FFWDing to the Best Part: “Broadway,” The Goo Goo Dolls (2000)

A 1996 episode of Friends introduced the “Freebie List” to the lexicon.  In essence, it is a list of five celebrities who, should the situation present itself, earn an “all-clear” from one’s current significant other. It’s a truth universally acknowledged … if this predetermined famous person will have you, you’re allowed to have him or her, with no negative repercussions to any current relationship.

Taking the top slot on my own “Freebie List” from 1999 until about, well, the time the photo below was snapped, was Johnny Rzeznik. The seemingly tortured, impressively coiffed, front man for Buffalo punk outfit (turned adult-contemporary-radio mainstay) The Goo Goo Dolls.

As luck would have it, I actually got to meet Mr. Rzeznik when he played a corporate gig I attended in 2009.  I made a stupid request (“Will you be playing We Are the Normal?”); he dismissed me with a stupid lie (“Well, I dunno!  I haven’t seen the set list yet!”); I entered a weeks-long shame spiral.  At least I got a good profile picture out of it:

Me with Johnny Rzeznik

After this impressive meet-and-greet, I assumed what will certainly be my best concert vantage point ever — immediately in front of the stage.

Goo Goo Dolls performing at corporate gig

From here, I watched them do their (modern-day) classics.  Slide (remains a jam).  Here is Gone (remains filler). Iris (whatever).  And I looked forward to watching Broadway up close and personal for the …

Best part?  2:00 – 2:04. In a thinly veiled rant against his abusive and alcoholic (and, btw, dead) father, Johnny asserts, “Your anger don’t impress me.”  The progression of notes is lovely, and differs enough from the first verse that it stands out, as is the suggested intent.

 

And yet!  Johnny screwed up this night’s performance.  Instead of launching into the second verse at the appropriate time, he started to repeat the first verse.  I tried to save him, from inches away, but he was doing his best to try and ignore me.

Whatever, dude.  Nice plastic surgery of late.  See you on LITE-FM.

6 Disturbing Facts About My ‘Titanic’ Obsession

OMG, y’all. It’s back. The ultimate tale of hubris and ill-fated love on the high seas. Jack and Rose! Kathy Bates kicking ass! 1997’s best CGI! Poor dead Gloria Stuart! Victor Garber sadly moving a clock forward by hand! A 3-D version comes out at midnight, and I’ve enjoyed all the lead up to this blessed event.

In 1997, I was 23 years old and did I ever LOVE Titanic. The costumes, the story, even the soundtrack. Most of all I loved Kate Winslet and Leonardo Di Caprio. Too bad neither of them ever did anything else.

leonardo-dicaprio-and-kate-winslet-in-titanic

How much did I love Titanic?  Well, I’m glad you asked.

1. My eBay handle, created in the winter of 1998, is beth41512. No, that’s not a random number, silly! It represents April 15, 1912. The day the Titanic sank. Of course.

2. I was once part of an AOL chat room about Titanic. The movie, not the actual ship/tragedy. In it people posited how there could be a sequel. One theory was that Jack Dawson wasn’t actually dead at the end (spoiler alert!) and in fact gets carted off by dolphins to some island somewhere where he lives out a happy but Rose-less life. This indicates the other kinds of people in this chat room.

3. I ordered the official movie poster and spent some of my 23-year-old salary to have it custom framed. Said custom frame was broken in a 2003 move. It had a good run.

Titanic Poster, Kate and Leo

4. Because I couldn’t bear the thought of surviving the five or so months between the movie’s four-month long theatrical release and its debut on VHS, I ordered a bootleg (VHS) copy of the movie from Canada. Which of course I never watched. (4b: I bought the regular version and the widescreen version on VHS, as recommended by Entertainment Weekly. You watch the first half adjusted for television and the second, more action-packed half, in widescreen. I never did this.)

5. I saw it in the theater five times. Five and a half, if you count the time I left Spice World in the middle of it and ducked into the next theater for my Billy Zane fix.

6. I already bought tickets to Titanic 3-D. When buying in advance at this particular theater, you get to pick your own seat, which is awesome. Let’s just say I bought early enough that I had my pick of any seat I wanted in the entire place.

