Where the hell is my boom box when I need it?

One of the plusses of going through all my moving boxes is finding crap I haven’t seen in many, many a year. Other than completely hilarious old pictures I really have to get into a scanner, my favorite find so far has been a box of old cassette tapes. More specifically, old MIX tapes.

Now, kids, gather ’round and let Granny Banshee tell you about mix tapes. Back right after the Ice Age and before the internet (I know!) when teen angst reared its ugly head, or when you were sooooooo in love, ohmygod, you made mix tapes. Some were for you, intricately composed of the songs that really SPOKE to you, man, this is the story of my LIFE, only Pearl Jam really UNDERSTANDS ME and my PAIN of being 14, man! Others were worn to a staticky thread after that amazing boy broke your heart, you don’t even LIKE that song, but oh, oh, you still love him, and once upon a time he loved you enough to make you a mix tape, so you listen to it over and over, carefully backing it up onto ANOTHER tape in case, horror of horrors, your Walkman ate the tape or you lost it on the bus. Liner notes were carefully and artistically fashioned and dated, and sometimes you were so proud of your efforts that you actually considered LAMINATING them, so deep was your passion for mix tapes.

Nothing can compare to the dedication needed to make a mix tape. CD mixes are okay, I GUESS, but nothing like the real thing. And forget iTunes. No. No passion there. A slight to the magic of the mix tape. No, the real deal involved sitting on your bed in a pile of cassettes, wearing your fingers to the bone carefully constructing your list, then, in an OCD act worthy of Howard Hughes, recording the tapes on your double-cassette boom box, re-playing and pausing for optimum editing. You worked that pause button like a SAFECRACKER, finding the one millisecond difference between a perfect segue and a disasterous cut-off of the last song. Tapes were also a very specific length, and let me tell you, if I had given a millionth of the obsessional time I took to make sure all the songs would fit on a 90 minute tape (45 minutes on each side, no leeway) to high school math, I would have been accepted to MIT. If you screwed up? You had to go back and do it ALL AGAIN. And don’t even THINK of recording at double speed to save time. The audio isn’t as good, and that would prove that your dedication to the mix tape was a SHAM. No, you sat there for hours until the tape was perfect, and then worked yourself into an absolute panic attack wondering if your music tastes were cool enough to be worthy of your high school paramour. (Hint: they never were. Such is the pain of pubescence.)

So I’ve been listening to my old tapes in my car. Yes, the only tape player left in my life is in my 2002 Kia, (don’t smirk, the Kia demands AWE and RESPECT.) It’s pretty amazing how music takes you back to specific times and places, with incredible emotional memory. I was playing an old tape my pal Mark gave me back in the day, and I swear, as soon as the grainy audio started, I was back walking down Amsterdam Avenue on a summer day. I still can’t listen to most Sarah McLachlan without remembering the walk across Boston Common from my dorm to the classroom buildings. And forget about the songs from the Soul Asylum Unplugged show, which I taped from the VCR to the boombox, to the mix tape. I mean ALL the mix tapes. Every single one from 1994. And I made a LOT of mix tapes in 1994.

I remember being out of my mind frantic when my Walkman was stolen during AIDS Walk 2000, not for the machine itself, but because it contained a mix tape that K-Bat had made for me. Don’t worry, K-Bat! I had made a backup tape! Banshee don’t PLAY when it comes to mix tapes.

At this point, I am seriously, seriously considering finding a way to burn all my tapes onto mp3s, because these cracked and worn tapes are only going to hold on for so long. But I’ll never, ever, throw them away. I wish I could make more. It makes me sad that angsty teenagers will never know the emotion of crouching over a boom box, thinking of that special person you are absolutely certain you will love forever and ever, spending insane numbers of hours constructing just for them, only for them, the perfect mix tape. Because that? Is love.

A Love Letter to My Wireless Tech Support Dude

My Dearest Amir:

Ah, Amir. I am so grateful to have you in my life. Why, Amir? Because you, Amir, are absolutely delightful in every way. When I realized that my CD/DVD player was not working, I was despondent. “Wah!” I cried, flinging myself onto my imaginary fainting couch. “I will never be able to install my wireless router without the install DVD! Life is not worth living any longer!” Oh, the bitter, bitter tears I wept, Amir. I dreaded calling tech support, not knowing I would soon meet the most wonderful man in the world. I am, of course, talking about you, Amir. You see, Amir, I do not have much luck when it comes to calling for information over the phone. I hate the phone, Amir. I especially hate the evil, sociopathic, sadistic douchebags at Sallie Mae, who make me cry every time I call them regarding my student loans. Oh, my student loans, Amir! The mere thought makes me shake with anguish.

