Saturday, June 29, 2002

SCENE: reference desk
PLAYERS: me (librarian) & guy in australian bush hat (patron)

guy in australian bush hat: [approaches reference desk. scraping under fingernails with huge leatherman tool] i need a book about trout streams in north carolina.

me: [begin typing in computer to find book] we might have something on that...ah, here's one [writing title and call number down]

guy in australian bush hat: [inaudible grunt...still picking at fingernails with huge leatherman tool]

me: it is down that aisle [pointing and handing paper] and it's called "trout streams of southern appalachia: fly casting in georgia, kentucky, north carolina, south carolina, and tennessee"

guy in australian bush hat: [straight face...pausing from scraping of nails to look at me] i don't want that one because it includes tennessee.

me: .......

last heard: bjork "joga"

Friday, June 28, 2002

i suppose it comes down to personal preferences, but there are some things that i just don't get like...'casablanca.' everyone thinks it's such a great movie, but everytime i've tried to watch it, i fall asleep. then, there's the greatful dead. i don't even know what to say about them except "huh?" then, there's abercombie and fitch. [taking a deep, pre-rant breath here]

working at a library, i get to see a lot of folks in their late teens and twenties. nary an hour passes that one of them doesn't descend the staircase in front of my desk wearing some article of clothing with the ubiquitous A&F emblazoned across it. now, even if you are PRO-"thongs for pre-teen girls" or PRO-"t-shirts with derogatory asian stereotypes" just hear me out, because i want to talk about something a lot less incendiary.

astute observer of fashion trends that i am, i've noticed a new AF line of shirts that is made to look old. they have ads for fictitious companies or events that are done in a retro, days-gone-by, style of graphic design. sometimes they are ringers, often they are faded. in all fairness, gap and old navy make the same types of shirts.

here is my question...why would you spend $25 for a unique looking shirt that hundreds of other people in your town are going to own? as gandhi (ben kingsley) said to the hindu man who confessed to smashing a muslim baby's head against the wall, "I know a way out of this hell." brothers and sisters, it is called the thrift store.

i have been to the mountaintop and there are hundreds of these shirts hanging heavy like ripe fruit from the trees; many for under $2.
consider just four of the benefits that i've reaped from such a decision:
(1) i'm the only kid on my block with a "jesus and me southside basketball" t-shirt
(2) for the $25 that you spent at AF, i bought 9 shirts, a tie, and a handsome clock with a conway twitty album cover decoupaged to the front
(3) not helpin' "the man"
(4) recycling: it's not just for paper, glass, and plastic

last seen: the birds
last heard: blossom dearie "i walk a little faster"

Thursday, June 27, 2002

top 5 favorite erik estrada character names that aren't "officer francis llewellyn 'ponch' poncherello"

lieutenant "chilli-bean" ramos
pepe torres
juan daniel villegas
edward manchester
chico

last seen: gandhi
last heard: louis prima "5 months, 2 weeks, 2 days"

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

good news rarely comes when my phone rings between the hours of 3am and 6. so, in the few seconds that passed between when i was startled from slumber to when my hand actually picked up the receiver, massive amounts of adrenaline coursed through my bloodstream and the bile had already begun to creep up into my throat. naturally, i imagined that my sister had been in some horrible, disfiguring accident or that my mother'd been shot in a botched home invasion, but it was simply a hang-up.

i looked over at the bright, red numbers on my clock announcing 5:53 and just wanted to put it all behind me and get back to the 57 minutes of uninterrupted sleep that i had coming to me. alas, this was not to be. i stared up at the ceiling, flipped over and back, listened to the already-awake birds outside, and, finally, resigned myself to wakefulness. laying there, book in hand, i'd barely read 5 pages, when the upstairs neighbors woke up. i know they woke up because they started to, um, dance the dance of love as they are wont to do at 6am or 4:45 or 9:30 on a sunday morning on my only day off of work that week.

since it was apparent that the world wanted me out of my own bed, i felt it was my duty to "pay it forward" as it were. i decided to play cupid and put a soundtrack to the upstairs humpfest. i placed the disc on the carousel and adjusted the volume control to a level that would carry the crooning through my thin ceiling and their thin floor. while i never got their opinion on the selection, i can only hope that love lifted them up where they belonged as the vocal stylings of sleater-kinney's "write me back, fucker" wafted into their apartment.

last heard: blossom dearie "something happens to me"