I haven’t watched Titanic in full since about 2002. Who knows how it will make me feel. More sad? Less exhilarated? Equally hopeful that this time the ship will somehow veer around that iceberg? More CLOSE TO THE ACTION since it’s in 3-D, after all? I’ll be sure and let you know next week.

Crash Into Who? (In Which I Revisit One of my Many Public Humiliations)

A few weeks ago, when reflecting back on the least-impressive 21st birthday celebration ever, I alluded to another anticlimactic experience involving Dave Matthews and his Band of merry makers.  Here is that story, updated slightly from when I originally told it on June 2, 2005.   

Went to the Dave Matthews Band concert last night with my friend Anne. History: while DMB isn’t my favorite band, or even in the Top 30, there are definitely some songs and album(s) I very much like. And I feel a certain kinship with the boys, as they got their start in Charlottesville, VA, in the early 1990s, when I was an undergrad at UVa.

The show? Was a little disappointing. Dave and the boys remain extremely musically gifted, and good for them. But the set list adhered to the following pattern: three songs from new album; 20-minute “jam” session; two songs from new album; ‘Too Much’; 15-minute “jam” session; a cover of ‘Time of the Seasons.’ And … scene. Under the Table and Dreaming was sorely unrepresented. And while I know they want to live in the now, how about giving something back to the little people who knew you when.

So speaking of “knew you” …

Anne and I attended the show with friends of A’s mom (Dr. D) who, according to their own reports, are likethis with Mr. Matthews. Have dined with him and Mrs. Matthews numerous times. Have enjoyed backstage tours in multiple cities and swapped recipes with Dave’s personal chef. Their entry into this rock-and-roll lifestyle, should anyone care, was via the band’s sound guy, who was in a serious relationship with one of the friends’ daughters.

And the woman in the couple had told Dr. D that — should we all go to the concert together — we could totally get backstage, and hang, and possibly meet the band. After the show it’s the after party and after the party it’s the hotel lobby.  And so on and so forth. Sound guy, let’s call him Skippy, would be alerted to our seat locations ahead of time so we could be properly set up like the VIPs he would know us to be. And so Anne bought four, not two, tickets, and gave them to her Mom’s friends free of charge. Anne agrees to drive Dr. D’s friend and one of her daughters (not the one who dated Skippy) as our guests.We are set!

On the long and circuitous ride to the venue, Close-Personal-Friend-of-Dave Senior says they haven’t gotten in touch with Skippy, and in fact have not seen or spoken with him in four years. Interesting. And vaguely unsettling. Close-Personal-Friend-of-Dave Junior says she has a cell phone number for her sister’s former paramour, but the number is old, and he never used to answer it anyway. Anne and I, we are rapidly rolling downhill. A snowy, snowy hill of deception and megalomania.

Now … I don’t care about meeting Dave effing Matthews. The whole encounter might have been sort of embarrassing, as I know none of the band members’ names, know nothing off their new album, and am just not the kind of superfan who deserves to meet them. But Anne looooooved them in high school and college. During her formative years, she saw them in concert more than a dozen times, bought every CD, etc.  The opportunity to meet and greet warmed the cockles of her heart as a prior superfan.  So the gross and shameful misleading we were victims of was so much more shattering to my dear, sweet friend.

After the show, which, as aforementioned, was disappointing, (even to Anne), Close-Personal-Friend-of-Dave Senior and Junior decide to mosey down beyond the concert barricades and try to connect with Skippy. They do. And they stand there and chat with him for at least three minutes before thinking of introducing Anne and me. And when they did notice us standing there like jerk-offs, they said: “This is Anne and … and … [forgetting my name] … ummm, they drove us here.” Well, that’s fantastic. We shall never be Close-Personal-Friends-of-Y’ALL. Let me tell you, folks, that the 180 seconds prior to the shoddy introduction was TORTURE. Standing there, in a place we shouldn’t be, like a couple of pathetic sound-guy-groupie hookers.

