Tag Archives: beastie boys

growing up is cool

beastie boy adam yauch died 2 days before my 39th birthday. i was on the way from durham, north carolina, to the outer banks when i heard the news from my friend bucko, who had started getting into the beastie boys recently. he’s older than i am, so they were never really on his radar. they pretty much were my radar, so he decided to figure out why i was always talking about those guys. he wasn’t disappointed. other than that with adam yauch’s death, he joins the group of folks who are sad that there won’t be more from him.

bucko’s facebook post, breaking the news to me: “i just saw the news about adam of the beasties. i know you must be very sad about this. not sure what to say. i was just getting to know their music & learning to really enjoy it. what a loss.”

adam yauch 1964-2012

i’ve written about the beastie boys here a few times before. i wrote about my realization a year ago that i wouldn’t hear their new album in stereo, and then it was the first thing i listened to after i got my hearing aid. i also referred to them as pros when it comes to making your own fun. exhibit A:

yesterday a friend posted a link to an article about MCA’s death. it’s titled “MCA, kid forever: how the beastie boys united us by never growing up” and i think that it does a good job of looking at what the beastie boys mean to a lot of folks of my generation. the link in the article is to the video of my favorite beastie boys song – it’s always in position 2 on my personal soundtrack.

but i disagree with the premise of the article, that the beastie boys never grew up. i think that they actually modeled how to grow up, and that that’s a key to the reason that they stayed relevant. the beastie boys from my teen years wouldn’t have held my attention in my 30’s.

teen years beasties:

30’s beasties:

not surprisingly, teen years beasties were mainly concerned with partying. post-911 beasties said things like, “i’m getting kind of tired of the situation, the US attacking other nations.” i don’t think that they were being preachy – i think that they were talking about things that mattered to them as adults. there aren’t many references to the iran-contra affair in “licensed to ill” – makes sense because they were in their early twenties when that album came out.

another sign of maturity: when they got a little older and wiser they started changing one piece of the lyrics to “paul revere” (a song from their first album) that they decided was too offensive. there’s a lot of irresponsible teen-partying-type stuff on that album, but they were able to discern what needed a revision. they left the irresponsible stuff alone – they didn’t scrub that album clean. they changed a bit they they couldn’t in good conscience keep saying in light of the knowledge they’d gained as they got older.

ok, how’s this for maturity – i remember watching the MTV video music awards live back in 1998 when the beastie boys were presented with a video vanguard award. when it was MCA’s turn to speak, he used his time to talk about racism towards middle-easterners and the dangers of retaliation in the war on terrorism. it’s certainly worth a watch all the way through.

the atlantic article about MCA’s death said that the beastie boys made it cool to be white. i think that the beastie boys made it cool to grow up. they showed that growing up doesn’t mean that you have to give up having fun. growing up means that the ways you have fun are different – i think specifically that the fun grown-ups have shouldn’t be at the expense of other folks. i’ve always gotten the feeling that the beastie boys put a really high priority on doing things that amused themselves. a few examples:

and of course, possibly the coolest video over made:

it has always given me a smug sense of satisfaction that two of my favorite folks – elvis costello and david letterman – are big fans of the beastie boys. it seems like the boys always went the extra mile when they were on the late show. here’s an example:

and an amazing thing that happened on the SNL 25th anniversary show:

adam yauch was 47 when he passed away. part of his legacy was the example he gave of how to have fun and still be responsible in your forties. i’ll be there in less than a year, and i hope i can do as good of a job of it as he did. i’m sad that he won’t be leading the way into the fifties, but i’m looking forward to seeing how adam horovitz and mike diamond do it, if we’re all fortunate enough to get there.

i should also mention that nathaniel hörnblowér passed away this week.

here’s a rare interview with mike, adam, and mr. hörnblowér:

“i’m glad to know that all the love that yauch has put out into the world is coming right back at him.” ~adam horovitz

make your own fun

someone recently said to me, “i hope you aren’t bored.” i replied that i’m never bored. which got me to thinking about it. and truly i’m never bored. but why?

i think that being an only child is a big factor. now, i know what you think about only children – that their parents cater to their every whim. i think that that’s one kind of only child, and i’m another – my parents mostly dug having me around when i was a kid but they also had their own lives, and they expected me to be able to entertain myself. some childhood highlights are writing and filming super-8 movies, endless scavenger hunts, and the “children’s craft fair” my friend tammy and i put on (with help from our families). i was fortunate to have a cool big backyard and to grow up somewhere where i could ride my bike and walk around by myself. i had lots of benevolent neighbors on my block, and the fabulous two strike park was just down the street.

