Archive for September, 2011

Seven years ago I took one of the best trips of my life. Two weeks on the road with my Mom. I know, some of you are probably thinking, “I couldn’t spend two hours in a car with my mother!” But Mom and I got along so well that it wasn’t a problem. Quite the contrary. Over the next few weeks, I’ll recount the trip. The pictures won’t be up to my usual standard, as they were BDC (before digital camera). C’est la vie.

The setup. I was still living in Gainesville and working at WebMD, and had accumulated a month’s worth of vacation time. I wanted to use it all, but TPTB said they couldn’t spare me for that long. Ironic, since I was laid off 6 months later. Anyway, we settled on 2 weeks.

I decided to leave in early September of 2004. I planned and plotted the trip for months beforehand. I really wanted Mom to go with me, and she was amenable. She’d retired years before, Dad had passed in 1999, and I wanted to get her out and about. I’d taken one weekend road trip in April to Columbia, South Carolina, solo. Fun, but I wanted to share this one.

There were 3 spots I wanted to visit on the trip:

  1. Nashville, Tennessee, the WebMD corporate headquarters. I know, on my vacation I go to work. But I wanted to meet some of the folks I’d been corresponding with through my job. And they could show me some of the scenic sights whilst I was there.
  2. Allentown, Pennsylvania , to meet someone I’d been corresponding with online for a while.
  3. Penns Grove, New Jersey, to visit Mom’s brother’s family, whom I’d not seen for twenty years or more. Funny thing. Mom and Dad came from Philadelphia, and most of the relatives still lived in the area. Mom didn’t want to hurt the feelings of the relatives we didn’t visit, so we didn’t tell them. Also, part of visiting them was that Mom wanted to get rid of a bunch of Christmas decorations, because she wasn’t putting them up as much, since it was an effort for her. One of my cousins there wanted to have the decorations. Mom was going to mail them, but there were 4 or 5 big boxes. I suggested just taking them to her. I figured that what we saved on postage would help pay for gas.

So Mom and I very assiduously budgeted for gas and food and lodging. Rachael Ray was doing her “$40 a Day” food travel show, so that’s what we budgeted for food. At the end of the trip, we had money left over, since we rarely ate 40 dollars worth of food between us. Better to over budget than under.

My plan was to drive down after work to Ocala, where Mom lived. I’d spend the night, then we’d leave early the next morning. Then we’d drive up the east coast, avoiding the interstate so we could see the sights. I figured 3 or 4 days for that, then stopping in New Jersey. After that, over to Allentown, then Nashville, and home. I had maps and books so wherever we were, we’d not get lost.

That was the original plan. Then along came the hurricane season. Yeah. Bonnie, Charley, Frances, Ivan, Jeanne. And those were just the ones that hit Florida. Charley was the one that made me make major revisions to the itinerary. It went right up the east coast, and I heard reports that roads through the area were washed out or had trees down or otherwise damaged. I didn’t think driving that way would be too scenic.

So, reverse it. Instead of New Jersey-Pennsylvania-West Virginia-Tennessee, it’d be Tennessee-West Virginia-Pennsylvania-New Jersey.

But I kept pushing back my departure. I didn’t want to be driving through a hurricane as I was leaving Florida, or on the way back. When Hurricane Ivan was going to come through in September, I went down to Ocala to help Mom if she needed it. She did, because the power went out and was out for almost a week. Ironically, the power at my place in Gainesville was fine.

By this point, I was ready to go-go-go! Then hurricane Jeanne came along, meandering all over the Atlantic, and I decided not to put it off any longer. I called my boss and said I was leaving on the 22nd. Since I’d put off leaving for about 3 weeks at this point, he was fine with it.

Now I can’t remember if I went to Ocala on the night of the 20th or the 21st. You know, I think it was the former. I probably wanted to give myself time to pack and rest and finalize travel plans.

I’ll post installments every few days. Later, y’all!

Read Full Post »

Glee is back!

Thoroughly enjoyed the show last night. A high point was definitely Blaine doing “It’s not Un-choo-sual“. He sang “un-choo-sual”, not “unusual”. And yet, still loved it. Let’s hope they keep it going.

Read Full Post »

Glee tonight

The Glee season premiere is in a few hours. The focus this year is supposed to be back on New Directions, like the first season. The guest stars they’ve had were fun, but it’ll be nice to see (and hear) more of the main characters again. A few examples above of why this is a good thing.

Read Full Post »

I was introduced to Neil Finn’s music when he was part of his brother Tim’s band, Split Enz. I can even remember the first time I heard him. It was on Fridays, ABC’s answer to Saturday Night Live. Points if you know what I’m talking about, since the show was only on from 1980 to 1982. Split Enz was on the night of October 17, 1980 (I love Wikipedia). Once I heard “I Got You“, I was hooked. I looked for records by them, and found True Colours and Waiata. I may still have those LPs somewhere.

Split Enz broke up in 1984, then transmogrified into Crowded House. That’s where Neil really came into his own. Listening to “Don’t Dream It’s Over” is like drifting on a cloud. Sadly, they didn’t get nearly the recognition they deserved, though they were fairly successful. I was lucky enough to see them (for free!) at the University of Florida Bandshell in 1986 or ’87. They were just as good live as on records. They toured like crazy, so that’s not a surprise. This was back in the day before Auto-Tune, when performers actually had to sing unmodifed. A lot of modern pop musicians could learn a thing or twenty from them. Sadly, they disbanded around 1996.

That didn’t stop Neil from doing solo projects, like “Try Whistling This” and “One Nil“. He got some really cool people to work with him, like Wendy & Lisa of Prince fame. He also did records with Tim as the Finn Brothers.

Color me overjoyed when, in 2006, Crowded House reformed. They’re still together and making beautiful music.

To share my love of all things Neil, I put together a YouTube playlist of my favorite songs of his. Not all of them are there, but enough to give y’all an excellent representative sampling. The annoying thing is that you can only embed individual videos on WordPress, not playlists. Unlike Blogspot. Oh well. Still, I can provide you the link to the playlist:

What I did do was add videos of some groups covering Neil’s music. I had no idea Susan Boyle, Matchbox Twenty and Pearl Jam were among them. Others like Faith No More and Sixpence None The Richer have done covers too. Neil never became the mega-star he should have been, rather like the vastly underrated Squeeze. Now there’s a collaboration I’d love to hear. It was a pleasant surprise, though, to find out how many other musicians are fans of Neil’s music. Talent will out. Long may Neil Finn write!

Read Full Post »

Ah, at last. Someone’s put together a bunch of Josh’s funniest moments on camera. If he ever decides to give up this singing thing, he could have a second career in comedy. Multi-talented, that boy is.

Read Full Post »