Category: Celebrity files

A meeting forty years in the making

Perhaps you’re asking what did it take to break me out of a six-month blogging/social media slump? It wasn’t our continuing adventures in home improvement (Which include the good news of my still having 10 fingers following my first use of a miter saw). It’s not stories from the new gig (And there’s a lot to say, but now more than ever I gotta stand by my ‘No Work Rant’ editorial policy). It’s not that quadrennial exercise in democracy called an election (I’m itching to dive into this one, but my editorial policy also prohibits me from adding to the terabytes of opinions transiting the inter webs).

Well, you may be asking by now, what is it that’s inspired me to log back onto the blogosphere? How about a meeting that was 40 years in the making! Yes, I finally met one of my all-time favorite artists. I was face-to-face with John Oates when his book tour rolled into Philadelphia.

Not exactly shooting my best side, but in this we’ll make an exception!

What stood out most about meeting John (Exploiting the first-name basis like we’re old friends) wasn’t the memories of too many concerts to remember or those occasional times (Well, actually, often) when I pretend my car is the old Philly Spectrum or the Tower Theatre in Upper Darby, and I throw my H&O playlist on shuffle and add my unique vocal stylings to the duo’s songbook.

What stood out most was how good John looked for a 68-year old dude. Bright eyed, tanned, with a sprinkle of grey (How I hope to look when I’m that old – well minus the tanned part).

What also stood out – even if just for the moment in time I was in the same space – was how many events in my life – good, bad and all in between – were accompanied with one song or another from the Hall and Oates catalog.

She’s Gone was the soundtrack for more than a couple of breakups along the way (As was a deep, album cut Ain’t Gonna Take it This  Time). Kiss on My List played on Lucky 99 FM in Atlantic City, blaring out of the speakers of our old Plymouth Duster in the summer of ‘81 shortly after I got my driver’s license. Maneater was a hit back in late 82, when I was trying to figure out where I fit in as a college freshman. When I think of those days after my father’s death in 89, I think about the entire Change of Seasons album that was released shortly thereafter.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

Meeting John Oates was more than simply getting a book signed. It felt like seeing an old friend – a friend who’s been around, hanging out on the periphery of my life for the past 40 years.

Oh, and by the way, the book is a pretty darn good read!

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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

I haven’t written a movie review since my high school paper days, but while making the traditional McCullough Sunday morning waffles, I managed to listen to a broadcast review of the just released “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” that made my batter a bit lumpy.

Like I said, I ain’t a movie reviewer. Also, as we’ve discussed in these pages in a much earlier post, it really won’t keep me up at night if we don’t share the same opinions when it comes to cinematic entertainment choices.

I liked “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” and I’ll probably see it again, and I’ll get the DVD when it comes out (I might even splurge and go all BluRay so I can get the nifty extra features).

Full disclosure….I’m Batman!

Courtesy Warner Bros.

Courtesy Warner Bros.

Of course, I kid. However, I did think I was Batman one summer day about 42 or 43 years ago when I damn near busted my husky posterior trying to slide down a make pretend Batpole in my neighbor’s yard (The same pole I would swing on decades later recreating scenes from Showgirls — again, I kid!).

I’ve enjoyed every big screen telling of the Batman story since Adam West slipped on the Spandex back in the late 60s.

To those critics looking for Shakespearean-level storytelling, I say lighten thee the heck up.

It’s a comic book movie.

You know my view on spoilers, so I’ll tread lightly regarding specific plot points, but overall, the film – in my partial opinion – wasn’t that bad.

Sure, the premise of Batman picking a fight with a strange visitor from another planet is – on the surface – a bit thin. His we gotta take proactive measures rant sounded like Bush administration talking points circa 2003, but in the context of this storyline, it nearly made sense.

And while Ben Affleck held his own in the cape and cowl as a grizzled, fortysomething Dark Knight, I’m still on the fence regarding Henry Cavill’s portrayal of Kal El Kent.

Cavill is action figured-jacked in the suit, but this new darker version of the son of Krypton really makes me miss the days of Christopher Reeve’s more optimistic, lighter rendition of the man in blue.

Jesse Zuckerberg, I mean Eisenberg delivered a surprisingly diabolical dose of Lex Luthor, especially during the film’s final act.

And for my fellow midlife fanboys whose pubescence intersected Lynda Carter’s days in the satin tights fighting for her rights, don’t worry, Gal Gadot’s take on Wonder Woman wasn’t  – shall we say – as flat as the Internet predicted it would be (Yes, I’ll be in the audience when she gets her solo gig next year).

As I said, I’m no film critic, I liked it – force fed Justice League set up and all. If you don’t want to see the movie, it won’t bother me, and if you do, it’s not like I’ll get a cut of the $170.1 million it made during its opening weekend.

