Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Thoughts on Forty

I turn forty in exactly one week. How do I feel about it?

In a word: Depressed.

Now, don't try and cheer me up by telling me that "Life begins at 40", that "40's the new 20", or that at least I get to be a cougar now.

I'm not naive.

I know that life began at 00:01, that I didn't have these crow's feet when I was 20, and that since 40 year-old men go for 27 year-old women, so do the 27 year-old men! Duh.

No. What I get at forty is frequent heartburn, anti-aging face cream that makes me break out, to get hit on by solely the over-60 crowd (talk about an unwanted booby prize!) and nephews that are constantly asking me if I am a widow. (I think the evasive word they're reaching for is "spinster".)

I was recently reminded of an old blog post of mine on turning thirty. I was so excited to turn thirty, in small part, because I was still aging well enough to get carded at the movie theater and I wore that fact like a badge of pride.

The only time I get carded these days is when I'm buying cold medication. And, even then, it's only to check the database of known meth cookers. I'm never mistaken these days for looking 17, only for looking like a speed freak.

Well, I won't ramble on with further complaints on aging or gross you out with more facts on what happens to a woman's body at my age. I will simply conclude this post by offering the following advice.

If you happen to cross my path in the next seven days, take heed:

The wrong way to wish me a happy fortieth: If you think over-the-hill pranks are adorable, prepare to see some wrists slit. Don't worry, my life is not in danger. Yours is. If I'm handed anything with a picture of a gravestone on it, I will cut you. If you try to recite any "cute" poetry that begins with the opening line "Lordy, lordy...", I will cut you. If I receive any cards with that grumpy Shoebox lady on it, even if it's just an early Christmas card, I will paper cut you with the envelope in which it was wrapped. If a black balloon is inflated, next Tuesday, within a half-mile of my vicinity I will cut said person so fast and so deep that they'll risk death from drowning in their own pool of blood as much as from the loss of blood itself.

The right way to wish me a happy birthday this year: Nice cards that don't mention being over-the-hill or premature references to menopause. (And, I won't complain if there's cash stuffed inside of them.) Hugs. Kisses. Gentle pats on the behind. Balloons in any other color than black (see above) or pink (because I hate pink. In fact, I don't really want any balloons. I was just trying to leave the balloon option out there. In reality, what do you do with them once the day's over? Sit there and watch them deflate over the next week, as they slowly become the literal shape and texture of my 40-year old ass. Yeah. Definitely, no balloons!) Or, just a simple "Happy Birthday" with a smile will do. I will also understand a hurried mumble while averting the eyes after putting you through this post.

Or, you can just read the old blog post. It handled 37 alot better than I'm handling 40. And, then bring on the kittens!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

40 Year Old Property Virgin

An Aunt's Life has become a bit schizophrenic in its structure. So, like I did with my religious posts in walk., I've decided to also consolodate my house-hunting posts to a new blog site that I've decided to name 40 Year Old Property Virgin (and refuse to stop giggling about it!)

If you're following An Aunt's Life and want to keep up with all the juicy house-hunting scandal, be sure to click the link and follow the new page as well. I'm going to keep up with it throughout the trials of my finding a place to live. And, I'll also keep it around for any renovation, decorating or Pinterest fails that are sure to come my way once I've finally found my nest.

Also, coming soon will be another new blogsite (Maya Angelou-inspired. Huh? Just go with it...) that I'm calling From the Curl of My Lip.

I'll keep An Aunt's Life as my nostalgia, pop culture and general essay site. And, no, I still haven't come up with a better name for it after all these years! 

Oh well. Continue to visit and be sure to try the new sites if you so fancy to.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

House Hunting: Part II

My house-hunting adventure continued today with the first slew of showings with my new realtor. (New realtor = the one who actually called me back and whom has this whole fancy email thing figured out.)

House 1: This house is very near to the home we had lived in for the last 13 years and on a street that is a part of our regular evening walking route. It had a nice front porch, a quaint and easily maintainable backyard, and a friendly black kitty next door that I would be likely to catnap and call as my own (only until the neighbor woke up and realized it was missing, of course.) 

The inside of the house wasn't so much of a treat. Musty smelling, wallpaper in every bedroom (even in places where wallpaper doesn't belong. Hint: Wallpaper was designed for walls, yo) absolutely no appliances, makeshift closet rods made of leftover plumbing, and the piece de resistance... wood paneling in all of the common spaces. 

