, with opening act Ted Leo & The Pharmacists (hence the subhead above).

And, yes, Grant Miller, you may call me An Anonymous Hipster.

The show itself was great. Ted and the boys kicked ass on stage. Ted’s just damn cool, and his set was my fave of the night. Death Cab for Cutie were quite good, too. But. It was The Place to Be for the pretty twenties; every time I went to the lobby for a beer or a trip to the powder room (the best in Atlanta, by the way), I felt as it I were stepping onto the set of “The OC”; scads of beautifully clad twentysomethings mingled and ogled, seeing and being seen, forgetting they were there for a concert. Those who went to their seats cheered loudly only during the recognizables riffs. The kids didn’t ruin the show; their being there to be there and not to enjoy the music just took away some of the atmosphere that should have been there (did you count my use of “there” there?).

I Was Charmed by the Charm City

I’m too tired tonight (tryptophan + red wine = tired chick), so the travelogue will come later this week, after I’m back in the swing of reality. But I’ll say this much: Baltimore has the friendliest guys I’ve been around in ages. Everywhere we went, we ran into wonderful people to chat up, to give us great restaurant recommendations, to shoot the breeze as we downed beers. And I got to say “Homicide” (from the opening credits of the greatest show ever) at least fifteen times a day; I love running a joke into the ground … especially when French laughs every time.

Robyn Hitchcock and The Venus 3 (11.20.06)

One of the reasons for our trip to Baltimore was to see Robyn Hitchcock with The Venus 3 — the V3 being the beloved Peter Buck of R.E.M., the adorable Scott McCaughey (Minus 5; Paul Westerberg’s faves Young Fresh Fellows; the second R.E.M. guitarist), and Bill Reiflin (formerly of Ministry, now drummer for R.E.M. and Minus 5). I haven’t seen Robyn Hitchcock since maybe 1992 and Georgia wasn’t on the schedule, so French and I decided to catch the Balm’er show.

And what a show it was. Robyn sounds wonderful, and you can tell he has fun playing with his pals. They played my fave, “Madonna of the Wasps” … but the encore may be my favorite in five years. They started with “Not Dark Yet,” one of my very favorite Dylan tunes. Robyn’s voice is lovelier than Dylan’s, which brought a different feel to the song. The next song still sends shivers down my spine: a cover of The Beatles’ “She Said She Said.” W.O.W. The song is perfect for Robyn’s voice and Peter’s guitar style. I was jumping and squealing and singing and dancing with joy during those three minutes, kids. Robyn told me after the show (yes, read those words again, kids: Robyn told me after the show) that they decided just that afternoon to play “She Said She Said” and learned it that day. Brilliant, magical, sublime. They closed the show, of course, with the Soft Boys’ “I Wanna Destroy You.”

Robyn Hitchcock has been inducted into the Cup Hall of Hair Fame, along with the illustrious, lustrous manes of Emmylou Harris and Oliver Platt. His hair is perfect.
French and I hung around after the show, waiting on our personal taxi (French makes friends with all the right people) and just enjoying that post-show high. I made a tactical error during the show. My general rule is I don’t drink during concerts so that I can fully enjoy the music and keep the giggly fangirl at bay. Well … we had a bit to drink at dinner (thanks, in part, to our favorite bartender evah, but that’s a story for another day) … and I sucked down three Bass Ales during the show. Multiple six cocktails with my concert high … and Giggly Fangirl joined the night.

Peter Buck was working the merch table, selling CDs and signing autographs for fans. Well, Fangirl jumped out of her hiding place … grabbed her passport … and asked Mr. Buck to sign in. “But won’t that invalidate your passport?” I told him I didn’t care, that it was the only thing I had for him to sign. I felt like a dork as soon as I did it … but then I get to show y’all:

After that bit o’ embarrassment, we got to talk to Scott McCaughey for a bit. Scott may be the coolest, happiest musician I’ve ever met. You can tell he gets such joy from playing and touring. He always takes the time to chat with his fans. I think he’s replaced Peter Buck as the musician I most want to be friends with.

Before we left Ottobar, Robyn came out and chatted with us for a couple of minutes. Yes, Giggly Fangirl had quite the night.

A Thankful Thanksgiving

Our family’s Thanksgiving holiday was casual and happy, spent at the Lake Burton house.

The entire Coffey clan was there, and it was a wonderful day. Thanksgiving is one of the best holidays, I think, because it’s all about being with family and friends, just enjoying each other’s company and retelling our favorite family tales.

A Blog Brag

I met Gizmorox from My Head Is a Box Filled with Nothing this weekend! She was visiting friends for the holiday, so we met for brunch. She’s a very cool woman … and she’s quite the cutie, guys.

