Books

Rob Bell and Francis Chan

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Here’s a pretty awesome photo that was recently posted by David Vanderveen.

rob bell francis chan

It was captioned as follows:

Rob Bell and I are headed to Montreal for a project to meet an Irish sage and who would you guess we bumped into at our gate? Francis Chan…one of Rob’s more dedicated critics. Things don’t just happen.

I loved Cathleen Falsani‘s comment: “rob has the best laugh. i recognize that one.”

And this comment from Troy McIntosh made me laugh: “While the picture itself is definitely interesting, what is really intersting is that you are traveling to Montreal to meet an Irish sage.’ ?!?!?!!”

But, I think the comment that takes the cake, for me, when it comes to really capturing the spirit of what is special about this photo is the following, from Jack Boeve: “It’s a blessing when brothers dwell together in unity…even if they do happen to disagree respectfully with each other at times.”

For those unfamiliar with the ideas of Francis Chan and Rob Bell, here’s a little breakdown:

Mainstream, traditional Christian theology teaches that a certain subset of people will go to heaven. Rob Bell teaches that more people than that will ultimately go to heaven. Francis Chan teaches that not even that many people will ultimately go to heaven.

For visual learners 😀 –

who gets into heaven according to rob bell and francis chan

There are obviously nuances to both of their arguments that aren’t expressed here – what I’ve posted was a vast oversimplification. Still, it’s a jumping off point.

For those on my Facebook, you will be aware that I, personally, am firmly Team Rob. 😀 I was so deeply moved by Love Wins, and it really changed the way I look at life, spirituality, and the afterlife. Or, I should say, it affirmed the way I’ve always instinctually viewed those things, and gave me permission to stop feeling ashamed and scared for those views. If you weren’t raised in a fundamentalist church, you can’t understand why feeling like a loving God wouldn’t, for instance, send a 10 year old leukemia victim to Hell for not having had the good fortune to “get saved” yet is a terrifyingly subversive view, but it is. 🙂

Or that a loving God wouldn’t…you know…send ME to Hell for thinking that way! 😀

For years I felt like it wasn’t right to call myself a Christian, to pray, to go to church, to believe in God, etc – if I wasn’t going to accept the whole shebang…lock, stock, and brimstone-smoking barrels. After all, one of the main tenets of Christianity is that you believe all of it or none of it. So I felt, if I could not force myself to swallow the parts of it that were abhorrent to me (and don’t think I didn’t spend years trying to force myself to!), then letting the whole thing go would be the only non-hypocritical thing to do.

Still, though, I missed it! For all those years, it was a constant back and forth.

STEP 1 – Missing church, missing God, missing “being a Christian”

STEP 2 – Going back to church, getting fed up with the hatefulness, the misogyny, and the elitism

STEP 3 – Realizing the only spiritually honest thing to do would be to abandon it

STEP 4 – Return to Step 1, Rinse and Repeat 😀

And throughout every step, of course, I was internally tortured, being torn between what I actually believed and what I was supposed to believe in order to make it into Heaven.

Then came Love Wins.

When I read it, it was like the sun came out, or a light bulb came on. For the first time, I heard someone describe a Heaven that made sense to me, and criteria for getting there that made sense to me as well! And the funny thing was, it was all so simple, all so clearly laid out in the Bible, that I couldn’t believe I’d never actually seen it there myself before. It’s amazing how fear can filter information so that you can’t see what’s been right in front of you all along.

And, also, for the first time, it actually started to *feel* real to me. All those years of trying to force myself to believe in something that didn’t fit, and now *poof* – it just clicked in my head, and it instantly felt real. It was honestly, more than anything, just such a giant relief.

So, back when I was posting all of that on Facebook, during the first rush of excitement and new discovery from having read the book, my youth pastor from when I was a teenager (or maybe his wife? I don’t know, they share a Facebook account), commented on one of my status updates, recommending Chan’s book Crazy Love – which I took as a sweeter, less confrontational way of saying, “Don’t be seduced by the hipster’s loosey-goosey theology! You can’t actually get into Heaven that way! Heathen!” LOL

And that’s great, I LOVE that! I love being surrounded on Facebook by a group of friends and family that can all have divergent and passionately-held views, and can all feel comfortable to express them on my Facebook wall, even if they are different from mine, without fear of being disrespected or discounted.

That’s why I love this photo, ultimately! I love it for the fact that it shows two people who could not be further apart ideologically on the points where they diverge and yet – when they run into each other – they laugh and smile. That’s how it should be!

I also wanted to post this because I like the idea that, in the future, people will Google “Rob Bell” and “Francis Chan” in concert, expecting to come across criticisms and snipes – and will actually come across a photo of those two guys, their arms around each others’ shoulders, smiling and respectful of one another.

That’s how it should be.

Robert B Parker, You Will Be Sorely Missed

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I almost can’t believe there will NEVER be another new Spencer novel. I guess The Professional will be the last. No more Spencer and Susan, no more Spencer and Hawk.

I know Parker created other series main characters – Jesse Stone, Sunny Randall – and I enjoyed them. But I LOVED Spencer. I’ve been reading those books since high school. I felt like I knew those characters. And, now they’ve passed away, as well, I suppose – in the sense that they will never do or say anything new. Any adventures in their lives have already been had.

It’s so incredibly sad. 🙁

Meredith, Megan, and Charles Dickens

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Meredith, meet Megan.  And vice versa. You guys have several things in common.

  • You’re both on my Facebook friends list
  • Both of your names start with “Me” – weird
  • Both of you had Dickensian new years proclamations that ended up right next to each other in my feed.

I think this is fate, you guys should be friends! 😀

You Know You’re a Bookaholic When…

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I ran across this on a message board years ago, and thought it was hilarious. This was before I started keeping a blog, so I had sent it out as a mass email. However, I decided to preserve it in my blog. Some of these, I will freely admit, hit a little bit close to home.

