Memories of Time Gone By

Well it is Saturday and a horrible migraine woke me up during the night.  I tried really hard to stay in bed and not get up (in fear of the pain that would hit me when I did) but it was going to hurt either way so I decided to just make my way from the bed to the couch.  I get these damn headaches at least once a week (most recently last Sunday) and more often than not they hit me on weekend.  This in a way is both good and bad.  Good because at least I’m not getting one when I have to work and bad because the weekends are when I try to get everything done.  Shopping, cleaning, laundry…you name it.  When I can hardly hold my head up, these tasks can prove to be pretty impossible.  So here I sit writing a blog post and watching my weeks’ recordings of “The Chew” — which seems to be one of the few things I can do without hurting too much at the moment.  I hate this.

I had a pretty cool experience last Saturday night…I visited my high school to see their spring musical performance.  My cousin’s daughter was starring as the Wicked Witch in their performance of “The Wizard of Oz” (she did a fabulous job by the way….Margaret Hamilton eat your heart out!)  Back in the day, I was a theater nerd.  Most of my free time in high school was spent in that auditorium, on that stage and in the dance hall.  The only year I didn’t participate in the shows was my sophomore year, when I went through a bit of a rebellious stage and when my grades started to slip a bit — my mom wouldn’t “allow” me to participate.  That sobered me up real quick and I got back into it the next year.

I went to a private, Catholic jr high / high school.  At the time, the school was from grades 7 to 12…so a greater part of my adolescence was spent at that school and I can’t tell you how many memories….both good and bad….were made at that place.  It would only seem true that when I walked through the doors last week for the first time in 18 years… was nearly and emotional moment.  I say nearly because I was with my daughter, my niece and my sister-in-law and I didn’t want to embarrass them by becoming a wimpy, blubbering mess.

The school was built in 1961 and although I’m sure there have been major changes since then…not much of the main building had really changed in the last 18 years, give or take a few mew pictures in the hallway.  God forbid they spend any money fixing up that auditorium; it still stands as it did when it was built in 1961. The gym and football areas have been given a major overhaul since I graduated…there are those tuition dollars going to work.

school entrance looking exactly how it did in the early 90's

school entrance looking exactly how it did in the early 90’s

As I stood in line for a soda at intermission, I saw the wall statue of the Virgin Mary….whose feet got stuck in my pants when I was in 7th grade…and it made me giggle.  No really crazy story there, I was just sitting underneath her waiting to go into the auditorium for our musical performance that year and when I stood up, the holy mother’s feet got caught in my jean’s waist band and proceeded to come completely off of the wall…laying squarely on my back.  All I could do was stand there petrified while balancing the statue carefully as to not drop her until someone heard my cries for help and put her back in her place.  Needless to say there was a huge gap in the line and I was late getting on stage.

I glanced around the auditorium and noticed that pictures adorned both walls, forever immortalizing our years of musical mayhem at the Catholic school.  Well, maybe not forever…but at least for the next few years until they run out of room and start retiring some of them.  The show picture from our freshman year “The Sound of Music” (in which I played a nun) was already taken down.  However, I did try to get a few shots of the ones still hanging (pardon the glare…they are pictures of pictures):

Junior Year musical, "Bye Bye Birdie" in which I was in the chorus one weekend and the role of "Kim MacAfee" the other weekend.  This pic was taken on my chorus weekend :(

Junior Year musical, “Bye Bye Birdie” in which I was in the chorus one weekend and the role of “Kim MacAfee” the other weekend. This pic was taken on my chorus weekend 😦

Senior Year fall play "The Man who Came to Dinner" in which I played "June" the daughter.

Senior Year fall play “The Man who Came to Dinner” in which I played “June” the daughter.

