Sunday, March 29, 2009

Boys' Day Out

Justin and I have had a good day together. Things started early, when -- after breakfast -- we went over to my new "getaway pad" and put down the deposit, picking up a slew of keys that will certainly require their own ring. Maybe it was my mood, but the place looked a little bigger to me this time. I also noticed that there is actually three windows in the apartment. I had only remembered there being two. After that errand we dropped by Ravenna Third Place to pick up a couple of books on consciousness that I had special ordered. I happened to run into an old friend there that I used to work with years ago. It was nice to catch up with him for a few minutes. From there we went to our favorite Mexican Restaurant, Jalisco's. There are probably a half dozen Jalisco's sprinkled throughout the city, but accept no substitutes: the branch on 65th st. is the best by far. After our fine meal we stopped at a playground on Roosevelt in an attempt to let Justin burn off some energy. After a brief stop at the library, we were back home after a productive and fun morning. All of the activity did it wonders, because Justin took a three hour nap. I have to admit that I also slept for most of that time. It was a very restful afternoon. Now we are both awake, and the backyard is calling to me to enjoy some more of this rare sunshine before the earth turns away from the big ball of fire.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Big Changes are afoot in my life. I will be moving into my own apartment in the next couple of weeks. I found a closet with windows not far from my own house, and it has too many pluses to pass up. Now the pressure will be intensifying to get a job that will pay my bills. I've been trying to weasel my way back into a technical job after being out of the field for about 15 years. I may have to return to a bookstore in some form, but that wouldn't be a tragedy.

I got out to see I Love You, Man last night. After reading that Roger Ebert awarded it three and a half stars in his review, I had high expectations. I cannot say that my expectations were met, but it was quite funny, and ultimately heartwarming. It also touches on a very real issue that I can also relate to, which is the difficulty of men making friends with other men. The Apatow crew has done it again, by mixing raucous gross-out humor, a smart script and poignancy. It's refreshing after years of dumbed-down teen comedies to have a chance to see humor aimed at my audience. I may have liked it more than I originally thought, because I keep recounting moments from the film to my wife.

I've been in a country music mood lately. By "country music" I don't mean top-40 Nashville crap. I mean real country tune smiths like Robbie Fulks, Rodney Crowell, Merle Haggard and Jim Lauderdale. Some folks consider country music to be depressing, with its themes of loss, and drinking to assuage loss. There are many other facets of country. For instance Robbie Fulks' "God Isn't Real." You're not likely to hear that song on your local AM country station. A week ago I was listening to a lot of Heavy Metal/Hard Rock, such as White Zombie, Static-X, Rush and so forth. Now I seem to be at the opposite end of the musical spectrum with my craving for twangy, acoustic country tunes. Who knows what my musical mood will be next week?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Little Afternoon Music

I awoke this morning in the mood for a little country music. Maybe it was my low energy. I was in the mood for some mellow music that brought to mind images of lounging on the porch with a cold one in my hand. I satisfied this craving for country with some Merle Haggard and Rodney Crowell. Speaking of Rodney Crowell, here's the title cut off of his most recent album.

Ugh!

I have struck ill by the nasty virus that has been burdening my three-year-old son for the past couple of weeks. Just as he has recovered his toddler energy, I have started to feel like the living dead. I was due for a doctor visit for a re-check of my high blood pressure, so I'm hoping to get a dose of antibiotics today also. If I'm lucky I'll pull out of this viral fog just as the clouds lift and spring arrives in reality.

These days I'm really craving being in the middle of a engrossing novel, but instead I decided to tackle Richard Dawkin's classic work The Selfish Gene. I keep seeing the book referenced in other works I have read, and thought -- in this year celebrating the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth -- that I should get it into my memory cells. Not that all of that information will be easily retrievable, but I'm sure to absorb most of it. Even with those motivations I still read it with part of my mind thinking of all the wonderful fiction sitting on my shelves unread.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

No Excuses . . . Well, Maybe a Few

I have been remiss when it comes to maintaining my blog. It's not as if spring has arrived and the sun has drawn me outside. In fact, I just looked at the forecast: "showers, rain, showers, showers." Tomorrow is supposed to be rain instead of showers. I'm assuming that means a slighter harder downfall than a mere shower would provide. I had an inclination to walk around Green Lake tomorrow morning, but that may have to be put off if it's raining hard.

One of the reasons I haven't been blogging is that my son has been quite sick for the last two weeks. Two weeks ago his viral infection brought on an asthma attack and last Saturday evening I took him into the emergency room, because his eyes were swollen. He looked like he had pink eye. Instead it was just more viral infection that had spread to his eyes and ears. He is much better now after nearly a week of antibiotic. This has been a rough season for the nasty cold virus attacking my toddler. Be gone I say!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

A Musical Interlude

I sure do like singing along with this tune. Ignore the goofy 80's outfits and enjoy the song. "Burnin' for You" by Blue Oyster Cult.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

'Round Midnight

I found this "meme" while visiting a blog last week. It's not really a meme, but more like a digital chain letter.