YOU KNOW YOU’RE A BOOKAHOLIC WHEN…

* You find yourself going to the library and more than one bookstore in the same day.

* You are interrupted and asked for help in a bookstore, while returning a book to the shelf, because you are carrying such a stack of books, the other shopper assumes you work there.

* Before leaving on a family outing–anywhere in nature–your family turns to you in unison to ask “Do you have a book you can bring with you?”

* You get to work, realize that you’ve forgotten your painkillers, your inhaler and your lunch, but know that the day will be fine because you have three books.

* The second you step into your local second-hand bookshop, the owner dives into the back room and comes out laden with books he thinks you might want.

* You contemplate feeling guilty that you might be spending more time with books than with your spousal unit, but…NAH.

* You jump up and down with joy and shriek with happiness when
1. the book you have been looking for is on the shelf in the library
2. an author you love comes out with a new book

* You forget to eat or pee, because the book you are reading is so interesting!

* You look forward to a weekend night because you can read instead of going out. (I’m sure this happens to everyone, sometimes)

* You can dress, wash, brush your teeth and cook a meal as easily with a book in one hand as without.

* While touring Monticello, the guide mentions that Thomas Jefferson once had a book collection in excess of a thousand volumes and it contributed to his financial ruin — and your mother, father and fiance all turn around to give you a meaningful look.

* You ask how much somebody reads, and use that amount as serious judge of their character.

* The loads of very small type on the Dr. Bronner’s soap bottles are high on the list of why you buy the product.

* You’re cleaning out your car, and your spouse says, “You want to bring those books inside?” and you reply, “Those are my emergency backup books!” lest you ever be forced to go anywhere without having reading material at hand.

* You walk into someone’s house and you have to violently check the impulse to ignore them and immediately begin checking out their bookshelves. A corollary: when you walk into a house with no visible reading material anywhere and you immediately get nervous.

* You reject purses because their book-holding potential is low.

* You spend extra time on the exercise bike, making yourself late to work, so you can finish a chapter.

* You choose using the exercise bike over other (nominally more appealing) forms of exercise, because it offers the opportunity of reading.

* You find yourself fantasizing about books being waterproof so you could read while showering–and, when you realize they aren’t, you prop the book on the sink so you can start reading again the minute the shower is off (and you might sneak a peek at a few lines during the shower, too).

* You shamelessly cut your dinner into tiny pieces, toddler-style, so that you can eat them with a fork while holding a book in your other hand

* A young sibling approaches you for help finding a suitable book for a report, and you end up having to yell, “Come back! There’s more, I’m not done yet!”

* When you are seriously considering vacating an otherwise great apartment simply because you’ve run out of room for more bookshelves.

* Instead of leaving the apartment, you decide that you’ll buy a laptop computer so you can get rid of your bulky desk and replace it with bookshelves.

* You own several copies of a single book — the small portable copy, the thoroughly marked up copy, the critical edition, and the leather-bound hardcover.

* You pack for a weekend away and packing consists of clean underwear and many books.

* You start choosing the books you are going to read on vacation before you’ve even settled on a final destination.

* When you’re browsing in your local super-bookstore, and feel yourself becoming physically angry that you will NEVER be able to read everything you want to read.

* The librarian asks your mother if you have a TV.

* When you can smell a bookshop from 100 paces and when you can’t understand why some people insist bookshops dont smell.

* You pause on your way to the second-hand bookshop to look at the building-site that will soon be your new local library, and you fantasize about how great it’s going to be.

* You get excited about something you read and you have to proclaim it to somebody, and that somebody is usually a person who has no idea what you’re talking about…but you’re happy to tell someone anyway.

* Your answer to “What book are you reading?” will always be “Which one?”

* Your friends in elementary school had to force you to put down the books at recess and groaned when you’d read during lunch.

* Your first real, girly, dreamy crush (not counting crushes on characters in novels, of course) is on your Lit. teacher, who really isn’t all that good looking, but has an amazing reading voice.

* When said Lit. teacher tells you that he thinks you’d like Joyce and Martin Amis, you buy Dubliners, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, London Fields, The War Against Cliche, and, yes, even Ulysses the day he makes the recommendations.

* You special-order a much wanted book, and when you receive a phone call that it has arrived, you amaze the store owner by coming in ten minutes later to pick it up.

* You tell yourself that you’ll go to bed after you read just five more pages…over and over again until you find you’ve read about 200 pages and the sun is coming up.

* You feel the need to ask those who say they don’t like reading “Don’t you get bored?”

* When you agree completely with Jorge Luis Borges: “I always thought of Paradise as a library, not as a garden”

***Melanie’s Contribution: When you go to Barnes and Noble for recreation/entertainment (as you quite often do), you check out their selection of books in stock by dead authors you love…as if they might have actually published something lately. 😀

and

When your career choice (teacher) was largely settled on because of the fact that you’d get to be around books all day.

Maybe I Should Drive :)

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WHAT I’VE BEEN READING: Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris. Next week, on the CRUISE (YAY YAY YAY!!!!!) I will be reading a LOT of books. 🙂 God, I love to read.

WHAT I’VE BEEN LISTENING TO: Soulstice by David Ryan Harris. Oh my sweet lord, his voice is like honey. Every song on Soulstice is perfectly balanced. It has some of my favorite songs on it, too, like Pretty Girl, Good Thing, Get Your Way, and the heart-melting Sweetest Berry.

