Category Archives: Family
“Oh, people are screaming, people are screaming
My baby, she’s dreaming
Oh, people are shouting, people are freaking
I’m staring at the ceiling, waiting for the feeling”
Songwriter: Ryan Adams
If we don’t laugh, we’ll cry. If we don’t hug, we’ll rage. If we don’t speak up, we will fall apart.
There’s no need for me to add to the infinite election postmortems. I mean, how can I say anything meaningful when The Pope and Coach Popovich have already weighed in? So HRC should have visited Wisconsin? Would that have made a difference?
I’m devastated. My children are crushed. They don’t want to talk about it, but I can see it on their faces. The shell-shocked realization that the bully won. That everything they’ve ever been taught to cherish – respect, kindness, empathy – doesn’t matter in America.
May you find solace in these dark days. May you find the strength to keep fighting. Question, challenge, call people out, protest, volunteer, lend a hand. Try to be better tomorrow than you are today.
Tom Selleck acts with his mouth.
It’s a subtle but effective talent.
Most actors focus on how and what their eyes convey to the audience. Whether their characters are listening, reacting, retreating or attacking, they project it all through their eyes.
But with Selleck, both his emotions and his authority as NYC Police Commissioner Frank Reagan emanate from the nose down. The dimples appear when he’s caught out asking campus security to watch granddaughter Nicky (Sami Gayle) when she’s at a college party. The lips purse when he’s faced with a fugitive on the run, a potential bomb disaster or a dirty cop. And the mustache – of course the mustache – wiggles ever so slightly when he’s invited back to a woman’s hotel room. (This has happened a few times over 6+ seasons, not that I’m keeping count or anything.)
I never noticed Selleck’s mouth when I was a kid watching Magnum P.I. Back then he often let his eyebrows, his chest and his Ferrari do the talking. I also missed a good deal of his story arc as Monica’s older boyfriend on Friends. But once my 83-year-old aunt introduced me to the Blue Bloods universe (that multi-generational American drama on CBS), I gained a new appreciation for Selleck’s understated charisma and his enduring sex appeal.
Now I know what you’re thinking: rockmom, you watch Blue Bloods? A network drama with a geriatric audience about law and order white folks? Blue Bloods?
Yes, I do. I even purchase seasons on iTunes. Proudly.
While it’s true that Blue Bloods draws the oldest viewers on television – median audience age is 62.5 – and depicts characters who probably lean to the right politically, it’s also a show that I regularly enjoy with my teens. One that always inspires what-would-you-do-in-that-situation conversations and an appreciation for Assistant District Attorney Erin Reagan’s (Bridget Moynahan) tough but tender parenting. So when my kids give me a hard time about curfew times, we can watch the episode where Nicky’s arrested, and I can say: see, it could be worse. Her Mom made her spend a night in jail!
More importantly, in this never-ending, divisive election cycle – Red v Blue, Us v Them, Deplorables v Elites – Blue Bloods is one of the few designated safe conversation zones for me and my far-right, Clinton-hating relatives. There’s also the weather, college football, food and… well, that’s about it.
As an expat living in an international, fairly liberal echo chamber, I always experience a bit of a rude awakening when I return home to Texas for holidays. Mind you, there are a lot of wonderful things I can only enjoy when I’m back: Shiner beer, cheese enchiladas, perfect brisket, old friends and bluebonnets. But then I also have to be around people who tell me, out loud: ‘Blacks are bad tippers’ or ‘Hispanics don’t know how to look after their kids’ or ‘You can’t tell a good Muslim from a bad Muslim’ and of course the iniquitous assertion that ‘Of course, Obama is a Muslim from Kenya.’
It’s wearying. It’s depressing. It makes me wish Frank and his dimples would appear with a bottle of single malt and a couple of glasses.
But what can I do? This is family. I’m sure Father Quinn (Frank’s priest) would counsel: hate the sin, love the sinner.
And just keep watching TV. That great American cure-all.
At this moment in our nation’s unsettled history, I’m sure a lot of other families of mixed political persuasions could benefit from the moral clarity, compassion and generosity that Blue Bloods offers. I’m thinking specifically of Anglo-Saxon families that haven’t forgotten their own religious and immigrant roots. If, like me, you have a Catholic Dad who once bought everyone Christmas presents from the All Things Irish shop then you know exactly what I’m talking about!
