Monthly Archives: January 2012

Yes, Officer?

Earlier this morning I lamented about a lack of blog-worthy events in my life. Soon after, I was assured by a good friend, who happens to be a bartender at my favorite bar, that I would have a plethora of material after coming to visit her at work this evening. She was wrong. As you may have seen, I blogged about some shoes I bought earlier today. And now I shall write about the series of thoughts that occurred while I drove home from the bar. Yes, this is really all I have going on at present.

I have been doing my best to leave at a respectable hour and not consume frat-quality amounts of alcohol on Tuesdays. Having only had one dirty martini and one glass of red wine in a span of three hours tonight, I’d say I succeeded. I wasn’t even feeling buzzed (which is probably why I saw fit to leave before last call) when I decided to call it a night and make the 4-odd block trek to my car. For those who know my usual Tuesday night tales, this is a sure sign of an ever-growing “responsible side” that is tailgating the legion of gray hairs appearing on my head.

Feeling good about not having been sexually assaulted on my cold, lonely walk to my car, I confidently started the short drive home.

*Short break to respond to a knock I just heard at this absurd hour which prompted me to wonder if this apartment door has a peephole. It doesn’t. The knock will go unanswered as I have already removed my pants for the night. If it was you, I apologize. Call first!*

Back to the story:

As I said, I had consumed only one martini and one glass of wine in a three-hour period and felt beyond fine to make the short drive home. However, I didn’t count on encountering two GR Police cars parked in their “chat position” at a four-way stop I needed to go through. I knew I was fine, but I couldn’t help feeling panicked at the possibility that all of those M-Dot signs were right, “Buzzed driving IS drunk driving”. What would my friends and family think? How would I talk my way out of this shame? It’s funny how intense feelings of guilt can surface without any real merit. “Rich world problems”?

While I scoured my brain for any back catalog of driver’s training manuals I might be able to reference, the two police cars noticed my headlights approaching and moved on. Oh…so I guess they’ll just move. That seems much easier than the scenarios fast-forwarding in my mind at the time. As you can imagine, I traveled the remainder of my journey home uneventfully. I did have to circle the block and stalk someone to a parking spot, but that’s to be expected when you return home during prime bar hours in my particular location. Also to be expected is the necessity to wade through a sea of shivering, smoke-stack hipsters who look alarmingly similar to me.

After all of this second guessing and self-doubt, I should note that as I was walking up the steps to my apartment, I noticed my shadow and thought: “hey shadow, you’re looking svelte!” Of course, that mirage of self-admiration was quickly dissipated as soon as I clicked the deadbolt on my door and reintroduced myself to “end-of-the-night-take-off-your-bra-and-pants” Bettie.

I’ll leave you with that image.

Oh, Did You?

A couple of weeks ago I ordered some delicious half-price pumps (gold and glittery, no less) from my favorite shoe club. I had been abstaining from this particular addiction in an effort to be more frugal and save my money for things like rent or heat. Being as these shoes were half price, and the flirty way they winked at me, I decided to splurge and order them. What I didn’t count on, was that I had neglected to change my shipping address on the website since my big move from Stabville to PBR-land. As soon as I clicked “submit my order” my eyebrows shot up in recognition that yes, I had just sent those towering eye candies to the unsupervised quasi-ghetto. Great.

I jumped into action (figuratively, of course) and contacted UPS, the shoe company, and my previous landlord (my good ol’ stepdad) to find out if anything could be done to intercept this brown-wrapped gem. UPS wouldn’t reroute a package until at least one delivery has been attempted and failed. The shoe company said it was out of their hands and had already left the facility (for once they were speedy). My stepdad had sold the house, which I knew, but had no idea if the buyers were living there or renting it out to anyone. My only option was to trudge my ill-prepared feet through the storm and stop by the house. Except, I forgot. I actually forgot all about the shoes for about five days. Shh…don’t tell them.

As I was leaving work today, it dawned on me that I simply had to add a sparkling 4.5 inches to my height before going out to meet friends at the usual watering hole. That’s when I remembered the cold, lonely shoes that I so cruelly left to fend for themselves all weekend, and then some. I resolved to take a detour to the house and just see if anyone was living there. I could always knock on the door and ask, couldn’t I?