Now I realize that real wood paneling can be easily painted to look like beadboard or wainscoting. But, this home had this this flimsy thin faux wood walling that someone had, not so cleverly, cut out little hidden "doors" in. What? I know this makes no sense. But, imagine following along the wall to discover a piece of packaging tape, masking or duct tape (Believe me, the tape came in an abundance of variety.) You notice a rectangular cut-out along the wall and give the tape a tug. Like a little trap door, the thin paneling would give way to reveal either a surprise "Oh. A fuse box!" or the deception of one, "Oh, a bed of splinters!"

I think I jumped the gun, though, on the piece de resistance. This was actually the fact that we never did find the furnace. We found the water heater, the hookups for where a washer and dryer should be, the air conditioning unit outside, but never a furnace. My realtor was still looking for it along the home's perimeter when we tried to let him off the hook, "It's a 'no' to this property, so there's no need to find it." He couldn't give up the game though, "Okay. But, I still want to find it. It's got to be here somewhere!"

Condo 1: The only condo we toured today was located in a dream location. Right in the downtown area of my own hometown, but in a complex I'd hadn't considered due to its extremely cramped parking situation. 

There was a subletter who hadn't vacated the premises prior to our arrival, but who was kind enough to shirtlessly take to the bedroom to iron his laundry while we had a look around. (He wasn't so kind, however, as to turn off the internet porn he'd left up on the screen of his laptop on the dining room table. But, if you ask my mom, "I thought he was just studying to be a doctor." I'll let you folks decide for yourselves.)

It was a one bedroom unit (I had been looking for two) but the one room was ample enough in size and closet space to make up for it. The layout was well appointed and the picture window in the living room had a lovely view of the courtyard space below.

The downside? The parking, as mentioned before. At least one nosy elderly neighbor who was not at all shy about hanging out in the hallway and gawking at us a we toured the rest of the building. And, worst of all, horror upon horror, NO CATS ALLOWED! Come on, people! I'm turning 40. I'm unmarried. I've earned at least one cat in life!

It remains on the maybe list.

House 2: We actually started out this afternoon in the property that I'd referred to in my last post as the home in the meth-y neighborhood. But, for the purpose of good writing and suspense, I decided to save the "best" for last.

I'd recently re-nicknamed this one the "rapey woods" home because there's a wooded ravine behind the property. This intrigued me with the thought of wildlife but, instead, alarmed some in the family with its imminent threat of rapey danger. (Upon further research, I also learned that there is a registered sex offender living, ummmmmm, as the closest neighbor to the right!) But, it's newly renovated and miraculously in my price range. Let's take a look!

The yard was beautiful, fenced in, and the woods dropped off almost immediately into the Rouge River; giving any rapist worth his salt a great challenge to attack me from the property's rear. But, that's where the fun ended. 

Upon opening the front door we were immediately hit with the strong scent of mold. Then, when taking a first glance around, I realized that "newly renovated" was really the listing agent's code that they had newly acquired skills in the the art of Photoshop.

The gorgeous original hardwood floors pictured online, in reality, had the smoothness and consistency of a highway rumble strip. Their appearance, in person, gave the impression that a former owner at one time had strapped two pairs of ice skates on the family dog, let go, and said, "Let's just see what happens."

Now, I am not a flooring snob! I am fine with carpet. I am fine with tile. I am fine with laminate "hardwood". It's just that when sinking my savings into a home, it would simply be nice to walk across my own living room without the fear of splinters and sea-sickness.

I am also not an appliance snob. But, let's just say that the stainless steel refrigerator's freezer had a stain in it which could have possibly been left behind from a severed head. Moving out of the kitchen...

The bedrooms were okay, but with the really weird closets of a house built in the 1920's. (By the way, this house was built in the 1920's.)  The bathroom was standard. The smell of mold was STRONG throughout the entire upstairs and had already cemented a "no" vote in my mind. But, since we're here, why not check out the basement?  What harm could come from checking out the basement?

Stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp... down the stairs we go. Looking up, yes, there is obvious water damage to this home. And, the copper plumbing did not have one inch that wasn't covered in rust.

It's still a "no" vote, but I possess a curious mind. Let's open the washer and dryer. Well, I think that severed head may have also taken a run through these.

Turn around. Ooh, a pet spider.

Turn around again. Ooh, a mysterious room that was probably used for storing beets and raw potatoes back in the day.

What's behind this door? 

The best I can describe what was behind this door is, if you've ever watched season one of Bate's Motel, it's the room where the kidnapped Asian sex slave was being held in Officer Shelby's basement. 

There could be no other explanation for this room other than to hold a kidnap victim hostage. 

Then when you walk into the room, there's another door that leads to another hostage room. The first room even had a wire for cable TV hanging down from the ceiling. Presumably, this was the "good hostage" room that you're allowed to watch TV in. When you're a "bad hostage" you get led through the labyrinth to the bad hostage room.