AMUSING POP CULTURE OCCURANCE: OK…was I right or was I right about Asslee Simpson? For the uninitiated, scroll down and see my earlier entry. I’d look it up, but I’m kinda fucking lazy right now. 🙂 The most hilarious part of the whole Milli Vanilli/SNL snafu is how, just one month earlier, she was quoted as saying (regarding lipsynching), “I’m totally against it and offended by it. I’m going out to let my real talent show, not to just stand there and dance around. Personally, I’d never lip-synch. It’s just not me.”

Really, Asslee? Is that right, now? Excellent. Irony and I will be over here in the corner just laughing our asses off at you.

WHAT’S BEEN GOING ON: I have been driving. A LOT. My car is my second home.

First of all, my Joey turned 9! 🙂 So I drove home for a few days to celebrate with him and take him to the Exploratorium. He and AuntieMel had a very special day together. 🙂

On Friday, I wanted to get down to Palm Springs to see Marc Acito read from his book “How I Paid For College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship, and Musical Theater.” I LOVE that book.

You would think that leaving Tracy at 9 am would provide enought of a window to compl,ete a (normally) 7 hour drive by 7 pm. Well, you would be wrong. Dead wrong.

The traffic was SO HORRIBLE that I didn’t make it. Not even close. I didn’t even get home to Woodland Hills until almost 9 pm. 12 hours in the car for nothing! I didn’t even make the damn reading! I was PISSED OFF to say the least. Fucking LA Traffic!

The very next day (Saturday) I took off for San Diego to see my friend Chris playing Scoop in The Heidi Chronicles. What a fabulous play! I read it in college but had never seen it before. Chris and the actor that played Susan were the standouts, IMO.

I crashed at Chris’ in San Diego, but I knew that on Sunday Marc Acito would be signing books in Palm Springs from 1:30 to 3 pm. I decided: DAMMIT!!!! TRAFFIC WILL NOT DEFEAT ME! Ev and I decided to meet up in San Bernadino and drive the rest of the way out together. A few weeks ago, I bought her a copy of Marc’s book and she loved it as well, so she was excited to meet him, too.

We made it out to Palm Springs and (after a bit of searching) located the festival (http://www.pspride.org). How spectacular!!! Drag queens, leather, costumes of all sorts…..fan-fucking-tabulous!

We found the Q Trading booth and introduced ourselves. As Marc was hugging me and I was telling him my name, he said, “Not the Melanie that’s been emailing me?” 🙂 I said, “Yes, I’m the girl that’s been cyber-stalking you.” He gave me another hug and his tone totally changed – it was like we were old buddies. I think that either he must be a genuinely nice person or he’s a PR genuis, because I definitely felt special after talking with him.

He joked around about how it felt so nice to hug soft breasts after hugging hard chests all day. I think that, personally, I could get used to hugging hard chests all day. Also, he was so impressed that we drove all the way out just to meet him that he actually left his post at the signing table to walk us to the drink tent and buy us margaritas. Woo!

We took pictures and hung out for a while. Man…what a sweetheart! Believe me, I was completely committed to pimping the book before, on the strength of the book itself, but now I am ten times MORE committed knowing that, via the pimping, I will be helping out such a truly wonderful, as well as talented, person.

Anyway, BUY THE BOOK! 🙂

Get Down in Chi-Town (Yeah, I’m Lame)

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WHAT I’VE BEEN READING: How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship, and Musical Theater by Marc Acito. It is fantastic! It’s funny, as the title may lead you to believe, but it is also very touching. It’s the only book I’ve ever read about Play People (or “dramies” as we called them in my neck of the woods). I can NOT recommend this book highly enough. It is absolutely wonderful.

WHAT I’VE BEEN LISTENING TO:
Jason Adamo. http://www.jasonadamomusic.com I missed his show tonight at the Cat Club, but I will be hitting up his set in Trudy’s backyard next spring.

WHAT’S BEEN GOING ON: I had the best weekend last weekend! I flew out to Chicago (from here in LA) to 1) visit my friend michelle and 2) let matt nathanson rock my socks off!

I don’t know that i can tell the story better than michelle did in her blurty (http://www.blurty.com/users/shellyjanuary) but i am going to do my best to tell my side of it! Haha I will warn you ahead of time, it is going to be LLLOOONNGGG so you may wanna read it in shifts.

My flight left at midnight and got in at 6:20. I had breakfast at Chili’s in the airport to let michelle sleep in a little bit more. They serve regular, denny’s-style breakfasts at the airport Chili’s. Weird. But good. I had lots of coffee.

At 8 am, michelle came and picked me up and we went back to her house. We hung out with her mom and walked her dog. Her mom made us more coffee and of course i partook. 🙂 It was very domestic! We went and saw her library and talked to the people that she works with. I got to meet this sweet high school kid that works in the kids section that is totally into theater. I love theater people, or “dramies” as I affectionately term them.

We went to Kmart and got some last minute things and while we were there i started to feel REALLY strange. The combination of being up for more than 24 hours at that point and all that coffee made me feel really lightheaded and shaky. We had an hour and a half before we could go check into the motel and i asked if michelle would be totally offended if i spent that hour and a half taking a nap. 🙂

I curled up on Michelle’s bed with her lovey-dovey kitty and tried to make myself fall asleep. I never really was able to nod off completely, but i did get some awesome alpha-state rest, and got up at 2:30 feeling great. Michelle and I got dressed and went over and checked into the lovely La Quinta Inn. We got our things and headed over to the train.

When we got off the train downtown, we stopped and had a bite at Mickey D’s. Grilled Chicken Sandwich. Yummy! We crossed the river and got in line at the House of Blues. As fate would have it, who should be in line in front of us but my friend Mark from Matt’s board! (http://www.xanga.com/home.aspx?user=pottyboomy) We hung out and talked in line, the three of us. One cool thing that happened was that at one point, four or five fire trucks pulled up, with their lights on and some sirens, but we never did find out what was going on.

