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The 8 Stages of Puzzle Building

Eisenhower, MacArthur… Dad.

Here’s my latest short film, starring friends, family and one of our cats!

Hope you enjoy it!

 

The Coolest Weekend in Hong Kong

It’s been a few days but I’m still buzzed from my Clockenflap experience. Kil Sun Moon, Rachael Yamagata, The Skatalites, Clean Bandit, Earth, Wind & Fire Experience, Swervedriver, cold beer, good food, best friends, EO and YO having a blast. And I haven’t even mentioned Sunday night! Oh Lord.

Clockenflap 1

A certain je ne sais quoi and a pocket for your vodka. (photo by therockmom)

But before I get to that thrilling climax, let me tell you about a group of très intéressant folks I met at the festival. I spotted them as soon as I arrived on Saturday. Dressed all in black, they stood looking out at the harbor away from the crowds before wandering over to the Yamagata show. There they sat on the ground, passing around  bottles of Smirnoff and playfully photo-bombing the family snap occurring in front of them. They seemed to inhabit their own little galaxy of urban style, as if they had landed in Hong Kong from another, cooler (and colder) clime: the West Village, Rue Bichat, Shoreditch, a Fellini sound stage?

Maybe I don’t get out much (truth: I don’t), but this foursome exuded a confidence and panache I don’t see very often in HK. Yet they didn’t strike me as posers. Who were they?

So I asked.

Ashley, Anthony, Carmen and their shy friend all grew up in Hong Kong and range in age from mid-20s to early 30s. The chatty ones were best friends Anthony and Ashley who met at Clockenflap two years. Anthony runs his own clothing store specializing in Korean and European fashion while Ashley is a graphic designer interested in branding and typography. The duo said their coordinated look was not actually inspired by Paris but it was designed for impact. As Anthony explained, “Maybe it’s too hot and no one will wear a long coat today so you think we will look more outstanding.”

When I asked what’s been the reaction so far to their collective chic, Anthony laughed and said people wonder, “Do you feel hot today?”

Style knows no pain (or heatstroke).

In a town where business dress rules, you’ve got to admire the modish quartet – celebrating, enjoying and perpetuating the long relationship between music and fashion. And by the way, Yamagata was also dressed in all black so they were in good company.

Clockenflap 2

Ashley & Anthony in solidarity with Rachael Yamagata, a singer-songwriter who ROCKS on stage. (photo by therockmom)

I saw a lot of great bands over the weekend, and judging by their comments, they had a fun time here too. Many acts were Hong Kong newbies, and they seemed a bit surprised and overwhelmed by the dramatic setting as well as the enthusiastic crowds. The festival was incredibly well-organized, and the staff super friendly. I mean, if the beer sellers are still smiling at 9pm on Sunday night then you know some positive vibes are permeating the Clockenflap grounds. My only complaint was that I couldn’t be in two places at once!

But as the sun set on Sunday evening, there was only one place I wanted to be: as close to the front as possible at the Harbourflap stage. That’s where Nile Rodgers and his talented, airtight band were tearing through dozens (and I do mean dozens) of songs that he wrote, co-wrote, produced, played on and/or infused with his magic disco touch. A collection of hits and acts that span four decades: CHIC, Diana Ross, Sister Sledge, Madonna, David Bowie, Duran Duran, Daft Punk. Rodgers spoke of surviving cancer and realizing every day is a gift, and he was generous in praising his bandmates. When he introduced the last song, ‘Good Times’, he said the tune always inspired a disco party on stage. And then he brought out Unsung Heroes, a Hong Kong domestic worker choir, to dance, sing and take selfies with him and his band. It was a party, absolutely.

I had a half hour to grab a beer and a box of Vietnamese noodles before the last act of the weekend, New Order, took the stage. My day had started at 5:30 in the morning, and my knees were aching from a.m. hiking on DB and p.m. dancing to CHIC. But I didn’t want to go home early because hey! how many times will I get to see New Order? My hardcore-fan friends made their way to the front, but I moved over to the left with another friend, strategically close to the exit, and on a set of stairs where I could rest my weary legs. The location afforded us a view of the stage, the crowd and the entire HK Island skyline across the harbor. The pano function on my phone camera just couldn’t do justice to the surreal and wondrous night.

