22 November 2008

What Were Your Favorite Books as a Kid?

Growing up in rainy Washington state meant I read a lot. I mean - A LOT. I remember reading over 150 books in one summer.

I think the Sweet Valley Twins books were an early favorite. Then I moved on to Sweet Valley High, and the Newbery Medal winners. From there it was on to Narnia, and The Black Cauldron series. I tried to get into Tolkien but burned out halfway through The Two Towers (dude, I'm not that much of a nerd).

Then I got into my apocalyptic / dystopia phase and delved into
  • On the Beach
  • 1984
  • We
  • Brave New World
  • Animal Farm
    . . . and tons of Arthur C Clarke

Then I moved on to lesbian classics such as:
  • Herland
  • The Well of Loneliness
  • Oranges are Not the Only Fruit
  • Love in Bloomsbury
    . . . and tons of Virgina Woolf

Why do I bring this up?

I signed up to donate children's books to a non-profit that shelters woman and children escaping physical abuse. Of all the donation options, books seemed to be the best option. The alternatives were:

Girls make-up kit, girls crafting kit, boys crafting kit (WTF?), boys army toys.

I know jack shit about those items, but books I can do. Then it occurred to me: the books I enjoyed are probably not appropriate for an OC kid.

So now I'm in a pickle. Should I just buy a complete set of Harry Potter and be done with it? I'd like to pick something beyond the obvious: something that will strike a chord with a young person. Any suggestions?

10 November 2008

A Tale of Two Concerts

Madonna Sticky Sweet Tour LA November 2008Madonna at Dodger Stadium

Have you ever waited twenty years for something? I have.

For twenty years I've waited to see Madonna. The first cassette I ever owned was True Blue. The first thing I ever saved up my allowance to buy was Like a Prayer. She never played a show in Portland and now, finally, I was able to catch her tour in Los Angeles.

Last Thursday, the long wait was finally over . . . after a two hour drive to LA and a third hour sitting on the 101 Freeway that is. Was it worth the wait? Hells yes!

The show was exactly what I hoped it would be. She did a mix of new songs and past hits (NME has the set list). New songs off of Ray of Light and Music she played pretty straightforward. Older songs like "Like a Prayer" were updated with heavier beats. madonna with guitarOthers had the beats stripped out entirely and she played them on an electric guitar.

What floored me was - Madonna actually sings her songs. Working for the radio station I saw Britney, Janet and others. In most cases, the songs sounded exactly the same live in concert as they did on CD. She even takes requests! Someone in the front had a sign that said "Dress You Up."

Right there, on the spot, she busted into "Dress You Up in My Love" acapella. It wasn't the best rendition, but it took serious balls.

Nope, the only fake thing that night was that blonde Betty Page hairpiece (see above).

I know it's predictable, but it's impossible to write about Madonna without mentioning her staying power. I mean, seriously. When I first fell in love with Madonna, her peers were Debbie Gibson, Tiffany, Whitney Houston and Belinda Carlisle. Where are they now?

The other cool thing about the show was the fans. People came in their best Madonnawear. Sometimes that meant fishnets and a bustier, others wore short shorts and a glitter jacket . . . and it wasn't just women dressing up.

Van Morrison at the Hollywood Bowl
There weren't as many dress-alikes when I went to see Van Morrison two days later (although there were a few).

This was my second time seeing Van Morrison, and it was better than the first time (Gorge Ampitheater 2006ish). We were treated to a set of hits (St. Dominc's Preview, Gloria, Here Comes the Night) followed by a complete performance of Astral Weeks.

If you've seen Van before or read a review, you know two things:

#1 His voice sounds as clear and youthful as it did forty years ago.

#2 He never EVER performs Brown Eyed Girl

. . . but he did on Saturday night. I don't know if Van is un-retiring the song or what, but the crowd went bananas.

There was only one thing that kept the night from being completely perfect:

Typically, you can bring whatever you want to the Hollywood Bowl (food, wine, snacks, etc.). For Van Morrison, they changed the rules. No glass bottles and no alcohol allowed. I thought to myself:

Do they think people are going to riot? It's a Van Morrison show for godsakes. No one's going to amped up and chuck bottles on the stage during Wild Night.

"Fuck you, Van! Where's Michelle N'degeocello?"

I digress . . .

So we get inside and, since everyone had to chuck their booze at the gate, there's a huge line at the beer and wine stand. I high-tail it to the "market" and discover the red wine section is completely cleaned out. The cupboards are bare except for six bottles of Gallo - at $22 a pop. Never in my life did I imagine I'd feel fortunate to pay $22 - for Gallo Merlot.

Then I thought: Oh my God. I think I've just qualified for an entry on that White Whine blog.

Anyway, once I got some overpriced Gallo in me I felt much better. Then I slipped Into the Mystic.