Friday, October 24, 2014

I Told You Beatles Purists Would Rip It to Shreds, So I'm Ripping it to Shreds.





I'm almost sorry I missed the "Glee" renditions of Beatles songs on television.

Somehow, my psyche blocked the travesty that was the Bee Gees' remake of "Sgt. Pepper" in the late 1970's, with Peter Frampton, which resulted in a bomb of a record and an even worse film.

But.

They were probably (in some cosmic, out-of-body way) truer to the Beatles than "With a Little Help from my Fwends," the tribute set to be released by The Flaming Lips, covering the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."

While you can, the album is streaming for free on NPR at

http://www.npr.org/2014/10/19/356125413/first-listen-the-flaming-lips-with-a-little-help-from-my-fwends

The Lips' cover of  Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" was respectful but fresh. I really liked that album.

Have you met Sir George Martin, the Beatles' producer?

I have, he's a freaking legend who made my knees buckle, and I have sat in on a two-hour lecture about the making of this monumental album, oh gosh, some 15 years ago or more. (My most memorable moment from the lecture being body-slammed by Cheap Trick's Rick Nielsen in a hallway.)

Martin lovingly took the crowd track-by-track as to how the songs were written, produced and performed. He gave us an insider look at the laborious process through which the boys went to bring the album to the magnitude that it is and always will be. Tape-looping and cutting, overdubbing, re-recording things backwards, using strange instruments lying dusty in the Abbey Road studios...all of that was resurrected by the Beatles' ideas and Martin's natural genius as a producer.

On June 1st, 1967, a masterpiece was released.

Specifically, what interested me the most were the stories behind "With a Little Help From My Friends" and "A Day in the Life."

Ringo Starr, not being the best singer but charming nonetheless, tried take after take to nail down the closing note. Martin's story was that the other 3 Beatles and he, himself, sat in the control room while Ringo listened to the recording track, and once Ringo "got it," they all cheered. Martin nearly teared up. It is rather remarkable and touching.


Regarding "A Day in the Life," Martin thought the Beatles were out of their minds. Converge an entire symphony in the recording studio to produce what Martin called an "orgasm of sound" at certain junctures of the song? The group (mostly McCartney) wanted the symphony to play their instruments at louder and louder notes until, finally, a piano coda lasting 45 seconds would conclude the song and the album. Counting the beats between notes for the symphony and the band was reliable roadie Mal Evans, which you can hear in the final track.

I have little doubt that The Beatles would imagine a performer as mediocre and foul as Miley Cyrus would conclude a remake of the song. I think what irritated me most about the Flaming Lips' cover is that they could've done SO much more with it than produce annoying noise, especially with "A Day in the Life." If that's their interpretation of it, so be it. It just seemed awfully benign and anti-climactic.


I'd be interested to hear what McCartney and Starr have to say about the Lips' remake. They're hip, they're cool, but would they be in favor of a messy, quickly-thrown-together onslaught of stomach flu that is "Fwends?" I'll concede on one point alone: the proceeds from the album are going to a charity. To be fair, you should buy it for that alone, if you're a life-long Flaming Lips fanatic or a Beatles fan, both of which I am.

But I'm one of those Beatles purists. My ex-husband likes to taunt me relentlessly, and has for the 22 years I've known him, with mostly extremely horrible covers of Beatles songs, knowing how much they annoy me. It's an inside joke these days, which doesn't bother me as much as it used to, but it further cements my impression that you can't top the best. The Beatles were the best.

That said, the Flaming Lips have put out an enormous amount of product in the last few years, from "Fwends," to "The Terror," to "Embryonic" to "Heady Fwends." But I think they're getting tired and lazy. George Harrison said during the making of "Cloud Nine," that he recorded in analog because he preferred "real people making real music." Of course, that was in 1987. The Flaming Lips utilizing technology and computers (which aren't my issue) to create much of their music as of late, the "Sgt Pepper" cover being no exception.

The Lips' remake is a hot mess. It was decent enough live at Riot Fest, when they did "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" without Miley Cyrus, and Steven Drozd's vocals on "Fixing a Hole" are beautiful. Otherwise, holy crap, stay far, far away if you really love the Beatles. I have a feeling you will.