When New Order gifted us with an encore of ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ and ‘Blue Monday’, we ascended to another plane of existence – somewhere between the suburban innocence of the ‘80s and the vibrant metropolis that is Hong Kong, 2015.

I haven’t witnessed this much ecstatic mopey-head dancing since prom night.

Thanks Clockenflap and see you again next year!

Clockenflap 3

Okay, this photo is crap but if you were there you’ll remember the awesome scene. Thank You and Good Night! (photo by therockmom)

Trending Baby Name OR James Spader in the ’80s?

Hi all & welcome back to a bit of weekend fun. A rockmom quiz inspired by a group of young boys we encountered at a minor league baseball game over the summer.

God loves minor league baseball. (photo by therockmom)

God loves minor league baseball. (photo by therockmom)

The trio sat in front of us the whole evening: chatting, wearing their giveaway jerseys and eventually – inevitably – pouring ice cubes down each others’ backs. As local boys and fans of the team, they knew a lot about the players, such as who’d been called up to the bigs, who was the team’s best left-handed pitcher and what the heck OPS stands for (on-base plus slugging, a sabermetric i.e. ‘extra fancy’ stat). Their parents were sitting several rows behind and would periodically call out their names. As you can imagine in 2015, the Year of Our Whole Foods, there was absolutely no Tom, Dick or Harry in this group. They all had names that sounded like partners in an accounting firm. Or, as I realized a few weeks later when Pretty in Pink popped up on cable (you can’t not watch it), the names of James Spader characters from the 1980s.

His best roles, IMHO.

But I won’t say any more. See if you can identify each name as either a James Spader movie character from the ’80s or a current popular boy’s name.

Enjoy yourself and please, no fair consulting IMDB! I’ll post answers on Monday.

  1. Preston
  2. Fenwick
  3. Lowell
  4. Carson
  5. Morgan
  6. Grey
  7. Dutra
  8. Richards (with an ‘s’)
  9. Price
  10. Pax
  11. Digby
  12. Bennett
  13. Steff
  14. Logan
  15. Hudson
  16. Kingston
  17. Graham
  18. Deforrest
  19. Zed
  20. Rip

A New Chapter

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!

No way, no tan, no how! (photo used with kind permission of Philipp Engelhorn)

No way, no tan, no how! (photo used with kind permission of Philipp Engelhorn)

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:

Quindao Beach 1.

Everybody’s Free (not) To Wear Sunscreen (Sorry! Couldn’t resist. Photo used with kind permission of Philipp Engelhorn)

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:

http://www.philippengelhorn.com/index.html

Monday Morning Music: Trampled by Turtles

YO’s turtles died.

Did I jinx them? I feel bad because I’m pretty sure it was our recent apathy that killed them. One passed away a week ago and the other yesterday. YO said the first one’s head exploded – I wasn’t here at the time thankfully, so cannot confirm or deny that report. The other one just simply closed its eyes and stopped moving. Hubs took care of the funeral arrangements, which greatly improved the general odor in YO’s room. All that’s left is an empty tank, and our memories.

I’m writing about this not with glee or delight (well, maybe some relief) but still with that anger at the fact YO was given those damn poor things in the first place – when she was three years old. Three years old! We didn’t ask for them, we didn’t want them, but now their deaths have made YO cry. And as always, when it comes to your kids you think: we could have done more. The guilt is just automatic, part of your parental DNA.

All I can say is we, actually Hubs, kept them alive for over eight years, which is about a quarter of a terrapin’s natural life span. I don’t know if they would have lived longer if we’d secretly released them in to a reservoir or park pond. Maybe. We didn’t know they were sick, but with a reptile’s slow metabolism, an illness wouldn’t have been easy to spot anyway. Back when we first got them, I packed them in to the car and drove up to Tai Wai (near Sha Tin) to a specialist vet to get them checked out. I told him about the tank we’d bought and what we were doing to care for them – sunny spot, heat lamp, rocks to climb on, etc. He was pleased and said what he usually sees is people keeping their turtles in a bucket under the bathroom sink. So maybe, just a little maybe, I can say they had an okay life. I wanted to google ‘Do turtles feel pain’ but was afraid to.

