Apr 17, 2013

Iheartradio, we need to talk.....

One of the things I have done to take back control over my life is limit what I listen to in my daily life.  I turned off the news years ago but was still surrounded with some very strange stuff that also made me crazy on the radio.  So I started being very careful about where I keep my dial tuned.  It has improved my life dramatically.  Actually, that's an understatement.

One of my favorite things in this battle is It's a free music service, where you give them a general idea of what you like and they just keep throwing stuff at you to judge whether you like it or not. If you like it, it plays again. If you don't like it, it never plays again.  I mean never.  The best part, though, is that there are no commercials or idiot DJ's to make you crazy.  In case those things have that affect on you, that is.

Everything was going really good until I decided to "make" a station called Orleans, after the soft rock group you may or may not remember.  Whether you remember them or not, I'm sure you know the song Still The One.  This is a basic idea of what I was looking for.  I guess because they were popular in the 70's, the powers that be go by the genre and the time period to throw more stuff at you.  If you are picky about your music, this may make you crazy anyway.

I had always known was picky about music, but I like so many different kinds that I doubted this would be much of a problem.  Always the optimist, that's me.  Not really, just seeing if you are paying attention. So I "made" my Orleans station and it threw out the Bee Gees, Bob Seger, Gordon Lightfoot, Van Morrison, Carole King, the list goes on, but all were good with me. I "liked" them all.  THEN it started throwing Linda Rondstat at me.  I down arrowed her.  The first time I didn't think much about it.  But it kept throwing more at me.  I down arrowed them ALL and I realized a couple of things.

1)  I am not a Linda Rondstat fan.  I never knew this before.  She can sing, don't get me wrong. She has a great voice and great control. It's just that her songs........well, her songs get on my nerves.  All of them.  You have to be in a certain mood for almost all of them.  They are all so intense, they wear me out.   Take You're No Good, for instance, please! Been there, done that, done WITH that, quite your whining, Linda, suck it up and move forward like the rest of us have. Probably your friends and family knew it all along!   I guess I'm just never in those kinds of moods anymore. I lack the energy and have learned that this, too, shall pass.  But Iheartradio did not seem to be getting the hint.  It's not about the songs, it's about the artist, and I am here to tell you, Iheartradio, I am not a fan of Linda, so you can quit putting both herself and I through this embarrassing rejection.  Enough already!

Which leads us to:
2) that there were only about 3 women who were even singing (successfully) at that time.   Besides Linda (cringe) and Carole King (give her to me all day long) they started throwing Melissa Manchester at me. Now, I had actually forgotten all about Melissa, who also can sing very well, but does not "do" it for me. Never did, never will.  I may have forgotten about her, but I can say that I never even knew she sang so many songs!  I was exhausted before I got them all down arrowed, and in desperation I just "made" another station.   It turned out pretty much the way you would expect.  Some good, a whole lot of bad (at least to me), and a few that I had forgotten about.  You might be saying "Couldn't they have thrown in some Heart?" Good idea, just a few years too early.  

The worst thing is that never, NEVER do they play some of the best songs that an artist ever did, if they were not commercially successful.  Take Jackson Browne, for instance. I "made" a Jackson Browne station, but do you think Sky Blue and Black ever came up?  Maybe Fountain of Sorrow?   NO! Know what did?  Lawyers In Love! GIVE ME A BREAK IHEARTRADIO!!! I KNOW YOU ARE JUST A BUNCH OF KIDS GOING OFF TOP 40 LISTS AND HAVE NO IDEA WHO HE EVEN IS!!

So, now that I have outed Iheartradio, and every other music program I have tried, I will give you some advice: ITUNES, baby!  Go to Itunes, find your music, and it is there for you forever. You can make playlists or play it anyway you want, all day long.  Yes, you have to pay for it, but only once and it is WORTH it!  You can also make any kind of CD you want once you have the music.  My boys have memorized their favorite CD's of mine, whose titles are "Trip To The Zoo" or "Summer 2010" or "Mellow" or "STRAIGHT UP ROCK" or, more sensibly "The Mills Brothers".  OK, not the Mills Brothers.  If you are below the age of 50 I doubt you even know who the Mills Brothers are and I will tell you that they won't be found on Itunes.  They are probably a bunch of kids also.  You have to go to Youtube for The Mills Brothers, but it's free and they are a classic.

