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Posts Tagged ‘Queen’

I’ve been avoiding Instagram. Well, social media in general, including this blog. I finally logged back into my Instagram and saw this post.

The date at the bottom says: 52 weeks. Yes, a year since I took what would become my final picture of me and my Bear. We saw Bear a lot between this picture (April 1, 2015) and the car accident. But still, some picture had to be my last one with him. This is a pretty good one for it to be. Each time I look at my 15 year clock, I think of him. He had to open the gift-wrapped box in the parking lot, like a little kid, so he could see what the gift was and then, open the box to see the actual clock.

Younger and Older Sons have cried this week. Both miss him so much. Younger son got his baseball jersey today, looked at the number, and was somewhat indifferent, but he didn’t say he disliked it. When I said Bearpaw must have picked it for him, younger son asked why. I reminded  him that Bearpaw was born in 1939, so 39 was perfect for him. His smile beamed from ear to ear. He doesn’t cry going to the ballpark anymore (the last time we saw Bearpaw was at the ballpark). He is beginning to love baseball again.

52 weeks. I sang “Happy Birthday” to him at the cemetery this past Thursday. It’s still so surreal.

And, as a geeky side note, ’39 by Queen is one of my faves.

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We have resisted.  We still have albums, CDs, hell, we have 8-Tracks.  Still, today we have succumbed to the 21st century.  This evening my sons each got their own mp3 players.  For the price, I got a lot of features and won’t cry if (when) they accidentally destroy it.  I loaded The Rolling Stones “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” onto it as the debut song (good message to learn in that chorus…”but if you try sometimes, you might get what you need”).  Even as I type my sons are falling asleep to Queen.

The purpose of the mp3 players was to help the boys learn the music of their generation so that they would have more to talk about with their friends (at least that’s the reasoning they used when asking for the mp3 players).  Yet when I asked them for a list of songs they wanted downloaded to their mp3 players, these are the lists I was given.

Older son:  “We Will Rock You”, “We Are the Champions”, “Gangham Style” (no, not going on the mp3 player), Justin Bieber songs, One Direction songs, Queen, The Beetles (I explained how to spell it when referring to the band, remember he’s a science guy, but for accuracy that is how it was written on his list), any songs by Batoven (Beethoven), Bach, and Motzart (Mozart).

Younger son:  Michael Jackson, “We Will Rock You”, “We Are the Champions”, “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”, The Beatles, Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, Beautiful Boy (by John Lennon).   (He’s not necessarily a better speller than his older bro, but he dictated his list.)

I feel we have done a fine job of building their musical foundation.  As we explored the stacks of CDs, they also chose Earth, Wind, & Fire (particularly “that song from Night at the Museum“) and Brian Setzer Orchestra.  I also pulled Billy Joel, a 70s compilation CD, and Peter Gabriel’s So.  I’m smart enough to know to let Daddy pick the Sinatra that they need.  We’ll keep digging through the CDs and we’ll keep buying from Amazon (who graciously load it directly into the cloud for me).

So here we are joining the 21st century and they only ask for two or three artists that originated in this century.

As I played “Bohemian Rhapsody” for younger son, I felt such joy teaching him when to headbang, when to play air guitar versus air drums versus air piano.  We discussed cross-hand pieces for the piano.  I told him how the song was recorded without any synthesizers and the urban legend that surrounds how thin the tape got as they kept re-dubbing it to get the full chorus sound just from their four voices.  Ah, tradition in the 21st century is not so different from the traditions of yore.

I feel a certain peace knowing that my sons are drifting into sweet dreams listening to the beautiful vocals of Freddie, the amazing bass lines played by John, the extraordinary drum solos played by Roger, and the Red Special strummed by Brian.

freddie BrianMayNov1979    john and roger

 

 

 

 

And imagine the joy in our home when my sons discover that Queen has been Lego-ed.                                                Lego_Rock_Band_Queen_Pose

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I want to have lunch with the younger generation.  I want them to turn off their cell phones and not text while we’re having this lunch.  That will be the biggest challenge-to convince them that they don’t have to be connected for the hour we would spend eating together.  I worry about them.  What do they talk about?  What do they text?

