Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Cars I Have Loved and Why My Husband Doesn't Need an SUV to Prove His Machismo, Volume 2

Cars I have loved #2

My second car was a brown 1973 Pontiac Lemans Sport Coupe.

I don't know if American cars were ever any larger than the ones manufactured in 1973...and the "sport" designation of this car did not infer it was anything smaller than a boat.

Despite its humongousness, it did possess a bit of style -- the hood had an interesting "v" relief (sorry for my inadequate automotive terms) and there were some really cool louvers on the side rear windows (I think this was the "sport.")

I adored this car because it had a massive V-8 engine and well, basically, because it was a piece of junk. I was working in Philadelphia and my commute involved repeated merging into hostile traffic. I was like, go ahead and hit me with your shiny BMW, see if I care!

But all was not sunny in our little love affair. For my paramour had a serious leakage problem (the seals were shot around the windshield and rear window.) Which made for damp floor mats and a high humidity level inside the vehicle.

So, on frosty mornings, I would have to scrape both the inside and outside of my windshield.
The water problem progressed to the point where I had to punch holes in the back seat floor to drain out the little ponds that would accumulate during every heavy rain.

Eventually, it all became too much to bear. I was forced to move on.

Reason #2 that my husband doesn't need an SUV to prove his machismo

The mere utterance of the words "Merchant Ivory" sends him into a period-costume-induced coma.

Is he macho or what?

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Cars I Have Loved and Why My Husband Doesn't Need an SUV to Prove His Machismo, Volume 1

My significant other seems to have taken me to task for my last post -- he believed I was suggesting that he wanted an SUV to prove his manliness. Rather, I meant that a sensitive yet manly man such as himself deserved an appropriately manly car.

So, in my own version of making good, I'll hereby take the opportunity to enumerate some of the many reasons that he is a fine male specimen regardless of the vehicle he drives.

But, under the guise of equal time, I am also compelled to give homage to the cars I have shared my life with, those that have served me well and those who often left me stranded on the side of the road pre-cell phone.

Cars I have loved #1

My first car was a 1970 Ford Maverick, which I believe I paid $450 for. Used, of course. In its time, this was a compact car. The rear window visibility wasn't great, but it was a pretty cute ride.

The car and I were still in the honeymoon phase when it was totaled by a drunk driver, leaving me with a lifelong fear of death by auto.

Worst of all, I lost some perfectly good pizza.

Reason #1 that my husband doesn't need an SUV to prove his machismo.

He has moved a grand piano on his back.

True, he ended up with a couple of herniated discs, but boy is he ever macho!

Saturday, August 27, 2005

I Have Met the Enemy and It's In my Garage

As I write this, my eyes are bleary from two-plus hours of reading slightly out of date magazines in a car dealership waiting room -- whilst SpongeBob blares out of the overhead TV and my 5-year-old drains the water cooler (drinking, but also scattering water about the room like a priest blessing the altar.)

And the worst part is that I don't remember anything I read, except a Motor Trend car comparison that showed the vehicle my husband was making a deal on in another room had one of the worst 0-60 times of any car listed. Just what you want to learn as your significant other is signing away every little bit of your expendable income for the foreseeable future.

So you sit there, eyes slightly unfocused, trying not to freak out on your kids sprawled haphazardly on the who-knows-the-last-time-it-was-cleaned carpet and you as you ponder whether you are selling out by joining the lemmings who have jumped off the cliff into their nice shiny SUVs.

If I didn't make myself clear; yes, we now have an SUV in our garage. We have crossed over to the dark side.

Strangely enough, my 5-year-old christened the vehicle "Dark" and has been calling it that all evening. This, without any prompting on my part. She began calling it that as soon as the deal was done; as if somehow she senses that there is something murky about this choice.

Or maybe it's just because the SUV is black.

And not to be heavy on symbolism, but there was a torrential downpour as my husband came into that waiting room bearing the keys to his new purchase.

