Monday, December 31, 2012

Mugs, Bathrobes, And Dogs

Before we start, this just needs to be said.

I plan all year for two specific posts on this blog: the bloggyversary post, and the New Year's Eve post. They're only a few days apart, so I do have all year to think about them. In years past, the New Year posts were somewhat lacking. For 2011, however, I was immensely proud of the final product; it felt like an accurate representation of the entire year. So, I've kinda sorta done it again. 'Cause I can.
Reginald Kitty is not amused.

This is the final day of 2012, folks. It's somewhat funny to think that 366 days ago, we were all wondering what 2012 would be like; now that it's over, it's time to reflect on the wonderful things that have happened.

We went to quite a few places this year; some of them were blogged about, while others were so quick, you'd have never known we went in the first place.

January: Oklahoma City for the Plastic Ono Band
February: Galveston
March: Austin
June: San Antonio/Austin
September: South Padre Island/San Antonio
October: Austin; Las Vegas
November: All Time Low; Houston for Paul!
December: Austin

Favorite shots of the year? I thought you'd never ask!

When we weren't out on the road, we were busy keeping up with our stories.

Seriously, you didn't expect me to wait for Downton to air in America, did you? If you waited, then you're in for one hell of a season.

If you haven't been watching "Call the Midwife", you've been missing out. Personally, I aspire to be an old lady like Sister Monica Joan.

The whole Bachelor franchise was damn near perfect this year. The Bachelorette turned out just like America wanted it to, and Ed was on every episode of Bachelor Pad. Life was good.

What in bloody hell was going on with Fresh Meat this season? It felt like the episodes were aired in the wrong order, and to hell with any character development set up in the first season. This scene, however, was perfect.

Community wasn't cancelled! At least we get a few more episodes.

Least we forget the fabulous ear candy; so many album releases! What wonderful music was released this year. With that wonderful music, though, came the behind the scenes studio stuff that everybody loves.

For example, this Andy Burrows video resurfaced, regardless that these were not part of the Company sessions...

We were all sitting in awe over what Paul did with Kisses on the Bottom, and we don't talk about it at our house, because of reasons...

If you didn't fall in love with Pioneer last year, you were wrong; if you didn't drool all over your shoes when you heard The Maine were releasing their Good Love EP, you were also wrong...

What would this summer have been without the giddy anticipation of Don't Panic? Free downloads, presales, different stories every day, and an official album leak all made for an interesting ride...

And now, our annual New Year's Eve Sap Party, where everybody starts semi-philosophical deep thinking for no apparent reason other than changing calendars.

When I turned twenty-one, I reassessed my life. Not in a midlife crisis way, but more a starting life crisis way. There were a few big decisions to be made this year, some small milestones, fabulous experiences, and a dash of tragedy. It gives me pause to think back about ten years or so; New Year of 2002 -- just after the Ill-Fated Trip To Florida incident -- was the first time I ever said "next year will be different". On the surface, nothing has changed: we live in the same little house, deal with the same people, and we still have a terrible Internet connection. The broader picture, however, is totally different: I have a distinct memory of siting on the living room sofa and writing about 2002 on that New Year's Eve in an actual book (yes, children, before blogging, we kept diaries made from tree skins). While some people have stuck around, others have not, making way for more folks along the road; when I think that I didn't know one of my best friends ten years ago, I start to wonder how I managed without him in the first place -- same for dogs, and canaries. And, even with the terrible Internet connection, indelible connections have been forged: Vegas, Canada, and making up for lost time -- and all because of "The Box".

Every year since then, I have said "next year will be different". Then, without fail, every December 31st, I berate myself for not doing anything to make the years stop blending together; until a few days ago, I didn't realize that I have followed through with that promise every year without even noticing. What I have come to realize is that the core of who you are never seems to change, but the details do; in that regard, my yearly vows are a success. Will I always have an affinity for drinking tea at 10:58 in the evening, listening to Back to the Egg, while wearing my bathrobe, and holding a sleeping dog? Yes; but the mug, the bathrobe, and the dog are what changes. That's how I have fulfilled my promise: slowly, subtly, silently. The years blend together because everybody climbs into their cozy bed at age seventeen and wakes up age seventy-five the next morning, asking where their time went. We waste our time thinking we aren't doing enough -- so much so, that we never detect the trace amounts of forward motion that propel us toward the future.

So, this year, I'll think about the television, and the radio, and the books (if I had mentioned all of the fabulous books I've been fortunate enough to read this year, you'd have been here longer), and the photographs, and the experiences. While I'm patching together the calico memories, I'll say to myself "next year will be different", and I'll realize how true that statement is. As it is, there's already so much about 2013 to look forward to. Paul should be releasing an album. Maybe. I hope. After all, Memory Almost Full was in 2007, and Electric Arguments was in 2008. Seriously. I mean. Seriously. It's not like it's a big secret that he's been working on it.
You look innocent, but we all know you're guilty of awesomeness.

And Paul isn't the only one in the studio, you know...

Hell, rumor has it that we might even hear from One Night Only within the next twelvemonth, so that could be interesting. We could also finally hear the much anticipated Ryan Ross solo debut. And this needs to happen, like, yesterday, 'cause that little feature spot on another band's record just is not enough...

So, here's to 2013, the big decisions, and Reagan's America.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Rockin' Around The Beatles Tree

Well, folks, Christmas Eve is upon us.

My little family is having Christmas tonight, just like always.

The occasion calls for pecan pie...
...and bourbon balls...

Considering that we all got a wee bit tipsy with my Bourbon Cream Cheese Icing, the bourbon balls are a little strong; this should be a fun Christmas...

Keep in mind, though, that we may need to make time for awesome Christmas cartoons...

And, naturally, we should all be having a Wonderful Christmastime!

Have a happy Christmas, everybody!

(The official video for the song is near the end of the clip, and it does contain somewhat disturbing images -- starting at the 6:10 timestamp -- so viewer discretion.)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Twelve Songs Of Christmas

I only just now realized what day it is.

With that said, I have finally wrapped every last present, and meticulously placed them around our tree; I have been baking cookies as fast as people will eat them (my Toasted Pecan Bourbon cookies with Bourbon Cream Cheese Icing was by far a stand out, with over three dozen disappearing in three days, and only three people live here in the first place); the Christmas music has been driving me insane for the last eleven days -- I've been counting; and almost every house on our block has been decorated with glowing lights, forcing me to wear my sleeping mask well into the night. Despite all of these festive doings, my granddad -- the bastion of Christmas cheer, and good will toward man (figuratively, that is) -- begged the fatal question just a couple of days ago: "do you have the Christmas spirit?"
I couldn't disappoint him; he asked so sweetly, with a child-like zeal in his blue eyes. "Not yet," was the best I could muster.

