janradder: (Default)
It's an odd feeling to be standing in a crowd and waiting to see a band play when you realize that not only are you the oldest person there, but you're more than likely the only person there whose age is north of twenty-three. It's a little like being the dad who accompanies his son to his first concert. He stands around with kids less than half his age looking uncool and feeling out of place as he realizes that the youth of today have their own culture and behaviors completely separate from his.

That was me Monday night at the 7th Street Entry when I went to see Titus Andronicus. And that feeling only increased when the band took the stage and started playing their first song.

In case you've never heard Titus Andronicus, they sound a lot like Bruce Springsteen if he were born in 1985 and raised on a steady diet of hardcore punk and Henry Miller. They rage, they scream, they spew out sloppy chunks of melted asphalt ripped straight from the Garden State Parkway that they kick up as they barrel down the highway doing eighty and leaving long streaks of paint and metal each time they sideswipe the barriers along the median. At the Entry, the band's singer stood onstage wearing his heart not on his sleeve but on his chest in the form of a hand-made Black Flag T-shirt, and with the first chords and the first pounding drumbeats, they churned out a raging punk rock assault that stormed off the stage to shatter against the back walls of the club. Which is why as they played all I could think was who could not want to slam to this music?

Apparently, the answer was the kids around me. They stood anchored to one spot, staring at the floor and shaking their heads and like spastic rag dolls. Inexplicably, they'd stop one by one, even though the band was still playing, and stare at the musicians for a few moments before going into another seizure. Occasionally, someone would accidently knock his neighbor with a flying arm or head, and then move over a little so as not to do it again. I started to pogo and bump into the people next to me, and when I did, the kids around me gave me a look that said I'd crossed some sort of mutually agreed upon line. Apparently, accidentally nailing the guy behind you with your flailing head is okay but intentionally bumping into the people around you as you jump around is being a jackass.

So I listened to the band as I avoided the jerking limbs of the kid in front front of me, and I watched the audience around me. Each one stood apart from the rest, engulfed in his or her own personal moment, shaking and trashing to the music. It was as if every kid were wrapped in his or her own pod so that nothing else existed beyond its walls. Which, in a way I realized, is kind of how most people go through their lives nowadays.

We've got cell phones and iPods and laptops, and through them we supposedly connect into a larger world. Instead, we exist apart from one another, chatting on the phone as we ignore the cashier who rings up our purchases, listening to headphones to shut out the lives around us, reading news feeds, Facebook updates, and blogs within a virtual world while we ignore the one outside. Like the kids at the show, we dance alone in our cocoons, oblivious to the people around us unless one of them knocks into us and breaks our illusion of solitude.

It might come across as sounding like an old fart reminiscing about the old days when I say this, but so what: Shows were better when kids slam danced. And here's why -- when there was slam dancing, even if you weren't there in that pit, there was no way you could ignore the people around you. You helped pick up the kid next to you that some asshole had knocked over after you shoved the asshole back into the pit. You watched for the stage divers not only so they wouldn't accidently kick you in the head when they jumped but also so you could catch them before they hit the floor. You pogoed with the crowd, bouncing off your neighbors, feeling the sheer exhilaration and joy of being alive. Going to a show was a shared, communal experience, regardless of whether you knew a single person there, and for however long a band was on the stage, you became part of a larger world.

Maybe I'm wrong -- maybe the kids at the Titus Andronicus show did feel like they were connected to one another, and maybe just I don't get it because I'm not eighteen anymore -- but I don't think so. Then again, most generations think they had it better than the younger ones. Still, I can't help thinking our lives might be richer if there was a little more slam dancing in them, if only because it would force us look up from the floor and see the world around us for a moment. At least then we'd know for sure if we really were missing out on something or not.
janradder: (godzilla)
So I walked up to the pharmacy desk at Target to pick up two prescriptions that were supposed to be waiting for me. I was also planning on buying two other items -- a lock and a pack of dental floss. I get to the desk and the girl behind the counter can find one of the prescriptions but not the other.

"Let me see what's going on with this," she says.

So we wait. And wait. And wait. Over fifteen minutes later she tells me that for some reason the prescription didn't go through (and rather than try again two days ago when I called it in, they just let it sit).