We go inside the venue, which is security-nazi central. I managed to sneak in my digital camera, though, by sticking down in between my boobs. Yeah, i got skillz. Or, you know…big boobs, at least. 🙂

We ran into Emily (etscore) waiting for her friends. She joined us and we proceeded upstairs. We managed to grab (thank you, mark) what i truly believe were the sweetest seats in the house…the four barstools closest to the stage, Aben side. I got to meet Connor from Matt’s board (ccronks). Dude is 6 foot 10!!!! Being only 5 foot 2 myself, I could not help but be fascinated. I asked him if I could come stand next to him, and he graciously agreed. Standing next to him was so incredibly cool! I only came to just above his waist. AWESOME!

I really, REALLY wanted to ask him if we could take a picture together, but, yeah. That shit must get real old. 🙂 So I refrained. I felt really bad asking him all these questions about what it’s like to be that tall, but I just couldn’t stop. And he was such a sweetheart about it, even though he must get sick to DEATH of all anyone wanting to talk about being his height.

Later in the show, between sets, we got a chance to chat about other things, like his major in school and the fact that he tapes live shows. I think live tapers are so fantastic, they provide such an incredible service to the music community and they invest a lot of their own money in it. So, thanks, everyone that does that! 🙂 Anyway, as it turns out, Connor is only 20 years old! He struck me as someone much older. He has a very confident and down-to-earth demeanor. Anyway, I bought him a coke (well, he paid, i just walked to the bar and got it) because he couldn’t come to the bar area and I felt SSSOOO OOOLLLLLDDDD. Arg. I actually felt sick to my stomach thinking about how long it’s been since I couldn’t go up by the bar. 🙂 Anyway, I really enjoyed meeting and talking to connor, he’s one of those people that you chat with for a while and you feel like you want to chat with more, because they just have really good things to say. I hope i see him again, maybe at other shows.

Emily’s friend, singer/songwriter Matt Hoffer (http://www.matthoffer.com) showed up with his girlfriend and they hung out and seemed to enjoy the show.

The opener was Kyle Riabko, 16 year old blues playin’ hottie kid. Mid-Riabko, Michelle leans over to me and says, “Is that Frans over there?” (http://www.scottfrans.com) As it turns out, it was. 🙂 I have to explain who Scott Frans is. He posts on MSM, that is how Michelle and I were aware of him. He is aware of Michelle. He, however, has no fucking clue who I am. Ironically, I have (for many months now) harbored a celebrity-crush on him, although he is not technically famous, only internet-famous. I can’t help it. He’s just so damn cute! And he says clever things. I mean, like the title of his website…”Can’t We All Just Be Frans?” That’s clever.

Hell, I don’t know. Pheremones. That’s my new explanation for everything.

Anyway, Michelle and I decide to go over and pay homage to the cuteness that is Scott Frans (Michelle would probably have called it something more like “Say Hello” but that’s boring). On the way over, who should we run into but another SoCal kid vacationing in Chicago for the weekend…Chandler! He was with his new friend from work, Jen. He has not been signed on to AIM at ALL this week so I have not gotten the opportunity to grill him about whether or not she is his girlfriend, but if she is not, he should definitely try to get all over that action. She was a TOTAL cutie and a complete sweetheart. You know how with some people, you just get an immediate vibe from them that makes you feel comfortable with them, makes you feel like they are a good person? Jen was like that.

Also, she complimented me on my new black knit poncho. So the girl is in. 🙂

I have to say about Chandler that, after meeting him, I really do get why all the chicas from MSM are wanting to date him (or wanting to have him marry their daughters LOL). That kid radiates a certain charisma. He’s a sweetie, but it’s more than that. He makes you feel important when he talks to you. He’s got game, is basically what I’m trying to say! haha

We told Chandler that we were on our way to go see Frans, and (much like woodland animals in a children’s story) we all decided to proceed together. We got over to where Scott was standing and introduced ourselves. Um, can I just say that I don’t know what I thought Scott’s accent might sound like, being that he’s from North Carolina, but I did not envision anything quite as lovely as reality. We stood and chatted with him and Chikako for a few minutes, then headed back to our places because Mark was saving our seats for us.

I must be honest (considering the chances of Scott reading this are slim) and say that I was all a-flutter. My face was hot. I had butterflies. I’ve had sex that wasn’t actually quite as good as meeting Scott Frans. 🙂 Damn, what is the matter with me? Haha I’ve got such the “internet celebrity crush” goin’ for this kid.

Graham Colton Band came on. They were cool. A bit loud for me, but I liked “Jessica” and “Cigarette”. Then Matt came on. (http://www.mattnathanson.com) Oh, man. Matt rocks me so hard. Full band is so great. I have to be a bit blasphemous and say that, to be honest, I DO miss it just being matt and fish. But acoustic, intimate music is my taste. So nothing against the band. They do, indeed, RAWK.

Best part of the night? “Amazing Again” I love this song from the depths of my soul. I don’t know exactly why. Matt has songs that showcase his lyrical genius to better advantage than this one. He has songs that, objectively, I would have to say rock just as hard or harder than this one. But something about this one just gets me for some reason.

“And all the wan, hip, full-lipped lovers, they’re locked against one another and I waiver, uncomfortable in my skin.”

AW. Awesome.

Matt had Jason come up and sing some heavy metal song I didn’t recognize (sorry, Bert, just not into that kinda thing!). Emily leaned over and said, “Oh, man, the one night no one’s taping! The one night no one could bring a camera!” So I confessed that I had used the twins to smuggle in a camera and she borrowed it to take some pics. I was really paranoid about getting my camera taken away, and finally snatched it back. They are completely fucking serious about security there, to a point beyond all reason. The photos are posted at matt’s board, when I get a chance, I’ll link them here.

