March 2004 Archives
I don't usually let bumper stickers change my life, but many years ago I saw one that said "Look Twice / Save a Life / Motorcycles Are Everywhere," and ever since then I've been especially conscious of double-checking my mirrors before changing lanes, because a bike could be sitting on your corner and not be especially visible. Excellent advice. Applies to bicycles, too . . . so look twice, and don't run me over by accident. (On purpose is entirely a different thing.)
In fact, I find about 90% of drivers are pretty good about sharing the road, but one does tend to remember the others who think it's funny to run you off the edge, or who throw bottles at you, scream out the window, etc. (There's also a percentage who go way too far out of their way to give you room, way off in the other lane, far more likely to cause a massive accident than if they just gave you an extra foot or two.)
Hey, that deer carcass that was lying out by the firehouse on Phillips Road last fall? Deer skeleton now. Big old pile of rib bones really makes you look twice when you're flying by. Somewhat alarming sight.
Much media viewing lately. Watched "Ghostbusters" with the kids again this weekend. Can I just say? Sigourney Weaver? Yummy. Despite some very '80s hair. Lee and I watched "Lost in Translation" on pay-per-view (now actually priced lower than our video store, without the whole driving there and back thing). It was wonderful. Slow-paced, without flagging. Interesting that she was able to maintain a particular pace while still making it visually interesting. Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson were both incredible. I kept fearing at the end that Sofia Coppola might ruin it, that she might hit a wrong note and end up throwing them into bed together, but she held true to her story. It was beautiful.
Big TV discovery, for us anyway, of the last couple of weeks is "What Not To Wear" on BBC America, a makeover show on which at least one of the two hosts is virtually guaranteed to fondle the breasts of their subject, which adds a certain interest to the whole thing. Tuesdays at 9. Don't miss. And, Bravo's "Significant Others" is hilarious -- well-written, well-acted; first cable sitcom I can think of that is as good as (and actually better than) network fare.
What else? Oh, Johnny Depp in "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas." Perhaps this movie makes no sense to someone not familiar with the book, but to someone for whom the book and its author were once something more than role model, it's deeply, deeply funny. And nothing is funnier than when his attorney (Benicio Del Toro, not quite beefy enough for the Samoan, but who's to gripe?), totally done up on mescaline and devil ether, cannot figure out how to step off a carousel bar in Circus Circus. Viciously funny stuff, but it may be a "you had to live there" sort of thing. But a sudden and wide appreciation for the talents of Johnny Depp, who had also recently delighted in "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "Once Upon a Time in Mexico."
Huge ultimate vanity project -- growing out of the idea that anyone would be interested in what's on my iPod, you can now see what's actually playing on iTunes, updated every time the song changes. It's off to the right. If it doesn't change, it means I'm away from the computer, which is something I do from time to time. Or just not listening to music, which is less likely.
Oh, geez, I am going to hell, aren't I?
(After I posted this, I spent the rest of the morning with "LOLFP" irretrievably stuck in my head. Karma's a bitch.)
I was stunned to see one of my all-time favorite bands, The Church, featured with an Apple Music Store "Celebrity Playlist," particularly because I am dead certain that no one has ever heard of them. I've never met anyone who has said, "Oh, yeah! The Church! Dude!" when I've mentioned them. They had a little commercial success with a middling album about 13 years ago, and otherwise have flown under the radar, making incredible music all along the way. But, "celebrities"? I don't think so. Spouse's answer is that I'm not as cool as I think I am. Well, we know that's not so, so it must be something else . . . .
- That is just the tiniest fraction of my CD collection, to say nothing of the 600 or so vinyl albums I'm still stubbornly hanging onto (and slowly putting onto CD, hence the nearly complete lack of ABBA on the pod).
- Molly Hatchet? Molly Hatchet? Are you mad?
- Nine Inch Nails came at the wrong time for me; I was completely in a blues space then, and I never went back and caught up with it -- unlike Nirvana, who completely undid me with the Unplugged album. Suddenly, I got the entire thing, and loved it all.
- Never owned a single thing by Boz Scaggs, Faith No More, or even Dire Straits. Not sure why, although they mostly fall into the "that's nice but they don't need my money to support their careers" category. I lost track of Kathie Dawn, so I haven't heard the "Drag" disc, but I'll sample it.
- The omission of "The Juliet Letters" is, in fact, inexcusable, and I will rectify it immediately. In fact, the great good thing about the iPod is, as you may have heard me rant already, Intergalactic Shuffle Mode. It means that albums that are absolutely through-the-roof excellent while at the same time being only rarely listenable -- they may need to fit a certain mood, or too much exposure may just cause you to slit your wrists -- can be taken in small, random, shuffling pieces. Thus, Patti Smith, whom I love and will rarely listen to for 40 minutes at a stretch, gets much more play. Same with Anne Sofie von Otter, and Ute Lemper, and . . . hmm, perhaps it's an Elvis thing, eh?
- Britney, Avril, and a couple of others are there because my daughters wanted them. This is actually my iTunes list, and not EVERYTHING here makes the iPod. But nearly everything does.
