Monthly Archives: May 2005

Losing it, again

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Okay, the first thing I’ve been losing isn’t my fault. Every now and then Haloscan freaks out and stops showing me that you’re commenting, so my apologies for thinking the worst of you (and me, for not providing topics worthy of comment). I’ve reset it, and all is forgiven.

Not long ago I wrote about an uncharacteristic streak of losing things. Add to that an entire book. I’ve never lost a book before in my life. Ever. I even have a guess where I left it — a doctor’s office. If so, somebody else picked it up. It was a fantastic book called “The Orientalist: Solving the Mystery of a Strange and Dangerous Life.” To say that its story of a Jewish Azeri oilman’s son who somehow transforms himself into an image of Muslim mystery as part of the community of Russian expatriates living in Berlin during the rise of Nazism is fascinating would be the understatement of all time. Tom Reiss not only weaves the incredible tale of someone who was once one of the best-known writers in Europe, but explains the impact of Bolshevism and revolution on the lands of the East and the changes and repercussions that we see there to this day. I started with a copy from the library, and when I couldn’t finish it in time, I knew I had to have this book anyway, and I special ordered it. And then, just to support Tom Reiss and the new Manor Block Books in Troy, I lost my copy last week, and will now have to order another.

Oblivious, but in a good way

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Spouse actually asked me last night, “Is there a new ‘Star Wars’ movie out or something?”

What I would give to be able to ignore pop culture sometimes.

So please don’t tell her that they’re remaking “Kolchak: The Night Stalker.” Or that Jennifer Love Hewitt’s breasts will have their own series this fall. I want it to be a surprise.

Someone left a comment on a photo I posted at Flickr, so I went to his page to see what his photos were up to. First image: a “Supertramp” album cover, with a caption proclaiming it his favorite album of all time. His other pictures are of cycling, so you can see that I’m real torn on what to think here. Supertramp? (Gotta go kick up the iTunes before anything gets stuck in my head.)

True movie confessions

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At the risk of being considered even more un-American than I already am (an odd thought, since my ancestors came here in 1637), I am now going to admit that I have never seen a single Star Wars movie. Not one. I’ve barely even seen pieces of them — when they come on TV, I switch the channel. I just have no interest whatsoever. And the few snippets I’ve seen from time to time over the years have not made me want to watch them. They just don’t seem to be . . . good. So, having admitted that, my defense at my deportation trial (and, really, where do you deport someone like me to? Sussex? Perhaps Saxony?) will be that I tried to see the first movie, once, on a date (at the hideous old Cine 1-Whatever at Northway Mall, nasty from the day it opened, and always growing another theater or two). This was fully a year after the movie had opened, but for some reason on this night there was a line and we couldn’t get in, so we chose a different Mark Hamill vehicle, Corvette Summer. Twenty-seven years later, I can remember the title; the movie I’m pretty sure I’d forgotten a week later. One summary:

High School Senior Kenny Dantley’s only love in life is cars. For a shop class project, he and his classmates build a Corvette (“Stingray”). The car is a big hit — so big, in fact, that it gets stolen! Kenny, having fallen in love with the car, sets out on a summer-long adventure in Las Vegas to find it. Along the way, he meets up with a “hooker-in-training” named “Vanessa” (played by Annie Potts). The two encounter danger and romance as they try to steal back the Stingray.

Just imagine.

In further movie news, I’ve just learned that the “Fantastic Four” movie is going to start sucking very soon (you simply cannot put Victor von Doom in the rocket with Richards, Grimm, and the Storms. You cannot.), and there’s an Antonio Banderas/Catherine Zeta-Jones version of “The Legend of Zorro” coming out. I’m not sure what to make of a Welsh Mexican, and I generally only like Antonio when he’s being handled by Robert Rodriguez, but who knows? The trailer looks like things blow up pretty good.

Saw two great movies last weekend for the first time: “Garden State” (I know, I know, where’ve I been?) and “Garage Days.” “Garden State” was so good, so personal, so well-conceived and perfectly delivered that one has to wonder what on earth Zach Braff could possibly do next. “Garage Days”is a surprisingly slick, fast, funny and visually fantastic Australian story of a band trying to make it big. One of the funniest, sweetest rock ‘n’ roll movies ever made.