But I am going on a tangent, my dear Amir. For this love letter is for you, and the fantastic support of the technical sort that you so generously gave me this evening. You were personable and warm, asking me if you could refer to me by my first name, and if I was calling from the United States or Canada. Oh Amir, of COURSE you may call me by my first name! Such a chivalrous gentleman you are, my sweet Amir. You then took me gently by the hand and said that you would be happy to walk me through my installation, as if we were strolling through a field of wildflowers. You had me at “hello,” Amir.

What is it that makes me love you so, Amir? Let me count the ways! Is it your lilting accent? (I hear Bombay is lovely, Amir. Perhaps someday I shall visit you!) Is it the way you gave me intimidating strings of numbers to apply to the installation program, the way you oh so patiently waited for me to stupidly repeat and confirm said numbers over and over again? I’m not very good at math, Amir. Please don’t hold that against me. Or is it your wicked sense of humor, which you displayed when you kindly asked if I had bothered to plug the router into the electrical outlet? I hadn’t, Amir! Oh, Amir, how we laughed! What is your sign, Amir? I’m a Cancer.

Amir, you are a king amongst men when it comes to technical support. I will never be able to thank you properly. Mere words cannot contain my gratitude, and dare I say, Amir, love? I am writing this from my bedroom, Amir. I can now do this because of your genius work in guiding me ever so lovingly through my installation. Do you mind if I call you, Amir, on those cold, lonely nights? You did give me your direct line, Amir, you naughty, saucy thing. Amir, would you think less of me if I “accidentally” poured a cup of coffee into my router so that we might speak again?

Amir, you need a raise. And a lovely office, with a door and a nameplate. Would you like a nice cup of tea, Amir? I will get it for you. Because it is thanks to you, Amir, that my faith in calling technical support has been restored. If you’re ever in New Jersey, Amir, I’d love to take you to dinner. Email me, Amir. I could even read it from the bathtub now. And it’s all because of you.

Love and kisses forever, my sweet Amir. I will never be able to gaze upon the festive blinky lights on my wireless router without thinking fondly of you.


Miss Banshee

Thoughts on Statistics

I’ve been very open and blunt about my stint in rehab, and my addiction to alcohol. Lots and lots of alcohol. Enough to put me as close to death as one can get without actually being on the slab. I talk about it, I joke about it, and 104 days after my last, almost fatal drink, I’m still beating it soundly, as they say, one day at a time.

I’m one of the lucky ones. In more ways than one.

I got a phone call today from a fantastic person I went to rehab with. We were thick as thieves there, and by the time we became “old timers” there, were more caregivers than anything else. I was, obviously, a drunk, he a “pharmaceutical enthusiast.” We both had serious drive to get better, and coming up on four months on the outside, we’re both doing very well. He just became a father, and I’m regaining my independence. We are not the norm.

We chatted about who we had heard from and/or about, and out of all of us, we are the only ones left who haven’t “gone out” again. The statistics for relapse are grim, and for today, he and I are indeed, in the vast minority. I was proud of us, terribly proud, and at the same time, incredibly sad for all the people we knew who are back out. There’s nothing we can do for them, and that sucks. But, given the damming statistics, we can’t. We have to take care of ourselves. It’s not easy, being selfish. But we have to be. Just listing all the names of the less fortunate made that grimly obvious.

I don’t have anything stellar and inspiring to say about all of this. I’m just a little stunned at the perspective I gained from that conversation. I think often about the people I went through rehab with, I wish them the best, I worry about them. But for today, I’m just incredibly grateful for what I have, and that my pal is doing so well.

Congrats, DP. You’re going to be a great dad. You know what to do. Love ya.

Movie Review: HARD CANDY

Much to my delight, my cable company has provided me with eleventy million movie channels by accident, and before they realize their mistake and cut me off, I’ve been watching movies that I didn’t have the chance to see before. This review is chock full of spoilers, so if you don’t want to know what happens in “Hard Candy,” I would leave now.

