Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Fleeting Magic

R came into GQ's room last night and threw a question out there.  Not only did she throw the question out, she threw it out with the stipulation that GQ had "to tell [her] the truth."
"Is the Tooth Fairy real?" she asked.

I don't know how much time was between the question and the answer, but if you know GQ you know she's a straight shooter. Especially when given a directive like that.

So she told her that no, the Tooth Fairy isn't real.  Then asked why she asked.  Turns out she overheard some girls in her class saying, "I got $5 from the Tooth Fairy, and my mom's the Tooth Fairy."

This confirmed what she had already thought.  Well, maybe not thought, but there was a nagging bit of doubt in her mind already because while she was looking through GQ's jewelry box she came across her old teeth. 

The Tooth Fairy didn't start off taking her teeth.  The first time he (more on that in a minute) came to visit he didn't take the tooth with him.  R was pretty puzzled by that, but we just told her that our fairy seems to not take the teeth with him.

"Why is your Tooth Fairy a guy?" I hear you. Valid question.

Last year R wrote the Tooth Fairy a note.  She asked for a name. I came up with Reginald, but you can call me Reggie. I can't remember what else Reggie put in his note, but there was some good info that made a then 8 year old R and 5 year old Coco feel pretty good.

So some doubt was already there when she discovered the teeth in the box.  Luckily GQ is a quick thinker and instead of just crumbling right there and confessing she claimed absolute ignorance to the teeth's presence. It was truthful ignorance too because I'm the one that placed the teeth in there. In hindsight I see that a mother's jewelry box isn't the best place for a secret hiding place, but, well, no buts just bad hiding spot.

Some of you may be asking what is a 10 year old doing believing in the Tooth Fairy to begin with?  If so it's because I believe that a strong imagination is a necessary component to a life well lived.  There's enough garbage that we have to deal with on a daily basis and I want my girls to be able to be able to have that escape.  GQ agrees, but perhaps not quite as strongly as me.  I have spent a good bit of time building up this foundation of all things fantasy derived. Answers to questions of "Do _____________ exist?" are usually met with "Well, I've never seen one, but that doesn't mean they don't exist." or "I sure think so."  If your parents aren't going to believe in something I would think it would make it awfully hard to believe in it yourself. Therefore I have always taken it as my responsibility to make sure that childhood magic is there for the Girls.

So with R's discovery that the Tooth Fairy is just something parents do to make losing a tooth a little less scary (GQ's explanation) another little piece of her youthful innoncence is gone. And not in exactly the same way, but in a similar way as when they hear a cuss word for the first time - it can't be undone.  She can't and won't go back to believing in the Tooth Fairy.  That part of her youth is gone.  She's that much closer to being OLDER.

Just like when a child turns 5 she is no longer a baby, she's a kid; the passing of belief to disbelief - ack - even metaphorically eating from the tree of knowledge - you can't go back. And I realize that part of this is the acceptance of not only is R getting older, but so am I.  

This whole Life thing. It fascinates me how most of the time the big changes that we experience come gradually, but at the same time seem to fly past. A teacher I work with summed it up best; The days crawl by and the years fly.

R has handled this very maturely after her initial shock and disappointment. Part of that may be from the fact that GQ and I are going to let her help us with Coco's Tooth Fairy experience from now on. She thinks that's kind of cool.

Ironically, the day after she found out The Truth her Safety Patrol post in the Library she was confronted with a book about the Tooth Fairy. "I just had to sit there and look at it all morning.  Finally, I couldn't take it anymore so I went and put it back on the shelf where it belongs."

Acceptance and knowledge are bittersweet pills that we all take at one time or another.

Friday, August 17, 2012

These Things. THESE THINGS!!!!

So this guy, this cyclist, goes whizzing between two lanes of cars today as I'm on my way to the doctor and it made me kind of mad  really pissed me off.  I wanted to yell, "You're the reason so many of us motorists hate cyclists!" but he was gone, and I'm trying to keep my fits of rage down to one a month, and there's still a whole half of August left. So I have decided to do a Grumpy Man Post and give you a Top Ten Some Things Currently Annoying Me. 
[On a positive note, I couldn't even come up with 10, so that's good, right?]

