Monthly Archives: November 2004

Yes, “knee jerk,” thank you very much

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Never give a wiseacre an opening like that. I should know this by now. Anyway, the diagnosis is “bursitis,” which I think is right up there with “gout” and “dropsy” as old man’s diseases I’m not going to get. Yikes. But at least it’s not arthritis, which I didn’t want to hear and which apparently I don’t have. I somehow really messed up the attachments around my knee. Hey, ski season is ON, people! I need this fixed now!

The taping project continues. In anticipation of frequent, long drives across the border this winter, getting some of my old Bob & Ray tapes onto CD. There is just nothing funnier than Bob & Ray.

Saw “The Incredibles” on Sunday. So good! Just an excellent movie, very funny, lots of action, great spoof of superhero cliches but just great on its own. And a cartoon Holly Hunter is kinda hot.

Clever phrase involving “knee”

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Well, in fact, I can’ think of one right now. “Knee wall,” though that doesn’t make any sense in this context. “I have enormous kneeds”? Anyway.

For those who may have noticed that I haven’t been blathering on about my bike rides lately, it’s because I’ve been hiding the fact that I’ve been laid up for about three weeks now with a terrifically painful knee. I can only figure it came from raking and bagging — the best job on the leaves we’ve done in about 12 years, 80 bags of maple-y joy sent to the curb, and if you were to look at our little yard, you wouldn’t know we’d lifted a finger, because there are still leaves out there. In fact, the wind is blowing dozens of them into my yard right now. Curse you, wind! So, anyway, I somehow wrenched a tendon that I don’t normally wrench, and the pain was really bad for a couple of weeks. I finally got the nerve to try stretching it early last week, and that worked quite nicely at taking the pain down from about an 8 (waking up in the night screaming like a girl) to a 1 (ouch! don’t do that!), and I could once again lift my leg, which had been too painful to contemplate. But the extreme pain kept me off the bike, like a good boy who wants to ski soon, until Thanksgiving morning. The weather was too iffy to ride to my Mom’s, so I just rode around the neighborhood, out to a couple of cemeteries and back home. (It was wet, and my bike is now crusted with crud, which I should clean off today.) And that didn’t bother it at all, so I figured I was well on my way to recovery.

Then yesterday I finished sticking all those labels on all those CDs, and decided it was time to put them in their proper places in my CD albums (I gave up jewel boxes years ago, kids — there just ain’t enough room once your CDs number in the hundreds). Then the project got huge, as I decided to reorganize ALL the CD albums, mix the homemade CDs in the with commercial CDs, rethink how the spoken word and comedy stuff was arranged, and before too long I had hundreds of CDs and booklets out on the floor, and I sat down there, cross-legged, for hours sorting through it all. (I had a couple of alphabetical setbacks along the way.) And, surprise, surprise! When I got up, there was pain, and plenty of it. Idiot. Stretching helped, but it still hurts more today than it did all week. So today, I get to finish this project like an old lady, at the kitchen table.

It’s actually still warm enough to ride (it’s been in the 50s for a couple of weeks, we’ve been blessed), but it’s windy and gray and I really want to be able to go skiing next weekend, so more rest for the knee is in order. Think I’ll take the kids to “The Incredibles” this afternoon, and wrap up the laziest Thanksgiving weekend in memory.

Thanksgiving and all that

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Yes, it was a delightful day. A friend joined us for the day as her children were elsewhere, we watched the parade, made cranberry sauce (I fall firmly within the anti-can camp), applesauce, and then watched the endlessly hilarious “Scrooged” — possibly Michael O’Donoghue’s finest work, and that’s saying something — then went over to my Mom’s for a very nice dinner. Even got to meet my sister’s new boyfriend, whose existence I only know of thirdhand, but we’re not tight, so that’s how it is. Either he’s a nice guy, or I’m just realizing how much I didn’t like her ex, or both. But that’s not what this entry is about . . . .

And I had a lazy day mostly to myself yesterday, did some puttering and started to get out from behind a stack of CDs that desperately needed labels, which I’m still working on. Sorted out the ski equipment, got the Halloween lights back up in the loft, that sort of thing. Then we went to Proctor’s in Schenectady to see “Spider-man 2,” completely forgetting that last night was their big Christmas parade. Miraculously, we got a semi-legal spot in the Proctor’s parking lot. There is NO better place to see a movie than Proctor’s (though I do like the Sony theatres near Lincoln Center), although last night was apparently TB Sufferers Discount Night, to judge by the unbelievable amount of hacking going on over on the other side of the theater. Also, when people only pay $2 to see a movie, they are even more likely to think they’re free to talk, but again, for once we were lucky and not in the midst of the constant conversation. The movie rocked, by the way. Sets up nicely for the third movie, too, and I can’t wait to see under what pretense they get Kirsten Dunst’s dress soaked in that one. But that’s not what this post is about . . . .

