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Rhonda’s Birthday Blog 2017!

Once upon a time, there were two women living in different regions of the country, unknown to the other.  One was a stay-at-home mom of two while the other a teacher.  Both were living their lives, seeming to be content with their day-to-day existences surrounding children and never-ending to-do lists.  On paper, these two women appeared to be polar opposites.  Yet, despite their lifestyle differences and five year age gap, they shared one very significant commonality.  They both were Duran Duran fans in the 1980s as kids.  Still, there was no reason for these women to ever cross paths as one lived in California and other in Wisconsin until events led them to the same place at the same time.

In the early 2000s, the woman in California attended a Duran Duran show near her house at a House of Blues, reawakening the love she had for the British band leading her online to find information about the band and other fans.  Around the same time, across country, the other woman was deep in her Masters of Education program and in her new job as a middle school special education teacher.  That band she loved as a kid was far from her thoughts.  Around this time, that band reunited, awakening Duranies all over the world and calling them back into the fan community.  Still, it was not until 2003, as the Wisconsin woman was finishing her masters that she heard or took note of this dramatic event.  Soon after finishing grad school, she, too, took to the internet to find all she could about this reunion. 

In 2004, the two women found themselves at the same message board, a small, clean-looking, friendly one called DuranDuranFans.com.  Due to the size, the two began to see each other’s posts, thinking not much about the other.  Then, the stars aligned again in September of that year as both flew into the city of New Orleans for Friends of Mine:  The DuranDuranFans Convention.  On the first and most of the second day, the two women stuck to their friends and didn’t exchange many words beyond simple pleasantries.  Then, during the dinner/dance portion of the convention, they both found themselves at the bar ordering vodka tonics.  They laughed a little at sharing the same favorite drink.  As the night progressed and more vodka tonics were consumed, the two women found themselves to be a part of the same group heading out onto Bourbon Street for more partying.  At one point, late at night or early in the morning, the two women realized that they were appreciating the company of the other and seemed to get along easily.

Fast forward a few months when Duran Duran announced the long-awaited Astronaut tour.  The two again found themselves in the same group planning to attend the Chicago show together.  Tickets were purchased and hotel rooms were reserved.  By the Saturday night of that weekend, they discovered that despite all of their differences, being around the other made them laugh and not just laugh a little.  No, they laughed a LOT, more than a lot, an excessive amount.  From there on out, they decided to stick together in their fandom journey, sharing a lot more than the love of a little band and an alcohol beverage.

This, obviously, is how Rhonda and I became friends.  Over time, the group surrounding us shrunk, changed members, added members and more.  Yet, at the heart, is always the two of us.  After that first touring weekend in March of 2005, we have gone to countless others.  Sometimes, we have gone to shows without each other, but, when that happens, it is always just a little weird.  Just recently Rhonda commented on a blog post that we are a packaged deal.  In 2005, on our first tour, if someone had said that to us, we probably would have laughed.  While we enjoyed hanging out that weekend, we would not have assumed that we would have formed an unbreakable bond, but we did.

This bond that began on tour in 2005, deepened at shows and a dreaded festival in 2006, grew substantially stronger as 2008 came to a close for a simple reason.  We decided that our fandom was unique and that we wanted to understand more.  Thus, we began a journey into figuring out fandom, ourselves and our friendship by researching fandom.  Through that process, we learned a lot and improved our writing and research skills.  Then, we dove into the idea of writing a daily blog about being Duran fans, which has brought us incredible amounts of joy as well as some painfully frustrating situations.  From there, we began meet-ups and organized a convention with some of our friends.  Of course, in between, we have also been to a tour or three.  Soon enough, in 2018, we will head to Indianapolis to share some of what we have found out about our female dominated fandom to a significant Popular Culture convention.  All of this, we hope, will just be the beginning.  The beginning of what, we are not sure, but one thing is very true.  I definitely would not have done any of this without her.

Now, today, I celebrate not only her early birthday (it is actually on Tuesday) but I also celebrate our friendship.  I appreciate our differences but cheer our similarities.  For example, we still do appreciate our vodka tonics:

Cheers!

