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4
Oct 22

I’m catching up on sleep, thanks

This, the Twitter thread below, is an extremely true story. I took a nap this evening and have basically gotten back to the point of feeling like normal again. Can’t imagine how she feels, but she’s got the medication! And she can take naps if she feels like it.

I’d say she’s lucky, but I’ve seen the X-rays. I know exactly how lucky she is.

Spent most of yesterday at the office telling people about it, I think. Word gets around. Maybe in a day or two I’ll be back up to full speed, and feeling like it, too!

Let’s wrap up the Poplars Building talk. You’ll remember it was a hotel, and then dorms, and finally some administrative space. The whole building is gone now. They torn down the first half during late August and September. They took the other half last week. But the remnants are still there.

Eventually this will become a green space. I take that to mean they don’t know, yet, what they want to go in that space, but some plan will come along one day.

We should catch up on the re-listening project. If that sounds official, it isn’t. I am working through all of my old CDs in the car. Easy content and, sometimes, good music. These aren’t reviews, mostly just the memories that mark the time.

This is strictly chronological, which is to say the order in which I bought all of these things. My discs cross genres and periods in a haphazard way and there’s no large theme. It is, a whimsy as music should be.

“Deluxe” was Better Than Ezra’s major label debut, and I bought this first as a cassette. “Good,” which they still do on stage as “The one you remember” was released in February of 1995, and I bought it sometime around there. Obviously I thought enough about it to purchase it a second time, as a CD.

I remember playing the tape version almost continuously on a three-hour solo road trip to see a friend.

First of all, no one remembers that Salma Hayek was in the video for the third single off this record.

Her career, in American media anyway, was just about to take off. This was sublimely timed casting that wouldn’t have been possible even a few months later.

Secondly, I have this weird flash of a memory of listening to this record in an Arby’s drive thru. Maybe that was the beginning of that road trip.

It’s a deep cut, but Summerhouse still holds up.

This, along with Rosealia, was one of my favorite songs of the record.

A few years later I was shooting pool in a restaurant — that no longer exists — when a friend came out of the closet to me and the guy playing his guitar in the corner was covering that song. I was the first person she told, she said. She figured I was from the big city, and that I’d understand. But I knew already. And whole, larger story, is an incredibly sharp memory.

Seven-ball-with-a-weird-pant-scuff-in-the-right-side-pocket sharp.

This was the song for part of that fall, and parts of many subsequent autumns.

Better Than Ezra has seven more studio albums. At least the next five get better and better. They’ll all appear in this list, eventually.


31
Aug 22

Pedaled downtown it was great, 8:30 on a Wednesday night

I am running out of ways to vamp for this demolition project. No big updates on the Poplars Building today. It is amusing, a few people on social media have marked the occasion — one gentleman flew his drone over it — but no one is lamenting the building. One of the best, and kindest mentions, is from what’s left of the local paper, which called it “a city landmark with countless, shifting identities.”

Now they’re just shifting rubble.

The saddest part of all of this, truly, is what’s happening to the local paper, which has never been in that building, but it is similarly being pulled apart.

Anyway.

The late nights begin again for me. It was a 6 p.m. production, which wrapped at 8 p.m. today. One production and two shows down, 41 shoots and 72 shows to go.

I’m exhausted already.

But I did get a nice evening view of the sun streaming into the building at one point.

We wrapped everything up and I rode my bike back to the house in the last bit of the daylight. There was less traffic, meaning I got to go faster, and I did the whole trip — including three stop signs, six red-light intersections, a roundabout and a left turn — without putting a foot on the ground.

I’ve done that three times now, so I need a new goal. Please submit your ideas.

Time for a few more songs from the Monday night rock ‘n’ roll show. The headliner was Barenaked Ladies, and because they were the main attraction I’m stretching this content a few more days.

This song, Enid, is 30 years old. And the band genuinely looks like they still enjoy this one. Huge hit in Canada.

It was their second single, and off their debut album. Their first single was a cover of a Bruce Cockburn classic. That same year, and also from their debut album, they released Brian Wilson. Here’s the beginning and end of that Monday night performance, because I enjoy the search for a coherent mesh point.

Brian Wilson covered that song, by the way. How cool is that?

More music, and perhaps some other interesting stuff tomorrow.


22
Aug 22

First day of classes

My legs were tired on Saturday, so I took a bike ride on Saturday. They felt better on Sunday, so I let my legs rest. Today my legs feel only medium, who can figure any of this out? It’s a two-stairs-at-a-time day. Anyway, here’s a little bit of that Saturday ride. I like this portion of the route, because it is easy, and there are trees.

This morning I rode to campus and achieved a goal I’ve had for the last week or so. I wanted to make the trip without having to clip out of the pedals. There are a few tricky intersections to get through, and I benefited this morning from a school bus stopping behind me, and holding up traffic through the first one, a round-about. The second is a busy little intersection for a bicycle, and I timed it right, with a lull in the traffic. Later, I had a red light and a four-lane road to cross. Rather than try to track stand for the whole cycle (which I can’t do for that long) or I wheeled into an empty parking lot and did three donuts at the cell phone store until the light turned green. After that it was easy, a few hills, a left turn, a stop sign, and then … where did all of these people come from?

