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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Transit Torture Confronted

Public transportation is a strange place. A smelly, cramped, strange place.

When my car died in 2010, I planned on buying a new one. But I know nothing about cars and care even less (at least until the Tesla Model 3 comes out), so I figured I'd wait and save and research.

I have neither researched nor saved, but I've waited.

Four years later I use Uber a lot and I take the bus to and from work almost every day.

If you take the bus a lot, you know you see the same people regularly. In my case, I take the bus a lot, but I see people semi-regularly, because I have about a 30 minute variance in when I catch the bus going downtown (between 8:15 and 8:45) and about a 90 minute variance (5:15 to 6:45) coming back, so it's not every day that I see the same people.

Also, I don't like talking to strangers. I've also discovered there aren't many cute girls on the bus who don't have rings and I assume that cute girls don't want to talk to anyone (including me) on the bus

Given all of that, I don't have (m)any conversations on the bus.

But there's one woman that I see occasionally that I find very attractive. She shares my stop downtown but I've never talked to her for a variety of reasons. Mainly reasons involving emotional cowardice and insecurity.

Last night, for some reason, she popped into my head and I said to myself, "Next time I see her, I will talk to her!" Even as I said that to myself, myself said to me, "Yeah, right."

Well, sure enough, this morning she was on my bus. She sat across the way from me and I fortunately had my phone as a security blanket for the minute we were facing one another. Fortunately some dude was in the way, which let me avoid awkwardly making eye contact with her the whole ride, and also gave me an easy out to not talk to her at all.

Still, my mind worked as I stared at my phone.

Would I say something to her when I got off the bus? What if she looked annoyed when I talked to her? I'd be embarrassed and then feel bad every other time I saw her on the bus.

I decided I'd talk to her. No matter what. (With, of course, the omnipresent asterisk that maybe I wouldn't.)

What would I say to her? We were going to be moving, walking towards our respective places of employment. I wouldn't want to creep her out. I wouldn't want to sound too gay. I wouldn't want to be too predictable.

I'd want to stand out but not too much. The classic conundrum that lies at the heart of the human condition.

The stop was approaching. I was running out of time. I had ideas (her hair? Her shoes? Her phone? The weather? Something about me?) but no sure things.

The bus stopped. People filed off. I decided NOT to wait for her to go in front of me--it would have been too obvious that I was being polite and it might have seemed like I was checking out her butt.

We got off the bus. And I had a flash of this conversation run through my mind:
Me: Hi there.
Cute Bus Girl (CBG): [scowl] What?
Me: I just was saying--
CBG: *eye roll*
And then this one:
Me: What up girl?
CBG: [Bored look] I don't know you.
Me: Damn, girl, why you got to be so--
CBG: *snap*
And then, finally, this conversation:
Me: OhmygoshhiI'mEdIhavebeensoclosetotalkingtoyousomany--
CBG: [scowl] What?
Me: -becauseIloveyourshoesandyourhairandyourchestnotthatIstareatyourboobsbutIcan'thelp--
CBG: Fuck off.
So, with visions of grand failure dancing in my mind, I turned to her as she descended from the bus and engaged her thusly:
Me: I love your fingernail polish.
CBG: [confused] Thank you.
Me: What color is that? Periwinkle?
CBG: [smile] I don't know, it's [blah blah blah]
The conversation was short. But she smiled and I got her name. I don’t think I creeped her out and I don't think that I seemed too gay (at that is accounting for my use of nail polish as an opener).

Next time I see her on the bus I'll have some reason to talk to her again... I'm already savoring the torture that my imagination is imposing on me in anticipation.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Post-mort of three deaths... or maybe six

I recently got back from an amazing trip to Scotland (which I plan on writing about soon) and one of the things that I spent a considerable amount of time doing there (at least based on the percentage of the pics I took) was hang out in cemeteries.

I was fascinated by them. For the design of the tombstones, for the variety of size and intricacies involved, for the dedications, and for the level of decay.

Presumably Seattle has some cool graveyards, too, but Edinburgh has tombs that are older than the state of Washington, and that, for some reason, introduces a different level of gravitas that appealed to me.

I've been fortunate to not be touch with much death in my life. I lost a grandfather who was quite dear to me (and, indeed, my namesake) but I retain all of the rest of my family I've ever known and I've never lost a close friend. I suppose this is partially a function of my relatively small family and my inability or unwillingness to make many friends, but I understand I've been lucky and I don't look forward to the pain that will inevitably occur when I lose those close to me.

