Thursday, June 29, 2006

music, friendship, individuality, and love

It was a scene I would never be a part of, and it was a beautiful thing.

I grew up, the youngest of four, in a small city called Evansville, which is located on the Ohio River in southern Indiana. Although home to the University of Evansville, I wouldn't call it a college town. I lived there until I was 14, so to me it was always just the town where I grew up, where I was a kid. A place where I could ride my bike to the park and, if I was feeling ambitious, walk to the mall, and my parents didn't have to worry about me. It was a place where I lived in a castle and went to a red brick school and cheered for the Bulldogs and played the violin and grew at least one inch every year. And, in the 80's, it was a place where something really cool was happening, although I was not old enough to appropriate it or understand it.

I remember bits and flashes. I remember going to an outdoor summer festival downtown and dancing my little butt off on the hot black pavement while my older sisters' favorite local band sang, "I just want to be happyyyyyyyyyyy! I just want to have a little fun!" I was maybe 8, but that was a sentiment I could get down with.

I remember my sister Amy taking me to see A Christmas Carol at the Alhambra Theater, and thinking, "They're using an electric guitar as the chimes of the clock? They're playing all the parts and they put this whole show on themselves? These are my people!" (Or, you know, they would have been if I were older and cooler.)

My favorite memory was my sisters' joint birthday party at the castle. It was an Alice in Wonderland-themed tea party for punk rockers. They drew up flyer invitations for the party, copied them on white paper, and let me color them in with my crayons. Most important, they let me attend.

The invitation said "formal-wear optional" and so I put on my favorite dress. Matti dressed up like Alice with blue dress and headband. Guests showed up in ripped jeans, tuxedo jackets and mohawks. They were all really nice to me, and I felt proud to be somehow adjacent to something I knew was very special to my sisters.

As the 80's drew to a close and I struggled through junior high and my sisters entered their post-college early twenties, the scene changed. My brother Marty was naturally welcomed into the evolving family. It didn't matter that his asthetic and musical sensibilities were more metal than punk. He was in a band, he went to Bosse and, most important, he was a Larson.

I wonder sometimes if I would have spent my high school years in this unique scene, had I stayed in Evansville. I feel certain that I would have also been "grandfathered" in by nature of my family ties. (It sounds like admission into some kind of exclusive punk rock fraternity, but it's also true.) The friendships I made in my one semester at Bosse did eventually become sort of the "next generation." It seems likely I could have easily been a part of it.

But I moved to Colorado, and some of my old childhood friends took over my place. Even if I had stayed, though, I feel certain it wouldn't have been the same.

The fact is, me trying to describe this unique time in Evansville's local music history is limited only to my perspective as a child. I can convey the essence, but not the reality.

The reality, in fact was this:
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Isn't that beautiful? That's my sister Matti--her bleached denim jacket all covered with paint and patches and pins--and her friend David in our family's dining room, preparing to go out. In my mind, they're on their way to the Ross to see Stop the Car.
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This weekend, some of the old crew is having their 2nd annual reunion in Evansville. Matti is going. I love the idea that maybe, just maybe, when she's at the barbecue with her old friends and her family, her daughter Lucy will be able to pick up on that same essence that slipped through my fingers when I was a child. It was about music, friendship, individuality, and love. It was, and remains, a beautiful thing.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Anyone else feel a seismic shift in the planet last night? Walk through a rift in the space/time continuum, perhaps? Fall backwards when the earth tilted slowly on its axis, throwing your world all ass up for a minute? No? Just me then?

I met another Dinah last night. For the first time in my life EVER.

This might not seem like a big deal to anyone but me, but I've been walking around for almost 31 years feeling extremely unique. I love my name, but it's unusual. People mess it up all the time because they're not used to hearing it, and if they are familiar with my name it's because they know another woman named Dinah who, by the way, is 82. It's old-fashioned and uncommon, and doesn't even register in the top 1,000 US names except for a little while in the 50's. Which, honestly, I always thought was kind of awesome.

That said, I've always been very curious to meet another Dinah, just to see what she's like. And last night, standing in line to see Superman Returns (which is super fun, by the way), I did. Just as casual as you please, mAc and I met the group that our friend Mike had brought with him: "Hi, I'm Ted, I'm Brian, this is Anya, I'm Abby, I'm Dinah." Wait, what? REALLY? Spelled the same and everything? Wooooooooooooooow..........

At first we bonded over things only a Dinah can share: "Do people mispronounce your name all the time?" "Dude, totally: Diana, Deena, Donna..." "...Dana, Diabla..." "Diabla???" "Yeah." "Wow, the worst I ever got was Diamond!" Followed up with, "Have you ever searched for other Dinahs on MySpace? They're all..." "ASIAN! I KNOW! What is that??"

