Drooling on the Pillow

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Fool Rushing In 

Two bits of good news today.

First, even though Grace's game was rained out, I was able to assemble enough plausible small projects around the house that I successfully put off replacing the wax gasket in the terlit until tomorrow. And, yes, I'm aware that the fact that I consider this good news is a strong indicator that I'm not going to hit my childhood dream of becoming a pirate.

Secondly I stumbled on to a bit of information that I had been pursuing in a lackadaisical way for at least six or eight years.

One of my favorite movies is The Snapper, certainly in the top twenty. It's an Irish movie, if you haven't seen it, and Roddy Doyle wrote the screenplay from his novel. It has the great Colm Meaney and is directed by Stephen Frears. Girl living at home with a huge, struggling, eccentric family gets knocked up and refuses to name the father. It's very funny and very touching.

Before you go out and rent it, though, remember I've stated in these pages before that I have a deeper than normal tolerance for Irish whimsy. This is more what I would call knock-about whimsy, though. No fairies flitting about or anything, but it involves rough people in dire circumstances whose problems sort themselves out almost magically by means of the one knucklehead standing in the way seeing the light. Some call it junky screenwriting, but when its done with good humor and a certain sweep, I call it whimsy and I love it.

One of my favorite things about The Snapper was the opening and closing credits music; an Irish, very Irish, cover of Can't Help Falling In Love With You. The song is a pit into which any number of performers have fallen, usually with results unequal to what's under the link above. In fact, I was thinking of posting a few versions I found at the iTunes store, but that would involve digging up six country, one Latin Hip-Hop and one Hawaiian version and I don't think you would have stood still for it.

Anyway, the version in The Snapper is my favorite (after The King, of course), a peppy, yet edgy Irish version complete with whistle and bodhran. It's got kind of a skittle sound. I do like Irish music. I'm a big fan of the early recordings of The Chieftains before they became the Kofi Annans of music. Come to think of it, though, their forays into Country were pretty good.

Here's where they got together with Ricky Skaggs on one of the best Wabash Cannonballs I've heard. Put on the headphones and crank it up for this.

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Back to The Snapper. The opening music just made my heart sing and I lusted for it. No information on the DVD cover or INDB or anywhere I could find on the web. But I would look for it every once in awhile. Today I stumbled on it by accident. It's a group called Lick The Tins that released one album of 18 songs in 1986. I immediately assumed you pronounce it 'Lick the thins" on the evidence that you pronounce the Irish group Thin Lizzie "Tin lizzie". But then that wouldn't make sense, would it?

They apparently have something of a cult following, however, as Amazon is able to ask $80 dollars for their only album or $70 used. Can't afford that, of course, but the same cover was used in Some Kind of Wonderful which I never saw, but you can get the soundtrack album of that for around $10, which is a bargain to nail a track you've been looking for going on a decade.

When I get it, you'll get it, but you can get an Amazon sampling here.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Fear The Orange 

Looking pretty grim out there right now. Grace's soccer practice will probably be washed out and her game tomorrow morning almost certainly will be cancelled.

The upside is her game was for eight in the morning and the added bonus is that it was our turn to bring the parents' coffee and doughnuts. Sweet.

The downside is that I enjoy her games as much as anything these days. She's very good and plays for a great coach with a nice bunch of boys (LCCS Kings & 1 Queen) and we sit there in the stands with a nice bunch of parents cheering on the Orange. Living in Jersey City there aren't many opportunities for Leave It To Beaver moments and I like to enjoy them when I can.

The other downside is that I have to change the wax gasket on the downstairs toilet this weekend and I was hoping to put it off til Sunday. Not much chance of that with a rainout.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Never Eat Anything Larger Than Your Head 

The carcass of a 6-foot alligator is shown protruding from the midsection of a 13-foot Burmese python in Everglades National Park, Fla., after the snake apparently swallowed the alligator last month, resulting in the deaths of both animals.

Caption in NY Sun (not on-line).

Link to story on Spiegel Online

Ever Wonder What Was Under The Hair? 

The Trump Organization is building the Palm Trump International Hotel in Dubai.

Teal'c from Stargate SG-1


When He Starts Naming Them It's Time For An Intervention 

One of the reasons Tris McCall is looking for a new apartment is that he has mold where he's living now. I'm hoping he finds something soon because his relationship with his mold is starting to sound like the second act of a Troma picture.

