April 2004 Archives

Middle-school freakout

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The freakiest thing that happened to me at middle school orientation (Hannah's going to sixth next year) was the realization, at first dubious and then almost certain, but only confirmable once I was home and able to look in my high school yearbook, that my daughter's middle-school principal was once, long long ago, a teacher at my high school. I never had her, so I was only about 90% sure, but then I got home and looked her up and sure enough: Miss Towle, English. Annoyingly, she's aged less than I have, or at least I wouldn't have guessed her to be any older than I am. I wanted to go up and ask her if she had ever taught at Scotia, but then decided that if she hadn't, that might come off strange, so I let it go. After I told Lee, she said she was going to play the Scotia card, but I protest -- not her card to play. She's not a true Tartan (yeah, like I was). Hey, there were some people who got to go to the England Dan and John Ford Coley free concert in the Scotia gym, and there were many, many who didn't. If you weren't there, you don't get to play the Scotia card. (Okay, so exactly one reader will have any idea what I'm talking about. She knows who she is.)

Warm and sunny, finally

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Yes, it is supposed to be both warm and sunny. We've had warm and rainy, we've had cold and sunny, and we've had bodacious amounts of wind, but until now (well, one day when I was away, too), warm and sunny have eluded us. It's about damn time, too, because this year I'm being a wimp about riding/running/anything in the cold rainy mornings. I'm just not doing it, which leads to my overall lack of endorphins and and increasingly negative attitude, so that at work these days I'm sounding more like a dockworker than an executive, and really, that's got to stop. But when I got home last night Bekah showed me our trillium clump, more of them than ever before and in full, beautiful, hidden flower. Leaves are coming soon to the maples. Our cherry has more blossoms than ever and is gorgeous. It's time to get out there for a few minutes every morning and smell the goddamn flowers, people. Life is too short for this stress nonsense (though the very shortness of life is, in fact, one of the causes of my stress. I can't get the mortality monkey off my back these days).

Ball of stress

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Almost deleted that last post, but I didn't. So, bear with me, one little rant every now and again. After not having slept right for several weeks, I got a good night's sleep on Monday night, and then last night (tonight) (now) slept just about not at all. When I regain some equilibrium I'll give you the next list of embarrassing songs, I promise!

Arrgh

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One of the joys of public service is that you regularly get to see people rip your work to shreds for reasons or malice, political advantage, or just because they can get away with it because the reporters are idiots who believe every negative thing they hear and will never be convinced otherwise. A year ago we announced we were embarking on a major public policy initiative, one that put us at the forefront of progressive thought on a complex and controversial issue, that required that we buck most of our political brethren and flash a bit of a finger in the face of the feds. Lots has been done since then, including bringing a wide array of disparate viewpoints to the table to hammer out the framework of an agreement on this issue. People are talking about how to solve this problem, rather than denying the problem exists. Wherever I travel, people want to touch me just because I have even tangential involvement in this thing. We're kicking ass.

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.

From now on,

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From now on, the only movies I'm watching will be by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. Pretty much everything else is a waste of my time. I say this having finally seen "Kill Bill Vol. 1." Yes, Vol. 1 -- do you have any idea how hard a movie night is to arrange when you've got kids? Not to mention the cost. Believe me, I could buy the DVD three times. Not that I don't love going to the theater, but still. Anyway, never got to see it, and now I really desperately needed to just in case I get to see Vol. II in a theater. And all I can say is, Genius. F'ing Genius. I want to watch it again tomorrow just to see half the things I missed. A seamless tapestry, a comic book actually brought to film, and the best music, both score and songs, of any movie since the '60s. Man!

Now, if only he would do something with Joan Cusack in it . . . .

This gosh-darned internet thing

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We live in a wonderful and bewildering world where it is possible to learn things 25 years later about a band from the early '80s that the entire world has forgotten about (well, really, it never even knew about them.) Been playing some minidiscs I put together a few years ago before CD burning for the masses became affordable, including some great '80s singles that I haven't gotten back onto the turntable since. And among those songs (including the really good Bangles, the Bangles who did "I'm In Line For You," before entertainment demons took over Susanna Hoffs's eye movements) was a little treasure called "Lightning," by a band called The Humans, on the legendary IRS Records. A line in it about Manhattan thumped me upside the head: "Suddenly it hit me, this whole island is open to attack." That seemed threatening enough in the pre-perestroika early '80s; now it's just scary. Not the point. The point would be that I wondered if it was possible that the lyrics were available on one of the lyric services. No luck. Tried searching their "hit," "Get You Tonight" along with "The Humans." Hopeless. Then tried "IRS Records 'The Humans.'" Jackpot. And lightning: In the early eighties, IRS Records signed one of the best bands to ever come out of Santa Cruz. They were new to the new wave world at large, but not to Santa Cruz or surf music. Their roots went back decades. Three members of the Humans, John Anderson, Sterling Storm, and Eric Gies had been band mates in Eddie and the Showmen, and John had been at the helm of his own Baymen before that. They moved to Santa Cruz together in 1970, and almost immediately formed the Humans. That name stuck until the late eighties, when they evolved (without Sterling) into Ed Hatch, then Ed, and finally the Ninja Nomads.