I can't pinpoint exactly when the SUV became my symbol of everything that was wrong with our suburban landscape. But I have felt daily disdain for the monstrosities that rest in the driveways of nearly every house on our street.

Imagine if you will the typical school function --a parade of gas-guzzlers stream into the school lot like circus elephants linked trunk to tail. And there I am, interrupting the rhythm, with my mid-size coupe. It's actually rather comical to see (if I could see anything beyond the vehicles that surround me)

But I relish my individuality. I wear it like a badge of honor. I may live here, but I'm not like you, and I don't want to be.

As I told one of the car salespeople -- I'm a sedan kind of person.

I like my cars to be cars. I have no desire to drive a truck.

And somehow, we've come to this interloper in our garage.

Here come the rationalizations/excuses --my husband needs AWD because he has a job where he must commute no matter how much snow is out there unplowed on the roads. This is a fact.

His former, now non-functioning, car was a Subaru Outback. And face it, even though it's got that whole rugged Australian wilderness name, it's a station wagon. And when you think macho vehicle, you do not think station wagon.

So after, oh nine years or so of wagon, you can't blame the guy for wanting something a bit more massive (well, I can blame him, but he's got many other redeeming qualities that more than make up for this.)

And it is a small SUV, if you can get around that contradiction in terms. Actually, it's shorter than our station wagon and probably gets about the same mileage as the Outback did before it died a loud and painful death in our garage.

Even as I admire the new vehicle for its shiny black body and large, manly wheels (not to mention the oversized parking brake that brushes lovingly against my thigh as I occupy the front passenger seat) I vow that I shall never drive it. Never. Ever. Ever. Ever.

However, as we climb back into "Dark" after showing it to my mother-in-law, we see a beautiful rainbow reaching up from the horizon. Could it be a sign that the heavens have forgiven us our foray into automotive excess?

With that in mind, I will try to sleep a peaceful sleep tonight, hoping that we have not become the enemy -- and that this vehicle is just another prop in our suburban masquerade.

RIP Green Cheese

I was writing about dead folks in my last post, and unfortunately, this time I'm writing about a dead car.

My husband's Subaru Outback, AKA the Green Cheese (well, at least that's what I called it) gave up the ghost (its transmission) yesterday -- and with more than 100,000 miles on it, it's not worth repairing.

Buying a car has got to be one of the more heinous experiences in life, and I actually have nothing witty or even interesting to relate here about the process thus far. Except that I've shifted 97% of the responsibility for the purchase onto my husband (with the other 3% being me whining about how we can't afford this.)

But I am afraid for my own integrity -- in that there is a very good chance we might be adding something resembling a SUV to our household. No behemoth or anything -- and it's not a mini-van (that would be grounds for divorce, I think.) But the SUV represents everything I despise about the suburbs and its ostentatious excesses.

And so much for my imagined fall fashion wardrobe (in my visions, it was anchored around a cool military jacket) since the new car payment will eat up any disposable income.

So, I'm going to assume the fetal position now...and make a mental list of everything in the basement that I can sell on eBay to raise funds (Anybody interested in an unused food dehydrator?)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

5 Beds, 2 1/2 Baths, 200+ Disembodied Souls

There's a little road we travel occasionally called Cemetery Road which , oddly enough, has a small cemetery* on it. To the left of and behind, there is housing (but none all that close to the cemetery.)

About a year ago, we noticed the woods on the other side of the road were being cleared. It was obvious the land was being developed, but until recently we didn't realize that houses were going to be built there.

Driving past yesterday, two houses were pretty much completely framed out -- and they both are directly across the street from (and facing) the cemetery.

Now this is what one might call a "country" road - just barely two lanes, no painted lines, no shoulder. And the front doors of these houses are practically on the road (no front yards to speak of.)

These aren't little cottages either - look like houses that might sell in the 400s. (Jan 2007 Editors note: listing prices were actually more than 900-grand...remember that crazy real estate sellers' market...) I the only one who wouldn't want my dream house complete with a view to remind me of my own mortality?