This remake isn't fresh,. It isn't an intense, trippy psychedelic adventure. The overall criticism I've read and explored has been that the record is "messy." Indeed it is, and I agree with that. I read Rolling Stone online reviews that were far more scathing than that which I'm offering..."I lasted 11 seconds...." "I lasted 48 seconds...." "This is a piece of shit." Same with NPR's reviews, but a little less vulgar. I have yet to read a glowing review.

I attempted to be more constructive with my criticism with the band itself. Never mind that Wayne Coyne is going through a huge midlife crisis, divorced his wife and took up with a tramp....he and Miley got matching "With a Little Help From My Fwends" tattoos, (So did the girlfriend, inexplicably.) I told Wayne all along, "Bad idea, bro...." to a guy who said 10 years ago he vowed never to get a tattoo for any reason (GO TEAM MICHELLE MARTIN).

But I digress.

On Instagram, I offered an extremely brief review of the record, which was negative. Not only was I blocked from being a follower of Wayne, but I can't even look him up. My son can, and has. This boils down to enough Coyne/Cyrus fans complaining about me to get me booted and blocked. To that, I say fuck you all. I don't need that negativity in my life. Remember this, Wayne?


I heard his ex-wife bought a boat and a bunch of books on sailing, and is keeping away as far as she can from someone who is, as she iterated to me, "killing himself." I wish Michelle nothing but all the joy she can muster in this life. She's a beautiful person.

The Flaming Lips as a band stopped following me on Twitter. Fine, because all I post is stuff about psychology and shit about Luke and how crazy my mother is. 

If my only connection to the band remains Steven Drozd, I'm fine with that. He is my friend. He is not superficial and does not draw rock star attention to himself. If he reads this review and it pisses him off, we can talk about it civilly, not ban one another on social media. Our bond is solid, social media be damned. I'll still see them when they play Chicago, but just because I want to spend time with Steven and hear what they're up to musically. I certainly hope it's better than "Fwends." Because as this Beatles purist would say, it sucks.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Nothing In This Life That I've Been Trying Can Equal or Surpass the Art of Dying.

Meg and I went out to dinner the other night. Much needed girls' night out.

We lamented about what's going on in our lives which causes us to feel craptastic. But we had a lot of laughs too.

She has some negative coping mechanisms, but far more positive ones than I do. For example, when I feel like self-harming, I don't forego the impulse and go for a FORTY MILE BIKE RIDE. I sleep.

For me, in any case, it seems I've done everything wrong when it comes to POE. Granted, Guy was frequently less than a mile away and POE is thousands of miles away, but Guy, for his extremely shitty responses to communication, was more communicative than POE. I understand busy lives. I have one too.

I started to tear up with Meg when I told her how much I miss being able to text Guy all of my little observances and tidbits of the day, which he loved to read but didn't always respond. But he'd check in once in a while. POE? I send tidbits to of rather dire or great importance regarding school or what have you, and it takes him like 2 weeks to send me a quick message back. I should have his license by now. I should have his graduation stuff by now, and I don't. When I try to iterate to POE that these are sort of crucial things, he just doesn't answer.

I get it. He has spotty internet reception, the power goes out a lot, and he found a job that keeps him busy. That said, like Guy, it takes 30 seconds to type over a reply, or say hi, or just let me know I haven't been forgotten. Meg and I talked at dinner, wondering if Guy has been on the blog just checking in, and he hasn't to the best of my knowledge. Neither has POE, who I still think doesn't know much about me having a blog.

Last night, I had these horrible dreams. One was a PTSD dream about Chris during which he was telling me all about his new girlfriend and telling me he didn't want to see me anymore (which isn't that far off the mark of what really happened) and the other; Craig became a transsexual, and I wouldn't let him have any custody of Luke. Not that I inherently have anything against transsexuals, but in the dream, I had absolutely no patience for Craig's lipstick-donning bullshit.

Point being: there's something amiss about every fella I know. And it's probably all my fault. I really thought POE was a slam dunk of luck--but then my brain catches up with me, and reminds me that I'm most likely too overweight and homely for him to give a shit, other than to get his paperwork in on time. Meg has more internal, serious problems, but half of her maladies are because she's TOO pretty and awesome.

