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Today’s resolution: Notice the unnoticeable

29 Jun

This image is familiar to all watchers of The Lone Ranger television series.

“A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust, and hearty ‘Hi-Yo Silver!’ The Lone Ranger rides again!”

At the beginning of every episode of The Lone Ranger television series,  the masked hero galloped up to this rock on his white horse, Silver.

Silver and the ranger are long gone, but the rock remains. It was never on a movie set but in the northwest corner of the San Fernando Valley in California, an area that was the setting for many television and movie westerns.

The rock sits on the edge of a residential subdivision in the Chatsworth community, where I photographed it yesterday. Unless you know the rock is there and know exactly what to look for, you’d miss it.

But that’s the thing about these bits of Hollywood history. They’re everywhere in the Los Angeles area, many of them unmarked, undistinguished and unnoticed in commonplace surroundings.

So I’m fortunate that my brother-in-law John, a native Californian, enjoys sharing his vast knowledge about the area and its cultural history.

In addition to the Lone Ranger rock, he pointed out the exact point on California highway 126 where a scene in one episode of FX’s Sons of Anarchy was shot. Being an SOA fan, I recall that scene. And he drove me by the sound set of crime drama NCIS, which is an ordinary-looking office park in Santa Clarita. Again, unless you knew it was there …

Watching television with him is always interesting because he can identify the locations used in shows past and present. Just now, while watching an episode of original Outer Limits that aired in the ’60s, he pointed out that a dirt road shown in it is near the Vasquez Rocks in northern Los Angeles County.

Too fun. Thank you, John.

Lone Ranger rock at Chatsworth, California (2011/RO)


Preparation, preparation, preparation… and shotgun shells

20 May

I woke up one morning not long ago with a strong desire to go shopping for shotgun shells. In my sleep, I had been caught up in a zombie apocalypse with nothing for ammunition but some magic dust that had to be puffed right into their slavering faces.

Folks, that’s just too close. A shotgun provides a more comfortable distance and range. And you can’t have too many shells.

That’s not a crazy dream for me, sad to say. I’ve been having zombie nightmares since 1978, when I saw the original Dawn of the Dead at the old Heights theater. During the movie, I was so terrified that despite serious need, I would not go to the ladies’ room because I knew — knew — that I would be vulnerable to attack while pants-down in a stall. (After seeing Zombieland, I feel validated about this particular fear. Rule #3: Beware of bathrooms.)

I confess that I’ve thought way too much about preparing for a zombie apocalypse. One of my favorite FB pages is Zombie Apocalypse Preparation on which there are daily posts about such matters as freeze-dried vs. vacuum-packed foods, the most practical places to take refuge (it’s not the mall or Sam’s Club, folks), most impractical clothing choices, and what type of machete best serves the dual purpose of beheading zombies and cutting back brush.

These are all valid issues for any type of apocalypse or a total collapse of civil order due to natural disaster, political unrest or the launch of the latest ipad. Planning for a potential zombie apocalypse differs little from planning for any run-of-the-mill apocalypse.

Perry the Exterminator, the young man who comes to my house every three months to spray for bugs (so that there may never be an insect apocalypse, especially one led by those giant brown bugs that look like roaches but are something called “smoky browns” — did you know they can fly?!), shares my thoughts about preparation for a zombie apocalypse.

“If you’re prepared for a zombie apocalypse, you’re prepared for just about anything,” Perry said after the last winter’s “snowpocalypse.”

He noted that grocery stores usually are stocked with only two to three days worth of food for their regular patrons. In a zombie apocalypse, you would expect more than the normal amount of customers buying more than their usual amount of groceries  — although it’s likely there will be no actual buying involved.

Now the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta — what people in fictional apocalypse scenarios always believe will be the last gathering place of surviving humanity but which always turns out to be a hermetically sealed grave — has gotten on board and released its own list of preparations for a zombie apocalypse.

The CDC’s list includes the usual things: water, food, first-aid kit, driver’s license (really?), utility knives, clothing and bedding.

