Author Archives: Carl

Snow came!

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Just enough to get me out of my travel obligations for the morning, which was fine with me. Cancelled that, rolled out late to start the shoveling — heavy stuff, but I wasn’t in a big hurry, so it was fine. Girls were out for about two and a half hours messing around in the snow, they couldn’t be happier. Now they’re tired and full of hot chocolate, just as they should be. Wish we could go tobogganing over at Albany Municipal Golf Course later on, but we’ve got dance class in the late afternoon. Well, maybe we can work it out anyway.
Made a great label for the new Christmas CD. Got my final addresses for the Christmas cards (lost my address book in the great crash of Labor Day).
We'll Nuke YouI’m of very mixed feelings about all the sabre-rattling. I think the case is there to be made, but that the administration hasn’t bothered to make it. I think that you can’t threaten to go to war without being ready to go to war, so all the preparations in that direction certainly are necessary to show our resolve. But I’ve gotta say that the message from the administration, as filtered through the New York Post yesterday, was a little alarming: “WE’LL NUKE YOU”. That may not be the message that causes moderate Iraqis to join the fight against Hussein. On the other hand, it’s not ambiguous. And I’m a little sick of people who think this has all happened of a sudden, that Bush was handed a perfectly stable set of circumstances and mucked it up. There were eight years between Bushes, when we essentially acted as if none of this were happening.
That’s my political contribution for the day.

Snow’s coming! Take cover!

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Jesus, people, it’s the Northeast. It snows. Sometimes a whole bunch. Get over it…
I think the media are to blame.
Anyway, freezing rain and sleet, with a bunch of inches of snow on top, coming tonight. Looks like I’m NOT driving to Newburgh tomorrow (field trip to look at some kind of burning technology). We’ll see if it’s possible to get off the hill in the morning or not.
Did I mention that I got ALL my Christmas cards done? Written (pithily and with brevity). Rubber stamped (messily and with Christmas colors). Mailed (expeditiously and with extreme prejudice). Okay, so I’ve got a couple of stragglers, but ALMOST all of them are done. Burned a new Christmas CD last night, too. It was hard to decide if using little snatches of William S. Burroughs narrating “The Junkie’s Christmas” was too dark, but in the end I decided to go with a few of them. I love the story, but others may not quite get it. So I reduced it to three snippets, odd and out of place, such as: “‘Merry Christmas, Doctor.’ The doctor said nothing in return.”
Why couldn’t I just love Celine Dion like everyone else? On the upside, some real new Christmas songs, including Cracker’s kickass “Merry Christmas, Emily” and the long-sought “Sock It To Me Santa” from Marshall Crenshaw.
Gotta run and get home before the storm hits. Panic! Panic!

Zoiks, what a day!

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Non-stop. Running from one meeting to another. Tomorrow I am actually triple-booked at a couple of times, including a meeting with a major famous pain-in-the-ass. Hopefully, he won’t actually show. We’ve gone from zero to sixty around here, which doesn’t bode well for sneaking some days off for skiing. But I’m going to — I got virtually no time off at all last year (and an abbreviated summer vacation), so now there will have to be some give. Mount Snow is pretty much completely open, so I MUST get over there next week.
Ice on the river today, quite lovely — the ice breaker came through and broke things up pretty well, but it looked like it was reforming quickly. (My office has a beautiful view of the mighty Hudson.) Our lake is frozen, and if it doesn’t snow it may make for decent skating, though I’m sure the kids’ skates no longer fit. We didn’t skate at all last winter, mostly because we were skiing, and partly because I really need soft-booted skates and can’t justify the expense to myself. But the old stiff boots do bad things to my heel, and they do it much faster than my ski boots. It’s supposed to warm up on into the week, so who knows if the ice will be thick enough this weekend. The lake was frozen a lot last year, but the surface was never great, and the year before it was constantly snowed on.

Old School Shout Out

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Okay, so it’s a little undignified for a 42-year-old white dad to say, “I wanna give a shout out to….” But to any of the folks who are browsing the old school pics, drop me a line if you haven’t already. Love to hear from you. The link’s on the left somewhere.
I was going to try to make something of the fact that the pics were old, of an old school, and on film (an old-school medium), but I got to the point where wise words of a colleague, spoken as I was reaching desperately for a pun, rang in my head: “It’s not supposed to be work!” So, consider the associations made, and pun ’em if you’ve got ’em.