What I will say for Iheartradio is that it's a nice change, if you work in a metal building and all your radio will pull in is the local station that is nothing but Top 40 (or perhaps 20) syndication.  That crap about drove me to riot in the streets before I took control and got back in charge of what my head was filled with.  The twins still want to listen to that station, and any time I turn it on, they automatically start singing along, no matter what song is playing, like Pavlovian dogs.  It's kind of scary.

I still felt kind of bad about it until I heard a commercial, when the twins were in the car, by a very deep voice telling us all about the wonders of testosterone enhancement.  I don't know who might need testosterone enhancement, probably older men?  But I was terrified that it might seem like a great choice for teenage boys.......  That was it for me. I know things are tough all over, but when you have to stoop to accepting money to run commercials like that (and I do feel for you, my brothers, but perhaps you could consider you programming?  Good programming could lead to better advertisers?  Just a thought.), you are on your own.  I am done mindlessly driving along while my blood pressure rises listening to bad music and worse life choices presented as if they are sane, which they are not, to people who don't even have enough sense to turn the station.  All this zombie talk is not about nothing, you know.  They are real, just not in the way they are being portrayed by the entertainment industry to part you from your hard earned dollars.   And they are everywhere!

I am frequently tuned into American Family Radio (AFR), found in this area at 91.5, which is Christian based talk radio.  There is no music here, but it's a really good source if you want to know what is actually going on in the world as opposed to who won on American Idol last night, which seems to be being discussed on *some* radio stations as if it were actually news.  Perhaps, to some of America, it is.  If you would like to give it a try you might want to prepare yourself beforehand, depending on where you usually get your news.  In any case, I can pretty much guarantee that you will be aware of things at least 2 weeks before the so-called "press" mentions them, if ever.  Oh, and your children will never hear anything you wish they wouldn't. I promise!  At night they often have sermons that just last about 30 minutes.

One evening, I turned it on as I was making my piles of bills to go through, and I just sent up a prayer that consisted simply of "Lord, you know my needs".  I sent that prayer at the same instant I turned on the radio, which was turned to AFR, and I immediately heard a deep voice with a Texas twang say "and stay tuned for our next segment on What To Do When Thinking About The Future Is Making You Depressed".  I laughed out loud and looked up and was floored because that was exactly what my "need" was at that moment!  Sometimes I feel like He doesn't answer prayers, but this time there really could be no doubt.  I was so very glad that I had heard that instead of a song about some kind of sexual practice or other!

That is how low the bar has fallen, folks.  If you haven't faced that yet, I suggest you listen closely to what is constantly playing in the background of your world.  It's the background of your life.  Choose freely but choose wisely.  Especially if you have kids.

UPDATE: The Epic Weekend

I will have words to go with this soon......and more pictures.  Bad pictures, but pictures.  Photographer needed.  Faint of heart need not apply.

UPDATE:  Last weekend my bonus daughter came with my two pretend grand babies.  It was so nice having them!  One of the things that meant to most to me was when she asked the boys about their homework.  Then she made them drag it out, asked for their notes, and fired up her laptop to try to figure out how in the world they were supposed to get the answers for Algebra.  She's going to be a teacher and you should have seen her in teacher mode.  Her cute little outfit with a pretty scarf around her neck, her 7 month old nestled beside her, teenage boys surrounding her as she takes supervision.  The teenage boys who have watched her grow as a mother and no longer tell her that they don't have to mind her, because she is not their mother.  One of them tried that once and she came right back at them, telling them that she was A mother and they better get ready right then because THEIR mother had told her to pick them up. It's so rewarding to see kids become adults in all the phases.  And funny! 

It did my heart good, and as everyone was occupied,  Abigail and I went to feed some  horses at a friend's house.  We fed the horses and then Abigail started skipping along, following a cat. This led us clear around the pond with frequent heart stopping moments (for us older girls) as  the cat, followed closely by Abigail darted into timber on one side or to the edge of the pond on the other. 

This friend happened to be the one that had a boy within 4 months of The Rock Star and a girl six weeks before I had The Beautiful Redhead, so we are old partners in child rearing and supervision.  Even split custody, come to think of it.  Her children were the sweet things that ate the cold spaghetti on my birthday that year I was in such a horrible mood.

So you will forgive us if we were surprised at how one small 4 year old and a cat could exhaust us by the time we were only half way round the pond!
It's one of the mysteries our lives.