Don't get me wrong -- I love cemeteries -- in the daytime at least. I'm into genealogy, and a little graveyard like this one is usually an interesting place to explore the past. I have spent hours peering at headstones looking for a great-great-grandparent.

But even though I'm not highly superstitious, I still can't help but think there's gotta be at least one or two disgruntled spirits hanging around any given cemetery ("What's with this lamb? I wanted a winged skull on my headstone!")

I can only imagine the brain trust (Shaggy & Scooby Doo?) who decided this was the perfect site for building homes.

Didn't these people see Poltergeist?

And how does a real estate agent sell the houses? "It's new construction, a wonderful school district...You don't have a problem with the undead, do you? Once you settle in, you'll hardly notice their unearthly moaning."

Or will they use denial? "Tombstones? Oh no, they're lawn ornaments! I think the neighbors are sculptors -- but you'll like them -- they're quiet and usually keep to themselves."

So imagine the happy family moving into their new place...filling out their change of address cards to "Cemetery Road."

I can see little Emily, tucked in bed and hugging her teddy bear in the dark, calling out, "Mom! There's a clanking noise keeping me awake!" "Oh Emily, you know it's just Letitia making her nightly rounds. Be patient and she'll pass back into the other dimension before you know it."

At least they won't have to spend a lot of money on Halloween decorations.

*an attempt at accuracy -- my husband has informed me that it is actually two tiny cemeteries next to each other, and an internet search confirmed this. Both are so small that there are no signs (but plenty of visible graves!)

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?

It's pretty pathetic when your 5-year-old has a more active social life than her parents. (Of course, one could make the point that the 5-year-old is the reason that the parents have no social life, but I digress...)

Not only does she get invited to some sort of hideous children's party (the parties are hideous, not the kids, usually) at least once a month, but she also is already planning her marriage to the boy down the street while simultaneously "giving birth" to various stuffed animals regularly. (Another blog perhaps will go into the dangers of telling your children too much about childbirth too early.)

She first started looking for a husband when she was four years old, after becoming enamored with Michael Penn's "Seen the Doctor" music video. After I answered her questions about the video (you're never too young to learn about symbolism) she informed me that she wanted to marry Michael. I respectfully told her that not only was it too early to contemplate marriage, but he was already married. To which she replied, "Maybe his wife will die and I can marry him when I grow up." She's nothing if not determined.

Kindergarten brought a new love into her life - her classmate Jake. It's important to base a relationship on shared interests, and evidently what cemented their friendship was that they both think it's funny to say "Poopy" -- over and over again.

But as with all young love, there are barriers. Our families have both been so busy that the kids just had their first playdate of the summer on Friday. Two hours of frenzy later, as Jake's Mom was leading him out our front door, he shouted back to my daughter, "Have I told you lately that I love you?"

How sweet! (But I think his Mom needs to stop listening to B101!)

Take Me to Your Futuro

Is there anyone among us who wouldn't want to live in a flying saucer? Well, I guess perhaps a few, and maybe that's why the Futuro prefabricated house never "took off."

If we can get past the pun...there was an article semi-buried in the Philadelphia Inquirer's Real Estate section last Sunday. If I were a proper journalist, I'd at least have the article with me to refer to, but instead you are stuck with my somewhat undependable memory. I believe it originally appeared in the New York Times.

ANYWAY, in the late 1960s a number of flying saucer shaped homes were manufactured and shipped across the globe. Less than 100 have survived, and one owner is trying to document all remaining Futuros on his website:

They truly look just like the stereotypical B-movie flying saucer -- down to the door with steps that lowers (airplane style). Well, I suppose your true flying saucer isn't perched on inverted tripod legs, but let's not quibble over details.

Locally (to me in South Jersey) there is one in Willingboro, NJ that for a time was used as a bank. I'm generally open-minded, but I wouldn't be depositing my paycheck in any novelty-shaped building. (Well, maybe a giant piggy bank, but only if it was a really sweet pig.)