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22 November 2006

A Lifetime of Crushes

The adorable Coaster Punchman tagged me to tell the tales of my young crushes. Now, if you’ve read this blog long, you know I adore having crushes, and usually have three or four simmering at any time. Ah, but the crushes of our youth. Innocent … fun … thrilling … void of drama. Nothing like the crushes we had before we hit our teens.

My first crush was Paul McCartney. Yes, I know we’re supposed to talk about those crushes who existed in our real world, but my love for Paul ran deep for a very long time. If you saw my rogue’s gallery, you could see the influence Paul had on my taste in men. I was five when The Beatles hit in 1964, and I got all caught up in Beatlemania. I’d watch The Beatles cartoon and play The Beatles game and talktalktalk about The Beatles with the teen girl who lived next door; she went to their concert at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, and was my hero after that.

I wish I were cool enough to say I crushed on John, but I went for the cute face back then. The sister was cool enough to crush on Lennon; she always went for the funny ones. And their birthdays are a day apart.

I got in trouble in kindergarten for kissing the boys, but I can’t remember which fellow Kiddie Dude Ranchers I locked lips with. (Randy, maybe you were one of the lucky ones.) I just remember liking the boys. All of them.

My first-grade heart belonged to Cary, a cute boy with olive skin and an exotic look. I remember looking at him all the time and feeling all squishy inside. I was a very shy kid back then — so shy and in my own little world that Mrs. Rakestraw called my mama about it — so it didn’t progress beyond stares and longings … longings for what, I didn’t know.

My family moved at the end of first grade, and I started going to Teasley Elementary. I wouldn’t say it was a full-on crush, but my first Teasley boy obsession was Pete Royal. Pete was my first great boy buddy, and we were good friends through high school. He was fun, he was silly, he hung out with the girls, he laughed at everything I said, and he started my love of hanging out with the boys. Pete and I lost touch after graduating from high school. We had a great time at our ten-year reunion and swore we’d get together soon. We never did. He died more than ten years ago, and I still regret that I never planned that dinner.

I harbored a secret crush on Mike beginning in the fourth grade. Like me, he wore glasses and, like me, he had to stand sideways when the class photo was taken. Misfits must stick together, no? He also had beautiful red hair. I guess that’s why I’m crushing these days on sKincarver.

The sixth-grade swoon was over George, a new boy in our school. He was tall and thin with brown hair, and I giggled every time he said something to me. I can still remember the tingles and thrills whenever he said something to me.

I’ll end the list with my first crush in junior high: Matthew. I fell hard for that blond boy in wire rims when he got on the bus the first day of school; he had a bit of a Warren Zevon look going for him, which is the only type of blond I'm attracted to, except for Robert Redford and Brad Pitt. Of course, this being junior high, I was horrified when people found out … “people” being Laura, our area mean girl. You know the type: Full breasts by fifth grade, vicious and mean to every girl in a sweet and friendly voice.

How mean was that evil bitch from hell? Holly and I were swimming at the pool one summer day. We both wore T-shirts over our bikinis so that “we wouldn’t sunburn” (read: to cover our lack of breasts, not realizing that wet T-shirts cling to the sunken chest). Laura called us over to introduce us to new and handsome lifeguard, saying “Joe loves great bodies. Why don’t y’all pull up your T-shirts and give him a laugh?” We both jumped back into the pool, and I cried under the water.

Anyway, Laura told Matthew about my burning crush and set a lovely plan in motion. He came to my table during lunch, and in that very crowded lunchroom and sang the Aunt Jemima pancakes jingle while pointing to my (lack of) breasts. Mortification killed that crush, and I hope he married miserably. And then I met my science partner, David Decker, and all was right and beautiful again in the crush world.

Now it’s my turn to tag. Who do I think will have the most entertaining crushes? No doubt the lovely Mellowlee … the cute cuz Marni … my blog crush Haahnster … the interesting Erin … and that great storyteller Johnny Yen.

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The Cup Returns

I’ve been soaking up the charm (and libations) (and great food) (and baubles and music) of Baltimore for the last few days. I meant to post while there, but the evil corrupter (and great travel companion) French made me drink too much, and my fingers couldn’t stay balanced on the keyboard.

I’ll write more about Baltimore this weekend. It definitely lived up to its Charm City nickname, and Fells Point is high on my list of to-move-to places.

Coming up: the friendliest drinking guys on the Eastern Seaboard … how I embarrassed myself with Peter Buck … chatting up Scott McCaughey and Robyn Hitchcock.

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17 November 2006

Christmas Griping

I adore the Christmas season. I listen to Christmas music all month long, and I have a collection of Christmas albums and CDs beyond compare. I chirp “merry Christmas!” everywhere I go … watch the classic holiday cartoons without fail … get out in the shops the few days before Christmas just to absorb more holiday cheer. Yep, I’m one of those delirious December dorks.


