Tag Archives: fun

Guns N’ Roses – November Rain (1991)

W.M. and I – Puebla, Mexico – March 2004

Guns N’ Roses – November Rain (1991) (Official Video) (Lyrics)

(Written February 2, 2023)

Ah, Michigan State and all of my Alternative Spring Break (ASB) memories in Mexico.  Some of my best ASB memories involve W.M., and one in particular, November Rain by Guns N’ Roses.  It takes me back to nothing less than the most romantic evening of my life.

I met him at the airport as we headed to Merida, Mexico for a week of working hard doing volunteer work and playing even harder.  I was listening to Here Comes the Sun, ready to relax in the Yucatecan sun in the middle of a busy, crazy spring semester, and here was this guy – our site leader for the week – chatting me up.  He flashed me this great smile and asked me what I was listening to at the moment.  We bonded over George Harrison.

Lunch break with friends – Merida, Mexico – March 2001
The week W.M. and I met.

It didn’t take us long to become friends.  By the end of our first day of volunteer work, we were hanging out eating pizza and drinking Mexican beer, getting lost in deep, meaningful conversations.  I had lost my grandfather almost exactly a year before – at age 20, the first real loss of someone so close to me – and I was happy to find someone who understood.  That was the thing – W.M. and I should have had everything in common.

A year ahead of me, he studied marketing and Spanish to my supply chain management and Spanish.  No wonder we had found one another.  Later, the only time I actually met up with him on campus in East Lansing – or the United States for that matter, and for lunch no less – he told me all about his semester in Quito, Ecuador.  I don’t remember if I had already decided on a semester in Ecuador, but after hearing about W.M.’s experiences there, it was a forgone conclusion.

I’d love to say that this story is a college romance that ended well, but that simply wasn’t the case.  Instead, it is a story of friendship spanning years, countries, cultures, and continents that didn’t end so well.  It is also a story of unrequited love on my part.  I fell. Hard.

The thing is that I was never going to change my plans for anyone, muchless a man who hadn’t shown the least bit interest in anything more than friendship.  We left it as friends and that was it.  We were both driven with much to do.  That is, until Spain.

Fast forward nearly two years, and I was in the middle of my semester abroad in Caceres, Spain.  I’d resigned to myself that W.M., unfortunately, wanted to remain friends, nothing more.  Then I received the email.  The week before Valentine’s Day, I receive an email from him stating that he had landed an internship in Madrid – an easy train ride away – did I want to meet up?  Did I!

In the end, we spent a fun weekend in Madrid hanging out.  He booked me a hostel near wherever he was living.  We spent Saturday hanging out, eventually ending up at the Hard Rock Cafe and a beautiful park nearby.  We talked for hours.  Too good to be true, right?  Right.  When he walked me back to the hostel and didn’t even so much as kiss me goodnight, I wept.

In 2004, I returned to Mexico and ASB as a site leader myself.  Now a senior, I juggled interviewing for full-time positions in Texas with classwork along with all of my extracurricular responsibilities, including ASB.  As a result, I had to fly into Mexico City on my own and take a bus to Puebla to meet up with the rest of the group.  I don’t remember exactly how it happened, but W.M. got ahold of me once again.  Would I like to meet up for dinner in Puebla one evening?  He happened to be working in Mexico City at the time.

Beyond confused, I, of course, said yes.  I had no idea what to expect.  Why would this man take a bus at least two hours each way just to spend the evening with me?  He knew no one else in the group and the plan was just for the two of us to meet up.  We were friends, but seriously, what else was going on here?

I met him in the zocalo, or town square, and we quickly found an outdoor table at a local restaurant.  In my mind, the only thing better than Mexican food is authentic Mexican food.  The cuisine in Puebla tops them all.  Pollo en salsa mole anyone?

After watching the sunset over an incredible authentic Mexican dinner, a little red wine, and the ever present great conversation, W.M. and I somehow found our way into the Mexican equivalent of a dive bar.  Now, I am not much of a drinker, but I love the atmosphere in dive bars from time to time.  This one happened to be perfect.

