Monday, August 28, 2006

New Workout Music List

Yeppers, I updated the Lyra a few days ago with a few new tunes. Actually I'd updated it a few weeks back and made a few more changes. Some remain from my earlier list, but a few newer songs from the ol' collection have been added.

What meets my criteria?
1. Good beat
2. Positive message
3. I just like it.

So here's my list (and a few notes):
  • Ah! Leah! (Donnie Iris) -- I just like it; good beat.
  • All Fired Up (Pat Benatar) -- it's the message: "I believe there comes a time, when everything just falls in line." Pretty much the story of the last 18 months of my life. Things on occasion have fallen in line and clicked when there was no real reason for them to do so. I can't argue with that.
  • Boogie Wonderland (Earth Wind & Fire) -- hello? It's Earth Wind & Fire. Reason enough.
  • Cigarettes & Alcohol (Rod Stewart) -- yeah. Real positive, huh? Actually, I just like it, and it has a good beat for me to start with.
  • Cool the Engines (Boston) -- love this song. And it's the perfect cool-down, especially if I'm on the treadmill that gives you a five-minute cooldown once you've gone over 20 minutes (some of the newer ones give you only 2-3 minutes).
  • Crumblin' Down (John Cougar Mellencamp) -- I have always loved this song. And "Authority Song" (same CD, and was previously on the Lyra). Why do I love anti-authority songs so much? The world may never know....
  • Deeper & Deeper (The Fixx) -- great song. This version is from the Streets of Fire soundtrack. The movie didn't do so hot, but it had some great music -- this and "I Can Dream About You" by Dan Hartman.
  • Gemini Dream (Moody Blues) -- this song has a special place in my heart, and a good beat, so that's why it's here.
  • Hair of the Dog (Nazareth) -- one rockin' awesome song.
  • Head to Toe (Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam) -- the beat. Plain and simple. It was tough to choose between this and "Lost in Emotion" but this had the more workout-like beat. And good memories of my first semester in college.
  • Hold On Tight (ELO) -- great positive message, especially considering my goal is truly long-term. It's a dream I want to hold on tight to....
  • I Feel Free (Cream) -- because why wouldn't you want something by Eric Clapton on your MP3/iPod? And it's my hippie-like indulgence on an otherwise heavily 70s/80s list.
  • James Dean (Eagles) -- great beat. One of my favorite bands. I mean, c'mon!!!
  • Jealous Again (Black Crowes) -- good band. Good song. Good beat. Perfect combination.
  • Keep Yourself Alive (Queen) -- great band. Good message. Awesome beat. God, I miss Freddie Mercury ....
  • Let It Whip (Dazz Band) -- makes me walk a little faster and put a little extra something in my step. And besides, it's one of the last good dance songs.
  • Lights Out (Peter Wolf) -- don't know why. I just like it. And so, it is here.
  • Long Train Running (Doobie Brothers) -- another good drivin' song (not driving as in behind the wheel -- drivin' as in motivating). Might not be good for you, but it works for me.
  • New York Groove (Ace Frehley) -- yes, I have this. A live version, no less. Good driving beat that keeps me paced fairly well.
  • On the Loose (Saga) -- don't know why, but it works for me.
  • One Vision (Queen) -- another good song with a great message.
  • Peace Frog (Doors) -- unfortunately, this is the "first-half" only of a two-part song. And yes, it's an odd inclusion. But somehow, again, it works for me.
  • Radioactive (The Firm) -- ya know, I'm discovering that for some reason, most of these are songs that would only work for a real twisted brain like mine. Moohoohoohahahaha! This is another of them.
  • Remedy (Black Crowes) -- another one that might not work for everyone, but it works for me (by this point, I'm usually off the treadmill and on the Nautilus machines anyway).
  • Running Down A Dream (Tom Petty) -- fantastic beat, really driving and keeps me going.
  • Running On Empty (Jackson Browne) -- another one with a good steady beat. And besides, it reminds me of the scene in Forrest Gump when he's running to this song. Kind of inspires me to think that one day -- not now, but one day -- I would do the same.
  • Sanctify Yourself (Simple Minds) -- again, one that might not do diddly for you, but it works well for me.
  • Shining Star (Earth Wind & Fire) -- one of the most positive songs I can have on here. If I need a good uplift, if I'm frustrated about something in my workout, this song helps me focus on why I'm doing all this.
  • Sir Duke (Stevie Wonder) -- if you don't move something during this song, check to see if you're lying between Keith Moon and Brian Jones.
  • So Alive (Love & Rockets) -- yet another of those "only Nettie" songs.
  • Train in Vain (The Clash) -- good beat. It works.
  • Whatever Gets You Through the Night (John Lennon) -- another song with a good beat to get me happy and moving. Although, every time I hear the beginning, I can almost hear Don Pardo saying, "GE Smith and the Saturday Night Live Baaaaand..... MUUUUUsical guest, Whomever, and your host......" (Yes, I know GE Smith hasn't been on there in ages. I still hear his name whenever I hear it, just like occasionally for the Today show, my head will hear "with Bryant Gumbel and Jane Pauley.....")
  • Winning (Santana) -- a truly inspiring, positive song. I've loved it for 25 years now, and I don't intend to stop.
Well, that's it. The current incarnation of the Nettie Playlist. I mix it up so that I don't always start off with the same old song (though I do admit to switching it back to "Cool the Engines" every time for my cooldown). If something on here works for you, then by all means......