HARD CANDY – Ellen Page, Patrick Wilson, Sandra Oh

*** out of 5

I had heard about Hard Candy when it was doing the festival circuit as “the one where the kid foils the pedophile,” and that’s a pretty accurate way to sum it up. What that doesn’t explore is that the film is a fantastic character study thinly veiled in the “Little Red Riding Hood” story. Seriously, Page wears a red hoodie. We get it, movie. Anyway, the setup begins when Jeff (Wilson) and Haley (a pre-Juno Page) meet in a chat room and he convinces her to meet him at a coffeeshop. He’s 32, she’s 14. Helen Keller could see where this is going. They meet, they flirt, she plays the Lolita role very well, with the interesting choice of making her look not only extremely young, disturbingly so, but ambiguously gendered. The flirtation ends up at Jeff’s swank LA apartment, and that’s where his sick fantasy takes quite a turn. Aw, poor Jeff.

You see, Haley is not as sweet and innocent as she seems. Far from it. She knows about Jeff and his penchant for little girls, and, through an ambiguous and superfluous B-plot, he might have a personal investment in the disappearance and murder of another pubescent girl. Haley has a plan for Jeff, a very well thought out one, and we wonder for most of the film what her ultimate intentions are. Does she want Jeff to confess? Kill himself? Does she want to kill him herself? Is this revenge for the murdered girl or something that lies entirely with Haley? We never find out if Haley is simply taking revenge for Jeff’s past victims or if she is a vigilante for abused girls everywhere (at one point, Jeff asks in desperation “Who ARE you?” Haley’s answer clues the viewer as to her motives.)

The film is not without its flaws, of course. I was concerned at one point that it was going to become yet another “splatter porn” movie, but the castration scene ends up being more psychologically disturbing than visually graphic. I would have liked that scene more if we didn’t see anything at all, for the movie is at its strongest when it is simply close-ups of Wilson and Page, focusing on the cat and mouse dialogue. In fact, this would be a perfect script to perform in a black box setting, without a set or anything visual to distract us from the verbal dance between Jeff and Haley.

I lost some of the guys at “castration scene,” didn’t I. But we must press on!

The supporting characters, (all three of them) are completely unnecessary, and took me out of the moment. Although I love Sandra Oh, her character of the well-intentioned neighbor is absolutely nothing but an embodiment of the “oh noes, she’s gonna get caught!” plot device. Jeff’s girlfriend, too, is superfluous. She can serve her purpose in the film without ever actually being seen. Eliminate her worried close-ups and simply keep the visual of her car driving up the winding road to Jeff’s apartment. Much more intense.

And “intense” is the perfect word for this movie. Page is excellent, and her cold, calculating persona has just the right amount of cracks to make her human, if a bit verbose for a 14 year old. Wilson, most well known as the pretty boy in the recent “Phantom of the Opera” remake, does well with the vacillation between a sick perpetrator and a terrified man not only trying to survive, but coming to terms with who he really is.

Then there is the issue that hit me as soon as Haley’s true intentions are revealed. What would I do? If a child rapist was at my mercy, what, exactly, would I do? Would my plan be as intricate and brilliant as Haley’s, or would I just smash his skull in with the nearest blunt object? Self-insertion into the plot and Haley’s motivations is easy to do, and that’s where the script is the most successful.

I won’t give away the ending, but I’m ambivalent about it, mostly because I don’t know if that would be what I saw as the ultimate answer. But the mere fact that I became that invested in Haley’s plan says a lot for the movie. I’m glad I finally saw it.

Because it’s too good to not repeat…

In honor of the New Kids on the Block (NKOTB if you’re nasty) reunion, I just HAVE to re-post an extraordinary IM conversation from way back between K-Bat and myself, wherein a chance encounter dissolves into discussing punk rock history with Jordan Knight, inviting him to go to K-Bat’s office Christmas party, and ultimately convincing him to commit suicide. So without further ado, Ladies and Gentleman: The Jordan Knight Conversation.

