On July 1st I took my son, David, to see his first concert.  We saw Queen with Adam Lambert.  Sadly, it can never be the Queen of yesteryear.  Freddie Mercury left this world in 1991 and John Deacon retired from the band’s public life in 1997.  Friends say he was never the same after Freddie’s death.  So, needless to say, I did not go into this show with high expectations.  I simply hoped that my son would have a good time.

What a wonderful surprise!

Hats off to all the members of Queen and a huge ‘huzzah!’ to Adam Lambert.  I love Paul Rodgers, but I certainly sat and scratched my head when I heard he was fronting Queen. I mean, really?  On the other hand, Lambert (who first met members of Queen when he sang Bohemian Rhapsody with them during his time on American Idol) is stylistically and vocally a much better fit.  He’s hitting all those notes with power and passion, even the super high ones. Wow.

I didn’t realize when David and I went to see them that this tour was being billed as a salute to Freddie Mercury.  Apparently, Lambert is a huge fan himself.  And that was the most impressive part, while Lambert clearly adores the limelight, he was generous with the spotlight.  Twice he left the stage so that other members of the group, including Roger Taylor’s son, Rufus, could shine.  Lambert seems perfectly at ease with the place Mercury holds in the band and the fans’ hearts.  He celebrated Freddie and sang back and forth with Mercury’s recorded image on Bohemian Rhapsody to the delight of everyone present.  If you can get yourself out to see them- DO IT!

He’s not Freddie Mercury– no one is.  Yet, once again, Queen have a flamboyant, sexually ambiguous front man whose voice soars to the upper registers as he sings his ass off on stage.  Something in the universe seems right once more.

While the show held many high points for me, I think the most poignant was on Love of My Life.  This song was written by Mercury after his breakup with his long time girlfriend, Mary Austin (whom Brian May had introduced to him) and appeared on Queen’s 1975 album, A Night at The Opera.  As I said, I hadn’t realized that the band would be showcasing Freddie to the degree that they did, so the night held many surprises for me.

Love of My Life was performed in the past as a duet between Brian May and Mercury.  May had come up with a lovely acoustic arrangement and then of course Freddie took care of the vocals.  This evening, however, May sat alone and after complimenting “the new kid” asked the audience for their help filling Freddie’s shoes.  He asked us to sing to Freddie, to let him know we still loved him.

So we sang along, all of us.  It is always amazing to me how heartrendingly lovely thousands of voices raised in song are.  Lighters (or iPhones) alight and hands raised in heart shapes, it was a bittersweet moment.  And then, on the last stanza, came that rich voice, those amazing, pliant, soulful tones.  Freddie’s image was on the jumbotron and his voice filled the arena, reminding everyone anew what we had lost.  Everyone over the age of thirty-five bawled their eyes out.

So here it is, sing along, let Freddie know you still care.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USDANRZ5CKw

A Night at The Opera by Queen 1975

A Night at The Opera by Queen 1975

 

 

This post was written by Erika Gardner.  If you enjoyed it, please sign up to receive updates on this blog.  Or you can follow Erika on Twitter @Erika_Gardner or “Like” her Facebook page Erika Gardner- Writer and Storyteller.  Check out her contributions to the BBB Blog.

My kids, especially my daughters, like when I put together playlists for my phone or iPod.  Summer 2012, Winter 2013, you get the idea.  As music so often does, when we listen to the lists after a break the songs remind us of where we were and what we were doing.  It’s always fascinating what memories my children come up with.  For instance, Natasha Bedingfield’s Pocketful of Sunshine reminds me of driving home from the kids swimming lessons, all of us “dancing” in our seats.  Well, not David, he was reading one of the Rick Riordan books.  However, my daughter Katie remembers going roller skating and Anna remembers her first hotdog off the backyard grill.

I know summer begins officially on June 21st, but for me it really starts on my birthday, June 24th.  So, this past week I was struck by the realization that summer is actually HERE.  Cue exhale.  This is my favorite season.  The fair comes to town.  We swim, we eat outside a lot, we stay up late and sleep in, we spend more time together.  And then there’s the sunshine. I’m a California native and how do I love the sun.

Time for a new list and I thought I would share it with you good people.  Go make your own and use it as your personal audio scrapbook for the memories you about to make this summer.