The transition to Argosy has been relatively smooth, save for one class where you have to do weekend residencies. I was sidelined by a nasty injury and infection last week that had me just SLIGHTLY under the weather:



Attractive, isn't it? Anyway, I have to find my old syllabus from when I took the same class at Adler, which I've asked the professor to email me, which she hasn't yet. If I can get credit for having taken the class already, I won't fail. If I do fail, I have to take the course again. The ring beside the infected one is my father's wedding ring. It was also in danger of having to be cut off, but thanks to Luke and a trick with a string on YouTube, he got it off intact, thank God. Still, antibiotics that made me feel sick to my stomach, pain pills that put me to sleep, and soon enough, like this morning, I've fallen into a depressive episode.

Kate was totally on top of my finger situation, though she was on holiday in Maine and then had to go back to New York because her father-in-law passed away in Colorado. She kept insisting that no matter what these other bozos think of me, I always have BMF, which is true, and Meg reiterated that at dinner. Seeing BMF had me on like a 3-week high, during which I largely ignored how hurt I was feeling from POE being so unresponsive.

But that's worn off, and now I'm aggravated and lonesome again. I don't like to cry in front of Meg. I hate to. I'm supposed to be her rock. Her go-to girl. But at dinner, I broke down just a little bit and once again resigned that my life heretofore will be my son, my work and myself, by myself, and that it was just something I'd have to get used to.

No, I'm not going to join an online dating service. It is my belief that one shouldn't have to pay to find love, and I think the whole concept is ridiculous. Even free sites, like OKCupid, have the worst algorithms for matching I've ever encountered. But I'm just tired of it. Tired of it all.

I expressed to Meg missing Guy, missing POE, being perturbed at POE (over which he did apologize once), and my general discontent towards the lack of affection and love that I have in my life.

Recently, I read an article on social isolation and loneliness. It concluded through a study that social isolation is twice as deadly as obesity, worse than smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and far more people will die from it than they will from Ebola, I found these statistics to be probably pretty accurate. Thank God I'm overweight and smoke like a chimney. That triples the rate at which I could die.

It doesn't help that I'm completely not sleeping well. I'll doze off around 11 or 11:30, but I wake up at 12:30 and am up until like 3am, fall back asleep at 5am, then up at 7 to instinctively make sure my son has left for school, then going back to sleep until almost noon. That's not healthy or helping much. I think it's part of being manic depressive, the disruption of the nocturnal pattern in a mixed mood.

My thyroid's still fucked up, so the doctors increased the dose of the medication, It's not supposed to see-saw numbers around. It's not stable. It took my prodding and medical knowledge to convince the doctors that I needed to be on a higher dose of medication. Idiots. No wonder I'm not losing any weight.

I'm sure I have some paper to write, or some other work which to attend, so I'll put a cap on this one. A cap on the crush on POE. Reel in the flutters of missing Guy. Mentally prepare myself for growing alone, surviving alone and dying alone.





Thursday, September 25, 2014

Bear Hugs. Not Bare Hugs.




We all hug our babies. It's part of our motherly/fatherly instincts. Why? Because we love them. And they're so dang cute and cuddly. They also unequivocally need you when they're that age. We, as parents, are relied upon for our children's sustenance, a job the vast majority of us do not take lightly.

As they age, and we age, their independence grows. Soon they're toddling, walking, falling. I remember when Luke was about 2, and he fell down (I think it was) about 3 carpeted stairs down to our living room. He cried, naturally, but I called the paramedics. They came, sat him on the kitchen counter, did a basic neuro check, he had no scrapes or cuts to mend, and told me I was an overprotective mother, but that was okay.

The years progress. You hug them tightly the first day you leave them at pre-kindergarten, wondering how you could've left your child in the care of SOMEONE ELSE for 3 hours, when his babysitter up until that point had only been his grandmother, whom you trusted.

When he was 8, he came to visit me in rehab. How surreal that must have been for him, but he needed to be reassured that I was going to be okay and he would see me again soon. And he did, just days later when I was released.