KristaBat: i’m drunk.
missbanshee: you are!??
KristaBat: still.
missbanshee: Heh
missbanshee: awesome
KristaBat: from last night.
missbanshee: very nice
KristaBat: guess who i made friends w/ last night?
missbanshee: who?
KristaBat: JORDAN
KristaBat: FUCKING
KristaBat: KNIGHT
missbanshee: Shut. The fuck. Right. Up.
KristaBat: ha ha hahahhhaaa!
KristaBat: i was so fucking drunk and he was at the
KristaBat: and i pretended i didn’t know who he was!
missbanshee: that is fucking AWESOME!
KristaBat: i was like, “did you go to emerson? you
look really familiar”
missbanshee: You fucking RULE
KristaBat: and then i talked to him about like, fugazi
and shit
KristaBat: HA!
missbanshee: oh my holy god, that is the funniest thing
of all time
KristaBat: i’m laughing SO hard right now. all by
myself. at work.
missbanshee: how gee-ross is he now?
KristaBat: fat.
KristaBat: and wearing like, swishy pants
missbanshee: Oh my GOD
missbanshee: this is the greatest story of all fucking time
KristaBat: fucking JORDAN KNIGHT!
missbanshee: Swishy pants!
missbanshee: Fat!
missbanshee: At the Linwood!
missbanshee: With YOU!!!!
missbanshee: oh nmy god, it;s so funny i might shit my
missbanshee: My mouth, it hangs open
KristaBat: i’m like, crying right now.
missbanshee: That is so fucking unbelievable
KristaBat: HA!
missbanshee: Ha! You talked about Fugazi with Jordan
fucking Knight!!!!!!
KristaBat: oh god.
KristaBat: yeah i was like, ” NKOTB? that’s so funny
that you were in that group…
KristaBat: and i totally pretended like i DIDN’T know
every word to every song…
missbanshee: WHICH YOU DO!
KristaBat: I KNOW!
KristaBat: i swear, my sister was going to crap
missbanshee: MEEM WAS THERE?!?!?!!
KristaBat: YES!
missbanshee: I’m openly weeping with the laughter
KristaBat: oh my god, i’m crying. i tried to make him
come to CHARLIE’S!
missbanshee: STOP IT STOP IT STOP IT!!!!!!!!
KristaBat: oh myh god, i’m CRYING!!!
missbanshee: Did he put those sweet sweet NKOTB
moves on you?
KristaBat: alas, no, i don’t think he did.
missbanshee: I’d quote lyrics, but I honestly always
hated them
KristaBat: or he may have..
missbanshee: perhaps he’s gee
KristaBat: i really don’t remember,
KristaBat: could be gee.
KristaBat: HA!
missbanshee: swishy pants, after all
KristaBat: true dat.
KristaBat: i’m so not doing work right now.
missbanshee: This? Is the greatest thing ever
missbanshee: Dude. Jordan motherfucking Knight. You
should have asked him if Danny still looks like a chimp.
missbanshee: “So Jordan, do you, in the privacy of your
own home, like, still dress up in your 8-Ball leather
jacket and acid-washed jeans and try to remember all
the old choreography?”
KristaBat: oh.
KristaBat: my,
KristaBat: god.
missbanshee: “Do you call Donnie and try to get him to
hook you up with some poon?”
missbanshee: “He was really good in all those movies.
He’s been in a lot of movies, Donnie has. Did you go
see them?”
KristaBat: dude. stop!
KristaBat: HA!
missbanshee: “I heard Joey’s on a tv show, Jordan.
Have you seen Joey on the tv show? Like, every week
he’s on it.”
KristaBat: HA!
KristaBat: i’m like, laughing maniacally right now.
missbanshee: “Dude, at least you don’t look like a
chimp, Jordan. That’s all I’m saying.”
missbanshee: “Jordan, please stop crying.”
KristaBat: AHHHHH!
KristaBat: i wish i remembered more of what actually
missbanshee: I’m fine with making it up…
KristaBat: fucking JORDAN KNIGHT!!!
KristaBat: so SO funny.
KristaBat: oh god.
missbanshee: Utter brilliance.
KristaBat: dude.
KristaBat: must do work now.
missbanshee: Yeah, cut and paste this fucker and send
it to Joe
missbanshee: Your Joe, not Joey McIntyre
missbanshee: although with your new connection with
Jordan, I’m sure we could get it to him too
KristaBat: i definitely called him last night about it.
missbanshee: check all your pockets for the digits,
KristaBat: HA!
KristaBat: oh my GOD.
missbanshee: “Krista, it was so good to meet you.
