Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ventura County Star Article about SATISFACTION


"Oxnard Professor to Publish First Novel"

English professor Andee Reilly is focused on “finding a really perfect balance between surfing, writing and teaching.”

With her first novel due out May 6, a steady surfing routine and a full teaching schedule at CSU Channel Islands, Reilly may have achieved that balance.

The Oxnard resident of 10 years signed a contract with Astraea Press on Nov. 8 for the publication of “Satisfaction,” a novel about self-discovery.

“Satisfaction” tells the story of Ginny, a 22-year-old housewife who learns her husband is cheating on her. Ginny, a huge Rolling Stones fan, decides to follow the band across America. She teams up with “free-spirited wild card” Bree, and the two discover “freedom, friendship and much more on the road trip of their lives,” Reilly said.

“The idea came to me when I was buying tickets to a concert years ago to see the Rolling Stones. ... I thought: What if I just clicked the purchase button for every single venue across the United States?” Reilly said. “Then I started to think about what sort of person would be willing to leave her whole life behind and follow the Rolling Stones on tour ... and I came up with a woman who was seeking satisfaction on her own terms.”

Reilly began “Satisfaction” in 2008 while working on her Master of Fine Arts at UC Riverside. She spent more than two years writing the novel and the next two or so years revising and working with her literary agent.

The process took longer than she expected.

“I had moments of pain and moments of rejection, but there was never a time when I wanted to give up,” she said. “This story had to come out. After a while, I felt like I would be abandoning these characters if I didn’t tell their story.”

When she faced challenging moments, Reilly discovered surfing was the cure for her writer’s block.

“Surfing clears my mind for writing. Oftentimes, I’ll get stuck, and I’ll need to step away. Surfing helps. ... It puts me in this great place. Ideas seem to come organically,” she said.

Reilly surfs at least three times a week with her husband, Jack, a painter and the former chairman of the art department at CSUCI. The couple eventually plan to move to Maui.

Andee Reilly’s advice for aspiring writers is to put pen to paper — or fingers to keys — and be patient.

“It’s a daily grind, and you really just have to sit down and do it. But if you work just a little bit every day, you will reach that goal. It’s not something that’s impossible,” she said. “You make the time. You figure out what’s important and what your goals are, and then you just find the in-between times.”

To find out more about Reilly or “Satisfaction,” visit http://www.AndeeReilly.com.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Sweet Summer Sun Screening

I still cannot believe that I won! 

This week, I happened to be one of the lucky few fans to attend the premiere private screening of Sweet Summer Sun: Hyde Park Live, the new Rolling Stones concert film. When I entered the contest last week, I figured there’s no way I’d win. I never win anything. But on Monday morning I received an email congratulating me. I had no idea how truly lucky I was until we arrived at Universal Music in Santa Monica, CA on Tuesday night.

When we walked into the lobby, only a handful of people were waiting to get into the theater. I thought it was some sort of mistake, imagining that the Bob Marley Room would be packed with herds of other lucky fans. Instead, we found an intimate conference room set up with a large screen and comfortable office chairs. The winning fans, only 12 of us, had reserved seating in the front rows. The rest of the 50 or so people were members of the press and the marketing departments from Eagle Rock Entertainment and various other entertainment entities.

There was food and alcohol, but I was too nervous to eat and swigged a glass of wine instead.  At first I was overwhelmed. I couldn’t get over how fortunate I was to be sitting in a room filled with VIPs. Once the movie started, I relaxed in my front row seat and watched as the camera panned over the enormous audience at Hyde Park. It was amazing! The camera work alone was spectacular and the audio quality was incredible. It was really cool to see a Stones concert from all the different perspectives, including the bands’ POV.

The screening only lasted about an hour. They didn't show the whole 2½ hour film, instead selecting a few scenes. The most notable song of the night was “Midnight Rambler.” If you were lucky enough to recently see the Stones live, you know how mind-blowing it was to hear Mick Taylor join the band to play this masterpiece. It was just as powerful watching it all over again. I suggest you buy Sweet Summer Sun when it is released on November 12th. You won’t regret it.

I was a little disappointed that we didn't get to see the entire film. Until on the way out, when I received my very own Blue Ray copy!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Favorite Songs

The other day I was out for a run when a Stones song came on over my headphones. This isn't earth-shattering news since I have many Rolling Stones songs on my playlist and chances are that at least a few will pop up. Predictable as it is, I’ll pick up my pace, run a little harder, and feel all-around more energized when I hear "Jumping Jack Flash" or "Honky Tonk Woman." I've listened to these songs for most of my life, yet they never fail to excite me. And it’s not just when I’m exercising. Hearing "Waiting on a Friend" play over the car radio always puts a smile on my face.

