Neverending Story memories

If you were on the Internet today, you probably saw the the Google Doodle was a celebration of the anniversary of the publication of The Neverending Story by Michael Ende.

For many children of the 80s, this book and the movie adaptation conjure up fond memories. I am no different.

I remember my Mom reading this book aloud to me as a bedtime story. The thing that fascinated me the most was that the hardcover edition she had checked out from the library had text in two different colors – one for our world, and one for Fantasia. It was the first “adult” book I had seen with any kind of color inside beyond black and white. It just felt magical seeing the words in green and red. I remember a certain excitement once I was old enough to read it, to be able to read those colorful words on my own and enter Fantasia, but at the same time it was kind of sad because I really liked going there with my Mom.

If you’ve never read the book, I suggest finding a hardcover copy so you can experience the magic too. The movie is only half the story.

Countdown to Mandatory Fun: Thank you @alyankovic

Well, I totally failed at doing a post a day before Mandatory Fun! So now I’m just going to put it ALL into one big EPIC post which pretty much boils down to Al Yankovic played a huge rule in my childhood and continues to play a part in my “adult” life with the release of his new album MANDATORY FUN tomorrow.

Anyone who played Rock Band with me when it initially came out will probably have heard this phrase come out of my mouth several times: “Why do I recognize this song? Oh wait, I know it as a POLKA!” Al’s Polka mixes opened me up to many songs that I had never heard before, either because of the decade they were released or the style of music wasn’t one I normally listened to. I never would have bothered with “The Humpty Dance” or “Blame It (on the alcohol)”. I don’t really listen to radio that much anymore, so I suspect there will be several songs on the new album that I will first hear as polkas or parodies.

And now there are songs that have been eclipsed, for me, by the parodies. I knew most of American Pie‘s lyrics when I was a teen. But in 1999, The Saga Begins quickly became the first thing that popped into my head when I heard the opening chords of that song.

I think one of the things that makes me stay with Al is that he is never mean to those he is parodying. He will poke some fun at the culture or subculture around them (like “Smells like Nirvana“) it never feels cruel or in poor taste. He manages to make everyone laugh, even the artists he is having fun with. And I think that is the secret to his popularity and staying power — even if you don’t know the song that is being mocked, you get most of the jokes.

And, of course, we can’t forget the original songs that parody entire musical genres such as this classic:

By the way, if you have not seen Al live, you are missing out. It’s not just a concert – it’s a performance of epic proportions. Costumes changes, classic AL TV clips, and sing-alongs. I have seen him 5 times now and I’ve loved every single show. Him and his band are just fantastic, so much energy!

So, THANK YOU AL YANKOVIC! Thank you for so many hilarious songs and wonderful memories. Whether you release another full-length album or decide to just release single tracks online, I will be here to support your music and sense of humor.

Star Wars Memories: The Phantom Menace camp out

It has come to my attention (thanks to dunc) that today is the 15th anniversary of the release of The Phantom Menace.

tickets please

I guess that is right. That means it’s been 15 years since I graduated high school. Freaky.

Though, for me, the movie premiere was only a small part of the experience. Most of my TPM memories are from a week before, on May 11, when my friends and I camped out for midnight premiere tickets for Baltimore’s historic Senator Theater. The Senator is an old movie house with one BIG screen, THX certified sound and only 800 seats. If you wanted to see the midnight show, you had to set up camp.

front of the line

We were 180th in line, this was not our main view. We were actually on the front lawn of a dentist’s office. No one really seemed to care though. I think a movie with this sort of following only comes around every few years so I’m sure they hadn’t had crazy teenagers sleeping on the sidewalk before. My parents let me skip school for the occasion (which, me being a total straight laced nerd was a BIG deal). This was MY senior skip day. And night. And then a little bit of day again.