The Christmas season runs from Thanksgiving Day through Christmas Day. Not one day sooner. Why aren’t folks following the freakin’ rules?

One of our local radio stations went all-Christmas on weekends two weeks ago — the first damn weekend in November. Who wants to sing along with Bruce to “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” when you’re still munching on that bowl of leftover Halloween Snickers?

Dan called me Sunday to let me know that TBS was playing “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” — my favorite animated show of all time. November 12, and we’re already Grinching? Nuh-uh; I refused to watch. I have principles, dammit, even when it comes to the Grinch.

Our sixth grade class performed “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” in our school’s Christmas program. Renae was Little Cindy Lou Who (who was not more than two) and Holly was Max the Dog. Me? Just a Who down in Whoville, singing along to “Joy to the World” and “Deck the Halls.” The play rocked; wish we had video cameras back in those days.

Why rush it? We’ll be sick of “Joy to the World” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas” with this premature exaltation. Do not encourage them, folks, or we’ll be listening to Andy Williams and Johnny Mathis carols next August.

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16 November 2006

The Most Brilliant Waste of Time … Ever

I started my day with this beauty, sent to me by the cousin Marni (who's psyched that she scooped me on an R.E.M. original):

LEGO’ed R.E.M.

From left: Peter Buck, Mike Mills, Michael Stipe, Bill Berry

There’s a gallery of musicians. Some of my favorites:

The classics:

The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Led Zeppelin.

The new guard:

Sonic Youth, Nirvana, The Decemberists, Rilo Kiley, Death Cab for Cutie, the defunct Sleater-Kinney

Even The Village People!

Sorry, Brat, but there isn’t a LEGO’ed a-Ha; maybe you can work on that this weekend. And, Haahnster, they could use a Neil Young.

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14 November 2006

The English Beat: I Just Can’t Stop It

With all our chat about 1,001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, I thought it fitting this week to feature an album I love for the best reason: because it brings me pure joy every time I listen. As we all said in the comment box, it doesn’t matter whether or not a music critic considers it an “important” album; what matters is what the songs mean to you.

I was blessed during the 1980–81 school year to snag the coolest job on campus: public relations/public affairs director of WRAS, long considered one of the best college radio stations in the nation. My job was to coordinate public affairs announcements and on-air the giveaways — concert tickets, albums, and the like.

Before I joined the radio station, I was a bit of a music luddite. I read Rolling Stone and bought albums and listened to the radio, but I rarely ventured beyond the FM rock station. I listened to the UGA campus station during my two years there — Kermit the Frog, followed by something from The Sound of Music, then Billy Joel’s “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant,” to a local band — and I enjoyed its freeform style. But WRAS was different; it took college radio and music seriously. I was listening to more than the standards by Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson, The Clash and The Ramones. I was exposed to post-punk, new wave, singer-songwriters — a plethora of genres and some of the best (and, sadly, unheard) music of the early 1980s.

My first three album giveaways remain among my all-time favorites: The B-52’s Wild Planet, Joan Armatrading’s Me Myself I, and The English Beat’s I Just Can’t Stop It. These albums changed me; they opened me up to new genres and new sounds. I’ve already covered the first two, so today let’s obsess about The English Beat.

I could go on and on about how I Just Can’t Stop It is the perfect ska album, how its influence can still be heard today, how its members went on to found General Public and Fine Young Cannibals, and what an oversight that it’s not included on the 1,001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die list.

I love new wave ska, the 2 Tone era — The English Beat, The Specials, Madness, Selecter. Funny that reggae — such an important influence on ska — drives me batty. I wish I liked reggae … I’ve tried … but I can’t take more than one song at a time. Uncool of me, yes, but I must be honest.

But it’s something else for me. That English Beat album has the sound of youth and freedom, that joie de vivre of your early twenties … when “responsibility” was just a vocabulary word … when dancing all night and singing all day was the way you led your life. It’s one of those albums that makes me feel twenty-five years younger the moment I hear the first note.

I Just Can’t Stop It was released — gasp! — twenty-six years ago. But it doesn’t sound dated; it’s still fresh and alive and danceable. Back in my bookstore days, I was thrilled to find that the young Jeremy also loved The Beat (as they were known in the UK). He was a wee lad during their heyday, but he recognized their brilliance later on (Jeremy rocks, kids).

I Just Can’t Stop It includes two brilliant covers: Andy Williams’ “Can’t Get Used to Losing You” (Dave Wakeling’s vocals are sublime on the track, as buttery smooth as Andy’s) and Smokey Robinson’s “Tears of a Clown” (lovely that a heartache song can be so much fun to dance to, as it is here). When you have two covers nearly as good as the originals, you know you have something.

