Saturday, November 30, 2002

once when i was in elementary school, after spending a whole day sticking pointy metal objects into the lock of an old mechanical bank that i'd lost the key to, i was playing in the backyard with my sister. being the contemplative sort of child, i stretched out in the grass and stared upwards for a long time, watching birds and clouds pass through the expanse of hawaiian sky that hung over me like a sheet of blue. at one point, i noticed a tree, not far from where i was lying, whose branches jutted off in different directions very close to the ground. it looked like a tiny cradle just big enough for my head, so i rolled across the yard like a steamroller and tucked my fair-haired head between the two branches. the bark was harder than i thought and not at all pillow-like, but i fought through the pain and leaned back into the branches staring back up into the sky and enjoying my new found secret place. after a while i wanted to get up and was surprised when i discovered that i couldn't. somehow, in the leaning back, i'd managed to get my head wedged between the branches of the tree. like any kid with his head caught in something, i panicked, flailed, and called out for my sister. the tree held my head like a powerful vise and now when i looked up there were no cooing birds or billowy clouds or pretty blue sheets of sky, instead my eyelids opened directly into the sun and water pooled in the corners of my eyes. after what seemed like minutes but was surely only seconds, i managed to extricate myself. now when i want to look up at the sky, like i did with the new girl yesterday, i only lie down in the middle of soccer fields or meadows and never by putting my head between two branches of a tree.

[editor's note: a patron who looks like nice guy eddie just signed up for the internet.]

last seen: lovely and amazing
last heard: bob marley 'lively up yourself'
last read: "Many Americans do not yet realize the extent and the character of the growing rejection of, if not resentment against, the policy of the present American Administration throughout Europe, including in Great Britain."

Thursday, November 28, 2002

thankful for: selections from a much longer list

-mom's great hugs. oh, and also her string bean casserole and sweet potatoes.

-enough pocket money for chai and a newspaper

-dad playing 'norwegian wood' for me on his new acoustic while i sit in the next chair downloading kazaa and zone alarm for him

-the sound of snow crunching under my sneakers

-old pictures

-the moment i read the last line in a novel

-blossom dearie's voice

-a full belly and clean clothes

-the view of the town from the house

-white t-shirts and my blue jacket

-baby powder

-when i spoke to her on the phone tonight and she said 'so you can come over and play tomorrow, right?'

last seen: spiderman, dogma, blade 2, and two episodes of behind the music: elton john & robert nesta marley
last heard: frank sinatra 'let it snow'

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

a very pleasant three-hour delay derailed my plans to hit the road by 9am. my journey to the front royal homestead began shortly after noon. the traffic was easy on 77 and 81 and i was even treated to some snow.

somewhere in southern virginia, as i stood with my back to the wind hopping from foot to foot in front of a gas pump, i realized that the one thin jacket i packed would do me no good. when i got to mom and dad's, i ran from the driveway to the house and do not plan to venture back out of doors until i leave on friday morning; unless, after the big meal tomorrow, i stumble out for a stroll or pass out in a rocker on the front porch.

right now i'm sitting in my parents' house enjoying the things that i don't have in my own apartment. things like an internet connection, reliable heat, a washer and dryer, and the hip-hop show on MTV2. fo-shee-zy, my nee-zy.

last seen: thirteen conversations about one thing, bad company
last heard: prefuse73 'last light'

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

the blind patriotism of july fourth. i hate it. the gut-wrenching process of gift-buying (and gift-receiving) at christmas. also, i hate it. but, thanksgiving...the entire point is gluttony and garish parades; what's not to love?

the other reason that i like thanksgiving is because, when i was a kid, i got to make one of those turkeys by tracing my hand on some brown construction paper and cutting it out. the work would be featured prominently on the family fridge or stay tacked to a bulletin board until i brought home something that my class had made for christmas. this was usually a tree made out of a green-painted paper plate with cotton balls, pieces of pine cone, or red yarn glued all over it. i was never very creative. my turkey and tree were never the best, but my mom like them.

some other crappy things that i made in elementary school and, later, in shop class were: a plaster cast of my hand, a metal box made by using tin snips, a mirror that said SK8 OR DIE on it, a pair of shorts, and a bear carved out of wood.

last seen: bowling for columbine
last heard: digable planets 'last of the spiddyocks'
last read: "I've always felt that even though a man was not a Christian, he still has to know the truth some way or another."