Friday, August 25, 2006

Now for the sucky covers.....

In an earlier post, I had mentioned some cover songs that I actually like better than the originals. But now I'm afraid that I must discuss ... those singles. I'm not talking the ones that belong on the next version of "Golden Throats" -- horrid as they are, I *like* those in a weird way. I'm referring to the ones which managed to chart.... they instead belong on the Jukebox from Hades.

With barf bags at the ready, let us begin:
  • "Everytime You Go Away" by Paul Young. If you have EVER heard the original by Hall & Oates (off the Voices album), you will understand why. The first time I heard it was in 1982. Our pastor's daughter and I were riding around and she put it on and asked me what I thought. I was mesmerized. It was such a powerful song that I actually got misty. What blew me away was the organ work -- I felt like I'd been to church. When Paul Young released his single a couple of years later, I was underwhelmed. Not many people realized it was a cover song. And his cover was incredibly soulless. All the heartfelt pleading and emotional intensity had been washed out, and just the song lyrics and melody remained. They even took the organ out and replaced it with a tinkly synth. Well, you just can't do that to a song this meaningful. Paul went on to strip the soul out of other good songs like "Oh Girl" (Chi-Lites) and "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted?" (Jimmy Ruffin).
  • "You Can't Hurry Love" by Phil Collins. Speaking of Motown ripoffs......... My dislike of Phil is pretty well known. I like some of his earlier stuff, up through No Jacket Required and a few songs here and there afterwards. What I didn't like was the constant mugging for the camera, the self-serving stuff -- really, did he have to play both locations of Live Aid, and do the same set at each? -- and especially the Serving Divorce Notice Via Fax. Anyhow, for all the good of "I Missed Again" and "Wish It Would Rain Down" there are the less-than-thrilling songs. This one isn't that bad, especially when compared to the overplayed, God-do-I-wish-every-copy-would-simultaneously-self-combust "In the Air Tonight" -- but it just grates on me nonetheless. Miss Ross and her fellow Supremes had a certain flair with this song that Phil just doesn't.
  • "Dancing in the Street" by Mick Jagger & David Bowie. Speaking of Live Aid..... yeah, I remember the premiere of this video. I was excited by it at the time. However, 21 years later, this rendition can't hold a candle to Martha & the Vandellas' original. And while God knows I love kitsch, this isn't cool kitschy, just saaaaad, man. Saaaaad. Especially considering the influence the song had on the Stones' "Street Fighting Man" .... if it comes on, I listen, if for no other reason than to remind me that Motown got things right. Stax-Volt did it more soulfully, but Motown did good!
  • "The Power of Love" by Celine Dion. I had totally forgotten that Laura Branigan did this song waaaay back in the 80s. The other weekend, I was listening to American Top 40 reruns on "80s on 8" (XM) and it was a long-distance dedication. I just about fell out. Not that I love this song by any stretch. But Laura Branigan's version had a certain vulnerability about it; a nice quiet power that relied on the lyrics to express it. Celine's got a powerhouse voice, certainly -- but it's a voice that doesn't caress or invite. It drowns. But then again, Celine has a history of doing sucky covers. Remember her godawful renditions of "All By Myself" ... and "I Drove All Night"? BLECH!