And then? Needless to say, Skippy goes on his merry way, with no mention of a backstage tour, or a Fresca with the band, or anything.

This humiliation was followed by almost two hours spent gridlocked in the parking lot and on the highway with Close-Personal-Friend-of-Dave Senior and Junior in the back seat. Throughout the journey home, Close-Personal-Friend-of-Dave-Senior had a personal connection she felt compelled to share for any celebrity that was brought up. “Sarah McLachlan?  Oh, my other daughter designs her evening gowns.  Hanson?  My best friend from high school plays cards with their Mom. Tom Cruise?  Poor, misunderstood Tommy?  Oh, he  worked at the ice cream shop I used to frequent. Always gave me extra sprinkles.’ It took all the self control I could muster to not bellow, ‘LINCOLN?  ABE Lincoln?  Do you know him?  What about Moses?  Charlamagne ?  Hmmmmmm?’ 

A-holes.

And did I mention that my AARP card is coming in the mail any day now because during the show, while so many girls in front of me danced like free spirits without a care in the world, I was in my seat, calmly enjoying a cardboard container of NACHOS. They went well with the second-hand pot smoke wafting down from the lawn seats behind me.

Totally pathetic.

This ant’s marching out.

Three-Day Juice Cleanse (In Which I Crave Doritos Even More Than Usual)

Inspired by the most unlikely of sources – Howard Stern sidekick and newswoman (and holder of my dream job) Robin Quivers –  I embarked this week on a three-day-long “juice cleanse,” otherwise known as a “juice fast” or “some hippie dippie way of cleaning out your system.”

While Ms. Quivers does a handful of 21-day fasts each year, I thought this would be a sustainable enough experiment to start.  I’d imagine most marathon runners began with a 5K (if not, indeed, with a single step).

The Queen of All Media

I knew headed in that this silly procedure wasn’t about weight loss (but more on that later).  I thought maybe the cleanse, undertaken here at the onset of winter, would provide me with some needed nutrients, give my digestive system a rest, flush out some toxins, and maybe, just maybe, make me a more energetic person, shave 10 years off my appearance, cure my anxiety, earn me half a dozen new friends, and give me a new appreciation for simple pleasures.

Perhaps this was too much to hope for.  Did I mention I also had a Groupon.

For those of you out there in the mood for a good (albeit boring) story or for anyone considering doing a cleanse themselves (three days or otherwise), this was my experience. Duh duh DUH.

Sunday, 8:00 p.m.  

“My last solid food until Thursday morning!” I think in a panic.  I eat pasta. Bagel chips smeared with cream cheese.  I have a glass of wine.  I later found out I was supposed to limit processed food, dairy, and alcohol in the two days prior to the cleanse. Ooops.

Monday, 8:00 a.m. 

I head to Peeled, the juice/cleanse bar in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood.  They hand  me a box of 18 16-ounce bottles of various juice.  Like the ones below, but not quite as fancy.  I leave, feeling inspired.  Man, is the box heavy.

Photo Courtesy of The Fallout Girl 

Being a frugal city gal, I opt for the El into work versus a cab. But because I’m later than usual, there are no seats.  I stand, holding this quite-heavy box.  I drip with sweat.  My arms begin to quake. Chivalry rolls over in its cold-ass grave.  Once I mercifully reach my stop, it’s a long four-block walk into my office.  At least I didn’t drop the juice and waste my 99 bucks.

Monday, 9:00 a.m.

So the cleanse is laid out like this:  six drinks per day, so roughly one every two hours. In between, you are supposed to drink lots of water and green tea.  Yup, that is a ton of liquid, but I’ll get to that.

First is a green drink (veggies spiked with apples).  Second and third are cayenne lemonade and watermelon juice, respectively, which are both just as they sound.  Fourth is more green-monster juice, then another watermelon.  The sixth and final bottle is cashew milk, where you get much of the day’s sustenance and protein.  It’s a creamy, fatty reward for a job well done.