Monday, November 25, 2002

as you've read on these pages before, my upstairs neighbor, reggie, likes to have very loud sex with his ladyfriend. they are so loud that my other neighbor who once shared a wall with them moved downstairs to get away from the noise. isn't that funny? for his part, reggie is quiet and business-like, choosing instead to focus on the task at hand like some kind of sexual foreman. i picture him naked but with a hard hat on, making sure that this gets moved over here, and no one gets hit by this, and everybody gets their job done before the whistle blows for the day. his ladyfriend, however, does not fit neatly into my construction site analogy as she frequently sounds like she is getting murdered.

their antics had become almost like background music in my tiny apartment and, when friends or relatives stayed over, we'd sit quietly waiting and secretly hoping for a good round of adult sports...then we'd giggle when we heard it.

that's why when i got home last night and, for the first time, heard them fighting with each other (and even loudly yelling the F-word), i started to worry that the fun was over. it was about 11pm. i closed my book, clicked off the lamp, and fell asleep, hoping that they'd patch things up.

imagine my elation when the alarm went off at 7am and i woke to the pre-breakfast sounds of animal lust floating down from the ceiling above...all was, once again, right with the world.

bonus entry
dear everyone,
don't say anything but i went out with a girl on friday and we are going out again tonight.
your pal,

last seen: frida
last heard: tullycraft 'glitter and twang'
last read: 'radical librarians' article in punk planet

Friday, November 22, 2002

things patrons have said to me today

i'm froze up, man.
well, at least, your day is going good.
hey there, james.
true crime books?
you got those nuclear pills?
where are the books on art?
the C key doesn't work on my computer.
ALL-AAAWWWLLL!!! [yelled by baby]
will it affect my pregnancy?
what if i don't have a thyroid?
PILLS!!! [yelled by grown man]
who can type this for me?
you mean i gotta get a whole 'nother card?
where are the dragon books?
thanks, sweetie. [with wink]

last heard: the gentle waves 'sisterwoman'
reading: thornton wilder's the bridge of san luis rey AND...just one week until we buy nothing

Thursday, November 21, 2002

there are two types of homeschool families.

the first type comes in and requests star wars series novels and john williams soundtracks through interlibrary loan. they are brilliant, but you can envision their lives in a few years, horrible lives full of SCA meetings, socially-inept husbands, houses full of crappy macrame crafts, and way, way too many cats.

the second type are like the kids i had in the young adult book club today. a pair of sisters, 13 and 14, who just finished reading oscar wilde and p.g. wodehouse for fun, play various musical instruments, have an upcoming debate tournament on trade policy between iraq and various african nations, and possess the kind of warm smiles, usually reserved for small animals or the retarded, which seem to forgive you for being uglier and dumber than they are.

last heard: eric b and rakim 'paid in full'
last read: inspirational quotes from gunnery sergeant hartman

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

this morning, the library, in conjunction with the local health department, began giving away doses of potassium iodide or KI, as those of us who were briefed yesterday call it. why, you may ask, are we doing this? well, because our community is within ten miles of a nuclear facility and people want the illusion of safety since they are concerned about a possible terrorist attack.

i didn't know much about KI before yesterday, but allow me to share. soon after an incident, the public will be instructed to take their pills. the KI will "fill our thyroid glands with stable iodine so that it cannot absorb radioactive iodine." this decreases the likelihood that we will develop thyroid cancer.

dude, if there is an incident just cancel christmas, because KI pills will do nothing for the other effects of the incident that i found over at the CDC's page. they include but are not limited to the following:

-severe retinal burns (how would you find your KI?)
-injury from the blast or resulting debris
-bone marrow depletion from acute raditation syndrome
-skin burns

so, tonight, just have that extra piece of pie and you'll feel better.

last seen: play it again, sam
last heard: go sailor 'ray of sunshine'
last read: "The 2002 Federal Military Budget stands at a mind-boggling $343 billion. Consider that the same budget allocates a comparatively paltry $39 billion to children's health, $6 billion to the Headstart program, and $1 billion to combat world hunger. It's estimated that it would cost just $6 billion a year -- or approximately 1/57th of the military budget -- to provide healthcare for all uninsured children in the United States."