also, as a former elementary school teacher and foster parent, i know that i should be prepared. i always have a book with me, and paper and a pen so i can write a letter. i often have my quiddler deck and a pad of madlibs in case there are other folks around to join me in my fun.

as an adult, i think that i continue to make steady progress in the making your own fun department. here are a few examples:

psychic greeting card

this game was invented with an ex while we were waiting for a flight at the portland airport. the gift shop had a rack of greeting cards. we separately went into the shop and picked a card from the rack, trying to intuit the card the other one would choose. we wrote notes on the cards and exchanged them.

now i play psychic greeting card with my friend molly. we choose a theme – the most recent one was “embarking on a new adventure” – and then on the same day we each go to a card store (she’s in california and i’m in oregon) and intuitively pick a card.

molly's most recent psychic greeting card is on my fridge.


i like to make bingo cards. when i’m in a frustrating situation, making a bingo card makes me feel better. i’ve made bingo cards for staff meetings, for a class i took with an especially awful instructor, and for many inservice trainings. yes, it’s passive-aggressive, but it’s a victimless crime. i have a reason to stay interested (i’m rooting for my coworker to say, “we tried that 30 years ago and it didn’t work” because that gives me 4 in a row) and i don’t revert to my default middle schooler mode of smartass. so really, everyone benefits.

you realize of course that you may never make a kriste bingo card.

bingo cards can also be used for good. my 3/4/5 grades class made bingo cards before we went on a hike – we brainstormed things we might see. yep, some kids figured out that they could arrange dirt, grass, a stick, and the sky, all in line with the free space, and more power to ’em. my friend zari and i once created a very complete game of “late show bingo” out of our love for david letterman. i found the cards when i cleaned out my file cabinet this spring. good times.

a lot of good stuff here, but "dave smells the guest" might be my favorite.


when i was teaching primary multiage, i had a student i’ll call pedro. pedro drew a picture of a dinosaur with someone in its mouth. he elbowed the kid next to him, pointed at the mouth, and said “that’s you.” the school leadership leaped into action. i was asked if we should fear violence from pedro. my response was something like, “yep. if pedro has a dinosaur, we’re in a lot of trouble.”

my coworkers and i decided that pedro had a good plan – drawing pictures of our enemies being eaten by dinosaurs was a pretty good way of relieving stress. melanie uses the technique during grading periods:

jaqui has used it as a frustration-management technique with her middle school students:

jaqui's dinosaur-inspired art.

i once enlisted another student’s help in drawing a picture of melanie.

i think that "wha! mommy" was a nice touch.

drinking games

drinking games are similar to bingo cards. in my twenties i made a drinking game for the tv soap “all my children” – i don’t think that i ever played it. the fun was in coming up with it. i enjoy saying, “we should make a drinking game for this” when confronted with frustrating situations. i’m making a drinking game about a frustrating meal that i regularly eat (the kids call that “vaguebooking”). this year i was at a high school graduation with my friend vickie, and during the reading of the names of the graduates we came up with a drinking game. we decided that you should drink when someone has only two names, or four or more names. laughing about it got us through this year, but i’ll come prepared if any of you invite me to a graduation ceremony next year.

make a shirt about it

i like to make iron-on t-shirts. i’ve been known to make a shirt with a quote about someone i’m frustrated with and wear it under the rest of my clothes when i have to interact with that person. i think that i feel a little like what clark kent feels like knowing that he has his superman duds on under his suit.

this is the best shirt i've ever made. velcro letters so i could change the first part. perfect for intimidating opponents.


having a cool name for whatever fun you’re making is important (see psychic greeting card above). my dear friends and childhood neighbors the charnows know this. michael’s hatred of celery has led to an annual party called celeryfest. madalaine had the idea to make an outdoor bowling alley. we came up with a name – the midnight bowlers – and made a portable bowling kit of 10 real pins, a bowling ball, and a long strip of astroturf for the lane. we’d load it up in the car and practice random acts of bowling.

scholars believe that these were the first midnight bowlers.

eventually there were several chapters of the midnight bowlers – “it’s always midnight somewhere.” michael gave madalaine a bowling-themed pinball machine. erin painted captain underpants on a bowling pin for me – it’s currently proudly displayed on my mantel. i sometimes bowl on sunday with friends – we call it the church of the ten pins.

oh. now i see why my grandma called my hair a rat's nest.

card games

when i taught 4th grade, i realized that i had a captive group to play card games with. i like the social skills that can be modeled and practiced during a good card game. and the shared experience of playing a game with a group of people. my two favorites are spoons and i doubt it (you might know it as b.s.).

