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Why I Love Oklahoma (and a few things I don’t like about it)

I just got back from a week in Oklahoma, my native land, where my people are buried. And though I’m glad to be home, overjoyed to have the job I do and happy where I’m at, I still was a complete wreck on the plane, crying my eyes out watching Tulsa County slip away out of the tiny airplane window. I wore my sunglasses on the plane – I usually make fun of people who do that. But maybe they’re trying to hide their tears too.

It was cloudy, so my view was a bit obstructed. It cleared closer to Texas, and we began our descent into DFW in time for me to see the Red River snaking across the view. “We need rain,” I thought, my one-generation-removed-from-the-farm mind still kicking in.

In a few hours, I would be in New England again. I finally stopped crying once I left DFW on the second leg, but the tears came back on my road back to Bristol from Bradley. I was listening to Oklahoma music – I thought I’d better get all those emotions out now, before I go back to work. I certainly don’t want to cry in front of an NFL Hall of Famer or anything.

But I was thinking a lot on the drive home. About why I’m not in Oklahoma anymore. It’s not permanent, as I know I’ll be back there to retire whenever that is. Or whenever the Thunder want to make me head of communications… whichever comes first. But anyway, I thought of a co-worker of mine at ESPN who flat-out asked me once, “Why do people live in Oklahoma?” This was after a tornado, not just a general condemnation of the Sooner State. As I drove home, I thought of some of the reasons I love it, but also a few why I don’t. So without any further ado…

WHY I LOVE OKLAHOMA…

 It’s NOT:

  1. The heat. I was a few moments into a 90-degree Monday afternoon when I realized I just can’t hack the heat anymore. Fortunately, 99 percent of Oklahoma is cooled to the hilt with the best AC money can buy. But I’m quickly becoming an East Coaster who can’t tolerate anything over 80.
  2. The politics. Seriously, I’m sitting with my friends, many of whom have children, are teachers or just interested in education, and I’m realizing just how bad the schools and government are. Seriously, people, put politics aside – who cares who’s wrong and who’s right? You’re getting lapped by everyone else because you take tax breaks out on kids. This will have long-reaching effects. People won’t want to stay to raise their kids if the schools are the worst in the nation. And the job market isn’t as good as it should be. Oklahoma is an affordable state with natural resources out the ying-yang. If you wreck it now, it’s going to wreak havoc for years and years to come. What happened to the lottery saving education? Where is that money going? Quit trying to marry church and state again and let your kids get smart enough to make their own decisions.
  3. The roads. Yes, we pay high taxes in Connecticut. But our roads – even after 100-plus inches of ice and snow this winter – are in great shape. I got carsick on Oklahoma roads this time. Fix your infrastructure, or it’s all going to come crumbling down someday.

Now on to the good stuff.

 It IS:

  1. The people. Oh my God, it was great to be around people who genuinely seem to care about each other, even if they don’t know each other. I was in Reasor’s in Tahlequah on Saturday and saw so many people saying hi, thank you, excuse me, etc. – Hey, New England: It’s called human kindness. Try it. You’ll like it. Today, back in Bristol, I went to the grocery store and acted like an Oklahoman again. I will NEVER lose that part of myself, I hope. And besides – all my friends are there. I will never forget that. We had a full house in Tahlequah at Arrowhead, to celebrate the life of one of our great friends. I love them all, and realized that I couldn’t lose them if I tried. (And why would I do that? They like me in spite of me!)
  2. The weather (but not the heat). I had missed thunder and lightning so much – I got to hear and see it again. Also, thanks, weather gods, for the absolutely PERFECT Saturday afternoon on the Illinois River in Tahlequah! I also miss that winter lasts about 45 minutes, not six months like Connecticut.
  3. The food. Holy shit, ya’ll. Oklahoma food is just so much better than anything in Connecticut. Taco Bueno is so, so much better than anything they attempt to sell as “Mexican food” up here. It’s funny to see them try up here… but not funny to eat. Blargh. My first stop was Bueno, my last was Rib Crib. I somehow lost weight on vacation, but I think it’s because I was walking a lot.
  4. The accent. Because it makes everyone up here go, “Where  ARE you from?” It’s not Southern, really, and it’s not Texas. It’s Oklahoman, and it’s a thing of beauty.
  5. The music. Woody Guthrie started it. Let’s not let Crazy Wayne Coyne finish it…
  6. The heritage. A little bit of everything we are — mutts, half-Indian or 1/128th Choctaw, whatever you are. We look different than people do on the East Coast. And it’s beautiful. Oklahoma girls and boys are… well, HOT!
  7. The way it makes me feel. Oklahoma, for me, is a state of mind. When I first arrived last week, I walked off the plane and my Inner Oklahoman was fully engaged, like it had been on standby for three years, ready to spring back to life. It’s slower. It’s friendlier. It’s peaceful. And it’s home – always has been, always will be. The bones of my mother, grandparents, aunts, uncles and many friends take up residence in Oklahoma dirt. I ran my 1969 Cutlass into the weird wall in the parking lot of the Braum’s on 32nd in Muskogee. I got on stage with Tripping Daisy at Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa (and had many, many more great times there, both pre- and post-air conditioning.) I drank to excess for the first time in Park Hill, Oklahoma, in a trailer full of people who would go on to become some of my best friends. I have fallen in and out of love, made and unmade friends, lost family, gained even more family, and found that I had to leave to get where I wanted – all that happened in Oklahoma – 36 of my 39 years were in Green Country. It’s who I am.

I could go on and on like this. And I guess crying every time I leave is going to keep happening, so I had better save some of it for the next trip. I’m going to leave part of myself in Oklahoma every time I go, I guess. But really, I’m already all the way there, and taking part of me to Connecticut every time I leave the Red Dirt State. It’s where I know I’ll end up someday, even if I talk real big about how I’m going to live out my days in San Francisco.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to do anything I want with my life, and moving to New England will help make that possible, thanks to my career and the wonderful company I work for – but I know that, for me, all roads lead to Oklahoma. Despite all that stuff I said above about what I don’t like about Oklahoma, I know I’ll be back. And when I do get back, meet me under that Oklahoma Sky.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKTUZ-ig57M&feature=kp

 

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Filed under Connecticut, ESPN, Family, Friends, Fun!, General Nonsense, Oklahoma, Tahlequah, Travel, Tulsa, Uncategorized, weather

The Electric Christmas Card: 2013 (Happy Holidays, ya’ll!)