“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” is a comic book movie that is mother’s milk for long time fans like your humble host. If you’re looking for Argo, this ain’t it, but if you just want to suspend disbelief and geek out for a couple of hours, this might be the film for you.

Speaking of iconic characters engaged in a lover’s quarrel, let’s chat again when Cap and Stark get it on.

The Oates effect

I don’t like to write about corporate matters, but I do like to write about my favorite musical artists – Daryl Hall and John Oates, so when an opportunity presents itself to leverage a Hall and Oates reference in the context of life at the 9:5, I’m willing to make an exception.

http://www.examiner.com/article/bonnaroo-2013-artist-interview-john-oates-part-1

Mike Lawrie/Getty Images

I was in a meeting where praise and plaudits were flowing like the Slurpree machine at 7-11 on a hot summer day.

After the backslapping session, I was asked by an associate why I didn’t take more credit for a successful high profile project of which I was an instrumental part.

I answered, “Just call me John Oates.” My colleague was a bit confused by my response.

I shared the story of Hall and Oates’ meteoric ascension to the top of the charts in the 80s, and how during that period, John came to accept the fact that Daryl’s voice had become the sound of Hall and Oates.

My co-worker still didn’t get it, so I continued.

John understood that Daryl sang the hits. The hits sold records. The records drew (and still do) revenue.

Even though he wrote, co-wrote and/or arranged a respectable number of their most memorable songs, John – a decent vocalist in his own right – saw the wisdom and good business sense in taking a back seat – vocally speaking – to Daryl.

And I told my colleague that’s what I did – metaphorically speaking – during our meeting, and in most aspects of my professional life.

Much like my soft spoken, spotlight-shunning idol, I don’t need to be the front man. I know my worth and what I bring to the table. Sadly, too often we encounter – shall we say – lead singers who would do a better job gassing up the tour bus than carrying a tune center stage.

With skin that fits me comfortably like a glove, I’m perfectly fine singing background vocals (of course until it’s time to embark on a solo tour – a story for another day).

With advancing age comes (if you’re lucky) advancing self-awareness. It’s just another positive side effect – The Oates effect – of life in the middle ages.

An unspoiled day at the movies

We caught the Avengers Age of Ultron a few days back, and I didn’t know what to expect.

Allow me to explain.

Image: Marvel Cinematic Universe Wiki

Image: Marvel Cinematic Universe Wiki

Way back when, I didn’t know Superman would spin the Earth like a top to save Lois, nor did I know Mickey would go code blue in Rocky III (There is a statute of limitations on spoilers isn’t there?). The reason I didn’t know these iconic plots twists is because the two aforementioned films weren’t dissected and previewed ad nauseam on fanboy blogs and 24-hour entertainment sites.

Of course I’m waxing poetic about those analog days before computers got personal. Those were the days when the only way to get spoilers was to talk to your buddy who may have caught the movie in question before you did.

I don’t spend every waking moment on social media but even the most cursory glance of the Internets is enough to expose one to previews and speculations on what fans can expect from the summer’s first blockbuster.

In the days leading up to catching the Avengers,I had to engage in a sort of media blackout so I wouldn’t inadvertently stumble across a critical plot twist.

I’m not going all Johnny Luddite and advocating a return to the pre-Internet dark ages (Even though it would be nice to go back to a time when my cable bill was under $20 a month). I simply want to enjoy my blockbusters spoiler free.

It’s just that if I’m applying for a home equity loan to take in a film with all the concession stand trimmings, I’d like to have the surprise and pleasure of knowing that Haley Joel really did see dead people!

Oh yeah, how was the Avengers?

I won’t say too much because there are more than enough terabytes of data peeling this story apart, but it’s a decent film. Great action scenes, but there were more than a couple of inconsistencies with previous films (Iron 3 and Cap 2) in the Marvel universe (Sorry to go all geek on you!). Robert Downey Stark Jr. had the best lines, that Olsen kid really stepped out of her sisters’ shadow and I gotta admit Chris Evans inspires me to do a few more push ups!

But the best part of the movie was toward the end when….oops, I don’t want to spoil it for you!

How’s your falsetto?

I treated myself to a copy of Daryl Hall and John Oates Live in Dublin performance DVD. You all know how much I dig those guys, so I won’t weigh you down with a review of the concert.

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The guys offered up a deep track (Unless you’re a long time fan) you’ve never heard before. It’s a song from 1976 called “Back Together Again.”

The song’s chorus is punctuated by Daryl Hall’s smooth falsetto. Fast forward nearly 40 years to the performance of the same song from the Live from Dublin concert.

You’ll notice that Daryl’s falsetto is a little grittier. And that’s to be expected from a vocalist who’s been in the game longer than some readers of these pages have been on this planet.

So, where am I going with this?

I’ll tell you, but first, please buckle your seat belts because we’re going to take a quick trip down the philosophical highway!