(Although I guess I might go first. Many more nights like my last one in Scotland (again: blog coming) and that might be the case.)

Actually, I have lost those close to me. When I moved out of my house to strike out on my own in a post-marriage world I had three cats. Houdini, Truman and Potter. (Truman actually moved out to join me a couple of months later, but close enough...)

Three cats is so many to own. Three cats are so many to know all at once.

Along with an inability to approach women, an unwillingness to consume alcohol, my divorce and my advanced age, I had to explain how and why I had three cats.

It's crazy-lucky that I ever got lucky.

Three cats. They were a pain but I loved them. They snuggled me when I was sad. They got in my way when I had something to do. They peed everywhere but the litter box (ok... that was Truman).

It would have been a lot easier if I had owned three plants.

Unfortunately, I never took to owning plants. They were never part of my house growing up, and I never had any interest nor talent in keeping them alive. The extent of my plant ownership is buying flowers for women I like or family members on special occasions.

The three cats I had were a pain, but I loved them. And, after loving them and sharing their lives, I started to lose them.

I lost Potter, the youngest one, suddenly in 2011. He took a nap and his body shut down, basically.

Truman, the one who seemed destined to go first, finally saw his body go out about a year later.

Then, almost like clockwork, Houdini died in the last few weeks. He was almost 16 years old and was in great health until, well, until he wasn't.

My apartment is not empty. I still live with my English bulldog, Rumpelstiltskin. He's adorable and he's got a lot of energy. But as I sit here, typing about my lost cats, and I see him jogging all over my apartment, hither and thither and never at rest, even as I remember he's a puppy, I am reminded of the scene in Rushmore where Bill Murray proclaims his lack of understanding of his own sons.

Maybe I'm just a cat person, I dunno.

After Houdini died, I received condolences from some who knew he was gone. I received three gifts, specifically, from my vet, my office, and a friend. All were plants.

You may recall something: I am not a plants person.

It was sweet, and I appreciated the sentiment, but I knew I was just counting down the hours until I killed the plants--or they killed me. (OK. I maybe have seen Little Shop of Horrors one too many times.)

I wouldn't know how to water them. They wouldn't get enough sunlight. I would neglect giving them food. Or repotting. Or any other plant-related stuff that I had no idea how to do.

As luck would have it, none of those things caused the untimely (if rather rapid) demise of all three plants. What did? Gravity.

I think that most plants are sold in little starter pots, and I guess maybe the idea is that the plant is moved from the little pot to a larger one for proper care ... ? Maybe?

Anyway, I didn't do that, and the plants were top-heavy and one by one they toppled. And broke. And died.

So I am mourning the death of three plants and three cats. And watching my dog snort and run around senselessly, oblivious to it all.

And I am smiling. What's wrong with me?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Barbershop Trio

If I were a chick, things would be different.

(I could use that as an introduction to about 85% of my blog entries. Let's see where this one goes...)

If I were a chick, I'd do my nails differently regularly. I'd wear different shoes and color my hair and try different types of makeup... eye shadow and lipstick and whatever.

I'm not saying that those things, in and of themselves, appeal to me (although I do enjoy owning many shoes). I just enjoy changing things up, and as a dude I'm limited in the number of things I can change: my clothes, my facial hair, and my hair style.

So, when it comes time to get a haircut, I not only tend to get them all cut, but I tend to get a bit excited. It's a socially acceptable time to post a selfie (although I've limited my social circle online (and otherwise, although that's irrelevant to this post) enough where "socially acceptable" means something different for me, I supose). And it's a time where I can use less shampoo and/or hair product without worrying too much about how my hair looks at work.

This past weekend it was that time. Time to get my ears lowered, as it were.

I waited for my friend and stylist. I was called and I removed my jacket (superfluous for such a nice day, but oh, well). I took the center of three empty chairs. As I spoke to my friend, she cut and we caught up and I paid close attention to my surroundings.

I walked out with a shorter 'do and a trio of mini-stories. Enjoy.

Stylist-Client Privilege

To my right, a gentleman sat down for a cut. I have gone a while between hair cuts before, and my hair has been pretty shaggy, even long, but this guy's hair was crazy. Not crazy-long--it was just out of control.

