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Dear Music Lovers,

I last wrote to you more than a year ago to share my favorite playlists.

I was reminded of that post today because I had lunch with an old friend who was influential in developing my musical tastes.

He created a fantastic mix tape for me back in the day.

I don’t save a ton of things — I’m not a hoarder! — but I saved all the mix tapes I received. As I knew Mike and I were meeting, I dug his out this morning to bring to lunch to show him. (I did this in the living room in my underwear, scarring Gideon for life. But that’s another story.)

I miss the days of mix tapes. They were an essential part of the courting ritual. You liked someone, then carefully crafted a tape that would do three things:

1. Indicate your feelings. You could be obscure or obvious.

2. Introduce the recipient to new music. And show off your own coolness. Or not.

3. Tell a complete story. Flow was key. It was a narrative.

I always went one step further (of course) and decorated the paper sleeve. I would find a great image from a magazine or newspaper (I’m old, y’all), cut it precisely, and glue it to the cardboard. I’d list all the songs on the other side.

It was a task to create these because you had to time everything out perfectly to fit the tape plus switch out albums.

Playlists are easier to create and share today, but I don’t get the impression they are as much a part of the getting-to-know-you phase. They certainly don’t provoke the same feeling as when someone you liked would hand you a tape. You couldn’t wait to get in your car (!) or get home to listen to it to see if they felt the same way you did.

For the record, Mike and I were and are great friends. No big romance. The purpose of this tape was to introduce me to new music. (But it’s true we were very flirty.)

I recreated it in iTunes:

Mike was tickled that I still had it.

“These songs definitely represent an era,” he said.

True that.

Here’s a picture of Mike taking a picture of the playlist. He was as amused as I was.

If you’re feeling industrious, send me a playlist. It can have a message. Or not. I’m always open to new music, as I think I’ve demonstrated.

Vinyly yours,
Beth

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Dear Miriam,

I thought we were friendly work colleagues. Why do you want to kill me? I can think of no other reason you would invite me to “Core Power Yoga.”

Core Power Yoga, aka Satan’s Clubhouse

I thought yoga was supposed to be this calming, centering, channeling-your-inner-Gandhi kind of thing.

But add the “core power” modifier, and this is some next-level madness.

I’m not sure why you go to this “sculpt” class at 6, right after the hot yoga class. That means the room is 145° at least.

But there I was, right on time, because of your invitation.

The class starts. I’m keeping up. What seems like two hours pass. I look at my watch through the waterfall cascading from my forehead.

6:16

I wish for death.

6:23

For those who don’t know what this class is like, let me describe it:

Mix the Jane Fonda workout with the calisthenics from eighth-grade gym class. Sprinkle on some Southern California namaste seasoning. Add an Imagine Dragons soundtrack. Set it on the surface of the sun.

6:32

My face is throbbing. I might pass out.

I leave the room to get air, water and the number of a medical professional.

I ask the lithe girl at the front desk how long this class lasts.

“Hmmm. Not sure if it’s 60 or 75 minutes. Let me check,” she says.

“75 minutes?!” I squeak.

“Oh it’s 60 minutes.”

Even so.

The exit was so close. Sadly, I had left the locker key in the pool of sweat near my rental mat.

6:47

I think it’s the cool-down phase. Not sure. All I know is my heart is racing like I just outran a bear.

6:51

I’m certain that I’m clinically dead.

6:54

I’m deftly performing the Patrick Star pose on my mat. I feel a slight breeze. Perhaps I’m on a gurney being rushed to the ER?

No.

The instructor is walking around the room flapping a towel.

She appears to be flapping more over me.

I’m sure it’s because she spotted my soul leaving my body.

7:00

The class is over. The instructor says, “Sorry it was hotter than usual, and the workout was more challenging than usual.”

Oh. How lucky for me.

I slither to the locker room on liquefied legs.

Time to survey the damage. Warning: graphic images (i.e., I’m hideous).

Let’s take a closer look, shall we? (Be thankful this blog doesn’t offer Smell-O-Vision.)

What’s that you say, Miriam? Show the air-conditioned, rested (i.e., sane) people at home the back? Sure.

That was Thursday. Today is Sunday, and still everything hurts. I can’t lift my arms. How can I have ribcage pain, Miriam?

I’m not sure what I did to you, but I apologize for whatever it was.

Please forgive me.

I’ll never do it again.

I also likely will never do this class again, despite the assurances from the instructor that I did “an awesome job for my first time.”

