06 December 2010

Don't Put On Any Airs When You're Down On Rue Morgue Avenue

I was surfing Facebook (cybeer-peeping) recently, when I came across a girl that used to ride my bus.  I'll call her Mary Anne.  When she was in seventh grade, Mary Anne was friends with my little sister along with two other girls I'll call Cherie and Gretchen.  My sister used to miss alot of school, usually on Mondays and Fridays ("Sounds like someone's got a case of the MONDAYS!" ), and after missing one of these days, she went back to school and found out that these girls weren't going to be friends with her anymore.  Apparently they had decided this over the weekend and used my sister's absence to stage a friendship coup.  Kind of like when Idi Amin took over Uganda.  Anyway, they decided they were going to freeze her out of their little clique.  The one girl, Cherie, was my sister's "best friend".  They both had horses and she was an only child.  Later in the week Cherie folded and became friends with my sister again but the other two kept their distance.  I remember an ugly scene on the bus with this girl Mary Anne making a sour face at my sister, as if swallowing the devious, catty and mean truth of her actions.  I didn't give a shit about the other girl, Gretchen.  She was an amazon for a seventh grader and she always came across like a bully and an asshole anyway. 

My sister is blonde and sunny and, although we fought from 7th grade until college, not fake.  She isn't a schemer, she doesn't act a certain way to be popular, and she treats everyone with respect.  I've gotta believe that this little clique of girls had had enough of my sister's perpetual sunniness and that is why they froze her out.  My sister was crushed.  She cried.  I set about, true to my Irish roots, not liking those girls, especially Cherie, who was too cowardly to confront my sister to her face and then too cowardly to fully abandon her.  Although my sister was friends with her, and maybe even best friends, throughout high school, I never cared for her after that.  I was a wuss back then so I never said shit to anyone but that's what I felt like inside.  The girl that rode our bus, Mary Anne, continued to ride our bus, and eventually I graduated and never saw her again.  She kind of started to blossom in high school and, even though she had betrayed my sister, I liked sitting next to her and peeking at her bra and its perky contents.  Yes, although I didn't like the girl I didn't let that keep me from looking down her shirt. 

She lived in a weird little collection of houses that were in an area we called Factory Hollow.  It was almost a trailer park - it's a flat basin area with trailers everywhere.  She lived in the extended part, across the main road, and lived in a house.  I just drove by there the other day and not much has changed:  tires in the yard, kids' toys and wagons abandoned in tall grass, lots of rusted propane tanks and automobiles in various stages of repair.  There's an abandoned mobile home, windows shot out, about forty feet from the cracked and muddied vinyl-sided house that she lived in.  Her mom was a single parent, she had a half sister, and I think they rented. 

My sister graduated with Cherie and they even performed in the talent show when they were Seniors.  My sister and I went to the same college for a year and somehow she had gotten older and more responsible than me.  The last time I saw Cherie was at my sister's wedding.  It had been twelve years since I saw her and she seemed like the same selfish, little person that I remembered. 

This had all faded from my addled brain until recently when I came across Mary Anne on Facebook and I read something that gave me a new perspective on all those happenings from long ago.  Mary Anne writes a blog and was sharing her current circumstances.  Her and her husband (some sort of carpenter/roofer I believe) moved down to Florida with their kids and lived in a trailer in the hopes of making a new start.  Then they were in the process of moving back to New York after things somehow did not work out in Florida.  She said "It's difficult to put on airs when you live in the crappy little house in front of the Sugarcreek"  (the Sugarcreek is a gas station/convenience store).  Suddenly, for the first time in thirty years, I felt empathy for her.  When I knew her she lived in the weird little (crappy) houses that were down the road from Sugarcreek.  And now she lived in front of a Sugarcreek.  My sister and I came from a whole, loving family that lived on a beautiful farm and had horses to ride.  My Dad worked his ass off to give us an upper-middle class upbringing and my Mom worked her ass off to make sure we were raised the right way and didn't embarass her in front of the neighbors.  Mary Anne never had horses or a sweet house to live in or a farm to run around on.  Or a yard that had more grass than mud.  I never judged her for living where she did and it didn't really even register with me, but after reading her comment about putting on airs, I'm sure it not only registered with her but shaped who she was.  I realize that she must have been supremely self-conscious about it, kind of like we all are at times.  I was recently reading Mary Karr's Lit, and she told a tale of being at a fancy ceremony with her plaster pearls and cheap shoes with cardboard soles, and feeling like she didn't belong.  I think we've all felt like we are faking it at one point or another, like we weren't good enough and we didn't deserve to be where we were, or maybe we did deserve to be where we were, and where we were was a crappy house across from the Sugarcreek.

Bullying is big in the news right now.  Kids are commiting suicide or just having a generally hard time, getting harassed on Facebook, etc.  I think now that I might have done more to better understand Mary Anne's situation and maybe not judged her so harshly with my Irish temper.  Maybe.  I think bullying comes from a place where people can lash out at those weaker than themselves because somewhere in their life they have to take shit from someone else.  Or maybe, lacking worth elsewhere in their life, they latch on to a Gretchen or an Idi Amin, to give them some sort of status as opposed to getting a bucket of pig blood dumped on them like Carrie at the prom.  Or maybe they just don't want to be the slowest gazelle in the herd and abandoning one of their own to the lions is the only sure way they won't get eaten.  I don't feel sorry for bullies and I don't like them, but for everyone else I think a little empathy goes a long way.  Think To Kill A Mockingbird when Scout stands on Boo Radley's porch for the first and only time, and sees the world from his point-of-view.  I don't have to like Mary Anne but I do understand her better.  We've all been the person with cardboard soles in their shoes, haven't we?

03 November 2010

The Hub Of Power In Honeoye

HUN-ee-oy is how you pronounce that word.  Honeoye is an Iroquois word meaning "a lying finger" or "where the finger lies."  I know this is true because I looked it up on Wikipedia.  The town of Honeoye sits on the north shore of Honeoye Lake which feeds Honeoye Creek which flows through the town of Honeoye Falls, where I grew up and went to school.  Honeoye Falls is a long ways from Honeoye, probably a good fifteen to eighteen miles (I'm too lazy to look it up just now), a little known fact which has repeatedly led me to have this conversation:
    Stupid Person: Where are you from?
    Me:  Honeoye Falls.
    Stupid Person:  Wow.  And you drive all the way here?
    Me:  Umm, yeah.  It's all of twelve miles or so.
    Stupid Person:  Yeah, right.  It's like fifty miles away.
    Me:  No,  you're thinking of Honeoye, which is about twenty-five miles away.
    Stupid Person:  Oh, really?  Are you sure?
    Me:  Yeah.  I grew up in Honeoye Falls.  You're thinking of Honeoye.
    Stupid Person:  Yeah, Honeoye, Honeoye Falls.  Same thing.
    Me:  No, they're actually two separate towns.  I would tell you how far apart they are but I am too lazy to look it up just now.
    Stupid Person:  Oh.  Gosh, now I feel stupid (they never say this!).

Honeoye is not a big town nor particularly ornate.  No big houses on Main Street, no nice side streets lined with elm trees, no solid block of interconnected brick buildings as its business center, but it does have a lake, and a main strip, and a barbershop.  There are some nice houses in Honeoye but they're more here and there than most Western New York towns.  The barbershop is part of the main drag in town, with an old fashioned barber pole and a storefront walkway that looks like it was made to hitch your horse to.  I mentioned to my dad that I needed to get my haircut and he called me and mentioned this place.  "I'll take you down to Ralphie Angelo's."  This seemed more like a foregone conclusion than a suggestion.  Ralph Angelo is known for his hunting dogs and his barbershop.  His shop is next door to Ace's Restaurant, for years the best place around to get a fish fry.  The town didn't look like much on a Wednesday afternoon in April but I think that on a summertime Friday evening, when people are renting houses and enjoying the lake, it might have a bit going on.

My dad called Ralph ahead of time to make sure he was open.  "Yeah, I'm open every day except Sundays.  If I'm not there when you get there, just wait.  I probably ran over to the town hall."  Sure enough, I walked in and no one was there except for a couple guys waiting.  What kind of proprietor, I thought, leaves his business and leaves it open in the middle of the day?  I thought that was pretty cool.  When I sat down in the chair Ralph didn't ask me how I wanted my hair cut but he did ask to see the monster buck I shot last year.  How did he know me and how did he know I shot a monster buck?  Well, he knew I was coming, knew who I was, and heard from my cousin about my trophy deer.  Then he clipped my hair like he was Edward Scissorhands.  After that he put shaving cream around my ears and on my neck and shaved it with a straight razor.  A straight razor!  Definitely old school.