"It's going to take at least twenty-five minutes to fill it," the girl tells me.

"Fine," I say. "I'll just come back and pick it up later today."

So the girl rings up the prescription that is ready but doesn't ring up the other two items that I have put down in front of her on the counter.

"Can you ring these up, too?" I ask.

"No!" she almost shouts. "I already rang these meds up and there's a line!"

So even though I waited close to twenty minutes already to find out that the prescription I called in three days ago wasn't ready, I still have to wait in another line at the front of the store because the girl at the pharmacy doesn't want to make the people in line behind me wait an extra minute while she rings up to items. Sheesh.
janradder: (Default)
Top 5 Favorite Toys

1.  Mego Superheroes
By far the toys I played with most during my childhood.  Most of them had lost legs, capes, boots, gloves, and even costumes long ago but I still loved them n spite of their pathetic state.  For whatever reason, almost all of the stories I created with them involved one of them dying and the rest of the superheroes trying to figure out which one of them was the murderer.

2.  U.S.S. Enterprise playset
Kirk's bridge chair was cool and the bridge furniture, as was the fact that you could use the playset as a carrying case for all your toys.  But, by far, the most amazing thing about this toy was the transporter -- strap any 8" doll into it, give it a spin, then press a button and watch it stop on a dime just like magic. Thirty years later, I can still remember the thrill of watching that transporter whirl.

3.  Steve Austin:  The Six Million Dollar Man
Push a button on the back and you could crank his bionic arm over his head.  Look through the back of his head and you could gaze through Steve Austin's bionic eye.  Roll the skin on his bionic arm back and you revealed all the bionic chips (that you could remove and lose moments later!).  And he could kick Mod Hair Ken's sorry ass in a heartbeat.

4.  Mod Hair Ken
With his hair sticking straight up in the air, how could he not be a loser?  Technically he was my sister's doll, but I probably playd with him just as much as she did.  In the Ken universe my sister and I created, Mod Hair Ken was a polygamist who kept a harem of Barbies at his beck and call (he later tried unsuccessfully to bring Princess Lea and Dorothy Hamill into his fold).  Ken routinely had coniption fits in which he announce he was about to die, then  dramatically call out  the name of  Connecticut's governor, Ella Grasso.  When my sister got Superstar Ken for Christmas, she promised that he was going to be a good Ken.  That lasted all of one day when Superstar Ken discovered he was Mod Hair Ken's idiot son.

5.  Hugo, Man of a Thousand Faces
I didn't discover this toy until I was in high school when my father's then wife brought a bunch of her old childhood toys to his house.  Seeing this freakish bald guy, I swiped him, and my friend and I made him a star of our dumb movies (we even wrote a song about him).   With the camera rolling, we squashed Hugo's head, subjected him to alien death rays, played the drums with him, threw him from one end of the basement to the other, and even (much to [livejournal.com profile] haddayr 's disgust) licked his head.  If you want, you too can play Hugo.  

janradder: (dork)
On the way to Target today, I drove behind a Corvette with a vanity plate reading, "SUM FUN." My first thought was that it had to do with summer, as in "summer fun," but then I thought maybe the person just couldn't spell "some." Then it hit me, the person loves to add, hence "SUM FUN."
janradder: (Default)
Top 5 Kid's Show Theme Songs:

For me, these are the songs that immediately transport me back to Saturday mornings when school was just a rumor and weekday afternoons when homework may have beckoned but would instead languish forgotten in my backpack. Here they are, in no particular order.

1. Scooby Doo: Where Are You?
From the opening sound of screeching bats and that groovy drum fill, to the bubblegum vocals and a rhythm track lifted straight from "In the Midnight Hour," there's not another cartoon intro that says to me Crappy-early-seventies-animation better (and I mean that in a good way).

2. The Adventures of Fat Albert
Being one of the last cartoons of the morning, this was perhaps the one I looked forward to most if only because of this song (and Russell putting down Rudy). With that bouncing beat, that "Hey, Hey, Hey!" and that funky organ, I was hooked from the first note. The "Nah-nah-nah's" at the end were to me like a seven-year-old's "Hey Jude." Go ahead -- try not to sing along.