I never really did see any sign advertising the place, but I could not have had more fun.  W.M. and I ended up holding court with a group of Mexican young men roughly our age.  We, two gringos who spoke Spanish who happened to end up in this cool unadvertised bar, stood out.  In fact, they thought we were married.  So, in this ambiance, we all start singing along to November Rain – very poorly.  It is still among the most romantic nights of my life – and he never even so much as kissed me.  Yet, there was at least enough chemistry between us for people to think we were married.

That was the last time I ever saw W.M.  In 2008, I looked him up on Facebook, and unfortunately, it ended up in a political argument that ended our friendship.  I still have no idea how he could have attended the same business school as me, and yet not understand the impact government can have on business, good or bad – small business in particular.  Time had not treated him well.  In fact, Diego Rivera comes to mind.  I recently watched Frida and it all came flooding back, much to my amusement.  The passion between Frida and Diego gets me every time.

Over the years, I’ve tried and tried to capture our friendship in writing, and I’ve never been able to do it well.  I once even brought an effort for critique, and the reaction of the men in my writing group still cracks me up.  Every last man in our group believed him to be gay.  All I have to say is this:  If he is indeed gay, he didn’t know it himself at the time.  The last I knew, he had a Mexican girlfriend and lived in California.

I can’t help but think of him every time I watch Casablanca, particularly the line “We’ll always have Paris.”  Indeed.  We’ll always have Merida, Madrid, and Puebla.

Be My Baby – The Ronettes (1963)

Be My Baby – The Ronettes (1963) (Video) (Lyrics)

(Written January 23, 2023)

If you stick around long enough, you’ll realize just how much I adore the Motown girl groups of the early ‘60s.  Yet, Be My Baby by the Ronettes is perhaps my favorite.  There is something downright haunting about the song and Ronnie Spector’s voice.  In fact, some of my favorite Christmas songs are versions sung by the Ronettes as well.

Be My Baby demonstrates Phil Spector’s wall of sound so well.  In fact, I can’t imagine the Ronettes sound without it.  Yet, here I am probably the only person on the planet under the age of 50 to know what Phil Spector’s wall of sound is or who Phil Spector was.  The funny thing is that it didn’t always work so well.  I normally love it in the girl group music he helped produce, and yet, The Long and Winding Road and most of the Let It Be (1970) album is overproduced.  I actually understood why the Beatles, led by Paul McCartney, released a stripped down version called Let It Be… Naked (2003) decades later, reimagining the entire album without Spector’s wall of sound.  I actually prefer Naked.

Sadly, Ronnie, who happened to have befriended the Beatles at the height of their (and her) fame, passed away in January 2022.  Her legacy lives on, and frankly, I can’t imagine a time when Be My Baby won’t be considered an absolute pop gem.

Review: Night Court (2023) (Reboot)

Good ol’ Night Court.  I have to admit:  I’ve been a fan as long as I can remember.  Growing up in the ‘80s rocked and that included TV.  My favorites were The Cosby Show, The Wonder Years, Cheers, and of course, Night Court.  Something essentially slapstick quirky just resonated with kids.  I largely tuned in for all the zany characters and the craziness that befell the cast.  Keep in mind I was all of 11 when it went off the air.

My mom remembers that my favorite character was Dan, which rightfully left her a little concerned.  That is not how I remember it at all.  Yes, I loved to laugh when Dan quite rightfully got himself into trouble every episode, but my favorite characters were Christine and Harry.  Just like everyone else, I wanted them to end up together.  The bailiffs – and I mean all of them going back to Selma – were great too.  I suppose that is what bothers me most:  Night Court never seemed to get the proper sendoff or recognition it rightfully deserved.  What endears me most about Night Court is the fact that it never tried to be something it was not.  We just loved it for the campy, quirky, crazy show that it was.  Anything could, and often did, happen.