Why do we never grow tired of the songs we love? I asked seasoned musician and professor of psychology Dr. Kevin Volkan about this phenomenon. He said something that surprised me: “Research has shown that the emotions triggered by loved music tend to be negative. We listen to a favorite song and it reminds us of when we were lonely." This made sense to me since I’ve known people that have experienced painful break-ups. They said sad songs made them feel less alone. Other people have survived heartbreak and written songs to express their grief. In Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life, author Steve Almond calls these songs “depression songs.” He says that listening to a sad song allows us to access repressed feelings. “They articulate a preexisting depression and, when they’re really cooking, they ennoble that depression." They help us appreciate situations that would otherwise make us miserable.

I don't consider my favorite Stones songs to be particularly sad. Instead, they invigorate me. They make me happy, and I assume much of my appreciation has to do with personal taste. In addition to our attraction to sad or depressive songs, Dr. Volkan adds, "Of course there are also aesthetic considerations. I think we can also listen to music just for the art." Beyond valuing our favorite songs for the way they make us feel is the pure joy the music or song itself offers – the way Keith Richards strums the guitar intro to “Waiting on a Friend,” followed by the beautiful, melodic sound of a piano as Mick Jagger sings the opening sounds, “doo-doo-doo doo-doo-doo da-do.”

I’ve often wondered why I don’t become desensitized to these favorite songs that I’ve heard over and over again. Perhaps the brain triggers something physical when we listen to them. As any pseudo-researcher would, I turned to Google. Instead of scientific data, I found dozens of personal playlists,“10 Songs I Never Get Tired of” and the like. One of my favorite programs on Los Angeles public radio station KCRW is the guest DJ project where people, mostly in the entertainment field, discuss songs that “move and inspire” them. Each list is unique and the reasons for loving them as diverse as the celebrity DJs themselves. In the end, it really does seem to come down to individual tastes.

Whether my response is an emotional or physiological one, every time on turn on my music and hit shuffle, I hope it lands on one of my favorites.

Monday, August 19, 2013

It Always Comes Down to the Stones

The other night I was watching Freaky Friday for the umpteenth time. (Don’t judge me.) Towards the end of the movie, the daughter, played by Lindsay Lohan, takes the stage at the House of Blues with her band, but because she is actually living inside her mother’s body (and vice versa), she has no idea how to play the guitar. In her attempt to fake her guitar mastery, she emulates the Rolling Stones – the only rock concert she (her mother) has ever attended. One of my favorite episodes of Mad Men is when the Heinz people enlist Don Draper to convince the Rolling Stones to sing "Heinz is On My Side" in a television commercial. These allusions got me thinking. When it comes to identifying the quintessential rock and roll band, it seems that it always comes down to the Stones.

The simple reason that there are so many Stones-related references in television and movies could be due to their longevity. Chalking up 50 years with no sign of slowing down certainly elevates any band to iconic status. Because they’ve been around so long, everybody recognizes their music. It’s familiar, and familiarity is comforting. For many of us, music triggers memories and emotion that many film/TV directors use to their advantage.

The Rolling Stones are the most recognized and the arguably greatest rock and roll band of all time.  Their appeal and emotional resonance could also work at the unconscious level. In the documentary Crossfire Hurricane, Keith Richard says, "The Beatles got the white hats. What's left?” he asks. “The black hat."

Perhaps Keith is touching upon the Shadow Archetype, the darker side of our unconsciousness. This archetype symbolizes the wildness, turmoil, and madness that reside in all of us. The Stones music, along with the band’s image, tap into our collective unconscious. Carl Jung argues that when an archetypal situation occurs, we feel an extraordinary sense of release. The wild, bad-boy persona of the Stones may have started as a marketing tool, but it has endured because we connect to it as a shared heritage of human experience, making them an ideal and effective pop-cultural reference.

Martin Scorsese seems to exploit this shadowy aspect of the Stones.  An obvious Stones fan, Scorsese frequently uses their songs in many of his films, including the darker scenes. One of my brethren from Shidoobee, an online community of Stones fans, pointed out Scorsese’s subtle use of the song “Let It Loose” in The Departed. A moody, slow song from Exile on Main Street, “Let it Loose,” for me, elicits a tender response. Scorsese, on the other hand, plays it in the background as Jack Nicholson smashes Leonardo DiCaprio’s already broken hand with a boot. Ouch!

