Sunday, May 13, 2018

When what you love is what they hate...

I was party to a conversation yesterday where...  Basically, Person #1 ended up belittling what I knew was a deep musical love of Person #2 ...  and I just thought, "Yeah, this probably isn't going to end well."

I ended up thinking about that a lot last night. I think it's true that the things we love... the things we really love... become a part of our identity, they are part of who we are. I definitely think that's true about a lot of different kinds of art. When I look back over my life, there are books that have become a part of me. There are movies that are a part of me. There is definitely music that is a part of me.

But, when someone belittles one of those things... even when doing so, to them, really isn't anything about me, it feels like it's about me. It feels like they are saying, "This thing that you love... this thing that is a part of you... it's not an acceptable thing. This part of you is not an acceptable thing.  And therefore -- YOU-- are not an acceptable thing."

I know I've certainly had that experience with my Celtic Thunder fandom...  there have been times that people I've loved have really ridiculed that. Deep in my heart, I knew that those people loved me, and didn't mean hurt.  But sometimes it hurt anyway.

In a lot of ways, it's similar to how I felt, in my younger mom days, when I felt someone was passing judgment on the things I had chosen to do as a parent.  And, I think, for very much the same reason. Being a mother had become an integral part of my identity. It was who I was... and when someone came along who deeply criticized that or criticized how I did that, it really stung.

And yet... with hindsight... there's not a ton of things that I would do differently. I might choose little things to mother differently. I might choose different expressions of how to share the things I had chosen to love. But I don't regret loving them, and I don't regret letting them become a part of me.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Third Time's the Charm

The first time we went through this phase, I didn't really know what was going on. So, because I didn't understand what was happening, I assumed that it was me. I must have done something or been something or --

This probably says more about me than anything else.

The second time we went through this phase, I thought two things incorrectly. One, I didn't really know it was a phase and didn't think to connect it to the first one. Two, I attributed it to the desires of a new person in our lives. Not unkindly - that's just where I thought it came from. But also, I assumed it was me.  Okay, three things incorrectly.

Both times, I thought it was really me. Both times, I tried to be the one to fix it. Both times, I twisted myself into a pretzel to do so. Both times, I was wrong.

I don't know what's different in the third time. Maybe it's just that it's the third time and I can see it better. Maybe it's more understanding. Maybe it's more confirmation. But, it is the third time and I see now that it's a phase. For the first time, I understand that it isn't me -- and while it affects me, it isn't really about me.

And I don't really have to fix it.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

A Murky Retrospect on Fandom: So I got Kicked out of the CT Fanclub.

So I got kicked out of the Celtic Thunder Fanclub.

And if you were to ask me, "Jo... what on earth? Why? How did you get kicked out of the CT Fanclub?"

I would tell you two reasons.

1. Officially... because they have a weird rule that all opinions have to be wrapped in unicorn glitter, and as you can imagine, I'm not great at that. I have always been a bit irreverent -- and honest.. but with pure and loving intent. It's why I get asked for my opinion. (Okay, I also got kicked out because I told them off when I realized that kicking me out was the endgoal. Full disclosure.)

2. In actuality... I got kicked out because I'm an elitist old-school fan who refused to follow rules that Sharon would never have asked or expected me to follow and the admins of the fanclub didn't much like that I challenged/ignored their authority.

My reactions to this have amused and interested me.

In part, there was indignation. "But it's me.  You can't kick me out. It's me."  lol I was one of the original 30 members on Celtic Thunder's website. It was my idea to develop the fan forum - which I did myself. I had Sharon's admin password until the ISP people were like, 'Umm, lady... that's not a great idea..." and she just gave me admin rights on my own account instead. I have been invited to more things that I could ever tell anyone about. And, whether it's true and earned or not, I feel a great deal of ownership of the CT fan community.  "I built this place and these whippersnappers think they own it?"

You can laugh. It's okay. I didn't say my reactions were necessarily reasonable. Reactions usually aren't.

