Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Exerpt from the book Spit It Out: A Tell-All Autobiography by the Princess, Lead Singer of the Band: Productive Cough

Chapter 1: What's in a Name?

Everyone always asks me where I got name the for our band, Productive Cough. Here is the story once and for all. One April in 1995 I was touring the rust belt with Riders on the Storm, a Doors cover band, and I came down with a case of pneumonia so severe that I was hospitalized for a week. We had to cancel our show at the Al Rosa Villa. My band mates were so pissed. Our show had rocked Detroit and Cleveland, mainly due to my sudden and freakish resemblance to the real Jim Morrison due to the worsening of my condition. I began to stagger more convincingly, I stopped bathing, my screams were more gurgly. I was very convincing, especially for a girl. I had even written some Doors inspired tunes that sounded like the ramblings of what Jim Morrison might produce in 1995. Here is a sample:

Justice in the Sky
Wait until the trial is faded
And we're both a little jaded
Samos tries to turn our eyes
And we can only beg for more.
Watching broncos graze the paths
Cops corralling, choppers watching
Media whores beg for more
And no one tries to turn their eyes.
Chorus
Justice in the Sky
Justice in the Sky
Who can say when or why?
Why'd the waiter have to die?
Justice in the Sky
Innocent dead, races wronged,
Riots panting at the cities edge
Waiting to burst onto to the scene
If the jury is not keen.
We're all watching from the sky
Sattellites for our eyes
Taking it straight from the horses mouth
And chasing it with the Juice.
Justice in the Sky
Justice in the Sky
Who can say when or why?
Why'd their mother have to die?
Justice in the Sky

Pretty good, no? And I hate the Doors.

The band was riding the tide of my illness and had high hopes for Columbus. I think they might have been hoping that I would collapse and die right on stage. Well, they almost got their wish. As we were doing a sound and light check, we were rockin' out on "Walk this Way," and I started in the on the RunDMC rap line about swingin like they just don't care. As soon as I hit "Hey diddle diddle with the kitty in the middle," I swear to you: I saw Jim Morrison himself appear in the purple lights, using their light beam like a flying fox and landing his size 10's right in the middle of my chest.

I woke up in the hospital full of tubes and drugs. I remember being released from OSU Hospital with an armload of medications to sustain me until I completely recovered. I don't really believe that I ever did recover from that jam session with my lungs. The hacking cough still lingers ten years later.

Once I was able to rejoin the Riders at the hotel, I discovered they had booked and left me a message at the front desk. Here is what they said:

We found a new Jim, yo. Wasn't really working with a girl out front, but your cold helped. Good luck in Columbus. It was fun while it lasted. Break on through to the other side! Love, Jimmy, Trip, Fiona and Herb.

Jerks.

I was able to find work and a place to stay while I was searching for inspiration. I was taking service calls from Xerox repairmen and still struggling with the aftermath of my pneumonia. Once the good stuff ran out, I had to venture out to find some OTC cough medicine. I went to the local CVS, straight back to the pharmacy. No way was I trying to find cough medicine in a store that is more reminicent of a warehouse than a friendly apothecary. To this day, I refuse to find things for myself.

But I digress. When I approached the pharmacy I looked up and saw a blue-haired wonder. Not blue-haired as in "poor elderly woman with a bad dye job" but punk rock, cobalt blue-haired. The pharmacist was a blue-haired, young lady with a nose ring and Buddy Holly glasses. As I approached the counter, I read her name badge: Betty Hail. We greeted each other and talked about our obvious fascination with hair color occuring outside the natural world.

Eventually, she told me that she rocked a mean lead guitar and her boyfriend, Skippy McImplement, walked the bass like Geddy Lee. We agreed to hook up later with her manager, Holmes, and this drummer I met who used to play with the Crusty Elbows, Gen-Knee. Then I remembered my cough syrup. Betty walked me over and showed me her favorite: Robutussin. She pointed out that I was in need of an expectorant so that I could start having a more productive cough. As she said that, we looked into each other's eyes and knew. That would be the name of our band. Our first album Throat Oyster dropped in the fall of 96 and the rest is history.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

I Wanted Two Things for my Birthday

And one of them was Team America: World Police on DVD. I bought it for myself today and Shawn and I just got done watching it.