What house needs TWO hostage rooms in the basement?! (Maybe even three, if the room by the basement steps isn't really for storing beets!) These rooms also had excessive water damage to the point where the floor was coming apart. Presumably due to water torture or the rinsing of the severed head. 

I had squealed in horror when I opened the second hidden room's door. My realtor scurried over to ask me what I think. I said, "Well, if I ever decide to take up serial killing, I've found a place to stow the bodies." He laughed and actually agreed. Therefore, he is still my realtor.

There's a sex offender next door, two to three torture rooms in the basement and the likelihood that a severed head has frequented every appliance in the joint. This home is also not for me. NO LIST!

I realize that living by myself might eventually become lonely, but I'll take loneliness over being visited by the souls of those who passed here any day!

We're going back to the drawing board and praying for new listings this week. Home shopping on a tight budget may not be easy, but it is certainly entertaining!

Now if you'll excuse me, I had to go wash the mold spores out of my sinuses. They're giving me a headache.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Rite of Passage

This year-of-turning-forty is not without its rites of passage.

The latest, being my very own breast cancer scare.

[Usher me past the velvet ropes of womanhood.]

Probably half of the women I know that are my age or older have had at least one lump, bump, cyst or funky mammogram result that sent them into that multi-day tailspin until... dah dah dummm... RESULTS.

Yesterday, during a routine physical, my doctor felt something.

Now, my doctor is a chatterbox and what she felt caused a reaction I'd never seen in her. She stopped talking. Mid-sentence even! We went immediately from sharing our lack of plans for the holiday to her shoving my left boob in the same spot repeatedly while her chatty smile turned into an instant look of dread.

I didn't immediately catch on to the severity of the issue, so when I tried to continue the conversation, she finally blurted out that I have a lump.

I was stunned.

I had came in for a routine physical. I went from the high of being told we could skip the pelvic exam this year due to my previous year's shining results. We'd already covered the state of my family history, my GERD, my bum knee and I received new praise for upping my exercise routine this year.

All that was left was the easy part. Lay back, don't make eye contact and have a breezy conversation while my doctor feels me up.

She ended up taking my own hand and shoving it into my left side-boob, as if to wake me up to the fact that we were no longer talking about barbecuing on the Fourth of July. "Do you feel that?" she asked me. "Oh... yeah.. kinda," I lied. "I'm sending you for an ultrasound."

Her easiest appointment of the day suddenly turned into hushed conversations with the nurse as they scribbled in my file and crazily hurried together paperwork to get me into the lab as quickly as possible, while the nurse kept turning around to assure me how pretty I looked that day. (Ah, the sisterhood of women. Always able to deflect panic with a compliment, God bless us.)

The soonest the lab could take me for an ultrasound was to be this afternoon. All I had to do was stave off my imagination for one shortened workday before I could have answers and feel some relief.

Well, an office worker from lab called me first thing this morning with some news that she was obviously hesitant to share. The ultrasound tech had called in sick. I blurted out an, "OH NO!" Which she echoed in sympathy, "Oh no is right..."

She then tip-toed through the rest of the conversation. I could practically sense her cringing on the other end, as if I had the power to reach through the phone line and choke her out. "I understand it's not your fault," I assured her, "but when is the soonest you can get me in? I don't care what day, how early, how late..." I found a moment to sympathize with her for being the messenger and promised myself that I would not bark at her in the manner that today's other patients must have verbally manhandled her with.

Next week. Thursday. Stupid "sick" lab tech. Stupid holiday.

My six hour wait for peace in a moment's notice had multiplied into a one-week-plus-one-day one.

Boy is my imagination is going to be testing me!

I realize this isn't usually the stage in which you share this kind of medical news. In fact, I wasn't going to share any of this publicly until I had happy results that I could turn into a hilarious blog post, typed with fingers that had been bathed in utter relief.

But, then I figured that God doesn't test us so we can keep secrets about it. 

Maybe not all women will experience cancer. The unfortunate ones don't have a choice. The brave of those ones build up the courage to share their journeys.

But,  there's also the rest of womankind. The "at least half of the ones I know" that can relate to the waiting. Good news, bad news, just hoping for the all clear. Most of them won't even end up being sick and needing treatment... but, oh, the crazy places your mind will go when you're caught up in the day-long and night-long distraction of not knowing yet.

Why should we be ashamed to talk about it? It's one of the neediest times to open up our mouths and vent.