  • "California Girls" by David Lee Roth. I'm not a huge Beach Boys fan by any stretch. Pretty much everything they have done since Pet Sounds has sucked and is just a ploy for more dinero. But their earlier stuff was really good -- including "California Girls." Brian Wilson really was a genius, and I do wonder on occasion what might have been had he been perhaps a little stronger emotionally to handle the fortune and fame. As for his part, David Lee just turned it into another ploy to ogle chicks in bikinis and make a video about it. Solo career, but same ol' lecherous Dave.
  • "Break On Through" by Stone Temple Pilots. As a general rule, Doors songs shouldn't be covered. There was a Doors tribute album a while back, on which this song appears. STP should have spent more time listening to Aerosmith do "Love Me Two Times" -- that was a decent cover. Or even listened to Billy Idol's "LA Woman" (from the Doors movie soundtrack). Both fairly good renditions, faithful to the original, and yet not making anyone say "Jim who?" STP's was both a tragedy and a travesty.
  • "Funkytown" by Pseudo Echo. Travesty. Injustice. Pure sucktitude. This song is probably what spawned Butthead's immortal phrase: "Stop! in the name of all that which does not suck!" And speaking of Stop!....
  • "Stop in the Name of Love" by the Hollies. This isn't my idea, but I concur wholeheartedly. I forget which book I have, but the authors compare this one to the original by the Supremes as this (paraphrase): "The missing exclamation mark says it all." Yep.
  • "Free Bird/Baby I Love Your Way" by Will to Power. Will to Power sucked. Badly. You do not take a Frampton record, splice a little Skynyrd in, and serve it up. In the words of my dear pal Tal Gleck, "People BOUGHT this record???" This assessment also goes for any Will to Power song.
  • "I'll Be Missing You" by Whatever-the-Frick-His-Nickname-Is-Now; You-Know-The Rap-Guy. This song just draws my pure, unadulterated hatred. And if I had been Sting, I would have sued his pants off. Oh yeah. How original. Let me take a song that was a blockbuster and change it around to talk about a murdered rapper. Oooooooh! Brilliant.
Anyway, these are mine -- you are certainly welcome to add your own......

Saturday, August 19, 2006

And the one I did....

This is a continuation, of sorts, of the previous post.

I didn't know my grandfathers at all, but I had a great surrogate grandfather -- Pop John, my maternal grandfather's brother-in-law (married my grandfather's sister). He was kind and generous of heart, and did he ever dote on us! He never had children of his own, so we were the closest thing he was ever going to have to grandchildren.

I can still smell the Aqua Velva he wore daily. I know the layout of their home as well as I know my own, even though nearly 20 years have passed since I visited, and almost 30 since I made yearly summer visits. I can still hear the wake-up call of each morning: "OWWWW!" (from his daily insulin shot). I remember the HUGE ears he had. I can see the alarm clock that sat on the table in their dining room. I remember the trips to Tallahassee that were part of every visit to their home. I can see the wispy white-gray hair that was on top of his head. The gold-wire-frame glasses. The tile in Pop John's little bathroom (off to the side of the guest room, but he used it as his). I remember that on occasion, on Saturdays, we would watch wrestling -- just like I did at home, but with different people. He wasn't a huge fan, but got a kick out of the fact that I loved it.

