Author Archives: Carl

If only life came with upgrades

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Well, it does of course, in a way, and I shouldn’t wish that anyway since upgrades are a major pain in the ass. Spent the evening upgrading to Photoshop 7, and then upgrading the scanner plug-in, then finding that the scanner plug-in won’t take my serial number so I can’t use the scanner plug-in, and so on, and so on. If OS X weren’t so very very vastly superior to all that has come before it, I would never have bothered. But it is. Before it came out, many of us were screaming, “But they left out {favorite function here}! How can I possibly {something} without {favorite function}? What is Steve Jobs thinking?” Turns out he was thinking, let’s give them an OS that is almost totally stable, where everything you need to run all your hardware doesn’t conflict with what you need to run all your other hardware, where you can plug and unplug things without rebooting the entire machine, and which will be so advanced in its graphics that working on a Windows machine is like using a magic slate.
Mercifully, Photoshop still works pretty much the same, just a bunch of new features. Started playing with plug-ins to get some new photos together for a new frame I bought. Wacky plug-in fun, but it does make the pictures just a touch more interesting. It’ll be nice when I can scan again (of course, Epson’s support for its own scanner is, shall we say, nonexistent? Well, no, they did give an unsupported beta, which is more than I can say for the large-format inkjet printer now sitting on the scrap pile. Got a new HP Deskjet 990C, and although it only goes up to 8.5×11, it’s a VASTLY SUPERIOR printer. Of course, the Epson was five years old, which caught me by surprise, I thought we had just gotten it.
Came downstairs this morning to hear Hannah singing, “We gotta get out of this place! If it’s the last thing we ever do!” So the old songs do catch on….

Have you ever seen the rain?

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More rain. Enough already. I’ve been a schlub about running this year, only getting out twice a week or so, and rain every morning isn’t helping.
Another night of scanning old photos. Found some very nice pictures of my wife from college, very modelly. A world away. I look at some of these pictures and I’m so thankful that I was so clueless about what things I would have to face in the future, the challenges and the difficulties. If you knew what was coming, I don’t know how you’d ever proceed. The uncertainty, losing jobs, changing careers, going back to school, changing cities . . . it all looks so daunting from a distance. But we forge on, because really we only get to look at it a day at a time, and we just deal with what’s in front of us.
Also found lots of pictures of the girls, some of Hannah as a toddler that I didn’t remember. These pictures are all in their little folders, not in a scrapbook or anything, so most of them I haven’t seen since they were taken. I sometimes beat myself up for not taking enough pictures of their childhood, but I’ve got three or four thousand-photo boxes that say differently. Now I’ve gone digital, so soon there’ll be CDs scattered all over the place. I need a hard drive the size of the moon, so I can just put all my pictures and all my music on it. Then another one to back it all up.
I’ve got the itch to see Spider-man again. Wonder if there’s babysitting available?

Top 10

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10: Sheryl Crow, “Steve McQueen.” Makes you roll down the windows and drive too fast.
9: Sheryl Crow, “Soak Up the Sun.” Another driving song! Makes me wonder why people stopped making them.
8: Richard Ford, Wildlife. “Sometimes you have to do the wrong thing just to know you’re alive.”
7: A walk through the family cemetery in the Glenville hills, among the graves of some I knew and more I didn’t, trying to imagine what their lives were like.
6: Little Orphan Annie, rediscovered. Harold Gray let you know where he stood.
5: Rollerblading along the Mohawk River behind my 9-year-old on her bike, her streamers flying in the breeze, little legs pumping up the hills and coasting down to the canal lock.
4: The Animals. They rock, and don’t say they don’t. And I’ll love Eric Burdon forever for launching into “House of the Rising Sun” with a low mutter: “I hate this fucking song.” JB Scott’s, Albany, way back when.
3: My five-year-old singing, “My intentions are good! Hold on! Please don’t let me be misunderstood!”
2: Rediscovering old slides from college and high school days. Scanning lets me really look at them for the first time. A vaguely remembered other world.
1: Imani Coppola on Sessions at W. 54th stole a riff from Donovan, and listening to her stuck “Sunshine Superman” in my head, which I’m not terribly happy about.

I wrote this on 9/11

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For some reason this morning we were goofing
around, Hannah said that library was the only class they
hadn’t had yet [in the new school year], so I asked, “Music?” and she said well
they hadn’t had that yet either, and then I asked
“Fire drill?” and she said they had, and then I asked
“Air raid?” and she giggled but didn’t know what it
was, and I told her it was a cold war thing and that
I’d have to explain it later. I’ve tried to explain
the cold war to her a little before. Someone once
suggested to me that it was a little like having someone
hover over your shoulder, just waiting for them to
scream “Boo!!”. And so tonight I was going to try to
explain air raid sirens, filing down to the school
basement and sitting crosslegged with our coats over our
heads, supposedly to protect us from the explosion, the
nuclear attack that could hit Schenectady at any time. I
was going to try to explain Russia, the Union of
Soviet Socialist Republics, allies and enemies and a
world apart. Russkies. Commies. And I was going to be
able to explain it as something from a distant past, a
world she probably couldn’t understand, a world where
we were so uncertain and scared. As we judge the
terrible things that happened then, the witchhunts and the
saber-rattling, it’s so easy to forget that we were all
fundamentally scared.
And now instead I have to explain
that a terrible terrible thing has happened in one of
their favorite cities in the world, a place so close
that we think nothing of going there for a day. That
someone hijacked planes, planes to California like Daddy
flies in all the time, and used them to kill everyone
on the planes and everyone in the buildings, to kill
them because they hate us because we’re not like them,
that sometimes we hate them because they’re not like
us. And then somehow I have to tell them that they’re
safe, that they’re going to be okay, that my beautiful
8-year-old, my beautiful 5-year-old, are going to grow up
safe and healthy and live good lives in a wonderful
place and that everything is going to be all right.

I found an old photograph of my mother

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From the 1960s, leather jacket and skirt, posed fetchingly but conservatively up against some sort of flower cart. Hair poofed out and flipped, very ’60s. Eye liner and, I’m sure, false eyelashes. Her Emma
Peel days. Back when she was doing modelling for some local
department stores. Back when local department stores had
models. Another world, it seems. It was taken by a photographer
she had an affair with. She’s either in denial about the affair or in
denial that I knew about it, but I was 8 and pretty much knew
what was going on, and was angry a lot of the time that I was
being used in the middle of it all, that she was looking for my
approval of this man when I just wanted my father to come back
home. But that’s all years behind, and other than that, I can’t think
of a time when I didn’t fundamentally like my mother. I think she’s
very cool. But I wish we could talk about this, because I want to
ask her: Did you miss him forever?

First The Glimmer Twins (“Bittersweet Symphony”), and now Nokie

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The only thing I learned from “Gun Shy,” which features 75% less Sandra Bullock than a normal Sandra Bullock movie (as measured using the MHSBM —- Mean High Sandra Bullock Mark) is that “Start the Commotion,” a song prominently featured being sung along to by hot chicks in Mitsubishi ads, cops a riff that, while not currently bringing any particular song to mind, is unquestionably sampled from a Mosrite guitar and therefore is credited to the individual members of The Ventures. The number of people who would read the credits at the end of a movie they weren’t that engaged in and recognize the Ventures by name is probably thinner than ever. Except in Japan.
Spider-man? As Lileks said: Best. Superhero. Movie. Ever.