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.)

Burn

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I don't think I'm divulging anything patient spouse doesn't already know when I say that I burn for Joan Cusack.

True Confessions, Music Dept.

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Okay, if I'm going to weigh in on the worst songs of all time (pop division), I'm going to have to confess that there are some truly awful songs that I just desperately love, and that you'll pull these 45s from my cold, dead fingers. Go ahead, slag me if you must, but these are true classics that I'd play right now if I could (and don't push me, or I will):

  • "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?

Worst. Songs. Ever.

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Well, apparently Blender has put out a 50 Worst Songs Ever list. Although their website only gives the bottom 10, the top 10 worst are out in the media now. And while rock 'n' roll lists are just incredibly subjective, I've gotta say that this list may have nailed it. Number 1 (with a bullet!): Starship's execrable "We Built This City (On Rock 'n' Roll)", which brings a once-great band that produced some of the all-time best rock songs to a low that most bands die before reaching. Still, it's not all that catchy, which I consider a key criterion for badness -- it really should be a song that, once in your head, you cannot get out, and "City" isn't like that. In fact, despite thinking of it all day, I can't even really get it into my head. But make no mistake, it sucks, deeply and importantly.

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.

Some weeks need a good CTRL-Z

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I mean, really. Four days out of town, followed by my forgetting what used to be called Secretaries Day (and my secretary is the best in the world, so I don't like to forget), followed by Take Your Female Progeny (Or Male Progeny If You Feel Like It) To Work Day, followed by a likely yo-yo to New York tomorrow. Enough! I'm exhausted.

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 . . . .

Back in terra cognita

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Okay, maybe it wasn't as bad as all that. I felt a little sorry for the struggling little city, that's all. There were some very pretty buildings; some pictures tomorrow, most likely. After getting home around 11 last night, thought I'd get to slack off a little this morning, but there are notes on every electronic way of reaching me (plus a magic markered note hanging on the kitchen cabinet) informing me there's an important meeting starting right at 9. I can hardly wait!

More things I have seen in Arkansas

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  • 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.

New slogans for Hot Springs

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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!

Things I have seen in Arkansas

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  • 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.

Arkan-what, now?

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Apparently Saturday is Happy Family Travel Day in our nation's airports. Did you know that? I was unaware. As a business traveller forced to give up a weekend and to travel among the clueless (not that I don't love the clueless, mind you), this is pissing me off. I want to see a massive family breakdown to make me feel better about being alone today, and I want it now! (”Emotional cleanup in Terminal E!”)

The Lion of Luther

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Watched the condensed version of the Paris-Roubaix on OLN for the second time tonight. (Mad props to OLN for bringing vastly more bike racing to TV this year, by the way.) It occurred to me that with the retirement of Johann Museeuw from racing, his title of "The Lion of Flanders" is now up for grabs. "I could be 'The Lion of Flanders,'" says I. "You can try, but you might be a bit old," says the wife. I admit that this is the case, though I had been thinking more of simply appropriating the title than of earning it. However, there's a slightly wide spot in the road on my regular ride called Luther, and I'm the only cyclist I ever see on those hills. "True," says I, "but I could definitely be The Lion of Luther." She let me have that one.

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.

The Day Summer Died

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Okay, a little dramatic, but I felt a lot worse than that just a few days ago. Now I'm just resigned to it. After years (probably decades) of just barely hanging on from one summer to the next, our little Red Oaks swim club has finally succumbed and will not open this summer. This was a sweet, simple little club that opened in the '50s or the '60s at the latest, and hadn't been updated much since then. It was a long drive up a dirt road to a dirt and grass parking lot, and then you had to walk down a narrow path through the woods to the club -- not the way people do things these days. There were three pools -- one big one with a general swim area, lap lanes, and a big diving area that had a diving board until a couple of years ago when the economy collapsed and insurance companies tightened things up. There was a middle sized pool, smaller but often warmer. And there was the baby pool, a foot and a half deep with an island out in the middle and signs warning that "Diapers Must Be Worn!" I can't say the girls learned to swim here, because mostly that happened at the Albany Y in the winters, but we've been members since Rebekah was born and have spent the past several summers enjoying evenings at Red Oaks, splashing in the pools for a couple of hours, having a picnic supper, and generally enjoying the summer evenings in the out of doors without a worry. For less than the price of a summer's worth of pool chemicals, we had a lovely escape just 10 minutes down the road and at least 5 degrees cooler up in the hills.