But that's just me. That Futuro is currently housing nothing more than a bunch of feral kitties, so I suppose the general public is just as close-minded as I am about their banking choices (Commerce, Commerce or Commerce.)

My other favorite location (gleaned from the above website) was a photo of a Futuro perched on top of a strip club. That made a little more sense to my twisted mind -- if you factor in the probing often recounted in tales of alien abduction.


I'd love to have one in my backyard, although I'm afraid the SUV crowd wouldn't quite understand.

Here are a few more links. All have cool photos and/or provide more accurate information than my somewhat shoddy re-telling permits.

70s – The Futuro house

POP – Matti Suuronen

The Mystery Ship of Morey's Pier

The Ex-factor -- A Story of Cowardice and Redemption

Setting the Scene

For reasons too mundane to go into here, we decided to actually leave our house last weekend -- to venture to a "Peach Festival" at a Friends Meetinghouse nearby. In the very least, it seemed like something a suburban family of four should do --to soak up small town charm and all that heart-warming stuff.

We arrived at the official start of festivities, paid our donation, and joined the short line for cake, homemade ice cream and a heaping mound of locally grown peaches.

As we sat on the lawn with our plates, a photographer from a local weekly newspaper asked if he could take a shot of our quaint family scene. During which all I could think was "Must...hide...thighs!" With a skin tone best described as alabaster, it takes a certain amount of mental fortitude just to wear shorts in public, let alone be photographed in them.

But one of the fringe benefits of having small children is that you can position them in front of you to hide various figure flaws, which I scrambled to do.

Having leapt over that hurdle, we then were presented with an even greater challenge -- a balloon-animal-making clown. Sometime in the near future, I will blog my dissertation on clowns; in the meantime, suffice to say that there is much about the whole clowning thing that eludes (and frightens) me.

And although my kids aren't enamored of clowns either, they do have an unnatural affection for balloons. So we were obliged to stand in a seemingly never-ending line so they something along the lines of a goofy staff with a heart balloon on top.

(Which makes me wonder, is there a market for x-rated balloon creations? There's so much other tasteless stuff in this world that you'd think so. But I digress...)

If you want to get straight to the point (or closer to it, at least) start reading here:

So, anyway, as we're standing in this balloon line, my husband says, "I think that's my ex-sister-in-law over there" and points her out to me. A few minutes later, I glance in the same direction and say to him, "I think that's your ex-wife over there. See there -- with the orange hair." ("Orange" meant as a petty dig -- I'm not above it.)

She was standing maybe 15 feet away, in the now-long cake + peaches line. Her back to us, except when she turned to the side in conversation with her companions.

Thus, our dilemma begins. Do we act like well-adjusted mature humans and go over and say hello? Or do we do our best to blend into the scenery?

Well, we may be mature, but well-adjusted? It would seem not.

Meanwhile, we're hoping the kids aren't paying attention to our under-breath conversation. Because our five-year-old is the loudest child ever placed on the face of the earth and would surely be overheard making some awkward comment if she caught any drift of what was going on.

Luckily, our girls are entranced by the balloon creations being handed out to the children at the head of the line -- so much so that I'm thinking that possibly I could create a race of zombie children who would follow every rule, if only they had a balloon doggie to fixate on.

Then the rationalization begins -- if we ignore her we're not being rude, on the contrary, we're trying to spare the ex an uncomfortable encounter. After all, we haven't seen her in, like, ten years...

And it wasn't the most angst-free divorce. Although she has also remarried, I still haven't gotten over the feeling that she might wander over to our house in the middle of the night sometime and try to kill me while I sleep.

Anyway, as she progressed with the food line into the meetinghouse, I figured we had about 10 minutes to make a clean get-away before her party would re-emerge.