"Why," I mused internally, "that fellow has quite a style. I dare say it will be interesting to see what he prefers, given his current state!"

(I'm not quite sure why I was musing in such an amusing fashion, but I was.)

I didn't have to wait long to find out as I overheard:
Stylist: So... what do we want today?
Dewey: Something for court.
Stylist: Uh, oh. What happened?
Dewey: DUI.
Ouch. The dude might get behind the wheel drunk, but at least he's honest with his stylist.

I felt a little uncomfortable listening in on the conversation (plus, they started talking about something else) so I turned my attention to the left.

Shorter isn't Better

The dude to my left had crazy hair, kind of, too. It wasn't wild and long like Dewey's, but it was (to use a technical term) totally crappy.

It was frizzy and long and sort of spikey. It looked like he hadn't been to a barber or stylist or a location with a mirror in a long while. In fact, it looked exactly like this:

"I dare say," my internal voice exclaimed in consternation, "he has come to the right place to set his wrongs right and to improve upon his appearance."

Now this may come as a shock, but I'm not a professional hair stylist. I barely know what's going on with my hair and I've got a fair bit of experience with it.

Even as a non-pro, though, I was thinking it could be made shorter, styled, with maybe a bit of product.And the guy would look slightly less like he had never thought about making his hair look decent.

I don't know what conversation took place (although we'll talk in a moment about how I definitely paid attention in other ways) but I was surprised when the dude got out of his chair about 10 minutes later and looked exactly like this:

Again: I'm not casting aspersions at the stylist. I'm restricting my aspersions to his hair.

Forever Young

Perhaps one of the reasons I didn't hear Badhair tell the stylist that he wanted a shorter version of the same pile of crap he currently had was because I was staring at the stylist.

"Zounds," my internal dialogue supplied, "I know not whether to gaze at her amble bosom or lick my lips lasciviously at her exposed legs!"

I enjoyed my conversation with my friend--honest. I was eager to see how my hair turned out--trust me.

But the stylist to my left made me eager in other ways.

My hair cut finished, I paid the tab and departed. I snapped the obligatory selfie, sent it to a few friends and posted it on Facebook and Snapchat, and caught a bus home.

On the bus, I sent a txt of thanks to my friend. And I hinted, in a middle school manner, that she should introduce us. Our txt conversation went something like this:
Me: Thank you! It was great seeing you. And nice work on my hair.
Her: Thanks. Good seeing you too.
Me: I am sorry if I was distracted by the chick to our left.
Her: What?
Me: I found her extremely attractive.
Her: Haha.
Me: Obviously the feeling was mutual. We almost made eye contact once.
Her: Obviously.
Me: I just have a gift, what can I say? Seriously, though: when she asks about me, feel free to sing my praises.
Her: I would, but she's 19. I don't know if you're into that.
Me: Oh.
Her: Yeah.
I guess it depends on what one means by "into that", but ... ugh.

Couldn't she have been 21, at least?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Placebo Response (or: The Light Bulb Post)

I don't believe in a lot of things.

I guess that can be said for most people (most don't believe that 1+2=17 or that "asnjk" is a color, for example) so I will rephrase this: I don't believe in a lot of things that many people do believe.

This blog entry isn't about God or extraterrestrial life or Sasquatch.

It's about things happening for a reason. It's about that which doesn't kill us making us stronger. It's about having a soul mate. It's about fate and destiny and kismet. (Evidently it's about synonyms, as it turns out.)

It's also about light bulbs.

Before I get into the light bulb part of it, I'll get back to the lofty stuff.

I don't believe that we are foretold to do things or to be things--either for good or bad. I think that the universe is a series of mathematical likelihoods and, while we can barely scratch the surface of the math (especially people like me, whose math dominance atrophied as his teen years progressed) it doesn't change the fact that predisposition is not the same as predestination.

So, with this in mind, when I hear things like, "Things happen for a reason," I smile sadly.

I have a friend who was diagnosed with throat cancer this week. I have another friend who lost her father this week. Another lost her grandfather last week. Death and decay and cells breaking down.

Obviously I've been more fun than a barrel of monkeys lately.

The thing is that for all of this doom and gloom (almost all of it, let be said, not directly impacting me), I managed to have a minor epiphany this evening. More on that in a moment.