3. The Lone Ranger
The William Tell Overture? Nah -- it's the Lone Ranger! "A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust, and a hearty 'Hiyo Silver!'-- the Lone Ranger." Ah, my pulse still quickens whenever I hear those horns.

4. Batman
How many kids haven't run around singing the Batman song? It's iconic -- even the Who and the Jam both covered it. In many ways, the actual show was almost a letdown after the opening credits, but then how could anyone actually live up to the excitement generated by a Peter Gunn-like theme whose only lyrics were "Batman" sung over and over? (And for those who may not know, the song's composer, Neil Hefti, also the theme song for The Odd Couple.)

5. Land of the Lost
It's hard to choose one favorite out of all of Sid and Marty Krofft's shows, but this would have to be the one(sorry Bugaloos and H.R. Pufnstuf). I mean, it's got a banjo, for crying out loud, and to paraphrase Steve Martin -- how can you not be happy when you hear a banjo?

So -- what are your favorites?
janradder: (Default)
Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night to find a spectral figure hovering over me. I'll blink my eyes and try to wake up fully, and as I do, the figure will recede as if in realizing I'm awake it needs to retreat until I'm asleep again. Sometimes it happens only moments after I fall asleep and I suddenly find myself jarred awake for whatever reason. Sometimes the figure will stay there, hovering for a moment, before it pulls away.

I have no idea why I see these things but it is utterly terrifying when it happens, even when I know whatever I'm seeing will disappear. Afterwards, I have a hard time falling back asleep and I keep opening my eyes again and again to make sure that whatever I saw isn't there anymore. I keep looking at the spot where I saw the phantasm, trying to see if there was some shape or object that my brain turned into the figure, but there's nothing but a blank wall or the closet door or the hallway outside the bedroom, and none of those things is even remotely shaped like what I'd seen.

Last night, I saw one again -- it was like long tendrils of mist or smoke reaching out to me from the dresser. I stared at it, waiting for it to disappear but it didn't, so I reached my hand out to try and swat it away. My hand felt only air, but the tendrils pulled back into nothingness. When it was gone, I couldn't sleep, terrified that something was approaching me from behind. Haddayr came home a few minutes later, and I had to call her upstairs because I was too afraid to be alone. I really don't know what's going on with my brain, but I wish this would stop.

Blech.

Sep. 23rd, 2009 02:14 pm
janradder: (Default)
Yesterday the doctor gave me an albuterol inhaler (the same kind that you would use if you had asthma) because he heard a wheezing in my chest when I coughed. Today I realized it has the same after-affects as inhaling nitrous oxide -- a headache and an odd sensation in my chest -- without any of the fun aspects of nitrous.
janradder: (Default)
Today I finally went to the clinic to find out why I've been sick for the past eighteen days. At the receptionist's desk, the woman behind it asked me to wear a mask since I'd called in saying I had flu-like symptoms. I could understand that. It was how she and the nurse treated me after that I thought was uncalled for.

Even after I put on the mask, the receptionist stared at me with what I could only describe as fear. She even told me to take care of the co-pay after the appointment just to get me away from her desk. I could almost see her breathe a sigh of relief as I walked away.

The nurse was no better. She called me to the back, mispronouncing my name, which happens all the time. I cheerfully corrected her like I always do and instead of apologizing or making some sort of pleasantry, she stood as far away from me as she could and brusquely said, "okay." Then she took my weight, whisked me in the exam room (all while keeping as much distance as possible between the two of us), and then quickly left. When she came back to take my temp and blood pressure, she was wearing a mask, even though I still had mine on. As she took my vitals she practically cringed when she had to touch me. Then she raced away as soon as she could as if I were emitting visible waves of radiation and disease.

The doctor, on the other hand, was quite nice. But the rest of the experience left me feeling something much less than human.
janradder: (sigh)
A few weeks ago, we noticed a mouse just outside our house, running around our deck as we ate dinner on it. Over the next few days, the mouse would return, more than likely scrounging whatever food the boys dropped. Yesterday, we found the mouse inside our house (I'm assuming it's the same one). It's run up and down the basement stairs and into the guest room. This morning, I heard a scuffling sound in the kitchen and when I looked to see what it was, it was the mouse, squeezing underneath our stove. Where was the cat? About a foot or two away -- calmly, yet somewhat disinterestedly, watching the mouse.
janradder: (axe man)
Last night I dreamt that I was helping Luis Buñuel make a movie. He was filming in my grandparent's house which, in the dream was actually three stories tall. The kitchen was their kitchen, and the living room was theirs as well, but the upstairs was the entrance to a large twenties style hotel with dual staircases leading up to a balcony. The third floor was sometimes the street or sometimes a field.