When I was done I paid him and gave him a fifty percent tip (it was only an eight dollar haircut).  I was impressed: the barber pole, the straight razor, the Edward Scissorhands-like efficiency.  I left and told my dad about Ralph being late and asking me about my deer.  "There was nobody in there?  Really?  Usually the boys are there hanging out."  Oh, I thought, I get it.  Ralph's was like the old barbershops where the boys went to hang out.  It made sense.  "Yeah, I think Ralph is the Town Supervisor.  And, I'm not sure, but I think he's also the head of the schoolboard."  Now it really made sense.  The town that gave me a Mayberry vibe was actually old-fashioned enough to have its hub of power centered in the barber shop.

SH**T THAT'S PISSING ME OFF

(Friday conversation: 4:45p.m.):
This really has to be done today. 
I know.  I've looked for it.  I can't find it.  The office closes at five and it's half an hour away. 
I know, but he needs it today.  Can you look for it now? 
I've looked for it, I'll keep looking for it, but I can't find it.  If I find it I will fax it to him. 
Ok, because he would really like to send it out today. 
Yeah, I know. 
(Twenty minutes later):  Did you find it? 
No, I haven't found it.  When I find it, if I find it, I will let you know.  If not I'll have to wait until the office opens on Monday and get it then. 
Ok, because he really needs it. 
Yeah, I know.  I talked to him.  He told me to fax it to him Monday after the office opens.
Ok, because he really needs it as soon as possible.
Yeah, I know.  I don't have it right now.  I talked to him.  He said I could go to the office and get a copy and fax it to him Monday.
Ok.  Well make sure you do that.
Yeah, I know. 
The next day (a Saturday - same conversation , different person):  Do you have something you need to get to him?
Yeah.  I can't find it.  I have to get it Monday when the office opens. 
Well make sure you get that to him as soon as you can. 
Yeah, I know, that's why I asked you to take me first thing Monday morning. 
Ok, because he really needs it as soon as possible. 
Yeah, I know.  The office doesn't open until Monday.  That is the earliest I can get it. 
Oh, okay. 
The next day again (Sunday):  What time is your appointment tomorrow? 
I'm not sure.  I have to call.  I figure we can go to the office before the appointment. 
Well, let's go to the office as early as possible.  He really needs that thing. 
Yeah, I know.  It's why I asked you to take me first thing in the morning. 
Okay.  We gotta get started early though. 
Yeah, I know. 
Like, eight o'clock. 
Yeahhhh, I knowwwww.  I told you - the office opens at eight.  It's why I asked you to take me first thing!
Ok.  Well, you got to get this stuff taken care of.
Yeah, I know.  We'll go in the morning, before my appointment.
Ok, because he really needs that thing as soon as possible.
I knowww.  The office doesn't open until eight.  I can't get it until then.
Repeat ad nauseum.  It's the god-damned TPS reports over and over again.

Let's talk about it and talk about it and talk about it some more when there isn't anything we can freaking do about it right now.  I hate being nagged when the problem that is the source of the nagging can't be solved immediately.  Why, women, do we have to hear about it over and over and over again?  Will you give it a rest already?  I know that women like to talk about their problems and men like to fix the problems.  I get that.  I can listen.  That's fine too.  But please, for the love of God, there is nothing that can be done about it right now.  I say I'm gonna take care of it first thing and I mean it.  Can we please move on to something else?

Books I Love

My friend Vicky posted a new Facebook profile pic of herself and I could swear it's Audrey Hepburn. Not that she looks alot like Audrey Hepburn, but it's a neat pic and she looks shy and coltish. She is wearing a yellow dress and holding a gauze umbrella and wearing cowboy boots (?!), standing with her back to some pretty fall trees. She doesn’t look like a girl who knows all the words to Jay-Z. I had to send her a note telling her how much I liked the pic and, knowing that she's always looking for books to read/music to listen to/and (especially) films to watch, I recommended the book Winter's Bone to her. It got me thinking about some other books she might like to read, which again got me thinking about my favorite books to recommend to friends. These are books that I buy over and over again, just in case I want pass one along. I like books and books that I really like, I like to horde. That sounds like a sentence from Dr. Seuss. Anyways, here they are.


                                                    Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell




Ree Dolly is sixteen and lives with her family in a part of Missouri and the Ozark mountains where people don't care to keep up with the times. If not for the references to Ipods and crystal meth, you might think that it's set in the Depression. Ree is the head of the family, caring for her mentally absent mother and her two younger brothers. She chops wood and kills squirrels for sustenance. She dreams of joining the Army, where there is order and people need to keep things neat and clean. A visit from The Authorities brings Ree a dilemma: her crystal meth-making father put their house up for bond to get released from jail and, if he doesn't show to court, Ree and her family will be put out on the street or, in the case of this part of Missouri, she'll have to live in a cave like a dog. Ree must confront distant family members that are clannish and closed off and who think nothing of knocking a teenage girl on her ass, or worse, if she starts asking the wrong questions. Woodrell brings Missouri to life in a way that is captivating, fascinating, and revealing.  Ree Dolly reminded me of Lisbeth Salandar from The Girl Who... series by Stieg Larsson. Mr. Woodrell builds suspense while creating a world I did not suspect still existed. His style has the skeleton of a thriller told with the words of a poet. I hope I can read about Ree Dolly again.

                                        The Great Shark Hunt by Hunter S. Thompson



This is a classic collection of essays and whatnot by the great Hunter S. Thompson. Although he received alot of attention for his drug, alcohol and weirdness consumption, Hunter was above all else a compelling writer. His "serious" pieces on Peru or Hemingway or Kerouac and the Beats are interesting as straight reporting. His later "Gonzo" pieces are pure entertainment for entertainment's sake. The rest of his work splits the middle, with humorous asides and serious analysis, without a false word. The neat thing about this collection is the time and events and cultural shifts that Thompson covers. I must have read a paragraph he wrote about breakfast about a thousand times. He writes about Watergate, Jimmy Carter, Muhammad Ali, Jean Claude-Killy, and this book also includes his classic piece "The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved" and notes on the genesis of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I carried this book everywhere I went for years.

                                                 To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee




I know it's cliche but I love this book. I read it every summer. It takes me back to the summer nights that Scout and Jem and Dill spent running around the neighborhood. You know what's going to happen but who cares? This is Harper Lee's only book. Talk about a one-hit wonder. If you really like this book, then read Mockingbird by Charles J. Shields, a history of the book's genesis and a biography of Harper Lee.

                                            Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris




Critics have called him a modern day Mark Twain. This collection by David Sedaris exposes the humor of a guy who just kept writing despite a crystal meth addiction and various shitty jobs. Sedaris' essay ("Go Carolina") chronicling the battle with his 4th grade speech teacher is funny but, like the rest of his work, hints at something below the surface. In this case it is the indoctrination of might-be-gay fourth graders into the Straight world. There is another hilarious piece about his sister Amy Sedaris, who wears a fat suit home to fool her dad, another in which she is featured in a New York magazine as one of the most eligible bachelorettes of Manhattan (at the photo shoot: "Make it look like somebody beat the crap out of me") and yet another about Big Boy, a "party favor" that won't flush. I gave this one to a waitress at my favorite diner and haven't gotten it back yet. And that was six years ago.


                                                        The Liar's Club by Mary Karr




I don't know what to say about this book. It's the best book I've read since the 1980's.  I fell in love with the twelve year old Mary Karr when she ambushed her neighbor with a bb gun as they were coming home from church. Mary's father had the high cheekbones of a Cherokee, fought in WWII and worked the oil rigs off the coast of Texas. Her mother was a would-be artist who nearly killed the whole family at one point or another. Both drank full-time. Mary's recollections are all true and all hotter than a Texas August afternoon. I am not kidding when I say you should read this book immediately. It's available everywhere, but if you can't find a copy email me. I always keep a spare on hand for just such an occasion.

