Quick, what’s the first thought that springs to your mind when you view this image

Boingboing today pointed to this film, “Century 21 Calling…”, dated 1964 but courtesy of the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle.

Toward the beginning of the film, the camera following a teenage couple gleefully riding the monorail, we get this rear shot of them.

What first comes to your mind?

Me? I thought, ah, so here we have the nativity of the early Star Trek uniform, the dark oxford shirt with brighter cardigan. And I decided to later blog about this astute notice on my part.

I watched the rest of the film then dragged my 12 year old son in.

“Young son,” I said, “come and look at the childhood home of your antique mother. See how the natives dressed. Ogle the Space Needle. These are the scenes as I would have viewed them at the tender age of five.”

I began to play the film for him. The first words out of his mouth? As this above scene played on the screen, he whooped, “It’s Star Trek!”

We’re not even Star Trek geeks. Though I used to love the show, we’ve never watched an episode with him. Yet this rear profile–the haircut, the collar and cardigan–is immediately defined by him as “Star Trek”.

The Boy Who Loved Jawbreakers

I’ve been going through my files today looking for several pages of writing that I now fear are lost, probably dumped in one of my purges. But I found this, which I’d forgotten about, which I wrote a few years ago.

* * * * * *

Mom. I always find it refreshing when somebody can talk about how great and wonderful their mother is or was, without their demeanor causing me to sit up a little straighter, adrenalin-ready and alert for whatever the poor, sick bastard might happen to do next.

The last time I was around such an individual, I happened to be stuck on a band tour bus with him for four weeks. The first two days, we had the coach all to ourselves (and the driver) hauling across country to rendez-vous with the band in Minnesota. The bus was a steal of a cheap rental for the singer’s management (one of those singer, back-up band kind of things) because it was part of a fleet the interiors of which were scheduled to be redone. Dubbed the “disco” bus, the decoration recalled (or maybe it didn’t recall at all, maybe it was just that old) an era that’s about as horrific as all that plutonium in Washington State dribbling out of its containment area, threatening the Columbia River. Disco is the someone you throw a really good wake for because you’re glad they’re gone, but they mistake it as a loving tribute and several years down the road you feel a tap on your shoulder, turn around, and there’s Burt Reynolds dressed up in his ice cream man suit asking you to dance. “Go away,” you say, “go away.” He laughs and trundles out the disco bus. “Come ride with me in my traveling, nuclear-powered Serendipity carriage! Step with me, Alice, through the wall-to-wall vanity mirrors carved with flamingos–or that mirror on the ceiling ringed with tracer lights that actually conceals a Star Trekian cosmic generator–into the eternal never-never, the angelic trills of BeeGees escorting us on shimmering comet hair to Heaven’s Gate.” The walls, counters, cupboards, blinds, carpet and sleeping area were all varying shades of dark gray and the seating upholstered in blue-violet-black velveteen. What I didn’t get was why both pillars that framed the entrance behind the driver’s seat were black; had one been white we could have held Thelemic rituals.

Continue reading “The Boy Who Loved Jawbreakers”

The Mug Show

For the blog – mugs

Originally uploaded by idyllopus.

Saying Yes informs that The World’s Fair is wanting to know what kind of mug you drink from for the purpose of interpretations of the cultural and environmental philosophy of your mug. The World’s Fair has a set of questions and well, sure, why not.

1. Can you show us your coffee cup?

Sure. They’re not secret, sacred grails that produce coffee spontaneously. As you can, see they’re perfectly mundane cups. I have to show three rather than one because I have an outside the apartment cup and a pair of in the apartment cups that I use depending on how I’m feeling. For me, the indoor cups are a pair and meaningless without each other. In other words, if I lost one, they would cease to be MY CUPS!@#! Not yours, but mine.

