Friday Notes (Mar 26, 2021)

Time for another round of notes — bits and pieces too small for a post and which, for whatever reason, don’t seem likely to ever grow into a post (or even a Brain Bubble con carne). Best of all, from the perspective of many readers, not one single shred of math or contentious ideas!

These notes posts generally have an undercurrent of “spring cleaning” — the whole idea is to help reduce my ever-growing pile of scraps of paper with half-baked ideas. Actual spring cleaning is upon us, so I’m even more vested in seeing how much I can clear away. I even have some notes devoted to the very idea itself.

So without further ado…

“Keeping Up” is the title of one such note, the gist of which is that I can’t, don’t, and at this point just won’t. As one ages life has a tendency to move beyond the circle of things one gives a shit about. If anything, the pace of that seems to accelerate.

The world, to some extent, is for the young (and they’re welcome to it).

Which is fine and probably the way it should be. I’m not complaining, far from it. Just saying that there isn’t much new stuff I find very engaging. I suspect that’s in large part due to a sense of having seen it all before.

A good example is modern science fiction. So much of it has the feel of ‘seen that before.’ In fact, science fiction is the second bullet point on the note. The first is music.

There was a time, back in the 1980s, that I knew pretty much every working musical artist and had at least some sense of their work. These days I have almost no knowledge of any of them. There are names I see a lot, but which mean nothing to me.

I recently saw a headline proclaiming that the young aren’t even into bands anymore. I didn’t read the article, so I have no idea (and don’t particularly care) what they’re into these days. (Just get off my lawn, you kids!) I suppose musical acts? Or TV dance contests? Musical reality shows? Whatever.

There was also a time when I not only knew just about every science fiction novel, but probably had it sitting in a bookshelf. It was rare for my SF loving friends to stump me, to name a book I hadn’t read. That ship sailed a long time ago. I make some effort to keep up here, but as I said, so much of it seems to be retreads.

§

I do think the landscape for any form of art eventually gets pretty well populated. It gets harder and harder to build something new in a given landscape.

As a concrete example, I have a list of assassin movies because I’ve long found the idea fascinating. (I fantasized about being a professional assassin back in high school.) I haven’t maintained it — indeed, you’ll have a hard time finding a link to it in this blog — because… well, what’s the point really? It’s a lot of effort keeping up, and I just don’t want to.

And I never even got around to completing the list of baseball movies. Lists of things are just so much work.

At some point the lists of things, whether written or not, become one of those endless tasks (like dusting or vacuuming). Whether it’s TV shows I like or actors (who are all these young folks I don’t know?), the latest in technology, or whatever, I just can’t keep up anymore.

More to the point, I don’t want to.

§ §

Speaking of music, it amused me to realize my two favorite bands have slightly similar names: Little Feat and Little Big Town. Apparently I like little bands?

Not that there’s anything little about either. I’ve written about Little Big Town before. They’ve been around since 1998; I discovered them sometime around 2009 (give or take). I liked them immediately, but over time they’ve become a favorite — music so beautiful it almost hurts. I buy any album they come out with.

Little Feat first formed way back in 1969, although I didn’t get too into them until somewhere in the 1990s. Seeing them perform a few times here in Minnesota is what did it. They’re a jam band of unparalleled excellence. There’s something about musicians who’ve played together for decades that elevates them into something very special. I buy all their albums, too.

§ §

“Marley’s Ghost” is the title of another note. A Christmas Carol has long been one of my favorite stories (going all the way back to the Mr. Magoo cartoon version which, believe it or not, is one of the better, more faithful versions).

As an adult, I’ve been struck by Marley’s response to Scrooge about the chains and boxes that bind them both — Scrooge’s, as yet, invisible.

“I wear the chain I forged in life,” replied the Ghost. “I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.”

And so do we all bind ourselves with chains we forge in life. The only question is what kind of chains and boxes we drag around. How heavy is our burden and what lightens it?

The note, actually, is about spring cleaning, about just throwing away so much of the junk I keep out of sheer nostalgia. I’m not, by any stretch, a hoarder, but I do tend to hang on to things out of sentiment or with the notion they might be useful someday.

And, in truth, I’ve forced myself to toss what seemed junk I’d never use… only to find a use for it two weeks after the garbage truck made its pickup. It has happened, but, also in truth, very rarely. Not nearly enough to matter.

Part of it is having depression era parents of meager means who had a strong ethic of never “wasting” anything of potential use. Waste has always bothered me, and I despise the disposable modern mode.

I suspect nostalgia is a longing as one ages for what one remembers in a rapidly changing world. Our security blankets and teddy bears of youth.

But I’d rather be the one tossing out my junk than my executors. They’d have no sense of its history. I, at least, can mourn its passing.

§ §

Least this gets too maudlin, shifting gears, “I Like a Challenge” is the title of another note.

The note mentions the telco manuals I… well,… stole off the PBX during an auction of furniture of an office that had gone out of business. (My youth was a bit lawless, shall we say?) They were the wiring diagrams and descriptive text manuals, both of which turned out to be utterly opaque to me.

