Category Archives: music

I Dare You to Watch This Only Once

Aunt Napper’s Easter Egg Tree

napper easter treeSome things are perfect. The old tymey songs you sang with your aunt in Bellows Falls, the laughs you had together doing so, and the Easter egg tree on her piano.

No room for improvement.

Because We Work With Children

At work, it seems the kitchen is always a battleground. Not only do people steal each other’s creamer or entire lunches – even groceries – cleanliness is an issue. People leave befouled utensils and dishes in the sink as if they will magically cleanse themselves. I asked a male colleague why this occurs. He said, “Because we work with children.” He didn’t mean their physical age.

 

 

God love the women who install workplace signs like, “Your Mother Doesn’t Work Here.Do Your Dishes.” Otherwise-likeable people in offices everywhere “soak” their dishes in the only sink big enough for lactating employees to rinse their breast pumps. Once I taped up a laminated medical photo of multiplying bacteria in a wordless volley on behalf of the breast-feeders. Someone removed it (as another sign in my condo recently warned, “We don’t know who…YET!”) because, apparently, the sign-remover thought it gross. Look in the sink, pally. There’s your gross.

It’s just another terrible example of how mankind has made little progress. We’ve killed each other differently over time, from spears to boiling oil to nerve gas to WMD, but we are still murdering each other and taking each other’s stuff and many, many of us won’t pull our own weight. Not to mention the littering.

I realize there are brain health issues. Some people are just barmy. And for most of my adult life I had neither a dishwasher nor washing machine and I promise you those items make a BIG difference, and it’s one reason why many peoples of the lands hate Americans. We don’t have dysentery every Thursday or have to beat our clothes with rocks, riverside.

protourgolfcollegedotcomThey resent our easy lives, if in part only because they don’t know how crazy we are. I understand because I have struggled in my life on many occasions and I resent handsome, moneyed, model-marrying quarterbacks, golfers, and rock stars, and the models themselves who had to work even less hard. Some say, “Oh, the life of a pro golfer is extremely difficult.” Try custodial work, my good man.

My point being some people are bonkers, and some are resentful and devoid of hope; this discourages them from making an effort. I get that. But there’s a big difference between quietly begrudging the people with charmed lives, and making a disastrous mess out of the corner of the world you share with others because you’re deranged or angry.

Mercifully, there are many good people. A stranger once said to me, “Most people are good. The bad people are noisy and obvious in their destruction so it seems there is a lot of them. Really, there are only a few bad people doing all the bad things.” Repeat offenders, I guess. So I take solace in that good people are quietly stoking their woodstoves and paying their rent and raising gentle citizens and shoveling their neighbors’ driveways. There are countless individuals doing decent things you’ll never hear about. If you are feeling bad about humanity, think on that. I’ll ponder the kindly employee at my gym who washed dozens of water bottles in Lost & Found and put them out for their owners to claim. She didn’t have to wash them. She did.

elle kingAnd when you hear some great piece of music, the second you hear it your soul soars and you are in absolute awe with, “This must be some kind of genius!” and you know for certain there is a God of some sort, inherent in us, and that despite the madness and laggardly sloppiness in this cruel world there is brilliance and kindness and a dancing bird and art of all kinds. And you also know there is no possible way this is random. For every crazy or selfish maniac ruining everyone’s good time there are millions more making a good time, improving things, usually unheralded, unthanked, and unassuming.

I’m not one to candy-coat things in the present, but the past is another matter entirely. The Nostalgia Monster lives inside me, handed down from my father, I think. I’m a nostalgic, to the point of missing people, residences, jobs and situations that I didn’t actually enjoy at the time. It’s one of those species-perpetrating neurological tricks, like women forgetting the pain of childbirth –  if we remember our past fondly, we’ll want to keep going! The good news is if you were ever unkind to me, I’ve probably forgotten. I remember only the sparkly thing you said while ice skating, and I miss you for it, and there are others out there like me who bear you no grudge.

If you’re pinching lunches or littering or hurting people or assuming the world owes you something, like a big, petulant baby, for God’s sake, knock it off. In the future, we’ll like you either way. But in the present, we’ll like you a whole lot more if you’d tighten it up. It’s nice to be responsible; it’s fun to be liked. Give it a go. You’ll see. Good day.

Facebook: ann.aikens.7 … Twitter: @uvgvt.