And to call him "robust" or "stout" was an understatement. He was larger than life. He had served in the Pacific theater of WWII, and he and his unit nearly starved to death on a Pacific island. Upon their rescue, he decided he would never go hungry again -- ever. That man could eat like no one I ever knew. If he visited, it was meals out each night -- especially at any sort of cafeteria. Morrison's was a particular favorite. There was a time they were up visiting when I was young, and he picked me up in his lap and said, "Well, little missy, where do you want to eat?" My mother says I replied, "Anywhere is fine, but I always eat better at Morrison's."

Even after my aunt died in 1978, he still came up to visit, or welcomed us back to Georgia. Then in 1982, while visiting an old high school girlfriend in the Midwest, he had a stroke. They got him back to a nursing home in Quitman, Georgia, where he would spend the last 5 years of his life. When we went to visit him, there was a misunderstanding between he and my mother -- I blame the stroke for his diminished capacity, and my mother's own tendency to hear what she wants to and put the most negative spin ever on it. I'm not sure why -- guilt or whatever -- but my mother would call the Home once a month to check on him. She always got the same report: "he's doing well; it's been a good week."

We never saw him again until that July weekend when his sister "Louise" called us on a Saturday night, to tell us he had passed, and that the funeral was the next day at 2:00. We very quickly threw clothes together in suitcases, left for south Georgia, and stopped when it was already midnight and we were exhausted -- and two hours left to drive. That morning, we stopped at his secretary's house. "Nita" was a long-time friend of ours too, and she warned us that it wouldn't look like him. She and my mother played catch-up on details, and she also told my mother that the Home had apparently been feeding her a load of bull all those years. He had not been alright, but had steadily gone downhill.

We got to the house where his sister Louise was. She more or less hinted that we were welcome to take a few moments to freshen up but that THEY would be leaving for lunch shortly. When my mother conveyed this tidbit to Nita later, she was furious. She told my mother that the Presbyterian church in town had sent over a feast and that there was tons of food in the fridge. We could have (and should have, in her opinion) been given free reign of the house and the food therein. I think Nita and my mother shared the opinion of my aunt regarding her sister-in-law -- "rhymes with witch." It became my opinion that day as well.

We ate a quick fast-food meal and hustled to the funeral home. Nita had been right. The man in the casket was not my Pop John. This was a 130-pound shell of a man. There was no barrel-chested man, no loud voice that had commanded troops and yelled, "OWWWW!" each morning. There was no hearing aid present, but had it not been for those humongous ears, I wouldn't have known it was him. Even my mother turned to the funeral home folks with a look of "Did you bring us into the right room?" I just said, "My God. The ears." That's how I knew.

At the graveside, we saw many old friends of Aunt Mary and Pop John's. I had known so many of their friends, and their friends' children and even a grandchild or two, from all my summers there. Even now, if I were pressed to, I could probably remember a few names. I saw "Artemis," their part-time cook and housekeeper. She was a precious woman, and I couldn't believe that the older woman with gray strands now all through her hair was the same person I remembered.

Mom received a small sum from his will. Living at The Home had drained much of his savings, but I think my mother was surprised she was remembered at all, considering their frosty relationship of the previous few years. We got my aunt's jewelry, which we did expect, and a cedar chest that had belonged to my aunt. Nita got a few things, and Artemis got a few things and his car (to which my mother and Nita both said, "GOOD!")

I was 17 that summer. I would leave for college in a few weeks later. It was a tough summer. It seemed to me that all the people who had played such a role in making the good moments of childhood outweigh the bad were leaving me. Not only had Pop John passed, but another surrogate grandmother was dying of leukemia and would leave us just after Thanksgiving. The time had come to take all they had taught me and move forward.