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

a few things i learned about the sixties last night while watching alice's restaurant

-hippies liked them some dirtbikes
-folksingers sometimes got unlimited free desserts when they played music but never free cheeseburgers
-some 1960s white hippies dressed like 1970s black pimps
-matthew broderick's dad was a good actor

last seen: alice's restaurant
last heard: stereolab 'the flower called nowhere'
reading: caroline cooney's the face on the milk carton

Monday, November 18, 2002

if you haven't been out to enjoy a frosty adult beverage in one of our nation's many bars recently, then you probably don't know that cigarette companies have started deploying troops there. they are easy to spot because they have messenger bags full of free cigarettes, clip boards for writing down your name and address, and swell silver pens with little blue lights at the tip to enable them to write in poorly-lit bars.

while i don't have a big problem with this marketing phenomenon, i do, as a non-smoker, wish that other companies would get in on the game. who amongst us wouldn't like to see the occasional roving hostess apple pie girl or a guy pushing a cart filled with ice-cold yoohoo or someone dressed as colonel sanders handing out drumsticks at the bus stop?

on a related note, dutch and i were doing the usual on saturday night: hanging out in a bar, picking fights, making fun of people and eavesdropping on their conversations. that is when the free cigarette guy decided to stand right next to us. we were treated to a steady stream of drunken conversation as the cigarette guy tried to extract necessary marketing information from some of the patrons. here is the transcript of one such conversation:

cigarette guy: hey, you guys want some cigarettes?

girl one: i do. [proceeds to dig out her driver's license to prove her age]

girl two: i don't. camel lights taste like italian sausage.

cigarette guy: hey, i love italian sausage.

girl two: i don't. my friend does though. she likes it with onions and mustard.

cigarette guy: hey, me, too!

last seen: 8 mile, pumpkin
last heard: dilated peoples 'worst comes to worst'
last read: manil suri's the death of vishnu AND
U.S. Rep. Kucinich..."Throughout 1989 and 1990, U.S. companies, with the permission of the first Bush Administration, sent to the government of Saddam Hussein mustard gas precursors and live cultures for bacteriological research. U.S. companies also helped to build a chemical weapons factory and supplied the West Nile virus, fuel air explosive technology, computers for weapons technology, hydrogen cyanide precursors, computers for weapons research and development, and vacuum pumps and bellows for nuclear weapons plants."
shameless plug: my newest feature over at michaelcosm

Friday, November 15, 2002

having lived in my share of tiny towns, each one several hours driving distance from the nearest decent record store, i always whisper a quiet 'thank you' under my breath when i walk through the sliding glass doors at manifest discs. this morning, after handing over two box sets and a few individual discs that i wanted to trade, i was able to leave with all of the following for minimal out-of-pocket cash.

heavenly- operation heavenly
all girl summer fun band- a.g.s.f.b.
shop assistants- will anything happen
the softies- the softies ep
talulah gosh- backwash
tullycraft- beat surf fun
go sailor-go sailor ep i said, 'thank you.'

last seen: the dangerous lives of altar boys
last heard: all girl summer fun band 'later operator'

Thursday, November 14, 2002

i want a califone record player. yes, just like the one in richie tenenbaum's tent, but that's not the reason. i have a few pieces of vinyl, plus my dad has milk crates full of records, and i would like the opportunity to play them at my leisure. plus, i want to start collecting again. years ago, i had a roommate with a turntable, but, alas, i live alone now, record player-less.

i scoured ebay and even bid on a few used califones. my thriftiness coupled with my complete lack of a competitive drive found me on the losing side of every auction. really, i don't want to sit there and hit refresh twenty times in the last three minutes of an auction. i don't need that kind of pressure. so, today, i decided to dig around on this internet i've been hearing so much about, and, to my surprise, i can probably pick a new one up for under $200 plus shipping. that is about the same price i would have paid for one on ebay by the time the seller had made me bleed money to have the behemoth mailed to me.

now, i won't get one today or even next week, but hopefully soon and i'll invite you over for sodas and to listen to "the plastic eye miracle sermon" which i found on vinyl at the salvation army for 75 cents.