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

after years of waiting for the giant, lumbering planets of 'disposable income' and 'relative geography' to reach harmonic convergence, i finally had a chance to see elvis costello perform live. declan regaled us with a lively set that was not unlike a giant bowl of lucky charms. within every spoonful of the still-too-new-to-be-fully-appreciated-when i was cruel cereal was a pleasant little "pump it up" or "i don't want to go to chelsea" piece of marshmellow goodness.

last seen: bourne identity, red violin, stigmata
last heard: 10,000 maniacs "death of manolete"

Friday, June 21, 2002

my friends and i spend a good portion of our time getting cheap laughs from each other's shortcomings and the shortcomings of others. there, i said it. a lot of you probably do the same thing.

i'm short, stocky, and, er, not lucky in the ways of love, as they say, (that's right, ladies, a triple threat...GRRR!); so, from time to time, my boys launch comic barbs at me and, big boy that i am, i manage to dish it as well as i can take it. there is a nice balance and guffaws are had by all.

there are times though, when you meet a stranger and, while your/my first instinct is to laugh at their unfortunate character flaw, you can't do much but feel pity for them. such a time came yesterday when i was on the reference desk.

a woman that i had helped many times before approached the desk and told me that she was filling out paperwork to file for unemployment benefits. being the consumate professional (and defender of the proletarian cause) that i am, i put on my game face and asked how i could help. apparently, before benefits can be disbursed, you have to prove that you have applied for several jobs in your field and hit a brick wall. she offered a very bureaucratic-looking form from some state agency and asked if i could provide her with "a list of companies that aren't currently hiring."

naturally, my face fell in 4 different ways as i tried to (a) not laugh, (b) not give her the "that is the dumbest question i've ever heard" face, and (c) tactfully explain that, while i could give her lists of job vacancies, i knew of no source that would provide a listing of companies that weren't hiring. maybe i'm judging her too harshly or maybe there is a list like that which i just didn't know about, but i couldn't help but wonder whether there was a correlation between the type of person who would ask a question like that and their current state of joblessness.

last heard: sleater kinney "one song for you"

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

the first rule of book club is 'you do not talk about book club.'

i have digested "the feast of love." the bookmuse and reading group notes made me all weepy. sleepless nights spent clutching the booklist, PW, and ny times reviews were not for naught. so, hotwire a car or hitch your way on down to my library tomorrow evening.

***ladies get in free before 7pm***
***milk and cookies will be provided***

last heard: tony bennett "a time for love"

Monday, June 17, 2002

the narrative portion of today's entry

all of a sudden, i found myself in love with the world/
so there was only one thing that i could do/
was ding a ding dang my dang a dong ling long

-ministry "jesus built my hotrod"

at midnight, the bank drafted my last car payment; now, the escort, she is mine.

the list portion of today's entry

[SCENE: my robust uncle is nestled in what i've affectionately dubbed "the cockpit." said 'pit' is comprised of an over-stuffed armchair, a non-oscillating fan set to full-blast pointed directly at him, and a super-computer rivaled only by the W.O.P.R. in wargames. in today's episode, uncle has on a pair of stylish, gray headphones (it's the new black, you know) and hunches over a tiny microphone asking insightful and thought-provoking questions. sadly, since this 'headphone' technique is employed, i can only report his uttered-aloud questions and, like you, have to guess at the responses. now that the scene has been set...]

3 questions that i overheard my uncle ask during a paltalk chat session yesterday while my aunt and i were quietly sitting on the other side of the living room watching television

question 1: is that where the CIA farm is located?
question 2: flying cars?
question 3: what do you bounty hunt?

last seen: requiem for a dream
last heard: japancakes "elephants"
last read: many interviews with charles baxter in preparation for wednesday night's discussion of "the feast of love"

Saturday, June 15, 2002

there are times, when i feel like i'm standing on a tiny, 3x3 foot plot of well-manicured grass, a shiny beam of sunlight falling over my shoulders, and, yet, all around me is this dark and swirling chaos. i draw in my arms and squeeze my eyelids tightly in anticipation of getting smacked by some hurtling debris. fortunately, i do not feel this way often, but this week was one of those times.

first, my friend's house caught fire and i had the somber task of helping him pull salvageable pieces of his pre-fire life from the burned out husk and then carry them, carload by carload, to a storage facility. if that weren't bad enough, i found out this morning that my neighbor, helen, died. i hope it isn't true that bad things happen in threes.

in less dour news, the carolina blue sky outside my window is cloudless, zadie smith's "white teeth" has picked up, and, in a few hours, i'll be listening to live music and drinking iced chai.

last heard: digable planets "la femme fetal"