With Blue Bloods, I might disagree with Frank’s support for the death penalty, but I can respect his convictions, and admire how good he looks in his sunglasses. I can also enjoy an hour when certain things are reassuringly, crystal clear. For one, according to Detective Danny Reagan (Donnie Wahlberg), there are only two kinds of people in the world: scumbags and not-scumbags. His job is to catch the former and help the latter. Don’t be a scumbag.
Second, there’s no problem so big that it can’t be solved with roasted meat and red wine. A beer and a chat with Grandpa also helps.
Further to that, it’s okay if Sunday dinners are contentious. Talk it out, disagree, argue, but above all, come back next week. We’ll be serving turducken.
Lastly, let’s not forget about the women on Blue Bloods. Because, you know, if this were a Hollywood movie, Moynahan would be playing Selleck’s love interest and not his daughter. So yay (!) to that casting decision. And yay to the other strong-minded women on the show: Linda (Amy Carlson), Janko (Vanessa Ray), Nicky and detectives Baez (Marisa Ramirez) and Curatola (Jennifer Esposito).
Can I also add that, as we all inch closer to Blue Blood’s median audience age, it should give us hope to see that Frank has very likely seen more action in the bedroom than his two single kids – Jamie (Will Estes) and Erin. (Not that my aunt and I discuss these things, oh no, not us!) I mean I’ve never fired a gun and would rather not dwell on Selleck’s association with the NRA. However, the season 2 episode where Frank buys Melanie (his foreign correspondent/booty call) a custom-made, leather thigh-holster for her concealed carry is, I’m not afraid to admit, incredibly hot.
So you see, Blue Bloods can bring liberals and conservatives together!
Now I know what you’re thinking, because I am too: the GOP chose the wrong ‘80s-era personality to top the ticket.
Tom Selleck photo by Dominick D [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons.
Eisenhower, MacArthur… Dad.
Here’s my latest short film, starring friends, family and one of our cats!
Hope you enjoy it!
Kids deserve your high expectations! No, no – they thrive following their own paths! The world needs engineers and doctors. The world needs creative thinkers. If you don’t get in to the Ivy League your life is over. What’s wrong with a state school? Don’t sacrifice Fine Arts in education! Everyone should learn to code!
How are we going to pay for all of this?????
My oldest is two years away from university so we’re already starting down the path: PSAT, IB, ACT, campus visits, personal essays, community service, summer prep work, faultless transcripts, blah, blah, blah.
I waiver from a rebellious ‘Does it really matter?’ attitude to a creeping anxiety that, as a parent, I should be more engaged, more helpful, more ambitious for my kids. Not helped by the fact that I live in Hong Kong, ground zero for Over Achievers Anonymous. A place where you can find a class, workshop or tutor for any and all intellectual, personal or cognitive failings.
It’s easy to say: well, I did this when I was your age and I turned out just fine. Yeah sure – in the ‘80s, when perms were awesome, Cosby was America’s Dad and China was a nation of peasants.
The world is a very different place now.
All I can say is: listen to your kids. And then find a good Physics tutor 😉
With many sincere thanks to Hong Kong artist & creative thinker Bonnie Wong for helping me realize the vision above. You can find her at: http://bonnieeewpy.com/
Thanks everyone for reading and participating in my quiz: Trending Baby Names or James Spader in the ’80s?
Here are Spader’s muy beloved characters from the ’80s. Do you have a favorite?
Let me know!
2. Fenwick – Diner (TV short), 1983
3. Lowell – Family Secrets, 1984
5. Morgan – Tuff Turf, 1985 (Kim Richards was the love interest, FYI)
7. Dutra – The New Kids, 1985
8. Richards – Mannequin, 1987
11. Digby (I inadvertently wrote Dutra twice, so changed this later. Sorry for the confusion!) – Greasy Lake, 1988
13. Steff – Pretty in Pink, 1986 (Those deconstructed linen suits and loafers, no socks)
17. Graham – Sex, Lies and Videotape, 1989 (his most normal name for arguably the weirdest guy in the bunch)
18. Deforrest – The Rachel Papers, 1989
20. Rip – Less Than Zero, 1987
As for those trending baby names, most of them came courtesy of The Huffington Post. But there are three baseball-loving boys in North Carolina who deserve a mention:
Price, Grey and Preston (future attorneys-at-law) – you rock!
Hi rockmom friends,
In case you haven’t come across any of my shameless self-promoting tweets and posts, I’ve started writing for a site called Expat Living Hong Kong, sister site to Expat Living Singapore. You can read my first post here. The super coolio thing is I’m getting paid. Crazy, I know!