This post is about the Internet letting me down. In this day and age, I assume that pretty much anything I want to know or see can be found on the Internet. So when I go into a deep label-production mode for all the CDs I’ve been ripping from my old LPs, I expect that I can conjure up an image of the original album cover in just about no time at all. If you’ve tried to scan an old LP, you know this is a good thing, because my scanner isn’t big enough to do an LP cover, getting the lighting right on a photo is a pain, and in the end I’m just putting a thumbnail on the label for easy recognition. And one of the albums I’ve been sitting on for a while is the National Lampoon classic “Goodbye Pop,” which I spent an entire stoned summer listening to, late at night, at high volumes, usually singing along, on the front porch of 602-1/2 University Avenue in the ‘Cuse. It was a summer I should regret a lot more than I do. Oddly, the album is just as good straight as it was stoned, and I finally got around to putting it on a CD some months ago. So I wanted to throw a label on it today, and can you believe it? I cannot find ONE image of the “Goodbye Pop” LP cover. I can barely even find any mentions of the album. It has a listing at as “unavailable.” This is the album that brought together ingenious work by Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, and especially Christopher Guest — the classic “Kung Fu Christmas,” the brilliance of Guest’s sleazy record promoter Ron Fields (“He’s a manager, the man who discovered Cirkle”) — and yet the Internet has barely taken note. And worse than that, I’ve gotta scan the album cover. (Pictures of Bob & Ray, I had no problem finding, by the way.)

What am I thankful for? Well, I’m thankful that rant is over, for one thing . . . .

Oh, crap!

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Here it is nearly Thanksgiving, and I completely forgot to celebrate Rocktober! Damn!

I am so going to get a satellite radio. (I haven’t listened to regular radio on a regular basis since about, oh, say, 1992.) While I don’t generally like splitting the hairs of music into iron-walled subgenres, there’s at least a chance that I could turn on the radio and hear something that does not suck. If I study the magazines and the websites, if I read critics and weblogs, I am able to find music that I want to listen to. Why is this not possible by listening to the radio? Wouldn’t you think radio would be a natural medium for listening to music? Why has radio been in a deep, everlasting suck since, say, 1978? (Give or take 6 years.)

Lunch with a pre-teen

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Had an interesting lunch with Hannah last week, right after she had her braces put on (she’s adorable with them, just the picture of a perfect American pre-teen). We were sitting in a bagel shop and having a leisurely lunch together. She’s been curious lately about the lives of her parents Before Hannah, and had been asking about girlfriends who were not her mom, whether a friend of ours had been my girlfriend, that sort of thing. Somehow we got onto the topic of boys and shesaid that boys like girls with big breasts. I had to say that while a lot of boys did, lots of boys liked girls with small breasts, and that
in any event the important thing was to figure out whether a boy liked her for who she was rather than for what she looked like.

While all this was going on, a woman appeared in the line at the counter — buxom, stunning and well-aware of it. Difficult to ignore. Worse, she was the kind who needed to know that people were looking at her, so she was
doing a little dance in line, looking all around the shop, playing with her sunglasses, spinning around so she could be seen from all sides, and casting flirtatious glances at anyone who was looking her way. And of course I couldn’t take my eyes off her. (Being an old man, I’ll take my flirtatious glances wherever I can get them.) So there I was, trying to explain to my daughter, almost certain to be blessed with her mother’s svelte, model’s build, that she needs to understand that
sometimes boys will be attracted to her body more than her mind, while I’m being completely distracted by a meaningless flirtation from a stranger with, as Mudhead put it, a balcony you could do Shakespeare from. (This is one of the downsides of being male — the two brains feel no need to coordinate their desires.)

I think it’s interesting, though, that Hannah felt free to talk with me about that, and wonder how much longer before she becomes convinced her parents have nothing to bring to the table on these topics. My parents never ever discussed such things with me–I’m still waiting for my mother to have the sex talk with me.

