Thursday, March 23, 2017

Whatever Gets You through the Night

"Whatever gets you through the night" was a John Lennon #1 US single released in 1974, at the time his first as a solo artist.  It's a very snappy happy song with a talk show theme melody and very deep sounding lyrics and yet it really was just Lennon's ode to late night TV and something a tel-evangelist said as Lennon channel surfed through one particular night.  I always find the back story so intriguing, particularly when it's so subtle next to the much more assumed substance.

You know Ashley Madison is kind of like channel surfing to us aimless, fidgety, and restless souls in unresolved circumstances.  And Ashley Madison has certainly gotten me through many nights.

So, "trust me, darlin', come on, listen to me, come on...."

This blog has really been a way for me to express my experiences through musical lyrics.  Mostly the stories drove the narrative and the music illuminated itself to me.  Sometimes I have remembered lyrics that I knew I needed to find a story to match.  On a few occasions that song so intimately married to the story that it truly affected me and created a new relationship for me with that song.

So what follows is not necessarily the posts I feel are the best or even the songs I love best but these are the posts whose song lyrics melted together with the story for me and now have left an indelible mark on my psyche.

1.     Alone Again Or - the Damned:

On two occasions I have written posts on five consecutive days.  This was one of those times.  This was a tantalizingly frustrating tale of my first "non-meeting" with Sandee, the women who would eventually be my penultimate Ashley Madison lady.  Thankfully, four years later, she is still my dear friend.  As I contemplated writing these posts I heard the song Alone Again Or on Richard Blade's First Wave show and knew it was right for the story.  As always I became more intrigued by the song the more I read.  I also found out that there is an even better version by Calexico!  A funny thing, some time later I was playing putt putt with the fam and heard Prokofiev's Lieutenant Kije Suite which was supposedly an influence for the melody written for Alone Again Or.  Shannon was taken by the melody and said "I like that music."  In response, I blurted out "oh that's Prokofiev's Lieutenant Kije Suite."  Shannon was a little startled as I generally only know things about Lynyrd Skynyrd in her mind.  Oh well, that's the problem when you try to be all intellectual in the wrong moment.

Anyway, here are the other parts of the story:

        part II
        part III
        part IV
        part V

2.     I Hate These Blurred Lines - Robin Thicke

But even though I said this was not really a "best of" post I do believe this is one of the best post I ever wrote.  I think this comes the closest to what one truly feels when you are in an illicit affair amid an unhappy marriage that one feels compelled to hold onto due to social graces.  I remember writing a guest post for another blog and that blogger, who is a professional writer, really challenged me to use my words to create imagery for the reader to really see the environment I was writing about.  I think I did that fairly well in this post.  And though I never really get a lot of comments I got some really heartfelt meaningful comments in response to this post.

I know it's hard to draw deep meaning from a song with the lyrics "What do they make dreams for when you got them jeans on."  But in the environment that night this song was a perfect backdrop.

3.     Me & Honey - REM
        also the ending

These are my first and supposedly last "baker's dozen" Shannon's story post.  I kind of did the Shannon's story posts as therapeutic recreation for some fun and just to see if I could revisit our life through her eyes (or at least how I thought her eyes would see it).  It did end up being very therapeutic and those posts always got the most comments.  I guess all of you must be siding with Shannon and probably agree I'm as ass!   :)

I did end up doing more Shannon posts included pre-quels and post-quels and other various analysis.  Anything for a comment you know!

There are a few posts that as I later read them bring me to tears.  The last Shannon story post "It's Not as though I Really Need You" does exactly that.  I'm not sure if it's a source of some pride or simply feeling the tranquility Shannon must have felt at that moment of such great achievement for someone whose life had originally been set for a fairly common trajectory. 

I love Jimmy Buffet music, I love basketball, and I love Carolina girls and this post has it all.  Oh, I also love a good coming of age story and I tried to weave basketball, women, music, and a coming of age story I once saw into a two (and later a third) part post about life on Tobacco Road in the early 90's.  God I love that song, so peaceful.  And I still wonder whatever happened to that White Polo jacket of mine.

"Ia Ora Te natura!"

5.     You're the Lucky One - Allison Krauss & Union Station

If it's not good enough to write a blog about your past life then take that same past life and mold it into a children's tale you steal from a beloved story.  I have always loved the story of the Velveteen Rabbit.  The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is a somewhat updated version of the Velveteen Rabbit and seemed to fit my life.  I have certainly had my days as a somewhat haughty self-important person as I progress through my early adult years.  A few things pinned my ears back and led me to the life that led me to the blog.  This was a good way to show myself how I got here.  And of course this Allison Krauss song provided a great musical backdrop that perfectly echos my thoughts.  I have certainly in my life been a "Jack of all trades and a master of none..."  But always lucky and I do like to look at life with a smiling eye!