31 October 2010

RIP My Poor Jeep

R.I.P.  My Pretty Pretty Jeep

My pretty pretty Jeep is no more.  I hit a 200 pound deer at fifty-five miles per hour.  As my friend Dave would say, "Do the math, motherfucker!"  The above pic is my Jeep in happier times, this summer, parked at a local cemetary.  I broke my leg last year and after getting the ok to put weight on it, I started walking again, and after I started walking again, I needed a new vehicle to drive.  My Jeep was rescued from my Dad's barn, fixed by my brother who got it started, and then fine tuned by me; the hood release needed to be repaired, the doors were frozen and needed to be unstuck, among other maladies.  After a few weeks I had to replace the starter.  After that it was something else that I can't remember, but I didn't care.  This is definitely the best vehicle I have ever owned.  It has a sunroof, something I have always wanted.  I got lots of sun this summer because it was always open.   It has a 10 cd player which means I have Live Springsteen On Demand.  I've never had anything more sophisticated than a tape player in anything I've ever drove.  The back seat folded down to make room for my bike.  It has electric start for Chrissake!  My Jeep was a way out, it was my freedom and allowed me to live my life with a sense of adventure.  I actually washed and waxed it.  Here it is near my Grandmother's gravesite:


My uncle planted that tree nearby to make his parents' markers easy to find. Here it is post-accident:


I've never been emotionally attached to a vehicle but if my Jeep was a chick, she could really do a number on me.  If you have ever been in a vehicle that hit a deer (or anything else I guess) there is a strange crunching sound.  I thought a window had shattered.  I drive at night all the time, through Mendon Ponds Park and Clover Street in Honeoye Falls, where deer are everywhere.  When I drive home at night I don't get above forty-five.  This damn deer was running full-speed (according to the driver behind us) when he jumped in front of me.  I braked and swerved slightly but it was no use.  I had a sinking feeling since I've owned it that it wasn't going to last long.  I'm sick.  With any luck I can get it repaired although, moron that I am, I didn't have collision insurance on it.  The person that I wish I was could take it apart piece by piece in my Dad's shop, replace parts as I went along, and put it back together good as new.  We'll see what the real me does.  My Mom suggested already that I should start looking for something new (new to me).  To me, that's like suggesting someone should pick up a new kitten on their way to the vet to put the old cat down.  My poor Jeep.  Please send donations in lieu of flowers.

 

26 October 2010

Thoughts On the News

When I heard that a woman had been found burning in the middle of the road in Richmond I was immediately disturbed.  Richmond is in the sticks, what would be considered my neck of the woods, and the road she was found on is definitely country, only miles away from where I grew up.  How sick to think of a human being dumped on the side of the road like a bag of trash and then lit on fire.  To make you even sicker, she was eight months pregnant.  The D&C did a story about her in its morning edition today. She was Amelia Rivera-Castoire but "her family said she only used the last name Rivera."  Despite this, the article continually refers to her as Rivera-Castoire.  Why keep using this name if, as her family just told you, she prefers to be known as Amelia Rivera and not Amelia Rivera-Castoire?  Using the name she preferred seems like a simple way to respect her.  Ms. Rivera was a beloved sister, daughter and mother of six children as well as an admitted drug user.  Her drug use, presumably, led to a stay in the county jail.  She was released in August.  She was found in her pajamas and was last seen on North Clinton Avenue in the city at midnight Friday, less than six hours before her body was discovered.  For whatever reason it seems that the life she lived away from her family led to her brutal murder and the disgusting disposal of her body in a ditch along the side of the road.  Her family said that she had been threatened in the days before her murder.  Assuming the police track this person down and he (most likely) or she is convicted, the punishment is not going to be enough.  My heart goes out to Ms. Rivera's family.  

04 July 2010

Top Five Songs For The 4th Of July

Here are my top five songs for the 4th of July. 

American Land by Bruce Springsteen from the Live In Dublin cd/dvd.  This tune rocks and is about America and the promise it held for 19th century immigrants. 

There's diamonds in the sidewalks, there's gutters lined in song
Dear I hear that beer flows through the faucets all night long
There's treasure for the taking, for any hard working man
Who will make his home in the American land





Jimi Hendrix plays The Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock.  This is a 4th of July standard as far as I'm concerned.  The status quo thought Hendrix was intentionally disparaging the national anthem and Jimi's reply was "I thought it was beautiful."

 

Paul Simon wrote this song about traveling across America.  I think it's called America.  I always loved this song.  And Paul Simon.  I wonder if hitting the road is just an American thing.  I know that "Going West" is.



Here is Ray Charles singing America the Beautiful.  I wouldn't have included this (because its too cliche) but I still love it.  I saw Ray a handful of times - front row! - and he was awesome.



I love this James McMurtry tune.  Can we make it here anymore?



I could have included lots more Bruce, as well as Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and Merle Haggard.  If you have any good 4th of July tunes please leave me a message.

30 June 2010

The Summer Movie Preview Halfway Into The Summer Movie Season


It feels like it's halfway over, doesn't it?  The cussed (that's pronounced cuss-pause-ed) thing started on May 7 so technically I guess I am correct.  What are all these shenanigans going on with the box office numbers?  The media frets "Ohh, the numbers are down - people aren't going to the movies!"  We both know why presumably:  Your Movies Suck.  In lieu of that and in light of the new Twilight movie there is some good stuff coming up.  I am like a kid fighting through dinner to get to the ice cream and just as impatient: Gimme gimme gimme some good freakin' movies.  No Shrek bullshit, no god-damned Tom Cruise movie with a cute title like Knight and Day (Get it?  Someone in the movie is named Knight and someone is probably named Day),  and no Adam Sandler crap where the best parts are in the trailer, a dead giveaway because the trailer wasn't all that funny.  The remakes and the sequels are out of their cages and now it's time for them to die and make room for some good and original stuff.  To wit:

Inception  -  It's got DiCaprio (watch Catch Me If You Can and The Departed and you'll be waiting for every next thing he does), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (he's gonna be an A-list movie star someday - watch Brick and (500) Days of Summer) and Chris "I-Directed-The Dark Knight" Nolan directing.  They steal shit out of people's brains while they're sleeping.

Dinner For Schmucks features Steve Carell as a pathetic loser and Paul Rudd as the guy who is exploiting him.  But something tells me that Steve is gonna go all Fatal Attraction in the most hilarious and uncomfortable of ways.

Salt featuring Angelina Jolie.  She might or might not be a secret agent.  Even she doesn't know.  What is it about her in an action film that is so compulsively watchable?  Besides her rack...

Get Low features the Greatest Living Actor Mr. Robert Duvall as a hermit who is planning his own funeral and Jimmy Stewart's Evil Twin Bill Murray as the undertaker.  There have been rumors of an Oscar nomination for Duvall.  I met him one time and I wasn't disappointed.

I can't wait to see The Other Guys which features Marky "when did I get so respectable" Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell as cops trying to bust a big case.  Ferrell is nerdy and deskbound and Wahlberg is given one last chance despite his short temper.  It's from the writer of Talladega Nights and the other Ferrell stuff.

If you grew up in the 80's like I did then you'll probably want to check out The Expendables just on principle.  It has (I swear I'm not making this up) Sly Stallone, the Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Dolph Lundgren and Eric Roberts as well as some other people who were, like, ten when these guys were at the top of the box office.  How do you miss this one?

And maybe the movie with the most reliable built-in fan base is Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World.  Based on a popular graphic novel, this one has Michael Cera as a geeky (go figure right?) musician who has to defeat seven evil ex-boyfriends in order to win the girl of his dreams.  That sounds ok and might be enough to get me to a theater but what really puts it over the top is Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead) directing.

Ok, that's about it.  Except for a Jennifer Aniston movie.  The good: if it sucks bad enough she might not ever make another movie again.  The bad: it has Jason Bateman who is borderline very good/awesome.  I have a feeling I'll be disappointed and it will be halfway decent and she'll keep making movies.

Is Your Name Craftsman? Because I Think You're A Tool


I hate these people. I downloaded the above photo from this thing called "Metromix" at the Democrat and Chronicle website.  The D&C is the Rochester newspaper published by the Gannett company.  In its desparation to maintain sales, Gannett newspapers have resorted to publishing photos of local people out on the town, most likely in the hopes that they will come to the website to look at their photos.  Pretty much the same thing as the weekly Wednesday section that features a town near you and what makes that town unique.  The D&C will post a little blurb in the paper looking for people to write in their stories.  This "Our Town" feature has been running for years now.  Let's say, at a minimum of three years mulitplied by fifty-two weeks a year, the result is one hundred fifty-six towns featured.  Do we have that many towns around here?  No.  It's the same towns featured over and over and over again.  It's easy to bash the D&C (and fun too!) but that is not exactly the reason for this post.  Look at the people in that photo and you will see signs of an epidemic among young people:  Why the fake gang signs?   Why the pursed lips by these girls whenever they get in front of a camera?  How much do these people spend on hairgel and tanning supplies in any given week?  It's like they're saying - Look At Me!  To The Extreme!!!!  Yeah, I know I'm old and out of touch but I've been out of touch with this type of stuff since I was in my mid-twenties.  Oh well.  I'll go put on my flannel shirt, turn on some talk radio and shut the eff up.