I pulled up to the house and breathed a sigh of relief as I saw an empty driveway, dark windows and what appeared to be my curtains still in the front bedroom (hmph). It seemed to be unoccupied. I skittered up the incline of a driveway, trying to avoid slipping and crushing my tailbone (it is still recovering from the unfortunate sea-doo incident of last July 4th). Alas, when I reached the back door, where the UPS tracking website assured me it had been left, there was nothing but cold cement. It was then that I remembered a trick of the (not my) trade. Delivery men had often put packages inside the storm door to shield them from the elements. I brightened momentarily and gingerly pulled open the door. Just as I was sighing again in disappointment and dropping my hand from the still-open door a car pulled into the driveway. Yikes.

With a timid wave and an awkward smile I greeted the new occupant, hoping they weren’t packing any weapons (which seemed unlikely given the professional clothing and baby carrier). The confused and understandably concerned woman rolled down her window and just sort of looked at me expectantly. I said, “Hi. Did you happen to get a package for *Bettie Stamp delivered a few days ago?” To which she replied: “Was it shoes?”

Wait a minute. You’re not supposed to open other people’s mail. I mean…it didn’t come via the ever-patriotic USPS, but still. I must have said all of this with my expression because she quickly added, “I ordered some from the same place last week and thought they were mine, so I opened them.” Oh, did you? I just continued to look at her until she offered to run inside and grab them. She continued parking, brought her baby inside and I waited on the sidewalk like a lingering psycho (in enormous earmuffs, no less). After a few long minutes, she emerged with the box, handed them to me and said, “I didn’t do anything to them.” Uh…what? What would someone “do” to a pair of shoes? I mean, I understand that the only reason she even admitted to having them was that she was 4 feet tall and my size 8.5 was useless to her, but…what would one do to a random gift of shoes that appears on the doorstep? I suppose I should just forget about it and be grateful that they are now in my possession and about to be stomped through downtown GR and hooked on a bar stool.

Ladies and gentlemen of the blogosphere, I give you, my shoes:

Ooh, pretty!
*Name changed to avoid creepy blog-stalkers. 🙂
 

Brake Light People

I know Steve Perry just cleared up the confusion on what he meant by “street light people”, but I think what he really meant to say was “brake light people” so that I’d have a segue into this new post.

One of my major pet peeves (among many, as I’m sure you’ve noticed) is when people brake on the highway. We’re all driving down a straight path toward destinations that conveniently veer off gradually. Nobody needs to stop. There are no left turn lanes or traffic lights. Just keep driving. It seems like a pretty easy idea to grasp. Just keep driving! Unfortunately, drivers in Michigan (my current area of expertise) seem to think a snowflake symbolizes the same law as a red light or octagon. Either I missed the memo for the yearly memory erasure, or every driver in Michigan winters has just arrived in this snowy climate. I understand that we must check our speeds during the snowy weather. I also understand the laws of inertia (as long as there are no follow-up questions). If you are afraid you won’t stop, just start earlier. If you get nervous on the highway, don’t drive on it. My perpetually late self will be eternally grateful.

Oh, and if you forget the rules of the road and need a reminder while pumping your brakes and hesitating every time you pass a merging on-ramp, you can always take a gander at the handy roadside signs M-Dot has provided.

“Avoid using your cell phone while driving.” Hey, this isn’t New York!

“When snow falls, so should your speed.” They’ve got that one under control.

And of course I can’t remember the other signs that annoyed me on my drive home and prompted me to write this rant. You’ll just have to take my word for it. They’re dumb.

Even More Tales of a Has-Been “Scene Queen” (Part Three)

While my obsession for The Matches (and the bands who led me to them) was growing, I had to face the reality of my financial lacking. I was just out of my teen years and working either retail or food service (who can remember the details anymore?) neither of which brought home the proverbial bacon. One of them brought home literal bacon from time to time. I needed a plan that would get me the same benefits I had in high school, without having the newspaper as a platform. After some digging and some exaggerating on applications (we all do it) I ended up joining several volunteer promotional teams for bands and record labels. Epitaph, Fueled By Ramen, Victory, Fearless and eventually Capitol Records. They sent me free music and merch in exchange for my promise to spread the word and sticker the world. Not a glamorous or even coveted job, but we all know how I feel about free stuff.