Now, a disclaimer, I LOVE heavy metal and so does my son, David.  That said, the girls not so much and my husband not at all.  So the seasonal playlists are pop-centric.  David and I bond over music in other forums and this gives me a touchstone with my daughters.  Try not to hate me for doing this one light, fluffy thing.  It’s purely sugary, bubble gum fun.

In no particular order this year’s list thus far:

1.) Sing by Ed Sheeran- love the chorus, so great to sing along to with happy daughters.

2.) Raging Fire by Phillip Phillips (what were his parents thinking with that name???)

3.) Maps by Maroon 5- definitely their most catchy since Moves Like Jagger.

4.) Love Runs Out by OneRepublic- not quite as good as Counting Stars but pretty darn close.

5.) Summertime Sadness by Lana Del Rey- love her voice!

6.) Am I Wrong? by Nico and Vinz

7.) Hey Brother by Avici- came out in spring, but that’s okay- it hasn’t been played to death… yet.

8.) Bad Blood by Bastille- I like this one even better than Pompeii (which has been played to death).

9.) Fancy by Iggy Azalea- Am I the only one who thinks she owes Gwen Stefani a big huge fruit basket??? Derivative much?

10.) Blue-eyed Lie by Jessica Meuse- an original song this American Idol finalist wrote while she was still playing honky tonks in Alabama.

11.) Burning Gold by Christina Perri- the album’s been out for a while, but this song is just starting to make airplay.

12.) And last, not least, this week’s Musical Monday song is Angel in Blue Jeans by Train.  It’s my new pop favorite.  I think I like it so much because as the song hits its stride there’s something that reminds me of classic country, something Johnny Cash or Merle Haggard would have recorded when I was little (or before I was born).  Something we would have sung around the campfire at Camp Cazadero.  Pat Monahan’s voice isn’t deep enough, but the galloping pacing and the twang of the guitar is just right.

Also, this is the perfect sentiment for a summer hit.  Come on, admit it, somewhere in the hallway of your memories, you’ve got one.  That one glance, stolen kiss, or magical one night that you’ll never forget.  It’s the one memory that as you are in that Neverland between asleep and awake, the sometime dreaming place, this is the memory that has you following the road to “might have been” on the corner of “what if” and “I wonder.”  Everyone has an electric moment they’ll never forget, and I’ll bet, it happened in summertime.

Don’t be afraid to remember.

Here’s a recent performance by Train on the Today show.  If the crowd noise bothers you then use this audio only link.

 

Grammy winners, Train.

Grammy winners, Train.

 

This post was written by Erika Gardner.  If you enjoyed it, please sign up to receive updates on this blog.  Or you can follow Erika on Twitter @Erika_Gardner or “Like” her Facebook page Erika Gardner- Writer and Storyteller.  Check out her contributions to the BBB Blog.

Erika Gardner

Erika Gardner

This was to be another piece.

One on teachers.

Then, later, one, on the importance of immunization.

Then, a note on tolerance.

In the end, it boiled down to one simple fact.  A good man died today. And I do not mean Casey Kasem.

A world leader?  No.  A millionaire magnate? No.  Yet, he was a man who loved well and stood by his friends.  You could count on him.  Will he be on the news?  No.  Will he be remembered? Yes.

What else can any of us ask for?

Casey Morton died today.  He was good.  He was loving.  He was 46.

A friend of of mine wrote me because she was concerned for a mutual friend, Holly, who was very close to Casey.  She asked if we (myself and another high school friend, Amy) remembered Casey?  I mean, he was a year ahead of us.

Are you kidding?  How could you forget Casey?  Joyous, full of life, and full of love?  Of course, of course, I remember Casey.  I knew him in drama.  He ran lines with me.  He made me believe that I COULD in fact survive, even thrive, on stage.  And Amy?  Her first job was at the Bennett Valley Baskin Robbins (which is still there) and Casey helped train her in all her dairy glory.

And the tears flow.

Casey was an epileptic and had a seizure during which he took a bad fall.  That’s all it took to snuff the light of a vibrant, affectionate, beautiful man.

Casey Morton died today.  He was good.  He was loving.  And, I hope, he will be remembered.