Daryl Hall’s seasoned falsetto is a metaphor for what many of us 50+ midlifers are experiencing.

Can we still hit the high notes of our youth? Probably not (And in some cases, why would we want to? Some songs from our old catalog may best remain unsung – if you know what I’m saying!). But our more seasoned voices are still strong enough to rock the house.

And to keep this musical analogy going, kinda like an encore. (Get those lighters up!),

I’m sure many of my fellow performers in the band that is midlife would agree, we’re at a meaningful point in our existence where it’s more fulfilling to please a small amount of true fans in an intimate club setting, versus trying to make everyone happy in an overflowing stadium.

Ouch, I should have warmed up before that stretch. I think I got a groin pull!

Anyway, rock on Daryl! And to my fellow midlife band mates, yeah, our falsetto may have a little age on it, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop singing our song!

I got you Pop!

This isn’t a product endorsement, but I love Dunkin Donuts coffee – ever since my first cups of the stuff consumed trying to be cool and grown as a youngster in high school (Looking back, coffee was the strongest beverage I consumed until I got to college).

Imagine my excitement as I drove down the road last week back to the 9 to 5 following an early morning business meeting (a meeting where the coffee tasted like a warmed over watered down cola beverage) when in the distance I saw a Dunkin Donuts location. I flung the Seoulmobile across two lanes of traffic like Speed Racer in pursuit of Racer X so I wouldn’t miss the driveway to this oasis of caffeinated bliss. free-donut

As I entered the shop, I saw a decal on the window indicating that this store provided AARP discounts – in this case, one free donut.

Bonus! My favorite coffee and a baked confection to dip – or shall I say dunk – in it.

Yeah, I know I got a lot of miles to travel before I can even remotely think about retirement, but that didn’t stop me from joining AARP shortly after hitting the big half-century mark last year.

With my trusty membership card in hand,  I sauntered (my usual confident stride that’s somewhere between Travolta in Saturday Night Fever and Barney the Dinosaur) up to the counter to place my order – a medium with cream and sugar (Yes, whole cream and white sugar – the devil’s products, I know, but we all have our weaknesses!). And as I went to raise my card to order my free donut, the young man behind the counter cut me off and said “I got you pop. What kind of donut do you want?

Courtesy You Tube

Courtesy You Tube

Pop? Even my kid doesn’t call me Pop (but with her genetically-tinged wry sense of humor, she’s likely to after she sees this post!)

Visions of Fred Sanford popped into my head, as I pictured Lamont in a Dunkin Donuts uniform taking my order.

More tickled than ticked off, I matched his smile with one of my own and ordered a toasted coconut.

I thought I had a few more years before I transitioned into being called Pop, but I guess that’s the chance one takes wielding an AARP card.

Well, I guess I’ll go unload the truck and see if Grady wants to come over for a glass or two of Ripple!

 

Fan Clubs

There was a time long before e-commerce when we relied on procuring goods through mail order shopping.

We wrote a check, completed a printed order form, put it in an envelope, affixed a stamp and dropped our order in the U.S. Mail.

No tracking number, no express delivery. We waited – often times six to eight weeks for delivery.

Long-time readers of these pages will recall my walk down memory lane regarding this topic several years ago.

One of the items I obtained via mail order shopping was my membership to the Daryl Hall and John Oates fan club.

Found this on eBay. Wish I still had mine!

Found this on eBay. Wish I still had mine!

Those of you of a certain age may have joined similar fan groups for your favorite artist.

I don’t remember if I received a membership card, certificate or some such club paraphernalia, but I do remember ordering t-shirts promoting whatever particular tour the guys may have been on that I may not have been able to attend.

Looking back, the one thing the fan club didn’t provide was interaction with my fellow Daryl and John (In my mind we’re on a first name basis) aficionados.

Fast forward 35-years to the present day. Mail order has been (Thankfully) replaced with online shopping, and if I want to order a t-shirt from the Hall and Oates fan club, it’ll get here in a couple of days.

And thanks to social media – specifically Facebook groups – I get ample opportunity to interact with my fellow Daryl and John fans.

In fact, I find I have more fun digitally chewing the fat with an intimate number of friends in my fan groups than the broader number of friends elsewhere in my social media universe.

Maybe it’s because most fan groups tend to shy away from the random topics of the day – the Patriot’s squishy balls (A term you won’t find used too often in these pages), high scores in Candy Crush and photos of people’s feet with exotic wish you were here vacation locales in the background.

Maybe the appeal has something to do with hanging out with people with whom you share a common interest.

I go back and forth in my resolve to spend less time on the internet (Bending your ear in these pages notwithstanding). Maybe my objective should be spending more quality time on the Web.

Now you’ll excuse me while I go shop for the latest tour t-shirt and see what’s happening on my favorite fan pages.