Since I was so good at showing up to ANY show on short notice, I moved up from handing out stickers outside to helping sell merch inside at almost every Plain White T’s show in Michigan. My burst of ego at this “promotion” didn’t last long, since Tom (lead singer of PWTs) introduced himself to me every time without recollection that he had met me before. Several times. He was always enthusiastic and meant well, but I wanted to be remembered. Who doesn’t? It was shortly after that when I decided I needed a tattoo to cement my “scene” status. There was no better representation than the star. They were everywhere. On elbows and hip bones and collar bones galore. I didn’t have any protruding bones to tattoo, so I went with “somewhere halfway between my shoulders and boobs”. It worked. I have been remembered as “the girl with the star tattoos” (before The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) by many a boy in a band since. Especially since I insisted on only wearing clothing that showcased them and consistently making this face/gesture:

Star-gazing homemade T-shirt and requisite “horns” up onstage during Atreyu’s performance.
In this picture, I also have an asymmetrical hair-do inspired by yet another Matches song: “…she cuts her hair shorter on the left side, and if you called her cute she’d be horrified…” Yep, I was REALLY into them. When this picture was taken, my sister and I were onstage (off to the side a bit) during Atreyu’s performance at a Taste of Chaos tour. I had been summoned to work the SmartPunk merchandise table and decided to drag my sister along as an 18th birthday present. It was a lot of fun, but also a lot of work. We were sold into slave labor to As I Lay Dying. They made us turn out homemade poster after poster until I couldn’t think of any more “hardcore” slogans if my life depended on it. Truthfully, the Taste of Chaos tour was full of douches who were all hopped up on energy drinks and moshing, but it was free and we had passes that made us feel important. I did a lot of things like that. Working for free just to get into shows with special bracelets or laminates. I was stupid.  

Tales of a Has-Been “Scene Queen” (Part Two)

I left off with the first time my sister and I had the pleasure of seeing The Matches play in Grand Rapids. We didn’t know who they were or any of their songs, but we wanted to. When we got home that night, we listened to the CD on repeat. We did the same for the next several years, adding their subsequent albums to that rotation. I still do. I’m actually listening to “A Band in Hope” right now. The next time we saw The Matches play we were again front and center, but we made sure we knew every lyric. That was just one of many Matches shows we would go to over the years. In fact, I credit that band with bringing my sister and I together. We used to barely tolerate each other, and now we’re best friends who share memories of road trips and badass concerts. For her 19th (?) birthday, I took her to get matching (badum!) tattoos. We each got lyrics from that first album on the back of our necks. “Though they make no sense, these are the moments, we’ll remember for the rest of our restless lives.” And they are…as you can tell by my sentimental rambling.

You can just barely see that I'm not lying about the tattoos...lol

The Matches gave way to Gym Class Heroes and then toured with a band called Whole Wheat Bread, landing in Lansing at a time that suited me. At this point, I had met a “concert friend” who loved all the same bands as I and was willing to carpool all over the state. We hauled ass to Lansing to the Temple Club to see our boys and were a little taken aback at the setup of the stage. If you could call it that. I remember wanting to rush to the front, but feeling awkward since the “stage” was merely a 1 foot platform. That meant that while the bands were on “stage”, we were basically eye-to-eye. Fine if the place is packed, but awkward and a half when there is elbow room to spare. We were tentative at first, trying to maintain our “Scene Queen” cool, and kept our distance as the opening band was announced. Whole Wheat Bread was not what we expected at a “punk rock” show. They were three black guys who called themselves “dirty south punk rock” and rock they did! I was taken with the lead singer, Aaron Abraham and evidently the feeling was mutual. He summoned me onstage and since I was wearing an ankle-length skirt, my graceful stage hop ended up being more of a clumsy roll over a speaker and too many power cords. I recovered quickly, however, and shook my money-maker the best one can to clanging punk rock chords. Once I was done making an ass of myself, I retired back to the crowd and my group of giggling friends to enjoy the rest of the set and prepare for The Matches mayhem.

Whole Wheat Bread. I promise they’re a punk band…lol

  

Aaron Abraham. I was helpless against his Trinidadian hottie powers.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Once The Matches hit the stage, we forgot about trying to act cool and rushed the front. There is something to be said for screaming the lyrics back into the faces of your favorite band. Talk about an intimate show! Forehead to forehead, sweating and screaming every word to “Track 11”. Can’t be beat. It just can’t. After the show, my “concert friend” and I were relaxing on the bed of her truck before making the trek home. I noticed Mr. Aaron Abraham wandering our way and did my best to look hot but not easy. At least half of it worked. He chatted for a moment and we exchanged information. That was the beginning of what I’ll call “The Year of Jiggles”. You see, Aaron liked to call me whenever his band would be playing a show in Michigan. He wanted me to come to the show so that he would always have someone he knew and someone to hang out with. He put me on the list, referencing his favorite part about me…my “Jiggles”. I had to look the ticket girl in the face, on several occasions and say “I’m on the list. I’m Jiggles”. He thought it was hilarious. I preferred to refer to myself as “Michigan Girl” and reveled in my brief time hanging out with what I believed to be a GREAT punk band. I should be embarrassed and ashamed at my anti-feminist behavior but come on…you saw the picture! I’m only human! My friends housed them at their apartment and I housed them at mine. We played karaoke revolution on Xbox and AA was pretty terrible at it for a lead singer. My favorite thing to do while spending time with the gorgeous AA and the rest of Whole Wheat Bread was to ask them about the guys in The Matches. I figured they’d have the inside scoop since they spent so much time on tour with them. Aaron hated it. He frequently told me that the guys were “sluts” (funny, coming from him…) and that I wouldn’t like them if I met them. I refused to believe it and I still don’t. Aaron was kind of dumb. I mean…he was gorgeous but his personality was seriously lacking. I preferred him to be onstage or attached to my face, not trying to converse with me. Sad truth about many “hot guys” in my past.
 