But my timing was off. After procuring balloons from the creepy clown, we had decided to grab a bag of peaches on our way back to the car, and as my husband was paying for them, I noticed the orange aura of ex-hair directly to our left. She and her party were seated on the ground - 10 feet away at the most, and directly facing us.

I wish I had a juicier ending to this tale. Like she came over, tapped me on the shoulder and pushed a plate of hand-churned ice cream in my face. And as I wiped the dairy product from my eyes I hissed, "Who colored your hair - Bozo?" (I can't escape clowns, even in my twisted imagination.)

But, no...I whispered to my (unaware) husband something along the lines of "Exit stage right" and put on my best oblivious face as I casually made a beeline back to the parking lot.

What about the redemption in the title of this blog? Well, I just liked the way that sounded. I suppose that our re-hashing and should-haves when we were back in the safety of our padlocked home qualify in some way. We were just trying to avoid any discomfort (mostly our own, but hers too.)

Plus, I was wearing shorts --Heaven forbid, if I have to confront the ex I want to at least be wearing something that doesn't reveal my weaknesses (cellulite) and shorts are my kryptonite.
And it really wasn't anything personal -- my husband and I often go to extraordinary measures to ignore many people we know, not just ex-wives. It's kinda amazing this situation doesn't present itself more often . I didn't marry until I was 35, so there are a number of dubious characters in my past that could be run into.

Then again, there's the distinct possibility that sometime, somewhere, one of them has seen us, and run the other way without saying a word.

They've got the biggest balls of them all...

First of all, forgive me for the reference to the AC/DC song and secondly, forgive me for my unfaithfulness to this blog…it’s been almost 2 weeks that I’ve been meaning to write this…

…ever since I saw a piece on CBS Sunday Morning that both stunned and amazed me (and I love being both stunned and amazed) about this guy in Indiana who has spent the last 18 years creating the WORLD’S LARGEST BALL OF PAINT!

I was trying to put a photo of it here, but my technological incompetence is showing...but I encourage you to check it out on:

(Umm, I’m not sure about the clowns on the wall -- clowns creep me out, as I’m sure I’ll go into with more detail sometime in the future…)

Anyway, my initial thought was, “This guy is just nuts.” Then the CBS piece explained that he keeps a log. Each coat is detailed, with date, the paint color, and who painted it. With that, in my mind at least, he took the leap from crazy to bizarrely obsessive – and I appreciate obsession in all its forms.

Next, it was revealed that prior to Alexandria, Indiana being the home of the world’s largest ball of paint (aka BOP) the town’s claim to fame was that they had fished an enormous hairball out of a town sewer, which was purported to be the...


It was a hairball of a proportion that even my cats couldn’t match -- at least the size of a beach ball.

And that is when the BOP began to make perfect sense. And suddenly, there was nothing I wanted to do more than drive halfway across the country, grab a roller and paint that ball.

At the end of the piece, a teenage boy is shown, saying the ball has given a purpose to his life – he is working on creating the world’s largest ball of plastic wrap. Which seemed simultaneously funny and sad…

Anyway, if I have piqued your curiosity about the BOP, the aforementioned site has a plethora of info including this quote:

Mike's next goal is to get the Ball of Paint at 20,000 coats! But it wont
stop there! Mike continues to paint the ball as long as

It won’t stop there?? Is this a clue to some twisted dream of world domination?

Turns out you can buy a T-shirt or pieces chipped off the BOP from the website. Maybe this guy ain’t so crazy after all?

Evidently, I’m not the only one fascinated by the big balls…a documentary was made about the town -- “Roadside Ambition: the Amazing True Story of One Small Town With a Huge Set of Balls”

To see more about the documentary, and the town of Alexandria, Indiana:

This is a wonderful country we live in, isn’t it?

See you in Alexandria!

My review of Mr. Hollywood Jr. 1947

As the cliche goes, you can't judge a book by its cover-- but one look at the slightly askew portrait that graces the cover of Mr. Hollywood Jr. 1947 and you know that there will be more to this CD than what first meets the eye (or ear, in this case.)