A couple of years ago, I had a bit of a cold. To be honest, I can't recall how much of it was me really feeling under the weather and how much of it was just a nap-desiring body grayout. In either case, someone in my office said I should pump myself full of Airborne, which is a supplement that allegedly boosts the immune system. Another coworker scoffed and said it was all a placebo response.

Which wasn't what I was expecting the guy to say. I knew he wasn't a fan, but I was expecting him to say "placebo effect".

Rather than taking some silly supplement, I got rid of my sore throat (or alleged sore throat; I can't recall) by thinking about that saying. Breaking it down and breaking the phrase I'd become so accustomed to and whether it made sense. And it makes a lot of sense.

If the placebo is inert, it can't project anything. It can't affect unilaterally. A placebo match won't burn trees--that seems to be the essence of what "placebo" means. A placebo medicine should not have an impact on us.

But we often have a response to a placebo... and that's why I currently use "placebo response" now, instinctively, and it sounds weird when I say, "placebo effect"... because that doesn't make sense to me.

Back to light bulbs.

I live alone now. My apartment is far too big for my dog, my cat, and myself. I don't entertain many visitors, and while I make  fair living there's simply no reason for me to be spending as much as I do on rent. I have a plan to move out, but a lease is a lease. And the apartment keeps seeing stuff wearing out. Death and decay even impacts inorganic items, and light bulbs are no different.

A couple of weeks ago I noticed one bulb upstairs was out. Then I noticed one in the bathroom. Then another. And then, last weekend, a fourth went out. It was getting dark and I knew that another couple of lights going out would cause me to walk up the stairs in the dark and/or shower by tablet light. I still gave it a week, though, to see if I'd lose a couple more.

After not losing any more, I decided to hit up the store on the way home from work tonight. Four new bulbs, heavily subsidized because they're energy efficient, and I was happy. I considered buying extras, but I thought I'd reached an equilibrium and walked out with the four I needed.

I got home, opened the door, turned on the kitchen light and...


The light went out. A fifth light when I had only bought four.

Immediately, I thought, "This is a metaphor, right? Or Murphy's Law? Or God punishing me for making fun (deep, deep inside my own mind) for a dude who wouldn't scoot over on the bus so I was halfway into the aisle on the ride home..."

In any case, it took the wind out of my sails. I walked the dog, and thought about it.

I decided that the light was not destined to burn out. It was not my fate to be one lightbulb short.

What happens to us does not always have an effect as much as it gives us an opportunity to respond.

I chose--I choose--to smile when I walk upstairs now. It is well lit. All of the bulbs are working.

Maybe not forever, for sure, and I still have one burned out in the kitchen. But it's OK. I can always buy more tomorrow.

And if another bulb goes out, even if it doesn't make me stronger or even if it didn't happen for a reason, I will remember that it's just a light bulb and light bulbs don't work forever.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Four Theories on Why I Have Warrant Stuck in My Head

You know how you get a song stuck in your head?

Sometimes it annoys you, and sometimes it entertains you. Sometims it makes you start humming it, or it makes you turn to the person next to you and see if they know how to spell "The Monkees".

And sometimes, like the hiccups (as opposed to the hiccoughs (which are, to me, entirely different emotionally even as I can accept that they are alternate spellings, like "ketchup" and "catsup" or "tedious expression of bored creative energy" and "Ed O's Blog")) you don't know why you have been visited and you don't quite know how to get rid of it.

Well, if you know all of this, then continue to read. If you do not know, then you will never fully grok what I'm about to tell you, and you should push Alt-F4 if you're using Windows or Ctrl-w if you're on a Mac. (This blog does not support mobile devices, so you might need to check with your carrier for device-specific next steps in that case.)

Not coincidentally, relative to my preamble, I had a song pop into my head this morning.

It wasn't a song that I listen to every day. It wasn't a delightful power pop number with smooth harmonies and jangly guitars (which is about 95% of all the music I listen to).

It was this:

"Uncle Tom's Cabin" by Warrant.