2. Can you comment on it? Do you think it reflects on your personality?

See that dent in the side of my Caribou cup? The Caribou cup is about eleven years old (maybe ten going on eleven) and was a gift from Marty. It reflects my personality in that pre-H.o.p., when I was walking home from work and crossing one of Decatur’s scarier intersections, on foot, at night, I accidentally dropped the mug. Despite the fact it was night and the intersection was dimly lit, and traffic had begun to move (one of those several point intersections that gives you two seconds to haul your ass across the road which means I was running) I stopped and flung myself back a lane to grab the mug and race off the road. “This is stupid,” I thought when I was doing it, but I counted on fleetness of foot and adrenaline to preserve my hide. This reflects my personality to the degree that I’m a dedicated and loyal sort, some times ridiculously so. And kinda stupid. Because it was stupid to retrace my steps and grab the mug (which was dented by its fall that day). But it was an important one to me, a gift from Marty during really strenuous and impoverished times. I had the same sort of ambition to preserve the mug as I had the day Tuesday, when a new puppy, slipped her leash and ran into a busy street with oncoming traffic. I could tell I’d a split instant opportunity to race into the street and grab her and keep running, but only if I kept running. I was running even as I was thinking about it and scooped her up without stopping and I couldn’t have been more right on target in my estimating the safe outcome of this risk, thankfully. I’d just lost my dog, Vanessa, to illness, and I wasn’t ready to lose this new puppy which I’d just pulled through Parvo (we’d been told she had been vaccinated but she came down with Parvo immediately).

I would totally kill H.o.p. or Marty if they ever ran into the street, unless it was Marty running after H.o.p., who knows better as I’ve taught him since he was knee-high that streets are dangerous places and demand great respect. If either one of them stopped on a busy street to retrieve a mug I’d scream at them about it for the next ten years. And these days if I lost my Caribou cup in the street I’d let it lie there, because I wouldn’t want to be a bad example to H.o.p., plus it’s eleven years old and you can’t expect a stainless steel mug to last forever. Anyway, this reflects my personality in that I might damn you for things that I do or have done.

The other two mugs are my indoor ceramic mugs, about four years old. Some times I’m Marvin the Martian and sometimes I’m the Tazmanian Devil. I need no others, except for the cup with snowflakes on it that a sister gave me for Christmas with a bag of cocoa and so I always drink my nightly Winter cocoa in that mug (because I’m a dedicated sort that way). Anyway, I purchased the Marvin and Tazmanian Devil mugs myself and I suppose they also reflect a certain impact of animation on my psyche preceding H.o.p., and certainly augmented by H.o.p. I used to be able to mimic the voice of Marvin the Martian dead on, and entertained H.o.p. for quite a while with this. H.o.p. is the only person in the world for whom I’ll do Marvin the Martian. Because I’m shy.

3. Do you have any interesting anecdotes resulting from coffee cup commentary?

Do I have any interesting anecdotes resulting from coffee cup commentary? No. I’m only now giving my coffee cup commentary and not enough time has passed for interesting anecdotes to accrue.

Oooh! The World’s Fair means do I have any interesting anecdotes to do with anyone else ever looking upon my cups and feeling moved to say a few words on them.

No. No one has ever made any observation on my cups. Not the Caribou one that I carry with me everywhere outside the apartment, nor my inside the apartment cups.

I do have a fun caribou story though. As in real live caribou.

3. Can you try to get others to comment on it?

Sure, I’ll do so by placing all this on my blog.

P.S. I just realized that nothing I’ve related has anything to do with “for the purpose of interpretations of the cultural and environmental philosophy of your mug”! How self-serving and thoughtless of me!

Uhm….I had no environmental philosophy working behind the acquisition of any of the cups. I’ve held onto them a while and that has to do with sentimentality and also a belief in using something until it’s all used up and it’s time for something new. This has its drawbacks in that there are very fun cups out there that I’ve never considered purchasing only because I didn’t really “need” them.

Mundane Story About a Three Day Gig at a Movie Theater

Originally uploaded by eman59.

The photo to the side isn’t mine. It’s by Eman59, whose photography I’m following at Flickr right now. I love the photo, which is universal (for all who’ve interacted with a box office window), but it also reminded me of a job I once had.