29 June 2010

Very Random Thoughts

Here is a pic of my awesome Jeep.


I haven't written in almost two months.  I started to get tired of hearing my own voice droning on about trivial and derivative stuff.  Plus I put my Jeep on the road.  I'm in love with it.  It's red with a sunroof, a 10 disk cd player, and a big ol' hatchback where I can stash my summer gear.  My summer gear consists of a fishing pole, my fishing vest stuffed with tackle, and a canvas bag that's packed as if I was going to the beach every day.  Believe me, if there was a beach around here I would be at it every day.  Since I got my new wheels I have been like a teenager skipping class and just as happy.  I go see friends, I stop off at bars for a quick beer (and to see the US lose to Ghana), I drive to the park and sit in the sun and read.  This has to be my favorite thing to do, maybe ever. 

I should have written about the beautiful time of year when the days are longest, when the end of the day seems to linger endlessly and the mornings come early.  I think this is my favorite time of year, but choosing a favorite time of year is alot like picking your favorite musical artist or record.  Or book.  The first cool Fall evening is pretty neat as is the first thaw of Spring when green grass is peeking out from the snow and there are endless mini-tributaries that run-off into endless pools filled with the demise of Winter.  But the beginning of June has such nice, pleasant weather.  It's been a perfect time to feel free and loose.

I read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo which I thought was pretty good and made me wish I could hack computers.  The closest I get is typing "hack" or "how to hack" into the Google search bar.  I am really computer illiterate.  But I liked Tattoo.  The Girl was an interesting protagonist and I felt weirdly protective of her as I was reading. 

I burned through a book about Laurel Canyon in about two days.  I think it was called....Laurel Canyon!  Laurel Canyon is in Los Angeles and was home to the hippie movement of the Sixties.  Joni Mitchell and Graham Nash lived there in a house (Our House), Mama Cass introduced Crosby, Stills and Nash to each other in her living room.  Frank Zappa had a sort-of compund there (No Drugs Allowed!) with his family and a big stone fireplace.  Apparently the Hippies were too hopped up on goofballs to notice that Charles Manson was a weird guy but Zappa's wife noticed ("People say it came as a shock but not to us.  For those with clear heads, you could see Manson was a strange guy").  Stills and Crosby were apparently grade-A egomaniacs and that was before the coke.  Warren Zevon's wife Chrystal lived there and adopted two kids when she was only twenty and the kids four and six (?) or something like that.  They were abandoned and she took them in.  I thought that was pretty interesting and I would like to know what happened to them. 

Right now I'm reading  Rip It Up And Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984 and James Michenor's SpaceRip It Up is about music after punk rock and before....what?  Maybe before corporations reclaimed the business of the music business.  I graduated in 1984.  It was the year of Prince, Bruce and Madonna and they were huge: Puple Rain, Born In The U.S.A and Like A Virgin.  This book, however, concerns itself with stuff like "Tainted Love" "Don't You Want Me" and bands like Bow Wow Wow, Depeche Mode, New Order, etc.  Just go to Amazon and search the Pretty In Pink soundtrack and you'll get the idea.  I liked some of this music.  Some of it is too new-wavey for me but some of it is good.  I have gained a new appreciation for the Cure as I've gotten older.  Music history is interesting.  I don't know how long I'll stick with Michenor's Space.  I bought it at a garage sale (a great place to meet women) and it came without a book jacket but I think it's about the beginning of the Space program.  It might get me interested in the stars.  Or maybe the stars will just be a passing fancy like WWII reporting (I still want to get those books).

Ok, that's it.

05 May 2010

The Windmills Of My Mind

I love Nico's "These Days".   Jackson Browne apparently wrote that song and plays guitar on it.  I thought it was put to good use in The Royal Tenenbaums.   And "We Both Go Down Together" is a really good song by The Decemberists.  "Here we stand on the cliffs of Dover..."  I have a cd I made with a bunch of random songs on it from the summer of 2007.  2007 is when I made it, not when the songs were released.  It has "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" by Genesis, and "Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gangsta" by the Geto Boys.  Or is it Boyz?  Don't matter.  That song has some serious language in it.  I can't play it in front of nephews; that's for sure.  I had to look that one up after I saw Office Space.  "Give Up The Funk" by the P-Funk All-Stars is such a good song.  It feels really good listening to that song.  I feel like bopping my head up and down like Huggy Bear.  I hope that's not racist.  Right now I'm listening to Patty Loveless' "Blame it on your lying cheating, cold dead-beating, two-timin' double-dealin', me-mistreatin' lovin' heart."  I love the energy of that song.  Throughout the cd I also have some Dusty Springfield "Windmills of my mind..." and a song about making pies all day and a song about a girl who's mother works at the Motel 6, now she gets free guitar picks and that's how she learned to play and sing.  She is Catie Curtis and that song is "Memphis".  I recently wrote a blog about Joni Mitchell calling Bob Dylan a fake and a phony and a plagiarist that got alot of responses (11!).  Somehow I'm connecting the melding together of other people's work to create something new with the Joni/Bob argument and that's what I made with this cd.  It provokes different emotional responses from me and I don't really care if they all fit perfectly together.  Which made me think of Neil Young.  I think Neil just does what feels right and when his muse is gone, he's gone.  This cd came from an unconscious place in me.  Or maybe a drunken place.  Along towards the end is "Peek-A-Boo" by Siouxsie and the Banshees and then Rufus Wainwright's "Hallelujah" which seems to be required playing anywhere you go lately.  Local band Donna the Buffalo has a song called "No Place Like Right Time" that is laid back like "Memphis" and "Making Pies" by Patty Griffin.  People talk about Dylan as the preeminent poet of our modern time.  My friend D.J. thinks its Bruce Springsteen.  And when he says this he usually refers to "Blinded by the Light", a song with such non-sensical lyrics that who knows what Bruce is talking about.  I think The Raven is a good poem.  Maybe one of the best.  How did Poe get all those lines to rhyme?  Must've taken alot of work.  It's a story in a poem, which is nice, but not quite the same as The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot.  Poe was a prolific writer and I don't know that The Raven had to be dredged out of him with the same earnestness that Eliot put into Prufrock.  What is a poem supposed to do?  Provoke a response?  Create an image?  Recreate life?  I say a little of all of the above.  If it doesn't provoke a response, or any feeling whatsoever, then is it serving itself?  e e cummings was a good poet but lots different than Robert Frost.  I think Emily Dickinson had it write (whoops - right) when she said poems are foolish when compared to a tree.  I think that's what she meant.  The cd that I made feels like poetry to me; something good that washes over me with no particular agenda.  Parts of it, like making pies, make me think about the creation of life.  Other parts, like giving up the funk, make me feel life.  My favorite quote about poets and poems and my life philosophy:  "And the poets down here don't write nothing at all - they just stand back and let it all be."  After all, who can really add anything to a beautiful summer day like today to make it more spectacular nature-wise?  I can't.  But that's just me.  I like to stand back and let it all be.

04 May 2010

Tin Soldiers And Nixon's Coming....



A fairly benign pic at first glance, this is Kent State, where a dead student's body once lay.

On May 4, 1970, the Ohio State National Guard opened fire into a crowd of student protestors and killed four people.  My friend D.J. and I were roommates in 1986-1987 when we were students at the Edinboro University of Pennsylvania.  D.J. had a Crosby Stills Nash and Young t-shirt that he wore quite a bit from a concert he went to the summer before I met him.  We all liked CSNY, our crew.  D.J. would make mix tapes for the afterhour parties and he always played "Ohio" because he liked to point at me when they sang "and Nixon's coming."  I looked (look) like Dick Nixon apparently.  Eventually D.J. would marry Eva, whose father (I swear) was a dead-ringer for Henry Kissinger.  I think he must have thought it was fate that we should come together.  I'd been fascinated by Nixon, even before Watergate, and when I was all of six years old I did a Nixon impersonation.  Weird kid, right?