Warm California Sun

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Well, it was warmer than 6 degrees, anyway. It got up around 60 in Sacramento, we saw some sun, and there were oranges in the Capitol park, but I couldn’t figure out how to free them from their bondage without having to explain myself to The Man. There are some things state agency executives Just Don’t Do, and rustling oranges at another state’s capitol building is probably one of them.
There’s a certain agreeable rhythm to a cross-country flight — takeoff, movie starts (Spy Kids 2. Seen it. Twice.), drinks, food, drinks, bathroom/leg stretching break, drinks, end of video, last break, and then just as you’re getting restless and tired of listening and reading and solitaire on the Palm Pilot, you touch down. Of course, you touch down in Philly or Pitt, so you’ve got another hour of this nonsense before you’re home, but right now, it’s okay. I think this is the seventh cross-country trip in the past couple of years, one of the few perks of the job. If it’s a perk to worry about being stranded, having to reroute from Philly to Pitt, and spending hours in the nearly abandoned USAirways terminal at SFO with zero food or drink options. Oddest thing ever : in order to balance our unusually empty Airbus 321, which had a cargohold full of lettuce, we all had to sit behind row 18 until we’d hit level flight. Odd, no? Never heard of this on a jet before, but we did it, and I took my patented takeoff nap so it wouldn’t matter much whether they’d really managed to make the right calculation based on “average passenger weight for wintertime.” They really told us that. Anyway…
Not much play on this trip. Stayed at the new Sheraton Grand in Sacramento, nice but still ironing out the kinks. Didn’t even try out the pool. But Thursday afternoon we took the Land Shark (Lincoln Town Car, The Car That Doesn’t Feel The Road) up to Napa, via the back roads, and had a nice time touring wineries and an olive oil tasting place. Shipped home a bunch of stuff for Christmas, flavored oils and so on. Weather was agreeable (especially considering back home was getting socked). Up around 60, but cool at night. Got in one run, and hit the ileotibial band wall right away. Not happy about that. Adjusted badly to the time change, and now I’m having a hard time adjusting back. Didn’t even see the ocean this time.
Newly discovered old Zevon:
“We made mad love, shadow love,
Random love and abandoned love
Accidentally, like a martyr
The hurt gets worse
And the heart gets harder”

Pikachu Eats Times Square<

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Pikachu Eats Times Square!
New York Thanksgiving
Pikachu eats Times Square, yes?
Bright pink tongue, happy.
That’s my haiku for Thanksgiving in NYC, which was fabulous expensive fun. Now I’ve done New Year’s Eve and Thanksgiving in New York (albeit 22 years apart) — what else could there be?
The girls were wonderful, the room at the Dumont Plaza sparkling (though overheated), the weather chilly but not frigid. We saw the inflating of the balloons, a very enjoyable little stroll around the Upper West Side. Got up not so very early on parade morning and made our way to Times Square (where potties were available, if necessary, in the hotels), and after a while, through some attrition among the underdressed, and some good will, Lee was able to squeeze Hannah up to the front where a batch of kids was sitting. I held Bekah, all 60 pounds of her, up for a while, and then there was space for her, too. I am not a person for crowds or mass spectacles, but if you’ve ever watched the parade on TV and thought it would be fun to be there in person, all I can say is, save up all your bread and fly TransLove Airways to [END outdated Animals reference] New York City. There was such energy, such a friendly, joyous buzz in the crowd, spontaneous bursts of applause for New York’s Finest and New York’s Bravest (though the real heroes of an event like that are New York’s Strongest, the Department of Sanitation — and yes, that’s really what they call them), and the balloons. The balloons are huge. Gigantic. Just amazing. The day was fairly windless, so we didn’t have any dangerous excitement, but even so, when a giant yellowish mac-and-cheese-box dinosaur starts drifting over your head . . . well, that’s a New York experience.
Lovely dinner with sister-in-law in Brooklyn, who put on huge amounts of food, and it was all good. Friday was spent on the tip of Manhattan — over to the Statue of Liberty (cold and windy!) and Ellis Island (lovely, and coincident with Hannah’s school unit on immigration, so she was thrilled). Then we went to Ground Zero, partly to show some of what I do, partly to show the girls that I could be involved in a response like that and I’d be okay. Bekah was very interested and had wanted to see it all along. Hannah was very skittish about it. Then we went to the Winter Garden, which I’d never been in. A very special space to a lot of New Yorkers, and nice, though not all that much of a garden. Still, palm trees in New york, and beautiful. Plus, there was ice cream. Then we went up to Union Square and walked through the Christmas flea market, which was fun. And on Saturday morning we went to the observation deck of the Empire State Building, strolled through Macy’s, had lunch at Grand Central and were on our way home. I’ve never been such a tourist in my life.
And all these things were fabulous, they’re all New York, but they’re not all that makes it so magical. There were so many little moments, such as all the subway and street musicians. Bekah had a ball dancing along to a pair of roots blues players in the subway. There was a man dancing with a doll in the 14th St. 4/5/6. There was a delightful busker who could speak snatches of numerous languages, to the delight of the Japanese and Germans in line for the Liberty Island ferry. Rebekah marvelled at the windows of the button stores on Broadway, oohing and aahing over the variety of buttons and trim and plastic tiaras. Just a delight, and truly, so much city they had to name it twice.