I was working as some sort of camera technician or production assistant and the two of us were trying to film a shot of a large, gold cymbal that he'd placed on the floor of my grandparents' kitchen and propped up againt a wooden step ladder. It was the circles on the top of the cymbal that Buñuel was interested in, as he felt they had something to do with the golden sun. When we'd finished the shot, he was pleased and I wanted desperately for him to like me and think I was doing a good job.

When we were done, we walked through the house and travelled up to the third floor looking for another set or another shot. Buñuel stared intensely at everything he saw with his large, bulging eyes, and he walked slightly hunched since his sciatica was bothering him.
janradder: (Default)
Yesterday the glass shade in the boys room smashed into about ten thousand tiny pieces. Today I went to Home Depot and bought two more --- one for the boys room and one for the hallway (which mysteriously fell and shattered about a year ago). As I carried them into the house (along with an armful of new venetian blinds), the bags holding the shades swung and then collided with one another, shattering one of the shades. So now I can make another trip to Home Depot.

That's just one aspect of the glorious red-letter day I'm having. Add to that a pair of bickering children and a bunch of housework that I still haven't been able to get to and you've got a big pile of win. Yay.
janradder: (godzilla)
Today our house has experienced:

One venetian blind that in half when I attempted to raise it;

Half a six-pack of beer that broke on our front steps when [livejournal.com profile] haddayr accidently dropped it;

And the glass dome of an overhead light that fell to the floor where it shattered into nearly ten-thousand tiny shards after the boys accidently hit it with a beach ball they'd thrown into the air.

This follows two other venetian blinds that met similar fates to today's just a few days ago. And the roof on the porch leaks. Again. At this rate I predict our house will be nothing but a tottering two-by-four frame filed with discarded furnishings and glass by the end of next month.
janradder: (Default)
Last night, as you may or may not know, was National Night Out. It's a chance for neighbors to get outside on a nice summer night and mingle. It's also a chance for me, if I go, to talk to a bunch of people I've never met before and try to make small talk. If given the choice, I would rather be stuck repeatedly with sharp metal objects.

Usually, I hang back and let [livejournal.com profile] haddayr do all the gabbing and schmoozing because she likes that sort of thing. No, I shouldn't say she likes it. She thrives on it. Which is why I like going with her to those things because I can just nod and smile and pretend I heard what people said (in addition to being horribly shy and introverted, I'm also a little hard of hearing, especially when I'm in large group settings and there's a lot of background noise going on). That was not the case last night because Haddayr had yoga class which left me on my own. But since the boys wanted to go, I went with them.

Was it as bad as I thought it was going to be? No. It was so much worse.

In addition to the fifty smiling strangers there was a loud band "playing music." To say they were bad would be an insult to bad bands everywhere. Not only could they not sing in tune with their instruments or keep their instruments in tune with each other, they couldn't keep their instruments in tune with themselves. And then they went into three and four part vocal harmonies. Out of tune. Singing the Grateful Dead. Loudly.

So I sat at a table watching Éiden stuff his face with chips until there weren't anymore as Arie did some sort of coloring activity and listened to the horrid caterwauling of a group of neighbors I'd never seen before in my life. Meanwhile, I tried to smile and nod at the other neighbors I'd never met before who said god knows what to me because I could barely hear them over the classic rock slaughter. It felt like someone had grabbed my insides with a fork and was slowly but steadily twisting them around and around while commenting on how it was a nice evening outside and how Powderhorn Park sure was a nice place to live. And then at eight o'clock, I got out of there as quickly as I could without looking back for fear I might be pulled out into the hell I'd only just escaped.
janradder: (Default)
--On the way out we rode over Highway 55, crossing on the bike and pedestrian bridge per Arie and Éiden's request. "The bridge!!" they shouted in unison as I huffed and puffed, pulling them up the steep incline. "Yes," I managed to squeak out. "The bridge."