First up – green drink.  I take one sip and shiver.  “This is not going to end well,” I say to my work neighbor Carlos. If it just tasted like the important stuff – spinach, kale, celery, cucumber – it would be far more palatable.  The fact that they try to “improve” it with apple juice simply makes it taste like spinach brined in tart apple juice.

Cheers

My friend Hanna advised letting the green juice come up to room temperature and then chugging it.  I agree – it’s the best (if not the only) way.

Monday, 8:00 p.m.

Drinks 2-5 went off without incident and I wasn’t feeling terribly hungry.  Time for this cashew milk nonsense.  The first sip is a shock to my system and prompts me to shake it a little more diligently.  Then it morphed into a not-exactly-delicious Egg Nog.  A little creamy but definitely filling.  I felt relatively sated, but I already missed chewing.

Monday, 11:30 p.m.; Tuesday, 1:30 a.m. 

While this three days of juice didn’t truly cleanse me out as Dr. Sendil evilly warned, I did have to do something about the 120 ounces of liquid I’d ingested that day.  I know, I know, Mom.  Too much information.

Tuesday, 8:30 a.m. 

I feel okay.  Not starving.  Man, is the green drink even more gross than I remember.

Tuesday, 11:30 a.m.

I want anything crunchy.  Doritos.  Pita chips.  Goldfish.  Carrots. Binder clips.

Tuesday, 1:30 p.m. 

“Damn it, Carlos, how can canned soup smell so utterly delicious!  How?  Please go eat that elsewhere.  No, seriously.  Wonder if I should be eating these juices with a spoon to fool myself.”

Soup Hasn't Spurred This Much Anger Since that One Seinfeld Episode

Tuesday, 8:00 p.m. 

Back on track.  Less cranky.  Less longing for snacks.  Just one day to go.  I start fantasizing about my Thursday-morning breakfast. Spinach, mushroom and goat cheese wrap from the healthy-ish place next door. I rarely get breakfast out – ever. But man, I’m going to deserve it.

Tuesday, 10:00 p.m

I also, however, find out that each day’s worth of the cleanse is roughly 1,400 calories, which seems like kind of a lot considering the amount of sacrifice involved.  That is 4-2/3rds McDonald’s cheeseburgers, people.  Three-plus Taco Bell bean burritos.

Pretty Much the World's Most Perfect Food

Wednesday, 8:00 a.m

I’m a little light-headed but feel strong. I can do this thing.  As God is my witness, I will never (feel) hungry again!

Wednesday, 4:00 p.m

Fourth drink of the day, final green drink overall.  I will not miss you.

Wednesday, 6:30 p.m

Swing by my friend Beth (#1)’s house to help with her dog. Nearly eat a Beggin Strip.

It Looks Delicious, Right?

Find it increasingly hard to resist the little cup of pistachios on her counter.  Convince myself that if I have a couple of pistachios, it is basically the same as cashew milk.

Nibble on a couple of pistachios.  And in this world, ‘a couple’ means 17 or so. It’s really all Kermit’s fault.  Damn you, Kermit.

Awwww, Nuts.

Okay, so by my count, that was 70 hours of no chewing, no solid food, nothing but juice prepared by the fine folks at Peeled. A failure by two hours, technically speaking, although I really shouldn’t have chewed any solid food until tomorrow morning.  Better cut back on my grand breakfast plans.

But here’s the deal, folks. Other than feeling a sense of accomplishment that I can actually go 70 hours without crunching on nonsense snacks, I don’t feel really anything different.  No heightened energy like some people reference.  No glowing skin. No spring in my step. No desire to wear my skinniest jeans (not that I even know what those are these days).  I just feel … okay.

So it was all in all, I suppose from my point of view, a failed exercise.  Yes, I felt better today than yesterday, but it’s all relative.  It’s the Collective Soul/Creed analogy that I will get to in a later post.

Honestly, the best part was probably the workout my biceps got carrying that damn box.

Catch you on the solid-food side.

Falling Far From the Tree (In Which I Feel Halfway Sorry for Myself)

This weekend I took the opportunity to visit my parents P & E in lovely Northeast Ohio. I mean no sarcasm with that adjective. Here in the corner of the country where the great plains blend into the western reserve of Pennsylvania, the hills are rolling, the air is fresh, and Lake Erie provides a pleasant background up until the point that it starts spitting out “Lake-Effect” snow for weeks on end.


