While most people live for the daytime, the sunlight, the start of a new day, I long for the end of it.
I’m a night owl who can’t make sense of the world until the hours of 1 a.m. to 5 a.m., when most people are in bed, lights are turned off and there’s a stillness that I just love. So I was thrilled when a couple weeks ago the most exciting thing happened in my neighborhood in the early evening: a blackout. For me, it was a return to the simple life, something that we’re missing a lot of these days in the Internet and smartphone age, and especially in a place like Los Angeles, where a blackout turns life upside down . . . but you can suddenly see the stars.
My husband, my 2-year-old daughter and I were actually at dinner down the street when three transformers overloaded on one of the main streets and blew up just blocks from where we were dining, and most of the surrounding blocks suddenly fell into darkness. The sound was akin to bombs going off, but it was likely just too many people in the area using electricity (it’s been a record year in L.A., apparently, as we try to keep cool during an unending heat wave). My very smart husband called our home phone to check if our plugged-in answering machine (we’re old school like that) would pick up and it didn’t. But it wasn’t until we walked up the hill to see our whole neighborhood, all the way up to the Griffith Observatory, was lights out for blocks and blocks in all directions that it was confirmed our power was out. I was elated: 7 p.m. suddenly turned into 1 a.m.
I was instantly transported back to one of my favorite moments, some 15 or so years ago when my sister Tricia, her friend Kirsty and my friend Pam were staying at my parents’ house during a terrible storm when there was a blackout that lasted all night. Rather than trying to take on the rain and venture elsewhere to live as we normally would (with electricity), we stayed in and enjoyed the most precious, most important things in life—each other and ice cream. We lit candles, found some puzzles, got tubs of ice cream (that we weren’t about to let go to waste) and just talked and talked about everything. I’ll never forget that evening.
Fast forward to our 2014 blackout, I was looking forward to having as special a night with my little family. First things first, we had to stay completely calm from the moment the transformers blew up so as not to freak out our daughter or we’d have a very long night; it was her first blackout.
When we arrived to our pitch-black home, we first made sure the animals were okay. (It’s hard to find a black cat and black dog in the dark, by the way.) I lit some candles and placed them, of course, out of reach of little D, not just to prevent her from burning herself or the house down, but also because toddlers think every candle in the world is a birthday candle that needs to be blown out.
Since it was pretty humid in the house, we hung out on our backyard deck, got two soon not-to-be-frozen fruit popsicles and what was left of a small pint of strawberry Häagen Dazs ice cream from the freezer, pulled out D’s paints and just did art by candlelight while we sang her favorite songs as she danced around. All we were focused on was each other, and the melting ice cream and fruit pops. It was awesome. This made sense.
Then, unfortunately, the power came back on just an hour later: the TV, the cable box, the Wi-Fi, the A/C, the fridge and the lights in our house and all directions—life as we normally knew it. Thanks a lot, DWP, for the prompt service. I would’ve been happy to save the money on my power bill to have the blackout last a few more hours and savor those “each other” moments in the dark. They aren’t scary . . . they’re sacred.
When I was young, I was a huge Wonder Woman fan, as were most girls who grew up watching the Superfriends or Wonder Woman, played so glamorously by Lynda Carter, who never seemed to lose her cool, even in the most harrowing life-and-death situations. I wore her Underoos, her costume for Halloween and, much later in life, got myself a pair of shiny, knee-length, red boots (sans heels) to conquer each day with. You haven’t truly lived until you’ve walked the world in red boots.
As a kid, I thought, who wouldn’t want to be Wonder Woman, the woman who saves the day, taking on bad guys and girls alike?
Actually, in terms of superheroes, there weren’t a lot of popular female crime fighters to choose from except Supergirl (boring) and Batgirl, who my daughter has chosen to be for Halloween over my favorite Amazon, a move I very much approve of. Librarian by day, crime fighter at night—now that’s cool. Much cooler than princesses, I think. (Sorry, Disney. Oh, wait, you own Marvel now too. Smart move.)
These days, superheroes abound in pop culture, but it’s still those classic characters I see the boys at my daughter’s preschool dressed up as in full costume throughout the year — Captain America, Spider-Man, Batman, Superman — wandering in a sea of mostly Elsas and Annas. My initial reaction to the weekly parade of superheroes at her school was amusement. C’mon, it’s hilarious starting your day off walking by a pint-sized Spider-Man and Batman. And, you see, when my daughter first started preschool there, she didn’t know anyone, but she knew those superheroes. They were familiar even if no one else was, and that kind of made things okay. I really like that her school allows that kind of play and dress up. I don’t see it as a big deal, but that’s not the case elsewhere.