The classic films are lost…the movies today are okay, don’t get me wrong.  Still, do they know that the movies of today wouldn’t be possible without the classics that came before them?  The filming of yesteryear set the tone for so many of the accomplishments made in film-making today.  I think back to Song of the South and Mary Poppins…putting people into animation.  This made Who Framed Roger Rabbit possible-putting animation into live-action.  The classic musicals created so many cultural moments.  Singin’ in the Rain, Hello Dolly, Brigadoon, On the Town.

Even classic children’s literature is falling to the wayside.  My sons have read only one American Tall Tale in school.  I make sure at home that they read a variety of Tall Tales.  We also read Aesop’s Fables, Hans Christian Andersen.  Of course, we’re still in our Grimm phase.  We read “Little Snow White” last night.  The text is full of such rich words and vibrant images.  These pieces of literature help children develop their imaginations and learn about the basics of crafting a story.

Music is different too.  I know, I know, I sound like that stereotypical old person (no, I’m not old…) “back in my day” but I’m serious.  Someone said to me recently that in a class about the history of rock he had just learned about a band called The Queen or something like that.  I said do you mean Queen?  He said, yeah, yeah, that’s the name.  Now obviously I’m biased about that particular band, but how does one get to their 20s and not know Queen?  Or the major shifts in music and how each change brought about new genres.  Why do youngins need to take a class to learn this stuff?  I suppose the radio is no longer in existence in their worlds…did “Radio Gaga” and “Video Killed the Radio Star” really come to pass?

I know there are cycles to culture.  I know the pendulum will swing back again.  I know it’s ironic that I’m posting this on the internet, one of the causes in this shift.  Why and how do they feel the need to be connected all the time?  I have survived for so long without being connected 24/7.  Yet so often I sit with people of the younger generation who cannot turn off their phone or tablet or the soon-to-be archaic laptop.  Radios don’t matter, they have 8,000 songs programmed on the teeny-tiny player.

If you are a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, friend of someone younger than 25, take them somewhere and make them disconnect.  Help them experience life with a person and not an electronic device.  I’m battling right now with my sons.  They are obsessed with the telly and on-demand.  They can’t get enough of the computer and online video games (based on the shows from the telly).  It’s ridiculous.  They get so angry when I say no.  So I say no more frequently.  When they don’t get angry anymore, I won’t have to say no as much.

Tomorrow night is the Earth Hour at 8:30pm.  Turn off your lights, phones, tablets, computers, any and all electronic devices and devices charged by electricity.  Talk to each other.  Laugh with each other.  Tell ghost stories.  Inspire each other.  Sing “Hello Dolly” or “Dream On” or “Radio Gaga”.  Go ahead, sing it with the clapping.  Or go for “We Will Rock You” with the clap/clap/stomp.  Go for it.  Turn off everything and be connected the old-fashioned way.

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This evening was spent with two of my favorite guys, my sons.  We went to the school’s Halloween Spooktacular!  On Tuesday, when my sons asked to go to it, I realized that I now had three days to make their costumes instead of the ten I thought I had for the Harvest Party we’ll be going to on October 29th.  I stayed up rather late the past few night to make a clown costume and the cape for the Headless Horseman.  Neither was completely finished for this evening, but…I think the costumes turned out pretty good on three nights of work.

The boys had a blast.  They also were not overly embarrassed that I was the only non-volunteer parent in full costume.  Not many more years when that will be the case.

I realize full well that they will not want home-made costumes much longer (in fact, my youngest had a store-bought last year, he really wanted to be the Creature from the Black Lagoon).  I adore making their costumes.  I love that they enjoy coming up with their own ideas and use Halloween as another way to demonstrate their uniqueness.  There was only one clown and one Headless Horseman at the party tonight.  They also did not win the costume contest for their grades.  Store-bought costumes won.  This was not the trend when I was younger, but then again, store-bought costumes weren’t the trend either.