Without mentioning any names, I’ve done the whole ‘write for exposure’ thing and found that I got about as much exposure as a mainland woman wearing a face-kini.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ungrateful for the experience but after 5+ years of rockmom writing I’m ready for the big leagues. Or at least a decent AAA team in a mid-sized market.
The other nice thing, aside from the do$h, is that I’ll be writing about the same range of topics I’ve covered here at rockmom: raising kids, living in Hong Kong, raising kids in Hong Kong (a very special kind of pressure cooker). Expat Living might not want my post about the latest Father John Misty album – dammit! – but I’ll learn to live with that. In fact I’ll continue to post here, and not just about the oh-so-fabulous work I’m doing elsewhere. Fear not, this site isn’t going to turn in to some platform-building, writer’s promo machine, even if I knew how to do that!
Many moons ago, I started this blog to write about music but then it kind of morphed in to a place where I can clear my head of inane theories about parenting and education and why the next generation has been unable to produce a David Lee Roth. But what’s been most gratifying is realizing there are other people out there (and not just my sister) who worry as much as I do about the pressure on children in today’s world AND the future of One Direction!
So I thank you, dear readers, as always for your support. I hope you’ll continue to enjoy therockmom and I hope you’ll feel that this is where you can connect with like-minded individuals and be yourself – much like these women:
Have a wonderful summer – try the beach! See you in August!
All photos courtesy of the fantastic photographer, Philipp Engelhorn, from his series Qingdao Beach No 1.
Philipp lives in Hong Kong – right on! – and his work has appeared in publications around the globe. Find him at:
“The proof that the little prince existed is that he was charming, that he laughed, and that he was looking for a sheep. If anybody wants a sheep, that is a proof that he exists.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
UPDATE ON THE UPDATE: Zayn has left the building.
UPDATE: just as I was about to post today, I read that Zayn Malik has left the One Direction Asia tour. The BBC is reporting Zayn “has returned to the UK after being signed off with stress.” I think most of the audience noticed on Wednesday night that he was a bit distracted. He was also struggling mightily with his earpiece for most of the show. YO and her friends said Zayn’s the ‘shy’ one. We were fortunate to hear him sing and wish him well.
And now back to our regularly scheduled blog:
Let’s disregard those two Moms dancing the Macarena as we waited for the concert to start. Let’s get right past the ridiculous amounts of money I paid for tickets and how I didn’t even get to sit with EO and YO (long story but yes that was me and two other mums, on our own). Let’s also forget how I didn’t make time for the beer line, and let’s move right on to the show, The Show, THE SHOW!
One Direction in Hong Kong, finally! Liam, Louis, Harry, Zayn, Niall and several thousand screaming girls, of all ages. Some boys, too.
EMOTICON interlude: 🙂 😀 😛 ❤ 😎
I’ve been waiting months and months to write about this show. What would the boys be like? Would the girls enjoy the spectacle? Would I know any songs other than those two hits from 2012?
Well, rockmom readers, it was a fun show. I’m glad I went. It was both entertaining and educational. Here’s what I learned:
1. Hong Kong’s live music venues truly suck. Truly. There is no getting around how inadequate the AsiaWorld Expo is. The sound system is muddy; the acoustics even worse; there is zero atmosphere and you get a choice of Starbucks and 7-11 for pre-show snackage. It’s embarrassing frankly and it made me realize we’ll never be able to boast of a homegrown live album that’s the equivalent of Cheap Trick At Budokan! or U2 Live at Red Rocks or (insert famous band) at The Royal Albert Hall. Never. Why can’t Asia’s Fricking World City do better for one of the globe’s most popular bands?
Someone hire the Clockenflap folks to fix this mess, STAT!
2. The bloom fades quickly on boy bands. This you already know, but still it was surprising and a little sad to see so many empty seats at the concert. We sat at the back and peered down on the standing-only floor area, which was only half, maybe two-thirds, full. Always looking on the bright side, the band kept saying how lovely it was to play such an ‘intimate’ venue after a mostly-stadium tour. But I’m wondering if they priced themselves out of the market. The audience was by and large expats, yet surely they have a local following?