Post pop-psychedelia, a movie theater opened in Augusta that was designed to please lovers of Kubrick’s “Clockwork Orange” and “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In”. The walls were glossy white with bold stripes in neon pinks and oranges. The scattered seating that sparely ran along the walls from the minor bow to a lobby to the rear refreshment area was all crayola colored, velveteen ottomans wanting bongs and Nehru jackets retrieved from moth balls. And appropriately, in probably record setting time, post pop-mod theater went from fresh, lemony, strawberry new to greasy seedy.

When the theater had just opened, which must have been about 1974, and was still hopeful, eager as a Freshman college student, Marty and I went to a film there, which is the only time I remember going to see a film there (though we went to see a few others, I’m sure). I don’t recollect what the film was. I only recollect that Steve Morse (Dixie Grit, Dixie Dregs, Steve Morse Band, Deep Purple, Kansas) was there with a date, and I decided I didn’t like him. But then I’ve usually not cared much for lead singers and guitarists and he struck me as already succumbing to starry mentality. Marty had gone to school with Steve and had played with him a little early on, whereas I was in high school with one of Steve’s brothers, who was a fine musician in his own right, and always struck me as an awfully nice guy. So Marty knew them both (and Steve’s older brother, a percussionist), whereas I’d only known Steve’s younger brother. Marty had told me all about how great Steve was and a nice person but when I met him I intuited Ego from ten paces and immediately sensing it I pretty much veered around and walked in the other direction.

For all I know he was just like me, in as, eventual friends divulging, “At first, I thought you were scary/always angry/hostile! But you’re not like that at all.”

In other words, I don’t mean to be ragging on Steve here. I don’t know him. I’m just giving what *I* felt at the time, which was a gut feeling that he could happily do without meeting me, and that not-much-of-a-meeting is the one memory I retain of Post Pop Theater Palace in its prime, most likely because I heard about Steve Morse for years, Marty knowing different people who played with him. Plus, in Augusta, Steve was already a music legend. We still have a couple copies of the way early Dixie Grit demo LP.

A year later, when I was eighteen, I found myself in one of those jobs that college kids tend to pick up, which would last only for several days and had me back at Post Pop Theater Palace, not working at it but hired by the chain or something to sit in at the theater and examine how it was run, and be present every night when receipts were counted up, and recount and sign for them and take them to the bank.

How I got the job, I don’t remember, and didn’t have any clue really what to do, armed with only a daily record sheet with different items I was supposed to check off, things like how clean were the lobby and bathrooms.

By now, Post Pop Theater Palace had gone to total seed, its dreams of hip dashed. Its aura was rotted Disco, when Disco was still big. One could feel the heady monetary draw of triple X rated features in a not-so-distant future that would never be reached only because of lack of initiative. Sporting two then-medium-size screens, on one of them was probably a PG feature, while running on the other was an R. Lynn Redgrave in “The Happy Hooker”, a Cannon Film, which to me was so off-puttingly lowbrow that I only ducked in once, for less than five minutes.

I tried to do my job. I sat in the ticket booth while the ticket collector collected tickets, and I could tell the ticket collector didn’t want me there, and the ticket collector kept telling me I really didn’t have to do that part of my job. But I did it anyway. And though I was sitting in the booth with the ticket collector, the ticket collector made me feel like Eman’s photo, like I had dared to attempt to infiltrate the rear workings of the carnival, and that it wasn’t appreciated. The ticket collector wanted me outside, on the other side of the glass.

I wandered the theater during the films, looking over the projectionist (I was supposed to make sure he wasn’t sleeping) and checking on general cleanliness.

And at night I sat in the office and at first I counted the money, like I was supposed to, each night the manager telling me I really didn’t have to do that part of my job, that it wasn’t expected of me to do that part of my job. And I took the money to the bank drop-off, though the manager kept telling me I didn’t have to do that part of my job, that it wasn’t expected of me to do that part of my job.

For some reason I had the idea this was one of THE reasons for my being there, to oversee the receipts at the end of the day. I don’t recollect why I had that impression but I must have talked to someone over the phone and been told something about the job. There had been no personal interview. I had been hired cold based on recommendations made by others.

I had a check sheet to go by. Had I sat in the ticket booth and monitored ticket sales? Check. Had I watched the counting of the money at the end of the night? Had I then counted the money myself? Had I placed the money, myself, in its deposit bag? Had I dropped off the money myself? Check, check, check.