First things first, let me wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I hope your holiday season is fantastic – and you get everything you want, physically or spiritually! Thanks for reading, for being my friend, and for supporting me and laughing at my lame jokes. Mucho amor, ya’ll.

Here it is, Christmas Day, and I haven’t sent out a single card. I had some written, but just like everything else I can’t get done at a computer, they wallow in the bottom of a tote bag somewhere, unstamped.

I did this last year, so yeah, we’ll call it tradition that I’m going to do an electronic Christmas card to all y’all. And I’m sure all y’all were just holding your collective breafs waiting for this.

So wait no more! Exhale! It’s time for the Electronic Christmas Card, 2013 Version.

 Part 1: Aunts Marching

elliottWhile I already had two perfectly acceptable nephews (Jesse and J.T., my sister Lila’s boys) my other sisters took it upon themselves to have more babies and increase the nephew population. Apparently my sisters are incapable of birthing girls, because Natalie, my oldest sister, WANTED a girl and got a boy anyway. I think she’s pretty happy with Elliott regardless. But he is sleeping in a Barbie princess bed.*

 (Key: * = UNTRUE.)

(But seriously, what gives? You can’t pick your baby’s sex nowadays? No flying cars AND only a 50 percent chance of getting what you want? Thanks, Obama!)

Elliott’s pretty great, even though I met him when he was a really-boring three weeks old. I Skyped with him (and Natalie – she just HAD to be there) recently and he appeared much more fun. Natalie didn’t want me to meet him when he was already fun for fear I’d steal him.* I would, too. Natalie says he’s a really good baby, so even I could probably keep him happy, or at the very least, fed.

Anna, my youngest sister, had a boy too, Henry. He’s OK, if you like ridiculously cute babies who love you right back.henry

I don’t know why, but for some reason, Henry really liked me right off the bat – except for the moment he did almost a complete backbend when I was holding him… But otherwise, I think he could tell then, at just under four months, that I’m that aunt who will give him everything he wants. I’ve already got a pony on back-order.

Meanwhile, Lila, the only sister still living in Oklahoma, is very kind and sends me pictures of Jesse and JT even though I never send her pictures of my cats or dog. J.T., her youngest, is having a hard time adjusting to Elliott being the baby. I bet he’ll end up loving his cousin… or maybe they’ll play on opposing professional basketball teams. Elliott will be with the Heat and J.T. with the Thunder… it’ll be epic! (Why yes I do work in sports, TYVM.) Her oldest son, Jesse, is in college (at the unheard of age of 7! Amazing!)* at Bacone in Muskogee. He’s kind of a big deal.

 Part 2: Katydid!

robkateMy middle sister Katy, who lives in Seattle, brought home news on Thanksgiving. Someone wants to marry her! I know! I can’t believe it either! Kidding, she’s fabulous, and her beau/betrothed Robbie is pretty great too. They are getting married in August in Seattle in a swamp or something hippie-dippie like that. And she’s not having a wedding party, which makes me ecstatically happy. I look terrible in every single bridesmaid’s dress ever made. I’m so proud of her, and so happy for both of them. But now I’m officially the old-maid sister.

 Part 3: My Brother the Roommate

My brother, Nick, has lived with me since early January. It’s made life in Connecticut better by a country mile (though I don’t think they say that or even have any nscountry miles here) and I don’t feel like the only weirdo in New England anymore. He graduated with his master’s, didn’t know what to do with his life, and moved to Connecticut. I might have promised him streets paved with gold and water made of wine – I really wanted him to move here. And I’m still glad to have him. He met a great girl who he took to Oklahoma for Thanksgiving. She’s still dating him, so I guess she liked our great state. If she didn’t, Nick might have ended it.

We are the biggest Okie-loving people in Connecticut, for sure. We have a full-size Oklahoma flag in the basement. We continually educate people about the Sooner State (no we don’t live in teepees, no we’re not all related to each other, yes there are hills in Oklahoma, yes I’ve met Carrie Underwood/Zach Swon, yes [insert name here] really is from Oklahoma…)  We also spend a great deal of time trying to replicate our home state’s delicious foods. I have become a damn fine biscuit and gravy chef, and I made chicken fried steak a few weeks ago. It wasn’t Hungry Traveler off Highway 40 near Henryetta good, but it cured what ailed me. It’s amazing to me still that you can’t find plum jelly here. And if you want something spicy at a restaurant, it better be Asian or you’d better be packing your own Sriracha.

We also have the NBA League Pass package, which takes me back to when we were kids, watching an NBA game every night. It’s good for my career… or something.

 Part 4: My Phone Autocorrects “Obama” to “Ibaka” and Other Sports Tales

ESPN campus in the fall -- it's really purty.

ESPN campus in the fall — it’s really purty.

Notice that all the love-life updates are about my family? It’s because I’m married to Mickey Mouse. So without further ado, let’s talk shop.

It’s my third Christmas in Connecticut, which is beyond bizarre because it honestly seems like I just got here. Work is all-encompassing, and I don’t mind at all. I love the job still, even though there are times I’m so far-removed from the “real world” that I forget to live in it. I no longer watch any news at all, it seems. I read headlines, AP wires and Bottom Line-style scrollers, but I don’t know what’s going on outside the sports world – at least not in-depth. My phone really does autocorrect our president’s name with the name of the 7-foot center-forward for the Thunder. I’m OK with this.

Regular holidays are work days to me. Having time off means I only check my email 10 times a day, as compared to 100. I’m not complaining, mind you. It’s a blessing to have this job, and this year was exciting. The highlights in news breaks and events:

NBA Draft: Nearly a full week in NEW YORK CITY and I get to go to the draft, serving as an editor? It was a lot – LOT – of work, but it was also an amazing experience. I got to see how live TV happens outside a studio setting. It ain’t easy, folks. The next time you see something weird happen on TV and think everyone’s just out getting stoned or whatever, keep in mind that making television is hard and what you just saw was a tiny crack in the porcelain. It could be so much worse!

mel

Melissa in Greenwich Village

Live TV aside, I got to meet all the top picks in the draft too. Most were gentlemen – Victor Oladipo, the Indiana stud who’s now with the Magic – was a gent in every sense of the word. Our reporter, Andy Katz, was interviewing him when Victor realized I was in the room. He stopped the interview to introduce himself to me and another woman who was there, apologizing for not doing so as soon as he walked in. Right then and there I wished for him to become an All-Star one day. I’m a sucker for a gentleman, especially a really tall one in fantastic clothes.

