April 2004 Archives
And so the other night, after the laziest Sunday I can remember (shopping, followed by watching the Yanks lose, followed by watching Liege-Bastogne-Liege, peaceful evening, and Kill Bill), I happened to hit the local cable news channel for three seconds and found footage of 5 idiot protesters who had managed to drag a stupid reporter and a cameraman out to the Capitol on a Sunday to say that a year later, we haven't done anything. The reporter intoned that "People are saying nothing has been done," which I guess is true in a general sense if the only people you listen to are these 5 idiots, none of whom we've even heard of before.
So, my only possible response, being both highly agitated and a huge "South Park" fan, was one I don't exactly want to repeat here, but let's just say it involved the words "suck," "my," and "balls." In that order. Patient spouse, also a fan, helpfully suggested, "Shouldn't you add 'salty'?" She was right, it did sound better that way.
Now, if only he would do something with Joan Cusack in it . . . .
Wait a minute! "The Humans," a bleak, hard-edged new wave band from the early '80s, had 18 years earlier been one of the seminal surf bands? That's like telling me the Beach Boys morphed into The Cars -- it doesn't even make sense. Everyone knows that new wave bands were all young turks, not seasoned veterans. More importantly, how could this have escaped my notice? Me, who just weeks ago was able to remember, apropos of nothing, that the completely forgotten Plugz had morphed into the barely remembered Cruzados? (Me, who really has to consult a calendar to remember birthdays and anniversaries.)
I'm too stunned by this information to continue. (But I'm a little disappointed my true musical confessions didn't spark more vitriol . . . I know the comments function has been iffy this weekend, but I expected at least some digital vomiting over my selections. Part 2 to come, I assure you.)
- "Billy Don't Be a Hero" by Bo Donaldson & The Heywoods. Actually, my favorite of theirs was "Who Do You Think You Are," which had a neat kind of groove to it, as well as something funky going on in the 45 pressing that made it just a little out of round and sounding slightly off. But this one was guaranteed to send my then-future-wife completely off the edge if I so much as threatened to play it, which made it a very useful tool in my arsenal.
- "Clap for the Wolfman" by The Guess Who. I didn't understand how the ring tone industry could be worth billions until just now, when I learned that this deliciously awful, lame and somehow intriguing tribute to Wolfman Jack could be my ringtone. I actually wasn't a Wolfman Jack fan when this song came out, and it has little to do with him other than offering his voice in the breaks, but years later his syndicated show was the only thing that kept me from using the pasteup knife to slit my wrists on lonely Sunday afternoons waxing newspaper dummies (don't ask), and I thought he did a stunning turn in "American Graffiti," so I'll admit this song even shows up on my iPod.
- "Run Joey Run" by David Geddes. Everything about this song about teenage pregnancy and murder is creepy. Once I found the album in a thrift store and bought it as a goof, but the album was even creepier than the song, which hit number 4 on the Billboard charts in 1975. Number 4. The singer was a standard '70s issue long-haired babyfaced teenager, and the back cover featured liner notes by the songwriter, who gushed about having found his singer in a way that was, again, creepy. This kid also charted something called "The Last Game of the Season (Blind Man in the Bleachers)", a big steaming pile of '70s crap -- the kind of song that was very common then but that we've completely forgotten about now. Time doesn't wash away all sins, but it does tend to get rid of things like this. And yet, I'd play this awful thing right now if I had it still . . . like a scab I have to pick at.
- "MacArthur Park" by Richard Harris, or, frankly, by anyone except Donna Summer. God, what a squeezed-out gob of nonsense. Is it a drug song by someone who's never done drugs? But god help me, I love to listen to Harris taking this giant hunk of cheese and throttling it to death. (It also always puts me in mind of Dave Thomas's SCTV spoof on Harris in "A Man Called Horse")
- "Get Dancin'" by Disco Tex and the Sex-O-Lettes (aka Monty Rock III). "My chiffon is wet, darling, my chiffon is wet." Need I say more?
The others in the top 10? "Achy Breaky Heart," "Everybody Have Fun Tonight," "Ice Ice Baby," "Don't Worry Be Happy," "Party All the Time," "Ebony and Ivory" -- yes, deep suckage there. Limpbizkit's "Rollin'" I've never even heard, nor did I hear Madonna's "American Life." In at Number 6 is one I might easily have put up in the top 5, the unbelievably successful "The Heart of Rock & Roll," by Huey Lewis, an artist whose popularity was as mystifying as that of Hootie and the Blowfish. I just didn't f'ing get it.