By the weekend, though, I’d given up. As I figured it, I didn’t have much choice.

“You really don’t have to do this part of the job. They don’t expect you to do this,” the manager had said, planting himself between me and the deposit bag, come Friday night. And as he was decidedly decisive about it not being part of my job, and as I was eighteen and not much inclined to tussle with him over the deposit bag, I backed off and let him make the deposit on Friday. I didn’t sign for having made the deposit myself.

Weekdays, the theaters had been nearly empty. Weeknights had been a bit better. The real business was, of course, had Friday and Saturday.

On Saturday night the manager wouldn’t even let me count the money. “It’s going to be a long, long night,” he said when the theater had shut down. “There’s no point in your staying. We’re just fine here.”

I sat down in the office anyway, to watch the counting of the receipts.

“I told you, It’s going to be a long, long night,” the manager said again.

“It’s all right, it’s my job,” I said, and remained seated.

The manager stood, pleasantly smiling. “It’s going to be several hours before I count the money, and I can’t ensure your safety with that amount of money that late at night.”

I remained seated but by now didn’t know what to say. Finally, I reiterated, “It’s my job.”

The manager stopped smiling.

“It’s not your job. I keep telling you, they don’t expect you to do this, all they ever expected you to do was make sure the movies start on schedule. Now, I’m not going to get around to counting the receipts for several hours. That will put you leaving very late. You never know what might happen, and I’m not going to be responsible for your safety.”

The manager then smiled again.

Though I felt like I was irresponsibly abandoning my job, I decided to leave rather than press the matter. It just seemed like the thing to do.

“Now if you’ll sign…”

I declined to sign the sheet.

My memories are fuzzy about it all, and I’m paraphrasing, but then it was a fuzzy place and I felt like it wanted to keep me as fuzzy as possible.

It had not been a pleasant job.

The one memory that has stayed securely with me, kind of like how oatmeal is supposed to stick with you when a cold cereal won’t, was my 9th grade science teacher purchasing a ticket for “The Happy Hooker”. I’d liked him when I was school, because he’d put up with me, was what I considered to be fair, and so I never had a reason to give him a hard time. He didn’t recognize me and I didn’t run out of the ticket booth exclaiming, “Hi, Mr. So-and-so! Remember me? You taught me in 9th grade!” He was buying, after all, a ticket to “The Happy Hooker”, and though he didn’t look embarrassed, he also didn’t have the demeanor of someone who was wanting conversation. He looked tired and like he wanted to be left alone. It was a weekday afternoon and I wondered why he was there, if he was no longer teaching.

While Ms. Redgrave was performing a mild striptease on top of a table or desk, I slipped into the back of the theater and sat for a moment to watch my teacher and make sure it was really him.

It was. He was several rows in front of me. There were about three people in the theater, counting me.

He had fallen asleep and was snoring.

I went and sat out in the lobby. It was a bright, sunny day. A big poster for Kenneth Anger’s “Hollywood Babylon” was on display. The film was made in 1972 but Anger’s book was rereleased in 1975 and I suppose that’s why the film was set to play again in the theater. I sat and stared at the poster, and didn’t even consider returning to see it, because it wasn’t the kind of film I’d be interested in seeing.

I also knew that I would never go to that theater again.

Parenting a nine-year-old, after you stop wondering if you have a poltergeist, you start wondering if you’ve lost your mind


We’ve had problems with lost items in the past, in this apartment, which have nothing to do with H.o.p. I had long ago concluded there are teeny tiny blackholes abounding that science knows nothing about, which suck up random belongings and very occasionally spits them back out a few months later, though most often the items are gone forever, I guess those of which the black hole elves are especially fond.

Aaaaaah, but week before last it was different. I began to feel like I was losing my mind. Too many items disappeared and the elfen blackholes simply don’t choke down items on a daily basis.

I really knew I must be losing my mind when H.o.p. started yelling for a new little game board he’d made, one with a Red Wall illustration he’d drawn. I could remember having seen it two days after he’d made it and thinking, “That shouldn’t be there, it’ll get lost,” picking up the item while doing a quick straightening up and putting it on the bookshelf next to my desk.