Shuffle Song Quiz

RULES:
a) Put your MP3 player, iTunes, Windows Media Player, etc. on shuffle
b) For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
c) YOU MUST WRITE THAT SONG NAME DOWN NO MATTER HOW SILLY IT SOUNDS
d) Tag at least 5 people
e) Everyone tagged has to do the same thing (no they don't, actually)
f) Have Fun! (Step f is not required)

1. IF SOMEONE SAYS 'ARE YOU OKAY' YOU SAY? “Buena Suerte, Señorita” by Flaco Jiménez - “Good luck lady” - That’s exactly what I say!

2. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF? “A Higher Place” by Tom Petty - Well, it does have the word “higher” in the title.

3. WHAT DO YOU LIKE IN A GUY/GIRL? “Take a Pebble” by Emerson, Lake & Palmer

4. HOW DO YOU FEEL TODAY? “Minus” by Beck - They got me on that one.

5. WHAT IS YOUR LIFE'S PURPOSE? “The Artist in America” by Ornette Coleman - A symphonic cacophony, but the title is reasonable

6. WHAT'S YOUR MOTTO? “A Passage to Bangkok” by Rush - “We only stop for the best” Oh yeah!

7. WHAT DO YOUR FRIENDS THINK OF YOU? “The Best Place I’ve Ever Been” by World Party - Need I say more?

8. WHAT DO YOUR PARENTS THINK OF YOU? “Hot ‘Lanta” by The Allman Brothers Band

9. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT VERY OFTEN? Piano sonata no.14, Moonlight Allegretto by Beethoven performed by Mikhail Pletnev

10. WHAT IS 2 + 2? “My Maria” by B. W. Stevenson

11. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR BEST FRIEND? “Greens Fees” by Dan Tyminski

12. WHAT IS YOUR LIFE STORY? “Morning Has Broken” by Cat Stevens - Yes, I have the music of Yusuf Islam on my hard drive.

13. WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP? “Mockingbird” by Allison Moorer

14. WHAT DO YOU THINK WHEN YOU SEE THE PERSON YOU LIKE? “(Interlude”) by David Byrne - A soothing 22 second instrumental.

15. WHAT WILL YOU DANCE TO AT YOUR WEDDING? “Begin the Begin” by R.E.M. - My actual wedding was a low key affair performed by a Justice-of-the-Peace in the office of my wife’s former cat clinic. I’d rather not remember the reception from my first marriage.

16. WHAT WILL THEY PLAY AT YOUR FUNERAL? “Side To Side Ft Lateef & Pigeon John” by Blackalicious - If only they would. This tune would raise some eyebrows.

17. WHAT IS YOUR HOBBY/INTEREST? “Self Love” by Jaguar Wright - As Woody Allen said in Annie Hall, “Hey, don't knock masturbation. It's sex with someone I love.”

18. WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST FEAR? “Cat's In The Cupboard” by Pete Townsend - Well, it does sound pretty frightening, does it not?

19. WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST SECRET? “Meaning of Life” by Monty Python - Ah yes, the "meaning of life." I think I'll be taking that secret to the grave.

20. WHAT DO YOU WANT RIGHT NOW? “Heart Of The Sunrise” by Yes - A worthy desire.

21. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR FRIENDS? “My Darling” by Wilco - "We were a family, my darlin. Right from the start"

22. WHAT WILL YOU POST THIS AS? “'Round Midnight” performed by Art Pepper

My Little Universe

What is new in my little universe? Today is Monday, which means that I get to sleep in tomorrow. That’s always a plus. My son Justin is sick tonight. I know that because he has told me repeatedly, “I’m sick.” Plus he is coughing and sneezing long strings of snot from his little button nose. We are already planning on keeping him home from co-op tomorrow, but he does have a doctor’s appointment in the morning. The doctor visit is just for a checkup, but maybe she cure the common cold too.

I finished reading The Little Philosophy Book today. It was a hundred pages chock full of philosophical questions without the answers. How typical. The last chapter is entitled “Philosophy, Happiness and the Meaning of Life,” but damned if I could find the meaning of life in that little chapter. There were a lot of hints, but the author leaves the ultimate philosophical quest up to the reader. After reading two books on philosophy and one of the language instinct I decided to read a novel next. My next book will be Reservation Road by John Burnham Schwartz. I was interested in the book ever since its initial release, but now there is a movie adaptation on DVD and that has given me the impetus to actually read the book. It is said to be dark and depressing, but it reads like a thriller. After I read Reservation Road I can jump back into the world of nonfiction (as if that isn’t dark and depressing.)

Last Friday I saw the French film “The Class,” which won the Palm d’Or last year at Cannes. It was also nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Foreign Film category. I had high expectations not merely because of the awards, but because I really enjoyed the last two films by director Laurent Cantet (“Time Out” and “Heading South.”) To me “The Class” was not quite up to par with previous Palm d’Or winners, but it was still a very good film and well worth seeing. It is a blend of documentary and drama about a French class at an inner-urban school. The teacher was played by the actual teacher, who wrote the book on which the film is based, and the rest of the cast was filled with real students and teachers.
The next film I hope to see is "Happy-Go-Lucky" directed by Mike Leigh ("Secrets and Lies," "Naked".) It disappeared from local theaters a couple of months ago, but last week it reopened at The Crest Theatre. Lucky me!