Monday, November 24, 2003

Odd Triple

Thompson is skittish
Diego-san is mischievous
Maeda-san is cantankerous

Thompson is peppy
Diego-san is playful
Maeda-san is prayful

Thompson is a grunter
Diego-san is a squealer
Maeda-san is a mumbler

Thompson is an observer
Diego-san is an instigator
Maeda-san is the cleaner upper

Thompson is well groomed
Diego-san has beautiful black fur
Maeda-san has a hat collection

Thompson can be restless
Diego-san can be out of control
Maeda-san can be both

Thompson is missing a leg
Diego-san is missing discipline
Maeda-san still misses Max

Thompson has a sweet face
Diego-san has a majestic tail
Maeda-san has a defective reflection

Thompson elicits admiration
Diego-san elicits fondness
Maeda-san elicits strange looks

Thompson has issues
Diego-san is mysterious
Maeda-san is inscrutable

Thompson is soulful
Diego-san is musical
Maeda-san is a poor sleeper

Thompson lives on routine
Diego-san lives in the moment
Maeda-san lives in between

Thompson sometimes seems sad
Diego-san looks at sadness sideways
Maeda-san is the source of sad

Thompson cheerfully greets
Diego-san likes to romp
Maeda-san is known to do a jig

Thompson likes to chase his tail
Diego-san likes to chase a ball
Maeda-san runs in circles

Thompson runs away from the ladies
Diego-san hops on the ladies' laps
Maeda-san likes his oatmeal

Monday, November 17, 2003

Red is the Color of My True Love's Hair (and Blood) or Spewy Bill

"Shake It! Shake it like a Polaroid picture!/Now all Beyonce's and Lucy Liu's and Baby Dolls get on the floor/You know what to do! "

Once upon a dozen years ago, on a particular spooky Halloween morning, Satchel Uhgohrafobik was awoken by his ringing phone. BRRRRRing! Given the early hour Satchel sensed who was on the other end even before he picked it up, since the list of people who would think of calling him at the early hour was short. Indeed the small voice on the calling end belonged to Buckee Sailes who despite the quiet tone she used to greet Satchel with this morning was assuredly not timid.

Satchel carefully listened to Buckee's voice, more the tone than the words- he loved the melody of her voice- and soon found himself glancing past his cat Mouska out the window of a tiny efficiency to the pure white swirling snow that blanketed everything within sight (and most things out of sight as well). Even though he knew who was calling Satchel was still surprised that it was Buckee's voice on the phone seeing they hadn't spoken in weeks since hitting a snag in their relationship. Their silence had rang throughout the office they both worked in and now to hear her voice again, trying to be kind, reaching out, seemed as surreal and out of place as the coat of snow that hid everything outside to such an extent that even the ever placid Mouska looked concerned.

"I can't get my car out of the garage," Buckee said referring to the foot of snow that had fallen overnight. "Can you give me a ride?" To pick her up he had to go backwards- in the opposite direction from work. He felt he owed her nothing, he was angry and hurt and knew she was disappointed in him for all the usual reasons. "Sure, I'll be there in twenty minutes," he said without hesitation.

The drive down the road to her apartment was slick and treacherous and Satchel knew if he stopped moving he'd get stuck. He saw others stranded by the side of the road, their vehicles facing in odd directions. They made it to work a few minutes late. In an office of 84 people, they were two of five that had braved the conditions and showed up. The day passed by in a blur as the snow continued to fall in a record amount. The drive home was slightly less hazardous but still rather slow as the plows tried to keep up with the thirty-one inches that was to fall. The silence in the robin blue Honda Accord seemed equal parts trying to concentrate on the road conditions and trying to figure out the relationship conditions.

"Bless the Lord," Buckee said out of nowhere. They continued on until they finally arrived at her home. She gathered up her stuff and wrapped her scarf more tightly around her neck. Satchel sensed he had to say something. "Say" he said. "Why did you Bless the Lord?" She looked at him puzzled. "Back there, you said, 'bless the Lord.'" Buckee let out a giggle when she finally figured out what he was talking about. "I didn't say 'bless the Lord,'" she said. "I said, 'bus alert.' I was warning you about that bus pulling out."

In all the years (and other stuff) long since passed, buried and smothered, Satchel had only smiled three times. The first was sitting through Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction during the scene when the John Travolta character (assassin) is quibbling with his partner played by Samuel L. Jackson and during a bumpy car ride a gun accidentally goes off and kills the occupant of the back seat causing quite the mess. It's unexpected, terribly violent and a great example at the randomness that can permeate life. The second time was the first time Satchel heard Outkast's "Hey Ya," an exhilarating song that seems like blissful Technicolor compared with the other music currently available that seemed black and white.