Then here was H.o.p., Sunday, after the the Saturday I’d put up the item, screaming where was it and it wasn’t on the shelf. It wasn’t anywhere. We looked up, down, under and over and it was nowhere to be found. I kept asking H.o.p., “Can you remember when you last had it?”

“I didn’t!” he kept saying. “Don’t ask me again!”

Eventually he calmed and resigned himself to the fact this game he’d made was nowhere to be located.

But it had to be around here somewhere. Usually the elves don’t go running off with tin Altoid cans. I don’t remember ever having lost an Altoid tin to a black hole. Doesn’t happen.

I even dug into the trash, because I remembered that when I’d been cleaning I’d been holding the tin (the one which H.o.p. had turned into a game) in my left hand while throwing some trash away with my right. Had I glazed over and thrown the tin away as well? I went through the trash three times.

I stared at the book shelf.

I cleared out everything under the bed looking for it.

I went through H.o.p.’s drawers. I searched under the sofa-futons. I looked under every pillow and even went through my knapsack.

We once lived in a duplex with a fireplace covered over by a painted piece of tin. We could hear squirrels and birds in it occasionally as the chimney had never been blocked off, wild urban fauna making homes in it. We never found any evidence of the squirrels entering but during the year or so we lived there every earring I had lost its mate. I’d a number of earrings and every single one lost its mate. I didn’t lose a single pair complete, just the mates disappeared. (Carole, hi, it was the earrings you gave me from when you were living in Mexico, plus every other pair of earrings I had at the time.) When we moved out we even took up the gratings and searched down in the heating vents, wondering if our American Bobtail had deposited them down there. No. And moving out all the furniture revealed no secret hiding places.

I always thought it bizarre that it was just the mates of earrings that disappeared, leaving me with one of every pair.

It didn’t occur to me when all the earrings disappeared that I was losing my mind, but with the Red Wall Altoid tin I was wondering what in the hell was going on. Yes, that week H.o.p. has always shown up with an item that had gone missing (except for some sheet music of his) but the accumulative effect was playing with me. By Monday morning after the Saturday I’d put the Altoid tin up, and the Sunday when it disappeared, I was still worrying, “Where is his game? Where is his game?”

Finally, this squeal came from up front. “I found it! I found the game!”

Where had the game been? Situated underneath Elmo in what has become Elmo’s chair, which was originally the highchair where H.o.p. first tasted mashed carrots, then broke down into a table and chair (by design, not force) and the chair’s vinyl upholstery is long cracked and coming apart but H.o.p. loves it so we use the blue table as an end table holding books and Elmo sits in his little blue chair in front of it. And H.o.p. often sits on the floor next to Elmo’s chair with his foot high stack of paper, drawing.

I guess we’ve gotta start keeping an eye on Elmo.

P.S. The person who lived after us in the apartment with the tin-covered fireplace, removed the tin and used the fireplace for a mini personal hydroponic pot farm, the tin hiding. So, I hear! I never saw it myself. It was a duplex and we’d moved to the other side. After the guy moved out and his sister went in to clean the place out for him (which he’d neglected to do) it turned out he had a full wall of stacked, unwashed cat food tins, which explained the flood of roaches we were getting on our side. A few months later we were sitting outside with friends who lived in the neighboring buildings and we started noticing pot plants growing here and there and pulled them up. Well, other people noticed them. I’m bad at identifying plants and wouldn’t recognize a pot plant to save my life, even though I did a biology paper on marijuana in tenth grade and included meticulous drawings of pics found in the encyclopedia. Doesn’t every tenth grader?

Anyway, I figured the wayward pot plants had something to do with squirrels having raided the duplex neighbor’s fireplace.

Just occurred to me that my earrings may have been spread around the yard in little squirrelly hiding places?