Catch Joe Bonamassa Live

Joe B lgJoe Bonamassa, iconic blues guitarist who was a child prodigy played with the likes of B.B. King, usually plays big, bluesy shows with the asskicking bands he puts together, in a (happily, for us) relentless tour schedule.

This show, while technically acoustic, does not feel small and everything about it rocks the house (note Australian backup singers’ costumes). The only dates left are right away in NY but I can’t help but hope he trots some of this material out similarly in his Germany, UK and US spring tours because this (sometimes Middle Eastern-influenced) show blew the minds of Burlington right into the cosmos. I’m definitely getting the album when it appears. Here’s who’s playing with him and if you can get tickets, for God’s sake GO. You won’t regret it.

*Forgive my crappy photo. Not pictured is Tina Guo, Chinese cellist whose expertise spans from classical to heavy metal, nor her astonishing gown or insane musical stylings.

Polar Vortex Follies

dietzyNew Englanders are not sissies. In our winter not as snow-dumped as the coastline’s yet brutal in its wind and crushing sub-z temps, we’ve had to make due. As we observed the recent anniversary of the liberation from Auschwitz and current global horrors, we know things could be much, much worse.

And so, because we can, we amuse ourselves in between the complaining. I, for example, unapologetically guzzle discounted Valentine chocolates in bed without brushing. Dreaming is cheap and I go hot places—the Keys, Hell, some award ceremony where I’m burning up under the lights. Others are stoking their woodstoves with such vigor it’s like Havana in there. They’re making dinner in their underwear, as did probably the colonists. Wood heat is sizzling, man; between that and their itchy wool, colonists were surely warmer than today’s oil burning homeowner playing Drop That Thermostat against housemates or sometimes even himself.

As a stranger once advised, unsolicited, during my first icy winter in Vermont: “You have to embrace it.” That year I’d snowshoe in gale-force winds, wincing (passers-by thought smiling?) and willing myself, by God, to embrace it. This year as nutters pass, ice-jogging in shorts … kids with no mittens, no hat, unzipped jacket (hood hanging useless) blowing wide open … I’ve embraced it — not while undulating in a stalled chairlift at 20 below but by reading under a blanket, baking, knitting … with a brief tundra walk daily in a fleece burka to pretend I’m outdoorsy. Others more brave went snowshoeing, skiing, skating and, insanely, ice fishing. They claimed to like it. Stockholm syndrome?

Still, people are getting cranky. Things that annoy have become intolerable. A friend writes:

“If Google is going to track my every move online and use it to serve up ads, couldn’t they at least do it better?  Last fall I bought a dehumidifier.  Every website I visit is still shows me ads for . . . dehumidifiers. Brilliant.  Because really, who can stop at just one? Someday, the technology will advance to the point where The Cloud understands that a person who just bought a dehumidifier is a person who now owns a dehumidifier and as such, is probably no longer in the market for a dehumidifier.  Someday, the uploaded consciousness of Don Draper will determine, ‘Maybe the dehumidifier was a desperate act and now this guy could be in the market for, say, a mold abatement service.’ Or the Internet will offer the proud new dehumidifier owner fun accessories like an “I ♥ DEHUMIDIFIERS” bumpers sticker or a cross-stitch pillow saying, “A dry basement is a happy basement and it’s also a perfectly fine dwelling for your brother-in-law until he can get his act together and besides, it’s just for a few weeks, we think.”  See guys, that’s the real promise of big data—that’s artificial intelligence; that’s the future.  That’s when I’ll know that handing over my last vestiges of privacy has been truly worth it.”

Another crank, a surgeon, explains how he learned to detest the inconsistency of the Automatic world of modern tymes:

panes“It began while scrubbing at the surgical sink for five minutes. They installed one row of scrub sinks that automatically went on by hitting them with your knee, with another “modern” set that automatically went on by sensing your hand under the faucet. I sustained an Automatic Injury whenever I would hit the bottom of the sink with my knee expecting it to go on only to realize that I was not at the Automatic Sink. It begat Automatic Envy as my knee was hurting and I wished I were at that other sink. Automatic Anger took over as I’d go limping into the operating room. It doesn’t stop there.”