Abigail skipped and hopped and started to climb trees that had thorns all over them.  We meandered.  I had forgotten how nice it is to meander around, with no real plan and no time frame.  But before long we were meandering and she started darting around.  Much faster.  We had to pick up the pace substantially and it reminded me of an old Mills Brothers song, The Jones Boy.  I know it's a song about being in love, but it has just the right pace to illustrate our journey, which was turning into a rather longer one that we had bargained for.  She tried to climb through the fence because she wanted to go see the troll that my friend told her lived in the "tunnel" under the highway that was within sight from the pond bank.

That's when we decided to distract her by letting her throw stuff in the pond.  She started with grasses, worked her way up to sticks and had to be stopped when she started in on logs.  We stopped her mainly because we didn't want to have to jump in the pond.  We knew we could save her if she went in, it wasn't that. It was just that it was cold and we didn't want to have to deal with the dirty clothes, or any screaming that might be involved.  Small children can scream in an octave that paralyses me and I believe could break glass.  I noticed that little Rosie already has a delighted, very high octave sound that almost brings me to my knees.  As I get older I cannot hear my brakes squeal, apparently, but this sound comes through loud and clear.  God, could I trade this?  I would much rather be able to hear my brakes squeal and not hear this sound. Please?  I'm willing to give up something, it's an even trade, isn't it?

At this point we were marveling aloud at how this could stress us out so bad.
We decided it was because she wasn't ours.
It seems like more responsibility, somehow, crazy as that sounds when I say it out loud!  Back when the kids were our own we would have just figured on the dirty laundry, and them learning on their own to stay away from the edge of the pond.  It was just a part of our lives, then.  

We decided being older had it's advantages.

Once she saw some fish, we decided we should catch one.
This was looking good to us, also, I admit, since it would mean that we could corral her on the dock, not to mention rest for awhile.

Abigail is just at the age where every time she says something she acts it out.  Her eyes sparkle and she gets very animated and she puts her little (getting knuckles instead of dimples, no) hands up and uses them to enhance her story.  She has special effects!  If it's a happy story she ends it frequently by throwing her hands up, jumping, and twirling around. She also dances all the time now.  It's a combination of ballet and interpretive dance, it looks like.

 She was fascinated by the worms, leery of the hook, and just as impatient as her Mimi when it came time to wait for the fish to bite.  This is all part of my ongoing "nurture vs. nature" observation, ahem.
I want to take this moment to publicly claim the right, for both of us old gals, of Abigail's first fish.  It seemed to be, and I forgot to ask her mom later,  but we got pictures and I am claiming it.  We worked hard for this and we are good!  We didn't even let the line out, just dangled it far enough into the water so that we could see the fish bite.

It took us several tries and even more worms, at that, but Abigail was going to catch a fish if I had to hook it under the belly.  It was her destiny, with a little help from her Mimi.
One eventually bit enough for us to catch it the right way and I would give ANYTHING if we had pictures of  not just her face, but us old gals, too, because we were all SO HAPPY!  Abigail was laughing hysterically with her little fists right up by her face.  She could hardly contain herself.  Same went for us!
We showed her the fish.  It was a perch.  We showed her how to hold it, how it could hurt her, and even how it would flop around if you dropped it.  We didn't do that on purpose, it just happened and we made it part of the lesson.  We are good at that. ;)
She wanted to keep it and eat it for breakfast!  Well, it was just a baby, and we shouldn't have kept it at all, but the fish was put in a baggie so Abigail could show it off.
Our adventure was ended, but our memories were made.  Even somewhat documented!
Next morning it took me 3 tries before I remembered everything when I was packing them up to take them back to their mom.
I thought I was ready and Abigail said "Where's my fish?  Is it up there?"
I sighed, asked forgiveness in advance from her sweet mother, and went back for the fish.
Her mother was dismayed to see that we had remembered it, but took it like a champ.
The next day I got a text from her:  "Btw we left that fish in the car by accident and it stunk bad when we realized what the horrible smell was!! Lmao"
What a woman. She already has learned that some of the best memories are the ones that smell the worst!

I will do a part 2 for this about Rosie and  our time when we had to get up and go home and Abigail said her legs hurt, refused to get up, and said she needed to stay here for a long time until she was better.
I so love that child.  Can you tell? 
And the baby?  The one we named Adriana and call Rosie Posie?  We got some time alone too!  It was delicious!