Monthly Archives: July 2012

A Couple of Musical Summer Nights

The Rotary Club in our little town of 23,000 puts on a two-day outdoor concert every year. The last two years we have had jazz and blues artists, with headliners like Jonny Lang and Buddy Guy. The Rotary went multi-genre this year. The first night featured country music, while the second leaned toward motown and classic rock.  When I was a little kid, I thought John Denver and Glen Campbell were pretty cool, but by high school, country music grated on my nerves like a rusty carrot peeler. Okay, I DID record Waylon Jennings’ theme song to The Dukes of Hazzard and played it over and over, but that was because I was in love with John Schneider. Also I was really impressed with Charlie Daniels, but c’mon, The Devil Went Down to Georgia? That is practically rock. To this day, I am not a big country music fan, but when I saw Rocket Club was in the Friday night lineup, I was very excited.

Before you judge, you need to click and listen. Seriously, just give it sixty seconds. Please.

These guys transcend my prejudiced notions about country and I am a fan. My friend Suzy and I geeked out and went to the merchandise tent where we purchased CD’s, got autographs and met the band. One of the people with them took this picture including about fifty-five percent of the band (Billy Thommes and Joel Sayles not pictured):

Please note I am IN the picture, and am not responsible for cutting off parts of Chris Hawkey and Brian Kroening’s faces. Don Smithmeier and Luke Kramer are intact. This was probably the best we could get, considering tight quarters.

Rocket Club was followed by Rockie Lynne, who rode in on a Harley with an entourage of what looked like 100 motorcycles. One of  his people revved her engine as she went by us and knocked a little plaque off my arterial walls, or at least it felt like it. Lynne’s performance was heavily seasoned with appreciation for the folks who are serving and have served in our military, and he did a nice job. The Friday night headliner was Travis Tritt. By the time he took the stage, I was a little weary of the whole down-home thing, but then he rocked my world with an acoustic solo performance of Long Haired Country Boy. I wish I could find a link to good video of a similar performance with the long gorgeous bluegrass intro, but the closest one I could find here on youtube made me nauseous to watch. You can click and then close your eyes if you want. You are warned.

The second night we were entertained by The Butanes, G. B. Leighton, Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels, and Creedence Clearwater Revisited. We particularly enjoyed CCR, but I had trouble at the end deciding what to watch, the Jumbotron screen or the shenanigans of the group of people who plunked their camp chairs in front of us. Their featured performers were “Green T-Shirt Guy” and “Put Your Shirt Back On Guy.”  Green T-Shirt Guy celebrated CCR with a lot of ironic country dancing, occasionally straddling his date’s chair and employing the classic pelvic thrust move–because nothing says “I love you, girl” like punching her in the face with your crotch. Put Your Shirt Back On Guy didn’t have a date, but he didn’t let that get him down, putting a grind on a noticeably older woman nearby who I came to call “Insufficient Brassiere.” She was into it, but her wing-chick, “Uncomfortable Friend,” was not so sure. It was like a three ring circus; I didn’t know where to look.

It was a lot of entertainment for $10, yes, ten dollars whether you watched one act or came to all seven. Attendance easily exceeded the 14,000 I heard were there last year. Judging from the beer cans and pop bottles left on the ground, the Rotary made a few bucks with concessions; we certainly did our share. It was well organized but the word “sausagefest” comes to mind. Why aren’t more, or any, women performing? I’ll have to ask around about that. I don’t like to brag, but I  know a few people in the Rotary. If you tell me who you think should perform, I’ll put a word in. What acts would YOU recommend for next year’s festival?


If You Give A Mouse A Cigarette…

chances are, he’ll end up needing a vaccination to go with it.

Wednesday morning on Minnesota Public Radio, Ron Crystal, chairman and professor of genetic medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, said scientists there have created a “vaccine” that prevents nicotine addiction in mice. Traditional vaccines work by introducing a weakened form of whatever virus you are trying to fight into the body, where antibodies are created, building an army of specially built combatants that engulf and eliminate the vaccine’s virus from the vaccine, but also any future viruses of the same type which one may pick up at school, work, the playground or the grocery store. The nicotine vaccine is different. It is a gene therapy that alters  the liver, causing it to produce antibodies targeted to pick up nicotine in the bloodstream before it reaches the brain. Nicotine is addictive because it sets off fireworks in the pleasure center of the brain. No pleasure? No addiction.

In the course of the interview, the vaccine was described as both a measure to prevent addiction and a treatment for already addicted individuals. Laboratory mice addicted to nicotine were given the vaccine and over a short period of time stopped “smoking.” (I don’t know how the nicotine was administered; I presume there was a lever pressed somewhere. I can’t help picturing a group of mice huddled outside a non-smoking laboratory puffing away on cigarettes and grumbling, “WTH? Why isn’t this thing working?”) Presumably, the mice still crave the nicotine, but when the behavior isn’t rewarding, they quit the behavior. Crystal says that in terms of nicotine addiction, mice and human behaviors are very similar (again, I am picturing mice outside bars and restaurants, perhaps wearing smoking jackets.) No booster shots are needed to re-energize antibody production, because the altered liver will continue producing the antibodies. For life.

