Friday, February 28, 2003

Whatever force governs communications has been very active. There's been correspondence from several states (of these United, not of existence) long unheard from, plus extended correspondence with the Austin mayor sweep site people and a query about Roger Cudney arising from the January 27 Rant-O-Mat entry, which led me straight to Video Watchdog. This is all a change from the usual rants received, usually from guys, and usually about professional or college sports.

Thursday, February 27, 2003

Lawns showing any signs of green right now generally owe their verdant hue to the attentions of sticky-weed, really bedstraw, also known as catchweed. Penny Van Horn had a wonderful cartoon on the subject in last week's Chron, but it's not to be found up with her recent strips. There've been no best-sellers in the house for quite some time, probably not since one of the inmates was actually assigned to read the odious Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (not that it's bad to remember that one's personal sway doesn't extend very far when it comes to influencing one's areas of concern; "paradigm shift," however, shows no sign of dying the painful death that it deserves). Courtesy of the library, Blessings was grabbed up from the recent-fiction shelf. What a piece of tripe! Anna Quindlen seems from her columns to be a sharper person than the author of this garbage. The "social observation" so praised in some of the reviews scanned after the book was read is also pure tripe and very condescending, too. Thank goodness we chanced to see a real treat. It took us away from our only semi-customary night of TV (Bernie Mac and Cedric the Entertainer). If we hadn't clicked on early for Wife and Kid and George Lopez and gone to PBS on the first commercial, we would have missed Kiss Me, Kate. I heard two bars of the sound and knew what it was right away. Especially wonderful were the costumes and the choreography.

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

All the working pickups out there are doing fine, but the dopey people driving clean ones don't know enough to put some weight in the bed. When the news shows vehicles in trouble, they're all pickups and SUVs.

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

"Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from swift completion of their appointed rounds." These words are chiseled on the entablature of the James A. Farley Post Office, New York’s famous postal landmark. Hah! No flights, no postal delivery, no FedEx, no UPS, no school, no work, no pesky traffic helicopters, no trash collection, only two out of three newspapers delivered (but amazing to receive two). Such are just a few of the results of a little bit of ice on the ground. And, as always, KVET radio is the only place to get closing notifications, alphabetized and all. The house never got above 58 degrees inside all day (in the warm spots), since, as soon as it gets at all cool, the old gas pressure drops and the ancient floor furnace barely breathes out a bit of warmth, just enough to be felt when standing right on top of the register. We might as well be living and cooking at ten thousand feet above sea level for all the time needed to get truly hot water when the pressure's low.

Monday, February 24, 2003

Stodgy old Albertson's is stocking Method dish soap in three of the four flavors, and we weren't the only ones, evidently, since the store was almost sold out. There will be no prize for guessing which was not bought: mint, mandarin, cucumber, lavender (hint: which one would you not want to taste?). If we ever figure out how to open and use these items, we'll give them a try. In the meantime, arrayed in a row, they give a cheery appearance to that boring old ledge over the kitchen counter.

Sunday, February 23, 2003

For once a double issue of a magazine is justified. Who can beat the real lowdown on Hootie Johnson, Augusta, and the feminist letter-writer, or the real lowdown on L. Dennis Tyco's purchases, or, especially, John McPhee again at last, writing a wonderful piece about riding with an over-the-road hazmat hauler, from Honeoye Falls, originally, of all places, all courtesy of that still-great institution, The New Yorker. In real life, it's helpful to have that pesky confusion between "flammable" and "combustible" clearned up. It was short McPhee, not all the space given to Looking for a Ship, so maybe there'll be a great long book yet to come.

Saturday, February 22, 2003

It was supposed to be possible to hear Miss America sing from home, but turned out not to be true, although it was possible to imagine hearing chords from Honeysuckle Rose. In compensation, another Austin weblog swam into view. There are various compilations around town, but we're all so contrary that few of us are going to go for that promotional, proprietary code in order to be listed somewhere. Severe pruning's in order (it is spring, after all), Neal Pollack remains, even though the opinions expressed aren't really "tomorrow's opinions today" but "today's opinions half a day late."