I vented a bit. I vented a bit to my friends. I vented a bit to Twitter. I vented a bit to Facebook. I vented a bit to the producer and castmember I have always counted as my confidantes.

Probably the response to my ejection that cut through my indignation the most was "...and that's a bad thing because...?"

And they were right. That fanclub was not a healthy place for me to be and it was taking up far too much of my headspace. I'm just not the kind of fan who can exist in a worship echo chamber anymore, and that's the only kind of fan that had a place.

But, also, lying there at the bottom is this... There is a part of me that is sad that the me that I am --  enthusiastic, irreverent, loving and supportive, but also snarky and obnoxious and impatient-with-stupid -- was not okay enough to be there.  That a Twisted-Up-Into-a-Lie-Me would have been okay... but the real me just would not suffice.

And that the place that I built myself no longer wanted me.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

A Murky Retrospect on Fandom and ...? : Magic and the Underneath

There is a young adult fantasy series I once read that comes to my mind. It is set in current-day New York, etc -- but has vampires and witches and angels and the like -- all happening around us. Like in Harry Potter, muggles are largely oblivious. All the odd characters, all the amazing places are cloaked by spells that I think are called "glamours." What is really a witch appears to us as a beggar woman. What is really an amazing gothic cathedral looks just like another condemned building crumbling into ruins.

Nothing is quite as it seems.

But here is the thing about the glamours. Once you learned how to see past them to what truly lay underneath, it was really hard to un-see it. Even if you tried, you sort of always knew the truth it covered.

Sometimes I feel like my road as a fan has been a bit like that. I got intimately involved early on -- and that put me in a place over the years to learn a lot of truth. I've seen a lot that lies underneath the spell and the magic, and it's hard to believe in the magic when you know what it conceals.

I have always held space for those things -- but sometimes that space has been heavy.  I would give some of it back.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Thoughts on Celtic Thunder's "X" - a little review, a little diary

I sent that email to my mother-in-law in March of 2008 after watching Celtic Thunder on PBS for the first time... and I've been a fan of the show ever since. But like...a FAN, and then some. 

And it's been lovely.  Strange and consuming and dramatic, but honestly lovely. I have developed friendships and met lots of people, and enjoyed an ever-growing catalog of beautiful music between CT and its various offshoots of solo acts. It's been a source of joy for me for 10 years.

I loved their last DVD, "Mythology."  I still love it, and though it's been five years since its release, I still watch it once a month. Full of good music, powerful music. It's been a long time since its release, and I had sort of made peace with the idea that it would be the last one -- until recently when I heard they were filming a new one.

I was excited about that -- a new DVD to commemorate their 10th anniversary, and I looked forward to its release -- until I saw the preview reel they put out a few weeks back. I became a little bit unsure. It didn't really seem like my Celtic Thunder. I was left a little horror-struck by the cheese. Celtic Thunder is sometimes a little campy, but... this seemed extreme.

But... it was just the preview reel. I'd wait.

And now I've seen the whole thing - a few times though-- and I need to talk about it.

So, there are things I like...

I really feel like Damian is a bright spot in this show. He's engaging and endearing -- though I'll concede that my nostalgia is talking a little there. I've always liked Damian. His cover of Ed Sheeran's "Galway Girl" is actually really good. I've seen him do a few Sheeran songs in solo shows before, so I suspect he's a fan and that shows.  I also really liked his "L-O-V-E." That's not necessarily my favorite song in the world, but I think he does a good job with it.

I liked Neil's "The Streets of London" and the duet "From the Ground Up" that he does with Michael. I really like Neil when he is simple. He's really talented, and that shines best for me when it's not too dressed up.  And in a show that felt a bit frivolous, these numbers felt like a balm to my angst.