The trip was great – my wonderful stepmother, Melissa McConnell-Hart, stayed with me most of the week. We went to Little Italy, walked all over Greenwich Village and toured Ground Zero. She traipsed all over NYC while I worked, revisiting her stomping grounds from her early days with American Airlines, when she was based there. It was hotter than hell that week, but we had a great time. I ordered room service like three times. And learned to hail cabs. What a country!

Aaron Hernandez: During the NBA Draft, the Patriots tight end was arrested on homicide charges. Needless to say, that whole thing kinda took over the summer.

Boston Marathon Bombings: It was a dark day, one I felt compelled to work on. It was a very Boston-rich year, with Hernandez and the marathon bombings, then the World Series. I can’t say I’m a fan of Boston sports teams, but I do admire their grit. They take tough situations and use them as fuel. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Patriots ended up winning it all this season too.

Biogenesis: So there was this little steroid sting this year that caused all sorts of chaos in the baseball world, especially with my favorite player, Ryan Braun. He was suspended 65 games for testosterone use. Alex Rodriguez was suspended too but hasn’t yet accepted that. Braun was suspended on the second day of the worst vacation I’ve ever taken (Leon was sprayed by a skunk on the first day, so the rest of it was spent cleaning and pouting) so I just think of it as the dark part of the summer. When A-Rod’s news broke (211 game suspension) I was NOT on vacation, and subsequently worked one of the longest, but more satisfying, days in my career. It’s something I can’t really explain—being a part of the news, watching it unfold, sitting in the control room while it’s happening… it’s just what I always wanted, and I had no idea. Small favors and all that… I’m thankful.

Interesting people I met this year: Besides the whole cast and crew at the NBA Draft, I met a lot of neat people this year.

kenjKen Jeong, from The Hangover and Community fame, was a guest host on SportsCenter this year. He was incredibly gracious, charming and did a really great job on SC.

Lovie Smith, a former University of Tulsa player and coach, was in Bristol shortly after being fired from the Bears. I nearly tackled him (like I did Mike Gundy when he was in Bristol) to talk Oklahoma. He obliged, very happy to talk about his former life in T-Town.

David Koechner, aka Champ Kind from Anchorman: We had to cancel Will Ferrell because of breaking news about Jameis Winston (the Florida State quarterback and Heisman winner). But we still had Champ in-house to make the rounds and shoot some promos for us. He was so nice – and he says he loves going to newsrooms because they all remember his lines from Anchorman!

Part 5: In Closing

A few more bullet points:

  • My group of friends suffered a huge loss this year, with my friend Clark dying unexpectedly right before my NBA Draft trip. Clark and I were planning to go to a Yankees game while I was in town. But he was taken from us so quickly. It nearly dropped me to my knees. I miss him—he was one of those souls who just made the air sweeter, one of those people who never treated anyone like a stranger. I’ve already blogged about him, so I won’t get into details on this Christmas day. It’s too sad. All of us are getting together in Florida in February to memorialize him. There have been a few Big Chill jokes already made… I’m looking forward to it, even if it’s a gathering for a sad event.
  • My parents finally came to Connecticut, and we had a great time. Dad, Melissa and I went to the Hill-Stead museum in Farmington, and it was a beautiful, crisp fall day. This autumn was exquisite, and I’m so glad they got to be here for that week. After they left, the temperatures dropped and it snowed.dadmel
  • My brother and I took a trip to Philly because my fabulous boss gave me her tickets to a Brewers-Phillies series. It was a fun drive, except for when we drove home and somehow ended up on the George Washington Bridge in New York City with my brother at the wheel. It was a complete panic situation for both of us, and I felt like Kevin Nealon in “Happy Gilmore,” giving Nick useless advice the whole time he navigated through NYC traffic… looking back, it was kind of hilarious.
  • When I met Elliott, I did so in his hometown of West Palm Beach, where Natalie moved a few years ago. It is the eppy-tome of gorgeous cities.
  • I went to opening day of the NFL season and tailgated to boot! My fantastic friend Fran, a proud Jets season ticket holder, took me to Bucs-Jets. It was glorious – I get why fans are the way they are about the NFL even though it’s not my favorite sport.jets
  • When I was in Dallas for Thanksgiving, I finally got to go to a real NHL game, and with my Canadian hockey-loving bro-in-law and Sharks season-ticket-holding cousin John. Now I’ve been to every type of pro game (except soccer and cricket… and those other non-‘Murican sports – kidding, kidding…)
  • I didn’t get to go to Oklahoma this year, which is a real travesty. But it only fueled my desire to get there next year!

So one more time, Merry Christmas, ya’ll! Let’s talk more next year, OK?

–Sarah

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Filed under Connecticut, ESPN, Family, Food, Friends, Fun!, General Nonsense, Kevin Durant, Love, New York, Oklahoma, Sports, Travel, Tulsa, TV, Uncategorized

My Music: I Got 1995 Problems and Justin Bieber Ain’t One

A NOTE ON THE TITLE: In coming up for a title for this blog, I had a lot of ideas: “How the 90s Saved Music,” “My Songs Are Better than Your Songs,” or just “I’m Old,” but I took the cheap, easy, Google-would-find-send-people-here-faster method: Mention The Beebs.

Sorry to disappoint the teenage girls, but this blog is about music made before your time. But if you want to learn about stuff that’s way better — I mean WAAAAY better than JB, read on.

This was probably more like 1990, but I like the angsty look in my eyes. It forecasts the angst to come.  (Note  -- I wasn't all that  angsty, it was kind of an act.)

This was probably more like 1990, but I like the angsty look in my eyes. It forecasts the angst to come. (Note — I wasn’t all that angsty, it was kind of an act.)