Friday, February 21, 2003

What does it say about your life that the notary public people and all the clerks in two branches of the post office recognize you by sight these days? Don't answer that question.

Thursday, February 20, 2003

Johnny Paycheck is gone, although he's never off the jukebox and never will be, if only for one recording. There's nothing at all wrong with "Slide Off of Your Satin Sheets" or "Friend, Don't Take Her, She's All I Got"--nothing at all. "Friend" is the first time we ever paid attention, but for a long time, we thought he was saying, "Fred, Don't Take her." And "Take This Job," all apart from the hook and the fact that it was a big hit, is one of the best-produced records of all time. Some people even remember "Colorado Cool-Aid" fondly, of all songs. But the greatest album is the old Epic vinyl from 1978 entitled "Take This Job and Shove It." The track list is:
1. Take This Job and Shove It
2. From Cotton to Satin (From Birmingham to Manhattan)
3. Spirits of St. Louis
4. 4-F Blues
5. Barstool Mountain
6. Georgia in a Jug
7. Fool Strikes Again
8. Man from Bowling Green
9. When I Had a Home to Go To
10. Colorado Cool-Aid
We've joked for years about this line: "And we'll never share that brick suburban home." Georgia in a Jug is the great one with the chorus beginning, "I'm going down to MexiCO in a glass of tequila; I'm going down to Puerto Rico in a bottle of rum." This guy had the same lonesome sound in his voice that Waylon did, though in a different register, q.e.p.d. He was a sideman (steel) for George Jones way back when, and they were saying on KVET that George is going to send him home in style since he died broke. The old grey New York Times wrote the best obit seen so far.

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Club Desvelado very much enjoyed "A Tuscan Childhood" (Kinta Beevor). Her parents were peripheral members of the Berenson circle and the children spent a fair amount of time at I Tatti. The author's youngest son, Antony Beevor, has his own site.

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Should I comment on the new tie between Google and Pyra? No. Should I comment on how much on edge people are? No, but it's certainly on exhibit in any number of contexts. Should I drop a factoid in here? Yes, because it's so funny to think that Bo Diddley put in some time living in Los Lunas and working as a deputy sheriff. In other words, his time there coincided in part with ours in Ramah and was before Valencia County went into Cibola County.

Monday, February 17, 2003

We saw our first red grapefruit license plate and find it to be very handsome. It's not quite as great as the horney toad plate but it does have that certain appeal. Among the many college and university-related plates only three historically black institutions seem to have plates: Texas Southern, Prairie View, and Austin's own Huston-Tillotson.

Sunday, February 16, 2003

Somebody's still going around in the middle of the night and interfering with the peace signs in people's yards, sometimes ripping them off and throwing them into the street and sometimes just turning them at right angles to their proper position. Today we just didn't do all the things that we planned to. The Sunday Statesman, besides actually carrying march news on the front page (although pretty much below the fold), also had an ad insert from H-E-B featuring various house brands, including an aged New York State cheddar, which seems a bit of an oddity.

Saturday, February 15, 2003

The tone is very arch, but Club Desvelado finished "Extra Virgin: Amongst the Olive Groves of Liguria" (Annie Hawes). There's to be a sequel called "Ripe for the Picking."

Friday, February 14, 2003

The redbuds are showing color.

Thursday, February 13, 2003

We're still seeing a robin or two every day, along with small flocks of cedar waxwings. The papers are full of jokes about duct tape. Google news-search on "duct tape" snags some funny stuff. Somebody will be sure to do a marketing study along the lines of those done following September 11, 2001, examining the flag business and sudden demand. Somebody's been going through the neighborhood at night and tearing down people's peace signs, some of which seem to be resurrected as panhandlers' placards. These are high-quality corrugated-plastic items, with a white, blank back. Last night my dreams featured the footage from the liberation of the concentration camps that they used to show impressionable kids, plus a lot of stuff from Matthew Brady's scenes of nineteenth-century battlefield carnage.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

We're stilling seeing a robin or two every day. Our Ice Follies have not yet been stolen in honor of Valentine's Day, but a neighbor's flowers were taken overnight. We love to look out the window and see them, but we know we're tempting Fate by not cutting them and bringing them indoors.