The album’s brilliance continues to sparkle with “Whine and Grine/Stand Down Margaret,” “Hands off … She’s Mine,” “Ranking Full Stop” … the entire album, really.

“Mirror in the Bathroom” is one of the best album openers ever. Electrifying energy. I just can’t stop it when it comes to dancing to this tune. “Can I take you to a restaurant that’s got glass tables / You can watch yourself while you are eating.”

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How many times have I worn out my body dancing hard and fast to “Twist and Crawl”?

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Along with “Save It for Later” (from Special Beat Service), “Best Friend” is one of The Beat’s best pop songs. It sounds as deliriously happy as I feel about my best friends.

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12 November 2006

Happy Birthday, Holly!

Holly has been one of my dearest friends for more years than she wants me to admit. And it’s her birthday. Grab a cocktail and toast her. She loves cocktailing and toasting as much as I do, and she deserves several hoists in the air.

Holly’s family moved to our charming little hamlet of Vinings in the fourth grade, and she became friends with Renae and me during her first week of school.

Holly, Renae, and me in downtown Athens (1983)

We had a great friendship back then, as much fun as we have now. We stayed kids as long as the calendar would allow us. Holly used to love playing with Barbies at my house (she just had Kiddles — fun to play with and cute to look at, but never as much fun as Barbie), and I loved spending the night at her house. There was one particular spend-the-night party — maybe for your birthday in the sixth grade? — where we held the Miss Spend-the-night Party Pageant, and Holly performed a dance to “Lady Madonna” that I relive every time I hear it. Talented, that one.

Holly and Renae, in my Little Five Points apartment (1987)

Holly always claims she’s not creative … but she is. When we were in sixth grade, Holly used to write me notes from Dr. Thomas B. Ward, a psychiatrist who’d tell me about his patients and his wild affairs. They were hysterical. I kept them for years, until my not-packrat mom tossed them during my UGA days. Those notes, Holly, prove your creativity.

Holly has been (very, very, disgustingly very) happily married to Randy for a wonderfully long time — and I get partial credit for that match. I helped engineer the first date and was instrumental in getting them back after a college-era breakup. Just think: Without me, they would not know happiness (and thank God I’m modest). Theirs was one of the most romantic weddings I’ve attended — just their families, Renae and me, and Randy’s two best friends. It also freaked me out because one of my crowd was — *gasp* — taking an adult step.

Holly and Randy, celebrating my birthday

Holly and Randy live in a fabulous house on a large lake north of Atlanta. There’s nothing better than cocktailing on top of their boat house, then taking a ride on the boat at dusk. (I know, kids, I’ve been remiss in getting up there for a visit; I’ll abuse my guest privileges soon. I promise.)

Holly’s been there for many parties and dinners and cocktail hours. She’s also been there for the dark times, especially during devastating breakups. She listens and she laughs, she cries and she consoles. I’d be lost without her.

When OM died, Holly and Randy were the first friends to come by Mama’s house — with lots of food. Renae also sent food, and it kept me going knowing that my two oldest and dearest friends were feeding my family during our darkest days. I’ll never forget that and will always love them for it.

My favorite Holly self-portrait, snapped this summer

We have a lot of history, a lot of adventures under our belt. We went through elementary school together … high school … University of Georgia … young adulthood … and not-so-young adulthood. I plan to grow old with Holly and Randy and Renae and Greg, on the most fun cul-de-sac around.

I love you, Holly, and cherish our long, beautiful friendship.

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11 November 2006

1,001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die

There’s a new book out — 1,001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die — that DJ Cayenne, my favorite Baby Got Books contributor, posted about this week.

If you love to read and you’ve never visited Baby Got Books, you’re doing yourself a disservice. That gang does a fantastic job reviewing the latest and keeping us up to date with literary news. Bookmark it today.

The ever-cool DJ Cayenne did more that write a simple post. He put together a spreadsheet with those 1,001 albums so that you can calculate how many of these must-hears you’ve heard.

I’ve heard 651 on the list. Added bonus: I now know my gaps, and will be filling in those unheard holes in the next several months. Being nerdy, not groovy like Mr. Cayenne, I further calculated my strengths by decade. My best showing (listening?) was (not surprisingly) the 1980s, for which I’ve heard 76.08 percent of the albums listed, followed by the 1970s, with 70.65 percent. What surprised me is I’ve heard more from the 2000s list than the 1990s.

Now get over there and calculate your aural experiences, then come back and post your tally here. I’m especially interested in M’s and Ben’s scores; I think they’ll best me. Haahnster may beat me, too.

And now I’m off for a cultural evening of bookstore browsing and Borat braying.