It was a hazy summer day in 1995, I seem to recall, and I was driving in my hooptie car through the streets of Tahlequah — probably trying to get my mind off someone, possibly late to something. Most definitely broke off my ass. I was listening to “I Stay Away,” the Alice In Chains song from “Jar of Flies,” which I’m sure I’d copied from CD onto a tape because that’s all I had in my car — and the lyrics really took hold: “Why you act crazy/not an act maybe/So close a lady/shifty eyes shady…”

I knew then that I would apply to whomever I was thinking about a Good Ol’ Fashioned Lettin’ Alone, to borrow my mother’s phrase. That meant the ice queen routine. I’m not good at it naturally so I’m sure there was mental preparation that had to be done.

But the other thing I remembered at that moment, and over the course of the 1990s, was that I was living in A Time. I feel sorry for folks who didn’t live in A Time. My parents did — the late sixties and 70s — but I’m not sure kids these days, even those my younger siblings’ age, are part of A Time.

I not only lived in the death of disco days, but also the dawn of punk, New Wave, the second British Invasion (think Duran Duran), the glam and/or death metal days, and when Motley Crue handed over their rusty needles to Guns N’ Roses, who then had those same needles snatched, unwittingly, from their fists by the pale, shaky fingers of Kurt Cobain and his ilk.

I loved a great deal of it. Now, at 38, I feel out of touch with modern music. I like some of it, but none of it grabs me by the short and curlies like it used to. And if a song does, usually the whole album won’t. There are a few exceptions, but most involve Jack White in one way or another, and he’s a throwback to another generation. I think Nirvana would even let him in retroactively if they could.

It’s  now an iTunes world, and it’s not my favorite. You download one song, listen to it, and forget the band exists. I’m as guilty of it as the next gal. I hear a song on a commercial, download it and talk about it for a week or so, then it kind of disappears from my memory. 

I guess the music that I — a pushing 40-pop culture savant who has absorbed every song she’s ever heard since age 3 but couldn’t point out a direction if rabid, ravenous

Where have you gone, Joe Dimaggio?

Where have you gone, Joe Dimaggio?

bears learned to speak English and demanded she tell them which was was north, and who sometimes forgets left and right —  claim as My Music is from A Time called the Early 90s — even though I feel ownership of a lot of 80s stuff too.

But the stuff that really stabs me in the gut with nostalgia is grunge-alternative from the 90s. I started college in August 1992, and had purchased Nirvana’s “Nevermind” on a trip to visit my soon-to-be college in October 1991. I bought it on a whim. Just like Smashing Pumpkins’ “Gish.” Good whims, since I still listen to both.

My era, for me, was the best, most profound, most relatable — but my parents, though they scoffed at the hippie movement, probably thought the same thing about their music. My mom was into Gram Parson, Emmylou Harris, Neil Young; my father liked The Band, Black Oak Arkansas, Santana, stuff like that. Both liked Leon Russell, Delaney and Bonnie, good ol’ Rock N’ Roll. I remember asking my mom why she didn’t like the Beatles. She said she didn’t NOT like them, but everyone liked them, so she wasn’t that into it. My mom was an effing hipster. Looking back on it now, she listened to NPR, obscure Americana, and she knew Norah Jones a full six months before anyone else. Dammit, she was a hipster! And don’t get me started on my dad, who is still so cool it’s ridiculous. But he doesn’t listen to the old stuff anymore… he’s embraced modern music. I don’t understand it, but maybe it’ll happen to me too.

Yes, a lot of us girls just thought Eddie was cute. Still, we got him.

Yes, a lot of us girls just thought Eddie was cute. Still, we got him.

Still, I have kind of a hipster-y  arrogance about some stuff from the 1990s — Pearl Jam, Nirvana being the big two that everyone knew and always connect to the so-called “grunge” movement — but I think they so perfectly embodied that time in my life, I can’t ignore them.

For the bands, I think the grunge movement started because someone in Seattle was cold and put on a flannel. They were angry at being cold, probably because a parent/loved one/ex had quit paying for heat. Hence the flannel an pre-emo (or Preemo, if you like) sound of the early 90s. (I may be simplifying. I do that.)

In 1992, I turned 18 and was free of all parental rule, experiencing life at every turn. I think I’m so damned lucky to have come of age when “Alive” by Pearl Jam was new and in heavy radio rotation, when you had to go out and buy the albums, and because it cost 15 fucking dollars and you worked for scraps at some restaurant, you were BY GOD gonna listen to every last note of that sumbitch. Hence my love for the entirety of the Liz Phair, Mother Love Bone, Sonic Youth, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots, Blind Melon, PJ Harvey etc. etc. — music wasn’t background in my friends circle. It was often talked over, but at least in my case, it was absorbed at the same tie, locked into a vault in my head to be attached to a time and place forever. And if it was talked over too much, you just casually walked over to the CD player and hit the repeat button. Or told one of those loud theater people to shut up.

None of us were ever a cool as PJ Harvey.

None of us were ever a cool as PJ Harvey.

But anyway — that day in 1995 — when I listened to “I Stay Away” in the car alone, of course heartbroken, possibly stoned, undoubtedly neurotic — is etched in my memory forever. I have so many of those moments, and I can’t help but think the music of my era is just… better. 

Many of these songs, from their opening strain, take me back to smoky dorm rooms, dirty living rooms and bathrooms you wish you didn’t have to use, strange car trips and radios blaring at the Illinois River — and they aren’t necessarily my favorite songs of the time. They certainly wouldn’t pass the hipster test — manywere huge to a lot of people. But I don’t care. So without further ado, here’s the greatest hits of the soundtrack of my formative years…

* Loser, Beck: This may be THE anthem for THE time of my life. It certainly felt like it kicked off my generation of music. I didn’t have MTV, I didn’t know if there was a video or anything like that. I just kind of lived, taping bits of things off the radio onto my own little mix tapes… Now I have literally thousands of songs and implements to play them. It’s a wealth of riches, and I kinda feel guilty about it. And on the MTV note, I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever seen this video…so here goes.

* Low, Cracker: I remember getting really, really tired of this song. But listening to it now, it’s like a first-class ticket to memory lane, and it’s still a damn good song. It’s not indicative of the whole of Cracker’s catalog — kind of a dark detour for a pretty sunny/snarky lil’ band. But this is how most people know them, though they should be listening to the eponymous album — it’s so, so good.

* Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns, Mother Love Bone: The anthem of the last Gen X’ers. It is so Seattle it spread through the Midwest, spraying Seattle Glitter all over it. It might have missed the greater part of the generation if not for the anthemic ’90s movie “Singles.” The first time I heard MLB was on “Singles.” The soundtrack itself contains many of the songs that put me right back in the thick of it. But this song… it has made me cry, it has made me reflective, it has made me laugh. Now it rips my guts open with memory and nostalgia, and a bit of pride, again, at having been lucky enough to live through this.

* So on that note, “Seasons,” Chris Cornell. “And I’m lost behind the words I cannot find.” I, never at a loss for words, can have the hardest time communicating how I feel abut someone. Probably always will, which is why many times these things have just gone unsaid.

Summer nights and long warm days
Are stolen as the old moon falls
Mirror shows another face
Another place to hide it all
Another place to hide it all
I’m lost behind the words I’ll never find
I’m left behind as the seasons roll on by
Sleeping with a full moon blanket
Sand and feathers for my head
Dreams have never been the answer
Dreams have never made my bed
Dreams have never made my bed
I’m lost behind words I’ll never find
I’m left behind as the seasons roll on by

* X-Ray Man, Liz Phair: Really, everything off her first 3.5 albums is pure rocket fuel into my past. But this was one of my early favorites: “You’re an X-ray man/You got white wall tires/Iodine tan/Cheap unpleasant desires… You’re an X-ray man/Got an X-rated mind/You’re not satisfied looking at me, you’re always Checking out the girl behind.” Pretty much sums up every guy I’ve ever liked.

* Porch, Pearl Jam: I have this thing where I seem to like the No. 8 song on most CDs. Something I noticed when I was un-sober once, I’m sure. “Porch is No. 8 on Pearl Jam’s eponymous album, and while I’m sure Eddie Vedder’s aim was far more important than what I applied it to, it again fit into that moody lovelorn mess that was going on in my heart and head. I have read that this song was about becoming a political activist. I thought it was about leaving your family behind, or a breakup or something. I had the uncanny ability to make every song about me. Perhaps I’m a narcissist.

* Piranha, Tripping Daisy: Another song I’ve listened to nothing short of 1 million times, but I don’t think I ever saw the video. I have a fuzzy memory of feeling like this song was MEANT for me — In kind of a creepy-crawly way, Tim DeLaughter was telling me to lighten up: “Ready or not, like it or not, here they come again/It’s a shame but you are just laughing/People want to keep you in the dark/You’re always a mess, but you’re always a step ahead of the crowd… You can be what you want, it’s a matter of time, prepared to be amazed. You’re flashing, they’re frowning, you flash the clover leaf cheer/It’s a game/You’re winning/There’s always so many piranhas.” I have so many Tripping Daisy stories, first being the time me and some friends were asked onstage because we were blowing bubbles… that was fun. I think.

* Sabotage, Beastie Boys: Because lots of Tahlequah bands tried to cover this and only a few of them got it right – and because no is complete without them, and because RIP Adam Yauch.

* In the Meantime, Spacehog: This song, truly, really reminds me of being … well, messed up. Stoned. Ripped. Comfortably numb. It was the 90s and I was in college. If I ever decide to run for office, I guess this blog proves I’ll have to take the honest approach. I was a weirdo with weirdo friends. We had a lot of fun. And I still like this song, and can close my eyes and kind of trip along.

I could go on and on. But you get the idea. And if you’re of a certain age, some of these songs meant a great deal to you too. I say, let them out every now and again. Don’t try to learn all the new shit if the old shit is still just so good.

And I’m not saying the 1990s were all good — we had lots of cheezy pop, and Marilyn Manson was cool at first before it became a watered-down version of itself. Then Kid Rock and Limp Bizkit happened. Again, a bit cool, but kind of indicators that music was changing again. And in my view, for the worst.

But I’ll always have 1995. I’ll always have my memories, I hope. If not, I’ve got friends who remember things. Though not as much as we did pre-1995. :)

Oh, and while we’re at it:

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Filed under Brain Disorders, General Nonsense, Music, Tahlequah, Uncategorized

I am getting sick: Just a blog before I go (Randomonia at its finest)

Ι can feel some sort of sickness inching closer to my typically excellent immune system, guns ablaze, teeth bared. Of course. I have a ton o’ shite to do — my brother is coming for an extended stay/visit/possible move to the East Coast, it’s Super Bowl time, my house is a fright and I just bought groceries.

If I get sick, I won’t eat the groceries. But then again, Nick’s coming. He’ll eat the groceries.

I’m kind of not making sense anymore today, but I have to get some thoughts out, and I think all my creativity is spewing out of me, like when you’re about to run out of gas and you get that last little splat of petrol.  Or that last little bit of spray “Cheez” that shoots out at you like black powder. (I haven’t had “cheese food” in a long time. Why is my brain thinking about “cheese food”?) Again… sickness.

I don’t have the strength to string together transitions to make a full blog. So here come da subheads.

 I’m in Bristol now

I left the quaint little suburb of Collinsville, Ct., and moved to the bustling blue-collar burg of Bristol, home of the Worldwide Leader in Sports, where somehow I still maintain employment. I spent my first night in Bristol and instantly liked it better than the country. Not saying that the suburbs of Connecticut aren’t nice, but they just aren’t my people. I’m not country club enough to live out there. I drink beer, not wine.  From the bottle. I leave the house without makeup. I eat fast food sometimes. I am not a size 00. I didn’t fit into the Farmington Valley mold. I’m OK with that – Bristol is just more my speed and style, and I have a great house I’m renting. My drive time to work went from 35 minutes to seven minutes. Which is even better considering the snowfall in Connecticut went from 35 centimeters a season (2011-12 winter) to seven inches a week or so (2012-13 winter so far).

Lomez the Cat: Best Ever? 

394789_10151384956082148_1886350992_nWith all due respect to the memories of Percy and Tito, the best male cats I’ve ever had, and the sweet Piper, who stood by me through thick and … well, mostly thick as skinny isn’t in my nature, Lomez the New Cat is just … awesome. He charmed the pants off the vet and techs at the new clinic in Bristol. When I got him, he still was A Man. So I had to take him to the vet to De-Man him and he was back to full force within five hours. He purrs. He plays. he sleeps on me and butts his head into my face.

