Thursday, August 12, 2010


The More Things Change Dept.:
Went to the scandalously-named Bottoms Up yesterday. Back when I lived in E. Lansing, I used to go there quasi-regularly, to buy lingerie. I'll admit it: I'm a lingerie kind of guy. Not for myself, natch. But, y'know…as presents at Valentine's Day go, buying lingerie kind of IS buying a present for yourself. "Here, honey, I got you something. Erm…that I really want to see you in. And, um, also out of. Yeah." Kind of like that.

Buying lingerie never bothered me. Oh, I'll admit that when I first walked into Bottoms Up and encountered just racks and racks stuffed to overflowing with bras and garters and all kinds of frou-frou underthings, there would be a moment of hesitation as the 60-something woman behind the counter would ask me amusedly: "Is there anything in particular you're looking for?" I'd always just browse, which was kind of scandalous in itself, as if I was rooting around in her own personal underwear drawer. But I never really felt uncomfortable doing it. Same thing with buying rubbers. For the life of me, I never understand why guys would sort of blush when buying rubbers. 'Cause, what you're really saying is "I'm going to be fucking soon! And, she'll be hotter than you! Or your girlfriend!" (Depending on the gender of the checkout person.) So, buying condoms and racy undergarments never really bothered me…it was more like public bragging, y'know?

By the same token, but for the opposite reason: I never worried about buying tampons, either. CLEARLY, these are not items for my own personal use. I don't bleed monthly from my pee-hole, and if I did…these suckers ain't gonna fit. Although, I would say that would be an odd shopping cart: a silk-and-lace chemise, a giant box of rubbers, and tampons. What message would THAT send? "I'll be fucking a hot chick soon! Or, at least in a few days, anyway."

But, in a return to Bottoms Up: a decade or so ago, that place was tits-to-rafters stuffed with fuck-me wear, plus a few dance leotards. Now? It's almost completely reversed. See, I went there with the venerable Miss Tessmacher to buy tap shoes, tights and a leotard for The Rozzle's upcoming introduction to dance. And, there was nary a saucy boyshort in sight. Nope, the whole place was crammed with dancewear. I wonder if that's a sign of a changing economy? No money anymore for fancy undies…we save it all for kids' dance lessons. At the last, I had the ironic thought that life does evolve in a logical fashion: start out buying fuck-me-wear for your hot girlfriend, end up buying toddler tights for your daughter.

The More They Stay The Same Dept.:
All of this shopping was done as an errand on our way to hang out with lifelong friends The Garetys, with whom we would spend a rousing evening dancing and shouting along with Styx at the Jackson County Fair. Mostly because of my Kiss-obsessed childhood, Styx was one of those bands I was peripherally aware of, but never really delved into during their heyday. Upon hearing that they'd been "reduced" to playing county fairs, I felt sort of bad for Tommy Shaw et. al., because really, what must that be like? Packing stadiums (stadia?) between 1978 and 1981, and now playing the county fair for redneck riff-raff in mid-Michigan. What a career low-point. Except…I was just so totally wrong, dude! They took the stage at 8:00pm sharp, and for nearly two hours just rocked the ever-lovin' beejeezus outta the 3,000 or so fans. Tommy looked great, and at 56 still has better hair than I have (Tess' joke: "You know, they can do pretty amazing things with wigs these days!"). He and James Young instantly made me forget Dennis-what's-'is-name with the addition of sound-alike Lawrence Gowan…who, having been with the band for a decade, is hardly a "new hire." The only song Styx performed that was written after 1981 was the Damn Yankees-era power-ballad "Higher," which, frankly, I could have done without. Otherwise, it was balls-to-the-wall of songs that were 30+ years old, and you know what? They stand up. They last. They're still great songs. And that's what Styx was doing: being professional musicians in front of thousands of people, singing great songs, and inspiring a whole new generation of fans…to wit, one of the teens that came with us was at his THIRD Styx concert, and knew more of their lyrics than I did. Rock on, guys.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Checking In

Whew! Lots of time has passed, with lots of action here and around the state. These are some of the highlights:

• Painting progresses, but it's damn slow. 'Course, that's what happens when you want it done really well. As of now, the spare bathroom, the master bath, the hallway, and The Rozzleum are all FINISHED. Painting the doors takes forever, and I hate doing it because eventually we'll replace them with solid-wood doors…but, that's down the road, and in the meantime, they look tons better with a fresh couple of coats. Doors are done in the master bedroom, but that's it. Still LOTS more to come!