Certainly, boys and their mothers (though I've never personally seen this with little girls and their fathers), at a certain point, in middle school or thereabouts, don't hug as much, if at all. I remember getting pats on the back and if Luke was feeling very generous, he'd touch his lips to my cheek as a "kiss that wasn't a kiss." This, I accepted as part of his maturation process. Suddenly, Mom was icky.

But then I started getting sick. Very sick. I was constantly in and out of the hospital, with a litany of maladies and necessary operations. I have this t-shirt I like to sleep in, a picture of mid 70's heroin'd out Keith Richards, which says, "Too Tough To Die." The day I had my hysterectomy in 2012, when Luke was 12, I asked if he could break his school's dress code and wear my t-shirt that day to school. The request was granted, and I knew from his teacher that he was nervous that day, asked if the class could pray for me and from my ex-husband that Luke was anxious that day and anxious to see me that night, after I'd had some time to recover. He has saved all of the hospital visitor passes he's received when I've been an inpatient.

I don't consider it to be a "mama's boy" scenario, or a helicopter parent thing, but I'd say in the last 6 months or so, he's reached out for a big bear hug and a kiss on the cheek when we say goodnight. Last night struck me in particular. He was sitting at his desk at his computer, and I was prepared to just say goodnight and go into my room. He said, "Wait a sec." He rose from his chair, walked across the room and gave me a big hug. A tight hug. And this has been the case for quite some time. It is a warmth I welcome, because affection starvation is a very real thing. When you're not touched or held for a great deal of time, every hug, every hand-hold, every rumble/tumble becomes all the more important. Luke's become a big old teddy bear, and I couldn't be more happy. We're often cited by lots of people who can tell how close we are as mother and son. True, he is the most important person in my life. Not my mom, not my friends....my son.

And you can tell a genuine from an ingenuous hug instantaneously. I was so glad to hug BMF when we saw one another a couple of weeks ago, my body filled with joy. He was feeling huggy himself that night and even hugged Luke and commented on what a close relationship we obviously have.

Apart from my hugs from Luke and BMF, the last meaningful hugs I have received are from Meg and from POE, when we parted at the airport. Meg is a huggy bear like I am, and we always hug, and there is genuine love in all of those hugs. I hug members of my family, but those feel more obligatory than affectionate sometimes.

Those hugs from Luke? I never want them to end. Ever. I'm proud that I've raised a sensitive and warm young man who's not afraid to show his love and emotions. (I know he reads some of these blogs and I'm probably embarrassing the hell out of him.) I hope that when he moves forward in relationships, he is likewise as respectful and affectionately grounded as he is now, even more so.

Luke treats me with respect (sometimes) and I do as well (usually). Our offbeat relationship works. I'd challenge any single mother with a teenage son to show me how much fun, how many laughs, how many commonalities, and how many hugs she gets from her boy. I'm truly blessed to have such a phenomenal young man in my life, who makes me think every day that yes, I'd like to stick around for a while longer, even when I'm deeply depressed.

Bonus: HE CAN LIFT ME OUT OF SINKING MUD.



Someday, he's going to leave me...whether that's off to college, or to get married and have a family of his own (he damn well better not for a very long time).  I like to think that when we do get to see one another, those incredible hugs will still never cease. It's my fervent hope that he raises his own children to be as open with their affection as he has always been, even during those awkward years.

That's not to say he doesn't hug or love on his dad, though. Craig spent a lot more time playing with Luke as he grew up than I did. It's a guy thing...they just had a lot more in common to do (i.e. Legos, Star Wars, etc.) together than he and I did as he grew up. And they still enjoy the same hobbies--photography, radio broadcasting, all that sort of stuff.



So Craig and I both take some of the credit for the young man Luke is. But Luke, himself, has formed his personality. Nature/nurture. Keep hugging me, Luke. And I'll keep hugging you. We both need it.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Picture says a Thousand Words. I'll be brief.


Riot Fest, 2014

Hey, at least I didn't post the photo here of me trying to eat his cheek with my smoochies. Er, wait.



We had no cell signals, so it was almost impossible to find one another. 2 bars of reception = no es bueno. But eventually we did. 

We got quite a giggle making fun of Guy.