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Club Desvelado found Were You Always an Italian?: Ancestors and Other Icons of Italian America (Maria Laurino) to be a poorly connected item apparently constructed from magazine or newspaper articles. The tone is flat. Ravenite Social Club is misspelled. The most interesting chapter had to do with dialect words from the South, but there wasn't much overlap between the ones I knew as a kid and the ones that she remembers.

Monday, February 10, 2003

Shanghai Knights brought out the crowds, attracting lots of families bringing their children and lots of solo viewers, male and female. The first showing of the day was nearly full, and the second showing probably really was a full house. Club Desvelado enjoyed The Jew Store: A Family Memoir (Stella Suberman). The "Concordia" of the book is Union City, Tennessee.

Sunday, February 09, 2003

Club Desvelado enjoyed all but the very last chapter of "Too Close to the Falls" (Catherine Gildiner). This has nothing to do with prudishness; it just doesn't seem necessary to have quoted to liberally from a certain work by David Herbert Lawrence! The Riverside Inn is still doing business in Lewiston. The author was treated to a very traditional hometown review. The Niagara falls and gorge do play a character role in the memoir. There are few tourist attractions that are greater than their reputation. Niagara is on of those few. I had forgotten all about the business involving the Tuscarora Nation and Robert Moses. This is again becoming an active issue. I'd also forgotten about Louis Hennepin.

Saturday, February 08, 2003

We have seen some slight accumulation of snow. It won't stick long, though, and the moisture is helping the robins still with us find a bit of nourishment as "meat" comes up for air.

Friday, February 07, 2003

Club Desvelado will continue to seek out books by Paul Dooling. As a novel, White Man's Grave lacks finesse in organization but in no way lacks entertainment value. The intertwining of the law-firm thread and the other-culture thread didn't work, but each was engrossing in its own right.

Thursday, February 06, 2003

California techies brought to Austin by the boom are beginning to leave the neighborhood. The smart ones are the sort to be attractive to employers everywhere, no matter what the state of the national economy, and do not, under any circumstances, allow themselves to be snagged by Austin and then sink into waitrontude or library-clerkdom, communicating only with their kind, via austin.general.

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Every periodical has been read! Insomnia brings catch-up opportunities. There's not even a backlog of TLS, NYRB, LRB, or Texas Gardener. Somehow these are always read last, not seeming to date.

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Can it be believed that, after over one year of trying, the stupid Business Week mixup is at last resolved? These people should get rid of their Neodata "help" staff, these days evidently subsumed under "EDS customer care." Only figuring out the e-mail address pattern and writing directly to a McGraw of McGraw-Hill got this problem on its way to resolution, if in fact it has at last been resolved. It took but a minute's time to get rid of those pesky credit-card annual fees. Those of us who have rotary telephones certainly do love voice-recognition systems instead of touch-tone voicemail fee credit card

Monday, February 03, 2003

Almodover's latest, "Talk to Her," was very well attended, first matinee at the Westgate, of all places, with a long line waiting for the second showing. It made an excellent distraction. Many of those attending were there solo, so one must assume that there are lots who couldn't persuade a friend or mate to attend but wanted to see it enough to go anyhow. At first we were among the few laughing. The IMDB lists it first as a comedy, so I don't know why people started out being so solemn. Later the comedy struck the audience. K., who usually knows quite a bit about dance, hadn't heard of Pina Bausch, whose company was also used to comedic effect. As always, Almodovar used music extremely evocatively, even Caetano Veloso, even singing "Cucurrucucu Paloma."

Sunday, February 02, 2003

The press and broadcast media refer over and over again to the Challenger "accident" of 1986. NASA calls Challenger an "accident"; generally, it's referred to as a "disaster." Why does no one mention the Apollo launch pad fire of 1967? I can remember exactly what I was seeing through the windshield when the news came over the car radio.

Saturday, February 01, 2003

Here's what comes of not watching much television: the Flowbee is news to us. This is from the Flowbee FAQ page: Can my children use the Flowbee? Yes, with adult supervision.