1986 was the beginning or maybe the middle of a cultural revival of the Sixties.  The Grateful Dead found their way back into the mainstream and the neo-Hippie movement was in full swing.  The good kids that we were, being young and all, we were Liberal and anti-establishment.  Mostly we liked to do stuff the kids in the Sixties did but I think we had more fun and didn't take ourselves nearly so seriously.  Which was easy for us.  We didn't have Vietnam, or the murders of 1968, or the cultural schism between the Hippies and their parents to deal with.  And we had no chance of being shot on a collge campus.  My only link to those kids who got shot at Kent State was the Neil Young song, my relationship to the political ghost of Nixon, and the hopes and dreams I had for a society in which people are free from prejudice.

In 1990 I got a call from my buddy Eric and he said that CSNY was going to play a concert at Kent State in two days.  I lived in Buffalo at the time and high-tailed it down to Edinboro.  It was Friday, May 4th, the twentieth anniversary of the shooting.  We probably got drunk that night but for sure me, Eric, and Johnny (and maybe George) drove to Kent State in the morning.  There was no concert, that was pretty obvious, and there was actually not much going on.  I was wearing my Phi Sigma Kappa hooded sweatshirt while I was walking around the campus and I remember someone taking my photo.  I wonder where that photo is?  It was a rare moment we get sometimes in life where who we are brings us to where we feel we should be, even if it's only for a moment.  The song that had played so many times at the after hours parties became a reality that morning.  People were shot and killed here.  My significance to the event, my trek to see CSNY, seemed like a small, selfish act.  It reminded me of Abraham Lincoln and what he said at Gettysburg:

We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.  But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.

It was a somber ride back home.

03 May 2010

I'm A Big Fan



In the week leading up to Iron Man 2 comes the anticipation and dread: how is it going to be?  Is it going to be The Dark Knight or Spider-Man 3?  That is not a fair comparison at all.  One was close to a masterpiece and different and the other, well, what a mess.  With great power comes great responsibility.  With great anticipation comes the possibility of a great letdown.  Poor Jon Favreau must be under a lot of pressure.  If you have read this far and wondered, why are you so concerned about this?  It's only a movie!, please move on!  Haha.  This post will bore you.  But for those who really like superhero movies....

I was indifferent to Daredevil and thought it was just plain awful.  Loved the book, didn't like the movie.  Ben Affleck with his hair in his face the whole movie, the flirtatious martial arts scene with Elektra on the see-saw, the constant night-blindness and too-close-to-see action ruined the movie for me.  I don't have a sacred cow fetish for the heroes.  I'm not a strict tradionalist but I want the movies to make some sense.  I could take The Fantastic Four even though the movie was miscast and Reed was a pussy.  Reed Richards is a smart guy, not a doormat.  Jessica Alba (I can't believe I'm saying this) didn't look super-hot in that movie, nor does she come across as the science-ey type, but I sucked it up and watched and was entertained.  I liked the Silver Surfer in FF2.  Not bad stuff. 

Ghost Rider is a movie that I didn't hate.  I had no expectations for it: it was cheesy, over-the-top, and light but it was entertaining.  Maybe because I watched it with my nephews. It's hard to be a cynical old bastard when they're sitting next to you.  Superman Returns, Hulk, The Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man 3:  those movies got to me in a bad way.  They left the comic behind somehow.  S-M 3: Peter Parker playing bad like he's on his was to an emo concert; Harry vascillating between being a good guy and an enemy; Topher Grace playing Eddie Brock like he's a smoother version of Eric from That 70's Show:  that's not who these guys were in the books.  More than anything the architecture of Spider-Man 3 was just way off.  The light touches that Raimi added in Spider-Man 2, Peter walking down the street to "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head", the "oww, I hurt my back" reference to Tobey Maquire's alleged stalling to step onto the set of S-M 2, the scene in the coffee shop when Peter throws himself over Mary Jane:  Peter was real.  He was kind of a buffoon in S-M 3 and it killed the movie.  And why did he keep taking his mask off? 

Try to get too cute and the lions will eat you.  I could put up with Nick Nolte's howling in Hulk, and Ang Lee's pretension to create an art house film out of a comic-book movie, but that doesn't mean I had to like it.  Which I didn't.  I also don't want to see a soldier, a regular guy, going toe-to-toe and hand-to-hand with the Hulk.  The laws of the Marvel Universe must apply.  If the Hulk could crush Spider-Man, or Iron-Man for that matter, then please don't have him fight some guy Spidey could backhand in two seconds flat.  And why was Bruce Banner wearing a bicycle helmet around the office?  Not dorky enough just to be a scientist?  Which gets to the architecture problems with Hulk:
First, the name.  Just Hulk.  Remember:  too cute equals lions.  Ang Lee cited influences from King Kong, Frankenstein, Jekyll and Hyde, Beauty and the Beast, Faust, and Greek mythology for his interpretation of the story, but guess what: there's a whole comic book about the guy!  Why not base it on that?  When an interviewer asked him if he had read the comic books as a kid, Lee said, "No. I did see a little bit of the TV series in the late 70s (cheesy fun but a weak facsimile of the books), but I didn't pay any particular attention to it. But then when I came to the States, I found that there was such a character in the comic books (Really?!  The Hulk was a character in the comic books!). Then when I saw the big green guy it clicked right away. I saw it as a psychodrama." 

Lee's partner discovered a book in which David Banner, Bruce's father, returned and after that the movie became a father-son story about experimenting with Bruce's DNA and yada yada yada, we're three steps away from the source material and the Hulk is getting attacked by overgrown poodles.  Fans take this stuff seriously, maybe as seriously as Twilight fans take their stuff or as the leave-Britney-alone guy takes Britney Spears.  We want one thing:  Do Not Screw Up Our Movies!

Two years ago when George Lucas was making the rounds promoting Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Lost UFO's, or whatever he called that movie, he sounded bitter.  "I've learned (I'm paraphrasing) that no matter what you do, people aren't going to like it."  Apparently he was jaded from his experiences with the second round of Star Wars movies and their rejection by the adult fan base. Remember: cute equals lions.  Someone get the lions and feed them Jar-Jar Binks already (tastes like jerked chicken!).  These were not good movies.  People didn't take down their expectations from a jar on the top shelf and say, Ahhh, this is what the movie is going to be, and when it wasn't they were disappointed.  He had a chance to create The Godfather Part II of movie serials but he didn't have it in him.  That's where the disappointment lies.  Lucas reminds me a little of Jay Leno: a guy that became wildly successful with nowhere to grow.  His empire expanded while the thing that got him there shriveled and shrank, and he's left with nothing but memories of his sled Rosebud (or was it Sleddie?)* and his billions of dollars.

A lot of bad superhero movies have been made.  Superman IV: The Quest For Peace consistently comes out on top in the internet searches, but there is also Catwoman, Batman and Robin, Steel, Barb Wire, Supergirl, Judge Dredd, Captain America and who could forget (the original bomb!) Howard the Duck.  But of all these movies Spider-Man 3 has to be the worst.  And do you know why?  Because I cared.  All that being said, Iron Man 2 arrives soon.  On Friday I'm gonna open my mind, leave my expectations at the door, walk into the theater, sit in the dark and wait to be dazzled.  No pressure guys!


*Please note that the "Sleddie" joke was stolen from last week's episode of 30 Rock.  Please don't tell Joni Mitchell.

02 May 2010

Joni Bitchell?

Joni Mitchell has always bugged me as some sort of self-important artist.  I remember seeing her in Rochester, maybe with Bob Dylan, and she was getting pissed off that the crowd (the nerve!) was still finding their seats when she was performing.  Last week she came out and called Bob Dylan a phony in an interview with the L.A. Times:

LA Times: As well, you've had experience becoming a character outside yourself [Mitchell caused controversy when she appeared as an African American male on the cover of her 1977 album, "Don Juan's Reckless Daughter"].The folk scene you came out of had fun creating personas. You were born Roberta Joan Anderson, and someone named Bobby Zimmerman became Bob Dylan.


Joni Mitchell: Bob is not authentic at all. He's a plagiarist, and his name and voice are fake. Everything about Bob is a deception. We are like night and day, he and I.