Fans of Michael Penn will likely be enthralled by his latest CD, as he continues his tradition of presenting the listener with thoughtful, intelligent lyrics supported by memorable pop hooks.

But it's the darkness below the surface of the glimmer that makes this record hold up to repeated listening.

In some ways, this may be his most subversive offering yet. The songs are ostensibly set in 1947, but are ultimately a reflection of present day dilemmas: the relationship moored in deception -- "It's like a play, and the words that I'll say are not for you. They're for the costume...on a ruse you've come to be depending, baby I'm pretending..." ("Pretending") -- or defeat "I've lost the will for fighting over everything..." ("Walter Reed.")

Still it's not all doom and gloom in black and white, rather Penn focuses on the shades of gray that more accurately reflect reality in today's Technicolor world. Even the most upbeat tune "On Automatic" seems to suggest, "Yeah, things are looking up, but it's probably all going to hell tomorrow."

"Denton Road" presents one with the unusual perspective and perhaps a bit of dark humor (?) as the recently departed overlooks his viewing with the remark "what's it say about me that I'm bored" and the final verse ends with "I'm in over my head."

"Room 712, The Apache" -- the Apache being a long-gone Las Vegas casino [built in 1932, it was the first Vegas resort to have an elevator -- your trivia for the day] -- makes terrific use of a gambling metaphor -- "Baby bet everything, you're gonna lose. But believe it or not, you'll be highly amused. Because what's it worth anyway? It's just another broken part. Give 'em your artificial heart."

The metaphors are plentiful throughout Mr. Hollywood Jr. 1947, and the songs layered with meaning...and while I've focused on lyrics here, what makes this a record worth owning and listening to (repeatedly) is the way these little stories are presented with melodies that engage and production that enlightens.

The only song I'm not loving is "Mary Lynn" -- while its chanting quality and dulcimer suggest a down home revival sing-a-long, it is too repetitive for my tastes.

The CD booklet contains additional narrative that ties the songs together (but not too neatly, that's not Mr. Penn's style) and creates a film noir setting.

The final track is an unlisted one --"Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" -- which manages to be simultaneously poignant and indignant (parts of aforementioned indignance seem rather pointedly directed towards the man who currently occupies the Oval Office. Bravo!)

Willy Wonka sex fantasies???

I came across a blurb in the Philadelphia Inquirer earlier this week in their little celebrity column, which quoted a survey that found Johnny Depp was the male celebrity most women fantasized about while having sex with their husband. Looking past the somewhat inherent wrongness of fantasizing about someone other than the person you’re actually with, I was rather stunned by that choice. I mean, Mr. Depp seems like a rather interesting, quirky person, but given the roles I have seen him play (Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood)…well…I just didn’t think middle America was that kinky!

Anyway, this survey was in the back of my mind as I set out to see Charlie & the Chocolate factory with my girls yesterday. Perhaps as I gazed upon Depp widescreen I would see something alluring I had missed before.

OK, not the easiest task given his Willy Wonka is wearing makeup & a pageboy.

And then it hit me, even as his five o’clock shadow peeked through the heavy pancake. This was one very beautiful human specimen. Which is precisely why he is the last man I would ever have a sexual fantasy about (not that I would ever have any fantasies involving men other than my husband, of course, so this is all theoretical, says she whose husband is a faithful reader.) Johnny has pretty little kewpie doll lips, a pretty, straight, non-ethnic nose & pretty eyes. Which all adds up to a sexual “ewww” (as Willy Wonka would put it.)

When I met my husband, I was immediately struck by his beautiful Mel Gibson blue eyes and long lashes. However the rest of his face is manly-rugged. I mean no offense when I say that he would make an extremely homely woman. But put Depp in a dress and he could be a supermodel.