Truth be told, I haven't had "the Christmas spirit" since 2005. Thinking back to everything that was going on about that time, I can see why: that second Paul concert -- our very first limo watch! -- was a major life changing event for me (it was less about "I'm going to see that guy that used to be a Beatle" to "dear-God-I-love-this-man-more-than-most-of-my-family-members"); couple that with our exciting first trip to Las Vegas having been finalized two days before Christmas itself (yeah, a lot happened on that trip) and it's no wonder that the holiday spirit has rather forsaken me. I say forsaken because I try so hard every year to be festive, and it never bloody works. This year is no exception, either. After finals week, I decided I was going to be festive, damn it. I pulled out my Christmas jammies with the vintage Santas and puppies on them; I rifled through my drawers to find my Christmas socks; I went to my closet to pair up my Christmas t-shirts with matching cardigans. With the Christmas music blaring through the Bose that so often blares much more preferable melodies, I commenced with the decorating, the wrapping, and the general joy making. This lasted for, approximately, four hours. Now that ten days have past, the music is getting on my nerves, the decorations are cluttering up the house, and I've run out of things to wrap (it's my favorite thing about Christmas, don't look at me like that).

I was ready to give up on the whole idea of Christmas. Actually, I'm still rather fond of that idea, if I'm being honest. There is a part of me, though, that wonders if that's such a good idea. I've been wracking my brain, trying to think of Christmas memories that might put me in a festive frame of mind.

Sure, there were a few flashbacks that came to mind. There was the time that my sister and I were tricked into thinking we were going to be given matching life vests with our initials on them, but were presented with matching laptops, instead; looking at the tree, I remember the ornament that I liked to feel the smooth plastic bottom of, so all the paint is rubbed off the underside; or, heading to the way-back machine, a little group of kindergarten kids roaming the halls of a seemingly deserted high school, forced to watch their band play Christmas carols, and little old me swelling with pride because I had somehow ended up holding hands with the cutest little boy in the whole grade (that is, until he kept repeating the word "oboe", which lead to learning more valuable lessons for the future).

Even with the remembering, there was an element that I couldn't ignore: just like the rest of the year, music had intertwined its way through the memories, weaving their way into my reminiscences like ivy threaded in a trellis. Believe it or not, as a small child, the music was one of my favorite elements of the season -- yes, really. How many times did my sister tell me to "play something other than the Alvin and the Chipmunks album"? That's usually when I'd put on the Loony Tunes, or the Muppets. Cassette tapes, mind you, either in our family stereo (it was a reproduction piece, that looked like it was from the 40's), or my little blue and silver boombox.

In the spirit of the season, I have put on my Rob Gordon hat, and compiled not one, but two Top Five lists.

The first is the Top Five songs that I remember from those now-ancient tapes, but are never-ever-ever played on the radio, and receive little, if any, attention. (Side note: don't pay attention to the videos, we're focusing solely on the music, here, people.)

DISCLAIMER: You will notice a conspicuous absence of Paul McCartney, and John Lennon. That is because, when I play these kinds of games, I have to take their glorious superiority out of the equation all together; if I didn't, no one else would get to play.

From the 1965 album Holly Jolly Christmas, the fabulous Burl Ives sings "Christmas Child" (some sound effects were added by the person who uploaded the video, but I couldn't find another copy of the song, so we'll just have to live with it)...

Christmas just ain't Christmas without Elvis, and this song has been a staple in my family since before I was born. From 1970, Elvis' Christmas Album, "Mama Liked The Roses"...

The third song on the list is connected to a wonderful memory of my little family loading into the giant old van we had many moons ago, putting this album into the tape deck, and rubbernecking the fancy light displays in the high-falutin' end of town. From 1963, Alvin and the Chipmunks sing "Wonderful Day", the first track of side two of Christmas with the Chipmunks, Volume 2...

Another family favorite since ever, the fantastic Karen Carpenter (OK, and Richard, too), sings "It's Christmas Time/Sleep Well, Little Children" from the 1978 Christmas Portrait album...

We all know I am a child of the 90's. One of my earliest Christmas memories is of this song, and I still love it to this day. From the New Kids on the Block's 1989 album Merry, Merry Christmas, our first Top Five concludes with "Last Night, I Saw Santa Claus"...

How are we holding up, folks? Are we ready for the second Top Five list?

The next set are Christmas songs that I love, but don't receive any airplay. Not a lick. Sure, they can play that terrible Bruce Springsteen version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town", or "The Little Drummer Boy" thirteen times in a day (true story), but these songs may as well not exist in the radio world.

Topping the list is the Plain White T's awesome song, "Christmas Won't Be the Same Without You". It was part of the All Wrapped Up compilation in 2009, and it is, well, awesome. (Also, pay attention to the video in this one, if you want. It's Tom Higgenson in red trousers, I'll be paying attention with or without you.)

Who doesn't love Harry Connick, Jr? If you don't, you should really get yourself checked out by a professional. From the 1993 album When My Heart Finds Christmas, the sorely underrated "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?"...

Dean Martin's beautiful voice really shines in "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm", from the 1959 album Winter Romance. It seems that the radio stations are familiar with the song itself, but not this fabulous version of it...

Yes, the original version of "Last Christmas" is wonderful; however, if I get to pick what version I'm going to listen to, it will probably be The Maine's, from their 2008 EP ...And A Happy New Year. Truth be told, there probably isn't too much I wouldn't listen to if John O'Callaghan was singing, and Jared Monaco was playing guitar (even that cover of "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" that was released last month [loved the music -- exactly the awesometasticness you might expect from their post-Pioneer material -- but something about it just didn't feel right]). And when I think how many times I've had to listen to the Glee version of this song, instead...

The sentiment of this song is the hopeful melancholy Christmas often brings. You would think that the Powers That Be in Radioland would want to play something from the Goo Goo Dolls, but this song goes practically unheard during the Christmas season. Maybe it's because some folks don't actually think of it as a Christmas song; I, however, see the value of subtle references. Just because a song doesn't explicitly talk about tree-trimming-mistletoe-hanging shenanigans, that doesn't mean it can't be a Christmas-y song in itself. Rounding out our second Top Five, from 2005, "Better Days"...