After that, however, we were done. Dinah was not as impressed with this unique coincidence or, quite frankly, as friendly as I hoped she'd be.

She's also 1 inch taller than me (at 5'11"), at least 30 lbs lighter (bitch!), and ridiculously pretty (BITCH!). She used to model. Ultimately, instead of being cool and delighted and fun or whatever I hoped Dinah would be when I finally met her, it turned out she was just another skinny LA model with a pretty face and an aloof attitude. After my mind stopped being totally BLOWN, I just felt disappointed and jealous and unsure of what I should do with this experience moving forward.

And then it came to me. Clearly, the only thing TO do is hunt her down, decapitate her with a medieval sword, and absorb her power. THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

imagine my joy

If you know nothing else about me, know this:

I love a good dance-off.


I mean, there you are at the club. The music is loud the cocktails are flowing and those jerks no one likes are bumping and grinding away in the middle of the dance floor, demanding attention and respect from those who fear their high-heeled, polyester-clad, booty-shaking scorn. Enter our heroes. The clothes are pretty, the hair is prettier, and they move without pretense onto the floor--not to compete, but to have fun. They just want to dance. Soon, however, the crowd's attention is drawn to them; their moves are smokin'. The jerks realize they're losing attention. They HATE our heroes! They look across the room, the two couples lock eyes, and with that, IT'S ON.

Imagine if more problems were solved this way.

In cinema, they solve problems all the time (with the notable exception of Grease, in which that cad Danny actually switched partners in the middle of the Hand Jive to dance with that slutty Cha Cha and left darling Sandy all alone without a partner, a dance-off tale that pisses me off and breaks my heart every time I watch it. Seriously. You ALWAYS escort your partner from the dance floor. That's just good manners. Anyway). And while I really can't recommend the classic Girls Just Want to Have Fun enough, a good dance-off is not only found in dance-centric movies.

Starsky & Hutch, Eurotrip and American Pie 3 all featured a dance-off. Zoolander took the concept into the modeling world with its own variation, the walk-off. And who can forget the way Napoleon Dynamite got his friend Pedro elected with the smooth, inventive moves that surprised, amazed and delighted movie fans everywhere?

The dance-off is a beautiful thing. And it makes me very, very happy.

So imagine my joy when I discovered this. An entire TV show that's essentially one big dance-off? And it's on twice a week? Oh, and by the way, it's all different styles of dance, from hip-hop to ballroom and the hip-hop choreographer Shane Sparks is a freaking GENIUS and the dancers are all kind of earnest or swishy or bitchy or all of the above and they compete both as couples and as individuals? And it's all just kind of amazingly AWESOME?

Yeah. Hi. TIVO. I'm so happy.

I love a good dance-off.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

14:59 and counting

So evidently, mAc and I know a lot of comedy fans. Or at the very least, we have a lot of friends who watch Last Comic Standing on NBC. Because they all saw us on TV last week, and they all let us know.

Let me back up a bit.

A couple months ago, we got invited to a taping of Last Comic Standing. Except I didn't realize it was a taping, really, until we got there. Or maybe I thought it was just a live show that was being recorded for HBO or something, like the time I went to the recorded shows for Margaret Cho and Madonna (and they ended up using the second night of performances, but whatever. Still cool).

But it's a TV show on NBC, similar to American Idol, only it's comedy. I remembered it when we got there, something about comics competing, America voting, but it kind of sucked and Jay Mohr was involved? Anyway, they have a new host (Anthony Clark, whom I will love forever for his role as Paul the barber in The Rock) and a new season and we went to a taping.

And last Tuesday we were on TV. See?
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(That's actually our whole group pictured, with our friend Rick, who invited us, sitting next to mAc, his partner Keith, and Keith's sister.)

And a second of fame goes down the drain. I'm now at 14:59 and counting...

The thing is, though, we watched the episode and only two of the comics on the show last week actually performed for us when we went to the taping. There are 18 other comics that we saw that haven't aired yet. There's another episode with them, I think, tonight. So we might be on TV even more, if you're interested. (NBC, 9 Eastern, 8 Central)

It's all very surreal. I've never been on national television before. Just so you know, though, I'm still the same Dinah. Fame hasn't changed me. In fact, the only thing I was thinking as I watched our faces flash by is, "Thank God I remembered to put on lipstick."

Yup, we were on again last night and I hear they've also been using that clip of us laughing in the promos. In fact, they used it a couple more times last night as well. Either that, or we laugh so similarly every time that they just look the same, which, no. It was totally the same clip. We showed up a few other times in different clips as well, so that's like 5 seconds? Total? So I'm at like 14:54 now or something?