One antidote to automatic envy, cabin fever, and Polar Vortex antics is … music! I sing badly to homemade CDs, playable in my unModern car. Studies show that, of people who do things in groups (sport teams, political clubs, choirs), people who sing together are happiest. And healthier! Some suggest it’s the vibration on the thymus gland improving immune response to biogremlins. I chalk it up to the sheer joy of harmonizing, resonating, and laffs, for all chorale groups snicker together. Who couldn’t, with what the tenors are saying back there?

My republican and democrat friends fraternize, often singing. We red and blue Valley pals have the best time, snorting away—we just don’t talk politics.table Or we do and let it go. We know we’re lucky to have heat and power; what’s a little difference of opinion among friends? Little tip for you there, warring peoples of the Land. Warble, harmonize, titter your way to amity. Good vortex. Good day.

Lists Are Good For You

And now a tribute. To the mighty, the daunting, the beloved…the list.

dw parade m+mI don’t have a real bucket list. If I did, Disney World® wouldn’t be on it; I didn’t know it was any good. I went to Disney in my 40s by chance. When most people hear, “I’m goin’ to Disney World!” they think Sooperbowl. I think: time capsule, spinning teacups manned by deranged nieces, and Christmas parades with “princes” in wigs with many hair follicles per square inch. Also: pack well. Unexpected weather and unplanned befoulment demand backup.

SW1While a winter trip to a theme park ain’t exactly Christmas in New England, a good way to steel yourself is to get a flu shot then go to one. Disney’s a good bet because as the sweat of many nations and the sputum of the Lands settles upon you, you are exposed to virtually every germ currently available. It is, after all, a small world, certainly for a microbe. And as you build character standing on lines for rides and hear songs that won’t leave your head ever, you leave the prior year behind entirely—often a good idea.

Before I get into a favoured list of deep importance, the annual Fake New Year Predictions, here a short list of things overheard at Disney World:sw3

-Will all the lines be this long?

-I don’t think this line actually goes anywhere.

– It makes the line longer.

-We’re definitely under surveillance.

-Disney World is a young man’s game.

-I don’t want to go peeeeeeee peeeeeeeeeee! (said by more than one child from more than one nation in more than one Land on more than one day.)

– Did you say “teeming thong?!” NO, teeming THRONG.dw parade olaf

-This. Line. Is. Going. Nowhere.

Lists! Weekends generate lengthy lists. Line ‘em up and knock ‘em down.  Dump? Check! Tenny? Check!! Margherita – rocks – salt at Richardson’s Tavern? Checkarooni. Another…good day.

On to the prescient populist predictions for 2015, submitted by you the people from ME to FL, NH to CA:

North America will break up along the Mississippi and drift apart.

Angelina Jolie will have an affair with Jennifer Aniston.

Office betting pools explode on which former Disney child star will implode next.

Congress will be fined for not working; fined members will be unable to run again.

3D printing will be applied to implants from cheek to calf.

Jenna Bush Hager and Chelsea Clinton will decide to run for president in 2016.

With cheap gas, the price of vintage Hummers will strengthen.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will steal the rights to his own life story from himself, then turn it into a multi-billion dollar video game called Zuckerville, a place where he has the rights to all players’ personal information.  Suckerville?

The first smart refrigerator will arrive, voicing the caloric, fat, sodium, sugar, protein and fiber content inside.  It will lock after 8pm and won’t admit entrance until 6am.

Texas will secede.

Quebec will secede.

Killington will secede.

Punxsutawney Phil will be canned when he is bitten by a vampire and no longer casts a shadow.

ISIS will splinter off into new factions, one of which by year’s end will become the world’s most popular boy band.

More people will buy VW campers and park in Walmart lots to avoid campground fees, accumulating decals for amusement parks, roadside attractions, and states.

Americans will be required to rescue an animal by paying for its care or adopting it.

Vladimir Putin will be poisoned by an elite squad of journalists.jw mkaltydotorg

Putin will come out as gay, step down as President, and marry figure skater Johnny Weir.

The inane patter on award ceremony red carpets will worsen.

People will leave [followed by unintelligible gibberish].

 

I will be befuddled by new social media I’m supposed to master (Yik Yak?).

I will not gain weight (glad you said fake.)

I will stick to my New Year’s resolution to be happy and smile at everyone I meet.

I’m going to have sex every day.

 

Due to Equatorial Vortex Irene, we’ll have 90-degree days at the end of February.

Candidates vying for the presidency will optimistically fund new dog breeds, the Dachsoodleman (dachshund, +poodle + Doberman) and Cockzerstiff (Cocker Spaniel +Schaunzer + Mastiff) for his/her Whitehouse dog .