Instead I searched Spotify for ‘turtle’ and found this group called Trampled by Turtles. They’re from Duluth, Minnesota and play progressive bluegrass. Their song ‘Wild Animals’ is beautiful and haunting and feels about right for the occasion.

Scotty and Tommy, RIP. A pet is for life, so please think before you buy.

Keep wild animals wild.

THEROCKMOM SUPERLATIVES: My Most Popular Post

After five years of posts – music-related, parenting-related, Hong Kong-related, comedic, serious, somewhere in between – my most-read post remains this one. It didn’t require any research or interviews, no field work, no iTunes purchases. Just over 500 words about how I spent an afternoon at my girls’ school. In terms of page views, it’s received almost twice as many as the next most popular read, American Village Idiot: Green Day in Hong Kong.
 
I don’t know why this post touched a chord with readers, but it did. I suppose that’s what we’re all looking for when we write – that satisfying moment when we put in to words what we’re feeling and we find out others feel the same.
 
Thanks for looking back with me this week and thanks always for your support. Have a good weekend!
 

The Serious Business of Talent Shows

It was one of those lump in your throat moments. A flashback to my younger self and a bittersweet flash forward of a young girl growing up in front of my eyes.

It was my daughter’s talent show.

The Year 5 and 6 talent show was not meant for parents. But I happened to be at school that day helping in my younger daughter’s class, so I asked my older daughter’s teacher if I could quietly perch in a corner of the hall for the show.

The group of five girls was dancing to (oh, irony) Lady Gaga’s ‘Just Dance’. One of the girls, who goes to a hip-hop class, had choreographed the routine. There was considerable back and forth about costumes: black t-shirts, jean shorts check. Hair up, hair down? Baseball caps on or off?

They had discussed and rehearsed during lunchtimes and breaks. We parents had nothing to do with this performance at all. We didn’t even have to arrange carpools!

When I told my daughter I might pop in to watch she didn’t seem to mind. When I asked her if I could bring along a big poster a la American Idol and yell out some whoop-whoops, she screamed and pummeled me with her fists.

‘What?’ I asked, ‘You don’t want me to embarrass you?’

She screamed louder. I promised to behave.

The show began with a group of Y6 girls sort of dancing, not quite karaoke’ing, but mouthing the words to ‘Fireflies’ by Ocean Eyes. Their teacher sat near me, reminding her students in the audience to show ‘big smiles’ and ‘encouragement’ and clap for those courageous kids on stage.

The acts that followed – a tap dancing duo, a drum solo and a comedy skit (boys in crazy wigs, always good for a laugh) – revealed an earnestness and seriousness of purpose that can still surprise me. Maybe the joy is in finishing?

It was now the Ladies GaGa’s turn. My daughter and the choreographer took the front two spots while the other three (taller) girls stood behind. Turns out the back three didn’t know the routine quite as well, and they spent a good portion of the dance giggling at each other and trying to catch up.

But those front two? Man, they owned it.

They sang along and danced with confidence, wonderfully free and unembarrassed. The steps were simple hip-hop moves – neither raunchy nor suggestive – and everyone clapped when it was over.

My daughter is changing so much. I turn around and her new self appears before me, taller than yesterday and oh so competent.

Many years ago, my friend, Christine Chapa, and I danced to “Night Fever’ at our elementary school talent show. We wore pink shorts and t-shirts with our names ironed on the back. I remember walking home from school that day under a brilliant blue sky. I still had my costume on, and I felt like a fluffy white cloud up there.

At my daughter’s show, I felt the same high. I also felt my eyes moisten, and I wondered why I get so emotional.

But right at the end, I managed a slightly muffled whoo-hoo!