When the set ended (without encore, I might add, HOB nazi bastards!) Matt did not come out to the merch table. That was the one disappointment of the night. I mean, I know you go to a concert for the music and all, but I REALLY want to get a poster signed for my student that wrote matt a letter, and I didn’t get to do it at the Greek (he was pissed off and walked straight out LOL) and then didn’t get to do it when I flew out to chicago, either. It’s just disappointing.

Although, apparently some people did wait out in the cold by his van for two hours to meet him. STALKERS! Haha. I’m kidding. Except that I’m totally not.

Well, Mark is going to try his hardest to get a poster signed for me so I can send it to my student. Although he forgot about me at the TLA tonight (thanks a LOT, buddy!) there is still the 12th. 🙂

Speaking of Mark, this is when the interesting part of the evening begins. 🙂

Mark’s stoner friend had bailed on coming to the concert and Mark was supposed to stay with him that night. So, of course, not wanting to see him sleeping on the street, I invited him to come stay at the lovely La Quinta with us. We hiked for a freakin’ MILE or more back to his car (there is a difference between North and South, sweetie) and got underway, finally, after only one small incident where Mark scared the living daylights out of a guy trying to get some cash from an ATM.

OK, can I just say that Mark is clinically insane? And when I say clinically, I mean that I have used my professional judgement to make that diagnosis. And I have based it on his driving. The swerving. The singing. The stopping to talk to random people. The fooling around on his laptop while trying to drive. The more swerving. Michelle feels that most of this was a show he was putting on to get a rise out of me, and, well, it worked! I’ve been in car accidents (too many for my liking…although, how many would be to my liking? So that makes no sense. Point is…more than one) Even if it’s wussy, the crazy driving freaks me out.

Have I mentioned that Mark was making his Matt-following pilgrimage across the midwest in a “stolen” rental car? (In the sense that he wasn’t supposed to take it out of NY and here we were in Illinois) A rental car he was using because he crashed his other car. Yes.

Anyway, we made it to the train station parking lot in one piece (respectively) and picked up michelle’s car. We spent the next hour or so searching for an open coffeeshop and finally got some grub at Denny’s. After that, we went to Wal-Green’s to get some throat spray for Mark and did not come out for 45 minutes due to Mark’s total OCD and not being able to find a Matt live show CD he wanted to give to the clerk so he had the need to shuffle through his CD case not once, not twice, but one hundred and thirty seven times. 🙂

(Just an aside…Mark to me as we are headed up to the front of the store with cold medication, “What’s your feeling on stealing?” haha)

We get back to the hotel, and I have to admit, Michelle is right, Mark and I got into a little argument (or rather, I just got pissed off at Mark. Haha) because it took so long to get back to the hotel when I had been saying all night that I wanted to go back and drink and hang out and he kept finding other shit for us to do. But that all got smoothed over, and I wasn’t pissed at him anymore.

It ended up being a moot point, anyway, because he and I wound up staying up until about 10 or 10:30 in the morning talking. At about 6 or 7, we had said that, okay, it was late, we would lay down and try to go to sleep. But then we were laying there, all snuggled up and cozy, and it just felt really nice to lay there and talk. (at this point I had had two bacardi silvers and the driving incident was a distant memory LOL) So, the point being, no sleep was had until about 10:30 am. It was so cool, because Michelle would wake up for little 5 or 10 minute intervals and participate in the conversation, then fall asleep again. Very fun.

Mark is just such an interesting, entertaining guy. He’s different from anyone I’ve ever met, and his perspective fascinates me. I told him he needs to come visit me in LA. I would absolutely love to show him all the sights and get his take on them. I guaratee it would be a fresh perspective. The nicest thing about Mark, though, is like Michelle said, under all those quirks there is an indefinable likability about him that you just can’t put your finger on. He’s a sweetie, I’m glad we’re friends.

At 12:15, Michelle wakes me up. At 12:40, I woke Mark up. At 1:00, we BARELY made the checkout time.

We head to IHOP for breakfast (although it is 1:30 pm, dammit, we just woke up, it’s BREAKFAST!). I got to have my Harvest Grain N’ Nut Pancakes. So Good!!!!

Michelle and I wanted to go to the movies then and see The Forgotten. Mark decided it wasn’t really his kinda movie and he wanted to go off in search of his stoner friend anyway, so we left each other then.

Michelle and I went back to her house and got on the internet. That’s right. She was on her computer, I was on my handheld. It doesn’t get any better than that, babe. 🙂 We’ve known each other through posting for a year. I flew 2000 miles to visit her, and we sit across the room posting to each other. Internet Geeks Unite!!!!!

(About the Internet Geek club…if you have a blog, you’ll be considered…if you have a webpage, you’re in. If you have more than 5000 posts on any one message board, you are DEFINITELY in!)

We saw The Forgotten (kinda good but mainly weak. The best thing about the movie was definitely the company!) and then we went and ate really good ice cream at a local chain.

Then (sob!) time to go back to the airport. Michelle and I parted ways, until her California trip at least (AKA – Melanie acts as an enabler to help Michelle stalk Orlando and Iaon).

It seemed longer than a weekend. Possibly because I made the decision to forgo sleep. 🙂

Nice introduction to Chicago!

A Plethora of Concert Lovin’

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WHAT I’VE BEEN READING: Portofino by Frank Schaeffer. This book is so great. It’s a coming-of-age story about this kid, Calvin, who is vacationing with his fundamentalist christian missionary parents in Portofino, Italy. The seminal quote is “Most kids told lies to be special. I told lies to be normal.” It’s funny and poignant…I love it.

MOVIE I’VE RECENTLY SEEN: Shaun of the Dead. Oh my God, hilarious! I love British humor and this had the added benefit of some truly jump-worthy scares as well.