"do we really have to play i doubt it again, ms. york?"

around that same time, i was developing a serious quiddler habit. quiddler is a card word game – kind of like scrabble but played in rounds and with letters on cards. it’s really, really a great game.

madalaine goes ultimate in quiddler.

now i’m loving apples to apples. if you ever see me with a group of 3 or more people, i’m probably thinking about how i can convince them to play apples to apples with me.

here are a few pros making their own fun:

i guess that the moral is that you can’t always depend on other people to make your fun for you. sometimes you have to make your own. and the more you practice, the better you’ll get.


last week i added a whole new category of accessories to my collection. i got a hearing aid, and a ton of shwag and sound that came with it.

my medical drama all started with hearing loss. the hearing loss led to brain surgery to remove the tumor that was causing the hearing loss. getting rid of the tumor wouldn’t restore my hearing in that ear. the best case scenario was that the hearing i still had would remain, and the worst was that i’d have no hearing at all in that ear.

after the surgeries i ended up with a little bit of hearing in that ear. not really any useable hearing, but there was still some there.

the scar

this means that i live in a mono AM world. gone are the days of FM radio, hearing things in stereo. being pretty much deaf in one ear is an inconvenience, but AM is better than nothing at all. i’ve learned to make adjustments – strategic seating when i’m with a group so that my good ear is pointing in, asking folks to walk on my good side. triangulation is maybe the biggest problem. with hearing in only one ear, i can’t tell where sounds are coming from. i can hear a car coming, but i can’t tell whether it’s behind me or in front of me. someone shouts “hey kriste!” while i’m out for a walk and i have no idea what direction it came from. so i look like an idiot swirling all around trying to find the person. but chances are that if they’re saying “hey kriste!” they know what’s up with my hearing. so it’s an inconvenience, but not much more than that. and my vision is corrected well enough that i can usually find them, and i can look and see which direction the car is coming from.

so being deaf in one ear is no big whoop. the only time i was really bummed about it was this may when the new beastie boys album came out. i downloaded it and listened to it, and it hit me that i would never hear it in stereo. bummed, but not the end of the world.

meanwhile, my mom was researching the baha – bone-anchored hearing aid. she meant well, wanted my life to be as easy as possible, but i just couldn’t take the idea of another thing implanted in my head. i already have a shunt on my right side. i told her that when i was ready to think about a hearing aid she’d be the first to know. she kept researching and then found out that there are behind-the-ear hearing aids that might work for my hearing loss. so i set up an appointment for a hearing test and an appointment with my fabulous ENT, dr. benton (the guy who saved my life by sending me for the MRI and finding my tumor), to talk about options. i had the hearing test with diane and she said that she thought that a regular behind-the-ear would work for me because i actually have enough hearing to amplify. during the hearing test i heard words in my left ear – it had been a really long time. diane said that i should come back in and she’d have a hearing aid set up for my specific hearing loss. dr. benton said to go for it. so i did.

i came back in and she had the hearing aid all ready to go. i put it in and i was amazed. we chatted and i could actually look away and still follow what she was saying. she told me to take it for a spin. so i walked out to the waiting room and sat down on my mom’s right side. she didn’t even notice that i had it in. it’s pretty inconspicuous. i walked out on the sidewalk and i could tell which direction the cars were coming from. it felt like a miracle.

not my grandfather's hearing aid.

i headed back to diane’s office. she told me (in both ears) about the crazy things that these hearing aids can do. this one is wireless, and it has 4 programs that she can adjust for different environments – she basically has a mixing board in her computer for it. i press a tiny button at the top and it goes from the regular program to one that’s mixed for someplace with a lot of background noise. there’s a program for talking on a phone, and another one that she’ll set up if i identify a need. you can even clip a microphone on your shirt and it becomes a bluetooth telephone – sending the audio straight into the hearing aid. i’m not much of a phone-talker, so i doubt i’ll be going for that feature.

my parents and i talked it over – it costs in the used car range – and decided it was worth it. so i called diane and said i’d go for it. went with boring old taupe instead of electric blue. she said she’d have it in a few days.

she did. i went back in and she had it all set and ready to go. of course the first thing i did when i got home was listen to the new beastie boys album.

now in stereo.