Let me say that I am a sucker for puppets. I almost don't care what story is being presented; I'm usually impressed. So, know that going into this movie, I have a bit of a bias. I've told you that so that I can tell you this: Team America: World Police is a work of art. It's the Mona Lisa giving us all the finger. It is silly, absurd and an absolute masterpiece.

The puppetry was amazing. I think they may have cheated a few scences with CGI, but on the whole, it was inspiring. There were times I forgot they were puppets and I was shaken when I remembered by the high level of craftsmanship involved with making this movie. Even if they were completly CGI, the effect would still be impactful.

The story was clever and baudy and there were barbs aimed at everyone. About two-thirds of the way in I was completely dumsquizzeled by the sharpness of the humor and the effort behind making a film in a tradition with so many limitations. But they used the disadvantages of the medium to their comedic limits.

Wow.

We've got to chip in for freedom, and freedom costs a buck-oh-five.

Friday, May 20, 2005

"Vacation, All I Ever Wanted..."

Bring on the carnivals and fairs! The Princess has arrived at her summer home in the country...of the city. The muchkins are delighted and have given here an award sanctioned by the Lollipop Guild. They giddily await the day trips to the warm-weather retreat of Sir Chuck E of Cheese. They have prepared the Riley Dance and have cued up the Wiggles, the Royal Entertainers, to sing and shake their cute little butts (tm Riley). She has announced the beginning of birthday month and summoned one and all to the Royal Garage Sale just to the west of the new veranda...well, yet to be built veranda.

Look forward to "Postcards from the Country Side: A Look Into the Urban-Agrarian and Scholarly Life of the Princess." Read along as she returns to the Academy to become a Master of the Arts of History after 10 years away as a scholar of the world. Laugh as you read tales of such jollity and preciousness you'll insist her kids are too cute for TV. And be prepared to say "Awww!" When she recounts acts of love bestowed upon her by Prince Holmes. Or gag. Whichever.

The Princess would like all to know that she will be in her ivory tower, recovering from a severe case of the vapors, for the next 24 hours. Hopefully, her tendency to speak of herself in the third person and/or through intermediaries will wear off shortly. If you care to send her a message, please leave comments on this post; it would certainly bring her spirits around.

For now, she wishes for you that the roads rise to meet you. She also wishes that all your enemies have injured ankles, so that you may recognize them and beat a hasty retreat before they notice you.

Roz out.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Adrift in the Accountancy

I'm not opposed to math, in general. At first contact, I tend to recoil, but once I sit myself down and start digging into the numbers, I find I begin to enjoy myself. I remember that lesson I taught myself in order to remove the gravitas from studying math: It's just like learning a foreign language. If you memorize the basics, do your homework and perservere, you'll be fine.

But getting my math brain cells to work is like getting an ancient trireme to change directions. It happens, eventually, but I actually can feel myself aging as I row through the accountancy. I am slow, but deliberate. I get the job done, but with neither the speed nor the panache of your modern day frigate.

When I near an obstacle, I have to command my brain cells to stop or turn well in advance. And then I climb up from the galley and take a look out at the horizon. If I lose sight of shore; I'm lost. If I catch sight of the obstacle, I almost never recognize it for what it is. It appears that the gods are toying with me. They have placed this wonder in front of me with in order to dazzle and confuse. But because I have the plodding drive of Sisyphus and similar motivations, I'm able keep navigating through the iceburgs and the reefs.

However, my work and Sisyphus' work are never done. And that is the great joke on us by the gods.

Zeus: "You think you're funny, do you? Initiating the unitiated?"
Hera: "Let's see how you like doing math!"
::maniacal laughter::

But Sisyphus and I have hope. Some day, we will complete our unwanted task, or, better yet, pass it off to some chump...uh...I mean someone else who will have those elusive skills of looking out at the accountancy and making sense of it all. Would that some Achilles of Math would come by and tap me on the shoulder and say, "You've done enough; allow me to take the helm." I would gladly step aside as the sun breaks through the clouds, the rain stops, and the pain in my head evaporates.

"Come on, Sisyphus," I'd say, "Let's go get a brew and take a swing from the language tree; at least there I'll be able to keep up with the monkeys."