I'm chucking in two bonus songs, because I couldn't think of three others to complete another Top Five. Hey, at least I'm honest. These are Christmas songs that I love, but can never, ever be played on the radio -- or, in some cases, mixed company.

Paul Simon and Steve Martin team up for the best version of "Silver Bells" the world will probably ever see...

How can you not love this final song? Especially the 2010 single version, rather than the Dirty Work, Deluxe Edition version. Yeah, I'm picky, sue me. Hide yer mothers, it's "Merry Christmas, Kiss My Ass" (not the video, because that was just a damn disappointment, and it hasn't blown over yet)...

Friday, December 21, 2012

Elmo Tinsel

It is no secret that I absolutely hate the junior college I attend. It's close to home, but that's about all it's good for. Honestly, it's like a real life Greendale.

On their website's homepage, they usually have a banner filled with little pictures of people who have gone on to make something somewhat useful of their lives post-community college graduation. By clicking on the banner/photo, you are taken to a short testimonial about how wonderful the institution is, and how they could never have done anything awesome in their entire lives, like, ever, without their fantabulous community college.
They usually look something like this...


As I went to make sure my transcript was looking good in the wake of finals week, I saw an unfamiliar picture on the testimonial banner.

I had to do a double take, just to make sure I saw what I thought I saw.
Heavens-ta-Mergatriod, I did.
By clicking the testimonial link, you are taken to this page. For those of you who cannot open the link (I hear you can't do that on smart phones? Go figure), you are greeted with this picture...

...and the following testimonial.

Elmo Tinsel wanted all his life to become a toymaker, yet he couldn’t have Etch-A-Sketched a more circuitous path to his final destination.

He first ventured into the toy industry right out of high school with a job on the loading dock at Yakima Yo-Yo. Sure there were ups and downs, but soon Elmo was promoted to the axle-installation crew. Not three months later though, thanks to an abrupt industry shift from fixed-axle yo-yos to those containing spring-loaded weights, Elmo found himself out of work.

“They only kept guys who had spring-loader certification,” Elmo recalls, “and you had to be buddies with someone in management to qualify for the course.

“I was sure I’d have a long career at Yakima Yo-Yo, but there were just too many strings attached.”

Elmo bounced from job to job after that, never quite fitting in. He quickly burned out making Easy-Bake Ovens, and he completely washed out at the Slip ‘n Slide factory.

He dabbled in Silly Putty for a while, but he didn’t need a Ouija Board to tell him that he’d never become a Big Wheel in that sputtering industry.

Then he heard about Amarillo College, where dozens of degree and certificate programs help thousands of students launch great careers. Some out-of-work axle installers said he was taking a Risk, but Elmo says AC actually helped him get a Clue.

Today he is in charge of inventory control in Santa’s Workshop at the North Pole, where on the side he also makes yo-yos that contain, you guessed it, axles with spring-loaded weights.

“It’s my dream job,” Elmo said. “I get to make toys, I oversee a huge inventory of toys, and talk about job security—we have a virtual Monopoly on the Christmas trade.

“Thanks AC! This is a gig I won’t ever LEGO.”

Editor’s note: you Tickle Me, Elmo.

How is this an accredited institution? I don't understand. Is it something in the water here? Has the dust and wind finally gotten to somebody's brain? Really, think about it. Someone had to come up with this idea, sketch out a character, write the testimonial, find the pictures, put all of it together on the website, and then have it approved by someone else. More to the point, who in hell would approve something like this to be shown from a supposed bastion of higher learning?

Maybe this whole End of the World thing has more credence than I gave it before; the stupid is coming to get us all.

Friday, December 14, 2012

We're Celebrating Our Fruit/Flower Year!

On December 14, 2008, my sister and her husband were at our house for a visit. She had been pestering me for ages to start a blog, because she thought the medium might suit me. Oh, how I resisted! On that day, though, I decided I would try to keep her occupied: "if you set it up, I'll try to use it," was the only promise I made.
Four years, and 353 posts later, I would say I have kept mostly to my word.
Of course, the early days of a blog are horrific; until you find your rhythm, blogging is a tedious, scary world, filled with "how do I edit this HTML code?", coupled with "I must make sure everything is PERFECT". Folks who have taken the time to go back to our first couple of years in the archives have seen things I am not proud of, simply because it took me that long to get the hang of what blogging was all about in the first place. It took a few years, but I think we're all settled in and comfortable now, don't you?

Every year, I try to pick a few of the major topics we've been talking about: for the first anniversary, we talked mostly about Beatles related stuff, and British television; the second anniversary was all about Beatles related stuff, British television, and general musical awesomeness; the third anniversary was, generally, Beatles related stuff, The Bachelor, and general musical awesomeness. Well, at least I'm consistent! The fourth anniversary breaks down as follows:

Total video count: 207

General Randomness videos: 87

Awesome music-related videos: 72

Videos just of Paul McCartney: 18

Videos just of The Beatles: 15

Videos just of John Lennon: 8

Bachelor/ette/Pad related posts: 5

Posts dedicated solely to music: 8

Pictures of my fabulous cookery endeavors: 9

Total slideshow count: 12

Total number of appearances made by Reginald Kitty: 27

Total number of page views from January to the time of writing: 2420

It's hard to believe this blog was started when George W. Bush was still president. Yet, time marches on, and we're still all together on this little piece of the Internet. What started out as just my sister and mother reading the stupid things I would post has turned into quite the little hobby, which is viewed by folks all over the globe (truth be known, that can be rather intimidating). Sometimes, for kicks and giggles, I'll Google Image search the countries this blog receives hits from; I'll just say that some of y'all live in absolutely gorgeous places. With that said, thank you for showing the slightest interest in this strange little blog; if y'all get as big of a laugh from me as I do from you sometimes, then this could keep going for a long while yet.

And now, in the spirit of every Bloggyversary, I have composed a Mr. Gee-esque poem to summarize the last year:

As we transition from year three to four,
I'll check for scary bald men at the door,
and we can reminisce about the last year,
and complain that we're still living here.
Some weeks were busy, even with an extra day,
and life is complete since watching the Lennons play.
TV drove us crazy when we weren't screaming at Paul,
watching Titanic, or answering my niece's prank call.
The extraverts invaded, and Stella had some dental work
while we were fangirling about our Premium Membership concert perk.
When we weren't defending bands, we gave them an Olympic Games;
we guessed some Bachelor casting, and the microwave went up in flames.
I refuse to play doctor -- unless Jack Barakat says I smell nice --
and my biggest Bachelor dream came true by guessing casting right.
This blogging year, we learned two things: all about Buddy Holly's Philosophy,
and that you meet some really weird folks at the DMV.
Provided the apocalypse doesn't come, and we all survive,
You won't have to read my poetry until we celebrate year five!

