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.
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.)
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.)
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.