And this is my point. If there is a substance so destructive and yet so addictive that people would be willing to permanently alter their bodies at a genetic level just to help them stop consuming it, knowing they will still crave it for the rest of their lives, that says something. To me it says, “screw the vaccination, I will be declining tobacco in the first place, thank you.” (Growing up in a smoking household provided me with enough aversive experiences that I was never interested in smoking…until I hit my forties. There is something about surviving four decades of people-pleasing that makes me, in theory, want to light up. I liken it to flipping the world the bird. Now I have to work on a backup plan.) In the interview, the potential of parents choosing to inoculate their children was discussed as an ethically problematic issue. (I cannot imagine doing such a thing–performing an after factory add-on to prevent my child from engaging in a voluntary behavior, but there is no doubt in my mind that there are parents out there who would be eager to do so. People are doing crazier things to their children with less reason all the time: botox, overdoing it, etc.) Researchers are hopeful about expanding their results to other drugs like meth and cocaine. Now the issue gets grayer. There are stories upon stories of cases where “good parenting” and “a supportive environment” weren’t enough to prevent people from becoming dependent on drugs. If I had witnessed my own brother’s death spiral into meth addiction, would I inoculate my children to protect them and give me peace of mind? These are decisions my children may have to make someday, not me. (Am I alone here, or does it seem like the world is a game that gets progressively harder as time goes on? We don’t “pass the test,” we just move on to the next level.) I feel like we would be okay if we  just keep creating smarter and more resilient children, and provide them with a culture that offers them enlightenment and a society that offers them opportunity. I know the evidence shows this isn’t completely realistic, but we can try. Let’s keep the gene therapy as Plan B for now, okay?

Blogaversary: Annual Review of Who Showed Up and Why

It is blogaversary time. Yes, Wordtabulous is growing older just like the rest of us. As I reflect on the past year I don’t know if I have learned anything that will help me, but I do, as always, have several observations to share.

Experts say that a blog needs a focus to build a following. I think they might be right. I knew starting out that my direction was a little unclear, but I thought my focus would evolve. I think we can all agree that this hasn’t happened. This is my official apology to people who have found their way here, thinking they were coming to a blog focused on: religion, cycling, fitness, product reviews,  cats, photography, food, wine, books, writing, or humor. If you came here for a  little unpredictability, welcome, you have come to the right place. Judging from the shiny statistics page, some came looking for Wordtabulous on purpose, but A LOT more–hundreds–came to get info or pictures of the musical group Walk Off The Earth, or info on the Beard Guy T shirt.  Just as many came for a word about Leah McLean, KSTP  news anchor. Between the searches on Leah and all the other local news celebrities, I can see there is an opportunity for a thriving site featuring personal information and gossip about them. So, there you go, people who want to do that, free idea with documented appeal. Here are a few other searches that brought people to Wordtabulous:

“what did Laura Ingalls fear the most, pa, animals, the winter, strangers in the long winter.” I LOVE that people seeking Laura knowledge have come here, but I am dismayed that someone seems to be trying to cheat on a multiple choice test. Read the book, cheater! The Long Winter was awesome!

you’ll trust you hate, you believe you tabulous this reality” This person is either drunk/stoned, or just free flowing with the searches. Maybe this is a misspelled song lyric? It seems very poetic. I am sure tabulous is a whoopsie in this context, but I’ll take it. Thank you.

dag yolu” According to a Google search of my own, this is a windy mountain road, or a place near a windy mountain road in Turkey. I once wrote about climbing a mountain road, but this seems very specific. Weird.

small particles in abyss” I am sure this searcher found this site and was all, “Gah! This isn’t what I was looking for!” but now I know I get to claim a portion of the abyss searches on the web so I am happy. Sometimes I think we are all just small particles in the abyss, how about that? Think of the odds of us finding each other!

“shadowtale how to make it night so that lady dances” At first I was all, oooh, dark and vivid, I like! and then I found out that shadowtale is a free online role playing game and so evidently someone just wants to find out how to work the game to get a free show. I am not a gamer in any sense of the word; I literally DO NOT HAVE GAME. I don’t even click on these things because they seem…unhygienic to me. So it is majorly confusing how this search connected here.  Although I do like to talk about nighttime, especially when the insomnia wants to play, so maybe? Seems thin.

naughty nurses with huge racks” hahahahahaha! I don’t know, I truly don’t, how this sad person found Wordtabulous, but I hope they were so entranced with what they found that they gave up their search for titillating eye candy and moved on to higher things, like cat blogs and charity bicycle rides.

I secretly dreamed that blogging would open doors of writing opportunity. I hoped that people would read what I had to say and ask for more. And a few did! Which was awesome. I have met some really interesting people here (check out the blogroll on the right,) and while I don’t want to assume anything, I think some of them would consider themselves friends of mine, as I do them. When I follow a blog, I take it seriously. I don’t “like” blindly. I try to read regularly and comment thoughtfully. But this makes it time consuming, and when I don’t have time to keep up I get way way behind. I am horrible about going out and finding new blogs to check out. It almost makes me wish I could emulate those folk who do the “like” hit-and run. There is a cynical efficiency to zipping around, clicking “like” and hoping that you hit on some people who will “like” you back and stick around long enough to draw their friends. And there are the freaks. There was one blogger, who shall remain nameless but who claims to be a marriage therapist, who “like”d a post I wrote and WordPress was all “Hey, Lynnette, check out some of this blogger’s posts; maybe you’ll like them!”  And all the posts’ titles had to do with the successful performance of a particular sexual act involving swallowing. No thanks, and I will NOT be clicking. Still, good for a (derisively snorting) laugh.

It takes talent and dedication to continuously draw followers and keep them. I admire those who are successful and wish them well. I suspect I will continue off to the side, musing and observing and throwing the occasional post out to see what you think. Thanks for visiting and being part of Year One of Wordtabulousness. Come back again, and comment any time you have something to say!