Can't wait to see the whole list. How could there be 41 songs that are worse than Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire"? Or 50 worse than Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" -- a song that was almost totally redeemed, with tongue in cheek, by Los Straitjackets in a murderously funny, spot-on Ventures surf-rock version that is, to my thinking, one of the best songs in all of rock 'n' roll.
While we're on the musical theme, this week I did something I haven't done in about 24 years -- I bought a copy of Rolling Stone. When I was hip, RS was never nearly hip enough for me, and they weren't covering bands I cared about at all (had to turn to Trouser Press and other lesser-known rags for that). But I was stuck with a lot of air time this week, Uma Thurman (that well-known musical act) (well, she's a siren, anyway) was on the cover, there was a story on Chris Rock, and my normal info-porn, Entertainment Weekly, seemed particularly thin. Know what? It didn't suck. That's how un-hip I am now.
Answers to random comment questions: 147 degrees or so. Pictures are appearing at my flog. I, too, as a boy believed the purpose of dolls was to pop their heads off -- except for superhero dolls, which, as we all know, are not "dolls" at all, but "action figures," which is a completely different thing.
Tonight, I really must talk about the Worst Songs of All Time List . . . .
- Tourist trap signage that took me the long way around to my destination, conveniently right past the local amusement park.
- A multi-family apartment house with a Dr Pepper machine on the front porch. Dr Pepper is very big here.
- One crappy abandoned building after another.
Hot Springs: Utica without the charm Hot Springs: Niagara without the falls. Hot Springs: Come for the soothing waters, stay for the Crapetorium. Hot Springs: Where Bill Clinton learned about sex!
- A man who at some point in his life put his right arm and some of his left hand somewhere where they didn't belong. The remains looked painful.
- A dead possum as big as a river raccoon.
- Lots and lots of makeup. There isn't an uncurled female eyelash for several hundred miles.
- A pileated woodpecker that may have been thinking of attacking me on my bike.
Rebekah tonight was very industriously cutting and taping paper together to make a "portable DVD player", which she explained needed the quotes around it because it was pretend. She did a nice job, and used a set of earmuffs for headphones. When we went upstairs at the end of the night, she was sitting on the toilet, headphone/earmuffs attached to the "player" by a string, bopping along to the imaginary music coming from her "portable DVD player." So funny, so sweet.
Also, one of the dolls is being bad. Some of the dolls that have come into this house have been bad from the day they arrived; others just get that way. In this case, it's Clara, who stands about 2-1/2 feet tall. She's been awfully bad lately, and gets tied up as a result. Today, she broke the new monkey's leg. For this, she was sent to Workville, which is were bad people go at Hogwarts (ours, not the licensed version). With her was sent a note explaining her transgressions, which included the admonition that "If Clara has a black or an orange monkey with her, please call us and we will come and get it." For some reason that just tickled me -- they knew she could get up to mischief, even in Workville, and they weren't going to put up with it. Too funny.
We held Bekah's birthday parties there. We ordered pizza. I joined the girls after work on dozens of nights.We had watergun fights and played basketball. We got stung by wasps and threw waterballs and giggled a lot. The air was always filled with the cries of "Marco! Polo!" When the sun started to get low behind the tall trees, we'd switch to the lower pool and try to stretch the evening a little longer. Then we'd drive home with wet bottoms.
The place had been threatened by the value of its many acres for years, and of course in our modern America a swimming pool is within the credit limit of the most modest of homeowners, and we don't like to share, so the natural constituency for such a place is fairly small. But for those of us who aren't even slightly interested in putting in the space, money and work that a pool requires, this was paradise, and it was a place to go to, a destination, something to do on long summer evenings. Membership kept dropping, and last summer it was too rainy early on and they just didn't get enough members, and apparently that was it. Generations grew up with this simple little place, and I'm sad for my children that I can't give them someplace like that anymore. I've put up a couple of photos from several years back at my Fotolog, but it's hard to convey the place and I never took a lot of pictures there because it was just a place to be. But yes, that is a giant green concrete dinosaur. There was a pink castle that was perfect for watergun fights, too. All lost to us now. Honestly, I couldn't be sadder if someone had died. What will we do for summer now?