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10 November 2006

Shuffling into the Weekend

I’ve been trying to avoid the laziness of posting my Friday ten, instead trying to write real posts … but, well, it’s Friday and I’m feeling lazy …

  • Elvis Costello + Nick Lowe: (What’s so Funny About) Peace, Love, and Understanding (live acoustic)
  • Decemberists: Yankee Bayonet (I Will Be Home Then)
  • Doves: Break Me Gently
  • Stevie Wonder: Boogie on Reggae Woman
  • Deep Purple: Woman from Tokyo
  • Rolling Stones: Can’t You Hear Me Knocking
  • Replacements: Bastards of Young
  • Richard Hell & The Voidoids: Blank Generation
  • R.E.M.: Out in the Country (yes, the Three Dog Night song; Mike Mills does a kick-ass job singing it)
  • Beatles: You Know My Name (Look up the Number)
  • Oasis: Morning Glory
  • Happy Mondays: Dustman
  • Public Enemy: What a Fool Believes
Okay, I went to thirteen … but who could leave off the ornery Oasis brothers ... the snarky, trippy, pill-poppingly adorable Happy Mondays ... or anything by Public Enemy?

UPDATE: The Split Enz's "Iris" is playing right now. Damn, I'd forgotten how much I love that song ...

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09 November 2006

Happy Birthday, Joe!

I adore Joe. He’s one of the most interesting and adorable guys I’ve ever known, just damn cool. We met while working at the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, and we’ve remained friends for fifteen years. (Fifteen years, Joe? Is that possible?)

Isn’t he the cutest? Joe always made me swoon.

He loved R.E.M. nearly as much as I did (and I pray he still does). Joe and I went to R.E.M.’s first night-before album release party — for Automatic for the People — now a tradition I never miss. We shopped the town dry, drank The Globe dry, won an autographed press kit in the auction, admired Bill Berry’s very muscular arms close up (talk about your swoons). And we got to hear Automatic for the People before it was released. We also attended the New Adventures in Hi-Fi release party … and then he moved away.

We saw some great shows. R.E.M., of course. U2, with Big Audio Dynamite and Public Enemy. k.d. lang. The Peter Buck/Kevn Kinney benefit for the Atlanta Community Food Bank, with Smashing Pumpkins (I nearly embarrassed myself five times that night … but Joe saved me … or laughed.). Richard Thompson. Bob Weir. That 10,000 Maniacs show at Chastain when Michael Stipe joined Natalie on “Suspicious Minds” … and we were on the front row in ten seconds flat. And so many more.

One of my favorite Joe moments was at a fundraiser for AID Atlanta, back when Joe worked for the organization. He performed the sexiest, flirtiest drag to Lucinda Williams’ “Hot Blood.” Dan was on his knees, stuffing that garter with every dollar bill he could find.

Trying out his “Hot Blood” look

Lots of cocktailing, lots of dining, lots of introspective conversation, lots of laughter. Atlanta just hasn’t been the same since Joe left.

I’m listening to “Me in Honey” and World Party today and thinking about you, Joe. I promise to get up there before spring. I’m so glad you’re part of my life.

Be well.


08 November 2006

It's Sad, Really

When you can’t remember one of the punchlines of your often-told tale … when you don’t get the hint your best friend leaves in your comment box … when you have to call her to find out what the heck she’s talking about.

So … let’s back up a few hours, back to the Nureyev story below. I forgot to include:

A lesbian couple was sitting next to us. As Rudolph’s hole grew larger, one of them leaned over and said, “Damn, even I’m getting hot.”

Thank you, Renae.

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The Charming Rudolph

A recent “Iconoclasts” with Mikhail Baryshnikov and Alice Waters, coupled with Ziggy’s recent post about seeing Michael Clark dance, reminded me of a funny dance moment.

”Iconoclasts” is an interesting show, and the episode with Baryshnikov and Waters is especially wonderful. Check your local listings or IconoclastsTV.com to catch a future viewing. Did you see the one with Michael Stipe and Mario Batoli? Also entertaining; I’ve seen it about five times, natch.

I saw Rudolph Nureyev dance “Don Quixote” at our fabulous (we Atlantans are required to use that superlative with every mention) Fox Theater in 1982.

My beau scored great seats: fifth row center. You could see Nureyev’s beautifully sculpted face, every working muscle,his charm emanating from each movement. I was enchanted.

About halfway through the first act, Nureyev sprouted a tiny hole on the crotch of his leotard. Yes, right there, front and center. As the act went on and he leapt and spun and danced, the hole grew larger and larger. It was noticeable to maybe the first ten rows, and there were some giggles. (I wasn’t one of them … although I couldn’t stop watching the hole as it grew. Do you damn blame me?)

At the end of the act, Nureyev glided to the front of the stage, looked at those of us who could see the hole, shrugged and winked with a cocky grin, then strutted his way off stage.

Damn, he was as cool as he was lovely.