We had fun talk, serious talk, sarcastic talk, deep and vapid thoughts, and lots of laughs. He's too sweet for words. Wayne, meanwhile, oddly didn't stick around and visit with anyone and took off with his girlfriend back to the bus. 

Steven, Luke and I enjoyed a nice long, overdue visit. 



Security was a bitch. Literally.

No more festivals for me....ever. Steven said if that were they case, he'd agree and not do any if he could help it. 

The Flaming Lips show was fantastic, well, until they blew out all the power, which came back on.

Luke and I got stuck in the mud. Deeply. Badly. Valium-worthy.

We walked approximately 5k and not prepared for that AT ALL. Humboldt Park is BIG and the signage for the entrance was MILES AWAY. 

We missed most of Wu Tang Clan while Luke was lifting me out of mud quicksand.

We didn't have the best view of the Lips, but Luke got up in front for "Lucy in the Sky With Dimonds," (the Miley-free version) and his mind was blown away. I'll post that video when he's done editing it. 


The Offbeat Drummer, The Onbeat Drummer, and my Offbeat Offbeat Offspring.


Steven loved Luke's hair and agrees, he should never cut it. It's too cool. 

Rating: Lips + Steven = 100%
The entire rest of Riot Fest = -2,000%

Love!







Thursday, August 28, 2014

Laugh.

On the bipolar scale, I'd say right now, I'm neither manic nor depressive. Quite overwhelmed, with a lot of tasks I've procrastinated, but overall, I'd say I'm stable.

School at Argosy starts in a week and I still haven't submitted my stipend loan paperwork. I haven't purchased my books. I haven't finished my classes from last term at Adler. There are money woes, but I'm pretty much slacking in them off in favor of other pursuits.

Tonight's my first night not responsible for assuring that Luke gets to high school on time, walking to the bus at 6:45 am. The week's been harrowing with his schedule. The first day of school, my nephew came in from UIC for the evening and to surprise Luke. Our big surprise was that 2.5 hours later, we'd still be waiting in the school parking lot for my mechanic to jump my car battery so I could drive to the service station. While exasperated, I couldn't help but just chuckle at the predictability of my misfortune.

Everyone is on edge. The world is on edge. There is war, senseless death, racial tension and tragedy, famine, Pat Robertson, drought...pretty much every icky thing God promised He'd send our way in the Bible (I think).

What sparked this blog entry? What threw me over the cliff? I realized that I'd spent most of the day laughing. Maybe it's just  by-product of me being nuts, but then I saw this:


It's just a cat. But it's a cat wearing aviator sunglasses, who evidently leads a double life as another family's pet cat, and now they're in a custody battle over who gets the cat. It was at that point when I realized that life, if you dissect it into pieces, is quite honestly pretty ridiculous. This cracked me up.

Everybody's in such a rush. I'm no exception. I'm lucky if one task gets scratched of the to-do list on a daily basis, leaving the 100 other things undone. Is it my lack of motivation which makes me find literally everything funny? I'm not sure. We're in a rush to find jobs, to get our finances and school supplies in order. We run to meetings, breathless. Why? Truthfully, yes, we have to be responsible people completing the challenges we face, many of which aggravate or confuse us.


What grace will save you? The realization that all of this crap will work itself out--the way it's supposed to--when it's supposed to happen. If I were depressive right now,  I'd be ignoring and/or missing out on all of this goofy world. Color me blithe about the severity of the current events of the world and living in my own little crazy bubble if you want. Frankly, that doesn't bother me. Like the Beach Boys song above says, "Don't Worry, Baby....everything will turn out alright." Ditch the dread. Cling to the hope. Let the frenzy subside when you lay your head down on your pillow at night. 

Learn to suspend your reality, even if it's for just  few minutes a day and explore something silly. Engage with people, whether that's virtually or in-person. Half the reason I'm going into the field of psychology is for the fact that most people are just PRETTY. DAMN. WEIRD. I want to help these people. I'm not going to lie and repeat what my first therapy skills teacher said and make sure all of my clients are walking out with "bubbles and butterflies," but learn to appreciate the uniqueness of each individual you encounter. Trust me, there'll be something about them, even if they drive you apeshit, that will either bring a smile to your face or an outright guffaw. Maybe that's the lesson I learned as a result of Robin Williams' suicide. We miss people, we'll miss Robin, and while his depression devoured him, he left behind a powerful legacy and lessons, which are to be kind, compassionate, forgiving, and to make others smile. 