Seriously, I am looking forward to spending another year with you, dear reader.
Thank you for making this whole thing that much more worthwhile.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Jack Barakat Says I Smell Nice

Remember how I talked about going to a concert when we were in Vegas, and I that we were going to talk about it in detail?
Are you ready for this kind of thing today? 'Cause it's happening.
Reginald Kitty is not amused.

Back in August, when I found out that All Time Low were going to be in Vegas while we were, I signed up with their fan club to get pre-sale access (seven bucks for membership was worth it for me to not have to wait four extra days for public sale); in the post where we talked about ordering tickets, I mentioned that this membership came with the opportunity to win Meet and Greet, which is totally separate from the album signing that came with some of the tickets (mine included). So, a few weeks before the show, I filled out my entry form for the contest, and thought little about it -- after all, what possible odds would I have of actually winning in the first place? Yeah, tell that to the girl who decided to check her email five minutes before she went to LOVE, and ended up jumping up and down in her dress tights when she found out she won.
I would be lying if I told you my mother wasn't relieved at this turn of events: "you go on, have a good time. Now that you've won this thing that I can't go to, I guess I'll just go with your dad, instead of to the show with you." Really? 'Cause when I got the tickets two months ago, you told me you didn't want to leave me alone in Vegas, regardless that I'm 100% legal. And to think, the day of the show, as they dropped me off at the House of Blues inside Mandalay Bay, all I got was this warning before they left: "You know not to sleep with any of them, right?"

With her quizzical look burning into the back of my skull, I skipped off in the direction of the line that was already stretching into the casino. For the next twenty minutes, I used my supersleuthing skills to ascertain that I was fortunately positioned: not only was I incredibly near the front of the line itself, but I was sandwiched between people who had also won Meet and Greet. Knowing that I would need someone to take photographs if I chose to go that route (because I battled with that concept for a couple of days), I made friendly with the girls in front of, and behind me. They looked, sounded, and behaved just as you would expect young fangirls to -- I didn't understand half of what they were talking about, including eyebrow disco-techs (my summation, not theirs), their Tumblr followers, and how they seemed to be surgically attached to their phones. The first time I used a polysyllabic word, I was met with blank stares; knowing I needed to blend in with the natives, I decided just to smile and nod for the next few hours. From two o'clock to around 4:30, I was surrounded by a generational gap. Now, don't get me wrong, I have been where those girls are. I have been fifteen years old, standing in line to meet people around whom you have built your identity, your emotion, your brain-power, your leisure time. Similarly, I have also been to enough Paul concerts to know that if something is your "thing", you're essentially two people -- the carefully crafted you has disconnected from the real you that is kept well hidden so you aren't locked away in an asylum, and anything is bound to happen when real you won't shut her gob.

The best part about joining the line early was watching the band arrive. It became a game with "the group" to point out who was walking around. I think they eventually lost interest, since I saw people they didn't, and kept my mouth shut about it.

When the last of the band and crew were inside the venue itself, I knew it would only be about another hour to soundcheck, and get set up for the album signing itself. My guesstimations were right, and, before I knew it, we were all rearranged into different lines. Everyone in "the group" was lined up for the album signing, ticket in one hand, copy of "Don't Panic" in the other. They had been fangirling so hard, I eventually gave in and joined them. By this time, I was getting excited for the Meet and Greet, and, more pressingly, trying to make sure I didn't make a fool of myself as I talked to the band at the signing -- after all, I was going to be seeing them again shortly enough for them to remember if I did something idiotic. I tried to maintain a sense of dignity, coolly handing Flyzik my ID as he looked for my name on his list; he checked me in, and the girls I had been talking to waited for me in the dark, sunken hallway to the venue.
"I really feel, like, we've all bonded, or whatever," said one of them, pulling our her cell phone. "Can we take a, like, a group picture?" The other two followed suit, flicking through menu options on their phones for their camera setting. I felt like a grandma, with my real camera slung around my shoulders (which, miraculously, was not taken away from me). They giggled and made faces, and I wondered if this was partially why youth suicide rates have gone up: they're too damn trusting, and they're emotionally fragile. As they put their tech gadgets away, conversation continued. Somehow, the topic turned to how old we all were in 2004.
"I was eight," said one.
"Seven," said her friend.
"I was only four," said the third, to "awwww's" from the others.
I felt six eyes bore holes into my face as I said, "I don't wanna say how old I was."
Silence, their stares starting to singe the first few layers of my metaphorical skin.
"I was thirteen," I eventually said, lifting my head in what may have been mistakenly understood as a gesture of superiority.
"HOW OLD ARE YOU?" asked the youngest, in a tone suggesting that she was now concerned that I would try to somehow soil her precious purity and innocence.
As I told the little nippers I was twenty-one, one of them said "wow, you look really good. Time is on your side."
No one spoke for the rest of the time we were waiting, and I was afraid I may have made a fatal mistake in my picture-person excursion. As I was planning how to fix the giant hole I had just blown into my own plan, the doors to the venue were opened, and a line of overly-excited girls was lead through the bar, past the proscenium arch, and near the exit to a table that had four slightly-uncomfortable-but-hiding-it-really-well guys, all holding Sharpies.

It was only when I got close enough to the table to start hearing the blend of the band's voices in conversation with the slightly hysterical girls in front of them that I realized I was going to have to use my people skills, and try not to sound like my usual ridiculous self. Or, worse yet, what if I just completely went silent?

My social anxieties were not calmed by the fact that Jack Barakat was first; I was totally alone, with absolutely no crutch to lean on, about to awkwardly say hello to the guy I have personally referred to as "a sweet little puppy". It also didn't help that he is, indeed, a sweet little puppy. As the few people in front of me went down the line, I tried to see what everybody was doing in an effort to prepare to not make an ass of myself. Jack would high-five everybody, sign their album/talk with them when spoken to, pass it to Rian, who would follow suit, passing to Alex, who would sign/chat for a moment with the folks, then pass to Zack, and then you were directed to the exit. By the time I had it figured out, it was my turn.