And the final smile time was while Satchel was sitting through Tarantino's most recent movie, Kill Bill Vol. 1 when Uma Thurman wills her roman toe to move. Kill Bill is to movies what "Hey Ya" is to music, Satchel thought to himself as he found himself cringing at the wall to wall bloody violence at the same time as he found himself smiling at Tarantino's obvious love of movie-making. Sure the movie was guilty of being all about style over substance and compared to one of Satchel's other all time favorite movies, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Kill Bill's weaknesses became all the more apparent like self inflicted character flaws. Yet Satchel couldn't help but think how Thurman had always reminded him of Buckee, something about her melodic speech pattern and killer smile. One of the running jokes of the movie was that the viewer never knows the name of the character Thurman plays (whenever it is uttered it is bleeped out). But Satchel knew she had to be named Buckee. He saw first hand what happened if Buckee were to get pissed off (does anyone really need to see Lucy Liu scalped?). And the final scene, so Japanese, with snow poetically falling in a difficult situation was memory resurrection defined.

Sixty-seven percent of 12 years of smiles in a matter of weeks- perhaps Satchel had turned a corner (or a page) after all. He remembered one of his final times with Buckee when he picked her up after she had been shopping and bought a wicker chest. "I like your chest," he said to her innocently. She laughed her wonderful laugh.

Monday, November 10, 2003

The Pixley Dream

It was one year short of forty years ago when the definition of delivery involving a Chinese restaurant almost took on a new meaning. A mere five days short of the actual anniversary of this more dictionary than novel like occurrence one of the participants (somewhat the sole survivor of the duo), Dohnat Ucmideyv found himself driving right by the now across the street relocated restaurant during a day where he drove from one location to the next and back again trying to solve problems like some sort of ballot counting superhero.

On the car stereo (with the ever present sound of an annoying vibrating sound of a blown out speaker) played a mix he had made for a friend, a CD that he was trying to decide whether or not was indeed a worthy mixture to give to one who had made him two superlative mixes. An early key song, that blared while Ucmideyv was right near the restaurant he had actually never eaten but was nearly born at, was Michelle Branch's "Goodbye to You" a song included because it captured the exact mood of yet another wayfaring relationship he felt himself leaving at the side of the road. "Goodbye to you, goodbye to everything that I knew/You were the one I loved, the one thing I tried to hold on to/It hurts to want everything and nothing at the same time..." The eventual recipient of the mix would know why the admittedly somewhat adolescent song was there even though she probably was the only one who would know. Ucmideyv was good at that- revealing to another what really involved another and keeping the spheres of his ever fracturing world completely separate everywhere but in his head that thought about such things way into the night (night after night).

Ironically enough many of his favorite people were now having babies. His good pal Spunky recently had an addition to his growing family. Wacky late night funnyman David Letterman also joined the ranks of fatherhood and 92-year-old former Wing Paul McCartney proved if nothing else he has always been rather fertile. Ucmideyv thought about the type of life he likely would never have, a life that included procreation and trying to raise the love of his loins at an ever ripening age.

He had come close a time or two in his life. Years ago the one who got away told Ucmideyv she'd give him her first born if he could find her a copy of the Cities Sampler Vol. 3, the only CD she brought with her when she spent a semester studying in France (this was before burnable CDs made digital mixes a feasible possibility). He was most certainly up to the challenge. For awhile he shopped the Cheapo bins and then Ebay came along and he'd see the CD occasionally available with the winning bid being over $50 (what is the going price of a first born child?). Then someone mentioned that the Ramsey County Library had most Sampler CDs and he put his name on a reservation for the one that would finally guarantee true love. And this past week after a half year waiting his name popped up on the top of the list for the CD. Grab the crib, he said to himself.

Over the years Ucmideyv had replaced a lack of any discernible talent with trying to work harder than anyone he knew. The end result was working a lot of hours with not a lot to show for it. He had learned the value of drinking a lot of coffee as a substitute for actual sleep and admiring his feline roommates in place of trying to connect with anyone else more human in particular (in all fairness he felt the ship his soulmate was on had long since left the harbor).

Moo googai Pan. He thought he might interrupt his role in this year's elections (the odd year where the city council race involved some swirling rumors of the relationship between the county sheriff and one of the candidates who reminded Ucmideyv of a friend who fronted a local band and with her husky vocals had always struck a chord deep within him) to pick up some dinner. Maybe Chinese, maybe a submarine sandwich, maybe some leftover hot dish. The next key song on the potential gift/CD mix was Josh Ritter's "Me and Jiggs" a jaunty countryish tune that was the one song of Ritter's that didn't remind the maker of Nick Drake, the most obvious suicide prior to Elliot Smith. "Me and Jiggs staring at the ceiling the stars above the radar range/Song from a station wagon laying foundations on the shadows of overpassing planes..."