It was a hard lesson for my oldest however he handled it really well.  He didn’t ask to leave right away and he reflected about the experience as I was tucking them into bed.  He said that while he was sad and disappointed that he didn’t win, he still had a really good time.

He also aid I “totally deserve to sleep in tomorrow” after staying up the past few nights.  They do have sweet moments.  I love them so and wish I got to spend the majority of my waking time with them.  Soon I will not be cool.

My youngest didn’t want to Monster Mash with me.  He used to dance with me in public.  They wanted to go trick-or-treating “on their own” but that didn’t float.  I’m seeing each day more and more that they are claiming more and more independence.  It’s bittersweet.  I know they are supposed to do that, but why so soon?

The Spooktacular was spectacular.  We sang “Thriller” together, ate many yummy treats, and enjoyed the festivities.  “These are the days of our lives” (Queen).  The moments that happen…as John Lennon sang “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”.  I enjoyed life with my sons tonight.

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Today I had the sad epiphany that I am “the man.” When this happened I do not know, but somehow I am the establishment. I am an administrator at a small, private university and work with students. Today, I asked to meet with a student because of a problem. The student was very defiant and defensive from the get-go. Every question I asked and each suggestion I offered were struck down. This student knew everything and had all the answers. The student left after about eight minutes, with the only resolution being that the student had gotten the last word.

I can’t say it was too difficult to get the last word because around six minutes into the exchange, I saw the look on the student’s face and realized…to this person, I am “the man!” I am the establishment trying to hold a student down because the department has policies and procedures that have to be followed. The job we were discussing “was not fun” and a “waste of time.” I’m “the man!”

When I began this job two and a half years ago, I had no idea that one of the unintended consequences would be this. I try to be a person the students can come to and seek advice, or to chat, or to hang. I try to create an atmosphere similar to the one in my student-worker job back in college. The atmosphere is there with some of the students I work with-I know it, I feel it, and they explicitly tell me. But with others, I am and will always be the establishment. How dreadful!

I am fully aware that I am the same age as their parents and so by default I can’t be cool. My references to films, television, and music are horribly outdated. One time, my class made a list of films I should watch so I could be a wee bit more hip. I couldn’t sit through most of them because the movies were rip-offs of the films of my teen years. Why watch a knock-off when I can watch the real thing? Some films, however, are standards-most students today know John  Hughes, they know Disney, they know horror films. But…

A student was telling me about the movies he saw over spring break. I asked if one was similar to Independence Day. He stared blankly at me. He was four when ID4 was released.

Only a few know about Queen. Sadly Freddie was dead before the current sophomores and freshmen were born. They know a few of the songs, mostly through sporting events and commercials. A handful know Neil Diamond because he was in some movie. But Carole King, James Taylor, and the British invasion of the 80’s are a mystery to them.

They watch shows I can’t wrap my brain around. They think the same things about my shows that I thought about the old CBS line-up, Murder, She Wrote, and Matlock (both of which I watch now if I catch them on tv). We do all share Betty White though, don’t we?

I will continue to try to be someone the students can turn to, if they choose. I will embrace what one of my students told me once in class. She said, “You’re not old. You’re cultured.” Cultured like a pearl with bits of wisdom, if anyone wants to listen.

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Ah, lunch with Freddie. Well, I suppose it would be filled with many decadent foods. Or perhaps no food, just the amazing opportunity to sing with him and his glorious set of pipes. Of course I would have my pre-pregnancy voice when I still had a break and could slip easily enough from head voice to chest voice. (Don’t ask how two pregnancies affected my voice. I’ll give you the short version-morning, noon and night sickness for about eight months each pregnancy equals way too many times getting the sicks (as my sons call it). It did damage and has gotten slightly better. Probably would get a lot better if I actually had the opportunity to sing like I used to.)