However, noticeably absent from the list are weapons, which anybody who knows anything about zombie apocalypse (or any total breakdown of civil authority) knows are essential. The more weapons, the better. Machetes, baseball bats, weighted truncheons, rocket launchers, rifles and shotguns.

The CDC’s woefully inadequate plan stresses the prominent role that government agencies will play in killing the zombies, finding a cure for whatever created the zombies, and restoring civil order. The government will protect us and provide sanctuary. The government will have doctors, scientists, antibiotics, microscopes, and funding. Yeah, magic dust.

Have these people seen The Walking Dead?

Shotgun. Shells. Preparation.

Zombies don’t kill themselves.

Today’s resolution: Return to reality

19 May

The Day After Lemmy and Motorhead, I’m too exhausted — and euphoric — to process it all. But it was the dream, everything I thought it would be — good and loud. Hard, driving, fast, fast, fast. Everything was big — the amps, the sound, Lemmy’s incredible presence. And, as a friend pointed out, Lemmy had the biggest amps. Naturally.

“Only way to feel the noise is when it’s good and loud,
So good I can’t believe it screaming with the crowd. “(Overkill)

Don't I look happy?

I can’t write a concert review — seeing Lemmy and Motorhead wasn’t just about the music but the experience. I thought I might be spastic, screaming, jumping up and down, being that woman who doesn’t know when to sit down and stop dancing. There was some of that, but mostly I was too enthralled to move. I was afraid I might miss a minute of it — or it could all disappear — if I didn’t keep my eyes on the stage the whole time. Even though I stood most of the time, I felt like I sat forward on the edge of my seat and held my breath throughout the too-short 45-minute set. 

On your feet you feel the beat, it goes straight to your spine,
Shake your head you must be dead if it don’t make you fly. (Overkill)

I overheard some young men talking during the break between Motorhead and Foo Fighters, complaining that they didn’t recognize any of the songs except for Ace of Spades. That’s sad. Motorhead is more than that one song. I liked the newer material, but of the standards, I got the biggest thrill out of hearing Lemmy growl, “If you squeeze my lizard, I’ll put my snake on you,” the opening line from Killed by Death.

Music should make you happy and this does it for me. Maybe the ferocity of it …. or energy …. or the speed… .Lemmy (that goes without saying) …. the sometimes sublimely ridiculous lyrics… whatever, it just breaks open a big box of happy for me.

The morning after, my ears are ringing, my head is throbbing, my brain flashing like a strobe. Happy. More later.

Know your body’s made to move, you feel it in your guts
Rock ‘n’ roll ain’t worth the name if it don’t make you strut. (Overkill)

Rock out.

Today’s resolution: Fulfill a dream of Motorhead

18 May

That dream, my friends, is seeing Motorhead live in concert while Lemmy is still healthy enough to perform. From my intense joy about Motorhead and love of Lemmy, you might think I’ve been a fan for a very long time. But no. I didn’t hear of Motorhead until a few years ago. I had other things to think about during metal’s heyday in the ’80s and barely was aware of even the least of the genre, i.e. hair bands like Cinderella. So Motorhead had never entered my radar.

About 2004, I was reading a scholarly work called Running with the Devil: Power, Gender and Madness in Heavy Metal Music— just for fun, of course — and came upon a passage about this British band, Motorhead. I liked the name. Sounded intriguing.

motorhead band

Motorhead — that's Lemmy in the middle

So I checked out the band on youtube (such an amazing archive for studying musical genres!). The video I chose showed the band performing in England in the ’80s before a sea of teenage boys. I backed out immediately, thinking that was not for me. I’m not a teenage boy. Plus, the band just looked rough. So I listened to maybe a minute of the music and forgot about it.

Lemmy KIlmister of Motorhead


A few weeks later, I had my computer set to a British radio station called Play Rock UK. I was washing dishes when I heard the heart-shocking out-of-the-gate intro to the Lemmy’s speed-metal classic “Ace of Spades.” I stopped in mid dish, listened, feeling my blood pound in my ears, then thought, “Ah, Motorhead.” And I was hooked. I’ve wanted to see the band since that moment.