--Keeping with the bridge theme, we rode to the Stone Arch Bridge. "The Bridge Over The Mississippi River!" Éiden shouted, as he nearly always does when we cross the Mississippi (I still find it remarkable that my kids think of the mythic Mississippi River as being a regular part of their world).

--Halfway across the bridge we were nearly brought to a standstill by nearly a thousand Mississippi Lions. I'm not sure who they are or what they do except wear white T-shirts that loudly proclaim their names and blindly wander through the active bike path without once looking to see if there was a bike coming or not (which there was, and quite a few at that).

--On the other side, after making it through the gauntlet of Lions, we were forced to turn around by the profusion of cobblestone streets and the overpowering smell of garbage. On the way back, having to once more make our way through the Leonine pedestrians, I nearly took one of them out when, with her back to us, she stepped directly into our path at the last second. Lucky for her, I'd expected it to happen.

--Riding along the West River Parkway, a driver yelled at me to get on the bike trail (which was more pock marked and potholed than the road) mere seconds after we both passed a sign depicting a bike and car side-by-side accompanying the words, "SHARE THE ROAD."

--Making our way back over the bridge over Highway 55, I observed that while dieting and exercise may help one lose weight, exercising on a nearly empty stomach makes one's stomach feel that much emptier.

--Back on the street, a few blocks from our house, a Minneapolis school bus almost took the three of us out when he pulled the patented Minneapolis move, "I-may-be-parked-on-the-side-of-the-street-but-I'm-still-on-the-street-so-I'm-pulling-out-without-looking-just-like-I've-got-the-right-of-way." Luckily for us, he looked at the last minute, otherwise I wouldn't be writing this now.
janradder: (Default)
About two years ago while heading into the grocery store, I was a approached by a man who looked hot, tired, and panicked. In his hand was a red plastic gas can.

"I'm so sorry to bother you," he said, sounding out of breath. "But my wife just went into labor at Regents Hospital and my van ran out of gas over there on Lake Street."

He pointed to an old tan and brown minivan from the early nineties.

"It's our first baby and I can't believe this happened -- I-I've never run out of gas before -- and I don't have any money. I just need enough to get over to the hospital. Please, if you could just help me out, I'd really appreciate it."

I usually ignore these stories, but there was something about this man and his behavior that made me think he was telling the truth. He was a Black man who looked to be about my age and he had a good, honest smile. And I thought about how I would have felt had the situation been reversed. If it had been my first child, I thought, and I'd run out of gas, I would have looked and sounded just like him. So I gave him the twenty dollar bill I had in my pocket and after thanking me profusely, he rushed off in the direction of the gas station with his red, plastic gas can.

I watched him disappear between the cars in the parking lot and without his bright earnest face before me, I wondered if I'd been taken. Still, I thought, maybe I hadn't, and I'd really helped the guy out.

Today, as I got out the car at another grocery store with the boys in tow, there he was.

"Excuse me," he said, looking hot, tired, and panicked, but without a gas can. "My wife just went into labor at Regents Hospital and I was wondering if you could help me."

"No. I can't help you at all," I said.

I looked at that smiling face, which suddenly looked a little scared.

"Yeah, okay," he said, and rushed off looking for another mark.

I turned away, pissed off at myself both for letting him con me two years earlier and for not saying something when he'd approached me with the same con. "She's in labor and you ran out of gas again?" I told myself I should have said. But I hadn't. Instead, I walked through Aldi, feeling like an idiot for being taken by the guy. But his eyes -- his eyes and his smile, they looked so honest and earnest. And as I drove away, looking to see if he was in the parking lot so I could say something, I cursed him for using that honest face to take advantage of other people.
janradder: (Default)
I had spent the morning and a good part of the afternoon cooking, repairing steps and setting up tables and chairs in my soon-to-be in-laws back yard on Long Island. I was wearing a pair of old filthy shorts and a similarly filthy T-shirt. Both of them were covered in equal amounts of dirt, sweat and food splatters. The guests had begun to arrive half an hour earlier and I'd greeted them brightly in my decidedly non-formal attire.

"Aren't you the one getting married?" nearly all of them had asked, looking at my outfit.