Friday, May 13, 2005

Love, love, love

Hello everyone out there listening in for the Princess Greenpearl Hour of Love. I'd like to tell you all that my youngest cousin, Aaron, is getting married this October. I cannont express in words the delight and joy in my heart for him right now. He has met a lovely lady whom he loves very much and who also seems to know what's best for him. Well, I'd hazard a guess that most women think they know what's best for a man, but menfolk rarely listen. In this case, by golly, he listens. She's a keeper and a welcome addition to our family.

He has asked me to stand up for him along with his sister and her sister on his wedding day and I've happily agreed. We will witness them wed in October on the campus of the Ohio State University. I've offered my lovely little girls as flower girls, if they were interested. It sounds like it will be on the informal side, which suits us all. And I am seriously tickled pink about the whole thing.

Once again, cupid has struck his arrow and I am in the stands cheering him along. I don't know why I am no longer cynical about love; must be because I hit the jackpot, myself, and I wish that kind of happiness on everyone. Marriage isn't easy, folks, and neither is parenting. But the bonds we share with one another certainly become more visible and tangible. Sometimes it's a good thing, sometimes not. But I believe our purpose on this earth is to connect with each other and grow into something bigger and more wonderful than we think we can be. So, I have been working in my life on strengthening those bonds I already have and fostering new ones where I can.

Having a shared history with those around you is important to your health, ladies and gentleman. You then have a group of people who will tell you that you need to eat more or eat less. They will tell you when you're being a creep and when you're being a saint. They will give you a pass when you step in it and they will seek a pass from you when they step in it. Forgiveness, understanding, love; a Jedi needs these things.

So, la la la, it's Friday and there is love all around. Enjoy the weekend and take some time to strengthen a bond you already have or create a new one. Just remember to be patient, kind and forgiving.

Yay, Love!

Greenpearl out.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

System Down!

Arrrgggh! Home laptop is out of commission. I'm too busy at work. So much to say!!!!

Must...write...opinions...can't...get...online...

Kaaaaaaaaaaaaaahn!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

"I swear to you that this show actually is wrestling."

The above is a quote from Jacob, a recapper from Television Without Pity and it comes from his recap of last week's American Idol. What he said in 10 words crystallizes what I was trying to get at in my post: Fallen Idol: Epic Love Story or Brilliant Publicity Stunt? I am all about brevity and Jacob has helped me to get to the point that I have been circling for awhile now with the stealth of his words.

You all know that I hate myself for watching American Idol. I can't explain its appeal to me other than, as a child, I was always addicted to talent shows. I am also a sucker for the underdog, proof positive that I'm a good American. In some circles, watching American Idol, provided you do so ironically and openly mocked it for its over-the-top antics, would be socially acceptable. In my circle, however, there are a precious few that share my passion and most of the people I know simply do not tolerate the nonsense.

There is a part of me that loves this show and everything about it as innocently as a toddler loves Barney. There is so much happening in one season, much of it unpredictable. And it's happening to regular people live! The judges are interesting, the host is fascinating, and the contestants are heart-string players. But, I've always had this nudging suspicion about the show that none of it was real.

Once I read Jacob's quote: "I swear to you that this show actually is wrestling," the pieces just sort of fell into place. Here is a list to help briefly summarize the insights that came flying at my head:
  • Idol Contestents are talented singers, just as the wrestlers are definately talented athletes.
  • Storylines are formed and followed.
  • Enemies and heros are defined.
  • There are evil overloards.
  • They are all competing for a title.
  • Fans are rabid.

And just to let you know, Simon Cowell, judge and producer, produced his first hit record by doing an album that featured pro wrestlers singing. I know this because I've read his autobiography. To summarize, he saw what an amazing draw wrestling was and he thought he could capture some of the audience's enthusiasm and make some money. Everyone laughed at him, of course, but he ended up laughing all the way to the bank. That stuff sold. He knew how to use TV to market music. Just do a quick Amazon search under pop music for wrestling and see what you dig up.