I'm just hoping I end with a great final chapter as I still owe you that part!

        part II
        part III
        part IV

In fall 2010 I was juggling four relationships: a rocky relationship with Shannon, a gentle sweet relationship with Sandra, a tantalizingly new potential relationship with Keely, and an even more seductive relationship that was a blog I was starting to write based off some ideas I got from reading another blog called Ashley and Me written by the great Riff Dog of days gone by.  What had started as a curious adventure had sent me on many chases.  But now I felt chased and this song felt oh so right.

We all go through high school, college, dating, marriage.  We learn how to break up and be broken up with.  There are the old tenets, "your a nice guy but....,"  "let's hit the pause button, we can still be friends."  It becomes almost like a menu.  But nobody ever tells you how to act in an affair and thus nobody tells you how to end an affair.  Often it ends and we just don't know it until we realize it's over and you realize you just moved on and nobody is the worse off.  Sandra is a wonderful person and I truly enjoyed the time with her.  She made me feel great.  We moved on, I hope she is happy; she deserves it.  I am happy for knowing her.

8.     Where to Now St. Peter - Elton John

When I wrote this post I truly thought things were over with Sandee and that I may never see her again.  Our relationship was such a part of me and I was not sure how to feel.  Sadness?  Perhaps, but really just wondering what comes next, much like the mood of this song.  Her presence on the blog had become ubiquitous and the joy I had in writing about our relationship took my blog to new levels.  Thusly, writing this post seemed like I was killing that main character.  I was sad and it perplexed me that I was not sure how much I was sad for the lost relationship or the lost character.  As is often the case the blog forced me to look critically inward into who I really was.  Thankfully Sandee came back to me and continues to be my friend.  And of course the blog continues to meander though on a somewhat uncertain path, as does my relationship with both Sandee and Shannon.  So I kick the can down the road for my stories and perhaps the discovery of who I am, the person who mourns a lost friend or a lost character.  It will be interesting to find that resolution, or perhaps not.

*     The Cold Never Bothered Me Anyway - Idina Menzel (from the Frozen soundtrack)

This is probably that other post that always brings me to tears.  It's also, in my opinion, the post I'm most proud of.  From a sexy perspective Blurred Lines probably better connects with readers but from an introspective point of view (albeit in this case Shannon's introspection) this is more cerebral and emotionally deeper.  I did do a lot of soul searching and put a lot of thought behind this post.  Writing this did help me better understand Shannon.  I do feel that the concept of Johari's window is what makes marriage so difficult and Ashley Madison so appealing.  Making a marriage successful requires that you go to the blind spots of your partner's comfort zone that are perhaps new to you.  Success in marriage will require that you navigate and master these blind spots.  Unfortunately many never do and many relationships then fail.  With Ashley Madison you invite people into your facade.  They either oblige you or they don't.  But those that do necessarily welcome, accept, and endorse your facade.  In fact your facade may be their temporary facade.  The result is that temporary satisfaction that comes from being oneself for a moment with no commitment to being something you are not for the sake of another.  It's not reality but it does satisfy for a moment which is exactly why it's so hypnotic and seductive.

*     Arthur's Theme - Christopher Cross

Nothing like night-time kayaking on the Potomac for some romance.  For sex I think this was my best post.  "Her long hair cascading down into my face had that sweet floral aroma I have so come to enjoy.  Those floral accents augmented the salty beads of perspiration that now formed gilded island across her breasts."  Yeah, I think that could go into a romance novel!  Why say more.  Oops I'm back to being haughty and self-important now.

I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane, I enjoyed the memories as well.

Anyway, "whatever gets you through your life.  It's all right, it's all right.  Do it wrong, or do it right; it's all right, it's all right..."

Monday, February 27, 2017

Mumbo Jumbo Gooey Gumbo

It's Mardi Gras Time!
Laissez les Bons Temps Rouler!

No the title above does not actually contain lyrics from an actual song.  That is the fictitious song title Dick Van Dyke's character was going to have Conrad Birdie sing at the start of the movie Bye Bye Birdie.

But sometimes necessity is the mother of invention. 