• Class went well, and with The Rozzle gone up north with Miss Tessmacher and/or The Grandparents, I was able to not only keep up with refurbished lesson plans and grading, but also the bulk of the painting got done after work. Tiring weeks, but satisfying!

• Spent an enjoyable week as a family unit (minus Ramona, but she'd never do well in a cabin anyway) at Unnamed Northern Music Camp. Roz & I played on the beach, at the park, and in the rain while the Distinguished Dr. Tessmacher plied her trade. After 6 weeks, she's ready to be home!

• Roz & I spent a week camping with my maladjusted marching band brethren. Roz was hesitant at first, but eventually opened up to the other kids and had a great time. She loved taking her daily naps outside (the tent got too hot), and the best was the last day: she was puddled on the picnic blanket with a pillow, books, and a blankie. Lisa and I watched as she put her hands under her head, closed her eyes, and fell asleep in the fresh air and shade. A wonderful Dad moment, right there.

• If it's nearly time to go back to work, then it must be concert season too! 8/11 is Tess and me going to see Styx with some old high school buddies of mine. 8/27 is bro-in-law Joel and me taking in the co-headlining Cheap Trick and Blondie. And, wonder of wonders…I HAVE KISS TICKETS! 9/11, at Pine Knob. Of the three, I think Trick and Blondie are a possible mismatch: a CT fan, I'm still excited to see Blondie for the first time, but I wonder about the pairing of CBGB proto-New Wave with Rockford rock-&-roll. We'll see. I'm excited to hear a 75-minute set from Trick, and hoping they'll play more of their new album than I got to hear last summer. I still maintain that Cheap Trick is hands-down the best band you're not listening to, and if you haven't yet heard last summer's The Latest, do yourself a favor and at least sample it on iTunes. You'll want it. Trust me.

• Speaking of new music: there's been a TIDAL WAVE of new releases from '80s-era hard rockers that has me shakin' in my boots and rockin' like it's 1984. This summer I've bought obligatory new records from Ozzy and Meat Loaf (the first a little heavier than I'd like, the second good but still missing the killer songs of Jim Steinman), but I've also picked up new discs from Krokus (Hoodoo), Helix (Vagabond Bones), Y & T (Facemelter) and Ratt (Infestation). It's all fist-thumping, don't-bore-us-get-to-the-chorus metal action, but of them all Ratt really stands out. The band has admitted that they strove for a sound that would fit nicely between Out Of The Cellar and Invasion Of Your Privacy, and I think they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. I'm sure I won't inspire anyone to pick up Infestation when I say that it sounds just like those LPs of 25 years ago, but what the hell: if you do something well, do it again. Nobody ever suggested to Chuck Berry that he drop-D tune his guitar and start sludging away on power chords…why should Stephen Pearcy et. al. move away from the sound that made them famous? If these grizzled rockers can still deliver the goods to their equally-grizzled audience, then I'm all for it. RATT & ROLL!

• I've been in a blissful news-free bubble for so long now, I don't even know WHAT the hell is going on. And I'm calmer for it. I don't want to live like a hermit, disconnected from the world I live in…but, when so much of the news is the same day in and day out, it really wears me down. Instead of getting immune to it, I just get more and more pissed off, and really, who needs it? I'm sure I'll fall back into things as the election season heats up, but right now I'm just really tired of it all. Fuck it, man…have a beer, put on my new Ratt record (and yes, I do mean RECORD), and chill. Life is good. Summer's almost over. Kiss is coming. And I feel fine.