There’s just something about him. He’s … sexy. I mean, I don’t wanna be with him or anything, that’s gross, but he’s just got swagger. He’s sweet and snuggly and hilarious. I think he was meant for me, though I found him on CraigsList. Leon is so jelly. (Am I too old to say that?)  He’s even dragging Penny Cat out of the attic. She’s Anne Frank‘d herself up there on her own volition since I moved. She’s really, really pissed about the move. But she’s always need another cat bodyguard. Percy was the previous Kitty Kevin Costner to Kitty Whitney Houston. Now Lomez has sort of taken over that role. In a sweet way. He defers to her. It’s just so freaking cute.

 Townhouses of the Holy

I want to trademark that phrase and make it into a style/music/sports magazine. I probably shouldn’t be revealing that in a blog, but I don’t think anyone reads it so yeah, there’s my idea. Consider this my verbal trademark. Can you do that?

 The AT&T commercials are great

I am ABSOLUTELY POSITIVE that they are the best commercials in a long time. I will stop the DVR and watch them. Does this mean I am actually a kid person?

 

 The Bat

It was a slow news day. The highlight of the night for SportsCenter’s 11 p.m. show was a bat being loose in a Marquette game. The game basically came to a stop. It made me laugh a lot, but that might be the fever. SportsCenter had a lot of fun with it. It’s been a fun week for weirdo stories about bats and good heart-warming stories about getting a kid with Down syndrome on Top Plays… I was part of that, and it was pretty great. Thank you, Twitter, for making my heart smile.

 

 OK, I feel the fever building. Meeeeee eyes, they buuuuuurn…

I’m sorry for this blog. I shouldn’t even post it. But it has Lomez pictures, so it’s worth it.

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January 27, 2013 · 12:06 am

The Serious Chicken: ‘Philadelphia’ almost 20 years later — progress and hope

I made the egregious error of watching “Philadelphia” tonight because apparently I wasn’t sad enough after the Oklahoma City Thunder’s loss in the NBA Finals to the malodorous Miami Heat.

I made this error, also, with a pain in my heart because my Big Man Cat, Percy, has gone missing. It’s my fault, I guess, for letting him be an outside cat. But he had the spirit of a wildcat, one that just couldn’t thrive inside. He became a happier, nicer cat after being allowed outside. Now I can’t find him – it’s been two days. I hope he comes home, but I am not optimistic.

But my woebegone state isn’t the reason for this blog. No, it’s the subject matter of the movie “Philadelphia,” a movie that contains  not only my favorite actor (Tom Hanks) but some of my other favorites, too – Denzel, Mary Steenburgen, Jason Robards… it’s a fantastic film. And it’s kind of old, I guess, though I don’t see it that way. It came out in 1993 and is one of the first mainstream movies to deal with AIDS.

I remember the day I went to see the movie — it was in a crowded theater, I think in Texas, and when I left the theater, I went to the bathroom, and huddled around the sinks were women leaning on each other, crying uncontrollably. I was angry. I was angry at how Hanks’ character was treated — I was angry at how Denzel Washington’s character treated that gay man who approached him in the drugstore. I was touched by how Denzel came around, however, and saw the movie for its powerful points more than the horrific death scene. The other times I’ve watched it, I’ve cried about the obvious. But the first time, I was just sad about the whole sorry state of affairs.

It seems so archaic now, fewer than 20 years later. In the last month, someone living with HIV has recovered and says he feels great. I share a business umbrella with the most famous HIV-inflicted person, Magic Johnson (it’s still weird to think Magic and I are co-workers. He has just a tad more cache.) It’s 19 years since “Philadelphia” came out. The first known AIDS death in the United States was 1981.

When Magic was diagnosed, I didn’t know any gay people, let alone anyone with AIDS.

And I still don’t know anyone with HIV, or not anyone who’s public about it. That’s because that great fear, that rampant bias and “gay plague” that was stoked in the 80s and 90s has fizzled —  thanks mostly go to safe sex missions, clean needle missions and changes to the rules of blood donation and transfusion. One of the characters in “Philadelphia” is a woman who got AIDS from a blood transfusion. There’s an nonverbal exchange between that character and Tom Hanks’ Andy while she’s on the stand. She says she feels no different than anyone else who has AIDS. It’s tender, it’s merciful, compassionate and soul-crushing.

It’s been 20 years-plus since Magic made his announcement. He’s doing great – and that announcement’s china anniversary was made into a documentary by the company that employs both Magic and I. It touched on the phobias, the fear, and how grown men much like Denzel’s character in “Philadelphia” put it all aside and played with or fought for their friend.

My, my my – I love this progress. I do wonder, however, if Magic hadn’t come along and made his announcement, would it still be called the gay plague? Would the uneducated masses be circling hospitals with “GAY: GOT AIDS YET” signs jutting into the air?

I like to think not. I like the direction our world is going in, this embracing of compassion and love. Now that I’m away from a state that’s doing its best to keep its large gay population unhappy, I see that it’s kind of a select deal. I honestly believe the next generation won’t see any difference. The learned behavior of gay bashing and racism isn’t being taught by as many teachers anymore.

I thank God for that. I also thank God for people within my home state of Oklahoma who fight for what is right, be them gay or straight. Two dear friends of mine who happen to be a married couple, Sharon Baldwin and Mary Bishop, have fought for marriage equality for as long as I’ve known them. I worked with them for more than  nine years. They worked in separate departments at my newspaper, but across a small divide from each other. They lived, worked and fought marriage inequality together. I never once doubted their commitment to each other or their mission. I just wished they didn’t have to fight it. They walked into the offices of our newspaper and told the Powers That Be that they were going to do this – and the newspaper kept them employed. They keep fighting and refuse to move out of Oklahoma just because the number of people pushing Bibles down their throats has increased.

Do those pushing the Bibles really know what they’re talking about? Of course not. The basic tenets of Jesus’ teachings is love for all. Therefore, preaching any type of hate or participating in any kind of racism, exclusion or hate is against Jesus’ teaching.