So everything about Joni is truly original and Bob (it's not even his real last name!) Dylan is a phony.  Interesting.  This article questions what plagiarism actually is.  Dylan, with no apologies to anyone, lifted the melody for "Blowing In The Wind" in 1962 from the old folk song "No More Auction Block," a song that had long passed into the public domain.  Dylan copped Woody Guthrie's persona for years before he moved to Greenwich Village from Minnesota.  The genius of Dylan, the turns of phrases that he collected, was that he made much of the stuff his own.  There is a snippet of vocal on the Bob Dylan Bootleg album where he is a dead ringer for Woody, not just in tone, but the remark and the words themselves.  The folk scene of the 1960's, not that I am any sort of expert, was artists doing old, standard folk songs.  It's what folk songs are.  You might as well bust Joseph Campbell for writing about mythology or George Lucas for writing Star Wars

If you've read my blog beyond this post you will see lots of stuff lifted from somewhere or someone else.  "Are You There, Vodka?"  The Pop Culture thing I like to do towards the end of the week is not an original idea.  What is an original idea?   Is Willie Nelson's Red Headed Stranger not truly his?  He didn't write all those songs, but look what he turned them into:  something truly unique with his signature on it.   Sometimes I think that Neil Young could be the only true original artist alive today (with, I suppose, apologies to her Heiness Joni Mitchell - who's real name is Roberta Joan Anderson - but I guess that's okay).  He's the only guy weird enough to come up with the stuff he comes up with.  So Joni (if that is your real name): gfy!

Cheese With Whine

So I broke my leg, which I'm sure you heard about.  I had my DishTv service suspended because, come on, $65 a month and nobody's home.  Paying bills is not my forte, as the first George Bush would have said, but I only owed a handful of money on it, a little more than a full month.  I get my most recent bill a few weeks ago and just opened: $415.19.  Curious, no?  It turns out they wanted to charge me for the equipment I still have hooked up in my house and if I returned the equipment my amount owed would drop back down to the handful I owed them.  I thought, what a strange way to do business?  To get service restored I had to pay two months in advance.  Also curious because I just paid for a month in advance and wasn't even home to watch the damned thing.  But this post is not about DishTv and their payment policies.  It's about the Roger Moore - James Bond movies.

G4 is the only channel that is coming through my cable box that is not about baldness, losing belly fat (are you cussing kidding me with that shit?), or buying stuff.  G4 is a guy's channel, allegedly, with stuff like "Expand Your James Bond Dictionary."  Example:  I've got James Bond syndrome.  I prefer exotic women to white women.  Pretty gay, right?   G4 comes in because it's being offered free this month as some sort of gimmick.  So, tv whore that I am, that is what I watched last night from 8:30 until after three in the morning.  I grew up in the 1970's, before I knew that someone named Sean Connery even existed.   Someone should have lent Connery Lloyd Bentsen's line about Dan Quayle not being Jack Kennedy, because you, Mr. Moore, are no Sean Connery.

For Your Eyes Only, Moonraker, A View To A Kill, and Octopussy all aired back to back.  I liked these movies as a kid.  I remember going to see Moonraker and being excited about the space shootout.  It had the great Richard Kiel as Jaws but the endless slapstick is hard to take as an adult.  In the beginning of View, Bond escapes on a pair of skis while California Girls plays in the background.  Where is this music coming from?  His pursuers crash into each other and sink in the water which Bond of course glides right over and at the bottom of the hill there awaits a submarine with a beautiful girl in it.  They have five days to themselves before they get back to London or wherever and we all know what James Bond will do with a girl in close quarters for five days.  The endless sight gags were tough to take.  View had a police captain (overweight of course) chasing Bond in a hijacked firetruck through San Francisco.  When you see the bridge go up, you know Bond will make the jump with the fire engine but the cops won't.  Then the police captain is cursing his guys, saying they're gonna pay for their damaged cars at one hundred dollars a month.  When Bond is racing through Vienna in a souped up gondola, you just know he's gonna sink the boat of the couple kissing romantically.  Sure enough, he cuts the boat in half and the paddle guy is still paddling as he sinks into the water.  In two of these movies we had double-takes from a camel and a pigeon as Bond does some fancy driving, first in a terrain able gondola with wheels and then a rickshaw through an Indian market.  Speaking of which, he hurts one guy by pushing him against a bed of nails, to which the Yogi yells, "Hey, get off my bed!", then he grabs a sword from a sword swallowers mouth to defend himself and pushes that guy onto a bed of hot coals.  What is my point to all this?  Thank God Daniel Craig came back and put some real life back into Bond.

Octopussy was probably the best of the lot, maybe because of the endless t and a.  It has Maud Adams, yeah, but Magda (Kristina Wayborn) was way hotter.



So that's my really lame blog post for the day.  When you're up til three a.m. faced with the fact that you're a tv junkie, you have alot of time to reflect about things that aren't a) oil slicks, b) enforcement of immigration laws, c) car bombs planted in Times Square, or d) the systematic dismantling of the American capitalist system.  Thank God for cheesy James Bond movies.

4 AM And Nowhere To Go

What do you do at four in the morning when you can't sleep?  Get up and make a cup of coffee?  Turn on the tv?  Lay in bed and listen to the tickticktick in your head?  I wish I had that luxury.  What I hear (until the birds come out) is the remnants of a Rob Zombie concert at least five years in the past that makes my brain think I am sleeping next to a low roaring ocean.  It was Ozzy, and Priest, and (my personal favorite of the day) Rob Zombie and it was a good ninety degrees out.  It was one of those shows with a million bands, scorching sun and blacktop.  I remember wondering how cool the kids wearing black denim accessorised by silver chains thought they looked when the rest of us took cover under the tiniest slice of shade.  I don't begrudge Mr. Zombie (if that is his real name!) my hearing, not even on a beautiful May 1st morning like this in Western New York.

I started to hear the birds around five and then I noticed how light it was getting.  Definitely not nighttime anymore.  I left the windows open last night and had gone outside several times to do what guys and dogs sometimes go outside in the middle of the night to do: pee.  The moon was full, the stars were bright, and the clouds were scarce.  It was beautifully warm out.  Eventually I settled down on the couch and hugged my pillow and thought of a girl I used to know.  The thoughts and stress that had been banging around my head slowly subsided and I finally relaxed and let go of my awakened state.  When I opened my eyes again it was 7:20 and an absolutely beautiful morning.  Sometimes I don't mind starting my day at four o'clock.  It is crazy early when you have no reason to be up but after lying in bed for an hour what the heck is the difference?  But not this day.  This day I went back to sleep and woke up thinking about pancakes.

Hunter S. Thompson wrote a great piece about breakfast, what he called his psychic anchor of the day. He had been invited to the White House for breakfast by Jimmy Carter, a meal that, for Hunter, had a measure of solemnity to it.  To wit:
"I like to eat breakfast alone, and almost never before noon.  Breakfast is a personal ritual that can only be properly observed alone, and in a spirit of genuine excess.  The food factor should always be massive:  four Bloody Marys, two grapefruits, a pot of coffee, Rangoon crepes, a half-pound either of sausage, bacon or corned beef hash with diced chilies, a Spanish omelette or eggs Benedict, a quart of milk, a chopped lemon for random seasoning, and something like a slice of key lime pie, and two margaritas...for dessert.  All of which should be dealt with outside, in the warmth of a hot sun, and preferably stone naked."    

That is a mighty fine breakfast, more of a Las Vegas breakfast, but mighty fine indeed.  I'm gonna have to try the diced chilies in the corned beef hash.  Maybe the best breakfast I ever had was when me and my pal Ralph decided to drive to the ocean one crazy summer morning.  We stopped at a rustic motel for the night (I say rustic, Ralph says rat-trap) and the next morning I drank a beer under the cool of a pine tree, my elbows leaning on the roof of the car, in a state of wonderment that I was waking up in the Adirondack Mountains.  We drove into Lake Placid and had breakfast on a deck overlooking the lake.  I don't recall what I had but for sure it didn't matter.  It was a vacation breakfast and I was eating it outside.

These are the things I think about when I am up at four a.m.  I finally got around to eating four eggs, sausage, corned beef hash, Simply Potatoes homefries and a double espresso in that cool coffee mug.  And now I'm hungry again.


30 April 2010

This Week In BS: Commie Drives A Nova !! Wait, Barack Drives A Nova?

Please click the following vids for your listening pleasure while you read my awesome web log!



I also tried to find the video for "I Don't Want What You Got (Goin' On)" by the Ike Reilly Assasination but had no luck.  Get out there and get you some Ike Reilly!