“Love of my Life,” “Seaside Rendezvouz,” and of course, “Somebody to Love” would be first up. I’ve sung these songs with him hundreds of times, but to hear his voice in person would be extraordinary. My cousin saw them in concert in the 70’s. I was a bit too young to have attended at the time, but she told me about it. She either gave Freddie a rose or he gave her a rose, but clearly they were in the spit zone. How cool would that be?

Eventually I would have to talk with Freddie about what made my connection to him so strong. Our teeth. It is said he was worried if he got them fixed it might impact his singing. I didn’t know about that as a girl. I just knew I hated being called Bugs Bunny. I happily let the orthodontist stick those silver clamps on my teeth. But you never let go of the feelings. Now I don’t sit each day crying about it, but the hurt remains still buried deep down inside. I dealt with my teen angst in a more creative way, perhaps because of my connection to Freddie. He was bold and audacious. He exuded confidence, regardless of what he may have been like on the inside. I adopted the same strategy. No, not as flamboyantly as he did but I was on a tighter budget.

As I began to find my way and feel more comfortable in my skin, I passively participated in the mocking and teasing of another. I have regretted it since the moment I did. I wasn’t like a “mean girl” or at least I tried not to be one. I fought peer pressure everyday and resisted being like everyone else because I didn’t see the fun in it. But on this one day, I passively participated because I did not stop it or even try to stop it. This poor kid had been treated like I had when I was younger, but for him it continued all the way through high school. He hadn’t toughened up his skin, he hadn’t made it so the game was played on his terms, and he still was getting teased, mocked, probably in more ways than I ever want to know.

Now being a mother I worry that my little ones could be in his situation one day. They march to their own drummers, again, not as flamboyantly as Freddie, but we’re still on a budget. My oldest feels more comfortable walking into school as a dinosaur and relates more comfortably with teens and adults than children his own age (his sense of humor is more dry, British and the other second graders tend not to get it). In his kindergarten picture, my macabre youngest looks like Jack Nicholson from The Shining and he has a deep passion for germs and creatures (as in from the Black Lagoon and “Frankenstein’s…”). My prayer is they do keep marching to their own drummer, but also learn how to play the game by their own rules of engagement so they don’t get hurt.

Freddie and Queen helped me through so much as I’m sure they did for many people. They helped me learn to “Play the Game” so we’d have to sing that one too. I think I would be in awe too much to sing “Bohemian” with him, but I’d definitely do the air guitar and head-banging. “I’m Going Slightly Mad” would be sung perhaps while sipping a drink. Then as dessert was placed on the table we could just scat a bit.

A confession would come out about how I helped that boy get mocked, teased, butchered by boys far less mature than him. An apology for going against an unspoken code of sticking together. I’ve tried to locate that guy. Contrary to popular belief you can keep yourself off the internet if you choose to because I can’t find a trace of him. Freddie would get the apology. For not being bold enough to say stop. For not being brave enough to go against the popular mob mentality. For forgetting my roots. The other way to apologize to someone I cannot find is how I am raising my sons. Many of the lessons I teach them have (and will) come from my mistakes. I know they will have to make their own mistakes to truly learn some of the lessons, but I’ll try to head some of them off at the pass.

“I Want to Break Free” of these sad, regretful emotions, but I don’t  want to lose the lessons they taught me. I’d like to not feel like a nine-year old girl with buck teeth, glasses and a cow-lick that makes all the “in” hair-styles impossible to achieve. I suppose we’re all walking around feeling like our nine-year-old selves. The world could be friendlier if we all remembered that feeling and that we’re all simply doing the best we can. That is a tall order. I stumble with it everyday.

After dessert Freddie and I would sing a rousing rendition of “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and probably call it a day. When I got home from lunch, I’d give my two little guys great big hugs.

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