THEROCKMOM SUPERLATIVES: My Weirdest Encounter

Bloggers don’t get out much. At least the kind who don’t run review-related sites. From the safety of our laptops and smart phones, at home or at the coffee shop, we either comment on (famous) people and events happening in the larger world or we turn our gaze inward and write about the highs and lows of our own lives. It can get a little self-absorbed to say the least! So what I liked about this post, which came out in the Spring of 2012, is that it got me out of the house and in to the orbit of a very unique and very odd individual, Alice.
 
It was a heck of a lot of fun.
 

Go Ask Alice… For Lady Gaga Tickets

She has special powers, she knows things, she wants to be my friend.

pureglam_born_this_way_tour_lady_gaga_datesHer name is Alice, and I met her on my first attempt to buy Lady Gaga tickets. I know, I know, I’ve always been a bit harsh on the Lady, but she’s starting her Monster Ball tour in Asia – playing three shows in Hong Kong in May.

So you’ll have to allow me a little motherly over-enthusiasm as I entertain visions of EO and I enjoying the spectacle and grooving to ‘Americano’ (we loved it in Puss n’ Boots). But, alas, I underestimated LG’s worldwide appeal and absolutely have not been able to score tickets.

This is where Alice comes in. I met her on the very first day of ticket sales, when I fell in to the rabbit hole of savvy marketing, scalpers and professional line-standers. Here I thought I was being clever: no online nonsense or hanging on the telephone for me. I rocked up to the Tom Lee music store, old school style, before they opened for sales. Well, me and about 30 other people. Nuts! As I was waiting and barely budging in line, a local (Hong Kong’er) lady approached to take the spot of an elderly man standing in front of me. I squared my shoulders and prepared to confront this, this – line-cutter, when she said he was just holding the space for her. In retrospect the old guy probably thought he was waiting for lai see rice not a Government Hooker (though he might have been pleased with that too).

I was curious by this turn of events and the seemingly innocent and naive-looking woman named Alice. We got to talking and she told me she’d camped out the night before and was able to purchase eight top price tickets. The old guy was her chance to buy even more tickets. She was of indeterminate age (anywhere between 28 and 45 I’d say) and just slightly – how can I be kind here – maybe one card or two short of a full deck. If she believed in unicorns, I wouldn’t be surprised.

But Alice had a major score on her hands. Even the stylish woman in front of us with the Celine sunglasses said she’d easily pay twice maybe three times face value. Easily! Me, I was hoping for nosebleed seats somewhere affordable, and I wasn’t about to pay face value for top seats – US$200 – even if Alice had been willing to part with them. In Mommy math, two front section tickets equals a whole term of EO’s ballet lessons, with money left over to buy me a tea and muffin while I’m waiting for her.

Then Alice told me she didn’t even like Lady Gaga and was just purchasing tickets for a ‘friend’. I was intrigued. She’s a pro, is she? I asked more questions – what’s her angle, where’s the game? The teddy bear sweatshirt is just camouflage, is it? I learned of a graduate degree earned in the States, a disability (something about her leg though she had no limp), and an unsettling incident of getting messed over for Leon Lai tickets. He’s her favorite Canto-pop King – think of Jason Mraz, make him even more bland and put him in a sweater. Leon Lai is an infinity pool i.e. completely edge-less.

FYI: this is the wax version of Leon, in case you were wondering. Credit: © Picstudio | Dreamstime.com

FYI: this is the wax version of Leon, in case you were wondering. Credit: © Picstudio | Dreamstime.com

Alice told me of scalpers who hire the local Indian and Pakistani boys to keep a place in line. Labour is cheap in Hong Kong, so this scheme works for everything by the way, from concert tickets to iPhones to one-off McDonald’s Hello Kitty toys. We continued to talk in line, and just as I thought I was about to get some real info out of Alice, the Tom Lee clerk came out to tell us they were sold out.

The diehard concertgoer in me couldn’t let go without a fight and I was thinking Alice was my best chance. So we exchanged phone numbers, and I very nicely and shamelessly told her I just wanted a couple of tickets for me and my daughter. If you hear of anything…

That was a mistake.