Tonight, I will. Rock out.

“Love me like a reptile”: Confessions of a middle-aged fangirl

23 Mar

I love Lemmy.

Lemmy, by the way, is Lemmy Kilmister — founder, bass guitarist and frontman of British speed-metal band Motorhead.

My Lemmy love isn’t something I talk about often (well, not in excruciating detail), primarily because it’s one of those things best discussed with someone who already knows something, is curious about, or likes Lemmy and Motorhead. Otherwise, there’s little gratification. Having to explain all the backstory, song references, Lemmyisms, etc., is about as much fun as telling a joke and having to explain the punchline. (That reminds me — the post header is the title of a Motorhead song.)

But I’ll have a go, because Lemmy is worth discussing. And — did I say? — I love him. Here’s why:

He’s a nerd. Oh, sure, he wears black leather, drinks Jack Daniels nonstop, chain-smokes, and parties like a rock star. But he also lives in a cramped apartment full of World War II artifacts, stacks of history books, career memorabilia, and keepsakes from his fans. He watches the Discovery Channel and spends his free time obsessively playing a video game at the Rainbow Bar & Grill in Hollywood. The bad-boy thing doesn’t appeal to me, but the nerdiness does.

He’s got style, Lemmy style. In the ’70s, he developed his signature look: long black hair, mustache and muttonchops, skintight black pants, black shirt, Iron Cross necklace, epaulets, flashy knee-high leather boots. The resulting look is rocker-biker-pirate-cowboy-military-punk … Lemmy. The man knows what he likes and isn’t afraid to wear it. I respect that. And I do so covet his flamboyant custom-made boots.

He writes lyrics like these:

If you squeeze my lizard, I’ll put my snake on you. — Killed by Death, a song for which Lemmy made what’s probably the cheesiest music video ever. I LOVE cheese.

Know your body’s made to move, you feel it in your guts,
Rock ‘n’ roll ain’t worth the name if it don’t make you strut.Overkill

You win some, lose some, it’s still the same to me
The pleasure is to play, it makes no difference what you say
I don’t share your greed, the only card I need is
The Ace Of Spades. Ace of Spades

If you compromise your integrity, you should drown in your own blood. — One Short Life

He says things like this:

Lemmy's autobiography


“You’re supposed to laugh in life. Laughing exercises all the facial muscles and keeps you from getting old. Looking stern gives you terrible wrinkles.”

About music industry powers that be: “These people treat music purely as a commodity, like selling cans of beans. … Nobody seems to believe in the music anymore. The industry’s building all the time, but they’re killing the music. They’re trying to, anyway, but I won’t let them while I’m alive. … People are going to remember me, but the suits will be forgotten.”

“Our digestive systems aren’t made to handle vegetarian food. It makes you fart all the time and you get intestinal flora. Vegetarianism is unrealistic — that’s why cows have four stomachs and we have one.”

“It’s easy to have good manners — they’re free. I don’t know why everybody doesn’t have them.”

The Lemmy action figure — yes, I have it. Fits in well with my Doctor Who and Firefly figures.

Lemmy’s funny, outrageous, honest and humble, wears great boots, and will never appear on American Idol. What’s not to love?

On May 18, I get to see him perform live. Oh, I am going to love that.

Backbone shiver

16 Mar

Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead

I’m a quirky person, with a wide and, to many people, questionable range of musical tastes. A friend told me recently, “Rhonda, the bands you know, sometimes they scare me.” We happened to be talking about Motorhead frontman and heavy-metal god Lemmy Kilmister (pictured here).

I can’t help it. I love Motorhead — the speed, the noise, the energy, the power, the punk delivery …  and, especially, Lemmy. It’s a mind storm.

Today,  I bought tickets to see Motorhead at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock, and I’m overcome with the thrill of it. I never thought I’d get to hear Motorhead live. Ever. But here I am.

I know…. what’s with the Lemmy love?  Well, that’s a story for another post. Wait for it.