So, for your entertainment (and maybe to pass Phase One of my "test") here is an overshare of some random thoughts that have passed through my scattered brain these last two days:

  • Geesh, the first year I didn't bother with a self exam!
  • I thought only big breasts got lumps.
  • Why'd I go and pick the cheaper insurance plan at work?
  • I'm house-hunting! I can't afford cancer right now!
  • After the lab lady asked me if the lump hurts, I answered "no." After I obsessively poke myself in the breast all evening, "Ow! It hurts so bad!"
  • Lumpectomy or mastectomy?
  • With a mastectomy I could inherit an insurance-paid-for perfectly-shaped pair.
  • Why does the medically bad boob have to be the physically cuter one?
  • Should I start giving out free second-baseys so my real breasts can have one last thrill before they're severed and tossed in the garbage.
  • Do they put the amputated breasts in the garbage can?!
  • Should I photograph them before they're gone?
  • Why do I immediately think I will be breastless in the near future?
  • I'm sorry to my boobs, for always calling you small. You are not inadequate in any way, shape or form.
  • This really isn't helping my mid-life crisis.
  • Is someone going to make me do a three-day walk now? I really don't think I want to walk that far.
  • Do I have to start wearing pink? I hate pink!
  • I can't believe I was tempted to cancel my annual physical.
  • Don't ever cancel your annual physical.
  • I love my doctor.
  • Why now?
  • Why me?
  • Am I dreaming?
  • Should I really blog all this?
Well, too late now. I just did.

I'd love to end this post with "IT WAS JUST A CYST!", but I jumped the gun on this news and now we'll all just have to wait on the test and its results together. (Don't you love how I tangled you into my anxiety web?)

You don't have to act weird if you see me in real life. I'll accept all encouraging hugs. I welcome your own stories if you never had a chance to vent your own scare. I'll even understand if you avoid me altogether because this news made things awkward and you'd rather pretend you never read this. Fine, you never read this. You know nothing about my boobs. I can play along! When I'm in an awkward moment I overshare. I can definitely feel for those who don't.

Of course, I'm accepting all offered prayers. But, I'm not quite ready for unsolicited advice, so don't go there yet. 

And, please, don't bother my family with questions they don't have answers to. I told you everything I know so far and they're alot more private than I am. (Do you really think the men in my family want to acknowledge the existence of my breasts?) If you must talk about it, bring it to me only. 

My doctor tried very hard to convince me that I should think this is just a cyst. (But, she also whispered too much with the nurse in a panicked fury too closely to the exam room door...) I'm choosing to be encouraged by her hopeful prognosis. And, in my heart-of-hearts, I know she's probably right. She is the expert, after all.

Worst case scenario: I'm dying. But, aren't we all dying of something?
Bad case scenario: It's something and I'll need treatment. But, treatment exists. Praise the Lord!
Best case (and most likely) scenario: My doctor's hope was right and the worst that happened was that I entertained you all with my honest paranoia. 
Most bizarre of the benign scenarios: God just gave my breasts speed-bumps to deter fast men.

Don't skip your self exam this year. And be sure to make that yearly appointment!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Game Shows I Would Dominate

I impressed my family recently by answering three consecutive questions correctly during an episode of Jeopardy.

The category was some fluff along the lines of "80's Pop Music". But, since my "Who is Bono?" had impressed the elderly so much, it got my confidence up enough to cause me to wonder what other game shows I could totally dominate.

Wheel of Fortune: Can you spell? Can you spell 1-3 words in a row at one time? Well, I can. I think I could do pretty well for myself playing 30 minutes on the Wheel. I should still have enough upper body strength to spin the wheel at least one full rotation. I can clap and whoop "C'mon big money!" with the best of them. And, I already have my three consonants and one vowel picked out for the final round. It's like they're making this too easy for me.

Family Feud: Families shouldn't feud. But, if they so choose to, it should be televised in syndication. All you have to do is force yourself to think like a hundred random peers. (You think this would be easy, but the show has proven that theory wrong.) My slapping skills are superior, so the buzzer wouldn't phase me. My only obstacle would be playing the pervy modern version of the show. I'm not sure the mind of 100 random perverts is a place I want to dally near. Revive Richard Dawson for one episode and I'm sold. (Even though I'm a little uncomfortable with the idea of him trying to wrestle a kiss out of me overtop of the microphone.)