I've become accustomed to the idea that my pilot will be younger than I am, and in general that's probably a good thing. But I do think my pilot should be at least drinking age (not that I want him drinking, mind you), and I'm not sure that was the case yesterday. Also spent some time obsessing with the way crashes of these planes are reported -- they always give the name of the actual operator, which in this case would be the utterly unheard-of Champlain Air, when a plane like this crashes, rather than the name of the airline they're flying for (in this case, Continental). I think this makes it sound like the people who climbed on board that commuter plane had it coming, because who the hell would book a flight on Champlain Air? I want this practice stopped, now.
Still, as wet and miserable as it was, I was a lot safer dropping out of the sky than I would have been on the Thruway. I kept telling myself that as my stomach slowly returned to normal last night.
Saturday's flights to Arkansas had better be smooth as float glass, baby.
So, we focused on the Spring elements of this holiday, and here's what we did: begged off an Easter meal with my mother because I just didn't want to have to be anywhere this weekend. (Or any weekend, for that matter.) Got up and checked out the Easter baskets -- the rabbit brings a little bit of candy and a little bit of summer clothing. For me, the rabbit brings malted chocolate eggs. Had oatmeal for breakfast. Watched the end of "Spider-Man" from the night before. Dyed Easter eggs, which, because I am a bad parent, we had never done before. Had a general breakdown around the dying of Easter eggs, which reminded me why we hadn't done it before. Sang along to "American Pie," the girls' current favorite song, and changed the refrain to "This'll be the day that I dye." (Which was true.) Then Lee hid plastic eggs around the yard for the girls to find. Then the girls hid the eggs again for each other. Then they made us lunch, which was very sweet. I made some genuine hot cocoa from scratch (because why the f is there corn syrup in those mixes? Jeez), dumped it into the Nuclear Thermos, and off we went for a back-road trip past the buffalo farm and down to Nutten Hook, a nice little spot along the river where I have some history (professional, not personal), and took a hike up to the old ice house. Once there were more than 70 ice houses along the Hudson River. There's hardly even a sign of any of them any more. This site has the outer walls of the power house that they used to run machinery, and the chimney of the power house, and then just the foundation of what was a massive ice warehouse. I'll post some pictures here later on. Lovely little hike. Lots of wildflowers in bloom. We could hear turkeys but couldn't see them. Bekah found a lovely piece of granite encrusted with quartz crystals, mostly quite tiny but very shiny (once I scrubbed several eons of Hudson River mud off them). We drank the hot chocolate along the river and generally had a lovely afternoon.
See? Just telling that made me feel a little better about summer being cancelled. (Well, not much better.)
- Would it be too much to ask that the dishwasher know it needs to be run, and that it fill its own detergent cups and run during the night when I don't have to listen to it? I keep waking up to extreme spoon shortages as a result of my failure to remember to run the thing the night before. I don't like to run it when I'm in the kitchen because it's loud and I can't hear the music.
- Fighting for a comeback in French. Had an abysmal test a couple of weeks back (84). I know it doesn't matter, I'm not taking this for a grade. Easy for you to say, unless you're Type A like me, in which case you understand that I must excel at everything. Dammit. I was working harder (part of the problem being a complete lack of time to study), and then we hit the subjunctive, which is easy to get in concept but the conjungation requires math and has LOTS of irregulars -- like, just about every verb you'd use in a subjunctive context -- so it's been a massive brick block for me. Must . . . preserve . . . 4.0!
- Is the "Now Playing" window off to the right at all interesting? Are you looking to see if you recognize the songs? What is the point of that thing, anyway? I don't know, but for some reason I like it.
- Watched "O Brother Where Art Thou?" last night. Just about every moment of that movie takes my breath away, often in different ways. George Clooney is a monster of comic timing (and he did it again in "Intolerable Cruelty," but more subtly), Tim Blake Nelson is creepy/scary/kinda loveable all at the same time, John Turturro finds some new range (and is in fact barely recognizable), and John Goodman repeats his surprising good-natured menace from "Barton Fink," which in fact may need to be my movie of the night tonight.
- Girls want desperately to see "Scooby Doo 2" and "Ella Enchanted." I'm voting for "Ella." We'll see. It looks good, but people keep comparing it to "The Princess Bride," the charm of which I just didn't see. I liked Mandy Patinkin in it, which is odd, because I usually can't stand him. Maybe it's just the Billy Crystal thing, which is minor but I've gone from thinking he was very funny (30 years ago) to thinking he's an unfunny creep whose best stuff was just a reflection of Christopher Guest.