This was all pre-WiFi and Smartphone, mind you. I had my cell phone for emergencies but that was all I used it for. We had to use the bathroom in the bar across the street and after that closed the gas station at the corner. The local news paid us a visit, I remember being elated to see footage of us all sitting around playing Star Wars Trivial Pursuit on the TV (I had told me mom we might be on the news and she managed to tape the 3 minutes segment for me).

I have to say, this has to be one of my favorite fandom memories. Being outside with all these other fellow Star Wars fans. In the morning we sent out search parties for food and the bagel shop down the road was smart enough to show up and hand out their menus so that was where we all went.

I don’t know if anyone camps out for movie tickets anymore. I know I haven’t done it since Revenge of the Sith. Now that you can order online, it takes some of the magic away. Though I can’t think of a movie I would need to see at midnight. I will see the next wave of Star Wars movies in the theater, but I doubt I will be excited enough to want to camp out.

Anyway, a week went by and we were back at the theater at midnight for the movie. While I was in the moment, in a theater of 800 crazy Star Wars fans who knew all the write moments to applaud, cheer, and laugh it was a fantastic time.

Afterwards, after I had left the glow of the theater, I found myself trying to make myself love the movie but knowing deep down that it had missed the mark. (I clearly remember the guy in front of us in line had Star Wars tattoos all over him and he had just had Darth Maul added to the collection. After the movie was over, I wondered how happy he was with the movie.) It was a confusing time. I just kept hoping that the next movie would make it all better.

What about you? Did you see Phantom Menace at midnight or on opening day? Do you remember your reaction?

mission accomplished

May the 4th be with You.

So, the only thing I did Star Wars related today was post a few photos on Instagram of my Star Wars toys. Honestly, I know those movies so well, I can just close my eyes and watch them in my head LOL.

Star Wars has long been a part of the Definition of Me. I watched the movies non-stop when I was a kid. I have fond memories of putting in the VHS of Return of the Jedi, sitting through the entire Jabba’s Palace sequence, then after the gang escaped Tattooine, running into my toy room to grab my box of Star Wars figures and dragging them out to play with in front of the TV while the “boring” parts of the movie went on (oh you know what I mean, all the talking bits and the sad bits). I think my favorite toy was probably the Rancor because his mouth opened and closed, rawr rawr rawr. Usually I would spend a lot of time setting up all the figures, then the shuttle would land on Endor and I would be back into movie watching.

As I got older, Star Wars was always there but it floated into the background until the early 90s. I signed up for the Lucasfilm Fan Club. I think this was actually a result of Young Indiana Jones Chronicles merchandise that I picked up at a school book fair. Getting that magazine reminded me how much I loved those movies and sent me into obsession mode. My middle school folders and notebooks were COVERED in Star Wars doodles. I know my blue folder for social studies had the ENTIRE main cast list written out on the front. And around this same time the Timothy Zahn novels were published and I was sucked back into the universe.

I’ve never been too deep into the online fandom but I do attend meetings with the DCSWCC, a awesome group of folks that love the movies, for better or for worse. I may not watch the movies every year, but when someone asks me to name my favorite thing, Star Wars will always been on that list.

For me Star Wars is like that teddy bear you’ve had since you were born. You don’t remember who gave it to you. You may know because you have been told, but otherwise it has always been a part of your life. And when times get tough or you’re feeling a little out of it, just holding it close gives you a calm feeling. Rewatching Star Wars just makes me happy. The original trilogy is so closely linked to everything in my life, I just feel at home in front of the TV watching Luke, Han, and Leia run around fighting baddies.

So tonight I raise a glass to the original trilogy, the classic movies that started this whole crazy franchise. You made me the geek girl I am today, and for that, I say thank you.

You scruffy looking nerfherder.

Muppet Appreciation Post #1 — Muppet Show Musical Moments

We’re going to see Muppets Most Wanted tomorrow and I am far more excited than someone my age should be. I love the Muppets. ADORE them.