After that year, his band stopped touring in my neck of the woods and that’s probably for the best, since even Aaron couldn’t handle all the jelly that I’ve acquired since. In fact, The Matches stopped playing shows on this side of the country shortly after that as well. I saw them at Warped Tour and that may have been the last time. I remember Shawn liking my homemade “Billie Jean” shirt when we ran into him in the throngs of wannabe punk rockers wandering the grounds. I melted a little. This is what that encounter looked like.
 
 

He's pretty 🙂

 
Since this post is already well over one thousand words (the limit I try to give myself) I better leave off for now. Evidently this is going to be more than just a two-parter!
 

Tales of a Has-Been “Scene Queen” (Part One)

 

 With all of my recent self-disappointment has come some sentimental nostalgia. I used to be cool. At least, I used to believe I was cool. Now, I just shake my head at my own ridiculousness most days. What happened to that false sense of superiority? I blame it on the music. When I was just out of high school, a friend brought me to a small show at a small club that cost $5 for a 4-band performance. It opened my eyes and a world of pop-punk possibilities. Those, my dear readers, were the “good ol’ days” that are so oft described. Please, sit back and let me wax nostalgic for a bit.

Truthfully, this affinity for boys on stage started with the New Kids on the Block. They awakened that part of me that would always have a scream and a wink ready for a hot guy on stage. We all have our things…don’t judge me. As I grew older, the NKOTB ceased to exist and made way for newcomers like *NSync and Backstreet Boys. As everyone who has ever met me knows, my love for those boys (men, rather) will never die. They created an interest in pop culture and the entertainment industry that would follow me for the remainder of my teen years and apparently, throughout my twenties.

When I was a senior in high school, I was a co-editor of my school’s newspaper. For whatever reason, our paper was sent “press packets” from record labels who were trying to gain a fan base for newcomers in the music scene. I jumped at the opportunities to see free concerts and receive free CDs so that I could write reviews and do interviews for our humble publication. This sweet setup is how I discovered Maroon 5 and the All American Rejects. Jealous? I thought so. One day, I was approached by our faculty advisor about travelling to Detroit to see the All American Rejects perform with a little-known band called Wakefield. I would be interviewing Wakefield before the show and then enjoying the concert for free. I was pumped. I got a press-pass and felt very official until I was put in a room with the dreamy pop-punkers who called themselves Wakefield. I managed to squeak out a few awkward/obvious questions and get a picture taken with them before the interview was interrupted by four men streaking through the room in their tighty whities. It was the All American Rejects and they were SKINNY! Thankfully, that was the end of the interview so I could quickly move on to picturing them all naked while standing front and center in the crowd. My obsession with Wakefield was born.

Wakefield. Dreamy, huh? Haha...

As I mentioned, shortly after high school a friend brought me to a show she was sure I’d love. Fall Out Boy was playing at the Intersection for $5. I didn’t really know who they were at the time, but I figured for $5, I’d check it out. I’m really glad I went, because I ended up falling in love with the no-name opener (Plain White T’s) and of course, Fall Out Boy that night. When Pete Wentz closed the show by hanging upside down from some scaffolding, and screaming the last note of the song, I knew I was a goner. It was like a boyband, but with instruments and tattoos. I was intrigued. Several shows later, as I was beginning to cultivate my “concert etiquette” (mostly throwing elbows and mean-mugging skinny blondes who got in between me and the stage), I followed the Plain White T’s back to the Intersection where they played with the band that would have a giant impact on my life: The Matches. Ah, The Matches.