CD I HAVE BEEN SPINNING: Marc Broussard. http://www.marcbroussard.com Marc Broussard is pure sex. Pure. Sex. I think that straight guys should not even be allowed to listen to Carencro because the pure sex in their ears when those sounds start pouring out of their battery-deficient ipods just might turn them. And that would mean less boys for me. And that’s not OK. Because it’s all about me. (I know, I know…they solved the battery issue in the 5th generation. Whatever.)

GUILTY PLEASURE: Ashlee Simpson. Damn. I hate to even admit that.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, her songs are catchy. Whatever. But she did not, in point of fact, write them. Sure she has a writing credit on every song, but hell, the songwriting team Geffen hired to spruce her shit up could probably turn my blog into a hit song. It doesn’t mean I wrote said song!

She doesn’t play any instruments. That’s a problem for me in her genre of music, even if maybe it shouldn’t be. But while I don’t EXPECT pop airheads to be musicians, I DO expect rockers to be actual musicians, dammit! Is that so wrong????

She never had to pay any dues…she never had to convince a club to book her. She never had to do load in/load out. She never had to stand in front of a hostile audience that’s just waiting for the next guy and try to win them over. She never had to do any of a hundred things that people who have fought through and become seasoned have had to do, and therefore I will never admire her the way I admire the musicians I *DO* respect.

But, hell…was I playing my sister’s copy of “Autobiography” on the way to work this morning and guiltily enjoying it? Fuck me, yes I was! I hate myself a little right now. LOL

WHAT’S BEEN GOING ON LATELY: Well, one major event was the David Ryan Harris show at Little Temple here in LA. Oh, man, what a night. http://www.davidryanharris.com or http://www.ifihadadime.com (lots of good downloads at that last one)

First off, I got to meet a bunch of MSMers that I’ve never met in person before. Brandy, Trudy, Cy, Pearl, Michelle, Chandler, and Richard Young (the founder of MSM, also http://www.ifihadadime.com and http://www.firstlisten.org). It was such a small, intimate show. Maybe 50 or 60 people there. The club is incredible! I thought of Cat, because I felt as if I were in the movie Love Jones. It felt, also, like being inside a Genie’s bottle. A very cool Genie who has a Vern-influenced decorating sensibility. 🙂

Also, on the celebrity front, Scotty Crowe (Mayer’s merch manager…er…tour journal writer…er…ok, let’s just call it like it is. Mayer’s bitch. 🙂 was there. God, I used to have such the crush on him. He was standing about 5 feet from where I was sitting. It made it someowhat difficult to concentrate on the show. Haha. Apparently DRH is his next big project. He’s propelled Mayer to stardom and next DRH. Awesome. Randy Jackson was there. Or should I say, Randy Jackson was there, dawg. 🙂 Last, but SO not least…Adrian Zmed was there. Oh, yeah, baby. TJ Hooker 4 lyfe!!!!!

I concert-called Shawna for Pretty Girl. I figured since that song is about her (in our minds, anyway! haha) she should get to hear it. The show was just great. My favorite number was “Good Thing” at the end, because it was audience participation…we got to sing and clap and sway and I felt like I was back in Tongues of Fire! 🙂

“We had a gggooooodddd thing, don’t get me wrong…” FUN!!!!!!

Last Thursday, I drove down to San Diego (well, Solana Beach, technically) to see Tristan Prettyman http://www.tristanprettyman.com and OH MY GOD she is even more beautiful in person than in her photos, which I would not have thought humanly possible. Opening for her were Pete Thurston http://www.petethurston.com and Saba http://www.sabamusic.com. They were great as well. But Mizz Trizzy blew me the fuck away. She was incredible. Between everyone’s sets, it was about 3 1/2 hours in by the time she finished and I did NOT want it to be over, even though I was tired. I wanted it to keep going on and on and on and on. WOW!

Last thing to talk about, roomie Evelyn http://www.angelfire.com/va/downeasteralexa and I had a housewarming ‘do. Well…mainly Evelyn, let’s be real. haha. Evie cooked Chicken Cacciatore with Polenta and made a fabulous Mocha Almond Torte for desert. MMMMM….. I got to see some people I hadn’t seen in a while. Amy Crego was there, she is about to leave for bootcamp in a month, she joined the MARINES if you can believe it! WOW! My summer 2002 roomie Tessa was there, and I haven’t seen her for two years. I love, love, LOVE that girl. She is an incredible human. Evie’s friend Carrie came, as well as Cliff and Cerene. Chris bailed, and you can BELIEVE there is going to be hell to pay the next time EVT sees him. She denies it, but…come on. Stacie and Pat (friends of Evelyn) dropped by after the party and we did not end up getting to bed until 4. 🙂

All in all….it’s been a GREAT week, y’all!!!!!

Revel in the Randomness

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WHAT I’VE BEEN READING: Nothing. Isn’t that HORRIBLE? I’m gonna pick up a book tomorrow.

WHAT I’VE BEEN LISTENING TO: Matt Hoffer. http://www.matthoffer.com Emily (etscore) from Matt Nathanson’s board recommended him. His music is great. He’s pretty easy on the eyes, too, and I can’t lie and say that’s not a plus. 🙂

WHAT’S BEEN GOING ON: OK, this is a random collection of things…I make no promises of cohesiveness. But, like the subject line says, revel in the randomness.

1) I took the okcupid.com slut test and it determined that I am 75% slut. My roomate took it and only scored 49%. WHOOPS!

2) I saw Ernie Halter http://www.erniehalter.com at Highland Grounds the other night, and it was so good! It was a little odd, i must admit, after having listened to mp3s of his songs for about a year, to see that familiar voice coming out of a live human. Strange. 🙂

3) Evie and I saw a screening of Wimbledon at the Arclight the other night. I thought it was Meh. The tennis scenes were somewhat engaging, but the love story was completely chemistry-less, IMO.