Please don’t go, girl. Love and kisses, Jordan Knight.
PS: Please call me. Please. PLEASE.
KristaBat: oh my god. please… don’t go girl…
please… don’t go girl…
missbanshee: I’m collapsing with laughter
KristaBat: jordan and jon.
KristaBat: yeah
KristaBat: c’mon
missbanshee: You know ALL THE LYRICS.
KristaBat: we got a funky funky christmas goin on
missbanshee: You had a denim jacket COVERED
missbanshee: you kissed them EVERY DAY
KristaBat: i’m crying.
KristaBat: i liked joe the best though
missbanshee: You whispered your secrets into your
KristaBat: i’m convulsing.
missbanshee: Joey? He was a FETUS! And
KristaBat: i can’t even breathe
missbanshee: Holy shit, you should have taken Jordan
Knight back to Big House
KristaBat: oh my god.
missbanshee: casually walked into the living room in
your NKOTB pajamas
KristaBat: “what? these old things?”
missbanshee: You could take Jordan Knight to
KristaBat: stop.
KristaBat: or my christmas party.
missbanshee: “Cusraque, this is my very dear friend
Jordan Knight”
KristaBat: oh MYGOD! the tears!
missbanshee: Cusraque goes apoplectic, cause you
know he was a closet NKOTB lover
missbanshee: Taking Jordan Knight to The Model…
missbanshee: I’m going to pee myself
KristaBat: yeah dude. that would have been too
much for the model to handle.
KristaBat: like, jordan knight and amy mann would
have been in the same room.
missbanshee: “So, Jordan Knight, since I’m assuming
your schedule is rather sparse, do you want to come to
my office Christmas party?”
KristaBat: it’s at the science museum. i like science.
do you like science?
KristaBat: liking science is funny.
missbanshee: Asking Jordan Knight if he likes science is
KristaBat: sayign jordan knight over and over is the
funniest thing EVER.
missbanshee: EVER
KristaBat: dude.
KristaBat: oh god.
missbanshee: I’m going to have a heart attack
KristaBat: i must do work.
KristaBat: but i can’t.
missbanshee: NO! Jordan Knight doesn’t want you to
do work!
missbanshee: Please don’t go, girl!”
KristaBat: but then i’ll never get to leave this
godforsaken place.
KristaBat: you’re my popsicle.
KristaBat: from the very first time i met you girl you
KristaBat: cap
KristaBat: tured me.
KristaBat: HA!
missbanshee: “Hey, Jordan Knight, can you make
Christmas party a very funky one?”
KristaBat: so good!
missbanshee: I’m in danger of losing all bodily functions
missbanshee: “Hey Jordan Knight! You made me shit
KristaBat: HA!
missbanshee: “I must say, Jordan Knight, that’s pretty
punk rock”
KristaBat: he WAS at the linwood after all.
KristaBat: i
KristaBat: am
KristaBat: crying
missbanshee: “I like punk rock. Do you like punk rock,
Jordan Knight?”
KristaBat: do you like FUGA-21? i like FUGA-21.
missbanshee: “Hey, Jordan Knight, so can we talk
about how Donnie is like, hot and rugged and in tons of
tv shows and movies and has lots of tattoos and is
probably getting more poon than he knows what to do
KristaBat: hot and rugged.
KristaBat: Jordan Knight is such a loser!
KristaBat: HA!
KristaBat: oh shit.
missbanshee: “Hey! Hey, Jordan Knight, what about
that solo career? Do you remember the video with the
ferris wheel, Jordan Knight? I do.”
KristaBat: You know what Jordan Knight?
KristaBat: You’ve got the right stuff.
KristaBat: baby.
KristaBat: love the way you turn me on.
missbanshee: The right stuff to make me pee myself
KristaBat: you got the right stuff.
KristaBat: baby.
KristaBat: you’re the REASON WHY I SING THIS
KristaBat: what??!?!?!
missbanshee: “Hey, Jordan Knight, just thinking about
you made me throw up a little.”
KristaBat: don’t worry. i swallowed it.
missbanshee: I did that for you, Jordan Knight
missbanshee: You know what, K-Bat?
KristaBat: ?
missbanshee: You’ve got the right stuff, baby
KristaBat: shut.
KristaBat: up.
KristaBat: oh
KristaBat: oh
KristaBat: oh
KristaBat: oh
KristaBat: oh
KristaBat: HA!
KristaBat: dude. i know the fucking DANCE
missbanshee: “Well, look at it this way, Jordan Knight.