"Yes," I'd said brightly and with a smile. "I am!"

About twenty minutes before the ceremony was to start, I was still wearing my grimy work clothes when my mom grabbed me by the arm, led me to a room where my rented tux was hanging, and told me to get changed.

"If you don't, the wedding's going to start and you're still going to be wearing those ratty things," she said.

I stood at the doorway, staring at the tuxedo, took a deep breath, and changed. Though I hadn't felt the least bit nervous before, when I changed clothes I was suddenly overcome with horrible, gut-wrenching fear.

I pulled on the jacket, tied my shoes, and adjusted my tie in the mirror. Then I stepped out into the hallway where my mother was waiting to pin a boutoniére to my collar. There is a picture of me, taken as she did so, where I look sort of like Elvis Presley. I'm standing with my arms hanging back a little at my sides while my legs are spread slightly apart, stiffly. My head is turned to the right a little and looking down, sort of like I've grabbed the microphone and pulled it in close, ready to croon while the girls scream and faint. I didn't feel like Elvis when that picture was taken, though. Instead, I was absolutely terrified.

In spite of the terror, however, I walked out of the house into the backyard filled with gardens of flowers just about to bloom and joined [livejournal.com profile] haddayr at the top of the stairs we'd spent a week repairing. Then the music started and walked down them to a gazebo where we were married.

Though stepping into those clothes and out into the backyard was one of the most terrifying things I'd ever done in my life to that point, it's still one of the best decisions I've ever made.
janradder: (godzilla)
Why is it that people think just because they're at a horror movie, it's okay to talk whenever they want about whatever they want. Last night, I went to see Drag Me to Hell (which was very good, by the way), and my friend and I seemed to be the only two people not having a conversation, and I'm not just talking about talking to the screen or announcing to the theater the blatantly obvious such as "It's coming up the stairs!" (of which there was definitely a lot of). I'm talking about conversations that had absolutely nothing to do with the movie. Here's a sample:

"So when did you change your hair color?"

"I didn't -- it's always been like this."

"Really? I like it, but I swear it used to be a different color."

This was not at the beginning of the film, as the credits were rolling. This was halfway through the damn thing.

I have to say, the best experience I ever had at a theater watching a horror movie was when I saw 28 Days Later and I was the only person in the entire theater because I was at a 1:15 screening on a Tuesday afternoon. I really need to find a way to get to more of those.
janradder: (watt)
It was a good show, though they started out a little flat on the first few songs, which was understandable in that this was the last show on the tour (and Exene was recently diagnosed with MS, which might have had something to do with the energy level as well). By about the fifth song, however, they found their groove, as did the crowd, and a slam pit opened up in front of the stage. I jumped in, bouncing off the people around me and getting shoved by the people around me until I had to take a break and get some water from the bar

Near the end of the show, during the first encore, some girl behind me on the edge of the pit literally started punching me in the ass. I have no idea why -- she and her friend weren't slamming, but they were kind of violently shoving any of us who got near them.

A few minutes later, my glasses flew off my face and to the floor. I backed up out of the pit to see if they were anywhere nearby, and the girl who'd been punching my ass started shoving me from behind again. I told her to quit shoving me, that I'd lost my glasses, and shockingly, she stooped down and tried to help me look for them. Soon, a bunch of other people asked what I'd lost and started to help me look for them as well. Even when I said to forget about it, that they were more than likely smashed to bits on the floor a group of people continued to search the floor with the lights form their cell phones, and a few minutes later, one of them handed me my mangled, lensless frames. I'm still amazed at their kindness in looked for them.

Left without my eyes for the two encores but with my now found frames, I jumped back into the pit for the last few songs, then wondered if I was going to have to call a cab to get home. After the band left the stage for the last time and the crowd cleared out, I searched around the now empty floor to see if my lenses might be anywhere around. And they were! Up near the stage, just lying there with only a few scratches.

So I've got my glasses back, though I do need to get them replaced now, and I've got a pair of filthy, beer-scented shoes to go with them. I'm tired from being up late and having to get the boys to school early, and my body is pretty sore, but I'm pretty happy too.
janradder: (Default)
No, I'm not going out for a bike ride. Apparently there is a limit to my idiocy.

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