Nearly 40 years after, here I sit watching The Monkees’ one and only feature film, Head, on a little Toshiba (won’t play on the ‘puter), my mind pretty well blown away by the fact this was co-written and co-produced by none other than Jack Nicholson and Bob Rafelson (Five Easy Pieces, The King of Marvin Gardens) and how bizarre is that. This is my second viewing of the movie, so I could blog about it. The first time, Marty was watching with me and said, “Wait a minute, is that Jack Nicholson walking through?” “Nah,” I replied, still focused on the unexpected appearance of Not-Divine. (Note: Oops! See the comments. Jennifer at Saying Yes saved me on this one. I’d identified initially the actor as Divine but it’s not Divine. It’s T. C. Jones, died 1971, and a good 25 years younger than Divine. No WONDER Divine was sooooooo unexpected.) But it was Jack Nicholson, and I wonder if it was Nicholson or Rafelson who decided The Monkees should play dandruff vacuumed out of the hair of Victor Mature, who afterwards gleefully terrorizes them as the Jolly Green Giant on the back sets of Hollywoodland, laughing as he stomps about and they run. I’m guessing the choice of Victor Mature has something to do with his playing Sampson, but what do I know. Mature’s tyrannical pursuit of the American Fab Four could instead be inspired by his having once remarked, “I’m not an actor – and I’ve got 67 films to prove it!” If there was one thing that would follow The Monkees, purportedly (according to their theme song) the voice of youth, the up-and-coming who had “something to say”, was if these spokesmen were musicians, were even actors, if they were anything beyond an advertising scheme a cut above the Lucky Charms Leprechaun (Kellogs being one of their sponsors), a wildly successful marriage of faces and fast-paced slapstick and accessible voices that took the selling of music from local radio to national television, priming the preteens for MTV, a concept sold by Nesmith to Warner Amex as Popclips.

Continue reading “Head”

That sound you hear is millions and millions of cribs rolling over pearl-encrusted streets toward heaven

Well, aren’t we all going to rest easier about all those little babies, stretching back to the dawn of humankind, which died before benefit of sprinkled baptism? Rome has decided that they all aren’t gurgling in Limbo cribs, eyes attempting to focus on the restrained delights of a distant heaven dangling from a mobile just beyond reach.

When I was eight years of age I asked my CCD nun, what about my sibling twins, who had died soon after birth? I knew she’d say, “Limbo!” I told myself, “What’s the use in asking when you know what she’s going to say?” But I had to ask anyway. Some times you just have to hear the cruel rejoinder rather than assuming it.

“Limbo,” she sternly replied.

Which wasn’t cruel to me personally as I wasn’t a believer in the benefits of baptism. I’d been baptized, by then, at least twice. My first baptism had been at about four or five years of age into some Protestant church. At the age of eight, the Catholic church saying the Protestant first baptism didn’t take, I was sprinkled into the Catholic Church, and though I was only eight I sniffed politics and used to joke about how Really Clean and Heaven Ready I was.

The reason I asked the nun my question is because I wanted to hear straight from her mouth her cruelty. It didn’t hurt me, but I wanted to hear it straight from her mouth, how she would respond to an eight-year-old who had lost siblings, wanted to hear from her mouth how her vision of her church would respond. I suspected how she would respond, but I wanted to give her an opportunity to pause, to say she wasn’t sure, to incline to comfort rather than condemnation. As I anticipated, she didn’t pause, she didn’t hesitate.

“Limbo,” she said.

When my mother picked me up, I told her what the nun had said.

My mother cried. “Why are you hurting me like this?” she asked.

I hadn’t intended to hurt her. I had just wanted her to know the kind of people I was hanging around at CCD.

She later wised up.

* * * * * * *

Credit: REUTERS/Osservatore Romano (VATICAN)

Not to bash anyone having a good time on their birthday, but we see above Pope Benedict XVI with his birthday cake this past week, and I think to myself, y’know, that seems an awful waste of money for a purportedly charitable organization. You and I both know that’s one damn expensive cake. And it’s very easy to get around that kind of ostentatious display by announcing beforehand, “No gifts for me, please! Instead give to the charity of your choice.”

Though insanely expensive, everyone in the above pic can rest easy that it doesn’t come close to being one of the most expensive cakes of all time…like the 1.65 million dollar diamond fruit cake of 2005, or the 2.16 million dollar cake of 2006 celebrating Mozart’s birthday, or the 20 million dollar diamond wedding cake of October 2006 at the Luxury Brands Bridal Show on Rodeo Drive.

