…but we do *SING* about Bruno…

As I mentioned in the pleased-to-meet-you post below this one, my daughter is five and a half years old. She’s an amazing little human, and she has worked harder than everyone who ever reads this put together just to get to a point where she lives, thrives, and sings the current Disney hits. Actually, that’s not quite fair to her; until Encanto came along, her previous favorite musical artists were “Weird Al” Yankovic (yay!), Laurie Berkner (also yay!), the Trolls soundtrack (what can I say, Branch is kind of my spirit animal), the Sesame Street gang (alright as long as it’s not Elmo singing), and Peppa Pig (ugh, stick to acting; if you’ve never heard “Birdy Birdy Woof Woof”, DO NOT CLICK THIS LINK). All things considered, we’re doing alright for ourselves on the “songs we now have to hear a million times this hour” front: Baby Shark made barely a ripple on our waters, we’ve successfully avoided the likes of Blippi, and most of the best/worst of The Mouse. I’m sure there’s also a million other things I hope to remain blissfully unaware of.

Not a word about this guy, unless it’s sung…and sung again.

Bruno, though. We don’t talk about Bruno. We don’t have to, because we SING about not talking about him all day and some of the night. I’ll concede that the song is brilliant, Lin-Manuel Miranda is brilliant, the movie is (surprisingly) brilliant, and that my eardrums need a break NOW. Seriously: Kiddo is at school right now, my wife is at work, I’ve got the apartment to myself, and I just sang “I need to empty the garbage” to Bruno’s melody as I did exactly that. It’s more infectious than Covid, and wearing masks over my ears is ineffective, uncomfortable, and just plain awkward, even for me.

Of course, I would never say a word of this to Kiddo: her unabashed enthusiasm for this (and anything else she loves, including me) is truly a beacon. I know that life will inevitably do the lousy things it does and make her no longer want to display her colors so brightly, and the moment that happens I’ll feel like I’d trade anything to not talk about Bruno just a little bit longer.

As for Encanto itself, it’s a pleasant surprise. I’m not a huge acolyte of the Mouse in general: dear readers, there are no princesses, and the last thing I want to raise my smart, courageous little girl to believe is that only some Prince Charming type can make her life complete. Frankly, when I heard that it was a Disney film about a magical Colombian family, I cringingly prepared for an onslaught of cultural appropriation that happily never arrived. The story is solid, the lessons admirable, and the characters reasonably three-dimensional. It’s a thumbs-up from me, and I’ll shut up about it now because we don’t talk about spoilers, no no.

The important part of all of it is this: yesterday afternoon, we took Kiddo to her first in-the-theatre-movie. Given that she was born immunocompromised and as a result we still have to be more careful about Covid than most, this was a miracle in and of itself. She sang along with every song, and when the end credits rolled she walked into the aisle and danced to the music. Encanto, enchantment, in spades. Long may my little one sing, but not talk, about Bruno.

Waving Hello

Hey, Internet! I’m Will, the guy who’s throwing this little writing party, and this is the part where I’m more or less obligated to talk a bit about myself. I’m a middle-aged music nerd who’s happily married to a gorgeous, kind woman who not only doesn’t hate my hobby but shares it (which means, right, I’m a unicorn). We are the incredibly fortunate parents of a seriously premature, but now thriving, five and a half year old who has made every cliché in the world about how your kids become your world ring truer than I’d ever imagined they could. In those same five and a half years, I have lost both of my own parents to cancer, two years apart. The duality of learning how to be a parent while simultaneously losing my own is quite a thing, but I (hopefully) do a bit better with it each day.

I’m old enough that when I was young the phrase “social anxiety” wasn’t discussed in polite company, but I’ve no doubt it’s a thing for me. It’s weird: I can give a presentation to a large audience with barely a butterfly in the stomach, but talk to someone one on one with no one else I know immediately around? Terrifying and impossible and good God, where’s the bar in this place anyway? On the other hand, I’m also the kind of guy who decided, as the Covid pandemic descended upon us, that 47 was the right age to cultivate my first mohawk. A year and a piece later, I’m still rocking it. So, do I like the spotlight and the attention? NO! But also yes, but also sometimes but then again maybe not. So yeah, I’m blogger material for sure.

Speaking of which, while it’s my first time here in these new digs, it’s not my first time writing stuff on the internet. About a decade-ish ago, I started a music-plus-other-stuff-sometimes blog called Turned On Its Ear (link right here) that ran from 2011 until I got married in late 2014, at which point there was too much living and learning going on and the writing took a backseat. I keep the archives alive (although many of the links are now likely broken), and do my best to clean out the comment spammers (my apologies if you headed over there looking for some tips about the BEST ONLINE CASINO), but that was then and this is now, and this isn’t just a continuation of that on a new platform with a new name. I still like a lot of what I wrote there, but this blog will be a little more essay-centric and real-life based.

Lastly, we come back to what you likely saw first: what’s in a name? I’m an old-school punk and metal guy at heart musically, so why does this blog take its name from a Jimmy Buffett lyric? Thanks for pretending to ask! For the first, last and only time on this blog, I’ll write the following sentence: it’s my wife’s fault. She was originally the parrothead in our relationship, with me as a hard dissent: “why on earth would I want to listen to an entire album by the “Margaritaville” guy?” “No”, she said, “you need to listen to the details and the storytelling in his early material.” In the end, she was right, both about Buffett as a songwriter and about how one of the greatest gifts we can give to our loved ones is a nudge to reconsider something great we’d previously been willfully blind to.

It’s also a perfect phrase for me. I live southeast of disorder most of the time. I’m aware of the chaos. I may even be a catalyst for or direct participant in it, but I’m always, above all else, an observer of it. I don’t always know what to do about or with it, but I’m always hoping to learn, or at least talk through it in an attempt to better understand it all.

Thanks for listening in while I do just that. Welcome aboard!