Always come back to The Church

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The band, that is. Way back in the earliest days of MTV, we caught a late-night video (the only time I can remember seeing it, in fact) for “The Unguarded Moment,” and we were hooked. For years, I bought everything I could find from The Church — this was back in the days when I had time and energy to scour independent record stores for import EPs. They even had a little bit of a hit maybe around 1990, but it wasn’t their strongest stuff and my interest started to fade at around the same time I was rejecting my compulsion to own everything my favorite artists offered. Then a few years back the reviews for their aurally stunning cover album “A Box of Birds” were so strong that I gave them another try. This time, the reviews and MP3 snippets for a new slew of Church albums brought me back again. “After Everything Now This” is something that, as the reviews say, any even slight Church fan must have. Then, in addition to that album, they put out a 2-CD set of remixes and live tracks and other stuff from “After Everything Now This,” so now I’m completely absorbed into a Church cocoon once again.

We’re Googling our lives away, people!

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Listen, if you’ve somehow come to this site because you did a perfectly innocent search on “glycerol ester of wood rosin” or, my most recent victory, “iliotibial band,” all I can say is, thanks for visiting and I hope you’re easily amused. I would think it’s perfectly obvious that I have nothing useful to say on either of these topics, but they generate a lot of traffic! Apparently there are a LOT of people like me who will search for a topic and hope to find something that is only tangentially connected to what they were looking for in the first place. (For the person looking for “pictures of Whipple Truss,” I’m sorry. But I’ll try to fix that deficiency.) (And for all of you who have searched for “Bennington College Photos,” my apologies. I have photos of Bennington, and I have photos of college (and even one of Southern Vermont College), but I don’t have photos of Bennington College. The shame of web deception….)

James Coburn

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One of the great things about Turner Classic Movies is that when someone notable dies, TCM will often schedule a block of movies to honor that person while he or she is still in the mind. So with James Coburn’s passing, I was treated to a lazy Sunday of folding laundry, playing Quidditch (the Harry Potter cardgame – no broomstick skills required), and three great movies that featured James Coburn: “The Great Escape,” “The Magnificent Seven,” and “Charade.” (Of course, this also gave me two glimpses of Steve McQueen, star of the best song of this past summer.) Coburn didn’t have too much of a role in any of them — he did the most work in Charade, which works well as a who’s-doing-what and less as a romantic notion; the least in Great Escape, where he struggles with an Australian accent, builds an airpump for the tunnels, and in the end escapes to Spain. His greatest asset was his determined visage, on the edge of menace, always leavened with a sign of humor. I haven’t seen “Affliction” (the atmosphere of the book was really enough), but I imagine he played the abusive father simply by turning off that little light of humor, becoming pure menace. TCM could have put on “Hell Is For Heroes,” but then we would have been even more confused as to whether it was McQueen or Coburn they were honoring.
Miracle of miracles, I didn’t leave the house this weekend. Never got behind the wheel. Lee is able to drive enough to get the girls around, and offered to do their rehearsals on Saturday, which offer I gratefully accepted. Did some scanning work, some cleaning, a little vacuuming and mopping, and generally lazed about the house with the TV on much more than normal. It was heaven.
New York awaits!