1. Cyclists who think that the road is for their sole use.  I have friends who bike and I understand their desire/need to have space on the road.  There have been countless biking tragedies, and I don't want that to happen to anyone else, but inevitably it will. I've written already about the thing cyclists do when they go through stop signs ("can't break our momentum!"), but then there's the move this ass did today: biking through two lanes of traffic.  Honestly, when they pass me on the right it kind of frustrates me because they're moving and I'm sitting still, but it really comes down to the school rule of "No Cutting!" Of course after this guy goes between the cars, and we're on Ponce de Leon heading toward Decatur by the way! After he goes between the cars he totally slows traffic down having to pedal up a hill.  The driver behind him was much more patient than many people would have been. Again, I will restate my claim that cyclists wearing their Cyclists Outfits are closer to Super Villains than Logo Sporting Bike Enthusiasts.

2. Imbecilic higher ups that are in charge of running things that are incapable of doing an even slightly good job because, well, because they're imbeciles. Gah! I'd go on about this, but I don't want to bring any trouble.

3. Puppy Pee & Poop.  We got a puppy recently. No, not Marley who made my good Top 10 list this Spring, but a puppy.  Padfoot is her name, and she is not on my bad list. Her waste; however, is.  Dammit, man, I don't like cleaning up pee and poop in the house and apparently this is going to go on for 9 more months.  9 MORE MONTHS!!!!!

4. These damn mosquitoes! I can't step outside with the puppy to keep number three from happening without coming away with three or more bites.  We pay a monthly service for our yard to be sprayed.  I can't imagine what it would be like if we weren't getting the yard sprayed.  Stinking blood sucking parasitic nuisances is what they are.

5. Presidential Election Politics.  Both parties are in the pockets of special interest groups that don't have the best interests of the Country. Regardless of your political bent, the presidential election typically brings out people's inner asshole, and quite frankly, it's an inner thing because it's not supposed to see the light of day.
Cartoon Credit

6. Dave FM changing its format from whatever it's classified as to a Sports Talk station. Great. Less options in the already crappy ATL radio market. Here's another plug for WMLB 1690 AM.  I wish the DJs would completely abandon their format and just spend their remaining time on the air playing what they want to hear, perhaps with a good healthy dose of listener requests.  I guess they can't because they want to make sure that another Corporate Radio Station hires them to be the mouthpiece for the crappy format that they take on.

7. That I'm thinking about going off Facebook for a time so that I can get some art done.  I think I've already mentioned my robot painting.  Well, it's still there with no new progress yet, and I can't think of another way, other than greatly reducing the amount of time I spend on FB.  Some people don't get why I'm on there as much as I am anyway, and that's all right. When it's On, it's really a whole bunch of fun, but when it's just Meh, then it's just a time sucker.  So, I'm annoyed on two counts: 1. That I'm going to have to limit myself to get something done that I should want to do. 2. That FB's been more Meh than On lately.

So, there you go.  These things are pissing me off recently. Now, on a scale of 1 - 10, none of them are really even a 10; although that cyclist came awfully close to scoring an 8.  What's eating you these days?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sometimes You Need A Horn (or Two)

Free digital image from  FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

Let's just jump into this. I recommend you start off by listening to this first song.

I'm not sure if I've always loved songs with horns, or even more so, bands that have horns in them.  I didn't grow up listening to jazz or even classical, so they were not necessarily part of my musical upbringing.  I can't think of one record in my dad's extensive collection that is jazz or classical. Well, that's not true.  There's the Willie Nelson jazz album, Stardust, that he tried to get me to listen to when I was younger.  I never did.  Willie was all good and fine, but the first few seconds of whatever starts that album off wasn't for me at the time.

I can't remember when it really hit me that songs with horns were just, just...so much more than a song without. Several of the 50s bands that I grew up listening to had saxophonist on the songs.  The guy from "Yakety Yak" really stands out in my mind. King Curtis is his name.  He played on that song as well as on a Buddy Holly song, "Reminiscing". I guess, thinking about it, probably either Earth, Wind & Fire or KC & the Sunshine Band were probably my first real introduction to several horns in a band.  

