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Concerts With Mom

As far back as I can remember, my mom and I have had a special bond. During high school when high school drama reared its ugly head, my mom and I became close. Like Lorelai/Rory levels of close. Now we tell each other everything. Well, maybe not everything. (There are some kid things that you still hide from your parents, you know?) And ever since then it’s been easy for me and everyone else in my life to point out all the ways I’m similar to my mother.

For starters, we share the same hatred of what we like to call “organized group activities.” We mock baby showers and turn our noses up at college welcome weekends because no one has time for that crap. We share similar tastes in cars and desserts. We take pride in our education and both read constantly. We also have the same colored eyes, if that counts for anything.

We also disagree upon a lot of major things. I get angry when she doesn’t go to the doctor and works far too hard at her job. She gets angry about my taste in men and my tendency to wear Converse to family events.

The best thing I got from my mother, however, is a love of music. When I was little, my mom’s vast collection of CDs and records were fascinating to me. How had she gathered them all? I thought she was the coolest person in the world. I still do.

But that music collection came with one catch, as did having extremely strict, Catholic parents: My mom never let me listen to Britney Spears when I was little. Everybody at school loved her and were going to her concerts, but my mom shielded me from her and her famous belly button because she was worried that I would later become a woman with loose morals. Instead, she handed me her Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Feetwood Mac, and Elton John albums and simply told me, “Here, these are better.”

Suddenly, I was let into my mother’s world. I was listing to the music that made her seem so mysterious to me. At the time, I was still upset that she wouldn’t let me listen to the great pop re-imagining of 1999 (and I still tell her that Aerosmith could have done the same damage on me as Britney), but what she did give me was a sense of cool.

No matter where I’ve been in my life, my obsession over rock music has what’s made me seem cool to other people. It’s been something I can talk about with others. When I started my new job in the spring, my coworkers seemed to think I was some badass alien in blonde hair-blue eyed form that wrote killer press releases during the week and frequented hipster bars on weekends (which I sometimes do).

I owe my persona to my mom. She can’t get mad at me now when I wear band shirts to Christmas dinner because she solidified my fashion when she forced Bad Company upon me. I also blame my empty pockets on her, because I’ve spent an embarrassing amount of money on concert tickets this summer alone.

This past week my mom came to visit me in Des Moines to see one of our very favorite bands, Heart. I bought the tickets, a treat I’ve been waiting to give her for a long time. After all the years of her buying me Bon Jovi tickets for my birthdays, I was finally able to give back the favor. Now, we had to sit through Cheap Trick as an opener (the second time we’ve suffered through them as an opener, actually), and had to watch Joan Jett, who was just OK (I’m more of a Runaways fan myself), but when Ann and Nancy finally came onstage, everything felt right with the world.

My mom made me listen to Heart when I was a kid not just because it was good music, but because it was a band run by two strong, extremely talented women. And Ann and Nancy Wilson always reminded me of my mother. They were smart, they wrote good music, they were beautiful, and they never let men stand in their way. They were their own trend setters. And my mom always taught me to do the same.

Rock music is one of my favorite things, and if my mom hadn’t forced me to love it all those years ago I wouldn’t be the me of today. Just another thing she can hold over me for the rest of my life, like mothers do.

Suicide Squad: Not Bad, But Not Great

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Have we had enough yet? Did we really need the latest DC Comics adaption of “Suicide Squad,” an obscure comic that, let’s be honest, most of the world had never paid attention to until Margot Robbie put on those hot pants?

The problem with “Suicide Squad” isn’t the feminist thing, nor the whole nonsensical plot. Nope, it’s the idea that somewhere out in the depths of Hollywood one brave soul will someday be able to recreate “The Dark Knight” in terms of story and making a lot of money.

Doesn’t anyone ever remember that lightening doesn’t strike twice? Catering to the nerd culture isn’t going to work if you want to make a comic adaption the rest of us want to see. But it doesn’t really work when you alienate the very fans that want it in the first place.

Of course, like most people, I don’t know much about the “Suicide Squad” comics. Read the rest of this entry

Ghostbusters: A Reasonable Verdict

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I’ll admit it; I’m not the biggest fan of the original “Ghostbusters.” It’s not that I don’t think it’s funny or spooky or a total rarity in and of itself. It’s just, I don’t know, not my favorite form of comedy.

Of course, the original “Ghostbusters” came out in 1984. Some of the jokes and the effects don’t hold up anymore. That happens with any film as time goes on. Since I was never that into Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd vacuuming up ghosts, I was intrigued by a 2016 version featuring an all-female cast. The rest of the world, though, wasn’t so into it.

I felt defensive and protective over the new busters. I told myself the new movie would be funny. Paul Feig is a good director. It’s cast is incredibly talented. Internet trolls and media critics be damned.