This is precisely what gives me hope for the reboot.  Going by what I saw in the first two episodes, Night Court isn’t trying too hard.  Is it perfect?  No.  I want to know what happened to Christine, Max, Roz, and Bull.  Christine especially deserves a mention considering the “ending” of the original series included both Harry and Dan professing their love for her.  While Harry decided to remain a judge and turndown several incredible job offers, he and Christine acknowledged their feelings for one another.  At the end of what should have been the last episode (altogether another story that only highlights issues with the ending), Dan decides to resign as assistant DA and follow Christine to Washington, DC.  Harry is told this, and immediately exclaims “My Christine!”

In the first episode of the reboot, Harry’s daughter Abby moves to New York to become the new night court judge, taking over a position her father held 30 years ago.  She is just as idealistic as her father.  She also happens to look as though she could be Harry and Christine’s daughter.  Almost immediately, the public defender in her court quits and she looks up Dan.  Given the “ending” to the original series, Dan most assuredly would have asked after her mother if indeed Christine was her mom.  We only know that Harry is her dad.  Sadly, much of the original cast has since passed on, including Harry Anderson (Harry Stone), Markie Post (Christine Sullivan), and Charles Robinson (Mac Robinson).  If I have one hope for the new reboot, it is that they find subtle ways to allude to the earlier show/cast.  They do a wonderful job of doing so in the case of Harry and Dan.  As of yet, no one else is mentioned.

I admit, I wavered as to whether or not I was even going to watch.  Then I learned that John Larroquette (Dan Fielding) was instrumental in getting it made, and the new cast consists of fans who grew up with the show much as I had.  The first two episodes are off to a solid start.  We will see if it will find its own niche.  I will say that the creators of the reboot did an incredible job of keeping the vibe of the old show (the dingy old courthouse in particular) while “updating” things a bit.  The new bailiff, Donna Gurgs, somehow channels both Roz and Bull at different times throughout the show.  There are tons of nods to the ‘80s in new show, my favorite being the mural of the Golden Girls – a stupid silly plot point that could only take place in Night Court.

I recently watched some of the earliest episodes of the original Night Court from season 1.  It is clear that it took a while for the show to hit its stride – a few years, in fact.  The reboot definitely has potential, and I am reassured that it is in the hands of fans of the original.  Do not be afraid to check it out.  It is currently streaming on Peacock

Christmas Traditions

Christmas Eve at Grandma and Grandpa's House

Christmas Eve at Grandma and Grandpa’s House – 1985

I love tradition.  As a child, it meant everything.  As important as tradition is, why is it so much more important this time of year?  Why are Christmas traditions so sacred?  Growing up, most years of my childhood, if you gave me a time from say 4 PM on December 23rd to 5 PM on December 25th, I could easily give you an idea of what I would be doing with my family.  Last year, Christmas 2014, was the first Christmas Eve of my life not spent at my Grandma and Grandpa Buttrick’s house (that includes my first Christmas Eve at six days old).  Grandma B. passed away in 2014, and as much as we all dreaded Christmas without her, we started a few new traditions, including a Christmas Eve get together at my parents’ house with aunts and cousins and attending Christmas Eve service at the church where my parents were married.  I love the fact that my nephews and niece are young enough that they will grow up with these new traditions.

Of course, we included many of the old traditions as well.  We still celebrate the Night-Before, the Night-Before (the evening of December 23rd) at my aunt and uncle’s house in Standish.  My brother, sister, and I, along with families, still spend Christmas Eve at our parents’ house.  We still have cinnamon French toast and sausage for Christmas breakfast and a wonderful turkey dinner later in the day.  It still takes us half the day to open presents, partly due to the fact that there are quite a few of us and partly due to the fact that we like to lounge around (yes, even my young nephews!).  It is still always a toss-up as to whether or not we’ll get to watch old home movies Christmas night.

So, as I get ready for the next few days of love and laughter, Merry Christmas!  I hope yours is as full of faith, family, and fun as mine will be.

Waiting for Santa - 1984

Waiting for Santa – 1984