I liked Emmet's "Phil the Fluter's Ball." It's an empty song, a bit of fluff. But I do find it in my head when I'm at the grocery store, so I'm calling it a win.  I think it's supposed to be in the vein of The Spanish Lady, which I've always really enjoyed. I just don't like this one quite as much. I normally really adore Emmet, so I'm a bit bummed that I didn't love more.

I really liked Ryan's cover of Garth Brooks' "Much Too Young." I historically love his more "thoughtful" songs the best anyway, and this one fit the bill for that.  And it was something a little different from him, which always interests me. Really, I like all of Ryan's songs well enough. He has long been my favorite, and later became my friend - so I tend to like his solos in general. 

Michael, I am struggling a little bit with... which I'll talk about more in a bit.  But I think I like his "The Voice."

And then, for ensembles, I love "May the Road Rise to Meet You" and "Rise Again."  These are songs that are more serious in nature, have beautiful layered harmonies, and simple staging that lets the voices shine. I WISH THERE WERE MORE OF THESE SONGS IN THE SHOW. A billion times.  I also enjoy "Toora Loora Lay" and "Right All Right," with that upbeat Irish folksy feel to them. There are actually four of those in the first half, including Ryan and Company's "I Useta Lover," but I like those two the best.

There are things I'm ambivalent about...

I don't think these are awful or anything.. I'm just not in love with them for one reason or another, and don't expect them to show up on a list of favorites anytime soon.

Emmet's "On the Street Where You Live" and "The Crow on the Cradle." I suspect there will be a lot of people who rather like "On the Street," it's just not much my thing.

Neil's "Finnegan Wake." Man, I should like this more.  It's cute, it's simple. Neil is naturally comedic. But he does it in this odd voice/accent that irritates me.  I'd really really like to hear him sing it straight.  I'll concede my error if I'm wrong!

Michael.... ok, here's the thing. I am struggling with Michael, but I think it's a presentation thing, not a singing thing. I like him more on the CD than I do on the DVD.  I remember Sharon once telling me a long time ago about how they were trying to figure out how to make a new guy emote more, and I legitimately think this is where my disconnect with Michael comes in. I feel crappy about it... I have nothing against him and I want to like him more - but I need a little more passion to help me care.

Ensemble of "Seasons in the Sun." I feel like I should like this more... it's simple, it's the kind of song I would normally like. But I'm just sort of ho-hum with it.

There are things I would like to strangle, draw and quarter, and spear through the heart...

Please do not make my Celtic Thunder a cheesefest.  Don't do it. I hate it. I legitimately hate it.

That stuff in the preview reel that made me cringe?  Yeah.  Still cringe-y in full form.

Celebration. (Yes, that one.)
I'm a Believer.
Bye Bye Baby.

I'm looking at all of you.

I'm not going to say that the vocals on these are bad -- they're legitimately not.  But the utter cheeseball presentation of these numbers, from costume to choreography, bothered me so much that, for the first few days, I let them completely color how I felt about the whole entire show. My initial reactions that I sent to Ryan on these songs is just an endless ranting of me going "Why?  omg... Why?  What the crap??" These talented guys are worth more.


Not liking something my beloved Celtic Thunder has done sits uneasily with me. It makes me earnestly sad. I wanted to love this. And in the sea of reactions from fans who have little discernment anyway, it feels lonely. Like my dislike must mean that there's something wrong with me.

I've heard from enough people under-the-radar to know it's not just me...  but still. It's a little lonely to see people falling over themselves when I just feel a bit grieved. And perhaps more than anything, I feel like maybe I just don't belong here anymore and I'm not sure what to do with myself now.

I did eventually give myself an attitude adjustment and took in a little perspective. The songs I hate number 3. There are 28 in the show. We always tell our girls that they have a choice, in the attitude they decide to bring with them, in how much enjoyment they're going to get out of an event.  And that, if you go in with a good attitude, you might have a good time. But, if you go with a bad attitude, you'll definitely have a bad time.

I can take my own advice. I can enjoy the live show later this year.

I just might go back to watching Mythology again.

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