My deepest, most heartfelt sympathies for his family and loved ones.  He was amazing- you are blessed.

For all those we’ve lost, here’s your Musical (Almost) Monday… We’ll Burn The Sky by the immortal Scorpions.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4EZRN_DkN0o

Casey, my friend, I hope there is a love waiting to join you, beyond these mortal realms, flying the sky, burning the horizon.

Those we lose are no longer with us, but that does not mean, it never, ever means, that we forget.

 

Casey Morton, Montgomery High, Class of 1986

Casey Morton, Montgomery High, Class of 1986

 

This post was written by Erika Gardner.  If you enjoyed it, please sign up to receive updates on this blog.  Or you can follow Erika on Twitter @Erika_Gardner or “Like” her Facebook page Erika Gardner- Writer and Storyteller.  Check out her contributions to the BBB Blog.

 

Riddle me this?  What does a sick extremist terrorist fear the most?

Answer:  a little girl with a book in her hand.

Unless you’ve been under a rock, you’ve heard about Malala Yousafzai, the Pakastani schoolgirl who spoke out in support of girls’ education and was subsequently shot in the head by the Taliban.  In the past month the stunned world has watched in sheer disbelief the plight of over two hundred and seventy schoolgirls ages 11-15  in Nigeria kidnapped by the latest proof that cousins should really not be allowed to marry, an extremist group called Boko Haram.  Their leader… Wait, do I really have to call him a leader?  Correction, their reigning sorry excuse for a mouthpiece (they call him Abubakar Shekau… I call him Moronic) had this to say:

“I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah,” a man claiming to be Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said in a video first obtained by Agence France-Presse.

“There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell. I will sell women. I sell women,” he continued, according to a CNN translation from the local Hausa language.

Boko Haram is a terrorist group receiving training from al Qaeda affiliates, according to U.S. officials. Its name means “Western education is sin.” In his nearly hour long, rambling video, Shekau repeatedly called for Western education to end.

“Girls, you should go and get married,” he said.

So, let me get this straight, your whole political agenda is to end education?  Girls hiking miles and miles through dangerous, war-torn terrain threatens you sooooo much that THIS is your go-to offensive objective?  School girls?  They just want to read.

Yeah, you know what, you pathetic excuse for a human being, and I certainly will never call you a man, you should be afraid.  There is no place for you in our world.  No real, educated woman, whose mind is truly her own would ever want you.  No society would welcome your rapacious tendencies.  You bring nothing to the table.  You have no talents.  You display no intelligence, let alone education, you have no ability to give, only to take.  You are the antithesis of everything that makes up the word “community.”

And if I haven’t made myself plain, you are an unmitigated ass.

Everything we know about global economics says that educating women LIFTS society up to a greater standard.

  • Educated women have fewer children- for every percentage point drop in population, the chances of civil war drops by FIVE per cent.  This stabilizes a region and in the ensuing peace allows business, commerce, industry and innovation to flourish.
  • An educated female populace leads to a drastic population wide reduction in infant and maternity mortality rates.
  • “Educated women contribute to the quality, size, and productivity of the workforce. They can get better paying jobs, allowing them to provide daily necessities, health care, and education to support the family.” (Quote from Bloomberg Business Week)
  • Women’s education is one of the major variables behind the rates of social and economic development. It’s the difference between your country being a third world train wreck and a major world power- yep- that’s the key difference.
  • According to Wikipedia,  notable economist Lawrence Summers says, “investment in the education of girls may well be the highest-return investment available in the developing world.”

Yep, what does a sick extremist fear the most?  An educated woman.  These depraved, roving gangs (Because that’s what they are- they aren’t patriots or soldiers or even rebels. THEY. ARE. THUGS.) went after the thing they feared the most.  Not other soldiers, or the boys’ school who will grow up to fight them in a few years, the barracks down the road, a port on the coast- no, they went after girls, hiking miles every day to better themselves and their families’ lives.  That’s what they’re scared of.  They are sick, twisted and these young women?  They deserve all our support, all the political might we can muster.  Really, we can spend 90-plus billion on a war in Iraq based on lies, but there’s no support for 276 school girls kidnapped by a two-bit bandit and his posse of lame relatives?  Come on Western World- we’re better than that.  At least, we should be.