Chelsea Chelsea Bangs Bangs!!  Wha whaa whaaat?!  I'm not sure what disappointed me more, that Chelsea Handler made a sex tape when she was twenty-three or that it's allegedly a gag.  Ok, it's the second one.  A few months ago Chelsea was contacted by someone who said they would sell the tape back to her for a million dollars.  She said simply "I'm not worth it!"  Everyone is entitled to their opinion.

Watching a Biography episode featuring Kylie Minogue.  I am such a whore.  "Can't Get You Outta My Head" is a pretty good tune but that's not why I can't change the channel.  I'm waiting to see this video

in Hi-Def.  Hubba hubba.

I was not disappointed there was no LOST this week.  I was up and somewhat ready for it but, being in the hospital, I was not really with it.  There is an alleged spoiler here but I don't believe it.  The producers have always been wily and something tells me this is a plant to throw us off.  Only three more episodes until the Series Finale!  It better be worth it.

I can't wait to see Get Low, a summer release with Robert Duvall playing an old hermit who comes out of hiding to plan his own funeral.  Something tells me he's got something up his sleeve.  I met Robert Duvall and was not disappointed.  Greatest Living Actor (maybe I think that because I met him).  Bill Murray plays the funeral director.  Sounds like a can't-miss.  Here is an interview with Bill talking about Ghostbusters 3 among other things.  I've liked (okay loved) Bill Murray ever since Stripes.  He's just got it.  I really liked The Razor's Edge, a film adaptation of the W. Somerset Maugham novel, about a man on a quest to solve the meaning of his life after serving in WWI.  I have to say that I always wanted to go to Paris and then around the world in search of the meaning of life.  I got as far as Erie, PA.  Unless you count a Dead show in Louisville.  Oh, and Buckeye Lake Ohio.  What the hell - I've definitely been out there and lived it now that I think about it.  My life has always lacked the major thresholds: prom, graduation, bar mitzvah, marriage, divorce, etc.  Why should my dream about solving life be any different?  I still have a ways to go before I'm done.  Or as Robert Frost would say, And miles to go before I sleep.

Think what you want of me but I love the show iCarly.  It's so damn funny and the girls are so goofy.  Who says there are no wholesome shows on tv anymore.

The Office was pretty darn funny last night.  Dwight:  "I have it on good authority that in twenty years we will all be speaking German.  Well, a Chinese-German hybrid."  I also liked the subtle tension between Pam and Jim and Daryl's take on the minority management program: "Minority management will always be there but my knees only have one more year of softball in them."  And I always enjoy Parks and Recreation except (again) for the character of Andy.  A show I absolutely do not get and am starting to dislike intensely is Community.  These people take a class together at a community college and are then joined at the hip.  No one works or has a life off campus apparently and half of them are over thirty.  The "romantic tension" between the two leads, will they or won't they, is beyond stale and the Asian Spanish teacher (the guy from the overrated The Hangover) is a running gag that has run out.

I totally blanked on pimping Jonah Hex in my last post about summertime and movies.  Based on the supernatural cowboy DC comic, it has the awesome Josh Brolin as the title character and Megan Fox as the t and a.  And I also forgot about the new Christopher Nolan/Leonardo DeCaprio film Inception. Looks pretty trippy.   Catch Me If You Can is one of my compulsively watchable movies, along the lines of The Silence of the Lambs, the Pirate movies, and some others I've mentioned.  DeCaprio makes the list twice with The Departed.  How did he not get an award for the role?  Now I'll watch him in anything except for that horror movie Titanic.

The Buffalo Sabres got bounced (no big surprise) from the NHL playoffs and the Pittsburgh Penguins have advanced (again - no big surprise) and the Washington Capitals (huge surprise!) are out.  I'd have to say the odds on the Penguins winning back-to-back titles just went up considerably.  I'd like to see the Pens win again even though I would've liked to have seen the Sabres, or any Buffalo team, finally win a cussing championship.  Speaking of which....

The Buffalo Bills draft.  I was in favor of taking Jimmy Clausen with the first pick because they need a quarterback so damn bad.  So they pick C.J.Spiller instead, a running back and the only position on the team where they don't have a need to fill.  So Clausen falls all the way to the second round but do they take him there?  Nope.  Defensive lineman.  So the two most glaring weaknesses on the team, QB and offensive line, don't get addressed and they have basically killed Marshawn Lynch's trade value.  I may sound like my six-year old nephew or Veruca Salt but I want a quarterback!

The 2010 NFL draft yielded this Q and A between Miami Dolphins GM and wide receiver prospect Dez Bryant:
     Ireland:  Is your mother a prostitute?
     Bryant:  No (followed perhaps by a long awkward silence).
How out of line was this question?  On the surface, at first glance, it seems inappropriate and worse.  But I was listening to Mike and Mike In The Morning on ESPN when Marcellus Wiley revealed that he was asked by Bill Parcell's point-blank "Do you use drugs?"  Marcellus was taken aback by the question.  Parcells, who was the GM of the Cowboys at the time, is currently acting as a mentor of sorts to Ireland.  According to Wiley, Parcells went on to tell him that he can teach men how to block and tackle and play football, just as he had Lawrence Taylor, but if he doesn't prepare his players for life after football then he has failed them.  He said that he had failed Lawrence Taylor as a person.  The bluntness of Ireland's question was harsh and insulting but Wiley's interaction with Parcells made me think twice about Ireland's intentions.

Before I go I just had to post the most hilarious pic of the week:  ten-year old Bruins fan getting the best of Lindy Ruff.

Ok that's it.

27 April 2010

Died Saving His Family From A Sinking Battleship

I'm having another surgery today. For the record that's three in five months.  I was new to hospital over-nights and surgeries and anasthesia before last December when I broke my leg (I fractured my tibial plateau - those two words go well together!  Where did you vacation last year?  We went to the South of France and stayed at the Tibial Plateau).  The surgery I'm having today is to fix my deviated septum (no, I never did coke, thanks for asking!) and clean out my nasal cavity.  The nurse asked me if I had any questions when I did my pre-op appointment, and I said "Yeah, I don't want to have this surgery."  She reassured me that my doctor is really amazing and he does these all the time.  My doctor is a nice guy (he's an ear-nose-throat specialist) but he's over 65 and he's absent-minded around the office.  The one day he was looking for his head-reflector and guess where it was: on his head!  Not the kind of thing that gives you alot of confidence for a surgeon (Nurse, have you seen my watch?)  As you might know if you read any of these posts, I pretty much think I am excused or immune to dying.  Today I'm having second thoughts about this.  I know how it's the little, stupid surgeries that do people in.  I'm in the hospital overnight tonight (LOST is on!) and then I'm staying at my parents' for at least a night when I get out.  So here are my final wishes and what I want done with my remains:

I want to be cremated and thrown into the wind near the woods at the end of the lane behind my dad's shop.  I want to have a party in my honor and I'd like nothing but cheeseburgers, guacamole and margaritas to be served.  If anyone wants to say anything, I'd like it to be followed by Lyle Lovett's great song "If I Had A Boat."  I'd like my friends to be able to go through all my stuff and take what they want.  The remaining books I want donated to the HF-L library.  There's alot of other stuff left.  My teddy bear.  My pick-up truck.  My Johnny Cash poster!  When I moved a few years ago I wanted to burn everything I own: it's just way too much stuff and it feels at times like it weighs me down.  Ok, the hell with this.  I guess I'll just come back.







POSTSCRIPT:  Well I'm back.  I look like a Dick Tracy character and I'm still trying to work the anasthesia out of my system.  My first stop when I left the hospital was Taco Bell.  I had visions of roast beef sandwiches but the doc says I gotta take it easy with the chewing.  I'm hoping I lose the ten pounds (ok - more) that I put on when I was recovering from my leg.  My all-time low was about 197, maybe 195, and I've peaked at 217 (fully clothed and sneakered).  That was fast food when I wasn't hungry, brownie milkshakes, and pizza.  Oh and cheeseburgers and steak sandwiches.  I may actually have inspired myself to take care of my post-life bidness after thinking about all the stuff I have.  Either way, I really hope I die with my student loans still owed.  Ok that's it.

26 April 2010

Why I Love Movies (And Summertime)



Yep, Iron Man 2.  It's why I love movies and summertime.  Ever since Jaws hit theaters in 1975 movies in the summertime have an event-like feel to them that doesn't happen the rest of the year.  Books have been written about how Steven Spielberg and then George Lucas killed the great early-70's film movement but, let's face it, what goes up must come down.  Except (most likely) the summer event movie. 

