Monthly Archives: April 2005

Losing it

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I’m not a person who loses things. That’s not to say that I don’t forget things on a daily basis – the chance is slim that I’ve left the house on any given morning with all of the following: sunglasses, wallet, cash, cellphone and Blackberry. Lately, I’ve twice forgotten to even put on a belt. And for the first time ever, I arrived in a strange city ready to do some testifyin’, and I had forgotten to pack a dress shirt. I could even picture it on its hanger, outside my closet door, waiting to be lovingly placed in my bag. Never happened (luckily, I was staying right near the Filene’s. There was even a sale). But in general, I don’t lose things.

But now I feel like I’m losing things left and right. Let’s start with pens. I am currently leaking pens from my possession at an alarming rate. I have no idea where they go, but they disappear at a phenomenal rate. The other day I pulled a new one out of the fresh box, turned around to do something, and when I went to put my fingers upon the new pen, I could not find it anywhere. In February, when I was wandering around The Gates, I lost my clip-on sunglasses (the backordered replacement for which finally arrived yesterday, in a box big enough to hold a toaster oven.) I have lost a LOT of bicycle accessories in the past year, which is driving me nuts – I lost a pump and a U-lock (which was about to be eligible for a free replacement, since it was discovered that a toddler could open a U-lock with a Bic pen – which may explain the disappearing pens, now that I think about it). Last week, I lost my bike computer – and if you don’t understand that it is pointless to ride a bike if you don’t know precisely how far you’ve gone, how long it took, what your average speed was, and your total climb in meters, then you really just don’t understand what Type A is all about. That was an expensive loss. I’ve lost a phone battery and a headset. For several months, I had even lost some CDs – I have NEVER lost a record – but they finally turned up, buried in with some old work that had been stuffed away. I don’t know if this is an age thing, a voodoo curse, or simply the work of some old-fashioned gremlins, but it must stop. Go away, gremlins!

I have not yet lost my iPod (though I thought I had, once), but its battery has lost all its power, so I’ve finally had to shell out for a replacement battery, which I’m hoping to find has arrived when I get home. I have a long bus trip with sixth-graders tomorrow, and I may need some music to get through it. Through the miracle of the Internet, I can see that my battery is well on its way to me, but I can also see that it has already visited Crystal Lake and Addison, Illinois; Louisville, KY; East Syracuse, NY; and Colonie, before arriving at its final destination. In other words, it’s seen more of the country than I have.

My point? I lost it.

Heads or tails

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You would think that by now I would have learned to recognize that that incredible power in my legs is, in fact, a tailwind, and that on the way back, I’m going to be going into a headwind. Rode into work the last two days, a ride that is so short as to be barely worth putting on the shoes, but if I have the time to stretch it a little bit I can enjoy it. Last night, I got out of work early and thought I’d just loop up toward Troy, cross the river and ride home on Route 4. Tres reasonable, n’est-ce pas? Took the streets north because the bike path is just choked with slow traffic and an inappropriate place to ride a road bike, though they did a nice job repaving it. Got up to Menands and learned that I would not be allowed to cross the Troy-Menands bridge, which was news to me — it’s not on an interstate, but bikes were prohibited, so I had to trudge up to Watervliet and cross at Route 2, which both took longer and left me having to ride through some of the nastiest streets of Troy (in every sense of the word.) And as I headed back south, I started encountering 20-30mph headwinds, so strong that if I stopped pedaling, I simply stopped moving. And while I felt good on the ride north, I didn’t feel like I was being pushed that hard. So my quick spin turned into an hour and a half ride, a jaunt through Troy once again proved to be a mistake (and I haven’t learned yet!), and my thighs have ballooned. So, why is it that I am so heavily into a sport that always finds me a long way from home with a sore ass?

Echo Valley 2-6809

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I used to call that number all the time. In a desperate bid to listen to something different this weekend, I popped in a minidisc I recorded several years ago (before CD burners were so cheap and easy to use) and rediscovered one of the great albums of all time: The Partridge Family’s “Sound Magazine.” This is not a joke. And while I still despise the fact that Rupert “Pina Colada Song” Holmes had anything to do with it, “Echo Valley 2-6809” is still a great song. And so is “I Woke Up in Love This Morning,” and just about everything else on the album. There’s a digitally remastered version on Razor & Tie that is calling my name.

Next up: The unknown masterpiece by Herman’s Hermits, “Blaze.” Still not kidding.

Kids away

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Sin City ticket stubWhat do we do when the kids are away for an entire night (other than forget that we don’t have to whisper when we go to bed)? We go out to watch a hyperviolent movie and then come home and listen to music real loud. In other words, act like kids. (Well, teenagers, anyway.)

Both were invited to yet another birthday party sleepover (and this sleepover insanity must be stopped — it ruins the entire weekend and leaves everyone cranky the next day). So we were able to run over to the Spectrum to see “Sin City.” I’m a huge fan of Robert Rodriguez and every review pointed to this being done right, lifting storyboards straight from the comic frames and creating a hyper-real, illustrated world. I was not disappointed. Lee asked some of her students what they thought of it, and they were apparently quite concerned that she be prepared for the graphic violence. Afraid the old teacher couldn’t take it. Please. We were there when they invented graphic violence, you little whippersnappers. And it was, in the most literal sense, graphic. It appeared drawn, illustrated, and as in Kill Bill, that really takes away the shock and the horror and leaves you able to look at the thing itself. Bruce Willis was amazing and, as Lee said, Rodriguez knows what to do with Mickey Rourke. That’s saying something.