Sincerely,
Not downward dog but no thanks, dawg (aka Beth)

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Are you there, Readers? It’s me, Beth.*

It’s been more than two weeks since my last post. I’m sorry! To make up for it, I have a really long post today.

Yesterday, the family and I went to the Brookhaven Cherry Blossom Festival. Blackburn Park is about a mile from our place so we walked.

The draw (besides the fact that I had to work a booth for my job for a bit)?

Live music: The Romantics, Spin Doctors and Smash Mouth.

For free!

Side benefit?

People watching. There were plenty of people.

So let’s get this party started.

Festival rules said no chairs (or coolers, which was a literal and figurative buzz kill). So we spread out blankets. As you do. But here’s the thing: The rules of personal space still apply.

Not for some people, apparently. Like this guy who parked himself practically on my lap.

There’s plenty of room. It’s a huge park. So why is he four inches away from me?

And here’s his friend:

My leg. His feet. He actually put his feet under my leg at one point. NO!

The ladies with them were no better. No awareness.

Same group of people, now all up on Eddie.

And then there was this odd girl with those shorts I hate.

There she is with her boyfriend, Hodor (as Eddie called him).

Doesn’t look like a problem here BUT she kept bending over. Constantly. And when I’m sitting on the ground two feet away, well …

Girl, please.

So while she and her ass were harassing us, I was harassing the kids. Gideon liked the music. Dominic likes that thug crap, so he was not interested.

And he certainly didn’t like me trying to kiss him in public.

Look at his face!

Now for the music …

I’ve seen The Romantics in concert three times. I had the hots for the drummer, Jimmy Marinos, but he is no longer with the group apparently.

See? Totally my type.

The rest? Well. The years have not been kind.

I’m not sharing video because they really didn’t sound so great. (It pains me to say that.)

The Spin Doctors made up for it.

Smash Mouth also put on a great show.

Here’s something you’ll know for sure. Sing along if you are inclined.

It was during the Smash Mouth set that my two loves of live music and people watching came together. Check out this girl. I LOVE her!

It’s weekends like these that make me happy we moved back to my hometown.

Anyway, dear readers, I promise to get my act together and publish more.

Love and kisses,
Beth

 

*Apologies to Judy Blume.

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Dear Johnny’s Hideaway:

Until this weekend, I had heard of you, but never sampled your charms. I had no idea what I was missing.

This is a photo from an Atlanta Journal-Constitution write-up. Add 400 people to this photo, and you have a good picture of Saturday night.

Kalen, a recurring character here, made the recommendation.

There was a line to get in you. A line! I haven’t waited in a line to get into a club in … OK, a week, but still. This was the longest. Ever.

Once inside, it was clear why the bouncer had the strict “one in, one out” policy. The fire marshal must be on retainer. Sardines in a can have more fin room.

Also, I am intrigued by the demographics. The swath appeared to be 25 to 75. I’ve never seen grannies grinding grandpas on a dance floor before, but there they were in all their glory.

And what’s happening here?

She looks like she came straight from her son’s soccer game or a book club meeting.

Anyway, anyone who goes out with me knows my nurturing instinct kicks in hard at some point during the night.

A lady has a tag out? Let me help.

Looking sad? Let’s talk.

Separated from the herd? Join us.

Royce and Sarah call this phenomenon, “The doctor is in.”

This occasion was no different. My first stray was Tanya.

Tanya had clearly had too much of a good time. I brought her into our group, where she was able to safely live her best life. She left to go to the ladies room. We continued dancing.

By this time, I had picked up another stray: Mark. We had helped each other bulldoze a path to the bathrooms. He was alone, so he joined us.

We were all dancing and suddenly Tanya popped back into our group. We couldn’t believe it; we actually cheered. And Tanya thought this was a karaoke bar. Here she is with her invisible hot mic.

Finally, we decided it was time to go. Things were getting sloppy around us. And Thankgod our Lyft driver was close. Literally “Thankgod.” Look:

And if that’s not a funny story close, I don’t know what is.

So Johnny’s Hideaway, thank God for an entertaining night. In the words of that great thespian Arnold Schwarzenegger, “I’ll be back.”

Here’s to your drink-free dance floor. (Now get rid of the cigs.)
Beth

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Jesse’s Divide plays Smith’s Olde Bar

Dear Close Family and Friends:

Have I mentioned how much I appreciate you? You put up with my — how shall I put this — “projects.”

You know my motto as a writer: Bad decisions make good stories.