Which was OK, I suppose. A couple of things were bugging me, though, as I sort of half-sang it as I took Rumpelstiltskin out to walk:

  1. I don't know all the words. I hate that. I know the first three words, the chorus, and the final eight words--with MAYBE ten words intermingled elsewhere. Not that Rumpel is judging me, but ... irritating.
  2. I have no idea where it came from. I hadn't listened to it in years and years. It was maybe my third-favorite song on the one Warrant CD I own(ed?) (Love in Stereo is a classic in that it redefines a classic in a way that is diametrically opposed to the common usage). Why the eff was it stuck in my head?
Because I didn't have much going on this morning (I plan on calling my family a bit later, but the Ducks and Wildcats are off, and my Civ V game is bogging down in the early 1800's (that Civ V site is built using Flash? Bad Sid Meier!) 

So I went to the Web. Specifically, I went to YouTube and listened to the song about ten times in a row (I've currently got Love in Stereo on loop, if you're following along at home).

Then I went to Facebook, letting everyone know of the critical development in my life (something I didn't do when I left my previous employer or broke up with my girlfriend... clearly my priorities are properly aligned).  I asked for insights as to why it would be stuck in my head.

After staring at the screen for a few moments and getting no replies (how dare people not wait, with bated breath and prepared typing fingers, to answer semi-rhetorical questions from me that pop up on their Facebook feed?) I kinda thought about it. And then I started this blog entry.

(Yes, you're right, that is usually the opposite order of things--I tend to think after I click on "Publish".)

So, with all that ado, here are some theories as to why "Uncle Tom's Cabin" might be stuck in my head this morning:

Theory One: Dog the Bounty Hunter

The other night I had a conversation with a friend, and the key (for our purposes here) portion went something like this:
[something I don't remember]
Me: Like Dog the Bounty Hunter?
Her: What?
[something I don't remember]
Clearly that part of the conversation meant a lot to me. (OK. I do remember some/maybe most of it: we actually talked about his hair and the location of where it's shot, etc., etc., but I didn't want to go into it since Blogger charges me by the keystroke.)

Dog the Bounty Hunter is, in case you've never seen the show, a bounty hunter. If you don't know what a bounty hunter is, please check out this fine image I made some years ago for another purpose:

In any case, Dog the Bounty Hunter had a show (which I never watched a single second of if I can be totally honest with you for one single time in my entire life) where he hunted down people for jumping bail. When someone jumps bail, something is issued for her (and I'm not using "her" in the gender-neutral sense here, because only women jump bail, according to that Bounty Hunter poster I 'shopped above) arrest.

That thing? A warrant.

Capitalize "warrant" and what do you get? Aside from regrets that you took the time do such an inane thing, you get "Warrant".

Which just happens to be the name of the band that plays the song that's stuck in my head.

Theory Two: Nelson Mandela

I'm going to say something, and it might be controversial. 

OK. Now I'm going to type what I just said, and I understand it might be controversial. But here goes:

Apartheid was bad.

Even if we can get over the fact that there's an "h" in that word when it's clearly not needed to pronounce it like I do, it was still an odious system that oppressed untold (at least to me, since I haven't googled it) numbers of people and created a gaping wound that the country of South Africa is still trying to heal.

First the tulip bubble, then apartheid... there's a reason that Michael Caine hates the Dutch. (The irony, of course, being that Michael Caine was personally responsible for the deaths of dozens of extras during the shooting of the classic portrayal of the put-upon white guys in 1964's "Zulu".)

(Hey, guess what? Michael Caine didn't really kill anyone during that movie. It was during "The Cider House Rules".)

In any case, apartheid was bad, and one man who gets (and deserves, based on my very sketchy understanding of the facts regarding apartheid and the history of the world generally) a lot of credit for ending it is Nelson Mandela.

Mandela died the other day at the age of 95 (I'm not sure why I added in his age... it just seems that's what's done when someone talks about his death) and he has received (and deserves, based on my very sketchy understanding of the facts regarding apartheid and the history of the world generally) almost universal plaudits (fun word, "plaudits") for his contributions to society and the world and Facebook users feeling like they're sensitive and smart for posting about his passing.

I read something (maybe in the Times (I read "the Times" in my head in a snobby voice, for the record)) about criticisms that he received internally. While you might take this as his stomach reacting to the spicy food he ate regularly, I actually meant domestic political second-guessing and disagreement.

Mandela, according to these people, was too willing to accommodate the other side in order to make a deal. He sacrificed a chance at equality and justice in the name of half-measured expediency.