- Now that you've got me looking at it, how can there only be one song by Cake? Where's the rest of my Tom Waits? How come Screamin' Jay Hawkins almost never comes up in shuffle mode?
- The Dondero High School Symphony Band and A Capella Choir's desperate wheeze through "Fox on the Run" and "Sunshine of Your Love" at first seemed funny as hell, but they have grown on me considerably as I think of how hard these kids worked to adapt these rock and roll classics for a very NOT rock and roll group. They dared to try to keep time, and that they failed matters not. These songs are classics.
God, it's like I'm 12, showing off my 45s. But I had this script, and just had to use it. All legal purchases, by the way. As a trained but extremely rusty writer, I have a slavish respect for copyright.
I know, there's a serious ABBA shortage. I'm working on it.
But the best things from Swire's were free -- the appliance boxes. If they sold a fridge or dryer, the box would sit out back. (Swire's was on Mohawk Avenue, the main drag of Scotia, with a great little alley along the side of the building leading back to a parking lot that opened on Glen Avenue. That alley loomed large in our navigation of the village by bicycle.) Now, if you're about 12 years old, there are a couple of ways to get a giant appliance box from the back of the store to someone's house a few blocks away. None of them involve a car. I suppose that a couple of kids could have walked up to the Swire's and just carried the box back home, but I don't think that ever happened. No, the approved method for moving an appliance box was by bike, two guys on their Sting-rays, flanking the box, reaching out to hold the flaps. If the box were smaller, it would be possible to hold it up in the air, but big boxes produced a significant amount of drag. No matter. The mechanics of two bicyclists navigating a gigantic cardboard box down streets and around corners are deserving of further study, especially when you consider that the other kids would be weaving around among them, not helping at all. Sometimes the box came loose and one or the other of the pullers, balance upset, would go sailing and have to re-collect and start up again. But we always got them home. We'd paint them, cut windows, knock them together (duct tape not generally available then, by the way), set up tunnels and forts and whatever. When our parents were sick of looking at the mess, we'd often enough burn it down, and then wait for the next time suitable boxes would appear in the back of the Swire's.
I think the Swire's went out of business before I was even out of high school. The store was taken over by a large and fairly successful independent appliance store. The alley is blocked off. I have no idea if kids in Scotia today can raid the back of the store for cardboard boxes. Very few of these kinds of stores still exist anywhere, and when they go out of business there's a general lament, but it's clear that we don't want them. We want clean and shiny and huge, not small and cramped and worn. Will kids ever treasure their trips to the big box stores the way I treasure the memory of that ratty old Swire's? I'm really not sure. I remember going to the big, shiny Two Guys, and to the Mohawk Mall when it was so new, and while there was something special about those places (there's something special about every place when you're in your teens, isn't there?), they would never be as important a part of our lives as the Swire's was.
I used to wonder when I would ever become a grown-up, which I thought meant something like "becoming fully yourself." As if that is ever done. A self is not a chalked body outline that you lie down in. It's more like writing letters back and forth, arguing with a friend and gradually changing your opinion with each new round of beers, or keeping an online journal in which all that posturing and constructing of personas slowly starts to change into a great big neon-flashing OH FUCK IT and a "Hi honey I'm home" to the world at large.
It's a French thing, you wouldn't understand.
But in learning that, I also learned that we're about to launch a set of nickels commemorating Manifest Destiny, or at least the amazing journey that set it off. Somehow I don't think the Sacagawea dollar is going to make up for the controversy that will likely attend our commemorating the Corps of Discovery. In any event, keelboat fans are finally going to get their commemorative nickel! We're both thrilled, I assure you.
False Spring came over the weekend, and took with it our snow cover, so now we're deep into the mud season after months of pleasant whiteness (despite our general lack of snow, we've had snow cover since December). The neighbor was out in his yard, trying to smooth out the ruts he'd made by parking his plow on his lawn. He was attempting to do this with his boots, so it was fun to watch. Me, following the old '60s tourism mantra, I tried to Discover The Garage and was largely successful. At least, successful enough to set up the new grill.
Did you know there's a place called Hot Springs, Arkansas, and that I have to go there next month? Did you further know that Arkansas is plopped down square on top of Louisiana? As a lifelong Northeasterner, I'm afraid I had to look at a map to get a solid sense of just exactly which one was Arkansas, though I think I would have gotten it by process of elimination. Their state quarter, as I recall, featured a diamond and a duck, which must have meant they could only dream of having someone of Helen Keller's stature (see Alabama's quarter) from their state. Time for a little culture shock. Maybe I'll get a chance to try out my French!
Compared to the conversations my parents had with me about sex . . . well, there's nothing to compare it to. I was expected to learn about it on the street, apparently. Luckily, we had a lot of older kids around to tell us lies. For pr0n, we had the Sears catalog and the occasional Holy Grail of old-newspaper-collecting, a Playboy collection, which we would then bury in the earth for later viewing. Mildewy wet paper still has a strong sexual connection for me. And that's more than you needed to know, I know . . . .