A Day In the Life

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My day:

  1. Meet with foreign dignitaries (note: I’m not afraid of the Dutch! What are they going to do, make us pay separately?)
  2. Attend major technological announcement with the big boss.
  3. Close negotiations on multi-million dollar penalty from multi-national corporation for their multi-badness in the past.
  4. Come home and be completely confounded by daughter’s math homework. She was supposed to solve a 7×7 nested magic square (with a 5×5 and 3×3 nested inside), with only the top row and the bottom of the 3×3 given. We solved the 3×3. Beyond that, there were a lot of stochastic theories and Google was no help at all. (I declared “No Googling!” at 6:30. At 7:30, I was cursing the Internet’s failure to provide me with even the hint of an answer.)

How was your day?

Pain and Christmas shopping

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There’s virtually no difference in my mind, unless I manage to get said shopping done before Thanksgiving, which was once a hallmark of my self-esteem but which, in recent years, has been more honored in the breach. (The levels of suck that apply to that sentence are beyond counting.) In any event, can someone tell me what the f I did to my knee? I’m thinking it was the raking, because biking never hurts my knee, and I’m barely functional this week. In fact, despite the fact that it was a gorgeously sunny day (though cold enough that yesterday’s snow is still here– around 30 degrees), I had to dismiss the idea of a bike ride for fear of crippling myself further. So instead I took Hannah out for an early-morning run to the mall, the only kind of mall-run I can tolerate. We were in, filled with consumer satisfaction, and out before most people had started circling for parking spaces. Excellent. She got a skirt she’d been wanting (oh, my god, floor-length denim on this adorable little 11-year-old, too cute), I got a new skiing fleece (not quite what I wanted, but also excellent), we bagged a couple of major Christmas presents to add to the already growing pile, and even snuck in some ice cream, all before second cuppa coffee time. Not bad. And my knee didn’t seem to mind.

Tonight: the new Warren Miller movie, “Impact”! If you don’t know what this means, it’s a skiing thing. Warren Miller is the granddaddy of sports movies, and this is his 55th skiing film. Unbelievable. We have a couple of them on DVD, but there’s nothing like the pre-season anticipation, the excitement of the crowd, and the big-ass movie screen at The Palace. (Jeez, how did we miss Olivia Newton-John last night? Damn you, spam filter!) (Yes, I AM joking, thank you very much.)

Let it snow!

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It’s snowing like crazy here . . . this is a rare blog from work, and my usual view across the Hudson is nearly completely blotted out by the white stuff. (Some towns look good when obscured by a snowstorm . . . Rensselaer is definitely one of them.) Not that it will amount to anything, but Killington is open, Mount Snow is making snow, and I’m hoping to start wearing out my season pass with a couple of early December trips (it matters less what the conditions are when you’re not paying $200 just to get on the mountain). Bring it on, baby!

(It’s precisely this kind of thinking that makes me very unpopular around the office.)

Should mention that something I did last weekend — perhaps the raking, followed by a moderate bike ride, completely wracked my knee, and today I can barely walk. Yesterday would have been great for a ride, but events conspired to prevent that from happening, which is probably a very good thing, considering how much pain I’m in today. But the snow is making me anxious to see this fixed and over with so I can be ready to shred.

We are the ’80s!

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Flipping through the channels with eldest daughter in the room. VH1 Classic is playing ’80s music. On comes some ’80s funk/pop band, I think it was Cameo. The singer is wearing a bright red leather codpiece. Now, how do you explain the codpiece phenomenon to the children of today? More importantly, why should you have to? Thankfully, she didn’t ask. But now all week I’ve had a line from “Hot Sauce,” George Clinton by way of Thomas Dolby, stuck in my head: “The brother in the codpiece / I’ve seen him on the TV / I think he likes his ladies / All sweet and sugary.”

For some reason grocery shopping is much better when the Indigo Girls’ version of “Tangled Up In Blue” is blasting through my ears. Also, Joan Baez doing “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright.” I was listening to that and some other Dylan covers when something very odd happened: a song actually sung by Dylan appeared on my playlist. Unexpected.

Moving into this decade, finished re-reading Richard Russo’s “Empire Falls.” Even better the second time through. I think it’s his best. There’s something familiar, because aren’t “Mohawk,” “Risk Pool” and “Nobody’s Fool” virtually the same book? Yes, and no. This one took many of the elements of the earlier books, reworked them, added an interesting reason why the main character is stuck where he is, and then scared the hell out of any of us who are parents. Really good book, being made into a movie, in post-production. I knew Paul Newman had signed to play Max Roby (a natural, even if he did a similar role in “Nobody’s Fool”), but I’m a little surprised to see Ed Harris for Miles — I would think the role would call for someone vastly less intense. We’ll see what he can do. Aidan Quinn as David sounds like brilliant casting. I’ve never felt like there’s been enough Aidan Quinn in my movies.