3. Speaking of audience members, fully-grown, childless men can also be One Direction fans.
4. If you’re cute enough and sincere and have a nice voice, it doesn’t really matter that you have zero stage presence. Young girls still scream! I, on the other hand, wished those boys had been sent to the Jon Bon Jovi school of stagecraft. Own it, man! You’re a cowboy, on a steel horse you ride!
Is it a generational thing? A British quirk? (No, that can’t be because – Jagger.) I know 1D is proud of the fact that they don’t dance, but they could use some lessons in performing a song as opposed to just singing it. Zayn, Louis, even Harry – yeah, you three.
But having said that and because EO is going to be mad if I rag on them too much, shout out to Liam and Niall for cuteness and personality and guitar-playing and strong voices. Zayn, too, has a wonderful voice, probably the best of the group. But at this venue (which I won’t mention anymore, promise), their vocal gifts were by and large neutralized. Shame that.
5. And lastly, for the existential lesson, which says that the authentic human cannot exist without The Crowd* i.e. the being of others. Explaining every band ever. One Direction has carved out a huge following by presumably being themselves (authentic) – we sing well, we dress how we want, we don’t dance. We are the anti-boy band. The Crowd (tweens and teens) loves us for it.
And yet, as I sat there and my mind wandered during yet another song I didn’t recognize I couldn’t help but feel an existential angst for their futures. A certain inevitability looming on the horizon. Who’s going to end up on drugs or a reality show (not Dancing With The Stars of course)? Who’s going to show the world how talented he is by going solo? The next George Michael or Justin Timberlake? Who’s going to lose his hair? Or marry well (the Posh Spice playbook)? And who btw IS the Andrew Ridgeley** of the band (ahem, I’m afraid it’s my favorite, Louis) because there’s always an Andrew Ridgeley?
Maybe it’s the mom in me, but dammit I want those 1D boys to succeed! They seem really nice. I also want them to be charismatic performers and rethink the tattoos, but you can’t have everything.
Heck, I’m happy they’re still together.
*Camus was here: http://www.iep.utm.edu/existent/#SH1g
**You’ll be pleased to know that Andrew Ridgeley is still happily married to Keren Woodward from Bananarama. They live on the Cornwall coast where Andrew enjoys surfing and golf and doesn’t worry about Wham! reunion rumors. 🙄
Hi everyone & Happy New Year.
For the last couple of years, I’ve put together compilations of random thoughts and personal favs, mostly about music and movies, as a way of looking back at the year that was. The lists were heavy on sarcasm and mockery of easy targets like Justin Bieber, Robin Thicke, Lana Del Rey and Kanye West.
This year, I started my list and was about to post when I got an email from my brother in Paris describing how his sons’ school had gone on lockdown because it was quite near the kosher supermarket (site of the hostage crisis that followed the Charlie Hedbo massacre). As soon as he’d heard the news he went down to wait at the barricades along with many other anxious parents. He said his boys were ‘fine and brave’ after they were allowed to leave school but also exhausted after the stress of the day.
So you’ll have to excuse me if I couldn’t find a reason to post an inconsequential list about big names and my little problems with them. I know we all need humor in our lives and sure, it’s fun to mock the pompous and famous – witness three hours of Golden Globe tweets – but somehow this week I feel the need to put aside the snark.
We fly on airplanes, we shop for groceries, we send our kids to school, we pick up coffees on our way to work. We do all these things, every day. Yet sometimes, some of us – whether we live in Sydney or Paris or Peshawar – don’t make it home.
And so as I count my blessings and try not to live in fear in a frightening world, I think about why I started this blog in the first place: to connect with friends and family via music. Not only because many of the people I love are far away but because music has always been my source – of solace, energy, connection, transcendence.
Some people might think music is unimportant or frivolous, but I hope you, dear reader, can appreciate where I’m coming from. I’ll finish with the following playlist of fifteen songs that brought me joy and grooviness and something close to a state of grace in 2014.
May 2015 bring you love, peace and good music.
Hi folks, you may not have noticed it yet, but there are a lot of naked people on the Internet.
Lots and lots! So many naked people! From ‘Whee! Look at me! I’m naked on the Internet!’ to ‘Holy shit! How did I end up naked on the Internet?’ to, of course, ‘My mom sold my soul to the Devil and Yeezus, and now a pervy photographer has my photoshopped ass naked on the Internet!’
It’s difficult to keep track of ‘em all – all those bodies, all those different kinds of naked. All those thousands and millions of selfies of people who want to show us (and our children) what they, or popular female celebrities they’ve never met, look like with no clothes on.