Then we came home, completely visually fulfilled but with a couple of hours left in the night, so I popped in Aimee Mann’s live DVD and turned the music up real loud. Okay, not REAL loud, but much louder than I could have if I had had two sleeping munchkins upstairs. It’s starting to look like her upcoming show at the Egg is just impossible — it’s midweek, on a dance lesson night, and the logistics look unmanageable. But the DVD is a nice substitute, and hopefully she’ll do another one for this tour — it was really well-done, with excellent camera work and lighting, and really really good concert sound.

That all came after a delightful morning spent with my two girls, out running errands and having a sweet spring morning together. Had to get Hannah new glasses — prescription is the same, but she’s had the same pair since third grade, and they’re just getting too small for her face. The new ones she picked out are tres chic, and will no doubt lead to a lot of broken sixth-grade hearts.

Things stuck in my head today

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  • “Ho! Ho! Ho Chi Minh! NLF is gonna win!”
  • Any number of songs by Blood, Sweat and Tears. All of which I hate.
  • Several songs by Three Dog Night, which I put there trying to get the taste of BS&T out of my head.
  • A Weakerthans lyric, which I love: “Hold on to the corners of today, and we’ll fold it up to save until it’s needed. Stand still. Let me scrub that brackish line that you got when something rose and then receded.”
  • The tick-tick-tick of the sprinkler head, which is trying to wet the grass seed, part of my triennial impulse to try to establish an actual lawn like other people have. Don’t worry, it will pass.

50th birthdays and Ho Chi Minh

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Okay, this is weird. My last two hotel stays have been in places that hosted the 50th birthday celebrations of national figures. The first was the Lake Placid Resort, where Bill Clinton’s 50th was celebrated not so many years ago. The second was the Parker House in Boston, where poet/author/father of a Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes was feted some time further back — not too surprising, the Parker House being just up the street from the Old Corner Bookstore, where Holmes, Longfellow, Emerson, Hawthorne, Harriet Beecher Stowe and the whole gang used to gather. More surprising, to those of us who have lost a little bit of our Vietnamese history, was the discovery that Ho Chi Minh was once a pastry chef in the Parker House. (Malcolm X was a busboy, but somehow that doesn’t seem like quite the enlightened role an establishment would like to say it played in the development of a national figure.)

As it happens, I had not a single Parker House Roll, nor a Boston Cream Pie, during my stay in the Hub, but I did get to visit the Granary Burial Ground, just around the corner from the Parker House and a short jaunt from the Common, and was delighted to find therein the graves of Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Ben Franklin’s parents, and Crispus Attucks (and the rest of the Boston Massacre group). Quite impressive to have so many notables in one place, and the stones, though well-worn, are beautiful.

Driving through the Hub

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And I mean that literally. Haven’t been to Boston in a few years, and the Big Dig has made things weirder than ever. Oh, you can drive throughBoston in no time at all. But just try to get off in the actual city — that’s another story entirely. I am perfectly at home driving in New York City, Montreal, D.C., San Diego, Sacramento, and San Francisco. Once I have driven somewhere I do not ever forget how I got there. But Boston confounds me every time. Apparently, fixing all the leaks is taking up the money that otherwise would have been spent on signs that say “Downtown, Next Exit.” Not that they ever had that, but I used to know to get off at Storrow Drive/Government Center. That exit is gone or renamed, so we missed that — then bombed on through and kept looking for a way to get off the highway. There was none. The next thing we knew we were sailing through a tunnel. Then we hit some surface streets and thought we could just take one of the bridges back over, but there was a detour for one and it was apparently actually physically impossible to get to the other. Somehow we ended up in the Ted Williams Tunnel (he was the Splendid Splinter, you know) and at the airport, where, we reasoned, it must be possible to find one’s way back to the city. So, we did — and once again, could not find a single exit until we were all the way back at what used to be the Storrow Drive exit. Thrilled to find something at least slightly familiar, we took that in and then did a couple of spins around the Common before we found our hotel. I was never so glad to see a valet.

On the other hand, I found this amazing lobster hat.

Oh, Mann

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You know who’s good? Aimee Mann, that’s who. Listened to “Lost in Space” while getting groceries last night, and it just drilled into me again. “Say you were split, you were split into fragments, and none of the pieces would talk to you.” She has a new album coming out, and is coming to Albany soon (must get tickets!) And if you have any liking at all for “Voices Carry” from back in the Til Tuesday days, you will want to check out her iTunes originals version, a slowed-down acoustic that really really works.

“It’s Not” –I keep going round and round on the same old circuit A wire travels underground to a vacant lot Where something I can’t see interrupts the current And shrinks the picture down to a tiny dot And from behind the screen it can look so perfect But it’s not So here I’m sitting in my car at the same old stoplight I keep waiting for a change but I don’t know what So red turns into green turning into yellow But I’m just frozen here on the same old spot And all I have to do is to press the pedal But I’m not No, I’m not People are tricky, you can’t afford to show Anything risky anything they don’t know The moment you try, you kiss it goodbye So baby kiss me like a drug like a respirator And let me fall into the dream of the astronaut Where I get lost in space that goes on forever And you make all the rest just an afterthought And I believe it’s you who could make it better But it’s not No, it’s not No, it’s not