"Hey!" Jack said as he high-fived me.
"Hi, how are you doin'?" I asked in my god-awful Texas hick accent.
"Doin' good," he said, signing my album, still holding my hand from the high-five.
"Thanks for comin' out," I said to him as he passed the album to Rian.
"Thank YOU for comin' out!" he said, holding on to my hand as I was shoved further into the line. He made a little face at me, let go of my hand, and moved on to the next over-excited female. I barely had time to thank Rian before he passed the album to Alex, who quickly scribbled his flowery signature.
"Thanks for comin' out," I said to him.
"Thank you, thanks for having us," he said with a little smile and nod.
Zack had already signed my album, and I thanked him as I was shown to the exit, and directed to the Meet and Greet line. I made sure I would have a free moment, and further widened the generation gap I had felt all damned afternoon by sending my very-first-in-the-history-of-ever text message. My mother had wanted me to keep her informed on my whereabouts, and neither of us are tech savvy enough for that sort of thing. It took about five minutes to type out, and read (and, yes, I know I meant to say the album signing, but I wasn't really thinking about my vocabulary choices at that moment):

Hour 2. Made it out of meet and greet without being abducted, drugged, or sold into black market slavery.

Hey, if I was paying to send it, it was going to be worth that twenty-five cents.

I wasn't at all nervous for Meet and Greet until I got in line for it. I turned to one of the girls I had waited with and asked "do you know what you're gunna say?"
"No," she said, her monotone suggesting that she was totally uninterested in the entire process.
Internally, I was freaking out. I had spent the last week trying to figure out something small to say to each of them, and I had it pretty well planned. I rehearsed that plan in my head as we were run through security. The lady waved the metal detecting wand over me, and the dreaded question came:"Your camera. Does the lens detach?"
"What?" I asked. I was totally detached at that point.
"Does this thing come off?" she asked, pointing at my brand new camera.
"I don't know, I only got it a few days ago," I told her.
"Well, when you come back out, check it in," she said, without further instruction.
"Holy hell," I thought, "they actually let me keep my camera!"

We waited a little longer, and then it was time for Flyzik to check us into the Meet and Greet. When my turn came, I was so nervous that I just handed him my entire wallet -- money, credit cards, ID, room key and all. When I realized I had just handed a total stranger a great deal of my personal information, I said, "I can take it out of that sleeve if you need me to."
He took one look at my pitiful self, and said, "it's OK, I can see it", as he handed it back to me, and told me to go wait in the sunken hallway again.

This wait was much shorter, as there were only about twenty people to check in, rather than the somewhat sizable crowd for the album signing.
We were lead inside, where we were given a speech similar to this...

Flyzik then made small-talk with the crowd, asking who was of age to gamble, and explaining that they had been playing Christmas music during the Meet and Greets that week. As Kenny G was piped through the speaker system, the band came out, starting a free-for-all as the twenty of us scattered our separate ways, and to separate people.

Knowing I might need her help, I tagged along with one of the girls I had waited in line with. She made a beeline for Jack, so I did, too. She asked for a photo, and for them to sign her t-shirt, and then, it was my turn. Before I knew what I was doing, I had turned into such a little southern belle, Scarlett O'Hara would have been impressed. I held out my camera and said, "would you mind too terribly much if we took a picture?" I acknowledged that the two people within me had separated when I both reluctantly and forcefully handed the fourteen year old my brand new camera, which I had just spent the week falling in love with. With equal sensory input from the split person I was in that moment, I became annoyed as the girl said "hey, it puts little boxes on their faces to find them!" (something I didn't know, because I exclusively use the viewfinder), and got that Chris Matthews thrill-up-my-leg as I felt his face brush the top of my head. She took the photo...
...I said, "thank you, Jack," and he took his leave quickly. At about five feet away from us, he looked over his shoulder, made eye contact with me, and said, "you smell nice".
"Thank you," I said, wringing my hands. I felt the girl glare at me in a fit of fangirl rage, and followed her to Rian. She went through her spiel, and my split personality fused back together for a few minutes. "Do you mind if we take a picture?"

She quickly moved to Zack, and we repeated the process.

We found our way to Alex, where the girl went through her spiel yet again. Before I had the chance to ask for a photograph, though, he turned around, and walked away. I don't even know where he went, the only thing that registered with me was that he had just been standing there two seconds ago, and now he wasn't. Taking her chance for vengeance from the Jack incident, the girl shouted "DENIED!" right in my face. I was diligent, waiting for him to finish with another frantic fangirl before taking my opportunity.

I don't even know what I did to get his attention, but he halted mid-stride, his momentum making him rock sideways. He smiled awkwardly at me, and gave a small wave; I blame that wave for the splitting of my two people, because I turned into Scarlett O'Hara, again.
"Would it be possible to get a picture, maybe?"

He obliged, and struck up a conversation with me.
"Your hair is so long, I like it."
My brain started screaming, "of all the people on God's green earth, Alex Gaskarth wants to talk about my stupid hair?" I went into my usual it-just-grows-really-fast spiel, which he called a "crazy hair gene".
I don't remember exactly what he said, but it equated to "you have very nice hair". I may not remember exactly what he said, but exactly what I said has been burned forever into my brain. Before I knew what I was saying, I heard that second person say "well, the same could be said for you, sir".

Oh, dear God in heaven, I facepalmed myself just typing that sentence. I still can't believe I did it. The worst part is that I had absolutely no control over it. The way I see it, though, is that he hates to talk about his hair, and I hate to talk about mine, so we're even.
To his credit, he was very nice about it. "It's not mine", he said quickly. "Wait, no, yes, it is."
I just stood there, the stupidity of what I had just said fully hitting me -- particularly the "sir" bit.
The girl I was with took her opportunity to ask him why he wasn't wearing proper pants, and we all had a conversation about Korean fashion, and how he doesn't like to wear pants when he's at home. The event was so traumatic, I don't even remember what happened after that. The next thing I can remember is that the floor space was empty as people gravitated toward a good place to stand at the barricade, and Jack was the only person left in the room. As he left, he walked right up to me, and held his hand upright, flat and low. I thought he was just randomly high-fiving people again, but he stood there with our hands touching for a couple of seconds, staring at me, then high-fived the girl I was with. She asked me to take a picture of her hugging him, for which he made a face; unfortunately, her camera didn't go off the first time, and the resulting second attempt came out fuzzy. As I handed her phone back, I told her I did my best. She glared at me with a small fire burning in her brain (I know, I could feel it), and I never saw her again.

Realizing that time was of the essence if I wanted a spot at the barricade, my two people morphed back into one, and I got the perfect spot. I used my supersleuthing skills to plan where I knew they always put the mosh pit, and where they took crowd surfers through after their questionable journey.