Take, for example, one of my most notorious adventures: The now-defunct Redneck Games in Dublin, Georgia. My posts about that event still get plenty of hits.

And then there were the chickens. Trish was the best pet, though, and I was very sad when she met her untimely end.

So when I said I was trying to plan a Southeast tour for a U.K. band, Jesse’s Divide, that I had seen and loved, all of you did your thing: a shrug, an eye roll, a sigh — whatever fit your usual shtick. But because you love me, you came out to support these chaps at one of their shows. 

And every one of you said, “Beth! They’re really good.”

YES.

I KNOW.

Why else would I do something so crazy, so outside my comfort zone?

Don’t answer that.

Anyway, thanks to the JD guys and all of you for believing in me. I still can’t believe it really happened.

Here are Nick, Simon and Rob in my house playing Uno with my family and me. Surreal.

Now go listen to all their stuff on Spotify, iTunes, etc.

And just wait for my next adventure.

Your weird friend/relative,
Beth

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How to have a great time in New Orleans around Mardi Gras without losing your money, mind or morals
By Beth, Bon Vivant

So you’re headed to The Big Easy, and you want to make sure your trip doesn’t end up going viral on social media for all the wrong reasons? I hear you. I’m here to help with a short list of DOs and DON’Ts:

DO:
• Go with a long-time friend who is very familiar with the area and has a hat you can borrow when you get cold.

Wendy, Beth and Wendy’s hat. And new bead necklaces. (More on those in a moment.)

• Fortify yourself with Char-Grilled oysters from Felix’s. (Don’t wait in the line for the inferior Acme across the street. And don’t wait in the Felix’s line on Iberville: Go around to the one on Bourbon.)

• Appreciate the wit of The Crescent City denizens.

• Take advantage of smaller parades when they pop up as you are walking down the street. People in the parade will force beads on you whether you want them or not.


• Blend in with the rest of the tourists at a packed dance place.

• Say “Oh HELL yes” when your long-time friend wants to go to the Chewbacchus parade, which features a multitude of Chewbaccas (Chewbacci?).

• Marvel at the coordination it took to get so many different groups on board — groups like the Leijorettes.

• Admire festive outfits.

• Make friends with law enforcement officials. You’ll want them feeling friendly toward you should you make any mistakes. (Not that I did. I was very well behaved. But Officer Cummings and I became chums anyway.)

• Sample season-specific cocktails.

 

DON’T:
• Sample too many season-specific cocktails. Or too many of any, really.

• Pay attention to certain calls for action. Everyone has a smartphone and social media account!

• Argue if anyone says the Saints got robbed (“Blow whistles, not games“).

Laissez les bons temps rouler, y’all!

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Dear Friends:

As you know from this post and the followup, I’m on a health kick as I slide headfirst into the holidays. (Perhaps the worst time to start a diet. Or the best, depending on your POV.)

Despite the calculated complaining I’ve been doing on this blog, it’s been OK. Mostly OK. All but three times OK (an alumni event at a brewery, happy hour where beer cheese soup was present, and an Uno death match with friends last weekend during which chips and dip sat within a foot of me for HOURS).

My willpower is strong. When I decide to do something, I do it. I told you: I’m Tracy Flick.

Besides my crazy diet, I’ve made other changes:

  1. I’m taking the “Lyft Ditch Your Car” challenge this month. I already walk to work regularly, so it will be fine.
  2. I’m drinking so much water every day — well over the 64 ounces recommended — that I spend much of the day in and traveling to/from the loo.
  3. I’m not drinking any alcoholic beverages. (Oh don’t be THAT surprised.)
  4. I now have a standing desk at work.

Standing desk

These are all the rage in offices lately. I love mine. Added bonus: If you put on some music, you find yourself moving much more while standing.

Except I have a cautionary tale: Earlier this week, I listened to Big Freedia, “3rd Ward Bounce.”

Big Freedia: 3rd Ward Bounce

If you are familiar at all with Big Freedia, you will know the dance moves that go with bounce music.

They are not appropriate for work.

They are probably not appropriate for me any time at my age (29 <cough> forever).

I was definitely moving around a little more than usual at my desk, though. I was a little worried someone would walk in and think I was having a seizure.

But my iWatch approved.

And for those interested in my progress, there’s about 12 pounds less of me to love. (My big personality is still intact, though.)

I’m keeping this up until the last weekend in October, at least (i.e., the last weekend for Oktoberfest).

Wish me luck,
Beth

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