I've heard all my life "Disco sucks!", but you know what? When it's a full-on band like those two then no it didn't.  It rocked as hard as whatever rock 'n roll songs were playing at the same time.

Earth, Wind  & Fire - "September"
KC & the Sunshine Band - "Boogie Shoes"

So, yeah. Those songs, those take me back to my young days.  When I'd ask my dad if we could pause a song on the radio so that it would start back up when we got back in the car from McDonald's.

Paul McCartney always had some great horns in his music with Wings. A lot of people put down that music. A LOT OF PEOPLE. But I have to say it was such a huge part of my childhood that to me it's just gold.

Paul, of course, had some good input in The Beatles. This is one of my favorite tracks of theirs. 

As I moved into my teens I discovered Madness.  I could easily write a whole entry about them.  They were such a great addition to my expanding musical palate.  I got the cassette of One Step Beyond and played it so much.  Then I got a double sided cassette of that with Absolutely on the back.  Whoa! I mean seriously. I could put so many songs of theirs on here, but I'll stick with one obvious and one of my all time favorites.

Because I could literally go on and on and on I'm just going to list some of my favorite songs with horns in them.  I'm a little embarrassed by how 80s Adam Ant's video is, but well, it was the 80s and he was one of the people making actually entertaining videos.  I was introduced to Benny Goodman through the Chips Ahoy commercial and then again in the movie, "Swing Kids".   I heard Louis Jordan's "Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby?" on Tom & Jerry when I was a kid.  Then I heard it again through Joe Jackson's fantastic album Jumpin Jive. More late 80s, early 90s Fishbone and Cake came along and kept the horns going. Just recently through my Madness Pandora station I was introduced to this amazing Australian band, The Cat Empire.  Wow.  Amazing.

Benny Goodman Orchestra - "Sing, Sing, Sing"
The Cat Empire "Hello" & "Chariot"

So, below are some of the bands/artists that really hit home with their use of horns.  Most of course are not being played on the radio except for during the Retro hour, or on a station that plays jazz, real jazz.   I don't think anyone plays Neil's This Note's For You album. This was his first release for Reprise after being on Geffen for most of the 80s.  His time with them ended with the company suing him for not being "Neil Young enough". As if you can fit Neil into a box and expect him to stay there.  Sheesh.

I would find YouTube clip for them, but there's only so much time that I'm going to spend on this.  I hope you go find some though.

Louis Armstrong
Dizzy Gillespie
Miles Davis
The English Beat - "Tears of a Clown"
Haircut 100 - "Fantastic Day"
Neil Young & the Blue Notes
Elvis Costello on Spike (he used the Dirty Dozen Brass Band for some tracks) "Miss MacBeth" & "Chewing Gum"
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy "Go Daddy-O!"
Brian Setzer Orchestra "Jump, Jive & Wail"

I'll leave off with Van Morrison and a song off of His Street Choir

Friday, August 3, 2012

6 Flags & White Water

A rare event happened the Benefield Household this summer.  We took trips to both 6 Flags and White Water (6 Flags White Water if you want to get technical).  I will point out that it might not totally  count as two trips financially because we had free tickets for 6 Flags due to the 600 Minute Reading Program.  It totally counts in Karmic Redemption Points though. 

So, I'm going to start at White Water. The Girls and I went to help celebrate one of R's friend's b'day.  Buying tickets for White Water = gouging your wallet. I won't tell you how much it cost me to get three tickets, three meals and two Sport Refillable Drink cups because I'm still in a little bit of denial about spending that much.

The parents of the Birthday Girl sprung for one of the Cabanas that White Water offers, and let me tell you something, if you can afford to get a Cabana at White Water you should definitely do this. If that means that you go with several families to split the cost then do that. It is expensive in addition to the tickets. Please understand I did not pay for it, and was very graciously included in the using of it.  I will say; however, that it made my day at White Water MUCH more pleasant than it would have been otherwise.