I avoided that area entirely, and ended up on the left side of Jack's mic (bonus points for it being far enough to his side to not obscure his face), and where I could watch Alex's and Zack's guitars while they played. I had a fabulous location, and could lean up against the barricade for the entire show. I was situated quite pleasantly. Especially when Jack came out to play with the drum kit for a few minutes. When he left, I sent my folks the following text:

Managed not to get raped. At barricade, stage right. Jack Barakat says I smell nice. More later.

As I planted my feet firmly on the floor, so as not to be shoved out of this amazing spot, a young girl walked up next to me.
"Ohmagawd, I got to talk to Alex," she said, still half in shock.
"I know, I heard some of what you said, you did very well," I told her, because I have also been that kind of fangirl, and know that you need someone to tell you that it's all going to be OK when you come back around to your senses. She somehow started telling me her entire life story: all about how she had gone to a YouTuber's convention, where she met the Vlog Brothers, and Charlie McDonnell. At that moment, I knew I had been placed there by Providence because, once again, I have been fourteen, and gone to nerd conventions, and idolized people who upload stupid things onto the Internet.
"Was Alex Day there?" I asked.
You would have thought no one had ever asked her about her vlog-related interests before, so she showed me her photos and told me her stories. I internally shook my head in wonderment because that was me seven years ago, and I didn't have an impartial third party to let every single one of my fangirly feelings out to. Apparently, she didn't, either, so I was elected. All I could think of was a fifteen year old girl, sitting stranded on a bridge from Canada to Michigan, listening to the same Paul McCartney song on repeat, wondering what she was going to do with her life when her everything had been destroyed. I'm just glad the girl I talked to hasn't had to deal with the let down that can follow, and made every effort to let her know that she had handled her most recent fangirling endeavors splendidly.

More waiting, until one of the opening acts came out. I wasn't impressed with them, but that's a personal opinion, I suppose. Another wait, and our good ol' friends in The Downtown Fiction came out for a set. It was a rather fun show, actually, and they played my favorite song of theirs, which translated well live. Yet more waiting, and The Summer Set came out and did their thing. Yeah, I know, I wasn't too pleased with seeing two of the same openers as the Plain White T's had last year, but at least I knew what to expect. Either way, this was my general impression...

Finally, it was time for the main act. I sent my folks one last message before the show:

Last opener has played. Main event should be starting soon. Talk to you afterward. Hope you had fun at the mob museum.

I was mesmerized by the incredible view of each guitar I had, so I kinda focused on hands. I do it at Paul, too, where I watch him play more than actually just watching him. The setlist was shorter than I had anticipated, judging from the stories I had heard prior to my own show. I was puzzled by it, until, at the end of the concert, Alex said that they had to end the set early, but they would be going to The Foundation Room, and to see them there; with that, security told us all to move as quickly as possible, because another event was starting in thirty minutes. So, essentially, the band and the audience were screwed over because of poor booking -- which, by the way would be the venue's fault. It's just further proof that both shows I went to at the House of Blues displayed poor management.

The poor management skills were further made public at the merch table. I had spied a couple of tour shirts that I thought would look nice in my closet, so I made my way past there on my way out. Apparently, there is a curfew in Vegas for kids under twenty-one, and their merch sales somehow fell under that restriction. By the time I got to the front, I had ninety seconds to get my stuff; their merch guy was in the middle of having an argument with venue staff as I got there.
"The curfew goes into effect in two minutes."
"Is this the kind of thing that you'll throw me out for if I keep going?" he asked.
"Exactly," replied the staff.
"Then I'm selling 'til you throw me out."
And, good on him, he did just that.

Pleased that I made it out alive, I headed to the Foundation Room. I had texted my folks, telling them I would be there, and they came to keep me company. After a few minutes, they started shuffling about, acting like they were more than mildly uncomfortable, so they decided to wander around until I called. A few minutes after they left, the band walked right by, were accosted by a few fangirls, and, just like that, the evening was over. By that time, I was glad to be able to sit down somewhere. People with bad backs should not stand up for nine hours straight.

It was only the next day that I discovered my battle scars: I was bruised on the undersides of both arms from the elbows up; on both sides of my ribs; both knees -- the left worse than the right, because I was trying to protect my camera from getting broken as I was being relentlessly shoved into the barricade (remember, I was supposed to "check it in" when I went back out? Yeah, I didn't end up going back out until after the show); and the top of my foot. I think it was when this happened...

(I was standing right next to the girl filming this; to give you an idea of where I was at, I was looking over his left shoulder, watching his hand on the fret board while he played.)

Even through the severe bruising (I limped for a week), the severe embarrassment, and the angry letter I wrote to the House of Blues and never sent, the evening was awesome. If you ever get the chance, you really need to go see these guys, 'cause it's just plain fun.

At the end of the experience, though, I have one question: in His infinite wisdom, why did God make me look perpetually fourteen years old? It's starting to cramp my style.
I also think it's somewhat funny that I went to Vegas the week I turned twenty-one, and the only person that asked for my ID was Matthew Flyzik. My life is a sham.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Goodwater: Services Unavailable

Remember how I mentioned that I needed my "over twenty-one" papers because we were going to Las Vegas that week? Well, that trip's story and slide show has been conspicuously absent from my blog, and it needs to be shared with the collective Internet, by jove.
The lucky part for you, dear reader, is that it will kinda sorta be split into two separate entries, because there's one event that was big enough to warrant a whole 'nuther post, and I plan on boring you to tears at a more in-depth level when we talk about what happened.
For now, though, we can start with general fluff.
Aren't you excited?
Well, pretend.
Reginald Kitty is not amused.

*One of the most entertaining things to do in Vegas is people-watch. Where else can you see folks even more outlandish than the People Of Walmart? Two favorites from this trip: the man who was simultaneously flailing, and power walking while leaning halfway backward, making it look like he was melting; and a very normal looking guy carrying a giant purple inflatable alien through a casino -- there was no outwardly logical explanation for the alien's being there, but it happened.

*The Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff is always a fun stop to make. That particular night, there were two "spooky science" demonstrations. The first one explained such mysteries as black matter, black holes, and space sounds...

... and was presented by one of those adorable people that get so excited about something that their love for it makes their eyes shine and their cheeks dimple. He had to pause numerous times because he couldn't get his brain and his communication skills in synch; when they did start working, he used Superman analogies. It. Was. Precious.