It’s that simple. And what I said about the next generation being pro-gay marriage? All it takes is a look at another Oklahoma, Carrie Underwood. She’s a country girl, born and raised in Checotah, Oklahoma, and a proud alumna of Northeastern State University, the school from which I graduated. She came out (haha) recently as an advocate of same-sex marriage. A country singer from Oklahoma – so very proud of her. Also proud of our president, who many think may have hurt his campaign by coming out as pro-gay marriage. How could he not? Gay bashing, racism and gender bias go hand-in-hand. As a woman, I’m a member of the most-discriminated against sect of the population. How women can be racist, anti-gay or anything else is beyond me.

See, I’ve been this way for my whole life and my mind will never change. I didn’t know any gay people when “Philadelphia” was released– or at least none who had come out. Now I know hundreds of gay people. I don’t care – I don’t even think about it. Just like I know hundreds of black, Asian, American Indian, Hispanic and otherwise “brown” people and don’t care.

I’m not trying to toot my own horn here – but I am so lucky not to have absorbed any of that learned behavior. My mother certainly didn’t teach it to me, but I was faced with it. I did grow up in Oklahoma, which has its share of haters. But it also has its share of freedom fighters – and they go beyond the three I mentioned. It’s refreshing, and it gives me hope for the future. Kind of like “Glee” does. Imagine if something like “Glee” had come out before AIDS – would there have been less hatred? Would “Philadelphia” never have existed?

I don’t think so. We had to learn to be tolerant, sad to say. We had to learn to appreciate everyone for their uniqueness. Even if we don’t really feel that way deep down. We had to learn to tamp down that hatred. And that’s what progress has taught us since the days of “Philadelphia.”

Also, since I’m a 14-year-old girl at heart, I am watching the show “Pretty Little Liars” lately. It features a young, gorgeous lesbian who’s coming out. Can you imagine that, even in 1993? It was such a big deal. Heck, it was “Star Trek” days when people were freaked out that a white man kissed a black woman. It’s just mind-blowing.

I was blessed to have been born with bedrock in my spirit that doesn’t seek to hate. It could’ve gone the other way, but it didn’t, and I’m thankful for that – to God, to my many gay friends, to my parents for letting me be me. And I’m not alone at all — thank God there are millions of people who think with less hate in their hearts these days. If you call that a sign of the end of days, maybe it’s time for a reckoning. It’s nice to know we’ve got a little more peace and a little less hostility in our future.

And while the idea of “Philadelphia” might be outdated, it’s what it took to wake us up from the sleep of hatred and ignorance. It took that movie, and the lyrics to the song the movie inspired, “Streets of Philadelphia” sung in Bruce Springsteen’s blue-collar, anguish-filled brogue, that had to get us there.

Here they are, in case you forgot them. The line that gets me to this day is “and my clothes don’t fit no more.”

I  was bruised and battered and I couldn’t tell
What I felt
I was unrecognizable to myself
I saw my reflection in a window I didn’t know
My own face
Oh brother are you gonna leave me
Wastin´ away
On the streets of Philadelphia

I walked the avenue till my legs felt like stone
I heard the voices of friends vanished and gone
At night I could hear the blood in my veins
Black and whispering as the rain
On the streets of Philadelphia

Ain’t no angel gonna greet me
It’s just you and I my friend
My clothes don’t fit me no more
I walked a thousand miles
Just to slip the skin

The night has fallen, I’m lying awake
I can feel myself fading away
So receive me brother with your faithless kiss
Or will we leave each other alone like this
On the streets of Philadelphia

And while we’re at it, here’s the video

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Cheap humor: Typos

Note: Most typos in this blog are intentional. MOST. 

Since words are my business, and business is food, then I present food for thought: Typos are the best. Instead of rapping your own knuckles with a ruler every time you make one, laugh at it, especially if it’s one that can be made into a dirty joke or longstanding bit of humor.

Case in point, the pointy case that inspired this blog: This very evening, I was texting with my Best Good Friend Renae, and I told her she needed to watch “The Walking Dead” on AMC. I’m sure all you zombie fans out there agree with that – but what made it hilarious was that I accidentally typed “The Walking Deaf.” Not to pick on the deaf, but the good deaf people I know are a skosh less scary than zombies. “They’re doing sign language! AAAAGGHHH!!” was my next text. It got Renae laughing, and lessened some of my unnatural fear of zombies. See? Cheap humor with long-lasting benefits. 

A google search of  "The Walking Deaf" brought up this very cute image. I hope that dog is not a zombie.

A google search of "The Walking Deaf" brought up this very cute image. I hope that dog is not a zombie.

Now every time “Walking Dead” comes on I’m going to imagine hearing aid-equipped folks walking around not doing much of anything. Just walking.

I worked for a long time on a sports copy desk for the Tulsa World. It was some of the best, and most educational, times of my career. And during that time, we had a lot of stressful shit go down. But through it all, the typos kept us laughing. My old deskmates and I still converse in a language that not many will understand, the language of overstressed copy editors laughing hysterically at each other’s mistakes. I’ll do my damndest to explain it.

I present, K-Tel’s Tulsa World Sports Desk Greatest Hits of Typos!

  • Sprots. This was the most common of our typos. It’s an easy mistake to make when you look at the proximity of the letters, and with the commonality of which we used the word. But it became so funny that every time one of us effed that word up, we had to tell everyone. The sports desk was made up of a circle of desk around the slot desk. The slot is the person in charge of getting the section out every night. Anyway, if there was a sprots incident, it usually got yelled loudly in our department. Which I’m sure agitated the news desk to no end. (Note, now they’re all one big universal desk. I’m sure the sprots folks have had to tone down their rambunctiousness, which is sad to me.)
  • Cowbots. Since both the Dallas Cowboys and Oklahoma State Cowboys are near Tulsa, we used the mascot Cowboys a lot in headlines and other display type (that’s everything besides the story itself.) Cowbots is a mistake I still make at ESPN, since we do a lot of reporting on that team in Dallas that I’m writing off. But that’s another story. Cowbots became such a popular typo that my dear friend Stacey named her fantasy football team The Cowbots. Pretty sure she wins the name challenge hands-down.
  • Toronot: We made-believe that Toronot was the Anti-Canada. This was a common typo during baseball season.
  • Jerf Gerden: I’m pretty sure this was only my mistake, but went down in history. For some reason, every time I typed Jeff Gordon’s name I fucked it up. It came out “Jerf Gerden” once. We had a guy on the desk named Jeff Huston who bore the brunt of this typo, since he was henceforth known as Jerf.
  • Stroms. No, not Thurmond. But since weather often affected sporting events, and Oklahoma has its own weather pattern that only meteoroligcal masterminds like Travis Meyer and Gary England can predict. Thus the need for sprots (ha!) people to write about stroms/storms. We had one whole high school baseball season that had to be played well into June to finish because of stroms.