Whether musical associations are lighthearted or sinister, when you think of rock and roll, nine times out of ten, it always comes down to the Stones.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Mick: Show Us Some Skin

The Rolling Stones seem to be hinting through posts made via Facebook and Twitter that this past weekend’s concert at Hyde Park may only be the conclusion of “this leg” of the 50 and Counting Tour. Like most Stones fans, I’m hoping that they will continue after a summer hiatus. If they do, I have one simple request for Mick Jagger: Show us some skin!

Recently I watched a full-length video of the Stones at Glastonbury. Viewing a video of the concert, as opposed to being there in person, I found myself focusing on the visual aspects of the show. The epic production of a Rolling Stones concert is a highly calculated one with extensive set and lighting design and costume changes, among other things. Mick Jagger wore several different outfits but ultimately peeled away jackets made of sequence and ostrich feathers to reveal a plain, long-sleeved black shirt.

Pardon my shallowness, but seriously. Mick, you still look great! Break out those tight t-shirts from the last tour and display your well-toned arms. I can’t be the only fan that wouldn’t mind getting a glimpse at your abs as you raise your arms and point into the crowd. Why are you covering up?

Unfortunately there’s been a lot of nasty press about the Stones being too old to rock. Mick Jagger will turn 70 at the end of this month, so perhaps there are some that think men of a certain age should suddenly wear more conservative, less-revealing clothing. Just last month I spent some time in Hawaii around a resort pool and saw many shirtless guys in their 20s and 30s sporting spare tires and looking soft and haggard. Youth does not automatically equal hotness.

In a commentary published in The Guardian, Hadley Freeman argues that, “casual ageism isn't ‘less bad’ than any of the other nasty-isms.” I agree with her point that the constant mocking of the Rolling Stones and other aging musicians and celebrities is nothing more than blatant age discrimination. The Stones may all be grandparents, but they sound amazing and are still rocking at their best. In addition, Freeman emphasizes that Mick has a fitness routine that would put most of us to shame. “Presumably those who are so grossed out by Jagger's age would like to trap him and put him on an ice floe, but sadly they can't catch him, as he's in such good shape and can outrun us all.”

Inspired by one of those beloved t-shirts is an excerpt from my novel Satisfaction:

Mick Jagger sang the lyrics to one of rock’s most famous openings, running to the front of the stage to shuffle, point and dance. He was wearing his signature tight black trousers and a red muscle tee. Ginny couldn’t help but notice the amazing shape he was in. Veins popped up from his muscled arms, and she imagined running her fingers across the sinewy collection of thick purple rivers flowing down to his wrist.

He was smoking hot. Thin and cut, he kept right on rocking the whole civilized world. Mick Jagger, iconic rock star, the world’s most energetic, enigmatic man captivated her. As Ginny looked around, she knew that she wasn’t the only one caught under his hypnotic allure. Twenty thousand hearts and minds belonged to him, if only for two hours.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Stop Blocking My View With Your Phone

It’s been almost a month since the Stones played the Staples Center, and it’s only now that I am able to reflect upon my experience. What a truly amazing show! It was worth every penny. Although I haven’t been around since the beginning of their career, over 50 years ago, I have quite a few Stones concerts under my belt and can honestly say that they are currently at their best. Yet, I've been hesitant to write about the concert since there are already so many reviews out there. Is there anything that I could actually add to the conversation?

I am left with one nagging regret. I made a huge mistake when I bought floor seats to a concert that I had been waiting years to see. If you’re over 6-feet tall, the floor location might be a desirable one. I, however, had to stand on my tippy toes the entire time and peek around, in between and over the shoulders of the more statuesque fans. Once in a while, I snuck up front into the aisle and had a direct view of Jagger or Richards strutting around the stage before I was swept back to my seat by the Gestapo-like security guards at the Staples Center.

I've had floor seats in the past and have always been able to see between the people in front of me. This time was different because everybody had their damn cell phones held out, up in the air, as they recorded parts, if not all, of the concert. Nearly half of the audience viewed the entire concert through the tiny screens of their phones. As they angled for the best shot, I had to rapidly maneuver to peer through jutted elbows and poke my head underneath armpits. At times it seemed as if I was trapped behind a solid wall of towering bodies.

Will somebody please explain why a person would view a concert through a cell phone. Why is it better to experience the concert second hand rather than seeing it with their own naked eyeballs? I don’t get it. Mick, Keith, Ronnie and Charlie were right there, live and in person. And, if you wanted to watch it on screen, there was a giant video display behind the band, showing a real-time edited version of the live concert.