I’ve heard of preschools banning superhero play because it was getting too rough. One father I met recently told me that his kid’s preschool didn’t allow them to dress up as superheroes because they didn’t set good examples for conflict resolution. And my husband heard that childcare administrators at a local YMCA didn’t allow superheroes because they wanted to emphasize that everyone was special.
I’ve seen this kind of play opening up whole new worlds to my daughter so far. Yes, perhaps she’s getting a little too daring with her stunts, so we’ll have to work on that. But Captain America and his friends have even helped me with bath time. She’s much more will willing to bathe if it means the superheroes (and Elsa and Anna) are getting washed too.
And, honestly, teaching her these different characters’ lives through old and new TV shows, comic books and our own home superhero play (for some reason, my daughter always makes me the Hulk) has also inspired me to be more superhero-like, minus the violence. Reading the news most days is so upsetting I’m wishing for superheroes to come in and save us from all this madness.
I’ve now stopped wishing and have started working toward that safer world that Wonder Woman — but really my parents — gave me growing up. Because I really want my daughter to see the potential in everyone – including herself and her parents – to be heroes.
And for me, it starts with fighting crime right here where we live, which is what I set out to do recently with some friends, just by contacting our local councilman’s office to discuss recent attacks on women in our neighborhood parks. And guess what just a few simple emails from concerned ladies turned into? A community forum with the local police department and park rangers happening this week. Getting that to happen felt really, really good; one step toward taking down the bad guys, and I didn’t even need to wear a cape — or a skimpy outfit. I can’t wait to see what happens next. Won’t you join me?
And there’s no better song to start us on our quest than the lullaby rendition of one of my favorite songs from David Bowie. You know the one.
Some of us here at Rockabye Baby come from places that have eerie, strange pasts . . . tales of devils, witches and ghosts haunting our hometowns. A few brave souls were gutsy enough to share the ghost stories and urban legends from where we’re from, including me. Read on if you dare . . .
The Jersey Devil
My hometown ghost story is an easy one that's fairly well known. I grew up in New Jersey, where for close to 300 years, New Jerseyans have passed down the story of the Jersey Devil (or Leeds Devil), a mythical beast that stalks the Pine Barrens. Legend has it that when "Mother Leeds," so named for her many children and her residence at Leeds Point, learned she was pregnant with her 13th child, she threw her hands up to the heavens in exasperation and exclaimed, "Let this one be a devil!"
And so he was.
The story is especially known by my family, since my grandfather worked at a restaurant for decades at the tip of Leeds Point. Each time we'd drive to eat dinner there, if we'd been acting up in the car on the way as kids, my dad would always threaten to take us to the Jersey Devil, and pretend he was veering towards Mother Leeds's old house. It never failed to get us to behave.
When I was in high school I played football. After my junior season was over we had a get together at the coach’s house, which wasn’t far from where the Blair Witch house was located. Being that it was late, a bunch of us decided to head over there to check it out. One of the other coaches came with us to make sure we stayed out of trouble. As about 10 to 15 of us headed inside, the coach secretly slipped away and snuck in the back entrance of the house.
As soon as there were way too many of us inside the pitch black house the coach yelled, “GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!!!”
The result ended up being a whole team of rough ’n’ tough football players screaming like children while running into the forest — myself included.
—Bill, sales rep
Annie Mary Twente
I grew up in a rural town in southern Minnesota. Living there, it was a rite of passage for local teens to venture out onto the gravel roads south of town to find an old, “haunted” gravesite for the purpose of having the living sh*t scared out of themselves. The gravesite belonged to little Annie Mary Twente.
Annie Mary fell ill with “lung fever” (old slang for pneumonia) in the fall of 1886. Before Annie Mary was put to rest, she slipped into a coma, leading her family to believe that she had died. The Twentes, restless in their grief, were convinced someone had stolen their girl from her grave. The father persuaded a few of his neighbors to help him dig up his daughter. The poor child was found on her side in the coffin, her eyes wide open in terror, strands of her hair clasped in her fists, and scratch marks on the lid of the coffin. She had been buried alive. It’s believed that her spirit haunts the grounds.
Like I said, almost every generation went out to see what went on near the grave. My grandparents did it, my parents did it, and, of course, so did I. One freezing cold night in October my junior year of high school, five of us piled into my best friend Amanda’s white Oldsmobile, aka “The Beast.” We headed out (another friend driving because Amanda was too scared), weaving south down the gravel roads that led there, all of us nervous with excitement (and petrified (though we didn’t want to show it)).