From Long Beach to Mazatlan was as far as a lunar eclipse was from a fatal heartbreak as it was from a hurried Chinese takeout dinner to the nearest delivery room. The beauty of life of course, as it appeared this long day to Dohnat Ucmideyv was that all were interconnected by his mere being (or mirror being he liked to feel) so sticking around to see the end result was the only song that mattered. And then the last song added to the mix blasted out, Outkast's wonderfully peppy "Hey Ya!" The song made all that came before, and all that were to follow blur together properly. "But separates always better when there's feelings involved if what they say 'is nothing lasts forever'/then what... makes love the exception?" Hip hop and don't ride the clutch Clyde because if this song wasn't the best of the year than Ucmideyv didn't really exist and if not for what he heard he wasn't sure how much he qualified in that category.

Monday, November 3, 2003

The Brain Draining Play of Stumbling Mediocrity

There are those that don't need Halloween to be haunted, frightened, and spooked. Believe me, these days every day life does a good enough job. So here then are a few recommendations to escape and calm down if only quite temporarily:

Kimya Dawson's I'm Sorry That Sometimes I'm Mean: A CD from the lead singer of the Moldy Peaches (wouldn't that look great on a resume?) is a bit of a downer to say the least. She sings like a child but writes like someone whose scars stretch beyond the moon (and back). It's a hypnotizing song cycle with "Everything's Alright" worth a definite listen (typically here, Kimya sadly sings about spooning a guy and pretending to still be just friends) and "Hold My Hand" (a most devastating personal song about child abuse) making this CD a must hear (as difficult as that might be).

The Bangles' "Doll Revolution": Their first CD since 1988 the entire disc doesn't manage to hold one's attention (it's like it's like 1985 all over again!) but the title track, a cover of the Elvis Costello song proves the group still knows a good songwriter when it hears one (Alex Chilton, Bob Dylan, Jules Shear).

About a Boy: I usually don't care much for Hugh Grant but his performance here is note perfect. Grant plays a sleazy, yet charming, bachelor who stoops to anything including joining a single parents' group (despite falling short of qualifying) just to meet desperate women. He eventually befriends a young boy and learns a thing or two about how caring for someone/something other than one's self might actually be worth the risk. And who would have thunk that the song "Killing Me Softly" (one of the world's greatest soccer player's favorites) could ever mean quite so much?

8 Mile: Eminem's Rabbit is the Hugh Grant of About a Boy if that Hugh Grant once upon a time grew up on the wrong side of the Detroit tracks. Charming is what usually accompanies Mr. Grant's name be that as it may there is nothing charming about this particular movie. Gritty, coarse, and often mean spirited (much like Em's music!) what is truly fascinating about this movie is the mixture of realism, fiction, rewritten history, and fantasy. When the stunning "Lose Yourself" plays during the credits and Eminem mentions Mekhi Phifer and how this really ain't no movie and sings about losing himself in his music, it's quite inspiring stuff even for those of us who haven't quite met (though might be well on our way there) his anger level. That rascally rabbit- tricks are for eternally wannabe kids.

Bob Dylan's Saving Grace, Tunica, Mississippi, April 27, 2003: Gospel Bob pulls out a song he wrote 23 years ago when he was under the influence of born again Christianity. The song happens to be built upon one of my all time favorite Bob melodies but it's the lyrics here (and ever present quirky vocals) this time around that truly get to me. "I've escaped death so many times/I know I'm only living/By the saving grace that's over me..." He's banging out keys on his keyboard as he's carefully caressing the words about redemption. "By this time I'd-a thought I would be sleeping/In a pine box for all eternity/My faith keeps me alive, but I still be weeping/For the saving grace that's over me" For a moment or two it all, and I mean IT ALL, makes some kind of acceptable sense.

Liz Phair's"Jeremy Engle": An Internet only track available to those who bought Liz Phair (or who have friends who can burn it on to an unauthorized CD) is far superior to most of the other tracks on the official CD. It's good hearing Liz sing about a "gelatinous thingy" and the typically Phair like philosophy, "sometimes all you need is a napkin."

Get Fuzzy: This world became a profoundly more confusing place when Bill Watterson gave up writing his comic Calvin and Hobbes (about a boy and his feline friend- imaginary or not and about so much more). Yes our daily comic pages since have desperately needed a great comic to come along (Zippy and Monty come close but not close enough). Within the past year the Star Tribune started running Darby Conley's Get Fuzzy about a frazzled pet owner with his two pals Bucky (a self absorbed and somewhat caustic cat) and Satchel (a sweet dog but somewhat dim, in an entirely different way- much less malicious- than Bucky). I can't even begin to think about beginning a day without first reading this biting yet often times witty strip. Bucky rules.

Dave Eggers' A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius: The blue-eyed editor recommended I read this, one of her favorite books of all time. So I got me a used copy and made my way through (admittedly skipping parts of the preface and introduction) the first few pages. I really can't wait to see where this story ultimately takes me.