The two I never knew....

My friend Talmadge Gleck has written a very loving tribute to his grandfather on his Five Flavors of Reflection. And it got me to thinking about my own relationships with my grandfathers. I wish I could say that I had the best grandfathers in the world and that they loved me tremendously and doted on my every move and every word. But that would be completely false. In fact, I never knew either of them -- but even today, they continue to impact my life.

My maternal grandfather died of a heart attack at age 48 in 1962. He had been through quite a bit even in that young life. When he was around 26 years old, he was stricken with polio and more or less paralyzed from the thorax down. A few years later, with the help of Vocational Rehabilitation, he opened a little mom-n-pop grocery (convenience store) right in our front yard. Then he died, when my mom was 24.

How has he loomed in my life? Apparently, he's on a slightly lower pedestal than the Trinity. There is no doubt whatever that my mother adored and worshipped her daddy. I ask my relatives about him, and they always say, "Oh, Uncle Gene was the most fun-loving guy you could imagine." To which I think, "Then please explain how my mother is one of the least fun-loving people in the world...." From what I gather, he had a can-do spirit and was a prankster extraordinaire. I also gather he was a bit authoritarian, but probably no more so than other dads of that place and time. I don't know enough of his relatives who would remember him -- or who are still around to tell the story.

Then there is my paternal grandfather, the great mystery. He fathered seven children with my grandmother, and they were married for around 38 years. He lived with her for probably less than 15 of them. I can't say that I completely blame him either. I loved my grandmother, but she could drive any saint to drink or worse.

My dad doesn't talk about his dad; he just says, "Not much to tell." By the time my father was growing up, my grandfather had moved back to his homeplace and more or less came over for occasional visits. My grandparents never divorced, the only possible explanation being that divorce wasn't viewed kindly in their families. I have heard snippets of stories about him from others in the family, and quite honestly, he doesn't seem like a bad guy. I'm honestly a little afraid to ask much more from my uncles and aunts. They're not a talkative lot -- except for one aunt, who will gladly talk as long as there is an audience (okay, so I get it honestly...).

Anyway, my grandfather died at age 63 when I was just over 5 months old, of complications from a stroke several years earlier. Of course, had it not been for the stroke, I would not be here. My parents began corresponding when my mother read an article in the newspaper about my father's situation (in the Army, being sent home as the lone remaining unmarried son to help support the family), and their story began. I am told that at his last and my first Christmas, he was at the old homeplace. When my mother walked in holding me (2 months old that day), he began to gesture for her and my dad. He finally uttered the word, "Baby!" and held me very briefly with tears in his eyes.

How does he impact me? As I said, he is the great mystery, from a family of mystery. I have cousins from that family in the area, but they have always tended to stay away from us and from my dad's siblings. Not sure why. Of course, maybe they knew Granny and assume that since my dad and siblings were raised by her, they have more of her in them than of my grandad. That just makes me want to know him all the more. He impacts me because when I do hear the rare stories of him and my grandmother together, they're always sad and make me really see her as the bad guy of the two.

A lot of people think my dad looks just like my granddad. I have one picture of him somewhere -- a rare one of him on a visit back to the homeplace, and he and my grandmother are standing next to each other. Naturally, she also looks like she's eaten 14 fresh lemons and a couple of rotten persimmons. He's smiling beatifically. Gotta admit, it says a lot. Anyway, I don't see that much of the resemblance, but then again, I never knew what he looked like outside the picture.

Here is the summation of my relationship with my grandfathers:
The saddest words of tongue or pen
Are these four words: what might have been.
--John Greenleaf Whittier

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Short but sweet

What part of NO can some people simply not comprehend? It doesn't mean, "Let me think about it and I might change my mind." It doesn't mean, "I'm just foolin' you, I really mean sure!" or even "Just for you, I'll make an exception."