Almost as soon as we arrived the headlights flickered on and off. We screamed bloody murder, but then my friend driving started cackling so we knew it was just her pulling one on us. So we dared her to roll closer to the grave. We parked. Shut the engine off, sat in the dark and heard nothing. Nothing for a looooong time. Then suddenly, there was something on the roof, scratching. It got louder and louder. We all screamed, fired up the engine and kicked it into reverse to get the hell out of there.
Apparently, two nights before we headed to where Annie Mary was buried, someone had tried to break in. Guess she wasn’t too keen on visitors after that.
What lends more to a scary scene in film than music? Some of the most bizarre, frightful sounds in cinema (specifically sci-fi and horror) can be attributed directly to a number of spooky instruments. From the peculiar Beam Blaster to the theatrical Ondes Martenot — the list of freaky noisemakers goes on and on. Two of our favorite, fearsome instruments are the Waterphone and the Theremin.
They even look a little scary, right?
The Waterphone (also known as the oceanharp) produces haunting, ethereal sounds with its varied spokes and metal base (the spokes remind us a bit of frightening playground pangs and chimes and the base of the melodies of whale tones); basically perfect for eerie, goose bump–inducing additions to movie score, right? The underwater warble of the Waterphone has created the mood for movies such as Poltergeist, The Matrix and Star Trek, and TV shows such as The X Files, as you can hear below.
The instrument may actually have an “aquatic” name for more than one reason, too. In addition to being named after its inventor, Richard Waters, the handle of the contraption is filled with water, affecting the tones created.
The otherworldly wail of the Theremin became an almost ubiquitous, signature sound for sci-fi TV shows and films by the mid 1940s, including The Lost Weekend and Spellbound. ’90s films Ed Wood and Batman Forever also received the Theremin touch, the unnerving moan that makes your skin crawl.
One of the Theremin’s most interesting characteristics (that itself seems a bit supernatural) is that it’s played literally by waving your arms around. One or two metal antennas are mounted on the instrument and the musician’s hands control the pitch and volume of the produced sound without actually touching the instrument. And it’s not just movies where you can hear the Theremin! Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page famously brought a Theremin out on tour to extend the instrumental solos of tunes like “Whole Lotta Love” and “No Quarter.”
But if you want to be spooked, try this fan’s Theremin track set to the opening of 1955’s Dementure:
Scared out of your wits just thinking about the ghostly sounds of the Theremin and the Waterphone? Don’t worry, we’ve got a little something that’ll calm you right down . . .
I generally made pleasant, generic things when I was a tot: flowers, snowmen, and tractors. But a recent conversation had me wondering what I would make today, on National Play-Doh Day, if I had Play-Doh at my disposal. Obviously my taste has changed a bit from when I was 3, right? (Well, I still love fruit snacks and Sunny Delight.)
But really, what would I mold now?
I asked a few members of the RB staff to join me in a little Play-Doh exercise. It turns out a recent study showed that playing with Play-Doh can be highly therapeutic and stress reducing. So, a few of the Rockabye Baby staff took a little work break!
Here’s what we made (turns our our tastes haven’t changed that much!):
A walrus, a penguin and a fish, just chattin’
“Holy on, I have to just catch my breath!”
Pretty impressive, huh?
What would you mold out of your Play-Doh?
To make your own “play dough,” check out these recipes.
Don’t let anyone tell you differently: Hats are a way of life.
Rock stars and musicians from every different genre would agree with that. Hats offer a fantastic way to show your style, personality, or just to hide a bad hair day. We certainly don’t need a holiday to write about hats, but it is Make a Hat Day today, so not only will we be talking about some of the most famous headgear in music, we’re also giving you a hat . . . to make. Because we’re cool like that.
But first, look who made our top hat list:
(Image viaLester Cohen/WireImage)
Little Skateboard P made headline after headline when he wore this Dudley Do-Right–looking hat at the Grammys last year. This tall drink of water is actually a vintage hat by Vivienne Westwood, an English fashion designer who is credited with many influential things in the fashion world, like bringing punk style to the masses. Pharrell has owned the hat for many years, and has even worn it to other events, but it seemed to make the biggest splash at the Grammys. The hat eventually went up on eBay to raise money for charity From One Hand to Another, and was bought by a lucky hat lover (I secretly wish it was me!) for the reasonable price of $44,100.
New Wave favorite Devo famously wore these red hats during their Freedom of Choice album years, and even more famously in their music video for “Whip It.” It is called an “energy dome” and was designed by band members Mark Mothersbaugh and Gerald Casalez, having been influenced by the German Bauhaus movement as well as Aztec temples. The band wore these hats in many different colors throughout their years together.