It reminds me of a college date I had with a really cute guy…he had such fine features that when it came time to kiss goodnight I was mentally grossed out. I honestly felt like I was kissing a girl (which tactfully I did not mention to the dude.) It did serve to confirm my utter hetero-ness, thereby avoiding any wasted dabbling (not that there’s anything wrong with that!)

So, while I remain immune to the charms of Johnny Depp, I applaud those women who actually have time to think of anything during sex besides the laundry precariously piled up beside the bed. And maybe if I rent Pirates of the Caribbean, I’ll see Depp in all his masculine glory…

Oh yeah, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a fantastic film! And inspiring all sorts of fantasies involving chocolate ;)

Mea Culpa

Mea culpa

It occurred to me that my last post may have inadvertently offended crazy people and men who wear knee socks with shorts...and for that I am truly sorry. Then it occurred to me that my blog may continue to offend people as long as I continue to express myself freely.

It is not my intention to hurt feelings here. Therefore, I have decided I need to, er, cover my butt, so as not to piss anyone off with any comment I may make in the future.

So, I hereby issue an advance apology to: Republicans, dog owners, hillbillies, SUV drivers, all my relatives, co-workers and neighbors, mimes, clowns, joggers, people who dress badly, nascar fans, suburbanites, models (or anyone thinner than I), people who don't RSVP, warmongers, smokers, idiots, and humorless folk.

However, I will not apologize to G.W.Bush (although he fits in several of the above catagories) as he deserves whatever vitriol I might dish out.

I have a feeling I will be adding to the above list as this blogging thing progresses. If anything I write offends you, let me know and I will offer a personal apology. It may not be sincere, but I will offer it gladly.

In the meantime, be assured that I do love each and every one of you, dear readers, even if my writing makes it appear as if I detest you. I'm just very, very cranky...

Elvis Costello & Emmylou Harris; Tower Theatre, Upper Darby, PA -- July 20, 2005

Forgive me as I draw from my archives -- we get out of the house so infrequently...

Drugs of choice

Randy & I stopped at Starbucks enroute – to suck down frappuccinos for our pre-concert caffeine/sugar high…and when we arrived at the Tower, we proceeded to drink vodka – and ultimately, alcohol won the arm-wrestling match with the caffeine. Which may explain subsequent delirium and amusement by the smallest lil thing, as in:

Hey, it's Cosmo

This guy approached us in the parking lot and, as is our usual m.o., at first we tried to ignore him. But he was persistent, and it turned out well-intentioned. Wanted to tell us that one could hear Elvis doing a sound check if one went into a nearby alley

The funniest thing about this guy was that he had a semi-crazy Kramer look going on. Not his general appearance as much as demeanor and that certain look in his eyes. Randy & I did duck into the alley which runs alongside the back of the theatre, We didn't hear much, but we didn't get mugged either.

The Michael Tearson factor

Background: A few years ago, we began to notice that legendary Philadelphia DJ Michael Tearson was at every concert we attended. (Granted, we don’t get out much, but still...)

In (I think) 2003, we saw him at a Camden County outdoor concert (Marshall Crenshaw?)… I happened to be doing shore traffic for Tearson’s shift on WMGK that summer, so we went over to say "hi" to him. If you are not familiar with Michael, he’s hard to properly describe, but suffice to say he is a unique human…very significant in the history of rock radio in Phila…and we had an interesting conversation with him – but pretty much shot our conversational load for the rest of our lives.

So, while we’re wandering around the lobby pre-show on Wednesday, naturally our conversation turned to Tearson. As in – I’m surprised he’s not here yet…I suggested a contest in which whoever spots him first is the winner…Randy suggests it would make a good drinking game (something involving shots, but we didn’t quite flesh that out.) We laugh and laugh in our silly little traffic reporter way.

As we make our way into the theatre, there he is! We slink by (because as noted above, we had nothing of any significance left to say to him) happy in our knowledge that since Michael was here, all was right with the world.