And my ties for Personal Favorite:

Rather than “predict, I “wish” we could all just slow down, get our faces out of electronic devices and embrace the outdoors…but silly me, then corporations wouldn’t make bank.

We will have weather.

A unifying figure will emerge.

 

sw adiosWith that, I wish you great list-making, great outcomes, great incomes, and good day.

Come to Vermont ~ Tweed it!

Learn it. Love it. Live it.

Learn it. Love it. Live it.

There is no greater fun than the 5th annual Tweed River Music Festival, happening this weekend in the middle of Vermont.

Here is a schedule/overview of the artists. Stick around for musical wizard and host Bow Thayer, whose great new line-up is on at 9 pm on Friday; his other rockin’ outfit, Perfect Trainwreck, will perform Eden in its entirety on Saturday night (a spectacle!) Ask me now and I’ll give you particulars. Find me there, and I’ll tell you what to buy at the merch tent. We’ll dance.

Come! Camp or stay at an inn, swim & fish in Silver Lake or the Tweed & White River swimming holes…skinny-dip, tube, kayak, vegetate, and ~ oh yeah ~ listen  to kicka** music outdoors in gorgeous Vermont.

Kudos to Tweed River Productions for scheduling PERFECT weather: hot enough to swim by day, cool enough for jackets by night. Hey music fans, Tweet this Tweed!

It’s a Grand Old…Peace Dove?

foj engine 2

What’s a parade without Engine 2?

I love a parade.  What’s better than a marching band? Nothing. And what’s the most important section? The drums, of course [no pix cuz I have no technology to blur the faces of the yoots in the Randolph Union High School marching band. Which would look  creepy anyway.]

 

 

foj health angels

GMC’s Health Angels.

The next best part of any parade is the nutters. These ones are the Gifford Medical Center “Health Angels.” The front of their “biker” shirts said, “Who’s Your Doctor?” and they carried placards with stuff like, “Catch it early or it could get surly,” or “Colons and Prostates: Go there.” My favorite was, “After 50, Give ’em a Squeeze.”

foj peace doves

Note olive branch.

But wait, there’s more! My church made “Peace Doves” one year for the heck of it — giant doves to be paraded about town in a promotion of peace. These birds are trotted out from time to time. While I don’t take issue with our national anthem being about war, I understand those for whom it’s a bother, and stand behind my anti-war brethren 100%. Here they are, the Peace Nutters!

Happy [Non-] Mother’s Day

EdenWhile all women have mothers, not all are mothers. I salute you today, maiden aunts of the world. Here is your swamp rock gift by “modern backwoods” band, Bow Thayer and the Perfect Trainwreck. Play #11, Happy Ending.  This song captivated at their record release show with its hypnotic speed + cool vocals.

Nod to mothers: A boy in church, when asked why we celebrate Mother’s Day, replied: “Because of the special love of a mother.”

Bow Thayer and Perfect Trainwreck’s album, Eden, was written almost entirely on electric banjo and fuses experimental elements with Americana, rock, bluegrass, and folk. 

“Not many people move to Vermont to pursue a career in music. But for me, it felt right…” says Thayer. “Because Vermont is so isolated and rural, I feel like I’m looking at society as an outsider, which is a big part of my perspective on this record. It also feels like we are in a bubble trapped in time in many ways. It’s beautiful and weird.”

“Harkens back to the rootsy groove of The Band.” – Twang Nation

Obey the Sign

i'd tap that shoe oddity biggerMy own weird example of asking for (and receiving) a sign is how I landed in L.A.  I had abandoned NYC after 1 too many psychotic boss & boyfriend let-downs and was living in VT. The ponies! The lakes! But I was fraternizing/knitting with people twice my age. Knowing I could relocate back to VT, a retirement/casket state, I asked the Forces one day while driving: “Forces, where should I move?”

Exactly then, the Killington radio station WEBK (The Peak) played Randy Newman’s I Love L.A.  [Who would spin that song at a New England ski resort — DJ Jungle Jane?]  I laffed. I left.  “I got it; I’m gone.”

While snowshoeing today, a cloud formation looked suspiciously like the I’d Tap That t-shirt maple tree. Clearly it means I should tap that.

Obey the sign, even if you didn’t ask for it.

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