(Image via Wikipedia)
Slash, aka Saul Hudson, the guitarist for Guns N’ Roses has worn his infamous top hat since the ’80s. We all know it, we all love it, but did you know he shoplifted it? That’s right, Slash was on the lookout for a “signature” item before a show in 1985, but since he was low on cash, he decided to swipe it without paying. He also decided when he got home that it looked a little plain, so he tied a belt around it (also shoplifted!).
Ol’ Blue Eyes had a voice that could simply not be matched — but his style was equally as enviable. Sinatra lived in an era when it was commonplace to see men in suits and fedoras (or other dressy hats) just walking around town. Oh, what a time to be alive! There was just something about the way Frank wore his fedora, though: a slight tilt, not only to the side, but also to the back as well. Effortlessly cool and wholly unique.
(Image via Wikipedia)
Brian Johnson of AC/DC:
Before joining AC/DC, Brian was the singer in a well-known British band called Geordie. When the group broke up, he had to take a job as a window fitter and he ended up wearing his trademark driver’s cap to hide his identity. And since he would often go to a gig at a pub straight from work, he would keep the hat on. AC/DC really liked the hat and told Brian he should keep wearing it when he joined the band.
How many septuagenarians can rock like 72-year-old Sir Paul McCartney? (Mick Jagger, perhaps.)
I saw the ever mighty Paul McCartney at Dodger Stadium last month; jeesh it seems so surreal even as I type it. “I did what?!”
My best friend and I prepared to buy our tickets in April. She and I spastically texted each other nonsensical exclamations (“WTF?” “WAIT WHAT?!” “Holy SH*T!”) with what felt like preshow jitters as we waited for the clock to strike 10:00 am to buy tickets. We were especially restless because he was set to play over my birthday weekend and what could make a birthday weekend, and who could make a birthday weekend more spectacular than McCartney?
If you hadn’t already guess . . .
We got the tickets!
“WTF? WAIT WHAT?!,” is right.
The anticipation built over the entire summer. Everyone I spoke to who had seen Paul before kept saying things like “He’s going to absolutely blow your mind,” and “The man is a machine. His bandmates who are 20 years his junior take more breaks than he does,” and so on and so forth.
My birthday weekend was already off to a great start by the time August 10 rolled around. Drinks with friends, the beach, a fancy dinner, karaoke—a weekend worthy of the title “Best Birthday Weekend Ever” already, but the best was yet to come.
We arrived about two hours before the show, early enough to each snag a Dodger dog and a beer.
As the sun set, and the Supermoon that made an appearance that night rose, our eagerness grew.
Paul McCartney, a Beatle for cryin’ out loud, stepped onstage with his Höfner bass in tow, waving and nodding in thanks for the thousands of cheers that welcomed him. Paul McCartney was IN FRONT OF US. Without a single word, just a nod to his bandmates, they went right into it; a near 40-song set, including two encores.
After two songs, he shouted “Los Angeles! Dodger Stadium? Haven’t been here for a while . . .” He hadn’t played at Dodger Stadium since 1966 with his Beatle cohorts. The crowd, us included, went nuts.
Pyrotechnics for “Live and Let Die”
He played for nearly three hours but it felt like a 20-minute blur that I made up in a dream. We screamed our lungs out to favorites like “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da“ and “Live and Let Die,” pretended not to cry during “Blackbird” and his tribute to George Harrison with a ukulele version of “Something,” and felt like we were ascending into the heavens while 50,000-plus people chanted along to “Hey Jude.”
The entire night was electric. I didn’t see him take a single break, not even for a sip of water. To say it was memorable would almost be a disservice to his legacy. It was unforgettably spectacular.
So, it goes without saying that closing out my birthday weekend with my best friends and Paul McCartney is one for the books. I still don’t believe it actually happened.
Check out all of Ms. Rockabye’s posts HERE, including the ones below:
And check out our Beatles collection in the Rockabye Baby store:
What’s your favorite way to use your Rockabye Baby CDs? Playing softly in the background during your little one’s naptime . . . to cool down a toddler tantrum . . . to rock your baby back to sleep at 3 a.m.?
Sure, our CDs are great at coo’ing babies big and small to slumber, but there are many alternative uses for Rockabye Baby CDs. Like…
As a fan
As a coaster
For a doorstop
The possibilities are endless, really! What alternative uses do you have for your Rockabye Baby CDs?
Does your baby think they were born to run? If your little Boss isn’t tired and wants to prove it all night, tuck them in with these blissful versions of Bruce Springsteen’s classic rock anthems. We promise there will be lots of sleeping in the dark.