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?

Ugh

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After yesterday's flight, that four-hour drive to (and another four back) from Rochester looks pretty good. The trip home wasn't by any means the worst flight I've ever had, but there was just turbulence throughout, and when we weren't actually bouncing around the sky, it felt like we could be at any moment. I think I have done enough service for this state to never have to get onto a Beechcraft again . . . but I know I'm just not going to get that lucky.

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.

Spring

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I'm not yet ready to deal with or explain how summer as we know it has been cancelled (maybe tonight), so instead let's focus on how the heck pagans / non-believers / just folk are supposed to spend Easter, the one day of the year when I actually could go shopping because there's nothing else to do, but all the shopping is closed. (The convenient old term "pagans" used to be a catch-all for non-Christian, but has kinda been appropriated over the last couple decades to mean modern folk who actually believe in wood-sprites, talking furniture, or that the stars really do tell your future but the newspaper astrologers never get it right. "Non-believers" has the same exclusionary feel as "non-white" would. So I don't know quite how to represent a complete and utter lack of faith, at least on my part, and it leaves us hard-pressed to explain what some of the fuss is about. Good Friday, in particular, completely eluded explanation when the girls asked.)

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.)

Battery-operated mop

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Yes, I was a little surprised/stunned to learn that my new mop requires 4 AA batteries. But the Swiffer Wet Jet is worth it. Accept no substitutes! (Particularly substitutes from Butler, which have plastic handles that crack irreparably in two after less than a year of use.) This thing sprays nicely and evenly in a fine mist, has velcro that won't keep coming off, and has a scrubby pad on the side that's especially useful in the kitchen. (You really don't want to know what my kitchen looked like until 5 minutes ago. There's a reason we don't encourage people to "just drop by.")

Various

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  • 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?!

Hot jumprope

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Thanks to one of those bizarre serendipities the web brings, my long-ago quoting of Elvis's "New Amsterdam" brought a visit and a comment from a member of the Double Dutchess jump rope team, and if you don't go and watch their video, which features some of the most amazing rope jumping imaginable -- I mean, they're kickin' it froggy style! -- then you're really missing something. (Not for the small of bandwidth, though.) Don't miss the communion scene!

Agreement

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Went to the Hall of Fame with Hannah's class yesterday. One of the things we learned about was amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, ALS, aka Lou Gehrig's disease. Came home and made Lee promise me that, even though in general I would like to be burned, if I for some reason suffer the incredibly horrible fate of dying from ALS, I want her to put on my gravestone, "I thought they said I had Christy Mathewson's disease!"

Really too obscure to explain.

One big world

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Someone left a note for a photo I uploaded to a group fotolog of, of all things, dashboards. Hey, I ran across it, I knew I had a pic of my Xterra's dashboard at night (and a fairly cool one at that), so I posted it. But the message was in Portuguese, because Fotolog is positively overrun with Brazilians (no, no one has ever explained this phenomenon to me). I popped it into the Google translator, and out popped:

"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.

A few more miles

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After lazing off yesterday (well, actually, just couldn't make the time fit the need to ride), I finally got out today despite the cold and the rain. Did a more reasonable 13 miles (compared to last Saturday, when I did nearly 20 miles for the first ride of the season, and getting in the saddle the next day was painful). The rain was come and go, and in fact I soaked myself from the inside with sweat, but I was warm and that's all I care about. Right now, the wind has kicked up and they're predicting snow for tonight, so it's unlikely I'll go out in the morning. At this pace, getting up to where I need to be for Bike the Boros seems unlikely, too. We'll see. I got my MTA bike permit, so if it comes to it, I can take my bike on Metro North. I've got a jones to make this work, but the damn thing starts at 8 in the morning, which either means an expensive overnight in Manhattan, a somewhat but not entirely less expensive overnight further upstate (where are the fleabag motels when I need one?), or a very early rise followed by a long drive and several train rides. The last option won't happen. As it is, getting back after 42 miles will be exhausting, and that "42" is entirely misleading. That's the length of the course. Depending on where you're coming from, you may have to add 5-7 miles just to get there, and then they do a nasty trick of having the finishing festival several miles from the ferry, so that after you've gotten your legs all nice and cold and filled with lactic acid, you have to bike to the ferry and then, once in Manhattan, bike back wherever it is you're going. So the whole thing is looking like a massive logistical challenge to me. But I'm still jonesing, because I would love to be able to say I've biked through all five boros in a single ride. Hmm...

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.

All apologies

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Am I the only one who thinks a certain community in New Jersey should adopt the saucy-but-'80s-retro slogan "Metuchen Myself"? Or am I just spending too much time listening to train announcements in Penn Station these days?

The Amtrak Shuffle

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Thoughts from the train --

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?

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This page is an archive of entries from April 2004 listed from newest to oldest.

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