Northeast Ohio.  Really.  

I’ve always said – with only a touch of exaggeration – that I managed to score the worst gene combination possible stemming from my exceptional parents. Lest you roll your eyes or offer to play a few bars on the world’s smallest violin, let’s examine the evidence.

Hair: Mom’s is fine and stick-thin. Brown. Dad’s is lush and wavy. Blonde (until it was gray). I got Mom’s hair.

Eyes: Mom didn’t need any corrective lenses until she was 42. Dad and I both got fitted for glasses around age 7.


Courtesy of SodaHead.com

Cholesterol: Mom’s is off-the-charts low. Dad’s is elevated despite a healthy diet and exercise. Mine is on the way up. I’d better enjoy that Pamplemousse now because one can’t consume anything grapefruit when taking Lipitor.

Musical Ability: Dad can literally take any instrument and play any song by ear. Piano, clarinet, trumpet. Mom needs sheet music. So do I.

Artistic Ability: Dad can draw and calligraph. I once drew a banjo while playing Pictionary and my team guessed “tiger.”

Skin: Mom is olive toned and tans easily. Dad is fair (and has flaky dry skin to boot). I’m the latter.

Leg hair: A bizarre one, but worthy of mention. Neither of my grandmothers ever had to shave their legs – they just didn’t have anything grow there. I have to shave enough for the three of us combined.

Overall Demeanor: Generally speaking, Mom is a bit more laidback while Dad does the worrying (sometimes unnecessarily). Anyone who has spent any time with me at all knows my anxiety is one of my most endearing traits.

Oh! But at least I’m not allergic to cilantro like Dad is. Check one. Mmmm … burrito.

I’m also not as good a cook as my Mom, as good a writer as my Dad, or nearly as industrious as either. But I suppose there are worse problems.

The so-called American dream is for one’s kids to go farther in life than oneself. But having parents that continue to inspire you into your 30s (not to mention having parents that remain healthy, happy, and productive past their own technical retirement ages) is a pretty sweet deal as well.

Just wish I had thick blonde hair or still had several years to go with perfect vision.

Counting (Dead) Crows (In Which My Klutziness is to Blame for Ornithological Tragedy)

It’s not a pleasant phenomenon, but lately I’ve been noticing bird carrion everywhere I go.  (How’s that for a lead?) First, there was one on the balcony, decapitated, that Mr. Glib had to clean up (yes, I gave him rubber gloves).  Then there was one in our back driveway. And I’ve seen two in the past half-week or so, just prostrate on the sidewalk, in varied stage of mutilation.

My Wrecked Life and the Life of Others

I resisted Googling this trend, which would have certainly confirmed it a sign of the apocalypse. Each time I passed a poor little feathered friend, I offered up hopes that they would come back in the next life as a higher life form – a family dog, perhaps, or Fergie.

But this weekend, I finally put two and two together. The rash of dead avians is in direct proportion with the amount of careless iPhone incidents I’ve had. Four dead birds, four iPhone incidents.  Note that numbers 3 and 4 occurred within THREE DAYS OF ONE ANOTHER.

1. My phone dropped out of my pocket and slid across the bedroom. Mild pixel damage.

2. My phone dropped out of my hand at work, landed just wrong on the carpet, and lost half the screen, including the keyboard. Luckily my touch memory was enough that I could still text.

3. With parts from two different phones and some assistance from the fine folks at Chicago Smart Phone Repair, I was back in business. So back, in fact, that I spend my former boss’s birthday party (Monday) texting and ESPN’ing about the Cardinals game (wild-card race, people!). Fake-annoyed, said former boss takes my phone away to the dance floor.  Drops it. Multiple times.  At least he paid for the new LCD and glass screen…

4. …which were summarily waterlogged fewer than 24 hours later (Thursday) when the phone toppled out of the back pocket of new jeans into – where else – the toilet. Ironically (or not), I had just tucked the phone in my pocket to keep it out of harm’s way on a tabletop.

iphonetoilet.tumblr.com

Before anyone comments, I am not taking this lightly.  Each incident was met with increasing degrees of self-recrimination and sadness. Yes, I am klutzy and irresponsible and should have a Nokia flip phone from 1999.  I’m well aware. But it’s also the birds’ fault.