Not only did we have the Cabana, but we also had the Flash Pass.  White Water does a cool thing with these - they are little watches that sync up with a machine that tells you how much time you have before the ride you're Flash Passing.  We felt like Rock Stars going in the Flash Pass short lines.

So, seriously, this was a full-on, no holds barred White Water Super Trip. One of which I doubt the Benefield Girls will partake of again.  With me at least. If they're invited by friends then by all means I will send them off with plenty of sunscreen and goggles.

If you've ever been to White Water then you know it's no exaggeration to say that there's some  a good bit A LOT of flesh that is exposed that should not be.  

Besides the FLESH there were lots of tattoos. Scores of tattoos. Legions of tattoos. I bet at least 75% of the adults had tattoos there, including myself. Unlike the majority of other tattooed patrons mine are in discreet locations.  I am honestly a little afraid for my generation, the two prior and two after mine due to the number of heavily tattooed people there are.  When we're old, saggy and wrinkly it's not going to be an attractive site.

So, it was a good, fun time. The Little Chattahoochee, or "Lazy River" as Coco liked to call it was one of the biggest hit of the day. We found ourselves in it fairly often.

The week after White Water we decided to go to 6 Flags with a teacher friend and her daughter.  This was kind of a polar opposite experience to the White Water one.  The  tickets were free. To help keep in-park costs down we ate lunch before we left.  The big splurge I did spend on was the valet parking, and again, this is something that I encourage you to do if you're going to go to 6 Flags. You're going to pay $20 for parking anyway. Spending $15 more for the ability to get out of the car, walk in the gate right there, and then at the end of the day walk right out to the car, in my opinion is totally worth it.  Now, again, my tickets were free, so I had not just spent three weeks of grocery money on getting into the park, so I'll put the valet thing out there as something for your consideration.

It was the first day of August when we went, and people, let me tell you what, IT WAS HOT. Hot like you're standing in line and sweat is literally running down all parts of your body.  Who knew your eyelids could sweat? They can, and they keep up with the more well known sweaty parts like a champ. This is what the place where the Girls and I were standing in line looked like when we moved up - puddleOkay, that's a little bit of an exaggeration, but just a little bit.

I grew up here in Atlanta, so I have always gone to 6 Flags, and it's funny how some things do not change.  The names of some of the rides change.  Some rides are gone replaced by new ones, but the overall feel of the park is the same. I won't go as far as to say "dirty", but it's not completely clean either.  It's gotten MUCH better than it was when I was going there as a pre-teen, and even more recently pre-kids adult.  So, that's a good thing.

Despite me not really loving roller coasters that much we started off on the Mind Bender.  Coco was all in favor of that until we were strapped in and starting to move.  I'm sure she was flashing back to GQ and I taking her on Space Mountain at Disney World a couple of years ago.

"I don't know about this..." she said hesitantly. "Is this going to be scary?"

How do you answer that to a 7 year old?  I told her we were on it and just hang on tightly.

"When are we going to go down?"
"I don't think I like this."
"Is this going to be scary?"

That was while we were climbing the first hill.

Once we started down the hill and the ride was in full effect Coco decided that this was not for her.  She put her head down close to her lap and whimperscreamed for the remainder of the ride.  That is, until we approached the end of the ride.  The jolting part where they slow you down from SUPERFAST to entryway slow.

"That wasn't that bad," she said as a nervous grin crept across her face.

I didn't think so either.  But that's probably because I was busy looking after her and wondering if the rest of the day was going to be one long day of HORROR. She was all good the rest of the day.  Now, we didn't ride any more big rides, but we rode several other ones and had a blast.

The lines were long that day.  Very long.  No Flash Passes for this trip.  As I said, this was an opposite kind of trip from White Water. Besides, the Flash Pass for 6 Flags made the ones from White Water seem downright affordable.  So we waited in lines.  Waited and sweated.

R and her buddy, MW, were on a try-and-see-if-it-works leash of freedom.  They'd go to ride a ride and then have to meet back up with me.  They did every time. It helped tremendously that they were in line the majority of the time since a ride only takes 2 minutes at most from start to finish.

