I spent one of the last days of 1998 with my friend on a mission. She wanted to find a Taco Bell that still had the little stuffed Chihuahua that says, "here lizard lizard..." The restaurant chain is selling four different speaking Chihuahuas and the lizard beckoning one is the most popular. We had limited time so I mapped out our trail in advance. We went to three Taco Bells and called two others before we found one that had a few left. Our little mission made me wonder if this is what my Dad used to go through when we were little kids and one of us wanted a hard to find toy from Santa.
My friend is the proud parent of Kurbie, the world's fiercest Rat Terrier (who sort of looks like a Chihuahua) and she wanted to get the Taco Bell mascot as a gift to Kurbie's doting grandparents. It was a nice moment to remember 1998 by- a year that has been very difficult for me personally and professionally. It was a gentle reminder that in times of trouble if you can keep your mind on a goal, a mission, you can accomplish just about anything. And to share those special moments with friends and family- that's what it ultimately is all about. Here are ten other moments I'll remember the year by:
10) Live Moment of the Year: Los Lobos at the Minnesota Zoo. We were seated four rows from the front of the stage. As the band ripped into One Time One Night in the cool summer air as the dancers swayed in front of the stage I looked into David Hidalgo's eyes and listened to his vocals which were so passionate and pristine. I swear he was singing the song for me.
9) Sporting Moment of the Year: Mark McGwire? Nope. Those incredible Yankees? Not even close. The Macalester women's soccer team winning the national championship? Mighty impressive indeed. But the ultimate sports story was Joan's Jetts, a hapless softball team just a few years back, playing its heart out (with an aging right fielder) and winning the state's softball tournament.
8) Best Song of the Year (Male Vocalist): Imagination by Brian Wilson. Wilson has written better songs that capture his manic genius more impressively but I don't know if he has ever written a song that has touched me more deeply. "To look in your eyes and know how you feel and then realize that nothing's for real." Brian's is a sad story but his music overcomes that. Quite the gift.
7) Best Song of the Year (Female Vocalist): Liz Phair's Polyester Bride. Yes it was great having a new CD from Phair after a lengthy absence. The CD has grown on me with repeated listenings and I always have to smile when this song comes on. "I'm a sucker for your lucky pretty eyes."
6) Best Song of the Year (Group): Fastball's The Way. I heard them perform it on David Letterman and couldn't get the tune out of my head. A few weeks later my friend asked me to pick up the disc because she loved the song. It was then I realized her taste in music was nearly as impeccable as mine. The Latin like rhythm is as irresistible as the McCartneyesque melody.
5) Saddest Farewell of the Year: Frumpy The Clown. He came unexpectedly to the cartoon pages of the Pioneer Press. At first I didn't know what to make of him- an abrasive and caustic clown hired to be the live in nanny for two children. Underneath his squinty weary scowl was a heart of gold. And just as sudden as his appearance he rode of f on an elephant into the sunset never to be seen again. I miss Frumpy.
4) Soundtrack of the Year: Mr. Sinatra's What is This Thing Called Love. I heard the song on one of the many tribute shows after he died. When he gets to the climax line, "So I ask the Lord above, what is this thing called love?" his voice is pure emotion and just smothers your heart. Now I can't stop listening to the song. So long Mr. Frank.
3) John Hiatt Moment of the Year: (Tie) The release of Hiatt's version of The Way We Make a Broken Heart on his Best Of CD. The song was left off his best CD, Riding With the King and was later covered by Rosanne Cash. It was a treat to be able to finally hear John's version. Just as special was his abbreviated performance at the Cities '97 Sampler concert. A stunningly fun show.
2) Bob Dylan Moment of the Year: (Tie): First off his wonderful performance of Love Sick (Soy Bomb) at the Grammy's and subsequent winning of the Best Album of the Year for Time Out of Mind. Second his homecoming concert in Duluth. Third his energetic performance the next night at the Target Center. But most of all it was at that show when my friend who I was worried wouldn't like Dylan, turned to me and said, "I LOVE his voice."
1) Most Looked Forward To Moment of the Year: Every Sunday night for the past few years I have had dinner with Mom and Dad. The food is great but the company and conversation is even better. Just another reminder of how blessed I am.