While we’re at it, click here to give a cup of rice to some hungry people.

(Yes, in other words, those cakes are lots and lots of cups of rice.)

OK. Enough of that.

* * * * * * * *

What else was I going to write about? I was going to write about something and it wasn’t going to be a boring rant about this HELL of a cold (well, not hell) that just won’t stop. I keep thinking it’s “finally clearing out” but today I’m taking some OTC cold medicine to help with the congestion and cough (no, not a chest cough) and general unpleasantness. I hate cold medicine because it makes me feel so weird. Even weirder that Benadryl.

One of those colds that compels you to not do anything that you don’t absolutely have to do.

I’m looking right now at a picture of a very dead, upside down swordfish trapped in a tuna net, on the cover of this month’s National Geographic. The title is “Saving the Sea’s Bounty”. It’s not making me feel any better. It’s not supposed to make me feel better, I know…but today of all days I don’t need a dead swordfish poking around my brain.

* * * * * * * *

Now what?

I dunno.

The cold medicine has completely stopped the cough and blowing of nose, it seems, but I now have a searing headache (that dead swordfish, I told you I didn’t need it) and have to keep picking my head up off my right shoulder to which it keeps gravitating.

H.o.p. is calling me to watch “Redwall” with him. I have no use for that cartoon. He loves it. The sacrifices we make. I will now go in and watch “Redwall”…sideways…my head sitting on my right shoulder like it is.



H.o.p. asks "What's your most embarrassing moment"

H.o.p. is wanting to know things like “What’s your most embarrassing moment” and by this he means two or three dozen. As my whole life is an embarrassment I was unable to make a selection. But the co-adult is less tragic and does have a segment that he has always related as “most embarrassing”.

He was about 21 years of age and was playing in Augusta with a band that had toured opening up for James Brown. I remember the incident as having happened a few years later than 1977 but he insists it was when he was 21. I remember the club as having a back room with a couple of arcade games that were more late 70s or early 80s than mid 70s, but there were a lot of clubs and it gets fuzzy. Considering the line-up of musicians it may have been as early as co-adult says it was and I do have a hard time imagining my spouse with a few more years on him being this stupid. And I should note that co-adult had so embarrassed himself it was a while before he told me this story, which is probably why I remember all this as being later. Anyway, they were playing a house gig at a club owned by a friend of The James Brown, Godfather of Soul. The club wasn’t doing very well and trying to boost it and help his friend, James Brown often came in and performed with the band.

Co-adult was young, by far the youngest guy in the band, James Brown was one of his big heroes and co-adult was so in awe of James Brown that he couldn’t bring himself to speak to him, which the bass player noted and asked why and co-adult explained this to him. Co-adult said James Brown was an easy guy to talk to and if he was nervous about it then go with a mission, ask him what song he wanted to sing.

Which co-adult did. During the break, he went over to James Brown and asked him what song he’d like to be singing next.

James Brown smiled and said he thought he’d like to do, “Try Me”, a hit from 1958.

Co-adult knew nearly all these tunes, but his brain had shut down. Had he been on stage and they’d started the song, no problem, but standing in the presence of the Godfather of Soul he lost all memory. He said, “I’m sorry, Mr. Brown, but I don’t know that song.”

James Brown smiled and said well, then how about “Please, Please, Please”, another 50s song.

Co-adult again found his brain a blank, and apparently determined that he should profoundly embarrass himself as penance, said, “Mr. Brown, I’m sorry but I’m way too young to know any of that old shit.”

James Brown smiled and said that was all right, how about “Poppa’s Got A Brand New Bag”. Having properly humiliated himself, co-adult regained his memory and that’s the end of that story. I suppose if you’re not a musician you might not be properly appalled but whenever I hear the story, though I snicker in appreciation of co-adult being properly embarrassed all these years by that moment, I can’t kick the sensation of ants crawling all over, nipping at me painfully.