So, imagine Cowell in a hot tub sipping a vodka tonic and thinking, "I made wrestlers into pop singers, why don't I now turn pop singers into wrestlers?" and Pop Idol was born. Just think of the basics of the competition, the trash-talking, the self-righteous displays of the bad guys and the good guys, competing for a title, and the scandals. At one point this season, I actually started to see the sailboat in the magic eye 3d poster. I sensed that they were setting Bo vs. Constantine as Hector vs. Achilles. That's when the antennae on my tin foil hat started to quiver slightly.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because, now I am at a crossroads. Should I ignore my new knowledge and continue to be duped? Should I now watch the show ironically and mock it openly? Should I stop watching it altogether? [Shawn: I vote for this option.] Should I give in to the theater of it all and now start watching wrestling too? Or should I forsake my conspiracy theories? Afterall, it could be real...couldn't it?

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Fallen Idol: Epic Love Story or Brilliant Publicity Stunt?

Lately, I've been rallying behind love. So I must admit that I watched Fallen Idol from that perspective. But I did find a place to draw a line in the sand and walk away to stand behind the innocent.

In 50 words or less: Paula Abdul uses her charms and powers as a judge to cut her a stallion out of the corral and groom him to take first place. Long story short, to quote Barry Manilow, they fell in love. Well, he fell in love. When he was dropped like a ton of rotting meat (tm Big Orange) by American Idol on a technicality, he was also dropped thusly by Paula.

Until he leaked the story, he heard nothing from her. Now, all of a sudden, she's on his ass like underoos, promising record deals if he keeps quiet. To Corey, it's now about revenge. He has produced an album that John Cusak would proudly seranade some brainy waif about how much Paula has wrecked his life.

The question remains, did Paula ever love him? If she did, then we can explain her behavior recently as the extremely scared and lovelorn reactions of a human who made some mistakes to try to salvage her career and reputation. If she never loved him, she's the cold-hearted snake she warned us of in the 80's. What got me was Corey's Mom's reaction to reading his lyrics about his ordeal. His Mom called Paula on her actions and told her to grow up.

Either way, Paula Abdul has reacted poorly and has done some damage to the competition by misusing her power and then making herself scarce when the shit hit the fan. Even though he was an adult, he was 18 years her junior. He was just another little puppy in her brood.

Or...

Paula and Corey are in on the biggest publicity stunt American Idol has ever pulled. Come with me as we go back in time to a brainstorming session at 19E.

Suit 1: Scandal kind of works for this show, don't you think?
Suit 2: Brilliant!

And the above story is the product of a target market survey of people like me who hate themselves for watching but just can't turn away. The best part of this show for me is conspiracy hunting. What a better way to increase your ratings, if your looking down the road, than to plan a plotline that would stretch across three seasons and would be too delicious to ignore?

This week American Idol will be on or covered for over 6 hours on two networks. Not to mention,Reported on by local affiliates and other media outlets too numerous to contemplate. My local news station WEWS News Channel 5, not only covered the story and covered Primetime Live's coverage of the story, but they are also covering people's reaction to the news!

Fox is laughing all the way to the bank. You know they have a piece of Corey Clark and whatever he makes (well, I don't know that, but I have my suspicions...and this lovely foil hat). If this is a publicity stunt, I tip my foil hat at you bastards; I'm your bitch. If it's just the unhappy luck of being the hottest topic in the country; I'm not so much as "your bitch" but more like ruefully respectful. Either way, I know I'm going to have something to talk about for weeks to come.

I do hope, though, after discussing it with Madame E, that Paula did love him. And that when they throw her off the show, the producers give her a shitload of cash, a record deal and that she rides off into the sunset with Corey Clark and they have beautiful babies together.

Perhaps, I should get a life.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Hawkeye Pierce Saves Lucy's Life!

Last night, my husband, two daughters and I were in our living room having a snack of Tostito's Gold tortilla chips. If you haven't had these chips, they are just like regular tortilla chips, except a bit thicker. When we are having snacks together, Shawn and I like to keep a close eye on Lucy. She is only 13 months old and while she has front teeth and is good at biting, she doesn't have any back teeth for grinding food. So, she was seated in between the two of us. Riley, being three years old, has a full set of choppers (pretty much) and we are past worrying that she has any trouble eating.

Anyway, at one point, Lucy begins coughing, her face turns red, and her eyes tear up. I realized at once that she had a chip lodged in her throat. In a panic, I picked her up and then laid her face down across my lap and gave her stomach a quick squeeze. When nothing happened, I recalled way back to when I had just given birth to Riley and they made us watch a first aid video that explained what to do when an infant begins to choke. A little "ding" sounded in my head when I remembered that I must clear her mouth first.