last heard: heavenly 'cool guitar boy'
last read: Hey, Bush, why do our parents have to pay their taxes. I like eating Mexican food more than any other food. -Ricardo Ramirez, who always looks sneaky.
last deadly combination: 1 cranberry muffin at 8am + 1 salad at 4pm + 5 miller high lifes between 10pm and midnight = 10 minutes on the bathroom floor at 1am

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

the photographs sat in cardboard boxes for years. there were the ones my mom got from her mother. there were odd, L-shaped sheets of wallet-sized school pictures, remainders that never got sent off to relatives. there were even black and white, 8x10s in card stock folders and frames. all piled in, different sizes, never in albums or in any order. the boxes bore yellow or red or blue numbered stickers, the kind that moving companies slap on boxes for inventory. each sticker marked another three years that we lived in a different random state, where different random closets would hide the cardboard boxes of photographs until the next time we moved.

now that my parents built the house they will probably retire in, my mother has started going through the boxes, sorting them out. she bought a bunch of those frames that hold ten pictures, each in a different sized circle or square. they make the wall along the staircase look all homey. i think they are grandparent-ifying the house in the hopes that one of their children will start making babies soon.

my mom is visiting from virginia. after dinner last night, she brought out two large plastic containers. one for my sister and one for me. they were filled with pictures that she'd sorted out for us. lisa crying on santa's lap. me in yoda under-roos and black rollerskates. assorted halloweens and birthday parties. mom and dad hitchhiking in germany. we sat there for a long time just passing pictures around and laughing.

last read: L.A. Times editorial-- "...let's be blunt: The Bush administration's plan to strip the Government Printing Office's authority is a threat to democracy."
last heard: the meters 'live wire'

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

moose is big.
moose is about 16.
moose comes to the library a lot.
moose even comes in the middle of the day.
moose even comes when there is school.
moose rides the bus here.
moose always smells smoky.
moose needed books on wicca last month.
moose asked how to print playstation cheat codes today.
moose wanted a book of love poems, too.
moose was making a card in MS word.
moose likes a girl, i'll bet.
moose copied the poem in a pretty font;
baskerville old face, i think.

last heard: nick drake 'the thoughts of mary jane'

Monday, November 11, 2002

trust me, it was out of our control. sitting there in the waiting room, we couldn't switch the giant TV because it was up too high, right near the ceiling. besides, the lady at the counter seemed unwilling to give up the remote. so we sat, subjected to fox's crack news team. i'd always heard that their coverage was dubious, but, since the rabbit ears at my house don't tune that channel in clearly, i'd never been able to make a first-hand judgement.

walter cronkite it wasn't, but it started fine enough. i even let a few things slide, like when they said 'IT'S GO TIME!' as the lead-in to a story about the UN resolution on Iraq, and i didn't even cringe much when a reporter said 'the kid spilled the beans' about the interrogation of john lee malvo. i figured maybe they were trying for a younger demographic with the 'this-ain't-your-daddy's-news' angle. i let all of the crappy reporting slide off my back because at least there was free coffee while i waited.

no, what got to me was not fox news. it was the bubbly girl in her mid-twenties, there in the lobby with us, who gave a running commentary on every story.

bubbly girl on the terrible storms:
[while doing a little jump, raising arms, and shrieking] "when i was little, my mama used to take us to my grandma's and there'd be tornadoes. i'd be so scared."

bubbly girl on movies:
"the ring is really good. we went to see santa clause 2 this weekend. it was good."

bubbly girl on j-lo and ben affleck:
"he can do so much better than her. she is such a hoe."

i'm sure that i wasn't the only one who wanted to slip shards of glass into her steaming cup o' joe. i could almost see it. we would conspire against her, surreptitiously dropping the glittering shards that would silence this too-bubbly of girl. then we'd watch, giggling, as she fell in a heap on the outdated issues of newsweek and house beautiful.

last heard: aislers set 'i've been mistreated'
last read: "And yet it's been recorded by everyone from Elvis Presley to the Robert Shaw chorale."