For the history of Tearson see:

The colorful plumage of a few select humans

Elvis audiences tend to skew older and usually that means we end up chanting “What are we doing here with all these old people?” even though they are probably within 5 years of our age. And usually it’s a pretty boring-looking crowd (Dockers and – wow -- Hawaiian shirt, how daring!) But on Wednesday, I was delighted to see a few long-in-the-tooth humans in outfits that evidently were inspired by some sort of mental illness. Or maybe Cindy Lauper a long, long time ago. Thank you so very much to the lady on the left side near the front for her multi-colored too-tight outfit that entertained my vodka-soaked brain for a few minutes pre-show. And hasn’t everyone gotten the word yet that men do not wear knee socks with shorts? Ever.

On the other hand, there was a 20-ish cool-nerd-type girl with a massive arm tattoo a couple rows ahead of us. It looked quite artistic and was only upper arm, so I suppose it could be somewhat easily covered (said in my "mom" voice.) I have fleeting thoughts every now and then that it would be fun to have a tattoo. Then I remember that I don’t like pain. Plus, there is no symbol that I can imagine being attached to (or having attached to me!) for the rest of my life. Except maybe the Hershey logo. Hmmmm…..


A rather nondescript 40-ish guy took his seat next to me shortly before the show began. We exchanged some pleasantries…he wondered aloud how folks managed to get the seats in the front rows (we were in row 00, in the front section about 2/3 back) and how they seemed to be disproportionately older. I quipped (oh, how I love to quip!) that they were probably thinking we were old…overall, a rather unremarkable conversation, and so you wonder, dear readers, why am I mentioning him at all? Because as soon as the first guitar strings were struck, he jumped out of his seat and proceeded to pogo non-stop. Surprising – but then again, it may have explained why he was attending solo.

Still, some unexpected entertainment, so thumbs up all around. And thanks for not bumping into me, as my motto is "no human contact."

Semi-review of the concert

Mr. Costello is generally a master showman – and can be counted on to entertain. His first “set” mixed Delivery Man tracks with some tried & true oldies.

Then Emmylou joined him. Yes, she is a country legend and her voice blended quite nicely with Elvis’ (although Randy felt the entire mix was too muddy.) But folks, she has the stage presence of a mannequin. I had expected maybe 5 or 6 songs and then Elvis back to his solo catalog. Instead, this portion of the show went on and on…and although I enjoy the country/roots genre in moderation, it wasn’t what I signed on for this particular evening.

To make it more distressing, many audience members left their seats and although they were generous with applause in all the polite spots, it was obvious they wanted a Best of Elvis show…which made me feel sorry for Emmylou (since she is a huge name in her own right) and I don’t like feeling bad for anybody when I’m paying to be entertained.

Still, there were highlights in their duets: Scarlet Tide, Heart-Shaded Bruise, Love Hurts…
Anyway, Elvis did come back and do a few on his own… I really didn’t need to hear “Pump It Up” in concert again, but it was a relief after all the low-key stuff.

I really missed previous shows' offerings like his creepily intense “I Want You” -- and he did nothing from his more recent CD “When I Was Cruel” which had a number of gems on it.

Anyway, enough of my whining!

Check out CostelloNews for set list and other fan reviews

Welcome to The Suburban Masquerade

For the past 10 years or so, I've been a resident of a suburb of Philadelphia -- living in a South Jersey development that was still being developed when I moved in. What used to be farmland is now the land of the SUV.

It's a place one would aspire to, if that one wasn't me.

So, I exert a large amount of energy trying to fit in, while all the while not wanting to fit in.

But I have a theory -- I'm not the only one hiding behind a facade.

I suspect there's a little darkness tucked inside our neighbors' houses with their perfectly manicured lawns. Maybe not to the Desperate Housewives extreme (darn -- that would make things too interesting) but things can't possibly be as well-adjusted as they appear to the casual eye. At least I hope not.

That aside, this blog aims to consistently amuse, occasionally inform and basically clear out all the junk cluttering up my brain.