While she was on her stomach, I reached into her mouth with my left index finger, which very quickly not only touched the menacing chip, but also very quickly brushed the back of her throat. I realized that Lucy was not choking as she was still coughing and crying, but she couldn't dislodge the chip either and I told myself that I had one more chance to get it out.

I felt instant calm as I channeled Captain Hawkeye Pierce, whom I have seen work wonders under pressure. All of a sudden, Lucy became an anatomy chart and working model. And I felt the CSI TMICam lurch me right into Lucy's mouth and throat; I saw, up close, her tongue, tonsils, the roof of her mouth, the back of her throat, her uvula, the saliva, and that dastardly chip. I summoned all of the cool and know-how Hawkeye had to offer, reached my left index finger in her mouth again, placed my finger on the offending foodstuff and pressed it down on her tongue, using all the friction my fingerprints had to offer so that I could snag it and drag it to the front of her mouth. Once I had it close enough, I pinched it with my thumb and forefinger and removed it completely.

I was instantly transported back to the couch and Hawkeye gave me a little departing wave as he returned control of my hands back to me. I was left shaken by what had happened and amazed by the fact that, when push came to shove, I was able to function calmly under the pressure of knowing Lucy's life was in my hands. I looked down at Lucy, who was surprised to have a suddenly cleared breathing passage. She stopped crying, looked around, located the bag of chips, and dove in for another one.

Monday, May 02, 2005

"Yeah, I like Earth, I got these boots there!"

I went to see The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy with a bunch of friends who are all fans of the book, from one-time readers to what you might call zealots. It was truly a joy. This movie was a love letter to the fans as well as to Douglas Adams. The makers of this movie took such care in its creation and had so much respect for the story and the author, it moved me beyond words.

How refreshing to have the protagonists tortured by bad poetry instead of physical pain. It has been a long time since I've seen a movie this absurd and full of whimsy. It is the first time I've ever felt smack dab in the middle of a target market; this movie was made for people like me.

I do not wish to spoil it for those who have not seen it, but I must say that I love what they did with Zaphod Beeblebrox. He is my new hero. Also, the way they handled the distruction of the earth was breathtaking in its simplicity. It was an amazing and frightening 12 seconds. It was frightening to behold because of the grain of possibility it held: that someone completely without regard for the life upon it could destroy it so easily.

My friend, Terry, who could not be with us, alerted me to the BBC's take on the movie, simply put: too bad it's not funny. They could hardly be further from the truth. It was funny, touching, absurd and delightful the whole way through. It paid homage to all the other iterations of the story as well as to its author, who is given executive producer credits and to whom the movie is dedicated. Look for cameos of Peter Jones, the theme song to the TV show, and the first incarnation of Marvin the Paranoid Android.

The Vogons were a work of art, so much so that my new career aspiration is "space bureaucrat." Working for a state institution, I am well familar with having things signed in triplicate. Seeing a possible future where bureaucrats are still bureaucrats was pleasing in a way I cannot quite put words to. It has made it easier for me, however, to see my own work in a new light by imaging the purchasing department as populated by Vogons.

The makers of this movie took the story to a whole new level the same way that Peter Jackson translated the Ring series. It was an improvement on the original. The makers were faithful to the story, but trimmed the excess in a very satisfying way. They also left room for a sequel, which I do hope they make. If they are as careful with the next one as they are with this one, I may reconsider my opinion of the sequel as a viable art form.

If you have read this book, see it on the big screen; it is worth it. If you haven't read the book, see the movie on a big screen; it is worth it. Douglas Adams was taken from us too soon, but this movie made me feel like he is still with us. It was his influence that stoked the fires of whimsy in me, that was instilled in me by my parents, but left me during that brief period in my life when my parents weren't cool. I hope to carry on, in some small way, his joy for wordplay, his cockeyed take on the world, and his zest for the ridiculous that he helped sustain in me to this very day.

So three cheers for Hitchhiker's Guide! Go see it; it's worth it.

Princess Greenpearl Stamp of Approval
SWAK
Signed in triplicate, initialed, cross-referenced.
Please keep the goldenrod copy and leave the rest with Roz.