This week’s song is by Avicii and features Dan Tyminski on vocals (you may recognize him for his performance on Brother- Where For Art Thou?).  A song acknowledging that we are stronger together, when the ying and the yang work as one, in synchronicity.  It is not about one sex being stronger or better than the other- it’s about what we create when we let each other’s light shine.  To suppress either sex ultimately suppresses us all.  Please listen here.

 

“Brother / Sister”
(feat. Dan Tyminski)

Hey brother, there’s an endless road to re-discover.
Hey sister, know the water’s sweet but blood is thicker.
Oh, if the sky comes falling down for you,
There’s nothing in this world I wouldn’t do.Hey brother, do you still believe in one another?
Hey sister, do you still believe in love, I wonder?
Oh, if the sky comes falling down for you,
There’s nothing in this world I wouldn’t do.What if I’m far from home?
Oh, brother I will hear you call.
What if I lose it all?
Oh, sister I will help you out!
Oh, if the sky comes falling down for you,
There’s nothing in this world I wouldn’t do.Hey brother, there’s an endless road to re-discover.
Hey sister, do you still believe in love, I wonder?
Oh, if the sky comes falling down for you,
There’s nothing in this world I wouldn’t do.What if I’m far from home?
Oh, brother I will hear you call.
What if I lose it all?
Oh, sister I will help you out!
Oh, if the sky comes falling down for you,
There’s nothing in this world I wouldn’t do.

Bring Back Our Girls

Bring Back Our Girls

 

This post was written by Erika Gardner.  If you enjoyed it, please sign up to receive updates on this blog.  Or you can follow Erika on Twitter @Erika_Gardner or “Like” her Facebook page Erika Gardner- Writer and Storyteller.  Check out her contributions to the BBB Blog.

 

 

 

 

It’s rare that I join a wine club any more.  There have been times when my husband and I belonged to six, seven, eight clubs.  That’s way too many.  It gets expensive and you lose the special anticipation of a fabulous box of wine showing up on your doorstep.  The boxes blend together in a blur of cardboard… and that’s sad.

Wine should be an event.

While we live in and love the Livermore Valley wine-making region, many years ago we became Paso Robles fans.  This was primarily because our favorite wine-maker, Tom Lane now of Bianchi Winery, relocated there.  We kind of stalked him.  Luckily it all worked out, no charges were filed.  In all seriousness though, the only two wine clubs we belong to these days are Bianchi Winery and Dark Star Cellars.  Both are yummy and we are always excited when a box shows up.

That said, we have joined a third club– and I am just a bit tickled about it.

On our last visit to Paso Robles we tasted at Le Vigne Winery.  Great wines, really quite delicious.  However, they added a lovely twist to the club idea.  They send you wine AND cheese pairings.  Fun, right?  We did a cheese flight while in their tasting room and I had cheeses I have never heard of before.  Most educational and this added another dimension to the wines.  (After all, wines are meant to be paired.) The club we joined ships three times a year, two wines and two cheeses.  They have a variety of options: number of shipments, number of bottles/cheeses, and of color- white or red selections.

Check out their club set-up here.

This is definitely a club to have shipped to a work address, hate to have the driver miss you and leave your goodies sitting in a hot warehouse somewhere.  Tragic.

Naturally, I couldn’t leave such a winery without a little something-something to enjoy while waiting for our first shipment to arrive.  I chose their 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon.  This bottle retails for $35.00, with my new wine club discount $26.00.  I love cabernets, however, sometimes they go too tannic for me.  I like structure, but let’s not over do it, right?  Balance is very important.

Le Vigne’s 2010 Cabernet has a great mouth feel.  Lots of the berry and cherry that you look for in a red, but with smokier, earthy qualities on the finish.  It is definitely a wine that makes you want some food to go with it, a grilled steak or marinated portobellos.  Something substantial.  And something perfect to share with friends.

http://www.levignewinery.com/

This week’s wine recommendation. Enjoy!

This post was written by Erika Gardner.  If you enjoyed it, please sign up to receive updates on this blog.  Or you can follow Erika on Twitter @Erika_Gardner or “Like” her Facebook page Erika Gardner- Writer and Storyteller.  Check out her contributions to the BBB Blog.

 

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