But I chewed on them for years, working my way though the unique way the phone company drew circuit diagrams and wrote descriptions. I never fully cracked them, but climbing that mountain developed my understanding of phone systems in a big way. It was all relay logic, which love of I’ve written about before. (In fact, I have a post pending about the crossbar switch, which is a personal favorite.)

§

Much more on point these days, author Paul Beatty, whose writing completely enthralls me, but which is often times above my head. Some of it is a lack of the cultural background, but he packs so much into his writing that I’m in awe.

He also has a way with words and language that leaves me agog. He’s on the short list of people I’d love to have the chance to spend some time with.

Beatty has four novels, three of which I’ve read: The White Boy Shuffle (1996), Tuff (2000), Slumberland (2008), and The Sellout (2015). I have all four as Apple ebooks, but haven’t gotten around to Tuff, yet. I highly recommend him, especially to aspiring writers.

(If you’re wondering: Steve Martin is at the top of that list, which includes Jodie Foster, William Shatner, and Lawrence Kasdan. One might suspect Shatner is on the list because of Star Trek, and, yeah, a bit, but I really loved his Denny Crane. He was clearly having so much fun on that show.)

As a final beat here, science fiction author C.J. Cherryh (and to some extent Ursula La Guin), are also way smarter than I am, and I find chewing on their work is excellent mental exercise.

§ §

Speaking of books, despite fully embracing ebooks, I love that the original dead tree format still works just fine.

That’s not true of our early musical and video (or even film) formats. Or, for that matter, our digital disk media. (The exception is vinyl records, which never died and which seem to be making a come-back. Talk about nostalgia!)

But who has an 8-track player anymore? Or has a VHS tape deck?

In this era of streaming, even DVDs seem to be on the way out. One round of spring cleaning years ago trashed all the carefully recorded VHS tapes of ST:TNG and M*A*S*H, since I had those on DVD. Now I’m thinking of getting rid of most of my DVDs. (Actually, I gave the Star Trek ones to the local library a couple of years ago.)

§ §

I read that Jessica Walter died this past Wednesday. (No connection, but George Segal died the day before that.)

Walter voiced Malory Archer on the outstanding TV series Archer. I’m sure they’ll find another voice for the character, but it was something special knowing it was Walter — who was perfect in the role.

She also appeared twice on NCIS as part of an amateur sleuthing club that Ducky, and then Jimmy, got involved with.

We all slip off the sandbar eventually.

§ §

This afternoon I have my appointment for my first dose of COVID vaccine. If I’m never heard from again, that’ll be why!

Not that I’m actually concerned, but an unexpected weird reaction is just the sort of thing that would happen to me.

Back circa 2012 or so my dentist prescribed a course of clindamycin, a supposedly particularly safe antibiotic. It resulted in the infamous “Year of Giant Hives” that puzzled doctors and which no antihistamine or steroid affected. For several years after, on the anniversary of when it began, I’d have another outbreak. None of it was life-threatening, and the hives didn’t even itch much, but they were huge and grotesque.

So I’m always a bit askance about modern medication, but this vaccine isn’t something I can dodge, so off I go.

Stay on the sandbar, my friends! Go forth and spread beauty and light.

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

14 responses to “Friday Notes (Mar 26, 2021)

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Oh, that sucks!

    I was looking more closely at the Wiki page for Little Feat and realized Paul Barrere wasn’t listed as a current member. Turns out he died in 2019. Bummer.

    He’s not an original member — he joined them in 1972 — but he’s been with them so long I think of him as an original (along with Fred Tackett (who officially joined in the 1988 reforming of the band, but who was a friend of co-founder Lowell George and was involved from the beginning), bass player Kenny Gradney (who joined in 1972), and singer/percussionist Sam Clayton (who also joined in 1972).

    Tackett, Gradney, and Clayton, are still with the band, as is keyboard player extraordinaire and other co-founder Bill Payne. But Lowell George (who died in 1979), drummer and original member Richie Hayward (died in 2010), and now Paul Barrere are playing in the heavenly band. (And what a band that must be. So many greats!)

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Well, I have to say, that may have been one of the most enjoyable medical experiences of my life. It was almost fun!

    I got the Pfizer shot with a second one due in three weeks (I’m almost looking forward to it). The operation was big — held at a local sports/concert venue with a lot of people handling crowds, intake, and doing the jabs. Things went smooth as silk and very very fast. I think it took me longer to get out of the parking lot. (There was even free parking.)

    I had an utterly adorable young nurse, and we had a really good time. Nurses are amazing and awesome people (and I told her so; thanked her for her service, so to speak).

    No reaction so far. I barely felt the jab, and it was over before I knew it. She said it takes about 10 hours for any symptoms to appear, but there might be some arm soreness upfront. I can’t say I’m sore, but my left upper arm does feel every so slightly heavier (for lack of a better word) than normal.

    I’ll see how I feel tomorrow.

    • SelfAwarePatterns

      Good deal!