Obviously, we love the heck out of going to Duran Duran shows!  They are truly our happy place.

Chula Vista

Sometimes, we share insane ideas and even follow through with them, such as when we felt it necessary to go and recreate a favorite fashion choice.

 

 

 

 

 

Many times, we enjoy planning meet-ups and conventions!  I suspect that there will be one for the Vegas show in December.  Watch this space.

Our meet up!

We definitely both appreciate the DoJo!

Of course, we created this blog and have kept it going for over 7 years now!  We are committed.  Of course, some might say that this is proof that we should be committed…

Of course, I cannot forget the love we have for Simon’s dancing!

In all seriousness, I would have not have done everything that we have done without my partner-in-crime.  Rhonda keeps me going, keeps me laughing and keeps me focused on doing what must be done.  I have learned a lot about friendship, about working with others, about being a better person and friend because of her.  I truly am the lucky one.  So, on this Sunday, I wish her an early happy birthday!  Then, on Tuesday, I get to wish her a real happy birthday!  I hope you will all join me both today and on Tuesday!

-A

Happy Birthday John!

Happy Birthday John!!

So, there are some blogs I feel woefully unqualified to write. A birthday blog for this particular person slides in that general direction from time to time.

First of all, Amanda is the “John-girl” around here. Not that I don’t admire John, but it seems unfair that I get to write for Roger, Dom AND John, you know?  The idea of writing a birthday blog for each member seemed great in year one of the blog. Even years two through five were good. I still had things to say and memories to replay.  But now, I think this is what, year six? I’m going to be honest: I don’t think I know John very well.

Yes, there’s his book. Some might say he wrote a lot in there. (I’m actually one of those people) I felt he exposed himself pretty selflessly.  Even so, I’ve had almost no interactions with him over the years, so I can’t write from personal experience.

I mean, unless you count shows.  John amazes me at shows sometimes, because there I am, one little face in a crowd of thousands, and even when I’ve been back a few rows, sometimes he’ll make eye contact. Unlike with other members of the band – when John is looking at you, you know he’s looking at you.  There was this one time Amanda and I were at the House of Blues in Atlantic City (I hope that’s right. I get this stuff screwed up a lot) and it was during the last leg of Red Carpet Massacre shows here in the US. They were just starting the song Red Carpet Massacre, which happens to be my favorite off of that album. John gets the crowd clapping along, and I started to clap and happened to look up. He caught my eye, and slightly shook his head because, wouldn’t you know it – I was clapping wrong. (I know there’s a lesson for fans in here about paying proper attention at shows…) I watched carefully and started clapping appropriately and received a big grin. It was only later that I was mortified that I had to be taught correctly by John….

There’s that other time at the Sears Center when I tested the line of sight from the stage because I wasn’t quite convinced John could really see all the way to the ninth row. Amanda and I were having the time of our lives that night, dancing and singing to every song as though we’d never gone to a Duran Duran concert before. We were having a blast. I think the band began Electric Barbarella, and I pulled a face. In fairness, it isn’t my favorite song and hey, who can really see us in the ninth row anyway??

Well, I look up, and John Taylor is laughing and looking our way. I don’t think much of it because, seriously, there are eight rows of wonderful people in front of me. He wasn’t looking at us. But then he kind of kept looking and seemed to be at least chuckling, so I did what any normal fan would not do, and stuck my tongue out playfully. I figured that no response would tell me that of course he wasn’t looking at us. Well, he returned the favor.  I laughed. Because really, what could I do?? He caught me fair and square!

Oh, and then there’s Valley Center in 2011. This was just as they were getting themselves back into touring mode after having canceled their UK tour that spring. It was the first show I was going to see them at, and I was pretty emotional that night because for a while there, I really had my doubts about whether Simon would ever really be able to sing the same again. I was worried. Nothing more, nothing less. So that night was different because of my emotions, because Amanda wasn’t with me…and because I also had my less-than-emotional husband with me, and we were in the second row.