Sunday, November 10, 2002

-get a charley horse
-stay at work for an extra hour
-read jane austen

that is a quick list of horrible things i would rather do instead of apartment hunting. it is, short of dental work, the most gut-wrenching activity i know. i loathe apartment hunting, but, it has to be done. after sleeping in late, working out, and eating breakfast, i still had two hours before work and could think of no more excuses for why i couldn't go scouting out a new place. so, i steered my old ford down the rain-soaked, leaf-plastered streets of chantilly and elizabeth this morning, coffee in hand, looking for red and white for rent signs. there were a few nice places. i scribbled a list of phone numbers and left messages. when i start hearing from these people, i'm not expecting good news. i'm sure that none of them will be able to beat the price i'm paying now. then again, i live in the fight club house and plumbing works only sometimes.

last seen: triumph of the will
last heard: stereolab 'wow and flutter'
last read: "However, even documentary films cannot document reality, or depict a true account of events - a better term would be a non-fiction film. The majority of fact-related films are not unbiased recordings, and Triumph Of The Will and Olympia are no exceptions. The mere fact that a certain subject has been chosen involves an interpretation of what should be shot and the manipulation of time and space in the interest of tension and story-telling."

Saturday, November 09, 2002

there was a time, not so long ago, when i subscribed to several listservs. i was awash in a sea of digests and individual posts. many days, i'd simply scan subject lines and then delete the messages. i've pared back. now i only subscribe to two lists- fiction_l and indiepop digest. the first is a list for librarians about, yep, fiction. the second has helped me learn about all kinds of swell music.

while the ability to call upon the combined knowledge of thousands of people is a handy feature of these lists, i've discovered another: subject lines make the best song and album titles. if i ever start a band, i will kneel on the bank of the rushing listserv and pan its waters for shiny arcane nuggets to bless my compositions with. a few samples appear below.

indiepop digest
songs about shoes
twee mashups
biff bang pow
punky's dilemma
listening to...the twee war

the golden orb?
techno killers
american man with multiple personalities
christian fiction for men

last seen: my big fat greek wedding
last heard: minnie riperton with jose feliciano 'light my fire' [WARNING: this cover of the doors classic includes singing in both english and spanish. i believe the comedic effect was unintended.]
last read: When voters turn to third-party candidates like Ross Perot and Jesse Ventura I suspect they are not saying "That's my kind of candidate." Instead I believe they are simply sending a big "screw you" to Democrats for failing to offer them any real alternative.

Thursday, November 07, 2002

so, all of this happened last night. at first, i thought she was staring at someone behind me. she couldn't have been staring at me, this beautiful girl at the next table with light brown eyes and very cute shoes. (cute shoes, i tell you.) my eyes would coyly rise to meet hers and, when they locked on, she'd narrow her eyelids just the tiniest bit and stare at me for a few seconds. since i pretty much have to be hit in the face with a shovel to know whether a girl is paying me attention, i called in the reserves. dutch and chairman mike were at the table with me and i mentioned this little game of 'you don't know my address' that i was playing with the cute girl.

she peeled the label off of her beer and playfully pretended to flick the tiny paper ball at me. her friend put a hand up to block the shot. then she dug through her purse for another piece of paper, balled it up, and repeated the exersize. my wingmen assured me that she was trying to get my attention and did their best to boost my self-confidence. i sauntered up to the jukebox directly behind her chair. after punching in the numbers for some screamin' jay hawkins, i returned to my place at our table and dutch told me that she was leaning back in her chair and looking at me. that, he said, was when i should have said something clever.

time passed and she eventually got up, put her freshly-ordered newcastle in her jacket pocket (this, i found so endearing), then walked by our table, eyes glued to mine the entire time, and left. i wish there were a happy ending to this story, but, alas, i am a shy, twenty-nine-year-old boy. one who, despite being three beers past his two beer limit by the end of the evening, could not even muster the courage for a simple hello. i suck. actually, that is not correct. i could have easily mustered the 'hello, i'm james' part, but what does one say after that? i felt like i was in junior high school again. when have i ever not felt that way?

as we sat there finishing our drinks, i spent an inordinate amount of time wallowing in 'what i should have done', then dutch summed it up best: "i'm not going to make fun of you, if you're going to beat yourself up."

comments and you do sucks can be directed here.

last seen: scratch
last heard: handsome boy modeling school's your girl?

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

recent reasons to be blissful

-i had a 'boy-from-american-beauty-with-his-plastic-bag' moment while i sat mesmerized for several minutes by the clothes jumping around the laundromat dryers.

-after months of waiting, they finally received scratch at visart and i will spend most of tonight savoring its velvety, two-disc, documentary goodness.