Comedian Louis CK witnessed the same phenomenon at his daughter’s dance recital and urged parents not to block their own children out with their smart phones: “The resolution on [your] kid is unbelievable. It’s totally HD.” The Stones were merely a few feet away from some people, yet they chose to hold up phones in front of their faces and record movies that they think other people want to see. I've watched these amateur clips shared on Facebook and tweeted by enthusiastic fans. Frankly, they’re less than stunning and are not at all an accurate representation of the live concert experience. This is not how I want to see or remember the Stones, two inches tall, blurry with inaudible sound

Perhaps these fans think that their recordings will be the only way to see the Stones over and over again. I wouldn't worry though. If I know the Rolling Stones, and I think I do, the 50 and Counting Tour will soon be available on DVD, Blu-Ray and digital download for purchase at an outlet near you.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Why Stones Fans Pay

The Rolling Stones are driving me to bankruptcy. After buying two tickets to see them play at the Los Angles Staples Center, I had to lock away my credit card until I pay off the balance –  probably sometime in 2014. Much has been made about the excessive ticket prices for their upcoming tour (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/04/rolling-stones-ticket-price-hyde-park-london_n_3014678.html). The cost of a single ticket ranges from $150 to $600, while a staggering $1500 will get you into the Tongue Pit, a standing-only, general admission area right next to the stage.

I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right. It’s ridiculous to pay that much money for a concert ticket. By participating in this sort of price gouging, I’m only exacerbating the problem. Trust me, I’ve heard it all before.

I’ve even dabbled in joining rebel groups like The Rolling Stones Liberation Front, a non-violent guerrilla unit with simple demands: smaller venues and cheaper ticket prices. The organization proved no match against concert promoter AEG Live, and on April 4th issued a statement: “the RSLF has officially commenced implementing counter-active measures.” The members were disappointed, and we commiserated with one another as we pulled out our credit cards in solidarity and purchased our Stones tickets.

The dignified thing probably would be to sit this one out and send a message that we’re not going to take it anymore. But let’s face it, as life-long Stones fans, shelling out half a month’s salary to watch a three-hour concert from the nosebleed section every time they tour, we’re used to shedding a little dignity here and there. Tapping into one’s savings for a concert is not for the casual fan. We are diehards, and yes, maybe even a bit foolish, but we’re loyal. No amount of money will keep us away.

We will pay, and this is why:

We Are A Devoted And Diverse Fan Base
The Rolling Stones are a phenomenon. The world greatest rock stars, they appeal not only to their generation but to their children and grandchildren. They have fans from all over the world, having sold an estimated 200 million records worldwide. They are ranked as one of the greatest artists of all time in Rolling Stone magazine and are the most successful and longest-living rock-and-roll bands in history. They’ve recorded hundreds of songs, over 35 albums, and their tours continue to be the highest grossing in history, selling out venues all over the world despite the high ticket prices. The Hyde Park concert sold out in less than five minutes – that’s 65,000 tickets!

Everybody Loves A Rock Star
When I was a teenager, I fell in love with Mick Jagger. I celebrated my new boyfriend, hung posters of the Stones on my walls and bragged that my rock star was hotter than yours. Even though he was older than my father, he was a symbol in which to pour all of my energy, the crazy pubescent hormones that seemed to be taking over. I know I’m not alone in my passion. The allure of the rock star is transcendent.

If you don’t want to be with one then you want to be one. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve caught grown men grinding air guitars and pounding imaginary drum sets when they thought nobody was looking. Just the other day I found my husband standing in front of the mirror, axe slung low over his body, right arm in the air, striking the perfect Pete Townsend pose.  

We Love Mick, Keith, Ronnie & Charlie
Mick Jagger is easily the greatest front man of all time. He brings enthusiasm and an unabashed sexual energy to the stage and puts younger wannabes to shame. He also plays a mean harp, and along with Keith Richards, is one of rock and roll’s most successful composers. The coolest cat in the world (and sometimes pirate), Keef continually tops the best-of-guitar lists. Charlie Watts is an accomplished jazz musician. Besides being another of rock’s great guitar players, Ronnie Wood’s paintings have been exhibited around the world.

We Love The Music
Yes, we love Mick and the boys, but in the end, it is simply about the music. It is the one, true thing in our lives. Capturing moments, concentrations of time, the music articulates everything that we feel, want to say or need to say but can’t find the words. The Rolling Stones express our souls, transport us to a moment of emotional purity. The music is capable of reaching down into our guts and pulling out what is authentic and real. Great songs purge you but they also energize with idealism and joy. They fuel your tank and propel your forward. We love the Rolling Stones because of the way their music makes us feel: like anything is possible.

It may only be rock and roll, but we like it, even if we have to pay an arm and a leg for it.