You could always hang yourself like Jonathan Brandis.
People would remember you then.”
missbanshee: “Never forget about suicide, Jordan
KristaBat: it’s really the only way.
missbanshee: It’s really your only option, Jordan
KristaBat: killllllll
missbanshee: Do it, Jordan Knight. Get the rope.
KristaBat: here Jordan Knight, let me kick that chair
out from under you…
missbanshee: You have nothing to live for anymore,
Jordan Knight. Go with a little dignity. On your own
terms and all
missbanshee: Do it.
KristaBat: i mean, you’re already wearing swishy
KristaBat: who cares if you shit yourself…
missbanshee: there’s nowhere to go now but down
missbanshee: you’re already giving hummers for crank,
Jordan Knight, don’t think we don’t know
KristaBat: i’m in a band called hummers for crank.
KristaBat: do you want to be in my band?
missbanshee: crying again…
KristaBat: here, Jordan Knight, have a tambourine.
KristaBat: i don’t think i’ve laughed this hard in
missbanshee: Shake that thang, Jordan Knight.
missbanshee: neither have I
missbanshee: I can barely see
KristaBat: me either.
KristaBat: i have so much work to do too!
KristaBat: HA!
missbanshee: SO DO I!
missbanshee: ARGH!
missbanshee: a little bit
KristaBat: JORDAN!
KristaBat: what a fucking gay-ass name!!
KristaBat: dude.
missbanshee: Well, think of it this way. Even as he’s
swinging from a noose, covered in his own poo…
missbanshee: At least he didn’t look like a chimp.
KristaBat: when he was in NKOTB he used to have
to go out and wear “a hat and glasses”
KristaBat: so girls wouldn’t recognize him.
missbanshee: Krista, he had to travel INCOGNITO
missbanshee: Like a SPY
missbanshee: Jordan Knight, were you really a spy?
KristaBat: and last night i was totally talking to him
about like Husker Du and Bob Mould’s solo career!
missbanshee: Did he have ANY idea what you were
talking about?
KristaBat: NO!
KristaBat: HA!
missbanshee: I can’t believe he OUTED himself as
missbanshee: I would have been like, uh, my name’s
KristaBat: i KNOW!
he was like, “i was the LEAD SINGER in new kids on
the block…”
KristaBat: HA!
missbanshee: STOP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
missbanshee: “Seriously, Jordan Knight, it’s time to get
the gun.”
KristaBat: i’m going to fall out of my chair.
KristaBat: okay.
KristaBat: work.
missbanshee: we need to stop
missbanshee: for a bit
KristaBat: more later.
missbanshee: saving conversation…now
KristaBat: yes.
KristaBat: me too!
missbanshee: HA!
KristaBat: oh god.

This just in: Hookers have feelings too

Found this on Metafilter this morning. Apparently, a college journalist wanted to end his column with a bang (horrible pun intended) and go to a brothel to request a cuddle. The experience was not what he expected.

Now, I’ll be honest. I went into this skeptical, but my immediate reaction to reading it was that it was overly twee, but enjoyable. I felt it was touching and well-described. It may have intruded on my heart a little bit.

Of course, the feminist in me swelled up and whacked me upside the head soon after. I started mentally grumbling about white, middle class male privilege, and how “shocking and unexpected” finding that prostitutes are people too is, zowie my goodness, what a revelation. I became a little ashamed of myself, and figured I would immediately be banned from Jezebel, at the least.

Still, I’m not entirely full of hateration. It’s an interesting topic, at least, and certainly one for discussion. And I am glad that, however blatantly obvious, this guy had his prank turn on him, and maybe made him think about societal preconceptions and how they so often differ from reality.

It’s an obvious revelation, to be sure, but it was also something that caught my attention and made me shake the cobwebs from my brain early on a Sunday morning. There’s something to be said for that.

I still wish he would have played Scattergories with her, though.