For many people, when you say Muppets, they think of Sesame Street, and rightly so – that show has been on the air for 45 years. But the Muppets I adore are from The Muppet Show. And even though they have been toned down a bit since becoming a Disney property I still love them to bits.

The Muppet Show was just ending it’s initial TV run when I was born but I some how managed to catch a lot of the shows as reruns. Some tv station in Virginia must have run them every morning and I (or more likely my Mom) set up the VCR and taped them every day, on SLP, so I had a huge collection of Muppet Shows that I watched over and over and over. It gave me an appreciation for all different kinds of music (guest stars ranged from Opera Singer Beverly Sills to 70s pop singer Leo Sayer to brilliant comedienne Gilda Radner), a twisted sense of humor (torturing Beaker is so wrong yet so right) and how a show can work on so many different levels. The Muppet Show was truly a family show, with something that everyone could appreciate.

I know Jim Henson and Company, and in particular The Muppets, shaped the way I view the world. Over the next week or so I’m going to do little appreciation posts to highlight The Muppets, Jim Henson, and the Henson Company because they can never have enough.

This is one of my favorite songs of ALL TIME and this is the only way I have ever heard it. It’s so melancholy yet beautiful. Even as a child, I felt something with this song, even though the emotions that Paul Williams sings about were not even known to me yet. But did that stop them from running it on The Muppet Show? No, it was a variety show for all ages. I have so many feelings when I listen to this song now. Beautiful.

LOL oh Danny Kaye and Miss Piggy, singing together after their big fight. Kaye makes the mistake of saying that he had met Miss Piggy before, back when she was thin. LOL, yeah. It was numbers like this that introduced me to classic popular music and also taught me that oh so wicked humor I love. Good thing Miss Piggy is made of felt or those karate chops would really leave a mark!

One more for tonight, 70s pop star Leo Sayer, up in a tree, singing a sweet love song. There is really no reason for me to know who Leo Sayer is, his career was done before I was born. But he was a guest star on The Muppet Show so I saw him over and over when I rewatched my tapes. This is another song that I’ve always liked. Another bittersweet melody.

I could go on but I think that’s enough from me for tonight — but what about you? What are some of your favorite Muppet Music Moments?

accidentally live-blogged while watching Beatles tribute – I regret nothing!

[warning: lots of rambling ahead, The Beatles are known for making me do that]

Watching the “Grammy’s Salute to The Beatles”. The banter is pretty damn painful but I am enjoying the music. And holy shit Eric Idle looks so old. But I guess he is.

Dhani is the spitting image of George and it’s so wonderful and weird at the same time. He sounds a lot like him too, when he speaks and sings. and I actually saw him play a few years ago with Joseph Arthur and Ben Harper as part of the group Fistful of Mercy, which was fantastic. Intimate setting, in a synagogue actually, but it felt like a full on rock concert by the end, everyone up and dancing in the aisles/pews. I hope they make another album together.

Fistful of Mercy

Ed Sheeran is singing now and this would be my favorite song so far. I love hearing Beatles stuff stripped down and I think he is pulling it off.

Holy shit, Keith Urban is SHORT LOL! Well, John Mayer is also kinda tall. At least, I remember him being tall though maybe he was just doing that on purpose. Quit being taller than me! (so many mixed emotions about that man, not going to go into it now…bastard knows how to play guitar though). “Don’t Let Me Down” is such a great song, something so raw about it, so pure yet at the same time kinda dirty…but the honesty of it all makes it less dirty? I dunno, love that song.

Katy Perry’s Yesterday was okay, she didn’t really do much to make it her own. Right now I’m gonna say Ed Sheeran wins this show.

oh damn, this is a fun version of “Revolution” – nice job Imagine Dragons!