The second presentation acted more like a science experiment, where we were shown how to make our own meteors at home out of dry ice, dirt, and potato flakes. They pulled out the little electricity thing that makes your hair stand up, and showed us how you can light up a florescent bulb with your hand if you aren't grounded, but my dad got the biggest kick out of the liquid nitrogen demonstration; freezing flowers, then balloons, drizzling some on the floor in front of him, and concluding in a seemingly major explosion.
Of course, he likes the big telescope, too.

*I contemplated not including this highlight, but I don't feel I can do the trip justice by leaving it out. That, and I try to avoid any kind of political talk I can manage.
I have been a Paul Ryan fangirl for years, so it was a real treat to shake his hand, and hear him give a small speech.

Earlier that day, though, we went to this rally.

It's important that you know that I'm glad I got to see a sitting president, but that can't change my values. Before we had even gotten in the car to go to the venue, I had prepared myself to keep from making comments, or getting hot under the collar about some of the things he would inevitably say, since that's what usually happens to me. We got there about an hour before he came out, right as an announcer asked the crowd to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. What I did not expect, however, was that hearing that crowd pledge to the flag would start a torrent of tears. I don't know whether it was the way that they said the pledge, or whether it was that exact moment -- as I gazed at a small flag hanging from the canopy behind the lecturn -- that I realized there was no possible way of circumventing another four years. The rest of the crowd danced to a live band, and applauded when some Hollywood star came out to ask for votes, treating the event like the biggest and bestest party they had ever been to; I was at the edge of the crowd, bawling my eyes out for nearly three hours. It was the culmination of a lot of things that cannot be explained here without making me sound absolutely crazy, but I felt like I was at America's wake that afternoon.

*We all know how much I have loved everything to do with the Titanic since ever, right? After years of pressuring, I convinced the family it would be a good idea to see the Titanic Exhibit while we were in town. It was absolutely amazing to see pieces of the actual ship, read the stories, and see recovered relics. The experience was enhanced tenfold the first time I saw Dr. Robert Ballard's name on the wall, as the words and images from the lecture he gave earlier this year filled my brain.
Of course, they also know that a good portion of their visitors are fans of the film, meaning the gift shop was filled with cheap knock-offs of the Heart of the Ocean necklace. Personally, I think they're missing the boat (see what I did there?) by not having prints of Jack's drawings, 'cause somebody would probably pay good money for something like that.

And I was shocked that I didn't hear this anywhere near the place.

*I couldn't help it, I had to see LOVE again. It was the best version of LOVE I've seen yet (yes, except the one we saw with Paul that one time), and I really don't know how they keep topping themselves.

Look, it's my flower guy! Awww.

*This is kinda where "Las Vegas 2012: Part Two" comes in. I went to a concert, and met the band, and I kinda fangirled so hard that I keep hiding my face in shame every time I think about the fool I made of myself. That's why it has to go into a different post. Don't worry, we're going to talk about that very soon.

*I got an amazing camera for my birthday. Really, it's awesome; look, it takes panoramas!


Speaking of my amazing camera, are you ready for holiday slides? Fair warning, most of these were taken in the Bellagio garden, because it was bloody gorgeous this time.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Surprise Pineapple!

Who thinks it's a good idea to drive for nine hours on a Tuesday, then drive those nine hours back home on Wednesday?
Apparently, we do, 'cause we did that.
It's not like it's the first time we've done something that blatantly silly; sometimes, I don't talk about the whirlwind excursions we go on simply because there isn't always that much to tell. This trip to Austin, however, proved quite entertaining.
Do you want to hear about it?
Oh, come on, there's a slideshow at the end!
Well, it'll be over soon enough.
Reginald Kitty is not amused.

*It has been several years since we went to the capitol building, and even longer since we had walked the beautiful grounds. Camera in hand, we strolled the several-acre park at leisure, taking in the remains of fall in the hill country, and the peculiar wildlife.
Yes, that squirrel was blonde. I named him Fabio.

All was going well, until...

...buses of school children -- ranging in age from "Miss-Dunwell-I-hafta-gota-tha-baathrooom" to "lyke-ohmigawd-Justin-Bieber-just-tweeted" -- were lining up on the far end of the lawn. We took refuge in the visitor center, hoping the little buggers would go to the capitol itself before stopping by the museum and gift shop.
We were pleasantly surprised by the beautiful archetectural detailing in the visitor center, which was built in the 1850s: intricate wrought iron staircases; elaborate window designs; a fascinating back spiral staircase; and the views of the capitol and garden could be seen from the best angles possible. All too soon, the nippers infested the building like swarms of locusts, screaming, shoving, and sighing their way through the entire building, their lazy footprints and unbroken voices echoing violently from the stones in the floor and plaster on the walls.
It was nice while it lasted, anyway.

*We got a small taste of a hill country Christmas. There were elaborate lighting displays on homesteads lining the highway, while some of the small towns decorated their decaying town squares. Fredericksburg, as usual, wins the award for best dressed; greenery hung from every lamppost, while strings of garland draped over the street, flanking a giant glittering "MERRY CHRISTMAS" greeting. Even the shops looked festive with their twinkling window displays.

*The biggest thrill of the trip, though, was that it happened to fall on the one day only screening of "A Christmas Story" in movie theaters. It's one of my favorite films of all time, as briefly explained previously on this blog, and I had to see it on the big screen; the picture was released eight years before I was born, so I knew this might be my only opportunity to ever see it in a theater. The experience was simply magical. There are so many small details that cannot be seen on a television, but have to be experienced in the cinema: patterns in curtains, wallpaper, costuming; writing on newspapers; actors performing in the background that otherwise go unnoticed. It was like watching the film for the first time, but coupled with a lifetime's worth of nostalgia -- completely new, yet totally familiar.
As a side note, how did we not know about the Cinemark Classic Series before this? It certainly made us want to see the rest of the season's programming; we may have missed "Miracle on 34th Street", but we can still see "Home Alone" (side-side-note: someone please tell Jack Barakat about this, as I am too chicken to do so myself), and "It's A Wonderful Life"!

Are you ready for a super-awsome slideshow now?
But, look! It's pretty!

Monday, December 10, 2012

"Do You Say 'H-oo-stun', Or 'H-you-stun'?"

What's big, loud, and the best possible way to spend three hours with a man?
Going to see Paul McCartney.
Why, what did you think I meant?

We packed up the car, and drove down to Houston just for it.
Would you like to hear some of the highlights?
Of course you would!
Reginald Kitty is not amused.