All of those things are still true, even after I’ve seen the film. But now I know where the reboot’s true weakness lives. Read the rest of this entry

The Emotional Stages of Seeing Guns N’ Roses Reunited

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Over 4th of July weekend I saw the newly reunited Guns N’ Roses in Chicago. I had been planning for the concert with my friends for months. GN’R has been my favorite band since 7th grade and I refused to even acknowledge a tour until the band was reunited. It was an emotional night for a fan like me. Here’s how it went:

*Note: It took me almost two weeks to write this because I’m still too emotional to talk about most of it.*

 

-We arrive at Solider Field. There are a lot of people there. Most of them are a few generations older than me.

-We find our seats quickly but then make the mistake of heading to the merch station.

-The thought process was that we needed a band shirt to celebrate the momentous occasion. The problem was the merch line was forever and a day long and we were getting shoved out of the way by bikers who thought small blonde girls couldn’t hang.

-We did finally make it to the merch table and selected our purchases quickly. I made a new friend with the girl behind me who decided to get the same shirt I got. Nothing like a Guns N’ Roses concert to bring people together!

-We returned to our seats with only one of us getting pelted with a beer (sorry Jenna!).

-Alice in Chains was the opening act. I recognized some songs, but unfortunately didn’t care enough about them.

-However, Alice in Chains should not be discouraged! A kid even younger than me in the row behind us was air guitaring like there was no tomorrow throughout their entire set.

-When GN’R finally took the stage it was a simple, yet powerful opening. It started with “It’s So Easy” and it was like suddenly all my dreams were a reality. There they were; Axl, Slash, and Duff. Standing together and almost looking like they were having fun.

-I forgot that I had this weird ability to instantly remember every word to every Guns song. Even the really fast, weird ones!

-They played “Estranged” so early in the show. I wasn’t ready for it. I cried.

-Slash is freakishly talented. And boy does he look good in a bunch of jewelry!

-It may have seemed like they were letting Slash do a lot of long guitar solos but I mostly think it was just so Axl would have time to run backstage and change again. Or at least put on a different hat (he did this several times).

-Oh sweet Axl. He still does that thing when he sings where he stares down the crowd like he’s about to pull a St. Louis and jump into it because security isn’t doing their job.

-The kid behind me who was loving Alice in Chains is now just standing, staring straight ahead like he doesn’t understand the magic he’s witnessing. He and I obviously have different priorities.

-The couple in front of me starts to google pictures of Axl from 1987. Yes, 20 some odd years can do that to a person.

-How is it that Axl can play the piano, rock a cowboy hat, and still be a badass all at the same time?

-The only disappointing part of the show was that they didn’t play “Patience,” but spent a crazy amount of time on “Coma.” And a “Use Your Illusion” fan like me was a little sad I wasn’t going to get to hear some deep cuts, but hey, I get why.

-“Don’t Cry” was a surprising highlight and I was very happy the encore was “Paradise City” and not “Sweet Child.”

-When they did finish the encore they all emerged onto the stage one more time for a final bow, together, arm in arm.

 

And that my friends, was one of the best days of my life. And at their next show Adler started showing up to play a couple songs. All the more reason to go see my beloved Guns N’ Roses again!

Dory Grew Up and So Did I

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June has been a whirlwind and none of it in the way I would have expected. I’ve barely seen any movies at this point in my summer and I just saw “Finding Dory” over the past weekend (and yes, I do realize it’s already Tuesday night).

The last few months seem to have slipped right through my fingers. I’ve been busy with work and my personal life. It’s funny actually how weirdly balanced my life has become since taking a new job and doing more adventurous things in my free time.

Over the 4th of July weekend I’ll be headed to Chicago to see the Guns N’ Roses reunion tour. An event that I’ve been waiting for since seventh grade. I’ve barely been able to concentrate at work because I’m so excited. Any moment a coworker wants to talk I casually remind them that I’ll be gone on Friday at the concert. They just nod politely, not really understanding how their blonde, mild-tempered Communications Manager could be such a headbanging punk outside of the office. Read the rest of this entry

Why You Need to See ‘Popstar’

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Teenage me was very much in love with The Lonely Island. When their SNL days hit peak insanity with parody songs like “I’m On a Boat” I thought they were the funniest thing I had ever seen. But I couldn’t necessarily explain why. They were just making joke songs about random things, right?

Now I understand why I always thought they were so hysterical, and maybe even genius. They’re new movie “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping,” written by the Islanders Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, and Akiva Schaffer, directed by Taccone and Schaffer, and produced by Judd Apatow, tells the story of “Conner 4 Real” played by Samberg. He’s a Bieber-like pop act that’s larger than life, and has forgotten that music is about talent, not the glitz and glam.

Sound familiar? Read the rest of this entry

My Dad was Right

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I’ve been absent lately. A bit distance. I haven’t had time to write, and I definitely haven’t had time to see my friends and family.

I haven’t been able to write this blog the last few months because I got a new job. It’s been an exciting time in my life, but my world has also been turned completely upside down. And I mean that in the very best way.

I’m very happy to say that since April I’ve been working for Special Olympics Iowa as their Marketing and Communications Manager. I get to edit the website, write articles and press releases, talk to media, and run social media. It’s a dream job for me, but one that I never saw coming.

Read the rest of this entry

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