By that time, I am pretty sure everyone knew I didn’t love Hungry Like the Wolf…but when they started playing it that night, I know I rolled my eyes, and didn’t really dance much. Well, I was right there in row TWO, and who should come bounding over to Dom’s side of the stage but John. AND Dom. AND Simon. Yes, it was choreographed that way at the time, but during the “Do do do” section of the song (you all know what I mean), John looks down at me, grins like a damn Cheshire cat and sings the line right at me, grinning the entire time.

Ok then, John. Even my husband, who typically doesn’t notice much, noticed. And so did Dom, who openly laughed. There was no way I was going to get away without singing. And let’s face it, John didn’t know that I was sick to death of that song at the time. I’m sure he doesn’t read the blog. He just knew that I was at his show and wasn’t singing along…and he was going to fix it. So he did.

I make sure to sing EVERY song (and clap correctly) when I go to shows now. Lesson learned, point taken.

I don’t know. Fans have often said to me that John doesn’t seem to interact much from the stage. Pretty much everyone complains about his absence from social media, although everyone and their brother seems to think they know exactly why he left. Even with his book, and his book tour, the shows and the things he goes out of his way to do for various charities – and the meet and greets he does for those types of organizations, people say he doesn’t interact. I’ve even said I don’t know him.

The thing is, I think with John, we really do kind of know who he wants us to know. Not everyone is comfortable with that “in your face” constantly kind of atmosphere that goes along with celebrity. John reminds me just a little of myself, in that when I go “on tour” with Amanda, by the time we’ve had a meet up or hung out with people all weekend, or even just all night, I’m ready for some downtime. By the end of a weekend with friends, I’m happy to retreat back into obscurity. It is hard to be “ON” all of the time, and I’m no celebrity. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to be in the band and never get away from it.

I think that’s why the boundaries are there, and why someone like John has learned to keep them rock solid. Sure, I miss him on social media, so much so that when DDHQ does tweet a picture or a video or something from him, I love it. It’s not the same as when he’d tweet us directly or whatever, but it’s probably healthier for him, and I respect that.

I look forward to seeing him onstage in a few weeks. Hopefully I will have my clapping and singing up to snuff!  Happy birthday John!!

-R

Happy Birthday Nick!

Happy Birthday to Nick – our favorite keyboardist!

The word “rapid” comes to mind today.  “The years fly by, in rapid succession.”  I would swear I just wrote a birthday blog for him, and here I am, writing another!

Every year, I try to come up with some sort of personal anecdote when I’m writing a birthday message. It isn’t always easy because I don’t see the band every year (although it’s fantastic when I do!). This year though, I think I might have one!

My favorite “Nick” moment as of late has been at the shows. Since the most recent (for me) was the second show at Agua Caliente in March, I’ll go with that one. In the past few years, I’ve been lucky enough to get good seats at the shows. By “good” I mean that we’re in the first few rows, and I have a decent line of sight to the band. In March though, I was up front and center which afforded me the opportunity to really be able to see every band member and watch their expressions at various times during the show.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it, but “Hungry Like the Wolf” is not my favorite song.  I know, I know, it’s hard to believe, isn’t it….given that the band plays it at EVERY SINGLE SHOW.  Well, as the opening chords begin, I have a difficult time of not rolling my eyes. I can’t swear to it, but I think the band might know this, because there have been moments when I would swear upon a stack of bibles that some members look my way when it starts just to see my reaction. Typically, I hang my head in defeat for a brief second, then remember that – oh yes, they can see me (whether or not they really do isn’t the point) – and I try to get back in the program. I’ll look up, and invariably, Nick is peering down over his keyboards with the most amused expression on his face.

(I almost hate to let him down by not having a reaction….even though I think he knows that yes, of course I expect them to play it. And sometimes, they even play it TWICE because they have to start over. Really?? Is that even necessary????)

Truthfully, I don’t even know if he’s looking at me. It seems like he might be, but I don’t know. I’ve never asked!  So, I go about the business of singing and dancing along because really, what am I going to do, just stand there?!?