There’s another incident that I can’t really explain — and it wasn’t so much a typo as a complete shut off of all my brain functioning while trying to get University of Oklahoma pages done in about a 10-minute window. I was trying to write a cutline (caption for you non-newspaper folks) about Bob Stoops having something stuck in his craw… and I basically wrote that Bob Stoops was stuck in his own craw. What the hell is a craw, you ask? I don’t know. Something to do with a chicken gizzard.

And on the subject of Bob Stoops, we all agreed that “Boob Stops” was a typo we were sure to make at any moment. Some nights, we  could only make fixes to pages if it something crucial, we called those “Boob Stops” nights.

I know there are a lot more. And I know I’ll make a lot more in the future. There’s one I’ve made at ESPN that fortunately I caught – we send out this thing called the Hot List every few hours. In the subject line of the email, I type, in all caps, making it even more privy to typos, “HOT LIST.” I cannot tell you how many times I’ve accidentally typed HOT KIST. That just makes me sound trampy. And that is NOT the image I want to convey as a proper, prim news editor for the Worldwide Leader of Sprots.

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The Great Northeast’s Super Bowl, or How I Fell Back in Love with the NBA

It’s not like I fell out of love with the National Basketball Association, really, I just would’ve been really ticked had they not played this year. For all the good that was done last year with the Mavericks winning, Kevin Durant and Co. bringing fun back to the game and the Heat and Lakers losing (HA! Still funny) it would’ve all been undone had the fools in suits tossed aside the year. I understand it’s a business, but for selfish reasons, I’m really glad they came to an –albeit tenuous — compromise.

Kevin Durant

Oh, Kevin Durant... you're the reason God make the Oklahoma City Thunder. Besides that whole Longhorn thing. We forgive you.

And if it wasn’t for the NBA and its glorious offspring, NCAA men’s basketball, I’m not sure I could tolerate the end of the football season. You see, I live in Connecticut, a state divided among Red Sox and Yankees fans, Jets and Giants and Patriots fans and Rangers and Bruins fans. A state that probably likes the Celtics a lot more than the Knicks, but I understand that.

What I don’t understand is how the 49ers and Ravens let this happen. For the love of Pete — it’s a rematch game. Didn’t we get enough of those during the BCS title game? I certainly did. And though I’m not a huge fan of any NFL team, I would’ve liked to have seen the 49ers back in this — and as a somewhat Cowboys fan, it’s not easy to  say that. My Canadian brother-in-law, whom I adore, is a big-time 49ers fan, even if their stadium looks like a glorified summer league baseball diamond. He loves the 49ers for who they had — namely Jerry Rice. And he’s Canadian, so he really doesn’t understand anyway. He doesn’t like being in the dark, either (points if you get that reference.)

Side note: The first time I saw Jerry Rice lurking about the ESPN newsroom I swear I felt a little faint. I haven’t spoken to him yet, but he seems like a nice guy, one who should be my friend. I’m afraid if I start talking to him I’ll go all Chris Farley and start asking, “You remember that time you were in the  Super Bowl? That was awesome.”

And I assume the rest of the world isn’t too thrilled about seeing Tom Brady trot his funky bunch out there again to face Eli “Elite” Manning and his stable of giant-handed receivers.

It’s safe to say that the good folks at ESPN who are from around these parts are thrilled with the participants of the Super Bowl, except for the large contingent of Jets fans, who’ve thrown their support to the Giants. I’ve moved on, to bigger and better — and rounder — balls. (Teehee! You know what I mean.) I have found myself watching the NBA ad nauseum lately, even insignificant games. But at the Worldwide Leader, with access to every game every night, I watch whatever I want. Yesterday I watched the team I hate the most, the Los Angeles Lakers, get defeated by the Milwaukee (Algonquin for “The Good Land,” thank you Alice Cooper) Bucks. It was glorious. And needless to say, if Kevin Durant and the Thunder are playing, they’re on my TV. Same with the Clippers, unless their times conflict.

The NBA was my first pro-sports love, the sport that harvested my very soul during the late 80s and 90s. So it seems natural that once again, I’m able to name starters for  most teams, as well as sixth- and seventh-man alternatives for a lot of them.

But going back to the Super Bowl: As a semi-Cowboys fan, I shouldn’t say this. But I will. I am cheering for the Giants. Have been in every game except the NFC Championship, when my love for my bro-in-law Joel and my yet-to-know-it-yet BFF Jerry Rice flourished. I am not a good Cowboys fan. I realize this. I loved Clinton Portis, have cheered for the Steelers, and didn’t hate Donovan McNabb as much as I should have. I did, however, laugh when The Real Roy Williams broke Terrell Owens’ leg. But let’s not go off-topic.

I will watch the Super Bowl. I will probably enjoy the Super Bowl. But I think the Patriots are going to win, even if I really, really, really don’t want them to. My vehemence against a team doesn’t usually help it, case in point Every Lakers Championship Ever. The day the Spurs beat them for the 2003 Western Conference semifinals, I went outside to make sure the sky wasn’t falling. I’m not making this up.

But know this: not everyone in the ESPN newsroom is basking in the glory of an all-East Coast Super Bowl. There are a lot of Cowboys fans in the newsroom, though few of them come by geographically like me. There are also a lot of Eagles and Steelers fans. Even a few Bengals and Browns fans, and a fair share of Packer Backers. It’s a motley crew of fandom.

But if you don’t want to watch the Super Bowl, that’s cool, it’s on a competing network so I’m not going to try to force it on you. I will, however, politely suggest that you tune into the NBA this season. It’s fast-paced and fun, and strike-shortened, which gives it a gladiator quality: Only the strong will survive. So many more injuries than a typical year.

And there’s talk that Gilbert Arenas may be a Laker soon. Talk about taking a gun to a knife fight! Arenas AND Artest aka Metta World Peace. Wow.

Another blog for another time…

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