Thursday, June 13, 2002

it was heartbreaking when my beloved knicks failed to make the playoffs this year, it was even worse having to watch the lakers win the championship, again, but, as the final minutes of last night's game ticked away and a mcdonalds commercial came on, i was forced to confront the biggest injustice of the night: INXS' "new sensation" being used to sell fast food.

now, i'm not an inxs fan, but i couldn't help but wonder...had he seen this coming, whilst in the throes of that final, blissful, autoerotic asphyxiation, would michael hutchence have been a bit more careful? i apologize for the rant, but my nerves were already numb from two other crimes perpetrated against humanity earlier in the year: the led zeppelin/cadillac commerical and the nico/k-mart ad.

last heard: dressy bessy "there's a girl"

Wednesday, June 12, 2002

an inventory of musical instruments found in my apartment

acoustic guitar
alto saxophone*
banjo
baritone ukulele
jew's harp

*denotes an instrument that i could, at one time, actually play

last heard: stereolab "ulan bator"

Tuesday, June 11, 2002

i stopped at target today to pick up a father's day card. walking out, there was an older man in front of me preoccupied with whoever was on the other end of his cell phone. traffic whizzed by and i stood on the edge of the curb waiting for it to pass, but not this guy. he kept on talking and walked right into traffic. an old lady in a black, dodge neon slammed on her brakes, i yelled "WHOA!", and the guy stood there about half a foot in front of her hood. they stared each other down. he glared at her, still talking on the phone. only now, he was talking about how he almost just got hit by a car. she peered at him through those huge, black wrap-around sunglasses that old people wear which fit right over their eyeglasses.

after that episode was over, my mind wandered back to the time that i actually watched a guy get hit by a car.

i was living in new orleans at the time. it was late afternoon and all hot. i was sitting on the streetcar heading back uptown. it was packed and i was on one of those benches up front that faces the middle, rather than the front, of the car. people were standing, holding onto metal poles, since there was no place left to sit. the guy right in front of me was wearing running clothes. when the streetcar pulled up to the next stop, the front doors snapped open, and he bounded down the steps, breaking into a run in the middle of the street.

as soon as i heard a car's wheels screaming, i knew he was going to get hit. it ended up being a young woman driving a convertible, maroon BMW. the man was thown into her windshield and, when she finally reached a stop, he flew off the front of her car. he laid in the street motionless and everything was quiet. that was the scariest part. in the middle of new orleans, all of the traffic stopped and it was quiet. the silence was finally broken when the lady got out of her convertible, howling and crying. she hadn't meant to hit him, didn't know he would run off the streetcar into traffic, had no time to stop. i dreamed about seeing that for a long time afterwards. the guy in the street. the spiderweb cracks in the lady's windshield. the lady standing there with her mouth agape; but, in my dream, no sounds came out.

last heard: tosca "honey"
reading: the august issue of dwell

Monday, June 10, 2002

it's almost 10am. three women just passed in front of my desk. they each had a baby strapped to the front of their chest in a tiny pack, looking like crazy reverse parachutes.

the last couple of days passed in a tornado of activity that i am only now getting to sit down, take some deep breaths, and recover from. 2 bands, 3 DJs, a symphony, 3 films, some laundry, and a little sleep. in the middle of all of this, i used a few restless, after-midnight hours to partake of a favorite pastime...no, not that...i crafted a mixed tape. i won't go into the philosophy of the mixed tape or how good it makes me feel while i'm doing it. for that, go rent high fidelity. instead, here is a track list for all 120 minutes of sho' nuff goodness.

if you want a copy email me to work out a trade.

side a
the association "cherish"
club 8 "spring came, rain fell"
acid house kings "sunday morning"
great lakes "come home & come true"
beatles "eleanor rigby"
belle and sebastian "dirty dream number two"
peter and gordon "a world without love"
magnetic fields "absolutely cuckoo"
ashley stove "fire"
beach boys "wouldn't it be nice"
yo la tengo "my little corner of the world"
nico "the fairest of the seasons"
nick drake "one of these things first"
beatles "hey jude"
gentle waves "falling from grace"
cat stevens "the wind"
belle and sebastian "women's realm"
bettie serveert "private suit"

side b
beta band "dry the rain"
beastie boys "high plains drifter"
pixies "here comes your man"
weezer "the world has turned and left me here"
sleater kinney "ironclad"
captain beefheart "electricity"
stereolab "how to play your internal organs overnight"
saint etienne "wilson"
dj shadow "walkie talkie"
prefuse 73 "back in time"
gang starr "dj premier in deep concentration"
dj cam "suckers never play that"
unkle "unkle main title theme"
bjork "joga"
cocteau twins "cherry-coloured funk"
bjork "venus as a boy" (harpsichord remix)
the specials- ghost town

last seen: princess and the warrior, insomnia (2002), a beautiful mind
last heard: see above