I wish I could write like him, though.

Only Steal From The Best 

Like Lileks, who linked to this beer commercial which puts everything in perspective.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Hard Life, The Easy Way 

I read mostly history and biography. As for fiction, it's been years since I've been able to get through anything other than genre. An occasional Sci-Fi jag, alternative history, but mostly crime. For the past six months I've been eating up neo-noirs like a juice-head shotgunning his first six of the day.


You can tell within a few paragraphs whether someone is able to write in this style or not. The heroes are so self-involved, the villains are so bitterly conscienceless and the plots are so numbingly brutal it takes a real pro to make you want to follow him into the alley. If it's not working I just ashcan the book and reach for the next one. If it does work I go out and buy every book he wrote and sit there til I'm done. Here's the names of some writers who work: James Swain, Dennis Lehane, Michael Connelly, Harlan Coben, T. Jefferson Parker and the one I'm reading now, George Pelecanos.

Pelecanos has several different series' going, all based around Washington, DC and all soaked in the music of the '70s and '80s. His original detective, Nick Stefanos, sometimes cranks the suspension of disbelief dial past 11 in terms of how much booze a person can consume and not die and how much of a beating a fairly normal young man can sustain and walk away, but, somehow you believe and keep reading. I guess it's no more complicated than the fact that the guy can really write.

And you just know you're in for a satisfying ride when you open a book titled Down By The River Where The Dead Men Go.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Important Issue: High Class Commentary 

Warren Bell at NRO introduces us to Lost in Translation, a time waster that takes any English phrase you choose and translates it by computer back and forth between five languages. The result, familiar to anyone who has played the children's game Telephone, veers wildly off course into sometimes amusing nonsense.

For instance, "When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's amore." - translates to - "If the moon fixes its eye like a great vector of Fleischpie of the vector of Pizzapie, is the lover."

Since this seems to me to be a precise analog of the interaction of left and right blogs during a news cycle, I thought I would save everybody some time and ask the program to comment on the notion that "the supreme court nominee is a lesbian."

It responded with "it indicated that the raised cut is a Lesbier". Leaving the term for lesbian in the German I can only conclude is a form of ethnic abuse which is one thing the poor woman hasn't had to deal with so far.

Seeking clarification I asked it straight out "Is she a switch hitter?" and was told "It comes more when bruiser of the switch?"

Thought you should know.

Monday, October 03, 2005


We all knew people in high school who left us behind.

I could play a little football. But in my freshman year I played with Art Thoms who went on to the NFL. Just being on the same field and measuring the difference allowed me to cross big time football off my list of aspirations.

I wasn't completely unknown to the local constabulary in my youth. But one evening in the company of a kid named Mannion made me understand that my future wouldn't be in crime, either. I was in it for a few cheap thrills. He liked hurting people and destroying things.

It was the same way with Kenny. We were among a group of friends in high school that felt the ground shift under us in the late sixties. The war, civil rights, the music, drugs. We watched, astounded, as popular culture took off like a bottle rocket and behavior that was so outside the lines as to be virtually unthinkable became simply a challange.

We responded the way a lot of kids did. We got hammered a lot and competed for Most Outrageous Flameout. At a certain point, though, I wasn't up to the challenge. I had a vision that I might actually live into my fifties and for some reason it occurred to me that if that came about I might want to be doing something else at that point. Something, I don't know, useful.

There are a lot of ways of looking at this. I like to think of it as common sense asserting itself, but those who went on to the Pharmaceutical Hall of Fame probably just thought I hit my pussy point.

Kenny had no pussy point. If you told him wood chips soaked in benzine was a righteous high, he was there. He was always mixing, stirring and preparing foul-smelling smokables he'd read about in some mimeographed stoner's bible he'd come across. Nobody else would indulge him when it came time to ingest, but somehow the stuff never killed him. You have to understand that two years earlier, Kenny had been an Eagle Scout. Sweet, intelligent, funny and kind of shy. By 1966, though, when it came to drugs, he was as out of my league as Art Thoms was in football.

He, along with Roger, another friend, took off for Haight Ashberry immediately after graduation and that was the last I saw of him.