-i managed to carve out a few hours for nothing but chai and reading.

-today, the usual army of toddlers and newborns in the library is either cooing or singing, instead of running and screaming.

-despite yesterday's election results, the news that they would begin tattooing serial numbers on the arms of liberals is likely just a rumor.

-i have a meeting this afternoon at another branch, after which, i should be able to escape from work early. mu-ah-hah-hah!

last heard: the aislers set 'been hiding'
last read: Recruiters are up-front about their plans to use school lists to aggressively pursue students through mailings, phone calls, and personal visits -- even if parents object. "The only thing that will get us to stop contacting the family is if they call their congressman," says Major Johannes Paraan, head U.S. Army recruiter for Vermont and northeastern New York. "Or maybe if the kid died, we'll take them off our list."

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

i went to a screening of the party last night. it was being shown at the main library as part of a film series. released in 1968, this blake edwards movie stars peter sellers as hrundi v. bakshi, a hapless indian film star. there was a lot of physical comedy in addition to the usual great one-liners. admittedly, my appreciation of peter sellers is a new thing, having seen the ladykillers, i love you, alice b. toklas, the pink panther, and dr. strangelove all in the last six months. don't make the mistake i made by waiting another day. you can get most of these films for free at the library, so you have no excuse. go get one and spend an evening laughing until you pee.

last seen: the party
last heard: johnny cash interview on morning edition
last read: The latest film, "Naqoyqatsi," "life as war," suggests that our daily lives -- competition in the workplace, sports, our relationship to technology, a frantic consumer culture -- simulate, if not stimulate, war.

Monday, November 04, 2002

i'm funny. sorry, but it's true. i'm not bragging. ask anyone. there are many reasons why i'm funny. here are three:

one- my parents and friends are funny. following the conversations of quick-witted people and having to launch return volleys as a self-defense mechanism keeps your timing sharp.

two- i made michael laugh so hard that the lemonade he was drinking came out of his nose and poured back into his glass whilst five of us were playing trivial pursuit.

three- durante had his nose, sammy had his eye; physical attributes that made them funny even if they didn't open their mouths. me, i'm short and bald. see, short + bald = funny.

i'll bet that unfunny people wish it was just some skill they could pick up like learning to be a better speller or tying knots. sadly, this is not the case.

last seen: monster's ball, jackass, punch drunk love. i was also obligated to watch the royal tenenbaums for the sixth time (3 at the theater, 3 on DVD) because, during the early morning hours of sunday, i found out that two of my friends had never seen it and that's a crime.
last heard: kitty craft 'catskills'

Friday, November 01, 2002

[editor's note: the page will look weird today as i fool with tempermental archives. in the likely event that i lose all of the content on the page, it has been fun writing for you.]
[boring archives related editor's note: for some reason part of the HTML for my archives mysteriously got erased, but after switching everything to the cranberry socks template and then swiching it back, everything seems to be in order.] entry in two parts...

part one: voting
our community room has been an early voting station for the past week. the board of elections is camped here to assist a steady stream of area citizens who want to fulfill their civic obligation. for many, this is their first time visiting our modest regional library; i know this because i don't recognize their faces. many of my fellow librarians joke about the number of voters who have come up to our desk over the last few days to ask 'how do i get out of here?' or 'where is the front door?' however, after a cursory giggle, my democratic idealism became a bit unsettled as i paused to realize that we've entrusted the fate of our nation to people who can't remember how to find the door that they entered not ten minutes before.

part two: 'long distance from my girl and i'm talkin on the cellular'- beastie boys high plains drifter
the no cell phone thing was never really a personal crusade, more a matter of economics; however, necessity has won the war given that my car has been in the shop twice in the past month. i am now the proud owner of a phone so tiny that it is sure to be a matter of days before i either lose or crush it. the only way that i could justify the purchase was through the forthcoming cancellation of my home phone service. ("take that, bell south, hah!") now, my mother, who has for years worried incessantly over my cell phone-lessness, can rest easy. now, triple A is only a few moments away. and, now, most importantly, i can call from the car if i'm going to be late picking up my baby's mama from her GED class.

last heard: aimee mann & michael penn 'two of us'
last read: 'Don’t scoff at racing because people stand up and point at wrecks.'