We all suffer, some more severely than others. When I'm depressed or even wondering if it's worth it to stick around, I remember that religion, money, the 1%, the poverty rate, the wars overseas...they're all horrible crises, but life is beautiful and enjoy it while it lasts. You might bear the burden of much--too much--on your shoulders, but relax. As Prince said in "Let's Go Crazy," (appropriately enough) "Hang tough, children." 

Love the people who love you, be them your family, your kids, your friends, your co-workers or fellow students. Hell, your drug store checker who tells you when you leave, "Have a good day and be well." (Thank you, Walgreens guy, by the way.) Try to remember that in most cases, we all want one another to have an opportunity to be happy and yes, to LAUGH.

I would't bet my stipend that my flowery mood will last really long, which is why I cherish it even more. Yesterday's headache might be tomorrow's migraine, but until that happens, which it invariably will at some point, this bipolar bear will carpe diem. 

This is a great little 2 1/2 minute oldie from The Monkees, entitled "Laugh." The video clip, from the television show, is a humorous romp. It's a good song. 



Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Do You Realize That You Sound Like a Twat??

Some people come across as being hyper-smart and sassy. They are loved by the masses for their wit, charm and skill.

Oftentimes, such people can be snarky and total assholes too.

I received a mean Tweet early this morning from another blogger (who's far more popular than I am).

She subsequently deleted the Tweet, perhaps realizing what a twat she sounded like.

What I don't think she realized was that Tweets to me come into my email, and regardless if you delete them or not, I can read them.

I know her personally.

In my opinion, she got a little too big for her britches when her blog was turned into a book some years back. I don't read her blog anymore...haven't for years. She and her husband sided with Team Craig in the divorce.

Why bug me now? Don't I kind of have enough on my plate than to deal with hate statements?

Just as a lot of readers probably got tired of my adventures with Guy, the world is probably worn out from your observations of what life is life taking the bus in Chicago.

Unless you want to get lambasted, I'd suggest you leave me alone.

--The Offbeat Drummer




Sunday, August 17, 2014

An Open Statement To KISS leader Gene Simmons

Previously, while I hadn't agreed with many decisions KISS front man Gene Simmons has made (especially regarding his treatment of Ace Frehley and Peter Criss, whom KISS fired), and his insatiable need to surround himself with $$$$, I regarded him as a man of some semblance of reasonable intellect and kindness. That said, however, in light of his (now cowardly retracted) statement about mentally ill addicts, "Fuck you, go kill yourself!" I have lost complete regard for this performer. I happened to mention on his daughter Sophie's Instagram (since I obviously have zero connection to The Great Star Himself) that I thought her father's remark was intolerable and unforgivable. She defended back that it's something I should take up with her father, not to clog her Instagram with my comments. OH would I EVER like to take that up with her father, the great Demon. Interestingly, he must have terrific public relations staffing, because I have been blocked from Tweeting anything to him on Twitter. "Shut up the addicts!" that said to me. Gene Simmons has long-held a bias against the disease model of addiction and has a general lack of sympathy towards the mentally ill. He went so far as to say that people should "worship" the money he has. That, to me, is an example of one of the most reprehensible human beings on earth. His defense is perpetually, "Well, my mother was in a Nazi concentration camp, so....blah blah blah." That doesn't give Simmons free will to be a complete prick to the rest of humanity. He also was widely publicized as saying that immigrants to this country (like himself) should "learn goddamn English." This is clearly a man using his fame for the most vile and unfortunate gain. I have nothing but respect and honor for Ace and Peter, but as for Paul and particularly Gene, KISS can go fuck themselves. While Peter Criss and his wife, Gigi, were simultaneously battling breast cancer, Simmons and his now-wife Shannon Tweed, were getting matching facelifts. Believe me, if even Motley Crue's Nikki Sixx is badmouthing Gene Simmons, things have gone loco. Shame on you, Gene Simmons.