4) I made a blurty for my concert schedule. It’s http://www.blurty.com/users/melanieconcerts

5) I’m flying out to Chicago at the beginning of October to see Matty Nay Nay in concert and hang with Michelle (ShellyJanuary) and XXXtine. Woo Hoo!

6) My crappy old phone died, and I got the coolest phone/camera/pda/internet EVER!!! The Treo 600

http://www.handspring.co.uk/products/treo600/index.asp

7) All this music talk and seeing live music lately has inspired me to tell one of my classic music stories. 🙂 Probably my best concert story ever. Here goes:

The one concert that I went to at Pepperdine that was HILARIOUS
(albeit unintentionally) was Tait, a solo project of one of the guys
from DC Talk.

Picture this: audience full of uptight, repressed Pepperdine Church
of Christ kids who express enthusiasm by politely tapping their
fingertips against their palms. These kids think drums are
controversial. Michael Tait runs out on stage, grabs the mic in the
mic stand, bends it all the way to the floor, Aerosmith-style, and
screams into it, “MALIBU!!!!!!! ARE YOU READY TO
ROCK?????”

To which he was answered with silence. Utter. Stunned. Silence.
My friend Ryan leaned over to me and whispered, “Umm…I think
possibly they’re *not* ready to rock.” 🙂

The lesson there? Anytime you begin the question, “Are you ready to rock?” with the word “Malibu”…the answer is going to be “No.”

I Live in SoCal Now!!!

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WHAT I’VE BEEN READING: The DaVinci Code. I know I hopped on that train kinda late, but there you have it.

AMAZING MOVIE I’VE RECENTLY SEEN: Garden State. SEE IT! I will not speak to you again until you see it. Kickass soundtrack, too.

WHAT I’VE BEEN LISTENING TO: Justin Hopkins. Great singer/songwriter. http://www.justinhopkinsmusic.com I discovered him on soundclick. Soundclick is great, a lot like the old mp3.com. You have to sort through a lot of crap on there to discover someone truly quality, but when you do, it’s worth it. Justin proves that.

WHAT’S BEEN GOING ON: Well, there’s the whole moving drama, which I will update later on. But, in the meantime, I’ll just do a concert review to tide everyone over.

I went and saw Matty Nay (WOO!, of course!) , Howie Day (whatever), Guster (WOO!), and O.A.R. last Thursday at the Greek in LA. Beautiful outdoor venue, right in Griffith Park.

I was really there to see Matt, but LOVED seeing Guster as well.

Here’s the review I posted on Matt’s official board:

the set was rockin’ and funny…the security guard that was stationed near me was bobbing his head and laughed a few times. and when matt’s set was over, he asked me, ‘what’s his name again?’ so, new convert for sure.

lemme think…i know i had things i wanted to say, let me organize my thoughts here.

* I really dug the intro to “I Saw”
* Matt’s facial expression during the bit before “Curve of the Earth” was funny…as well as the fact that he had his middle finger up during the whole pseudo phone conversation. That was a funny visual.
* I liked the lyric, “I wasn’t lyin’ when I told you all that you could be, but it was no use ’cause you were fucking everyone else but me.” during Lost Myself.
* Matt was awesome, but the (relatively small) crowd was just NOT into it. FUCKERS.

Here’s a sort of funny realization I had at the concert, although not during matt’s set.

I had front row tickets, and the hippyish kids sitting on either side of me were each pretty rabid OAR fans. They were very unruly dancers, as well. The guy on the one side kept stepping on my foot, and about the sixth time, he turns and concert-yells in my ear, “Did that hurt?” No, moron. The laws of physics are suspended for you and it actually *doesn’t* hurt when my sandle-clad foot gets stepped on by your doc martins. several times. and then the girl on the other side of me kept trying to convince me to “get more into it.” Her campaign eventually resulted in it apparently being necessary for her to grab my wrists and try to make me dance. and, yeah…i’m not so much into the stranger-touching.

As I was walking to my car i found myself thinking “damn hippies!” Then I realized that since I am not, in fact, an old man circa 1967…that’s probably not the correct phrase for me. LOL I think the problem is that I may need to admit to myself that I’m getting too old for the front row. Or maybe just stay away from OAR concerts, I don’t know. Their fans might be a bit much for me.

New shows are on the horizon, as well:

9/11 – Ernie Halter, Highland Grounds, LA
9/18 – David Ryan Harris, Little Temple, LA
9/29 – Joss Stone, Tower Records on Sunset
10/20 – Gavin deGraw, Coach House, San Juan Capistrano (maybe)
10/22 – Gavin deGraw, HOB, Hollywood
10/26 – Ari Hest, Roxy on Sunset

I’m Finally a Liberated Woman, 30 Years After the Fact

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WHAT I’VE BEEN READING: Fear of Flying, Erica Jong. Discussed in more detail below.

WHAT I’VE BEEN LISTENING TO: Well, usually I use this space to tell about an artist or CD I’ve been spinning a lot. But, for the past couple of weeks I’ve been pumping three particular songs. Over and over. Three very HOTT songs. They are Gavin deGraw’s cover of “Let’s Get It On” Usher’s “Burn” and Jordan Knight’s “Give It to You.”

WHAT’S BEEN GOING ON: OK, like I said, I’ve just finished reading Fear of Flying. How is it possible that I’ve never read this before? I feel liberated! I feel absolutely set FREE! FOF was released in 1973, how is it possible that I am still dealing with the issues that were exposed by this book? One of the main issues is how to strike a balance between being a fully realized artist or intellectual while also being a fully realized woman. Society tells us (YES, *still* tells us) that a desire for the emotional or the sexual in a woman negates a desire for the intellectual or artistic. This is not true for men, why is it even STILL true for women?