OMG Dave Grohl, why are you so great? I wish more rock stars were like him. And “Hey Bulldog”??? SO RANDOM! But I have no problem with that because it really captures that weird middle sound when the Beatles were trying to figure out what was next. (OMG could his daughter be any cuter LOL)

ANY song Annie Lennox sings sounds amazing, period. Her voice. HER VOICE. I would be happy listen to her sing every single Beatles song. (her dress kinda looks like it was made out of duct tape though…). I wonder if the artists got to pick which songs they would perform or if CBS was like “you play THIS! NOW!” I love “Fool on the Hill” but I know most of the Magical Mystery Tour album is low on people’s favorites list. If Annie picked it, it makes me love her more. (LOL okay Ringo just gave Paul a look, I wonder if Paul is singing along sorta loudly…you know, the way you would expect your 70 year old grandpa to sing along) (he’s such a clean old man).

Alicia Keys has more style then EVERYONE IN THE THEATER. That hat. Awwwww yeah. Also, omg was John Legend a little bit nervous there? He was shaking. Aaaaw. Oooh I am digging Let It Be with two voices like this.

Just did a search on Amazon and I don’t see any sort of collection of these songs available yet. Really, CBS? Actually didn’t even see a DVD up or anything either. I’m surprised.

Aw, let Anna Kendrick sing! TEASES! Brad Paisley and Pharell Williams? Hm, okay.

My friend took me to Vegas for my birthday several years ago and I got to see LOVE. It was amazing and, I won’t lie, I was crying by the end. So beautiful. If you ever get a chance, go see it. The album is fantastic, but the visuals of the show are just a crazy journey through the Beatles entire career.

While My Guitar Gently Weeps — oh when I was a kid, I just didn’t get this song, it freaked me out, the rhythm, the lyrics. They seem so simple but they are really so clever and complex. I love this song now.

Ringo’s turn. He sounds pretty good considering his age and, ya know, the smoking etc. Boys seems a little slower but then again, so is he. 🙂 Love ya Ringo.

OMG there was Sean…looks just like John.

LOL looks like Paul is already bouncing behind Sean Penn, ready to play. What a goof. I’ve seen him live twice and he was a lot of fun.

Sgt. Pepper – had to be played. And, yeah, Paulie it IS weird to tribute yourself. But that never stopped you before LOL. ❤ Ringo does seem a bit out of breath. But this is awesome. I'm a sucker for a huge Hey Jude sing-along, I won't lie.

Aw, it's over? Well, it was fun while it lasted. I hope they release a few of the covers as mp3s or something. Wouldn't mind having them in the mix.

favorite movies: The Princess Bride (1987)

I saw The Princess Bride this afternoon in the theater. I think my family discovered this movie on HBO back in the late 80s as I have a vague memory of a BETA tape with a hand-written “Princess Bride” sticker on the side of it, so this was my first time seeing it on the big screen.

It’s still good. It is just a FUN movie, through and through. Yeah, these are not Oscar award winning performances or effects or anything but it’s just 100% FUN.

Oh, and did I mention quotable? My mom will refer to a love interest in a movie as the character’s “to blave” and who can resist saying “mae-widge” any time a wedding scene appears? It’s inconceivable! And you know you’re among fellow geeks when you can start Inigo’s rhyming game and have someone else in the room do Fezzik’s lines.

I remember that the torture scene freaked me out as a kid. When Humperdink pushed the lever up to 50, I would cover my ears and close my eyes. It was only for a moment, but something about that moment really bothered me.

This is also one of the few situations where the movie might be better than the book, or at least on par with, probably because William Goldman wrote both the novel and the script. It’s worth picking up the book though so you can understand all of Inigo’s and Fezzik’s lines.

And, like Last Unicorn, I feel like the story manages to find this happy balance of all the fairy tale stories you love as a child with the snark and cynicism of adulthood, which is why it is still so watchable almost 30 years later. We are both the Grandson, hanging on every word, wanting to know how the story will end, and the Grandfather, knowing how it must all end, how it might not be fair but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a happy ending. And that we all enjoy “kissing books” every now and then.

Do you have a favorite Princess Bride quote that you use all the time? Or a memory of seeing the movie for the first time (or the fifth)?