This is what they looked like back then...and I still fell in lust. 🙂

My sister, who was 16 or 17 at the time, came with me to that show and we both just stood there, two feet from the stage with our mouths agape and our eyes wide. It was love at first note. Shawn Harris, with his asymmetrical hair and his drop-dead looks stole our…not hearts, necessarily. I’m not sappy. It was more like hormones. He stole our hormones and instilled an instant obsession. It didn’t take long for me to notice Justin SanSouci on bass, who was always smiling. Their energy and enthusiasm was contagious and we had to see more. I knew I wanted to pick up their $10 EP, “E. Von Dahl Killed the Locals” after the show, but I didn’t have enough cash on me. I had exactly 9 dollars and a broken heart. I was resolved to talk to them, regardless and marched up to the merch table with my sister in tow. Luckily for me, The Matches were (and still are, I assume) amazing people and the drummer gave me a dollar so that I could get the CD. I was ecstatic. I got their signatures and a new soundtrack to my early twenties.

This is getting wicked long, so uh…to be continued. Later tonight. 🙂

The Devil Inside: Another Scathing Review

Last night, I made yet another pilgrimage to my local AMC Star Theater to see a pre-screening of The Devil Inside. I was excited all day and looking forward to seeing something that would genuinely scare me. I like “scary” movies, but am not a fan of the Horror genre as a whole (I don’t like blood/gore/big-breasted silly women). It takes a specific kind of movie and a certain arsenal of images to scare me and I thought this would be the one. I was wrong.

While I recognize that I am a cynic, and that it takes a lot to penetrate my steely armor of raised eyebrow stoicism, I walked into the movie open to enjoying it. As if the universe wanted to prepare me for the hour and a half of pure trash I was about to witness, it started introducing annoyances slowly into my general area. My friend and I were greeted by two attractive people at the door to the theater. One dressed as a nun and the other a priest. This type of shameless promotion in the form of bad-taste Halloween costumes irritated me immediately, priming me for the unfortunate seating availability in the theater. Once we finally located two seats together (in the third row) I realized I’d have to smush in next to a young, extremely unattractive “ghetto” white boy with long fingernails (grossest thing ever) and a penchant for eavesdropping on my comments to my friend. 

I settled in, practically laying in the lap of the person behind me so that I could see the entire screen and tried to ignore the jumble of too-loud moviegoers surrounding me. Before the film started, the priest and nun solemnly stepped in front of the crowd to announce that what we were about to see was in no way endorsed by the Vatican, and that we should stay tuned after the movie for more information on the events that transpired. Oooh. Ominous. Or it would have been if the priest didn’t stumble nervously through the words he had typed out and crumpled between his shaking hands. Not a great public speaker, that one.

You probably recognize the “not endorsed by the Vatican” tagline from the movie trailer and any advertisements you may have seen. I’m not sure what they thought the effect of this disclaimer would be. Perhaps hopes of such a strong, “what they don’t want you to know” intrigue that the audience would forget what a piece of insulting garbage the movie actually is. In reality, it caused me to wonder what, beyond a strong suggestion to tithe, the Vatican does endorse.

In short, don’t go see this movie. Don’t even rent it in a few weeks when it shamefully flops to Netflix or Redbox. Just don’t. If you’ve seen The Exorcist, or even more recently The Exorcism of Emily Rose, then you don’t need to rehash the same tired scenes. Especially when you have to pay $10 to get in. The scariest part of the film was a dog that jumped into the shot and barked loudly, which was really more of a slight startle than a scare. The entire film was a series of “demon possessed” moments strung together by flat dialogue spoken by one-dimensional characters.

Presented in the “mockumentary” style that gave Blair Witch and Paranormal Activity their edge, The Devil Inside ended up leaving me nauseous rather than nervous. The combination of a shaky camera and extreme closeups (as in, you could count the pores on their faces) literally made me feel ill. The characters weren’t believable, and I honestly didn’t care what happened to them or how they got to where they were. The director certainly didn’t care since he didn’t offer any sort of back story or humanizing elements to his characters. He did, however, manage to use the movie as a social commentary on the bureaucracy of the Catholic Church in a very “wink-wink, get it?” kind of way.

By the time the VERY abrupt ending came, I was more than ready to leave the crowded theater, but I was still shocked. Not because of some great shock cut a la Paranormal Activity, but because of the blatant “phoning in” of the ending. It just ended. That’s it. No conclusion, no tying together or resolution of anything. Just pure, unadulterated cop-out. In fact, my favorite part of the evening was someone’s outburst of “Aw, HELL no!” at the onset of the credits. All in all, I’d say that if you have a very, VERY deep-rooted religious sensibility and a fear of contortionists and shouting, you may be scared by this movie. If not, well, like I said…just don’t see it. It’s terrible.