The Mole: Although, there's a little too much timed running around involved, I still think I could have won The Mole. They had to go and take it off the air, though, before I had the chance to prove myself! I always figured I could walk slowly, feigning side cramps, during the running competitions (although, I probably wouldn't need to feign...) thus causing my competitors to think I was The Mole sabotaging that round, therefore eliminating themselves during the end of show quiz. (Never heard of the show, so none of this makes sense to you? Well, click here, I'm too busy bragging about my game plan to explain things right now.) My ultimate fantasy was to be chosen to be the saboteur, yes The Mole. I'm an excellent prankster, but more importantly the show's mole gets to have secret meetings in their hotel room with the show's producers and its host, the fairest of them all, Mr. Anderson Cooper. My not-so-secret crush and ultimate boo. The mole is committed to sticking it through all 13 episodes, running and all. No quitting, no taking a suitcase of bribe money and walking away; but you can cry like a baby, so we're good. The very thought of traveling around Europe, creating mystery and intrigue with my Silver Fox.. Late night pow-wows about the strategies of the next episode... "Can we cuddle while we discuss this? It's late and oh so exhausting creating sabotage..." Ba-da-bing, ba-da-bang, white-haired babies on board. (Yes. I am totally aware. Just leave me in this place for one moment.)

Plinko: I would not do very well on The Price is Right, seeing that I've rarely paid full retail price on a thing in my life. But, I've always been drawn to the Plinko round. Any episode that didn't feature a Plinko session was simply a wasted hour of my life that I would never be able to retrieve. I will even admit that for many years, I thought the game was called Plunko. Well, those little discs plunk more than they plink, yes? Let's just be real about it.

Jeopardy: You understand that we're talking Kid's Week, right? 

Hollywood Game Night: NBC's newest game show is currently the only one I bother watching. Pop culture knowledge? Check. Obnoxious miming of song lyrics? Easy peasy. More buzzer slapping? Um, yeah, I've got that covered. Pretending that people like Wayne Brady, Kristin Chenoweth and the guy from Chuck are just your normal, every day, weekend party guests? Why not!

Just hand over a bag of money now. I've got this. (No really, give me some money. I could really use it at the moment.)

House Hunting is a Load of Crap

Let me start off by saying this: HGTV is a network of liars.

House hunting is not as fun as reality TV would have you think. There's no half-million dollar budget, dry-witted realtor, miles of granite countertop, hickory flooring, river rock showers, nor a film crew to capture all the amusing hijinks. (And, those Property Brothers won't even give me the time of day!)

No. In reality, hickory floors are not in your price-point, your realtor never bothered calling back (probably after scoffing at the tiny commission your purchase would generate), and all highjinks so far involved are sad and not anywhere near worth documenting for posterity.

House hunting it stressful.  House hunting is bad for your self-esteem. And, it basically just makes you have to go to the bathroom in more repetition than you are normally used to.

As my regular readers and friends all know; YES! I currently live with my parents. 

Roomies since day one. Now, with bigger jammies and a newer paci.
But, what you may not know is that home ownership was the last remaining unticked bulletpoint on my "Before I Turn 40" bucket list. (Last bulletpoint! I am SO dang close!)

What you also may not know is that this year-of-the-big-4-0 happens to coincide with my parents sudden urge to downsize, once again, and become snowbirds. 

What you really don't know (unless you see me everyday, then you already know too much and will probably want to toggle back to Facebook at this point...) is that our current home sold in under four days and we all need to vacate the premises in less than five weeks having absolutely no place to go.

House hunting has moved into super-stress mode! 

[Pause writing for additional bathroom break]

I'd considered breaking a promise on the lease agreement for my storage unit, by sleeping there for a few nights/weeks/months, if need be. (I've kept enough promises in 39 years, I should be allowed a freebie at this point, right?)

But, the mad packing dash has changed the comfort level of my storage unit from this (above) to that (below).

(Although, I'm training myself to fall asleep in this posture as a backup plan.)

One of my other pre-40 bulletpoints that I did manage to pull off thus far was to "not get married".  No shit. That was an actual goal of my thirties. (As if I were having diamond rings thrown at me from every direction. "Stop trying to marry me handsome, intelligent, hilarious men! I'm not that kind of girl!")

The real reason for that "goal" was that I actually wanted to take that decade to explore my independence and straighten out some heavy financial, spiritual and familial stuff.  Made sense at the time, but was not at all considering the fact that had I only left that one goal off the list, I could now have a housing budget that was double in size (making that river rock shower a total possibility.)*

I can't blame God. We all know that He carves a much wiser path for our lives than we ever could. But, I will blame Destiny's Child in small part. "♫ The car I'm driving, I bought it! The house I live in, where is it?! ♫" Why'd you get us all worked up, ladies? This crap is hard!