- Didn't go to NYC yesterday, but didn't get to goof off, either. Turned into the Good Friday from Hell, which I'm sure is some form of blasphemy, but I don't care. Usually it is a very quiet day because nearly the whole world takes it off, but yesterday was just insane. I took my bike and bike clothes to work, thinking I'd sneak out for an hour or two, or slip out early. I was going to leave at 2, then 3, then 4, and by the time I did leave at 4:45, the wind had kicked up sufficiently that I really didn't want to ride in shorts (it was only 50, and the wind chill was down in the 30s), so I bagged it and came home and took the second pre-dinner nap shift -- Lee was on the first shift when I got home.
- Today, I'm aimless. Should have blown some dough and taken Mount Snow up on a great skiing package deal for the weekend, but was worried about various low-grade colds running around the house (Bek's a mess this morning), so wisely didn't do that. It's sunny but only 42 right now. I'll get in a ride this afternoon, but don't have any better plans. I'm so totally exhausted from work that I really can't get home projects together in my head. At least need to mop, which got mised last weekend because the mop broke.
- Next weekend at this time I'll be on a plane to Arkansas. Now what the f did I do to deserve that?!
Really too obscure to explain.
"if I had sufficiently grana with certainty I would have one"
Which struck me as sufficiently close to "You Shall Know Our Velocity" to serve as a book title, or at least a short story title.
Lots of Courtney Love in the news lately as she enjoys an extremely public and fascinating breakdown, much of which I've been able to enjoy through Howard Stern. And because the iPod is psychic, it served up "Rock Star" while I was grocery shopping tonight, and I may have been singing "Well I went to school! In Olympia!" a little louder than would be strictly in keeping with my public image. At least I'm sure I wasn't singing "we even fuck the same!" out loud. I don't think. (Oh, guess I should have added the parental advisory up front, eh? My position on "bad words" is generally to make my kids aware of them, make them realize that people will think less of them if they use them, that they will not use them around adults or their parents, and to realize that by the time I was Hannah's age, "fuck" was a regular part of my vocabulary although I had only the vaguest sense of what it actually meant.) Anyway, there's little that is more fun than screaming along to Hole while wandering the yogurt aisle at the Hannaford.
Speaking of blasphemy, I had the bad taste (or lack of forethought) today, upon learning that my trip to NYC this Friday coincides with Good Friday, meaning the trains back north will be jammed all afternoon, to exclaim, "Good Friday?! Jesus Christ." And I wasn't even trying to be funny.
Tomorrow? Playing hooky! Chaperoning a fifth grade trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame, the only trip on which they don't have to beg parents to come -- I'm told every kid in the class will have a parent tomorrow. Cool. The Hall of Fame rocks, by the way, and anyone who ever loved baseball even for five minutes really should go there. If you can't go there, then I highly recommend Richard Ford's "Independence Day," which has little to do with the Hall of Fame and nothing to do with baseball, but some of the pivotal action takes place up the street and at Doubleday Field, and it's just an incredibly excellent novel about a man adrift in mid-life.
By the way, a raft of new NYC pics at Fotolog, which has finally resolved its many many issues and seems to be running right again.
Speaking of miles (and this is as much of an aside as is possible), I wouldn't even mention this if someone else hadn't brought it up earlier this week. I'm not the anniversary type, but I will just say that Friday marked 20 years since I swore off demon rum. Or at least since I swore it off for the last time. There's nothing about being sick and hung-over that I have ever missed, and since I discovered the joys of the world's best olive oil, I can still get a kick out of Napa Valley.
Oddest shuffle mode ever. Chose "recently added" playlist, which is now shuffling among Elvis Costello's latest ("North"), several '60s surf music collections, Warner Brothers samplers from the '80s, and the absolute best of Abba.
By the way, note to self, next time I'm stuck in the B'gapple by myself, shouldn't I waste some of my free time trying to score a ticket to "Mamma Mia"? You know you want to.
I swear, sometimes I get so deep into a pronoun and tense shift that there's just no getting out.
I have spent the entire week thinking about Lost in Translation. How often does a movie stay with you for that long, especially a movie in which just about nothing happens?