I was thinking about a lyric title for today's post last night whilst the fam and I were watching Bye Bye Birdie and it seemed to fit.  You know for a guy like Ryan, it is a blessing having daughters.  I have come to enjoy Friday nights watching Bye Bye Birdie, Oklahoma, White Christmas, and other un-manly chick-flick type entertainment.  Heck, I was delighted the other day to find out Downton Abbey may be coming back as a prequel!  Believe me, college Ryan and single Ryan would never have been caught dead watching a musical on a weekend night.  Its amazing how life channels you into new joys and traditions.

In fact, food was never really a big part of my life until I started waiting tables and later became a restaurant manager back in my Big State U days.  I was a pretty finicky eater my whole life but at the Conference Center we only had one meal for a banquet and that's what you got to eat after dinner was served.  If you didn't like it you went hungry.  So I began trying weird stuff like Gazpacho and Spaghetti Squash, and Caviar and Roasted Red Pepper over Angle Hair Pasta (for some reason that was one of our top appetizers). 

But it always connects to something.  My mom was not a great fan of cooking but Shrimp Creole was always one of her favorites and a recipe handed down to her from her mom who grew up near NOLA and all that Creole cuisine.

So really those new habits always tend to spring from something that was already inside of you.

So the love of food was always in me and just needed the right path to find its way into my life.  I guess chick-flicks were always inside me or maybe what's inside me is the happiness I have when the ladies in my life are happy.

Anyway this is my 7th Mardi Gras food post and it was hard finding more music to use, it seems like I've used it all.  Given that maybe Mumbo Jumbo Gooey Gumbo is appropriate.

Btw, here are my other Mardi Gras Food Posts:

So for this year I admit I am stealing a recipe from one of my favorite sources - Garden & Gun Magazine.  I know Garden & Gun doesn't sound like Ryan but it is really the Bible of the true Southern Hipster mixing sports, culture, food, music, and art into a delightful monthly periodical. Created in 2004 as somewhat of a "latter day" Southern Living Magazine, it truly is an instructional guide on how to best enjoy the delights of the South!


2.25 tsp     Yeast
0.25 Cup    Water
1 tsp          Sugar
0.25 Cup    Sugar
2 Cup        Flour
1 tsp         Salt
0.5 tsp      Nutmeg
0.5 tsp      Lemon Zest
0.25 Cup   Warm Milk
3                Egg Yolks
3 oz           Melted Butter

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Filling:
8 oz           Cream Cheese
0.5 Cup     Brown Sugar
1 tsp         Cinnamon

Lemon-Sugar Icing:
1.5 Cup     Powdered Sugar
2 Tbs         Milk
1 Tbs         Lemon Juice


*     Combine yeast, water, and all sugar in a bowl.  Whisk until yeast and sugar are completely dissolved, then let rest until the yeast is foamy, bubbly, active, and looks like its in the process of having an orgasm (about 5 - 10 minutes)!
*     Combine flour, salt, sugar/yeast mixture, nutmeg, and lemon zest in the bowl of a mixer.  Fit mixer with dough hook, mix on low speed, and very slowly add milk, egg yolks, and melted butter until all ingredients are combined.  Continue mixing for 10 minutes.  If dough does not form into tight, sticky ball add pinches of flour until dough tightens.  Kind of like if your partner needs one more squirt of massage oil to get really revved up!
*     Scrape down bowl and mix for another 10 minutes.
*     Turn dough out onto oiled surface and knead into ball over 5 minutes.  Be gentle here, that dough is naked and feeling shy, it's needs special care for it to begin rising!
*     Place dough in oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until it doubles in size (about 1.5 hours).  Place dough on food prep surface and stretch into a long rectangle.
*     Combine filling ingredients and spread mixture onto the surface of the dough rectangle.  And don't go spurting all over the place, make sure you have a nice even then layer across that soft moist dough.  Roll dough into a roulade and slice into 15 medallions.
*     Place medallions flat side down in lined cupcake tines.  Cover, set aside.  Let rise again to double.
*     Bake at 325 degrees for 12 - 15 minutes, or until deep golden brown.
*     Combine icing ingredients in mixing bowl and mix until desired consistency, add liquid as need if too thick.
*     Glaze after cupcakes have cooled.  Decorate with Mardi Gras beads, and purple, gold, and green sprinkles as desired.  Add King Cake Baby or a jelly bean to make it complete!

Since there is no actual video of Conrad Birdie performing Mumbo Jumbo Gooey Gumbo I'll leave you with these delightful images of a beautiful and talented Ann Margaret showing how to true show passion and desire!

The King Cake helps to celebrate Mardi Gras which is the end of the Carnival season starting at Epiphany and just before Lent.  The cake is adorned in the Mardi Gras colors of green, purple, and gold as symbols of the gold, frankincense, and myrrh the wise men gave to Jesus.