Here's the state of my housing options as of this week's realty listings:
  • The pre-forclosed condo that's in my dream neighborhood, but has been bank-owned for over nine months and is not yet listed for sale. (I'm waiting on the aforementioned realtor to look into the bidding possibilities and get back with me.) The comps for the neighborhood were raised with a recent sale this past week, which has caused the prices in the neighborhood to be suddenly driven up, which has only aggravated my stress-belly further. [Insert additional bathroom trip.]
  • The okay-priced home that is, not only two lots down from the local sex shop, but also about 100 yards from where I saw a wino passed out in the grass with his paper bag last summer. (I wish I were exaggerating!)
  • The newly refinished home that lies just across the city border. Priced a bit higher than what I have to put down and in a neighborhood where I've spotted at least three places where I could likely procure crystal meth. (If you are confused, that last point is a negative. I do not have any need for meth and am not likely to in the coming years.)


Well, if we can't classify it as being fun, what is a successful house-hunting experience? 

I guess it's just one where you eventually end up with a place to live in. After you've pooped. A whole lot.

*If you're still trying to do the math, yes, that means I haven't dated in this century. We've already discussed this once. Quit judging and move on!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Oscars 2014

♫  It's a wonderful night for Oscar... Oscar, Oscar. ♫ 

I came this close to missing it because I got bored during the lackluster Red Carpet preview and almost forgot to turn back to the TV once the show started.

What went wrong on the Red Carpet? Nobody looked bad, which is a plus. Everybody just looked "blah". 

These last few award seasons, the stars have been going all out with color and fun for the Golden Globes and then playing it much too safe come Oscar night.

The first problem of the night, TOO MUCH BEIGE!!! 

It's as if everyone overbooked the same stylist who, for lack of inspiration and in a award-season panic, decided to pull life-sized pantyhose over the heads of the most famous bodies in the business, all the while assuring them of how great this will look great on camera. Not only did it not photograph well, but it gave me Winter Olympics flashbacks that it's just much too soon for me to be having. (And, at least Johnny Weir would have added feathers!)
Pretty and unoffensive were American Hustle's Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence's matching column dresses. (Adams in Gucci, Lawrence in Dior.) It was nice to see a pop of color and a few ladies who remember to structure from underneath. (I won't mention those who forgot their Spanx last night...)

Speaking of color!
How adorable was Lupita Nyong'o whipping around in her princess train all night?

Proving once again that she has the body and complexion to make any dress in any color look good (and winning bonus points for the mohawk-headband combo) she had my vote for Best Dressed on the Red Carpet.

But, then the show started and I saw Catherine Martin accept her award for Costume Design and I had to change my vote for best dressed.

The men showed up the ladies a bit by planning a white jacket conspiracy.

Pharrell even gave his wife an honorary invitation to this boy's club, for if only one night.

There's not much else to see here, so onto the show!

Ellen stepped up to hosting duties for a second time and played the part more as Delightful Party Hostess than M.C., but that's okay. Me likey!

From her clean-cut razzing of the nominees to her calling Hollywood out on its lack of education. ("Between all the nominees here tonight, you've done over 1400 films, 1400 films, and you've gone to a total of six years of college.") She never crossed the line and she usually brought the laughs.

The delightful thing about Ellen Degeneres is that she so good-natured that she can even get away with calling Liza Minnelli a drag queen. (Eliciting this sisterly response out of  Lorna Luft.)
Liza didn't care.  She was so excited to be welcomed by the Academy to its most sacred event, that she thanked them by acting like a pill all night.

First by annoyingly tugging on Ellen's arm while she was trying to take a joint selfie. (In Liza's defense, she didn't seem to understand the term "selfie".)

Exhibit B: She held poor Lupita Nyong'o hostage in the aisle while the Best Supporting Actress was trying to politely make her way up to the statuette that was waiting for her onstage. (Cute hair though, Liza!)

Lupita's win started a trend of acceptance speeches for the night. That trend being speeches that were actually genuine, heartfelt and appreciative. This made up for the fact that there were no real upsets or surprises in the big acting categories and it seemed to keep the band from playing anyone off stage.

Among the musical performances, I was surprised at all the nervous crackling that came from mouths of some of our most famous songstresses. 

U2 performed up to par and offered a bit of bonus entertainment when Bono kneeled to the ground and almost crawled off stage in his two-inch heels. (Tinted glasses and darkened rooms aren't usually a smart mix.) 

My favorite performance of the night was my boo, Pharrell Williams, jauntily singing "Happy" while simultaneously preventing forest fires. 

He even made the extra effort to trot offstage and take turns dancing with the female nominees that were seated in the front row. Starting with Lupita, swaying in her Nairobi blue. Moving on to Meryl, who busted out some seated Mama Mia moves. And, ending with Amy Adams, who cast an adorable "I killed this dance-off!" look on her face as she sat back down.

Other highlights included the largest celebrity megaselfie that, supposedly, shut down Twitter with its overload of reTweets.