By far my favorite, senior year spring musical "Annie Get Your Gun" in which I was an indian, a townsperson and the affluent "Mrs. Adams" during the ballroom scene

By far my favorite, senior year spring musical “Annie Get Your Gun” in which I was an Indian, a towns person and the affluent “Mrs. Adams” during the ballroom scene

Along with these shows, I had been on that stage for numerous dance programs, choir programs and drama and speech competitions.  Hours of hard work, rehearsals, building sets, sweat and tears.  So many memories made there and it hadn’t changed a bit.  For a fleeting moment I felt as if I were 17 again and all the reminders of adulthood were gone. I saw myself on stage again…thought about my friends and all of the fun we had.  As I was skipping down memory lane during the show I noticed that the kids’ voices were coming out loud and clear, I leaned over to my sister-in-law and said “they have microphones now!!” to which she replied….”Yes Jenn, and we have cell phones now too!”. Geesh.  My youthful spirit went back into hiding as I was reminded of exactly how long it had been and how old I was now.  18 years is a very long time!

Music to My Ears, “Rock of Ages” Movie Review

I will forever stand by my argument that I WAS an 80’s child.  Even though I was born in ’77, I grew up listening to the sounds of Aerosmith, Foreigner, Whitesnake, Journey etc.  I might have been young but I’ve always loved music.  At the age of 4, I clearly remember the day MTV first aired on August 1, 1981.  My brother is 13 years older than me and I remember when it came on, I was told not to go in his room because MTV wasn’t “appropriate” for a kid my age. (boy how things have changed).  I started listening to my 45 of Billy Joel’s “It’s Still rock and Roll to Me” when I was only 5.  By the time I was around 9-10yrs old, I knew all the words to most of the well-known 80’s rock band songs.  Music has definitely changed since then but most of us still love those old sounds.  Concerts such as Journey and Aerosmith still sell out to this day, so the spirit of rock is not dead…it definitely lives on.   

When I saw the “Rock of Ages” preview for the first time, I knew that it was a move I MUST see.  I had my doubts about some of the casting – 50 year old Tom Cruise as an 80’s rock star?  What?  But now having seen it I can say the production crew did a fabulous casting job.  Everyone was SPOT ON.  Set in 1987, the story is predictable as most campy musicals are: girl leaves small town searching for fame in Hollywood…girl meets boy and finds love instead….girl and boy have misunderstanding and go their separate ways only to meet up again towards the end to make up and have a happy ending.  In the meantime, there is a parallel story about a Steven Tyler/Axel Rose/Bret Michaels mixed character (Tom Cruise) who’s popularity can save a little dive bar venue from  being shut down by the mayor and his over-the-top wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) but the plan goes sour at the hands of his slimy agent (Paul Giamatti).  All ends well during the closing scenes and you can’t help but have a smile on your face as you exit the theater.

Every single actor and actress had an incredible singing voice.  There are even a few appearances by Mary J Blige towards the end of the film.  Also bringing good and surprising talent to the screen were Russell Brand and Alec Baldwin.  Those guys can actually sing (Russell Brand more so) and were always good for some improv and hilarious moments that will have your sides splitting.  I was truly and undeniably shocked when I heard Tom Cruise open his mouth for the first time singing Bon Jovi’s “Dead or Alive”.  As one of my favorite songs ever, I am a tough critic but he was absolutely amazing.  He must’ve worked closely with several of the 80’s greats during filming.  His body movements were dead-on while doing the stage performances and even his appearance and way of speaking embodied the exact persona of the likes of Axel Rose, Steven Tyler, Bon Jovi and Bret Michaels.  I did read somewhere that Bret Michaels thoroughly enjoyed Cruise’s performance and thought he played it perfectly.

There are a few scenes that feature some well-known rock star cameos you may or may not notice like Skid Row’s Sebastian Bach, REO Speedwagon’s Kevin Cronin and Debbie Gibson.  Watch during one of the large group scenes towards the end while singing a combination song of “We Built This City” and “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”  You will see them.  Keep your eyes out throughout the movie, you will notice more.

I absolutely loved this movie.  I will definitely buy it when it comes out on DVD and I have a CD of the soundtrack on its way to me from Amazon already.  The only negative critique I can give it is it’s rating.  I take my 11 and 13 year old kids to several PG-13 movies and it is normally a safe call.  This movie however…NOT appropriate for them.  The whole movie is full off suggestive sexual content and doesn’t leave much to the imagination.  So, unless you have an extremely mature “tween”, I wouldn’t take them to this one.  More than likely it’s not their kind of music anyway and won’t run the risk of embarrassing them from singing along!