Then there’s later in the show, when “White Lines” comes on. Now this song has always been one of my favorites when they play it live. There’s just something about it, and that “something” is the hard-driving guitar. (and the guy playing it isn’t bad either…but that’s another story for another blog later in the month) In ANY case, over the past couple of years, and remarkably coinciding with the closer seating that Amanda and I have paid an outstanding amount of money to be in, the song has taken on a little different of a meaning.

Basically, it marks the point in the performance where I grow increasingly worried about how close my seats may or may not be to “the spit zone”.  Several years back, I’d rock out with out much care. I’d see Simon spit the water up into the audience and think “eww” glad I’m not up there. Well, lately, I have been up there, and I gotta tell you – I am semi-convinced that sometimes – there’s been a little bit more “aim” placed on the spitting!

However, this most recent time at Agua Caliente, we were right there. I didn’t give that much of a thought until “White Lines” began. All of the sudden, I realized what was about to happen. I couldn’t stop the look of shock and horror that went across my face, and again, I happened to look Nick’s way. I didn’t even know he could still smile that wide….

Even so, I tried to brush the thought aside while in my head I was thinking “Did Nick seriously just nearly CACKLE onstage while looking my way? Nahhhh….Couldn’t be.” Instead, I lost myself in the song and in a particular fangirl moment involving a guitar player.  Before I knew it, I was watching Simon head toward the drum riser to grab a bottle of water and take a drink. I knew what was coming, so I did what any sane person would have done and just looked down.

I felt the deluge hit the back of my head and run down my back as I winced and laughed. I mean, I didn’t see Simon spit, but he had to have aimed right for us. Come on now! I looked up, and Nick was laughing while looking right at the front. I laughed too, because it was FUNNY! I remember how horrified I was the first time – way back in Biloxi during the All You Need is Now tour, and how disgusted I was by the whole thing. I don’t know why, I don’t know how – but I don’t care so much anymore. After all, I’ve been “baptized” a few times now. The shock has worn off, but my reaction probably won’t change much. It’s still funny. And really weird. But whatever. It’s a thing, and while Amanda and I still hate it, I’ll admit I’m amused, and Nick’s reaction is priceless, whether or not he’s really looking my way or not.

All of this reminds me of a time not so long ago when Nick was missing from the shows. It’s true that MNDR did an outstanding job and musically, I didn’t notice much of a difference without Nick there. That said, to look up and see someone manning the keyboards during that time was just wrong – and I’m glad Nick is back touring with the band again. I can’t help but smile when I see his 10,000 watt grin. We don’t see it often enough.

Happy birthday, Nicholas. I hope you have a wonderful day, and I’ll see YOU in about a month!

-R

Happy Early Birthday Rhonda!

I like to believe that my timing is pretty good.  If I want to be on time, I can be.  This time, though, I’m even a little early.  What am I early for?  I’m early in wishing my partner-in-crime, my fellow blogger and Duranie a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!  Tomorrow is the actual day but Monday’s aren’t my day to blog, typically.  On top of that, I will also be at work for at least 12 hours as I put in a full day and hold four hours of parent-teacher conferences after.  Thus, I’m using my Sunday blogging opportunity to write a little blog, celebrating not only my best friend’s birthday but also to cheer the friendship that we have.

In looking back at a friendship that began in 2004, I recognize that we have shared quite a few emotions and a number of significant events together.  I believe that strong emotions and significant experiences help to solidify friendships so that they can endure the up and down nature of life and relationships.  This blog, then, will attempt to shed light on some of those feelings and events.
Excitement:
One thing is for sure—a lot of our friendship has been fueled by our shared excitement for Duran Duran happenings.  Looking back, this began in December of 2004 when a flurry of phone calls took place surrounding upcoming tour dates supporting the reunion album of Astronaut.  I still recall the feeling of pure joy in calling Rhonda mid-day later that week to report that I indeed was able to acquire VIP tickets for us for the Chicago show in March 2005.  Of course, this type of activity has been repeated countless times since.  The most recent being when the band released the video for Last Night in the City, inspiring repeated viewing and a little video review, which you can see here:

Joy:
In many cases, those feelings of excitement translate to pure joy when the anticipation becomes reality.  For us, over the years, generally, the joy has come from screaming, singing and dancing at a Duran Duran concert.  It might even come when we squee over DoJo.  The first one was in Chicago and the last one was in Chula Vista, California, with shows in between in various locations like  the Northeast, the Southeast and even the UK.
Chula Vista
Chula Vista
 Curiosity:
Of course, our fandom has been more than video releases and concerts.  A lot of our fandom has been about talking, thinking, discussing about all things Duran.  I think of countless examples of times that we have watched or listened to something together.  Last year, for example, we exchanged a series of text messages as the lyrics to different songs on Paper Gods sunk in.  When we really paid attention to the lyrics of Last Night in the City and realized that the words described how we feel on tour, then the album began to take hold.  Years earlier, we viewed the brand new video for All You Need Is Now together, squeed in delight and picked apart the images we loved the most.  Sometimes, our need to discuss take place at strange times like when the video for Girl Panic came out.  I couldn’t wait to talk to Rhonda about how smart the video is so I called her from my classroom during my brief lunch hour.

Worry:
While our friendship has often surrounded fun and good times, we have also experienced moments of extreme worry.  We grieved when Andy left for the second time, for example.  Another instance was when we felt for that we were facing the end of Duran Duran when Simon lost his voice in 2011 and the UK spring tour had to be canceled.  There we were in the UK, having flown for four shows and getting none.  Instead of staying away from all things Duran, we ventured out to the band’s studio where we witnessed Simon explain that he didn’t think he was going to be able to sing followed by John’s look of devastation.  Like others there, we put on a brave face.  Rhonda and I did what was logical.  We went for ice cream to drown our sorrows in dairy and sugar.
Ice Cream makes it all better
We did what any heartbroken American would do. We had ice cream.
 Hard Work:
Unlike almost all of my other friendships, Rhonda and I took a very brave, but risky step to do more than just be friends.  We decided that we would work together.  Sometimes, this decision brought us closer together when we faced challenges and bonded over a shared realized that only we could understand what we experienced.  Other times, we pushed and pulled against each other, wanting to dig in our heels about something or another while at the same time reaching for compromise.  I look back at some of those moments and realize that the push and pull always brought out the best in us even if it wasn’t always easy.  Yet, we weren’t afraid to have those little disagreements, knowing that our foundation as friends was strong.  Clearly, we have worked well together on this blog, with fan events, with a convention and even with writing, despite any and all setback.  Truly, I didn’t just gain a friend but someone that helps me bring out the best in me.
Very proud
Very proud
Fun:
The thing is that a lot of friendship surrounds fun.  Sometimes, our hard work has led us to celebrate.  At other times, it is simply being together that brings fun, whether in person, on the phone or via Skype.  Luckily, many of our in person good times have been at Duran shows.  I won’t lie.  We have held many “all night parties” and enjoyed many “cocktail bars”.  At the end of day, there isn’t much better than having a vodka tonic or two and laughing over some ridiculous quote that one of us had uttered.
Durham drunk
Appreciate:
Looking at all of these emotions that we have experienced together, I also have to appreciate the little moments.  I look back at all the times we were in a car driving to or from a show.  Those moments were filled with listening to Duran while creating what we thought would make a great setlist.  Other little moments that I have enjoyed include going to art museums together, dancing to 80s music at a club, or simply talking or exchanging emails.
Our Paso Robles Setlist
Our Paso Robles Setlist
On this day then I celebrate our friendship and the person, the friend who puts up with me and who has shared all of these emotions with me.  My world would be a lot smaller, a lot less fun and a lot less happy.  On that note, then,  I wish her the happiest of birthdays and many more to follow!  I also hope that all of you wish her a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!
-A

Happy 58th Birthday Simon!

So as I write this on Wednesday, Simon’s birthday is tomorrow. He will be 58, which is mind-boggling.  I would swear we miscounted. He doesn’t seem 58. He doesn’t look 58. Must be all that good clean living, right?  <big toothy grin here>

I don’t know how many more of these stories I’ll have for members of Duran Duran. It isn’t as though I run into them every day, but I do have one this year with Simon that I don’t think I’ve written about on the blog before.