(In that selfie moment, pesty Liza Minnelli got left out of the cool crowd that even Lupita Nyong'os nonfamous brother was eagerly welcomed into. "Back here! I know what a selfie is now! It's me, guys! Liza, with a 'Z'!")

At one point, Ellen sensed the hunger rippling through the crowd that had been onsite for hours and suggested ordering some pizza. I thought to myself, "If she really follows through with the pizza bit, Ellen will be my hero." So, in thirty minutes or less, I obtained a new hero.

She and a Big Mama and Papa's Pizza delivery man handed out hot slices to the hungry elite. (I'm venturing a guess that the Minnelli clan may have also left out of the grub.)
This was all fun, but there was one moment that has me still chuckling today.

No, it wasn't Jennifer Lawrence tripping and falling, once again. Been there, done that.

Was it Ellen introducing Kristen Bell and "Kristen B. Elle"?  Close.

It was John Travolta bringing out Idina Menzel to perform "Let it Go", but nonsensically referring to her as "The wickedly talented, one and only, Adele Dazeem!"

I thought I had heard him wrong during the broadcast. But, by morning, the internet had confirmed for me that John Travolta cannot read a teleprompter.

It wasn't even funny at the time. But, once a slight gaffe meets the bored hands of its witnesses, all funny heck breaks loose!

Oscar bloopers. The gift that keep on giv-ziggi-ning!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Grammy Wrap-Up 2014

After a lackluster Red Carpet and a ho-hum (but non-offensive) hosting job by LL Cool J, I had leery feelings about this year's Grammy Awards.  Fortunately, soon after, several memorable performances were able to pick up the slack and keep my finger off the remote.

This is your 2014 Grammy Wrap-up.

The Fashion: I'll skip my usual red carpet walk-through, 'cause I don't want to bore you with the Gaga-less pre-show that we were forced to endure. Let's just quickly tick the most talked-about looks off the list:

Taylor Swift: I've been happy to see Taylor trying something a little more grown-up these past few red carpet walks. Grammy night, she made a very rock 'n roll effort in shoulder to toe chain mail. My sources* tell me she asked her stylist to "Find me something as hard and heavy as my cold cold broken heart." (*Sources=The voices in my head.)

Katy Perry: A vision in treble clef.

Madonna: I was honestly surprised at the shock and awe the red carpet commentators showed over Madonna's look of the night. I mean, come on people.  It's the twenty-first century and she's 55 now. Let's not be amazed that the lady finally put on a pair of pants.

Pharrell's Hat: I adore Pharrell as I would a newborn kitten. He's usually the first man on-point on any red carpet, stage and probably even, grocery store. So, what was with the Addidas jacket/Mountie hat combo?  It's like he ran into the costume shop grazing one arm down the Run DMC rack and while the other got tangled up in camping goods. At least he could boast the warmest head in the nation during this polar vortex, if nothing else.

Macklemore: My boo decided to forgo the thrift shop for the biggest music night of the year and ended up looking tame and handsome in his velvet suit. (His male secretary looks pretty spiffy too.)

[Shake, Shake] You can wake up from your fashion coma now!
Let's move onto the Show: 

The Performances:
A shapely figure appears out of the shadows. She's curvy (so, not Miley), pantsless (can't be Madonna), steamy (is it Rihanna?) and she's starting to sing (...oops. Can't be Rihanna.)

As the camera finally pans to our opening diva's face we realize, "Oh, it's Beyonce!" I knew Beyonce and Jay-Z were slated to perform, once again, together on the Grammy stage.  I just didn't realize I was in for a case of the major TMIs.  Let's just make this short and sweet by saying the couple offered us an intimate peek into their bedroom (sorry, kitchen...) life.  By the time Jay was rapping, "I am Ike Turner. Baby know I don't play. Eat the cake Anna Mae. Said eat the cake Anna Mae!" with his wife grinning behind him, I was begging, "Keep your domestic abuse fantasies to yourself next time!"

Lorde took the stage just in time to cleanse the palate with an elegantly stripped-down version of "Royals". I just couldn't decide if the irony of the lyrics was completely lost on her audience that night, or if they'd just come to accept their jet planes, islands, tigers-on-their-gold-leash status.

I've been so impressed with the growth and maturity of Katy Perry this year. (Of which, I oddly credit to her relationship with John Mayer. Call him what you want, but he does net the recognition of being a true musician.) I was taking this all in as her "Dark Horse" performance began. "Look at her hair. Her graceful dancing. What a lady she's becoming." Then her boobs lit up.

Kendrick Lamar with Imagine Dragons set me to head-banging (gentle head-banging. I have a tender neck.) with their "Maad City/Radioactive" mash-up. Two things that stood out in this collaboration. One: Their obvious inspiration by someone's participation in a Color Run. Two: Their cooperation in sharing percussion duties.