Fundraising time!

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Another year, another Tour de Cure for the American Diabetes Association. The event, which starts and ends in Stillwater, NY, just a little ways north of here, is one of the biggest in the country, and it’s a huge amount of fun. Hundreds of riders and their supporters, and it’s one of the top fundraisers for ADA. A bunch of readers last year ponied up some ducats in support of this event, and I hope you will again. (However, I don’t intend to try the public radio ploy of annoying you into it. I’ll barely mention it, I promise.) If you can help out this worthy cause, please visit my page at ADA, and click on the “Sponsor me” button. For those with a healthy fear of identity theft or credit cards that don’t work the way they should, my address is there, too, and I’ll happily take checks made out to the ADA. Thanks!

Dream state

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I was as surprised as anyone else, I think, to learn that Julianne Moore really felt that way about me. And sure, she’s much shorter (thought not much red-headeder) than I usually go for, but that was something I was able to overcome. It was the question about whether she really felt something or if this was some kind of class thing, some Hollywood mind-f, some slumming project. But she definitely felt it, I was certain. She may be an Oscar-winner, but those kisses weren’t acting.

And then, of course, I woke up.

Totally unrelated thought for the day: A bent ruler never tells the true time.

Unnatural disaster

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We were awakened bright and early yesterday morning by the sound of heavy equipment pounding the street. Five a.m., there’s yellow iron out at the intersection, banging away. We figured there must be a reason, and of course there was — broken water main. Okay, fine. That meant there was no water for showers, etc. in the morning, but we got by (I biked in yesterday anyway, so I showered at work).

Last evening was the big school budget vote and the middle school’s open house. Not a coincidence. I had, of course, forgotten about both things as I got tied up at the end of the day with enforcement against a recalcitrant entity which shall remain nameless, but which is basically pleading ignorance of the speed limit despite having been caught, ticketed and fined many, many times before. Called home to say I was finally on my way up the hill, and was reminded of the need to go to the middle school, so I said I’d meet the family there, if eldest daughter wouldn’t be too mortified by having her father wander around her middle school in spandex. (She’s apparently just used to me by now, though eventually I know that will be too much for her to bear. If my father had shown up at school, or anywhere, in spandex, I would simply have died.) So we went, we rocked the vote, we viewed the art, toured her classrooms, and finally got on our way home. When we got here, there were supposed to be baths taken, but Rebekah said the dishwasher had taken up the hot water. Odd, but not impossible. So she was going to skip her bath. A little while later, it occurred to me, sitting downstairs, that I heard the water running, so I thought perhaps Hannah had decided to get her shower. Spouse asked if she was, because she heard the water running, too, but when she went up to check, no one was in the bathroom. Well, we’ve previously experienced water main breaks that we could hear in our pipes, so that was our fallback. But spouse went down into the basement, thankfully, and called up, “This is bad!” In fact, it was bad — the rush of water was our own, from a blown hose feeding the dishwasher. Water everywhere, an inch deep in places, but surprisingly little real damage because everything down there is up off the floor anyway. It flooded a couple of tool drawers, but mostly hit the drawers where I store lead type, which will dry out just fine, and my expensive planes, but I can clean and oil them easily. So, a lot of work cleaning up, but no real damage done.

Except, of course, that while I was down there, I heard the telltale spit and sputter of a hot water tank leaking onto its flame. The damn thing isn’t four years old, and was in fact a replacement for a previous one that went bad after only a few months. Arrgggh! I am officially too old to hump water heaters up and down cellar stairs myself, and I’m tired of getting stuck with a gigantic, very heavy (our water is VERY hard, and there is a lot of settling in the tanks) old water heater that I can’t get rid of for months on end. So, as much as it goes against everything I stand for, I think we’re going to have to hire a plumber to replace the heater. (Which is okay, because we’ve been ignoring another minor drip for oh, say, a year, and it really needs to be attended to; my efforts and, in fact, previous professional plumbing were not permanently successful.)

Tonight went a little better. Replaced the hose on the first try, although the shut-off valve, which hadn’t been used in twenty years, of course leaked when I reopened it. Hoping I don’t have to replace that, but we’ll see.