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07 November 2006

Prince: Purple Rain

One of the most demoralizing news stories I’ve heard lately is not about Haggard or Foley, Bush or Hussein. It’s about Prince and the fact that the de-symboled one has sold out and — shuddergone Vegas on us. So let’s remember Prince’s prime … when he still had integrity and produced great albums.

For me, it’s Purple Rain. That first organ note of “Let’s Go Crazy,” and I’m back in the summer of 1984 — a steamy, sultry, sexy summer for me. We won’t go into those details, but trust me when I say it was one helluva summer.

I first became a Prince fan with “I Wanna Be Your Lover,” way back in 1979. Judged purely on the songs, Purple Rain isn’t my favorite. I prefer his first few albums for the funk, and “My Name Is Prince” may be my favorite from his oeuvre. But for passion and memories and just plain fun, I always come back to Purple Rain. And aren’t the memories associated with a song or album as important as the musicology of it?

The Prince sellout spreads. Morris Day is now doing television commercials for a local Toyota dealer. Seems it’s time to buy or something.

Some of Purple Rain sounds dated, I guess, but it also rocks the rafters, thanks to Wendy and Lisa. Maybe he needs to call them again.

“Let’s Go Crazy” kicks off the album — maybe a bit too theatrically, but I’ve always loved its energy.

“I Would Die 4 U,” along with “Take Me with U,” is the pop highlight. Yeah, I know I should say "When Doves Cry" ... but it just got played to death ... although Renae does a fabulous job reenacting the video.

Forget all the Tipper Gore brouhaha over “Darling Nikki.” And forget about the magazine-related activities. It’s a damn fun, balls-to-the-walls rock tune. And that backward stuff at the end is still neat. C’mon; can your hips stay still when Prince sings about Nikki starting to grind? Mine can’t.

Upload music at Bolt

Go home. Pull out your Purple Rain and relive the eighties.

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06 November 2006

Clap for Her!

My oldest and dearest ran the New York Marathon yesterday, averaging ten to eleven minutes per mile. The impressive part: Her time per mile got faster every five kilometers. Cheers, Renae!

Renae, just before the marathon

I’ve been remiss in keeping you up with Renae's photography career. Her first show was a year ago this weekend. Her work has hung in a gallery or been included in a juried show every month since then — in Reston, Newport, Louisville, Brooklyn. A gallery in Vermont wants to put on a one-woman show of her photographs. Check out her work, and buy a piece (or seven) while she’s still affordable.

Renae amazes me; she’s my inspiration.

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05 November 2006

Just Perfect for Me

I went on a blind date Friday night. Missed seeing (to quote Scrivener) the fan-f*cking-tastic Mountain Goats for this night on the town. But a someone in my universe knew someone just perfect for me, and talked (well, bullied) me into going out with him. I’ve never had a problem with blind dates. I like meeting people and, at the very least, I might get a good story to tell while cocktailing. What I’ve often had a problem with is who someone thinks is just perfect for me. Makes me wonder if the yenta has ever met me.

I’m not particularly interested in adding new male types to my life right now. I’m enjoying a couple of wicked crushes on a couple of wicked men, and there are more important things that need my attention at the moment. But I’m working on a short story about a single woman reentering the dating world post-breakup, so I saw this as a good research opportunity.

The descriptions you are about to read are a personal dating preference. I embrace people of all political and musical beliefs, heights and hair coloring, but I have a checklist of specifics for those I want to embrace.

I get dolled up. Tame the wild curls. Slip on nice pair of pinstriped trousers with a not-too-snug turtleneck. Downplay the baubles and heels. Drive off to the agreed-upon meeting place, a restaurant a couple of miles from my place (newbies are not allowed near the Cup’s cupboard) where there’s a heated patio romantically overlooking a busy five-lane road.

I arrive on time — seven minutes after, because a lady should always be a few minutes late in order make an entrance. And, well, the radio was playing a countdown of R.E.M.’s ten coolest songs in honor of their nomination, and I had to hear which was number one (“Radio Free Europe,” of course).

But the grand entrance was denied and I was left waiting. I’m an impatient one. I hate waiting on people, especially dates. I grabbed a dirty martini and sat with that “yes, I’m waiting for someone” look, quickly losing the high of meeting a new guy and that great R.E.M. set. Finally, fifteen minutes after my grandly denied entrance, he (we’ll call him Skip) strolls in. Hopes further dashed. Second cocktail quickly ordered.

Skip is not my physical type. I haven’t circulated flyers listing what I like, so I can’t fault the fixer-upper. But my toes don’t curl. Don’t even twitch. He’s a little on the short side, by my standards, maybe 5’8”. (In my head, I think I’m 5’10”, so I like ‘em 6’0” to 6’4”.) Blond hair combed so perfectly I can see his comb’s teeth (I prefer wild, dark male hair … much like the men themselves). A bit bland, average, boring; Kevin Costner in a golf get-up — vanilla country club button-down, khakis, loafers, his BlackBerry holstered to his belt.