Friday, June 07, 2002

there are many things i like about living in charlotte, the price of airline tickets is not one of them. for a litany of reasons, none of which i understand, flights into and out of charlotte require travellers to pawn their neighbor's kitchen appliances if they want to visit friends in another state. last fall, i got lucky and found a flight to SF through expedia for a reasonable fee. however, today, i was trying to plan a trip to NYC in november. according to expedia, it will cost me $306 to fly out of the queen city (yeah, right)...but, if i fly out of raleigh, i only have to fork over $130. our state capital promises to be lovely in november.

last seen: insomnia (1997)
last heard: dj shadow "six days"

Thursday, June 06, 2002

vision quest is a really good movie. it is your classic boy-on-the-high-school-wrestling-team-tries-to-drop-2-weight-classes-to-wrestle-the-state-champ-and-meanwhile-falls-in-love-with-an-older-woman drama. i have seen it innumerable times, most recently, last night. when i was a high school wrestler, classes would get out around 3 o'clock and, if we were going to a meet at another school, we would have to kill 3 hours until the bus took us to the rival campus at 6pm. many a day was spent (re-)watching vision quest on the TV in our coach's classroom. he was the business teacher. ah, memories.

in honor of my revisiting that classic, i offer up a list of 5 random movies from my youth, off the top of my head, that i would like to see again.

victory
on the right track
animalympics
cloak and dagger
hot lead and cold feet

last seen: vision quest
last heard: siouxsie and the banshees "dear prudence"

Wednesday, June 05, 2002

bike rodeo!

being a librarian is rad. i spend most days helping people, playing on the internet, and learning all kinds of interesting things (did you know that saturn is the most distant planet plainly visible to the naked eye?). at today's bike rodeo, i will be signing kids up for the summer reading program. so, while you are sitting in your offices between 1 and 3 pm this afternoon trying to determine how many widgets your company will sell in the 4th quarter, remember that i'll be getting paid to lounge outside in the sun, eat free food, and talk about books.

last heard: james brown "hot pants"

Tuesday, June 04, 2002

my life is a comfortable pattern controlled by two vices. just two, music and books, and no one gets hurt by either one.

since i was a boy, music has drained my time and my resources. i'd stand in the kitchen, covered in sweat and lawn clippings, begging my mother to pay me my allowance a little early. she always did, and, as she passed the money to my hand, she would always say one of the following things: "don't buy a tape," "you have enough tapes," or "you're gonna be an old man with a pile of tapes." money in hand, i'd skate down to the PX on base and come home clutching a packet of gummy bears, a jolt cola, and a copy of [insert mid-to-late-80s hip-hop title here] like it was a piece of gold.

very little has changed in the intervening 14 years; as i woke up early this morning and sped to manifest records hoping that i'd have enough time to buy music before work. is it my fault that dj shadow and belle & sebastian conspired to release new albums on the same day? and that teenbeat sampler was only $6.99!

last heard: bettie serveert "private suit"

Monday, June 03, 2002

while wandering around the english department at davidson this morning, a woman asked me if i was "newly-arrived faculty." this despite the fact that i was not wearing a tan cordoroy blazer with patches on the sleeves. perhaps it was the seersucker shirt and smart tie or maybe it was the glasses and the shoes. well, if i ever decide to go back for that doctorate in literature at least i already have the look down. when she spotted me, i was actually on a guerrilla meme campaign posting leaflets for my upcoming bookclub. oh, yes, james has a posse and they meet once a month to discuss literary fiction.

last seen: novocaine
last heard: great lakes "posters for the theatre"

Sunday, June 02, 2002

i think i had a mild stroke the other day. it was temporary and only affected the part of my brain that controls smell. i'm no doctor, but i think that's what happened. first, two college girls came up to the reference desk to sign up for the internet. they both smelled like cereal. i know, weird. but it wasn't in a bad way. it was in a homey, baked goods kind of way. then, while driving home through a small stand of trees, the road dipped down into this shaded valley. the air got a little cooler and, all of a sudden, the air smelled of cherry jolly ranchers. i can't explain it.

last seen: undercover brother, waking life, urbania
last heard: sade "i couldn't love you more"