Monday, June 12, 2006

This is so obnoxious

It's actually kind of hard for me to deal with this after the fact. Sober. Last week in Miami we went out as a group from work for dinner and drinks on South Beach. We started off at Gloria Estefan's restaurant, Lario's. Which, meh. The mojitos were alright but overall I've had better food. With the exception of the flan. Every other flan I've ever tried? Disgusting. For whatever reason, Gloria's flan is divine.

Following dinner we went to the ONE CLUB I DID NOT WANT TO GO TO. We had passed it on the street earlier and I think I actually said out loud, to no one, "There's one place I'll never go, EVER!" Yeah. I ate those words shortly after finishing my flan.

The place is called Mango's. It's gross. It's supposed to be this vibrant South Beach hot spot, but it's just gross. For starters, the outfits on the staff are completely embarrassing. I mean, they employ these hot beefcake guys and cute girls with cute figures, and this is what they make them wear:
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Further, they make them get up and dance. I got video of the girls dancing by accident (about 12 seconds and you have to tilt your head to the left to watch it, so a picture will have to suffice).
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But suddenly I realized, "I can get this shit on video! In all it's tacky glory! Hurray!" Suddenly, I was having fun. At Mango's. Especially when three of the Mengo's got up and started shakin' it. Yeah, I got it. Yeah, that's me yelling ("This is so going on YouTube.") Yeah, I'm ridiculous.
Whatever. I was at Mango's. I had to find the fun somehow.

But seriously? This is so obnoxious.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Bienvenido a Miami

Happy apocalypse day everyone! That's right, it's June 6, 2006, otherwise known as 06.06.06. Dun dun duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuun!

Later today I am flying to Miami for yet another conference for work. At least this one is in Miami. And there's a pool at the hotel. I know how I'm spending my precious minutes of free time.

Of course, all morning I can't get Will Smith out of my head: "Welcome to Miami (Bienvenido a Miami)."
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Saturday, June 03, 2006

Miss Moneypenny

mAc and I had agreed long ago that Captain Awesome should have a sibling. Not only was he quickly turning into a spoiled only child (totally our fault), but we felt bad that he was spending the majority of his days home alone on the couch, save for occasional lunchtime visits from Daddy. When we agreed to dogsit for a friend of ours, and have her pit-mix Lucy come stay with us, we quickly realized how much fun it would be to have a two-dog family. We'd even planned on going to a dog fair tomorrow to see if she was there, waiting for us.

Well, we got this email earlier this week from the woman who fostered Captain and brought him into our lives, Stephanie. Stephanie not only rescues dogs regularly, thereby assuring herself beachfront property in heaven, but she also teaches school, where she has instilled kindness to animals into her students. Imagine her pride when they came to her and told her about this little dog they rescued. This is the story she sent to us.

The kids found the dog outside a grocery store, where she had wandered in, starving, in search of food, and where the store manager had tried to make her leave by throwing hot coffee on her. The quiet pup then followed the kids home and sat with them quietly on the grass outside one of their homes. They washed her up, got a collar on her, and decided to take her to a shelter. She clearly didn't have a home to go to.

They took her to a better shelter than the one in their neighborhood (the one where a dog has maybe 24 hours before going to death row, sadly). The "better" shelter still wasn't good enough. Once she got to there, she was kenneled in one big cement and chain link cell filled with a bunch of other dogs, some nice... some not. That night, she was attacked by a pit bull and had to be rushed to the vet for stitches and staples.

We knew about her before the attack, but on when we heard about it we decided, at the very least, we'd foster her if only to get her out of there as soon as possible.

Yesterday morning she got spayed, which is the rule for rescue dogs, and picked up by Stephanie. mAc went and got her from Steph's last night, and brought her home.

And then we named her. I mean, look at this face:
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She's an angel. Extremely affectionate, especially with the kisses. Likes to sleep on my feet. We think she's about eight months old based on the size and quantity of her teeth. I don't think she's ever lived in anything resembling a house, ever. As such, she doesn't understand a single command (in English, anyway), and doesn't understand why we make the loud noises and swat her on the nose when she pees all over the house. (I've already cleaned up 3 puddles today.) So housetraining will be a challenge, but it's nothing we haven't done before. We'll teach her. She's a very smart girl.

We think she's a Labrador/terrier mix, as her fur is kind of wiry and her legs are a little stumpy. She's all black except for a tuft of white on her chest, four white paws, and the tiniest tip of white at the end of her tail.

Most important, she loooooves her big brother. Much to his chagrin, I'm afraid.
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So that's it. We have our dogs. Captain Awesome, and introducing...
Miss Moneypenny.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Captain Badass

Write your own caption for this photo.
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(If the Comments don't work for you, email me and I'll post it.)