Back in the early 1980s, I had a friend who used to wear his garage door opener on his belt when he trolled Buckhead. He told the little chippies he was a doctor and the opener was his pager. It surprisingly worked about eighty percent of the time.

He says hello and shakes my hand. As if we’re about to review his taxes. No grip, a little clammy. I know it’s awkward when you’re meeting a blind date, but a handshake? He picks up my just-ordered martini and gets a light beer. Light beer? I can’t respect a man who drinks a light beer at first meeting; be a man and order a full-bodied British ale. Or scotch.

And then we sat. Uncomfortably. For far too many beats. He asked a question. I answer. He moved on to the next question. (What? None of my answers were worth a follow-up?) Standard job interview Q&A — occupation, hometown, where I currently reside, where I went to school, whether or not I’d been married, number of kids. The boring stuff. I got the same info from him: sales, Nashville, Alpharetta, Tennessee, divorced five years, no children, no pets. What does he like to do? Play golf. Go to Braves game. “Well, not this year,” Skip scoffed. “You know, they sucked this year, so I gave away most of my tickets.” I dislike fair-weather fans. He lives for SEC football. “You can’t get me on any Saturday in the fall. And Tennessee kicked Georgia’s ass this year,” Skip yelps as he punches me in the arm. Who does he think I am — Peppermint Patty?

Fifteen minutes and two strikes. Looks like he’ll be fanning the plate all night.

So I move on to music. A man can always come from behind if I approve of his CD collection. Well, he saw that awesome James Blunt concert this summer (huge yawn; respect now chopped at knees). I bemoaned the fact that I missed Beck’s secret show on Halloween; he’s crushed because he didn’t know Jeff Beck was touring these days. He loves Jimmy Buffett and his 1980s hair bands, especially Jon Bon Jovi (“ewww!” snarkily escaped between my lips). And then he mentions the name that makes my skin crawl: Toby Keith. I’m on a date with a Republican.

I don’t have a problem with friends who are Republicans. Our debates and discussions make me think, stay aware, help me to see the other side of the political coin. I do not, however, want to date a Republican.

He won’t stop sneaking non-subtle peeks at my not-on-display boobs. That brings out the catty Cup. I tell Skip I don’t listen to country music much these days since it’s really warmed-over adult contemporary pop sung by pretty people, that I prefer traditional country music, but I do have the new Dixie Chicks album, and I’m considering seeing them with Pete Yorn next month. That gets him started. The Dixie Chicks are un-American because they spoke out against Dubya and the war, and he’s glad our fine city’s country stations have banned playing their records. “But, Skip,” I ask innocently, “isn’t the foundation of this great republic the right to say what you believe?” Got a lot of Boortz-spewing on that one.

Must. Stop. The Boortzing. So I move on to books. Does he read a lot? A lot of political books, such as Zell Miller’s, and he g*ddamn loved The DaVinci Code. Didn’t I love it? No, I did not read it. He declares that I must not be a booklover after all. He declares moi a non-booklover, and he’s never read The Great Gatsby or The World According to Garp or In Cold Blood? I don’t even waste my breath asking about dear Tim Sandlin or beloved T.C. Boyle; this guy doesn’t deserve to know about them.

I’ve drained two martinis by this time, so Skip suggests that we “move the party” to a European-style dessert place. It’s a wonderful spot, especially if there’s a spark of romance flickering. Me? I’m just looking forward to chocolate.

We walk to our cars (I want to be sure of the quick getaway). He has a big-ass SUV. “Oh, I thought you said you don’t have children or dogs,” I bitchily cooed. I don’t think he caught the bitch tone, because he bragged about what a great behemoth it is.

Dessert was much of the same. Struggles for conversation, no hits on similar interests, some quibbling about local politics and TV shows and books. He’s sucking out all my energy; the black hole of my Friday night. I pull out the fake yawns … mentioning how rough my work week was … my brunch plans for early the next day … any possible excuse I can think of to get to the end of the evening. But the chocolate torte and cappuccino were scrumptious.

How can I make sure he doesn’t call? I start playing the psycho-girl card. I get faux-weepy over “the guy I just broke up with.” Pull out the reliable male-chiller and talk about my biological clock, how I need to settle down soon so that I can get pregnant in the next year. Tell him about my MoveOn.org and Drinking Liberally activities. Anything that will turn him off. I even giggle about how we have nothing in common and don’t understand how our mutual friend thought we’d be a match.

Of course, he called Saturday afternoon. I have yet to return his call.

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03 November 2006

I Heard the News Today, Oh Boy

Actually, I heard the news on Monday, but who wants to miss the op to use a great Beatles reference?