Speaking of Head-banging: Taylor Swift's "All Too Well" performance I found to be actually enjoyable for a change. I rooted this girl on throughout her teens, impressed by her writing her own music and running her own empire at such a young age.  But, once her twenties came along, "the change" never happened that you usually see in artists at this crossroad. She was still complaining about boys breaking up with her. But, guess what Taylor? That's what boys do. That's what men do. That's why you've amassed your own huge fortune to support yourself with. Welcome to the age of feminism! But, I can't lie and say I don't enjoy the short-lived game of Guess Who? that's involved each time a new single is released. "Who's this one about?" A quick Google search tells me Jake Gyllenhaal. Truth in lyrics? I don't know. Something tells me if she really left her scarf at Maggie Gyllenhaal's house, it's most like being used as a baby sling. (And, it's time to make a choice Taylor. Turn left, turn right... it's your choice. But, you GOT to move forward. That's what happens at the crossroad.)

Pink took to the aerial silks once again for her "Try" performance, reminding us she will always have a fall-back career in the Cirque du Soleil.

Robin Thicke and Chicago filled their ho-hum duties by being one of the less-stellar old school/new school match-ups of the night. Chicago did earn ten extra bonus points from me, however, by managing to keep their butt-cracks off of Robin during the "Blurred Lines" segment.

Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson and newly dubbed Highwayman Blake Shelton kicked up some country bumpkin fun with a nostalgic performance of "Oakie from Muskogee" and "Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys". I was impressed with the number of hot shots in the audience who managed to sing along through the entire medley. It seems we all shared the same family road trip experiences.

Metallica plus classical pianist Lang Lang had us first saying "Huh?" and then screaming "MORE!!!" And, how shallow (and old) do I sound when I mention that they're all still as hot as ever? Metallica, that is. Not Lang. Well, fine Lang... we'll give you one night only of hot-by-association.

Which leaves us with Macklemore, Mary Lambert, Madonna and Queen Latifah (I'd mention Ryan Lewis too, but I'm still not sure what he actually does. Macklemore's fluffer?) with their beautiful ceremonial collaboration of "Same Love" and (seriously) "Open Your Heart". (Am I the only one who could have done without the "Open Your Heart"?) I use the word ceremonial with good reason too. There was actually a wedding ceremony performed during the medley! 33 couples (a mix of both gay and straight) wed to the lull of Mary Lambert cooing, "She keeps me warm ♫" while Queen Latifah performed the vow recital with, apparently, some sort of power vested in her. I was surprised at the odd backlash this segment received online immediately afterward. Not even over the issue of gay marriage, but because an awards show was seemingly not an appropriate place to hold a wedding ceremony. And, drunken in a Vegas drive-thru is?! Call me tacky, but if this is controversy, then point the finger of judgement directly at me too. I'm sorry, but weddings are boring. The commitment is beautiful, but the event is usually such a snooze. If I ever bite the bullet myself one day, may it please be at an awards show, with a half-sleeve tattoo and Mack, Mar and Mo as witnesses.

And, all the Rest... (ie. other uncategorized moments)

What? Huh? I understood the presence of Anna Kendrick. She is a sanger now too, you know. (Not to mention, a delightful presenter.)  But, Julia Roberts? Jeremy Renner? I fail to see the presenter connection here. And, I welcome Jeremy Renner anywhere, anytime with open arms... but, huh? Don't they have enough red carpet looks to worry about this season.

After the fun Guess Who? game during Taylor Swift's song, my brain just could not shut off. This led to me tabulating during the In Memoriam segment. And, if the averages of the list are to be believed, the three most deadly music genres: country, jazz and classical piano. (But, you might want to check my math on that...)

Jay-Z dedicates Best Rap Collaboration win for "Holy Grail" to God. (Lyric sample: "Blue told me to remind you n-----s. F--k that sh-t y'all talkin' about. I'm the n---a, caught up in all these lights and cameras. But, look what that sh-t did to Hammer. G-d d-mn it I like it.") To which God replied, "No thanks, I'm good."

Daft Punk were the princes (or princesses? Who really knows what's going on under there) of the night winning four big categories. They could only share their thanks through an interpreter, but I have a sneaking suspicion they may have wed during the mass ceremony, undetected.

I saved a very special award for last. 

The Best Audience Member trophy goes to Steven Tyler!
He sang along, shimmied and rocked his brains out to every performance that came along. Then as presenter he literally sang his praises to his co-presenter, the great Smoky Robinson.  Why? Because someone handed him a microphone and he's Steven Tyler. May everyone have this much fun this award season.