      That mostly matches my experience. I had mine on a Friday evening, but didn’t really feel anything until the next morning, which I described in my post. The worst effects were over by Sunday morning, although throughout the next week I was more thirsty than usual. But most people don’t have side effects on the first dose, except for arm soreness.

      My second shot is Wednesday afternoon, and I’m anxious to be done with it, and past the two week waiting period.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Other than my left arm being fairly sore last night and still this morning, I’m not feeling any flu-like symptoms. Maybe feeling a little tired, but that’s about it.

  • Anonymole

    “I see the bright lights of Memphis, and the Commodore Hotel…”

    • Wyrd Smythe

      “And underneath a street lamp, I met a Southern belle.
      Well she took me to the river, where she cast her spell.
      And in that Southern moonlight, she sang a song so well…”

      To me, one of the great rock-n-roll classics! Back in 1973 Fred Tackett hadn’t joined them yet (although he did play on that album), and of course Lowell George was still alive (it’s his tune), but what I always remember is the 20-minute jam they did on it one time when I saw them back in the 1990s.

      It was a smaller informal venue — a “ballroom” sometimes used for small concerts — it had a raised stage, and they fill the dance area with tables. We had one right in front of the stage. They start Dixie Chicken and, as always, play around with a bit, but then they took it way off the beaten path and started jamming,… and jamming,… and jamming. I went to the bathroom at one point, stopped by the bar for another beer, came back, and they’re still jamming. At one point, everyone except Bill Payne left the stage and let Billy jam on keys by himself for five minutes or so. They were so far off the path I actually forgot what tune they were playing.

      And then they brought it back home, and the crowd just went nuts. It’s something really special watching excellent musicians who’ve been playing together for decades have that kind of fun playing. That’s one of the things about them — they seem to be having so much fun when they perform. It takes things to a whole new level of musical joy.

      I’ve always thought music (and fiction) divide into “message” or “parable” versus “rippin’ yarn” or “party/celebration” modes, and Little Feat are firmly and squarely in the latter mode. Just awesome musical fun. (Little Big Town straddles the line. A lot of their music is just fun, but many tunes have social messages of one kind or another.)

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  • rung2diotimasladder

    I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who’s “a bit askance”. I don’t like to say it because people look at me like I’m one of those crazy anti-vacciners, which really isn’t the case. I hold no conspiracy theories. All I want to express is: “Do I want to be the first to get a brand new type of vaccine put out by rushed pharmaceutical companies under a Trump-run government? No, no, after you!”

    Well, now many others have gotten it, including my husband, and it’s going to be my turn soon. I’ll get it, I promised I would. I just hope a fate worse than covid death doesn’t turn out to be a side effect.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      I’m sure you’ll be fine! I wouldn’t have wanted to be among the first, especially because my system sometimes seems to react in ways outside the bulk of the bell curve, but once millions have received the vaccine with no problem, I’m fine with it.

      To be clear, by “a bit askance” I meant the plethora of modern medications constantly pushed by advertising on TV. I’m convinced a lot of that is a case of cures in search of a disease. Medication for “Restless Leg Syndrome” is one example of such.

      COVID-19 is a whole other ball of wax. We’re at over half a million dead, far outweighing American deaths from WWII and in a much shorter time. The fast development time, at least in part, speaks to what’s possible when all the government regulations and red tape don’t interfere as much as they normally do.

      • rung2diotimasladder

        Well, I’m going through a drive-through to get the vaccine today…crossing my fingers I don’t get too many horrible side effects.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        The odds are you won’t. Most people just get a sore arm, and some don’t even get that much. A lot of my concern came from being slightly needle-phobic and knowing that so many aspects of my life seem to be far outside the bell curve. But at this point millions have gotten the vaccine with, at worst, some flu-like symptoms, so you should be A-Okay!

      • Wyrd Smythe

        So how did it go, and how are you feeling?

      • rung2diotimasladder

        Sore arm, but nothing serious! It was quite a scene at the university since yesterday was the first day the vaccine opened up to all adults without qualification. It felt like I was going through the longest car wash ever. The line backed up for miles down the street, but everything was very well organized and the line moved fairly quickly. The guy who gave me the shot was very competent—he gave me no warning and the shot was in and out before I even knew what happened. (When it comes to needles, I’ve become pretty good at spotting those who know what they’re doing from those who don’t. The ones who take too long moving things around—steer clear. They should be able to carry on a conversation the whole time. If they can’t, I stop them and ask for the person who’s most experienced at this. Might seem rude, but I’m beyond caring at this point.)

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Glad to hear it! Same here in it being over before I realized it. The nurse asked, “Are you ready?” I said, “Yep!” And it was over almost before the word was out of my mouth. Barely felt at thing. (I wondered how many hundreds, if not thousands, of shots she’d given.)

        Very true about expertise. I remember way back in college when I had mono and had to get blood drawn every week. One nurse fumbled around a bunch and required multiple tries. Then, one time there was this doctor, who held eye contact with me, was super casual about it, and was in and out before I fully realized it. Obviously there’s a trick to it!

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