I heard from him about twenty-five years later, though. He'd gotten my number in New York from my mother and began a series of late night phone calls that were as much theatre as anything.

The calls would last for hours. He began calling at two or three in the morning and only by instantly hanging up on him a few dozen times did I get him trained to call in the late evening. It's hard to describe those calls. One sentence would last a half an hour. He had a junky's touch of knowing when he was loosing you and switching gears. He was angry, frightened, paranoid and megalomaniacal. He was often very funny. Mostly, he was just wasted.

He had a job. Something to do with computers in Denver. At least he said he did, but he would never provide details. As long as he didn't call in the middle of the night I couldn't hang up on him. Even though we referred to him as the Uni-Phoner, somehow I felt there was going to be something at the end of this.

The purpose of his calls were usually to warn me about the revolution that was coming. "It's coming, man. This spring. You want to get out of the city now, man. That's where we're going to start." It was sentiment, on his part that he didn't want people he remembered fondly to go down in the slaughter. It was always coming, it was always going to happen in the spring, it was always going to be unfuckingbelievable and the calls went on for five years.

And then they stopped. I was never alarmed by his calls or his message because I knew Kenny and there was no harm in him. And really, a revolution led by Kenny and his friends was not something you had to get out of bed for. I kept listening to him and even sometimes wondering why he hadn't called in awhile because part of me believed he was putting me on. This was a art project. Over the course of those fifty or so calls he was painting a portrait of the age in paranoia, psychobabble and wishful thinking. It was something he would do. Then again, that was probably just wishful thinking on my part. The alternative is that he was just wasted.

Memo To G.W. Bush, re Impertinent Obstructions 

The natural effort of every individual to better his own
condition is so powerful that it is alone, and without any
assistance, not only capable of carrying on the society
to wealth and prosperity, but of surmounting a hundred
impertinent obstructions with which the folly of human
laws too often encumbers its operations.
Adam Smith (1723-1790)

Squib: New York Sun

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Back At My Post 

Nice sunset in the Adirondacks last night.

The "Worlds Largest Garage Sale" is great, but it takes a lot more stamina and determination than I could muster. The last few years we've tended to take the path of least resistance and pretty much stick to the standard vendors along the main street. T-shirts, Peruvian sweaters, postcards, baseball cards, antique tools, Korean massages, raffles, wacky old salt and pepper shakers and the Life magazine from the year you were born. And some antiques I can't afford. One guy was selling a Stetson bowler for $300. In between each one put a faux-sausage sandwich stand, on overpriced barbeque or, of course, a blooming onion.

If you really want to get it done at one of these things you've got to get in your car and cruise the outlying streets where folks set out the detritus from their basement and attic hoping to make $100 or so on a nice fall afternoon sitting in a lawn chair. And they do; they make a lot more than that sometimes, if they're smart. You got to figure, though, usually its a guy who probably bought most of the stuff on his table last year at the yard sale. A guy whose taste does not precisely align with yours and, in fact, you wouldn't take anything he's still got in the house for free.

That's where the stamina comes in. You drive around, park on somebody's lawn, take a quick look at his eight-track collection and busted lazy-suzans, get back in your car and drive fifty yards to another house where the guy's got a nice compressor and band saw combo, but how would you get it back and where would you put it? Across the street she's got Hummels and antique Valentines. The next block somebody has collected Popcycle wrappers and sticks since the late '40s. Somebody else has exercise equipment from the '70s. And on and on.

At your 33rd stop you see a dream formica kitchen table set in perfect condition for $75. Or an Adirondack craft mirror for $10. Or a baseball signed by Roberto Clemente for two bits.

Unfortunately, I bailed two hours ago. I'm back at the house taking pictures of the sunset.

Our friends Steve and Sandi Parisi, who run the best bed and breakfast in the Adirondacks, close the place for the weekend and invite a select group of their friends up. We've been fortunate to be on the list for awhile and it's hard to imagine facing the winter without this ritual. I thank them.

I did get three more antique felt pennants. I got three of them a couple of years ago just because they were Jersey-centric. These have nothing to do with Jersey, but I got them anyway. I guess that's how you become a collector. A buck apiece.

Most Rapid Sincerity Requested 

Mamacita got some of the scariest spam this side of Nigeria.
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