I rushed off from Tom Lee to a meeting and, like a character caught in a David Mamet play, I started getting calls from Alice. Weird rambling one-way traffic about not wanting anyone to find out, maybe she’s told me too much, she doesn’t want any trouble and then: am I a Christian? Am I Catholic? Do I want to be friends? She was weirdly endearing, and I wasn’t scared. Honestly. In fact I started to feel like Jack Donaghy with my very own Kathy Geiss. (Cue the Marky Mark scrapbook! On second thought, no.)

Then last Thursday night – after I missed out on tickets for the second show – I got a late-night call from Alice to tell me of a bonus third show with tickets going on sale Friday morning. Bless her, she has my best interests at heart. But Friday morning was YO’s school show, and I knew my real responsibilities rested with watching her, dressed as a member of a lost tribe, playing a big drum and singing about how to save the environment. Let’s see LG top that!

My compromise was to rush down to Tom Lee after the show, thirty minutes after tickets went on sale. This was my last chance and when I arrived: ri-dic-u-lous! A line of 80-100 people waiting patiently outside, surrounded by a half dozen cops (Hong Kong loves a crowd to control!) and the remnants of a night or two spent outside: soiled newspapers, camp stools, pot noodle debris. I started to have flashbacks to Monsters of Rock. Inside the shopping arcade, a smaller group – college kids and the elderly – were allowed to queue by the entrance to Tom Lee. They’d been camping out for two days and were still waiting to buy tickets! After hearing that, I immediately turned around and left the building.

Remember that great ’80s franchise, Lethal Weapon? Where Mel Gibson had a mullet and Cuban heels and Danny Glover was the older, family man cop? And every time Mel and Danny got entangled in something crazy and dangerous, Danny would say, “I’m getting too old for this shit.”

That pretty much sums up my quest for Lady Gaga tickets. But I’m going to stay positive because I’ve learned a few things lately:

1. None of EO’s friends’ moms managed to get tickets either, so I’m pretty much off the hook.
2. I’m not a college kid anymore, and I do need to plan for retirement. A second career as a professional line-stander is looking pretty good to me now. So when Lady Gaga’s on her third comeback, I can get tickets for my daughter and my granddaughter.
3. Most importantly, I’ve made a new friend. Alice’s last text suggested I look in to LG’s Seoul show: tickets are reasonable and, she says, Korea is worth visiting.

When logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead…

THEROCKMOM SUPERLATIVES: My Most Commented Post

To continue my five-year anniversary celebrations, and in true music industry fashion, I’m re-releasing a few posts (the deluxe editions!) that stood out amongst the over 90 posts I’ve written. I start with my Most Commented Post – an open letter to Miley Cyrus on the release of her 2010 album, Can’t Be Tamed. I’d like to think I was a little ahead of the curve here in that this post predated the short, spiky haircut, her twerking episodes and all those tongue and ass photos. I was really pleased to see so many people weigh in on what she means, to pop culture, to their children, to the pantheon of women in rock. When my girls were younger, we listened to a lot of Miley – A LOT – and we really liked her. So what pained me most about her recent transformation is that she shifted the focus away (way away) from her singing. She has a lovely, strong voice and it’s a damn shame that she’s made us forget that.
 
So here’s the post, updated with royalty-free images. Comments welcome! 😉
 

Dear Miley,

Please Don’t Let Us Down

I’m writing to you as a mom of two young girls. We watch your show and listen to your music in the car. I ask my youngest daughter, age 7, why she likes you. She says you’re a good singer and you have good friends. She thinks you hang out with Emily Osment after work.

Last week my oldest daughter, age 9, and I went to a Mother-Daughter evening at school. We sat there with her 9, 10 and 11 year-old schoolmates – your devoted audience – as the school nurse explained puberty and all the changes these girls are about to experience. At the end of the talk, they were each given a discreet zippered pouch with a few maxi pads inside. They took away those pouches, slightly embarrassed but smiling, as if they had just joined a secret club. I’m sure you remember what that was like.

Think About These Girls

Your new album, Can’t Be Tamed, comes out this week, and no doubt you’ll be all over the TV, web and radio. The first video, ‘Can’t Be Tamed’ is currently the #4 best-selling video on iTunes and has been viewed on YouTube over 19 million times.