Have I mentioned that it was hot? But here's the thing. There were people there that didn't look like my friend and me.  We looked H.O.T. hot (not the good, attractive kind) and sweaty. Glistening would be a kind way to describe us. But those other people, we couldn't tell that they were hot.  We were dripping sweat. Our faces were probably flushed.  Our sunglasses were slipping down our noses because we were sweating so severely.

Not these people. They had a pleasant smile on their faces. We kind of hated them as much as we envied them.  We speculated all day as to what the difference was between them and us. We finally concluded that these must be ultra-wealthy people that have the kind of income that allows you to be dipped in a vat of antiperspirant instead of just applying it to your armpits like the rest of us.

A very pleasantly surprising thing I learned on this trip. 6 Flags will give you free cups of ice water at the concession stands. Not big cups, mind you, but mid-sized Solo cups of water with ice.  

Finally, after riding some more rides, sharing a basket of chicken fingers and fries with four people we decided to head to Skull Island. If you're not familiar with it, it is a giant, on-site water park that 6 Flags put in some years ago. It has several levels, multiple small water slides, water pumps and the obligatory enormous water bucket that periodically spills over releasing enough water to keep several acres of farmland irrigated.  Of course this water is mixed with enough chlorine that it could kill double the acreage of said farmland.

The chlorine is necessary because Skull Island invites EVERYONE regardless of age or ability to hold your waste inside you until you get to an appropriate location. Of course, when it's 18 steps away you can't expect for everyone to do the right thing.

Similar to White Water, Skull Island encourages its participants to shed their clothes and show their skin, and good Lord Almighty do the people show their skin.

The little ones had a blast for almost two hours. R & MW went back across the park to ride Batman.  We had chosen earlier not to ride that one due to the length of the line.  Apparently it had shortened by approximately half, but it still took them over an hour to get on the ride.

Another park closing day. Tired, soaked to the bone in sweat and ready to hit the air conditioning of the car we exit the park.  I do not regret for a second the extra $15 for the valet parking.

Good grief this was a long post. If you made it through the whole thing congratulate yourself.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Truth Must Be Told

As you all know I'm a Captain America fan.  I always have been a Captain America fan back from when I was a kid. Cap, Batman and Spider-Man were my main guys.

I also had another hero that I really liked.  Captain Marvel.  Now, you may or may not know but there are two Captain Marvels: one on Marvel comics and one on DC comics.  The one in DC is better known as Shazam.

So, I really liked Marvel's Captain Marvel (the strange history of this character is the link there). I liked him a lot.  So much so that I wanted my hair to look like his. Of course I have brown hair and not blonde, and wavy as it may have been it wasn't going to be like his.

At the tender age of seven I took my Captain Marvel comic to Denmark's Barber Shop.  Denmark's was the old style barber shop with the barber shop pole spinning  outside and the mounted Jackalope head on the wall. 


Anyway, I took my comic, showed it to Denmark and said, "Give me a haircut like that!"  He proceeded to cut all my hair off, basically giving me a buzz cut.  I was, needless to say, devastated. So much so that my mom felt the need to get him to call and apologize to me.

So what does this have to do with the Truth mentioned in the title? Somewhere along the way Captain Marvel got mixed up with Captain America in the story.  People started giving me all this Captain America stuff. It was kind of weird at first, and I tried to tell someone that it wasn't Captain AMERICA, it was Captain MARVEL, but not a lot of people know who Captain Marvel is and everyone knows who Captain America is, so I went with it.  I'm not going to complain that I suddenly had all this Captain America merchandise, and as I said, I've always liked Cap. It was all good, and continues to be so today.

The article about Captain Marvel's origins though made me stop and think about my early childhood experience, and I felt the need to put the story out there. Exciting? No. Informative? Perhaps. Cathartic? Not really.

I've kind of petered out here, so I'm just going to leave you with Cap's theme song from the cartoon and bid you Good Day.

I said, "Good Day!"