Are those people right? I have no idea. My knowledge of Mandela is limited, as a practical matter, to knowing how old he was when he died and the totally made-up fact that he had a penchant for spicy foods (I think I will fabricate that he liked buffalo wings).

(My traffic just spiked as all of the "Nelson Mandela buffalo wings" searches just got pushed to me.)

But he was criticized as a sell-out. A collaborator. Even as an Uncle Tom.

(To be honest, I'm not even sure I should be using the term here, but if we cannot use it in the abstract sense in the hallowed and revered and [third synonym for comedic effect, augmented (some might say exacerbated) by brackets for attempt at fourth wall-breaking joke] academic institution that is my blog, where can it be used?)

In the early 1850's, Harriet Beacher Stowe wrote a series of pieces, most of which have fallen into the dust bin of history. While one work will form the basis for Disney's upcoming Star Wars Episode VII, she wrote another novel that has garnered attention.

Let me say a couple of things here: I have not read the novel, and I am not sure I'm a fan of Harriet Beacher Stowe (primarily because she sounds like the kind of woman who wouldn't shave her armpits regularly and I gotta admit that kinda grosses me out).

That novel is a little number called Uncle Tom's Cabin. Which (in case you weren't paying attention (I wouldn't blame you) just so happens to be the name of the song stuck in my head.

Theory Three: My Family

I have had some kinda crazy-big stuff happen recently, some of which I alluded to above and some of which involves running out of milk with two boxes full of delicious chocolate granola almond breakfast cereal sitting in my pantry, but I don't communicate it very well. I think I am capable of doing so, but I tend not to. I want to let things settle down and THEN I'll tell them.

The "them" here is my family, in this case.

The down side of that is that life keeps going and connections that have been made are impacted by changes in my status and if I neglect to share information in anything resembling a timely manner, confusion can ensue and feelings might get hurt.

My father is the middle child. His younger brother is Tom, and maybe I'm having Warrant run through my mind over and over in my head because I don't talk to my Uncle Tom enough.

I mean that in the literal sense in terms of Warrant running through my mind. It's a Micronauts/Honey I Shrunk the Kids situation.

Theory Four: Failure

I like to sing karaoke. I like it a lot. I like it, one might argue, too much.

I am pretty good at singing karaoke. One might argue I am not as good as I think I am, but... fuck that one.

I stayed in last night, and I am contemplating going out tonight. It's a Saturday night, after all, and my Civ V game is, as you may recall, bogging down in the early 1800's.

So I might go out, and I might have a drink and I might sing a song. And I will be confident that I won't mess up too badly unless my voice craps out and/or my Rohypnol immunity wears off (I get so many roofies in my drinks that it's funny (like date rape jokes, period)). I sing lots and lots of songs (to the point where I am nonplussed when people ask me what I sing) and part of that is to change it up and to challenge myself a bit.

But... sometimes I mess up. I pick a song I haven't heard in a while. I might pick a song that is a bad key for me, or demands too much rock-and-roll voice for me to handle. I might even pick a song where  I know the first three words, the chorus, and the final eight words--with MAYBE ten words intermingled elsewhere.

I sang "Uncle Tom's Cabin" once... and it was a disaster. I was too drunk to figure it out but not drunk enough to not be embarrassed. I doubt anyone in the room cared at all (any more than they do when I do extremely well on a song) but... I still grimace at the thought of it and I remember it more than any single song I've sung well.
And that's the way of things, isn't it? I don't remember the times in law school where I cleverly answered the instructor's questions in spite of only having skimmed the readings and not attended the previous class--I remember the ONE time where I glanced at the casebook as the question was being posited and I got confused, in my answer to the professor and onlooking class, and stated that the losing side's position was the one accepted by the court.

I barely remember hitting five three pointers in the state playoffs. I remember (although, semi-thankfully, it's fading) missing a last-second shot that would have propelled us into the finals.

It's good, I suppose, that we (or at least I, since I can't be assured you have the same shared experiences here in the same way that I can regarding songs stuck in your head) don't only remember successes. Good and bad things are intermingled, and remembering only good stuff would lead to overconfidence and doom us to catastrophe as we blindly stumble into the next pratfall. We have butts, after all, for two reasons: to be ogled and to provide padding when we fall, and I am willing to make my next mistakes with my eyes wide open.