Gee, this looks pretty tame now, doesn't it? Credit: © Lucila De Avila Castilho | http://www.dreamstime.com/

Gee, this looks pretty tame now.
Credit: © Lucila De Avila Castilho | Dreamstime.com

The ‘Official Miley Cyrus Content’ on your website says that on your recent Billboard magazine cover, “Miley wears all black outfit (sic) and displays her new grown-up attitude.”

“I’m just at a certain place where I’ve changed a lot as a person,” you say. “I’ve grown up a lot, which everyone does.”

But Please Consider

I realize that you’re maturing and you want to try new things, but where does it say that grown-up = simulated orgies and faux, porn-style lesbianism, as we can see in your new video? It’s as if a three-way is some new right of passage, like getting your braces off. Is there a pop princess handbook outlining what you need to do when “making the often-murky transition into adult artist” (again, from your website)? And why does it so often include these rather tiresome displays of ‘liberated’ sexuality?

How far will it go, Miley? In her latest video, Christina Aguilera wears an S&M hood and a crystal bit in her mouth. Come on! She’s a lovely woman with a fantastic voice, but today in this ever-crowded pop culture universe, she feels she has to revert to being, as Jon Pareles of the New York Times writes, “… a sexbot: a one-dimensional hot chick chanting come-ons to club beats.”

What Would Justin Do?

Why does he get to keep his clothes on? Credit: © Featureflash | Dreamstime.com

Why does he get to keep his clothes on?
Credit: © Featureflash | Dreamstime.com

Have you considered a few career lessons from another Disney-alumnus – Justin Timberlake? Here’s a young man who can generate loads of heat just by sitting at a piano and singing, all while wearing long pants, a shirt and tie. He dabbles in music producing, fashion and art, and he leaves the bumping and grinding to Ciara. Heck, he made a video with Madonna and didn’t even take his shirt off!

I know you have it in you because I’ve seen you perform with Taylor Swift on an acoustic version of ‘Fifteen’. I’ve also seen clips of your recent concert performances, and if I may say so, you don’t look or sound terribly authentic wearing a cut-off Cheap Trick t-shirt while singing ‘Cherry Bomb’. Surely you realize that you can’t be punk while wearing black high heels.

So have a think about it – Are you country? Are you punk? Or are you just another sad Madonna-wannabe with the groping, gyrating videos to match?

You’re young, we know, and you may not want the pressure of being a role model. But the fact is you are, and we’re counting on you. The Moms out there trying to raise our daughters in a trashy, corporate sex-fueled reality are counting on you.

Once upon a time... Credit: © Carrienelson1 | Dreamstime.com

Once upon a time…
Credit: © Carrienelson1 | Dreamstime.com

It’s Not Too Late, Miley

It’s not too late to go to college.

It’s not too late to live in Paris.

It’s not too late to sail around the world.

It’s not too late to build schools in Cambodia.

It’s not too late to run a marathon.

It’s not too late to save Louisiana.

It’s not too late to master trigonometry.

It’s not too late to make a difference.

Please don’t let us down.

—–

Thanks for reading! I couldn’t figure out how to re-blog this post to include the comments,
so if you’d like to view the original post, with all of the comments, please click here.

The Trouble With Turtles

A Star Trek fan fiction that’s maybe a little, you know, fan fiction

MEANWHILE, ON THE ENTERPRISE…

CAPTAIN ‘HUBS’ T. KIRK: Spockmom, our current course is taking us to an outpost that calls itself ‘Asia’s world city’. Not much ambition beyond its own planet. What do we know of this quadrant?

SPOCKMOM: Very little. What we do know is bizarre. Despite extremely crowded conditions, hot, humid weather and a lack of good Tex-Mex, the population – a mixture of locals, foreigners and mainland shoppers – co-exists relatively peacefully.

KIRK: Relatively? Anything else I should be aware of?

SPOCKMOM: Governed by a distant, suppressive regime. Political frustration tends to flair when young tourists eat or urinate on the MTR. Democracy, like bladder control, looks increasingly problematic.

KIRK: Prospects for cooperation?

SPOCKMOM: Inconclusive.