Why must women either be “the girl you marry” OR “the girl you screw”….why can’t they be both? Why can’t a woman embrace both romanticism AND carnality, like a man can? Why can’t a woman fully experience, as part of her humanity, both love AND lust (and not necessarily for the same person)?

Reading this novel, I honestly felt as if Jong were writing about me. There are so many passages in it that made me say out loud, “YES!”, drawing puzzled stares from people as I sat alone reading. I didn’t even care. This book made me dig a pencil and a highlighter out of my bag so I could start marking it up, an urge I haven’t had since college. For the first time in SO LONG I feel like I’ve really read something that’s challenged me, changed me. That’s a feeling I’ve missed so desperately! I started crying when I closed the last page of this book, because until that moment I hadn’t even realized that sensation was gone from my life. I didn’t feel the pain of its absence, oddly enough, until it came back – and then I was struck by the full effect.

Literature is so important to me, but these past years it doesn’t seem to affect me deeply the way it once did. I don’t know if it’s because the quality of the prose I expose myself to has declined or because I’ve become jaded. I suspect a combination of the two.

I want to share some parts that were particularly meaningful to me:

1) The concept of the Zipless F**k. The ZF is the ultimate fantasy casual sex encounter…no fuss, no muss, you never even learn the ZF’s name. “The zipless f**k was more than a fuck. It was a platonic ideal. Zipless because when you came together, zippers fell away like rose petals, underwear blew off in one breath like dandelion fluff. Tongues intertwined and turned liquid. Your whole soul flowed out through your tongue and into the mouth of your lover. For the true, ultimate A-1 f**k, it was necessary that you never get to know the man very well.” When Jong introduced the Zipless F**k, she introduced the idea that women can, and DO, want and have sex simply for sex’s sake just like men do.

2) A perfect explanation of the exact trap I fall into EVERY time I fall in love. “I would become servile, cloying, saccharinely sweet: the whole package of lies that passes in the world as feminity.” Damn. I do that! My true self, my honest personality, is: sarcastic, intelligent, sassy, cutting, bright, witty, and bold. Why do I transform into this blob of super-sweet dependant jelly every time I love someone? I need to really heavily examine why I do that, and subsequently STOP doing that.

Possibly it’s because I’ve been socialized to believe that men only love servile, sweet women who don’t challenge them? That’s not, in point of fact, true…so maybe all I need is to have a meeting between my subconscious beliefs and my consciously-known reality in order to change my behavior. I don’t know. I need to let that marinate for a while.

3) Finally, someone putting words to why I ALWAYS fall for literary or artistic men, and diefy them far more than they deserve…far more than ANYONE deserves, for that matter. This quote could be about Melanie, not Isadora. It’s THAT on point. “I’ve always set a high value on words and have often made the mistake of believing in words far more than in actions. My heart (and my c**t) can be had for a pithy phrase, a good one-liner, a neat couplet, or a sensational simile.”

I feel like this book should be on the curriculum of every women’s study course in every college in the nation, if not the world. I feel like Erica Jong should be respected as a feminist on the level of Gloria Steinhem or Germaine Greer (although I do realize that, to academics, Steinhem represents a brand of “telefeminism” that bears little resemblance to the TRUE ideals of feminism, she is a well known name and it is for that purpose that I use her as an example here). She was the first woman to proclaim, through her writing, that women deserve to be sexually liberated! It doesn’t make us “sluts” if we want sex on OUR terms and not a man’s! It doesn’t make us “whores” if we want to fully embrace our humanity, including celebrating our sexuality!

The puritanical ideals that this country was founded on and largely continue to operate on socialize women to believe that we must legally sell ourselves to men in marriage before we can express ourselves sexually. People who subscribe to this philosophy would argue that those restrictions (no sex before marriage) are placed on men as well, but this is only in theory, not in practice. What’s the male equivalent of the word “slut” again? Of “whore”? Oh, right, there isn’t one.

Also, this same Judeo-Christian philosophy espouses the idea that Men are supposed to be the Head of relationships, and that women are supposed to Submit themselves to Men’s authority. Women give away their freedom, their individuality, their very PERSONHOOD by binding themselves to men in the state of servitude known as marriage. (Not legally, not anymore THANK GOD, but in the “faith”) Men do not give up any of these things to get married. Why is that surprising, however, when the entire faith is based on a book WRITTEN BY MEN?!

There are friends of mine that would be extremely shocked to read my thoughts on this matter. Maybe they will read it and maybe they will be shocked. After all, I am supposed to be a “Christian.” But what does that mean? What does “being a Christian” mean, in reality? Does it mean I can’t also be an intellectual? That I can’t also be an artist? That I should blindly accept the beliefs of others without internally struggling with them myself? Because that goes against everything that I believe and feel most deeply, and I simply can’t do that.

And lately, truthfully, I’ve been having some real problems with Christianity as a faith (if you couldn’t intuit that LOL). In the Bible, there are stories about men with multiple wives. Stories about men having mistresses and it being OK. NO stories about women being able to engage in these practices. There are stories about men RAPING women, and the *women* being shunned and shamed for it. Christianity is a misogynistic religion, it is. And I am a liberated feminist to my very core. How can I reconcile those two things?

My old friends that would be the MOST shocked to read this, in fact, belong to a denomination where women are not even allowed to be in leadership or speak in public. *I* don’t belong to that denomination, but it’s merely a different facet of the same religion that I have assigned myself to for many years. How can I, as a woman, continue to support that?

I haven’t drawn any conclusions about any of these questions yet, but I absolutely LOVE that I read a book that’s forcing me to examine them! 🙂 Socrates was correct, I believe, in saying that the unexamined life is not worth living. So bring on the microscope, baby, and…”Let’s Get It On.”

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