It means no. Until whatever is causing the problem is resolved, then I cannot fulfill your request.

AAAAAAARGH!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

More MySpace follies

Well. A girl can only handle so much romance in one afternoon. In the space of just under 10 minutes, I have had FOUR e-mails from MySpace dudes.

Here's the first -- a real "prince charming":
hello am (name) 30yrs male from california,,,am very honest,loving,royaland very truthful young and single man ..so on seeing YOUR profile am very intrested to know u more ..this is my yahoo id incase u want us to talk online (e-mail addy) and i will like to know urs so that we can start talking online or emailling each other ..bye for now hope we understand each other very well and am looking forward in getting ur reply soon
(Name) .................am online in yahoo right now to talk with u

Well -- hot damn! I had been waiting for my prince to come along. Screw the fact that he has no clue about spelling, punctuation or grammar -- he's ROYAL!

The 2nd wasn't so much a hit-up as someone who just wrote. Someone I don't know, but probably won't respond either. E-mail #2 from him could be a real wackaloon thing.

As for the 3rd -- swoon! He writes poetry -- check out these lines:

i can fill u so much
You exist in my every breath,
in every beat of my heart,
adding a spectacular sizzle
in all the right places.
Even when I close my eyes,
I see your face and feel
the fire of your caress.
Your presence is a tangible thing...
yet as hard to grasp as the air.
I reach for you,
but you elude me.
Still, I can feel you;
the softness of a petal,
a warm wind on my cheek,
a ray in my vision,
a distant light that
ever draws me near.

He got all that from a 2 second perusal of my page. And I'm his for life. He can fill me so much and add a spectacular sizzle in all the right places. How can a girl say no?

OOPS! #4 just showed up -- one line only: "Wow u're so pretty!" So what sort of response to I give? "Yes, I know it" or maybe "Don't thank me, thank my parents..." or "Yeah, it's amazing what a good sex-change doctor can do!"

Wish to high heck that Blogger had a rolleyes emoticon right here, right now. I'd be overusing it!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Loverboy might have been....

"Working for the Weekend" but I'm damn living for it.

It's been a bit hectic the last couple of weeks at work. Not that I completely mind; whenever I'm tempted to complain, I remind myself of some of the stress from my old job, and somehow all is right with the world again!

Tuesday marks my 1 year official anniversary with my new job, and I am amazed at how the last year has gone. I am just almost speechless when I reflect on the new responsibilities I've been given, the self-confidence I feel, all the changes and growth at work this past year. Those months of interviews and resumes and job searching and sitting at home just chillin' while things developed were all worth it.

I'm amazed by the confidence that my employers have placed in me. I admit, I was very nervous about working in accounting. My accounting experience was limited to a small office of a church, not corporate-level accounting. Through trial and error, they found the perfect work for me to do in receiveables. I also do a couple of analysis charts and other tracking. Five years ago, if you had told me that one day I'd say that I enjoyed accounting work, I would have shot you the evil eye SO quickly! I have since come to realize that what I hated was having my work interrupted by some sudden "urgent" need -- and that I am to blame for not having enough confidence to say, "I'll be glad to get you those figures as soon as I finish this project."

What a difference a year makes!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

I'm EXPRESSIVE!

At least that's what my coworkers tell me. I'm not sure if it's a good thing or bad thing.

Part of my work involves the phone -- lots of calls. One customer in particular started the discussion. She had me on the phone for a while, and was telling me about their latest problem du jour. Apparently, I said, "oh no!" about 14 times in the course of the conversation.

I also said "Whaaaat?" one day and it sounded like a chicken's "bwaaak!" I won't even cover the other things we discussed (suffice to say that my coworker asked first if our lone male presence was in the room)!

I laughed until I cried. It was a great stress reliever.

But then again, they also said, "Please don't change being so expressive!" That's me, that's me, Comic Relief at your service!