UMYRNA: Captain, I’m picking up an island substation distress call. Priority fai-de-la?

KIRK: Fai-de-what?

SPOCKMOM: Translated as, roughly speaking: move your butt.

KIRK: Sounds a bit rude, don’t you think?

SPOCKMOM: The inhabitants are not known for their manners or patience.

KIRK: Prepare the transporter room.

Captain’s log, Stardate 11409.09 Island substation POK4LAM has issued a priority one distress call. We are set at warp speed six and assuming Klingons. We’re going in armed for battle.

I'm your new crew member, honest!

I’m your new crew member, honest!

KIRK AND SPOCKMOM LEAVE THE ENTERPRISE TO ASSESS THE SITUATION. THEY ARRIVE AT THE SOURCE OF THE DISTRESS CALL: A LOWRISE BUILDING WITH A PERFECTLY HIDEOUS NEO-VERSACE FACADE.

AFTER SOME TROUBLE WITH THE SECURITY GUARDS ABOUT THEIR LACK OF HONG KONG ID CARDS, THE CREW IS ALLOWED IN.

KIRK: Turtles! They signaled for help because of turtles!

SPOCKMOM: Trachemys scripta elegans also known as the red-eared slider. The most commonly traded turtle in this part of the galaxy.

KIRK: What seems to be the trouble?

SPOCKMOM: A most curious situation. Two North American terrapins – an invasive species that carries the disease salmonella and has a life expectancy of some 30 years – were given to a three-year-old as a birthday gift.

KIRK: A birthday gift? For a toddler? Who would do such a thing?

SPOCKMOM: Apparently this is typical behaviour on planet Hong Kong. Illogical, to say the least.

KIRK: I’m not allowing turtles on my ship. Remember the tribbles?

SPOCKMOM: Yes, indeed. And the creatures before us now aren’t even cuddly.

KIRK: Spockmom, did you just say ‘cuddly’?

SPOCKMOM: I did, Captain, Hubs…

KIRK AND SPOCKMOM LOCK EYES FOR A SLOW SECOND, THEN KIRK PULLS HIMSELF AWAY.

KIRK: It’s not that kind of fan fiction, Spockmom.

SPOCKMOM: Later?

KIRK: We have orders.

SPOCKMOM RELUCTANTLY RUNS A SMALL SCANNER OVER THE TURTLE TANK.

SPOCKMOM: According to my readings, the terrapins, while healthy, are unlikely to reproduce. They’ve been living in a small tank for some eight years, and the daughter, now eleven, has grown bored with them. It’s clear that…

KIRK: They need a new home.

SPOCKMOM: A larger living space would certainly improve the animals’ physical and mental health as well as the overall well-being of the parents looking after them.

KIRK: This planet looks green and lush. Let’s release them in to the nearest body of fresh water.

Don't even think about it.

And yet…

SPOCKMOM: Illegal, Captain. And rehoming to larger quarters is not an option either. The local reptile rescue society has informed us of 100 other abandoned animals currently in the queue before these two.

KIRK: 100?!? This is madness.

SPOCK: One could say that. In fact, the mother just did.

KIRK: I did notice a certain frustration emanating from her, not to mention the small bald patches near her temple.

KIRK OPENS HIS COMMUNICATION DEVICE.

KIRK: Mister Scott.

SCOTTY (on board the Enterprise): Aye, sir.

KIRK: I want the latest status report on the reptilian rehoming wait list. What are our chances?

SCOTTY: Cap’n, I’ve tried everything – that queue won’t budge!

KIRK TURNS TO SPOCKMOM.

KIRK: We’ve done what we can, Spockmom. Let’s blow this popsicle stand.

Someone obviously didn't get the Federation directive.

Someone obviously didn’t get the Federation Directive.

SPOCKMOM: Blow, Captain?

KIRK: Not now. I mean, let’s get out of here.

SPOCKMOM: The mother seems to be blocking the exit. I detect a weapon, a device invented by the Native American tribes of…

KIRK: That’s a hockey stick. Watch out!

SPOCKMOM HAS TO DUCK AS DISTRAUGHT TURTLE MUM COMES OUT SWINGING.