The scarier part is – I’m not alone.  My friend Molly spotted a dead bird on her patio mere days before injuring her iPhone screen.

The bigger coincidence?  The new iPhone is set to be announced tomorrow, and those of us with phones on their eighth or ninth life will have little option but to “ooooh, ahhhh,” and buck up for the privilege of pre-ordering the next generation.

I’m not saying Steve Jobs is spending his medical leave sending all of us grim feathered harbingers of doom, but I bet there’s an app for that.

Diagnosing Post-Concert Depression (In Which I am Slow to Recover from Evenings of Rock)

Picture this: ears ringing, I walk around in a daze.  I heave sighs and appear surgically attached to my iPhone headphones. It’s evident that I’m suffering from some neurosis, and in this case, I have self -diagnosed it as “post-concert depression.”

It… Is. Horrible.

This phenomenon, which is a subset of post-event depression (that palpable low that follows a vacation or a significant event), is something very acute that I have experienced a rare numbers of time.  And I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

After watching a great gig (particularly one where my seats are as good as the music), I feel wiped out, exhausted, and emotionally wrecked. In fact, I may have flickers of self- recusal where I wonder if I’d be better off not having even attended said concert in the first place.

Is the combination of a during-concert high followed by a staggering low actually worse than the regular status quo? (This is a rhetorical question, by the way, but can be answered by the name of this blog).

Two episodes of PCD linger in my head as the most severe. The first was in March 2005, when I’d finally seen the five original members of Duran Duran (my favorite artist since age 7 or so) perform together. The set list was great, the seats were fantastic, and it was a 20-plus-year-old dream realized.  It won’t be realized again, by the way, as Andy Taylor has once again flown the coop.  (And I sort of don’t blame him).

Duran Duran in 2005

And then … crash. The emotional hangover came pouring over me the next day as I vocalized that these five preening British pop stars had been fixtures in my life longer than anyone, save family members and one or two friends.

Fast forward to the summer of 2009. The band in question was another legacy favorite of mine – The Goo Goo Dolls.  Not only did I get to see them in an intimate setting (800 people or so, and I was front and center – Johnny Rzeznik had a slight problem with chest acne), but I’d won a meet and greet.

A “meet and greet,” to fan-club-dues paying, concert-going veterans, means very little. One has only enough time to shake hands with the band and take a picture. So if there is something you want to say, you’d better be prepared to spit it out elegantly and efficiently.

I was not successful.

Instead of asking them about the mid-90s seed change in their music, inquiring how it felt to have lucked into the success brought upon them by “Name,” or merely thanking them for their creativity and hard work that has brought joy into my life, I stupidly requested a song (“We Are the Normal,” for those keeping score at home).

Yes, it’s my favorite, and yes, it’s an older cut, and no, I’ve never heard it performed live, but it was still a worthless cause on which to use my precious 25 seconds. “I dunno,” Rzeznik smirked. “…I haven’t seen the set list yet.” First of all, he was lying (I’d seen the set list; it was taped to the stage). Second of all, they didn’t even end up playing it.

So I blew my meet and greet. I’d been up-close-and-personal for the entire show and knew I’d never have such an opportunity again. I still hadn’t heard my favorite song live despite a pathetic personal plea. And I’m sure I was dehydrated.

But at least I got a great picture:


After both of these experiences, I loaded up my iPod with B-sides and deep album cuts and got reacquainted with some lesser-known parts of these respective bands’ catalogs. I listened to nothing but these bands for a week or so, and then slowly everything returned to (we-are-the) normal.

I know now, by the way, that I can never meet Duran Duran. They won’t give me the satisfaction I want and so it’s better just to admire them from afar.  And that’s not neurotic – it’s self preservation.