In the mean time, I have to listen to some more Warrant to cleanse it from my mind.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Layers of Reality

One of my favorite movies of all time is Reservoir Dogs, and one of my favorite scenes is this one:

Why do I love it? I am not a huge fan of any particular element, but of the way that layers exist within the storytelling. The video clip, by the way, of the scene is a flashback from the main story timeline to a point where the Tim Roth character is telling how he told the story.

When the cop starts telling his story in the scene, it becomes nearly farcical. Awesome, in my opinion, but nearly farcical. To trace the layers within the movie, we have:

The main timeline, where we are transported back to
A scene in a coffee shop, where Tim Roth is relaying a story of
A scene in a bar, where Time Roth is telling a story of
The commode, where he "listened" to
A barking dog and a cop tell a story about a "stupid fucking citizen".

It's great.

I was reading Frankenstein (actually, I am still reading it (not as I type this (that would be difficult))) and read something similar.

The narrative convention for the Mary Shelley classic is through letters, which makes sense. Characters had limited ways to relay experiences to other characters with no telephones or chat clients.

At one point, the storytelling/letter-writing layers become almost too much to follow. I was struck that the layers looked something like this:

The main timeline, which is a letter written by a man to his sister, where he relates
A conversation with a man, Dr. Frankenstein, who is
Telling a story to the brother, and that story includes
A conversation with the doctor's best friend, who gives him
A letter from the doctor's childhood sweetheart, which relates
A story about a woman who lived in her household (and the woman's deceased parents).

Be careful. Please.
So many layers. Add in that the book was written by a woman. And that I am telling you about it.

If you were to tell someone about me telling you about a woman's book that contained a letter from a man who spoke to a doctor about a letter he'd received from his sweetheart that told of a woman's parents who died... why, if you did that then your head might explode.

So be careful.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Music and Me

(Yes. I know that I didn't get back on the horse very quickly. I've thought about getting back to writing blogs, though. Which is a step in the right direction. Unless you don't want me to start writing blog entries again. Then it's a step in the wrong direction. I've got a few partially-written entries that I might finish up this week. I hope. In the mean time, please enjoy this moment of me writing about how old I feel.)

Politica is managing a campaign this spring/summer. She's done this sort of thing before, but she and I weren't together when she managed the campaign process previously... and that's resulted in an interesting experience for me.

This entry, though, isn't about politics or the political process. It's about music.

I am not a politically active person by any stretch of the imagination, but I want to do what I can to help make her job easier, and yesterday I volunteered to help her shoot a video for her candidate.

So. Music.

We gave another volunteer a ride to the shoot location and conversation turned to upcoming activities, specifically the shows that the volunteer was planning on attending in the next few months. And the bands that would be performing. The conversation went something like this:
Politica: So you're going to Sasquatch, right?
Volunteer: Yes.
Politica: Who's performing this year?
Volunteer: Tenacious D. Jack White.
Me: Ah! Jack Black and Jack White, huh?
Politica and Volunteer: [polite chuckling]
As someone who likes to think he knows a little something about most things, part of me was thinking, "Yeah. Sweet. I know what Sasquatch is. I know who those musical artists are. I still got it." Unfortunately, I was cast adrift quickly.
Volunteer: But I'm really looking forward to the other acts.
Politica: Oh, yeah? Who are they?
Volunteer: Blahblahblah, Yadda Yadda Yadda, Somethingsomethingsomething.
Politica: Mmm hmm.
Volunteer: Somethingsomethingsomething. Yadda Yadda Yadda...
Politica: Oh, nice!
Volunteer: Yadda Yadda Yadda. Starfucker. Somethingsomethingsomething.
Whether Politica really knew the bands or not, she at least seemed to. I had no clue what was going on. As Volunteer rattled off the bands, I was thinking one of three things:
  1. Who?
  2. That would be a great name for a band!
  3. Ah, I know Starfucker!
It was perhaps even more demoralizing to my "I've still got it" internal checker that I don't know Starfucker. I knew they existed, but I didn't know what kind of music they played, let alone a song of theirs. I didn't even know whether it was one word or two. (For the record, it's one word. Or STRFKR. At least according to Wikipedia, which once told me that hornets were the spawn of Satan, so I always take it with a small grain of salt.)

It might be a slight overstatement to say that I was humbled, but I definitely felt out of touch with the music scene. I will have to take solace that I can still do well on the Mosquito tone test.