KIRK: What’s she saying? I can’t decipher her screaming.

SPOCKMOM: She says she cannot let us leave without the turtles. She must know that transporting animals from one planet to another is a Federation offense.

KIRK: She’s not listening to reason! That’s it: set phasers to stun. Ma’am, we don’t want to hurt you.

TURTLE MUM CONTINUES TO ADVANCE, EYES GLOWING WITH MADNESS.

SPOCKMOM: If she touches you with the terrapins you must wash your hands immediately.

KIRK: By the far reaches of the galaxy, I’ll never let that happen!

HOLDING HIS PHASER STEADY, KIRK SLOWLY BACKS AWAY FROM TURTLE MUM.

KIRK: Ma’am, I know a shifty smuggler, deals in tribbles. You won’t want to know what he does with them, but I’m sure he’ll take your turtles. Spockmom, head for the door! She’s closing in!

SPOCKMOM: Not without you.

KIRK SHOUTS IN TO HIS COMMUNICATION DEVICE.

KIRK: Scotty, beam us up! Beam us up!

THE WOMAN LUNGES FOR KIRK, JUST AS HE AND SPOCKMOM DEMATERIALIZE.

BACK ON THE ENTERPRISE, KIRK APPEARS ON DECK WITH A TORN SHIRT AND FRAYED HAIR. SPOCKMOM FIGHTS THE URGE TO GIVE HIM A HUG.

SPOCKMOM: Are you hurt?

KIRK: I’m fine. But Spockmom, do I detect concern?

SPOCKMOM: Captain, it is a logical reaction after battling a half-mad mother who finds she is unable to offload two growing terrapins.

KIRK: Turtles she never even asked for. I’m afraid we were of no help to her whatsoever. Tell me, Spockmom, how could this happen?

SPOCKMOM: I am not privy to the inexplicable nuances of human gift giving. I see no practical use for reptiles kept as pets.

KIRK: They’re not even cute.

SPOCKMOM: Captain – Hubs – did you say ‘cute’?

SPOCKMOM AND KIRK LOCK EYES AGAIN.

KIRK: I suggest we continue this conversation in quarters.

SPOCKMOM: Indeed.

FADE OUT

Beam me up_text

All photos by therockmom.

Monday Morning Music: ’80s ALL WEEK

Hi all, how’s your summer going? It’s EIGHTIES WEEK at therockmom as I revisit and revise one of my most popular posts: Can It Really Be Summer Without ’80s Music? New! Improved! Now with Spotify playlists!

maneaterIt’s a funny thing, nostalgia. Recently, I found myself sitting in the way back of my stepmom’s minivan listening to her Best of Hall & Oates CD as we drove to dinner. Now if that’s not a recipe for summertime teen regression I don’t know what is. But there I was, YO sitting next to me, both of us enjoying ‘Maneater’. See a cover version of that track (by Grace Mitchell) was used in the recent Ben Stiller movie, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. YO’s good pal likes the new, cover song while YO is partial to the original. Me too. That groovy rhythm section to begin, then the sneaky guitar line, a hint of sax and… oh oh here she comes. We sang the chorus together – a small but sweet mother-daughter bonding moment – and I wondered: is it weird to be proud of my child’s taste in music?

On a slightly more musi-cophical note, I don’t know why bands/singers/artists insist on covering ’80s songs because it’s extremely difficult to improve on the original. I’m talking specifically about Moby’s recent ‘Rio’ cover as well as London Grammar’s take on the INXS tune, ‘Devil Inside’ – used for a Game of Thrones trailer. While I’m a big fan of both acts, I have to say these cover tunes were overly serious, dreary and well, just plain boring.

Eighties music is supposed to be fun!* So don’t forget the lightness, the slinky-ness, the insouciance. Guys in deconstructed linen blazers on the bow of a sailboat in the tropics!

I’ll leave you with that image as well as the first of FIVE ’80s playlists – all killer, no filler – to get you through the week. Enjoy!

*Unless of course you’re Morrissey.

 

FULL DISCLOSURE

There was a time when I thought ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling’ was an H&O original.

We grow, we learn…