The early-70's film movement actually began in the late-60's when Easy Rider was made for peanuts and grossed millions.  Easy Rider placed the lid on the coffin of the Studio system, a system whereby the heads of the studios called the shots and actors and directors took what they were given.  The movement was really alot like the American Revolution.  The talented people overthrew the system and decided they could govern themselves.  Cassavettes, Rafaelson, Polanski, Coppola, Friedkin, Scorsese, Lucas, Forman, Altman, Penn, Bogdonavich, DePalma - these people made landmark, classic films in a span of ten years that, creatively, I will put up against anything from any other period in time (but let's face it - I Love Movies!).  The studios gave them money and free rein.  Eventually this free exchange ended, put to death by a little movie called Heaven's Gate.  Directed by the same guy who made the classic The Deer Hunter (c'mon: Meryl Streep, Robert DeNiro, the late-great John Cazale ("I was stepped over!  I'm smaaat!  Not like everybody says!  And I want respect!" - he played Fredo in The Godfather), Heaven's Gate effectively bankrupted a whole studio.  After this, and the success of the summer blockbuster, Hollywood studios went back to their old ways and closed the purse strings.

I was a youngster in the 1970's so I didn't mind so much the creation and marketing of movies that were supposed to be fun and be enjoyed.  Jaws was followed by the whole Star Wars thing (if you call it A New Hope and you're not tweleve I will kick you in the balls), Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark and on and on: King Kong, Smokey and the Bandit, Superman: The Movie (yeah, I know it's a movie - I'm sitting in a movie theater!), Ghostbusters, Animal House, Vacation, Grease, Caddyshack.  I actually skipped school to see the second Indiana Jones movie and the third Star Wars movie.  In 1989 my sister picked me up from work to go see Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and then, guess what, we went last year, twenty years later (!) to watch Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull.  In the rest of my (alleged) adulthood there's been the Pirate movies, the Spider-Man movies, the X-Men, friggin' BatmanBourne and even Shrek to look forward to.  Heck, I looked forward to Speed Racer once I saw the eye-popping techinicolor how'd-they-do-that trailer.  I saw Spider-Man at the midnight screening, then I saw it the next day at a normal person's time, then I took my nephews and then my neighbor's kids.  I went to The DaVinci Code with a girl from school (I liked it better than the book), Transformers, The Island, the disappointing War of the Worlds, and on and on.  Mr. and Mrs. Smith was hilarious, Wanted was good and, speaking of Angelina Jolie, I'll be seeing Salt when it opens.  Yep, I have a problem.  I am a movie junkie.

Recently I wrote a post about the difference between films and movies, a fork in the road that makes me think of the insane philosopher Frederiech Nietchze and his book Beyond Good And Evil.  We should look to the whole and ignore the schism.  Embrace the yin and the yang.  I like films and I like blockbuster entertainment just as I like the light and the dark, the sun and the rain, or cats and dogs.  Why do I have to choose?  That being said, you should check out the following films if you haven't already.
Bonnie and Clyde.  The Graduate.  Easy Rider.  Midnight Cowboy.  M*A*S*H.  The French Connection.  The French Connection Two.  The Godfather.  The Godfather Part Two.  American Graffiti.  The Exorcist.  Dog Day Afternoon.  One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest.  Five Easy Pieces.  Chinatown.  The Last Detail.  Taxi Driver.  Mean Streets.  Ok enough of that.  Just IMDB the list of directors I gave you up top. 

I broke my leg recently but I have done enough rehab now where I can bend it enough to fit into the seats at the movies without too much pain.  I am unemployed and owe everyone I know at least one favor but, the first chance I get, I'm going to quietly slip away, on or after May 7th, and watch Iron Man do his thing.

25 April 2010

Sunday Morning Coming Down


One of my fondest childhood memories is waking up on Sunday mornings to my dad playing his old country records.  My dad is that way about life: up and ready to go.  Buck Owens, Roy Clark, Eddy Arnold, Tex Ritter.  Some good stuff.  It's become a habit of mine to listen to tunes on Sunday mornings and on a rainy Sunday morning such as this I was thinking about my favorites.  Bob Dylan's Blood On The Tracks probably got the most plays in my Sunday rotation.  I listened to this alot in the summer of 1990, when I lived at home and cherished any moment I had the house to myself.  I was dating a girl with red hair who drove up from Erie to see me for the weekend.  She was with me when I bought it and it made me think of her for a long time whenever I played it ("wondering if she had changed at all, if her hair was still red").  I would put the speakers out the window of my bedroom and do laps in the pool.  I had to really crank it up to hear it. Nothing like starting a Sunday morning with "Tangled Up In Blue".  I always thought the lyrics were about me.  I had to keep on keepin' on like a bird that flewwww.  From the desperate wanderer of Blue to the man of lament in "If You See Her, Say Hello", this album is full of bitterness and melancholy that fits perfectly into a Sunday morning.  Maybe I'm just bitter and melancholy over losing my childhood, especially the Sunday mornings. 


And it wouldn't be Sunday morning without Neil Young singing "Don't let it bring you down, it's only castles burning.  Find someone who's turning, and you will come around."  I love Neil and I love that he probably would tell you he has no idea what these lyrics mean.  This is from the album After The Gold Rush, which includes the terrific and apropos Sunday morning title song.  I love Neil because it's just feeling with him that matters.  This is the difference between the Polyanna bullshit in art that I hate and a from-the-gut artist like Neil Young.  My favorite Sunday morning music doesn't have the word "Sunday" in it because that would be as gay as a Nora Ephron film.  Neil just feels it, goes with it, and becomes the conduit for music that comes from somewhere else.  Look at a beautiful blue sky.  Is it perfect?  What about the sky the next day?  Is that one perfect?  Beauty takes all different forms, which reminds me of my favorite song lyric of all time and the philosophy of my life:  And the poets down here don't write nothin' at all, they just stand back and let it all be.  That's what Neil Young does.  I also like this record for the cover of the Don Gibson country classic "Oh Lonesome Me."  

Speaking of country music, there's something about Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash and Red-Headed Stranger and At Folsom Prison.  I grew up with a boy named Larry Torpey (Larry came from a very nice, loving family who were weird and didn't celebrate Halloween.  Larry was a geek who carried this huge bassoon or something like that on the bus every day, and the a-holes we rode the bus with would check the big instrument case into Larry's shoulder on their way by.  He went on to become a doctor with (I'm sure) a very nice family of his own.  I am being facetious when I call his family weird and Larry a geek, but that is how kids treated him.  His dad was maybe the nicest person ever, as was his mom.  If the meek inherit the Earth, then the Torpeys will be at the head of the line when the Ark launches) and when we were in elementary school Larry had a box of crayons and this thing, the thing he could do well, was draw Johnny Cash behind prison bars.  Johnny was on the side of Larry's crayon box, square jaw, hands gripping the bars.  Johnny Cash never spent time in prison unless you consider serious drug addiction a prison.  At Folsom Prison has the great "Cocaine Blues" on it, as well as "Jackson" (a duet with June) and the adrenaline-fueled "I Got Stripes".  You can hear Johnny's voice and music bounce off the concrete walls of the prison. 

I didn't fall in love with Red-Headed Stranger until I was in my thirties, but Willie's record of sin and salvation couldn't be more perfect for a Sunday morning.  If you get the remastered version it includes a song called "Bonaparte's Retreat", a stomping-quick musical number that I have compulsively played over and over.  I don't know how he did it but Willie took country standards, added his own songs ("Can I Sleep In Your Arms Tonight"  "Denver") and melded them into a moody, coherent, theme-filled album. 

If you can take it, Miles Davis' Kind Of Blue (almost too much emotion) is fantastic.  I'm not a big jazz guy but this music hits me in the gut.  I don't have the musical knowledge to analyze it, I just know that it seems like the music is washing over me.  There are some other songs that I like for melancholy moods.  The best of (don't judge me!) Carly Simon, if only for "That's The Way I've Always Heard It Should Be", is good.  I also saved the best for last.  Otis Redding.  I love Otis.  I have since I was six or eight and I heard  "Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay."  I've gone on to buy his other stuff which is just as good and maybe better.  I still haven't bought his performance from the Monterey Pop Festival (it's on dvd) but I attached Otis doing two of his classics below.  But if Sundays are made to be mellow then "Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay" is the most fitting.




Ok that's it.  Feel free to leave comments!