Turns out we haven’t properly educated H.o.p. He used to love one of James Brown’s albums when he was a tiny tot, but it’s been a while, and he asked, “Who’s James Brown?” Talk about cringing in embarrassment of having failed to do one’s duty! For which reason we now have some new James Brown CDs and I’ve been showing him some of the performances archived on Youtube, such as the below “Please, Please, Please”.

If you’re not screaming and pulled out of your seat by the middle of this performance, there’s no redeeming you.

The small ways in which art imitates life – Sightseeing “Unending Wonders”

Fireworks Emporium, Tennessee
Fireworks Emporium, Tennessee

Fireworks Emporium, Tennessee - Google Maps Redux
Fireworks Emporium Revisited, Tennessee – Google Maps Redux

The thrill and explosive, thunderous pizazz of colorful fireworks, which we Americans so closely associate with the clarion call of freedom and the 4th of July, but instead of a celebration of peace were probably more intended to recall and celebrate the “rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air” of war. The first fireworks display I remember as a child was a 4th of July celebration in Seattle, the lights mirrored by the water beside which the show took place. My family considered fireworks to be dangerous and best overseen by professionals, perhaps partly due a great-grandfather of mine having lost an eye as a child to a fireworks accident (I never heard the whole story, only that it had happened and that he would baffle, amuse and frighten children by taking out his glass eye, this man who didn’t sound very funny but instead was a rather severe seeming patriarch). We only ever tried out sparklers a couple of times and I disliked them. The little beauty and excitement they provided wasn’t enough to make up for the smell and the undependable froth of sparks biting my hand. As soon as a sparkler was placed in my fingers I wanted to get rid of it. When I later met people for whom these state-line fireworks emporiums existed, who would stuff bags of them into their cars and carry them back to their homes, where they were illegal, I didn’t get it. To me, they were just an accident waiting to happen. What was the great thrill in the boom and the bang?

That eye of my great-grandfather, the glass one he would scoop out and with which he would terrorize children, I used to wonder what happened to it. Was he buried with that eye in its partner socket? Did someone in the family keep it as a reminder, and if so then to whom did it now belong? What color was its iris, blue or brown or hazel?

It seemed to me, writing Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World, that the novelty of a personal fireworks display was the kind of foundling, initiatory adventure Faith and Chance must have, celebrating their new freedom, escaping their lives and Georgia. I based the emporium on this one. Where nothing happened when Marty and I stopped at it once for gas. We had no adventure. But we stopped there because I knew that, eventually, Faith and Chance, hunting the Great Penguin, would stop there as well. But just because they would set off fireworks didn’t mean that I had to do so. My great-grandfather had lost his stereo vision because of fireworks, and that seemed like the kind of genetic history lesson that one minds. A kind of oracle. “Descendants. Do not tempt fate by doing as I did.” And I’m not into risking digits either.

Risk. I felt there was an element of risk basing a story around two young women running off to look for something as preposterous as a Great Penguin. Or at least that seeming the stapled on, purported goal of one of them. I didn’t worry about the scheme of the wanderers and their road trip being too hackneyed. I knew it wasn’t. That my story and the writing of it was original. But I was concerned that in a first blush brief scenario of a few sentences, it might appear hackneyed. “Two women undertake a road trip…”

“Oh, a road trip.”

“Yes, a road trip.”

Benadryl and Juliette of the Spirits doesn’t mix well

One reason I’m slogging through mud around here is because I’ve been doing Benadryl round the clock for allergies the past couple of weeks, which I hate as sometimes it makes me feel quite doped. Had just taken some last night when I sat down to watch “Juliette of the Spirits”, which I’ve not seen in several years as our copy was bad. But now have a new DVD. Was unable to watch it all the way through though as I kept falling asleep, despite the fact I was riveted, as ever, by the photography and Giulietta Masina’s amazing face.

I’m reminded that I’ve not seen “La Strada” since the 80s and must view it some time soon. I recollect nothing about it.

Had forgotten just how frightening to Juliette was the visionary appearance of the barge of the barbarians. She is at the beach and witnesses Suzy and her entourage float up in their pretty much incomparable way. And then the vision of the barge of the barbarians, the first scene of which is the dead horses.

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