This past summer, I saw Duran Duran in Toronto with Amanda and our friend Heather, whom I’ve mentioned on the blog before. Many times, actually. (Hi Heather!!) The three of us went to the show and then went to a nearby hotel for after show libations. As we sat in the lounge, we saw Dave come through and look around. I kind of figured that a band member would come in after that, and sure enough it wasn’t long before Simon stepped in.

Here’s the thing. Simon makes me nervous. Granted, I am shy (in person) to begin with, but he genuinely freaks me out. I never know how he’s going to react, and as such, I try to steer clear. I stay in my seat, I order drinks, and in a lot of ways I just hope the sofa opens up and swallows me whole.

Not that long after Simon came into the lounge, he does the unthinkable and starts walking over towards us. Got to tell ya, my brain couldn’t quite compute what was happening. I mean, walking out way? I’d have thought there was someone on the other side of the room – but we were close to the corner. Nope, he was headed towards us. I didn’t know what to do, so I got up. Drinks had arrived, and feeling like I needed something in my hand, I grabbed mine as he started to address us.

Except that he wasn’t addressing us. He was talking to Heather. This made me smile. Heather hasn’t been to many shows. She went with Amanda and I to the Hollywood Bowl, UC Berkeley and Agua Caliente last fall, and then to a show in Canada (Montreal I believe), and then to Toronto with us again. Yet, Simon knew her by name and was quite insistent he’d met her before.

He had no idea, however, who Amanda and I were. Not that I think he should – in fact, I was kind of relieved he didn’t, even though Amanda and I had met him in Los Angeles at the Ace Hotel after the David Lynch show and he knew who we were then. I even looked him in the eye and told him my name, and said “You really don’t know me, right?” To which he solemnly replied, “No”.  I had to repress my grin as he then toasted each of us on a lovely evening and went about his way. He was nothing but nice and respectful.  He left Heather over-the-moon by recognizing her, and Amanda and I giggled for many hours over the entire scene.

Never mind that not two weeks later, Simon saunters up to the front of the stage with a full mouth of water during White Lines, begins swirling it around in his mouth like he would during a wine tasting, looks right out at us….and swallows the water…because it is a verse too early, and I think he knew that. So during the right verse (or was it chorus?) he goes back, gets the water, comes to the front of the stage….and douses us.

I will miss moments like that. I’m glad the memory is vivid enough to last me a while.  😀

Happy Birthday Simon. You still freak me out a bit, and I’m honestly not sure if you like Amanda and I, hate us, or just really enjoy teasing the hell out of us…but I enjoyed seeing you on stage this summer and you made the shows fun for me. Thank you!

-R

Happy Birthday Simon!

One of the most delightful things about social networking (Twitter, Facebook, Google+…etc.) is seeing all of the birthday shout-outs, photos and messages. Today, my Facebook news feed and Twitter timelines are filled to the gills with shout-outs and photos from Duranies around the world, for Simon, who celebrates his 56th birthday today!

Amanda and I have done our share of good-natured teasing at Simon’s expense over the years, but yes – it’s good natured and we tease purely because we love. However, we also know the world would not be the same without him. After all, this IS Daily Duranie, which would not be in existence had he never graced this planet.

Each time I see the band live, or even on TV, there is something very comforting about seeing Simon take the stage with the band. It just feels right.  Maybe it’s really just the familiarity with having him as the front man for so many years, maybe it’s that he feels like extended family at this point (that has absolutely no idea who the rest of us are), or maybe it’s just that for me, Duran Duran wouldn’t be Duran Duran without him. I’m not sure. I just know that I can’t help but smile when he is standing there, center stage, ready to go……(as long as he’s not coming towards us with a mouth full of water and they’re playing White Lines).

So, we raise our martinis (it’s REALLY early for this my time, and as dedicated as I might be to the cause…eek!) in a celebratory toast to Simon.  We hope this next year brings plenty of health, happiness, love, music….and some damn shows!!!!

(I couldn’t resist.  Sorry.)

Happy Birthday Simon!!

-R