Sometimes I just wish I didn’t know how to do these things.

Mystery solved, and Burt Lancaster

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About a year ago, I went grocery shopping without my iPod. (The whole dead battery thing, now resolved with a very cool, flashy new battery that lasts forever.) This is always a dangerous thing, and can lead to terrible earworms. It can also be surprising what kinds of songs get into programmed grocery store music these days, and it’s not all bad, though there’s something infinitely less cool about bopping along to Blondie coming from the store’s speakers than bopping along to Blondie on your iPod. It’s just the way it is. (Not that being a 44-year-old man bopping along to anything in a grocery store is cool.)

Point? I’m getting to it. Point is that I was in the bread aisle and the song that was playing suddenly grabbed hold of me. It was a kind of lilting, sweet-voiced thing, somewhere in the neighborhood of SixpenceNoneTheRicher, and I realized that I had heard this song many, many times, that I really, really liked it, and that I had no, no idea who did it. In addition, I could remember just about none of the lyric, just that it had “year” in it, something like “time of the year” or “memorable year.” So I started scouring the lyrics sites with these hopeless fragments, and of course found nothing. Then I scoured the sites of the bands that I thought sounded like this, including Sixpence, but came up empty. I searched through Top 100 lists from the past few years, thinking it was a kinda mid-90s sound, but didn’t find anything likely. And I would do this from time to time, but never quite found what I was looking for. I even hit on a site called Sirens of Song, which was dedicated to women who sang in just about the right register for what I was looking for. (Turns out I should have scoured that site a little harder.) But I knew I’d hear it again someday and get more of the lyric.

Yesterday, we were at a benefit cookout for our ballet school at a local country club, and as they were doing the raffles, I heard this amazing song come over the muzak, ever so quietly. I actually got up and went out into the hallway, hoping to catch a snippet, but there were no speakers out there, so I dashed around to the foyer and positioned myself directly under the only speaker out there, cupping my ear so I could hear. I got a couple of lines but knew I was going to forget them if I didn’t write them down — but I had no pen, pencil or paper. Technology to the rescue: I went to the coat room and grabbed my phone, figured out how to enter a “voice note” without forgetting what I had to say.

As soon as we got home, I raced to the lyrics sites and found out what I had almost found out once before from the Sirens of Song site: it was The Sundays, featuring Harriet Wheeler, singing “Here’s Where the Story Ends.” (Older than I expected, too: 1989. Where was I?)

Now, was that so hard? Very thankful there’s an iTunes store in the world.

Burt Lancaster has nothing to do with Harriet Wheeler, except that we all sat down to watch “Field of Dreams” together on Saturday night. I don’t think I’ve seen it since it came out, but we saw a fragment of it a few weeks ago and we’re all suckers for a good baseball movie, and memory had failed to remind me that in fact this is a great baseball movie. But what really surprised me was the final movie role of Burt Lancaster, who always had an incredible screen presence, a fascinating combination of strength and grace, a certain ease of gesture that I never saw in another Hollywood star. Turns out he was a former acrobat who worked to keep his physique throughout his career, something that shows in subtle ways in his movies. But in this one, he plays the doctor who gave up baseball after a bad debut, gets a second chance, and gives it up again to save a child. And as much as I know this is just a silly fantasy of a movie, when he steps off that field and transforms back into the doctor, and you know he can’t go back again — Niagara Falls, Frankie. I weep like a baby.

Call social services

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My poor kids have the world’s most unreliable tooth fairy. I’m pretty sure we didn’t even actively start this ridiculous myth, but once you’re in it, there’s no way out. Unfortunately, ours only appears on the appointed night about half the time — and last night, following an extraction for orthodontic purposes that has left a fairly swollen lip and an uncomfortable child (a procedure that generally fetches five dollars from the mythical realm of the “dentylle folke”), our fairy failed to appear.

I’m going to change this whole thing around — I’ll offer a service through dentists’ offices that guarantees tooth fairy service. While it’s impractical to sneak into people’s homes at night and stuff things under children’s pillows, maybe we can change it so that instead of money under the pillow, kids expect free MP3 downloads to appear in their email. Then at least some good will have come of my inattentive parenting.