Whew! Excuse me while I put on a turtleneck sweater.
One funny thing about ‘naked’ is you won’t find many slang terms for it. I know. I’ve looked. We’ve got a whole bunch of ways to say breasts or butt or um, penis but only a few, fairly innocuous, ways to refer to being unclothed: in the raw, in the buff, in your birthday suit. They’re such nice phrases, aren’t they? Kind of sweet and innocent, like old ladies in the changing room who want to chat while they towel off and you try not to focus on the sagging and the stretch marks.
My small discovery about the word itself along with recent naked events on the Internet had me wondering: is there a healthy way to look at naked? I’m not European, so I have to ask this question. After all, naked doesn’t come naturally to (most of) us Americans. Plus I know we can’t really stop the spread of naked, can we? We parents know it’s going to happen – adults seeing nakedness, young people seeing nakedness, pets seeing nakedness when they stay up late with us watching The Sessions – so we’d better prepare ourselves. I mean, my kids are at an age now when we’ll be gathered on the sofa, just enjoying a PG-13 movie together and suddenly, ‘Whoa! That person has no clothes on.’ It can happen so quickly – usually with Hugh Jackman’s butt – that I barely have enough time to cover YO’s eyes and distract her with Skittles.
It made me realize that what I need – and please send me your thoughts on this – is a skill set, maybe some pertinent philosophy, or even a good joke about what it means to be naked.
I started by putting together a list of the different types of naked that one might encounter on a daily basis: online, at the movies, on TV or even in person. Feel free to print out this list and carry it with you – know your naked, I say – so if and when your kids have questions, as they will, you’ll be ready to reply with the correct name and classification of the observed unclothed-ness.
Call it our very own Taxonomy Nudus:
- THE NAKED – a state of nudity in which the person is naked both physically and emotionally. Stripped, exposed and vulnerable, often with greasy hair, in a messy bed, but lit well. Commonly spotted in Mike Leigh and Steve McQueen films as well as anything with Isabella Rossellini.
- THE NEKKID – the comedic flip side of The Naked. Where the helplessness of being naked + boobies + the specter of damage to one’s private parts is a source of laughter. Reached its apex with The Full Monty then Borat, now most often seen in movies starring a Jason (Segel, Sudeikis, Bateman).
- THE NUDE – so-called natural nakedness as seen in fine art, photography and French films. It’s artistic, non? Nudes are known for their body hair, normal breasts and seriousness of purpose. Can be an inspirational celebration of the human form and/or a source of endless, troubling questions i.e. anything by Robert Mapplethorpe.
- THE BRUDE – aka The Brag-Nude. Oh, this is a popular one! A posed, often filtered or photoshopped, document of a person at the peak of his or her naked powers. Utilized to show, among other things, how much time one has spent in the gym or at the plastic surgeon’s office. Once upon a time, The Brude was wholly owned and operated by Madonna. (Gee, remember when her book scandalized pop culture?) Now outsourced to anyone with at least 50 followers.
- THE NUDEY-JUDY – a carefree state of being that grips small children when they first get out of the bath, often involves running around the house laughing and screaming.
- THE STRAKED – the adult version of The Nudey-Judy. A certain celebratory naked, often seen amongst hippies and the British. Commonly spotted at sporting events and rugby dinners. The Straked spends his time thinking, ‘This party would be so much better if I took off my pants!’
- THE DISTRAK-ED – aka The Distraction-Naked. A Hollywood archetype. Usually applies to a skinny woman with perfect breasts who appears in a movie, either as a stripper or prostitute, to distract the audience from the fact that they’re watching a terrible movie. See, Robert Rodriguez. If an actress is asked to undress to serve the ‘director’s vision’, then we call that The Manipu-Naked. As seen in the films of Lars von Trier, the later work of Robert Altman and too many music videos and men’s magazines to catalog here.
- THE PE-TAKED – an amalgam of PETA+Naked. Can also be called The Protest Nude. A very public form of nakedness when people strip for a cause, and try to ignore the phalanx of photographers that are focusing on their breasts and not their banners. The Pe-taked is very, very popular in Asia.
One last classification to consider is the When-Two-People-Love-Each-Other Naked – such a rare and extraordinary creature. Unfortunately its natural habitat is shrinking rapidly, endangered by porn, reality TV, detective shows, action movies, gaming culture and an online civilization that’s turned its back on privacy, affection and respect.
I wish you luck in finding it.