R.E.M., Van Halen, the Stooges and Patti Smith are among the nine acts on the ballot for the 2007 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, to be held March 12 at New York's Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Also on the ballot are the Dave Clark Five, Chic, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Joe Tex and the Ronettes.

Five artists will be chosen for the final list of inductees, to be announced in January. To be eligible for induction, the 2007 class had to release their first single no later than 1981.

Black Sabbath, the Sex Pistols, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Blondie, Miles Davis and record moguls Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss were enshrined in the Hall earlier this year.


My choice for this year’s class: R.E.M., Stooges, Patti Smith, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, and a toss-up between the rest. Can you imagine the jam with that group? I must be there … but tickets are $2,000 each, and Mike Mills has yet to return my calls.

I first saw R.E.M. in September 1980, at the 688 Club. At the time, they were just another fun local band. It took another three years before they fully captured my heart and became the greatest loves of my life. And there they’ve stayed, even after Up and Aftermath (both decent albums with moments of brilliance, but definitely not their best work).

Ah, 688. Probably my favorite music club of all time. It’s long gone … but I still gaze lovingly and longingly at the address whenever I drive down Spring Street. Good times and good bands in that club — some well-known, some never heard from again. If you watch closely, Paul Rudd (and who doesn’t watch him closely?) is wearing a 688 T-shirt in Clueless. I’ve seen fellow Atlanta native David Cross wear his on “Celebrity Poker Showdown.”

I guess that petition drive for Warren Zevon didn’t pan out. We have next year, kids.

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01 November 2006

Three Faces of Cup

Next to Christmas, Halloween was my favorite holiday when I was a kid. When you have an imagination like mine, there’s nothing more thrilling than putting on a costume and another persona. My favorite was a gypsy because I could dress in a riot of color and tons of my mother’s jewelry. I loved the jingle of the bangles.

Halloween is also a helluva lot of fun when you’re an imaginative adult. I came thisclose to a fun costume party this year, but there was the threat of a soap opera, so instead I revisited costumes of years past.

Somewhere among all those T-shirts and floating pens and CDs and books and baubles are photos of me in the costumes described below, but I can’t find them (I’ll find them next week, no doubt) … so here I am on another Halloween.

Best Costume — Adult Category

Being a woman who loves color and baubles and outrageousness, it was inevitable that I’d one day spend a Halloween as Carmen Miranda.

I bought yards of a gold lame fabric covered with lots of wild, colorful squiggles. I wrapped it around me in a sarong style. This was the late 1980s, before the era of the thong, so I went commando. I used a strip of the fabric for my headwrap, to which I fastened plastic fruit — apples, bananas, grapes, an orange. I bought some cloth heels, coated them in gold glitter (I love glitter) and topped the shoes with more fruit. I was a vision in Del Monte.

The headwrap and the sarong cloth; isn’t that fabric so 1988?

We hit several parties that evening, ending up at a friend of a college friend’s party. By the time we got there, college pal Reifenberger was seven sheets to the wind — still damn funny, talking a mile a minute, but a bit oblivious to the world outside his drunken state (in other words, Reifenberger’s normal party state). We were talking and laughing in the kitchen when a very inebriated chick stumbled our way.

“Gweat costume,” she slurred. “Are you a boy or a girl?”

“I’m a girl,” I sniffed, resuming my conversation with Reifenberger.

“I dunno,” she said. “You could be a guy. Looks like something a guy would wear.”

“I promise you, I’m a girl.”

“Lessee …” and Drunk Girl lifted the hem of the sarong to the top of my head, sharing my tricks and treats with everyone in the kitchen. “Huh. You are a girl.”

And Reifenberger? He just kept on jabbering and never caught the show.

Great Concept — Poor Execution

I had a great idea, one that would play off my dramatic coloring of black hair and pale skin: go as a photonegative of myself.

I coated my hair and eyelashes in white temporary hair color. I painted my face, hands, arms, and legs black — with, of course, little white freckles sprinkled all over my face and arms. I wore a white T-shirt and shorts (sometimes in Atlanta you can wear shorts at Halloween), with a black bra and panties over that.

Cute idea, right? Problem is … my hair is so dark, the color came out gray, not white, and the color faded (well, flicked off like flocking on a dying Christmas tree) every hour. So … I didn’t look like a photonegative of myself … I looked like … oh, God … a badly executed racial slur. As we walked into parties, my friends would shout, “That’s so cool; you’re a photonegative of yourself!” so that the other partygoers would get it. It was so off the mark that when we waltzed into the Majestic (our longstanding dive of a diner) at 2 a.m., everyone stopped for a couple of beats, looked at me quizzically, realized I wasn’t a racial slur, just a bad idea, and went back to their eggs and grits.


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