*Limo watch was, somehow, even more awesome than usual. There was a rather large, dedicated crowd that night, all singing, dancing, and talking right up until we saw the tell-tale black SUV coming 'round the corner at the far end of the street.
This was the best picture I got. There is no possible way to keep a camera still when you're shaking like I was; I had to convince my mother that I didn't need to set down, and that we needed to get in line right-the-hell-now before all of the merch was gone.

When it was all over, the girl behind me started bawling her eyes out, repeating "he was right there!" and pointing in the general direction of the street. I asked her if it was her first Paul show, to which she nodded, soggily. I patted her arm, told her we had all been there, and to have fun at the show.

*Since I insisted that we run like the dickens to get in line for the ticket scan, we were fortunate to hear the ENTIRE soundcheck. I about wet my britches when he played "Every Night", pulling my mother's sleeve and whisper-shouting "HE HASN'T PLAYED THAT SINCE DENVER IN 2002". I fangirled harder about that one than the others he played during the soundcheck set, but, in all honesty, I was just happy to be there.

*What has come to be known as The Great Poster Debacle. For every show, I get the collector's poster to frame with my ticket; sometimes, they have plenty of posters in flat boxes behind the table, while others are a limited edition. I ran to the merch table as soon as we were let into the building; panting, I screamed savagely at the poor guy behind the counter "POSTER!" while trying to catch my breath. While I continued going absolutely mental at the merch table (I still feel extremely guilty about it), I forced my mother into the role of double-checker, making sure we didn't repeat the Denver Incident. Disgustingly pleased with my selections, we battled our way through the crowd, and started looking for our seats -- of course, they were on the opposite side of a ball park that was only partially open to foot traffic (more on this in a minute). We're halfway to our seats when we start talking about the poster.
"He didn't charge us near enough for the poster," my mother said.
"I'm just glad I got one, and it's not glossy, like the ones for Tulsa and Dallas," I replied.
"Oh, it's glossy," she said.
We argued for a minute before pulling it out, and realizing it was the wrong thing.
After I had run through, dodged, slipped by, and shoved every moron carrying a mustard encrusted hot dog, my mother told me she had never seen me move that fast before. Fortunately, the issue was quickly resolved, and I didn't have to start murdering people. What was unfortunate, however, is that we now had to get through a massive crowd. By massive, I mean, massive. I was nearly trampled by a rather large, inconsiderate man, and was glad I didn't die before the concert.
They have room for a barn dance in that train compared to what we were dealing with.

*Paul was having hair trouble. Try as he might, he could not keep his fringe out of his face. It was precious.
May I now take this opportunity, then, to petition to The Universe At Large for the late-80s/early-90s Paul hair?
Look at it. It's magical, like a unicorn.

*Paul Flub of the Night: he beautifully butchered a verse in "Maybe I'm Amazed". It was wonderful.

*Personal favorite moment of the show: during a heated guitar solo, he turned around to his drummer (which he does often, and I love it, and judge other artists by how often they do the same thing), smiled adorably, and started rubbing the neck of his guitar on top of one of the amps. It was glorious.

Does this sound like a fun evening, or what?
Well, if you'd like to get a small taste of what goes on, this two hour and twenty-five minute video is probably a good place to start; they've taken the best of each YouTube video from the show, and edited them together. I haven't had the chance to watch it yet, but it sounds like an awesome project.

Don't have that much time to spare? Take this, and we can fangirl together.

Fun Fact: I fell in love with this version before I ever heard the actual "McCartney" album version, mostly because the "Back in the US" CD was on repeat on my Walkman for years. If I'm listening to this song, odds are high that it's this version. And he still sings it just as beautifully ten years later. And that's when I died a little.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Prince Albert In A Can

I was home by myself for the majority of the day yesterday; the arrangement worked out splendidly, as I needed to take a final exam. Despite making arrangements with everybody I knew by telling them not to call me while I was busy, I still got a number of strange phone calls in the afternoon. And we all remember how much I love telephones, right?

At around 1:30 -- just as I had started the timer on my exam -- the phone rang.

Me: Hello?
Phone: *silence*
M: Hello.
P: *static, fuzz-fuzz* Is this the lady of the house?
M: Yes. (We all know I'm not, but he wasn't to know that.)
P: This is Mike from the National Committee of We-Still-Want-Your-Political-Funding, how are you today?
M: I'm sorry, Mike, but I really don't have time to take your call. Thank you so much.

Why are we still getting political calls? The election was a month ago. It's over.

The two hour exam went by quickly; I decided to take a small break before moving on to the next task. Just as I was fixing my lunch, the phone rang again; the line was merely static, so I thought nothing of it, and moved on. That is, until it happened again a bit later; I was a little peeved at being met with silence on the other end, but it does happen. I figured it was just some bored kids on a Saturday afternoon looking for a good time.
When the phone rang for the third time within the same hour, I was about ready to blow a gasket. I picked up with a curt "hello", and was met on the other end by a high pitched voice saying "oooo", as though hearing someone on the other end of their line was the most fascinating thing that could ever have happened to them -- or, to put it another way, it was similar to the noise I made when Katharine Hepburn bought those fabulous red shoes in "Summertime".

The "oooo" continued until they hung up. Yes, we were definitely dealing with kids on this one. I contemplated whether it had been the same kid each time, or if the other incidents had just been a technological failing in some part; we live in a small town, with limited telephone/Internet services, so it was possible. When the phone rang less than a minute later, I had prepared my most stern, "grown-up" voice. As I gruffly alerted the other end of the line that I was there, I heard a quick expression of kiddy babble. "I can't scold a kid that little," I told myself, so I quickly changed course.
"I think you have the wrong number," I told the kid in a dripping-yet-highly-annoyed tone, hoping they would just hang up, and not dial my number again.
"No, Aunt B! It's Quincy!" came the surprised voice of my niece. She said it hurriedly, like the fate of the Universe and Everything hung in the balance of my grasping that she had called me.
"It's Quincy?" I asked, genuinely puzzled. I was so shocked, I may as well have been saying "they took a llama surfing?" My groggy brain searched for a comeback. The best I could come up with was "well, how are you, then?"
She laughed maniacally, and the line went dead.
As I hung up, I thought long and hard about the previous calls, and determined they were not connected to a surprise conversation with my niece. I also tried to piece together the possible ways that she could have gotten hold of her mother's or dad's phone. That was when it suddenly dawned on me that I had just been prank called by a three year old.
At least she didn't ask if I had Prince Albert in a can...

...but, I suppose, stranger things have happened.

Is It A Subscription Box, Or Something More Sinister? (It's A Subscription Box. Maybe.)