Oh yeah, classes. Today’s the first day of classes.

This did not sneak up on me. I am sure it snuck on some.

Oh, look, the itchy and scratchy crew are back for more work on the Poplars Building. They’re making good progress, too. You write one thing about them on Friday, and they’re pulling down more mid-20th century … whatever style of building that is all day Monday.

That 1960s dust and debris is probably what the big curtain is for, though today I’ve come to think that the crew is shielding the Poplars Garage from having to see what’s happening to the Poplars Building.

The parking deck will stay. It is currently closed, but — and here I will once again try flexing the power of this blog — we need it to re-open sooner than later.

Hear that, everybody?

It is time once again for the biggest hit of the site, the weekly visit with the kitties. They’re doing great. They just want all the pets. At least they take turns demanding attention, I’m not sure how they schedule that, but it is fairly considerate of them, alternating their neediness.

Phoebe will not share her toys.

Poseidon, meanwhile wants to come outside. Or wants me to come inside. Probably the former, but he’ll begrudgingly accept the latter.

It’s a funny thing, watching that loudmouth meow without being able to hear him because of the glass between. He will be heard, but I will not hear him.

I read Cartman Gareth’s We Rode All Day this weekend. It was a quick read, two short sittings got the job done. It’s about the 1919 Tour de France, the first Tour after the Great War. I don’t know anything of substance about the racing of the era, and then along came this most unconventional book.

It’s told in the first person. Gareth is writing for the voices of four racers and two organizers.

It isn’t my style of book, generally, but I found it growing on me because he kept it moving. Mostly, I want to learn more about those old races — this one was the second longest Tour ever, if I’m not mistaken. It was a different type of racing than the modern version, and in this book Gareth twice makes a point of saying the 1919 race was also altogether different than the rougher in the 19-oughts. An Englishmen writing, in English, for French cyclists using modern English colloquialisms. This must drive the French and Francophiles crazy.

It is interesting, and maybe worth reading, but I’m not sure if it was entirely satisfying.

Last night I started Thomas Cahill’s How the Irish Saved Civilization. After Rome fell came the Middle Ages. And in this pop history book we’re going to study some of the crossover between those times. Should be fun because, as Cahill points out, historians are experts in a period, but not in the transitions.

The idea is that some people on an island off Ireland saved literacy, the church, western culture and so on. Monks with silly haircuts living in stone huts, not too long after they’d figured out the written word themselves, really. It’s a part of the Irish mythos, but not talked about in the wider world, so here’s Cahill.

To understand what happened in the fifth century, and why Rome fell, he asks why the Romans didn’t notice the problems. What were they doing? To answer that series of questions, Cahill goes back a further century, introducing us to the poet and teacher Decimius Magnus Ausonious for reasons that aren’t yet clear to me. He says his verse is no more fresh than the modern day sympathy card. I’m not sure why it is important to pick apart a man that’s been dead for 16 centuries, but he’s having fun doing it.

So it’s a personal anecdote as microcosm. They did because they could. Resources and needs and distractions and all of that. Cultivation of crops allows for a social evolution, rather than foraging and hunting for your every meal. Cultures can emerge and can flourish and, apparently, write bad poetry.

Ausonious winds up tutoring the heirs to power, and that increasing his status a bit, as well. In times past, being named to one of the two consulships positions was a huge and important honor. By his time, though, it was all coming undone. It was civics, not suddenness.

At least so far. I’ll learn more tonight. Cahill has made this great point about Rome’s notable historians — Augustine, Petrarch, Machiavelli and Gibbon specifically — tending to view things through the lens of their time. (All different, all correct insofar as they go, proving once again that there aren’t often simple answers to complex longitudinal questions.) With that in mind it should be no surprise that something written at the end of the 20th century would see the fall of Rome as taking place with not a little ennui.

Which is precisely when you need some Irish people to show up. And I’m sure they will arrive in this book this evening.


19
Aug 22

Smelling the last weekend of the summer break

This roly poly was wondering around on this same piece of cement when I left the office yesterday. It’s a few feet off the ground. There’s an unused, but soil-filled planter on the one side. And off the other, it’s just a wall toward the ground. The planter itself helps frame in an ancient set of stairs. The stairs an artifact of one of the building’s two previous uses. Our building was once the library, and then an administrative building, and now a haunt for crustaceans.

Also a bunch of people work inside, and students build their dreams there, of course. But this guy was wondering around yesterday evening, looking for some food. He was there when I arrived early this morning. Breakfast time for bugs.

I stop by that planter to fish a mask out of my bag, to find my keys in another pocket, to enjoy a few more seconds without florescent lights.

Today I had to be in the office early because of an early event. My presence was requested at this event so that I might say hello, smile behind my mask and point. I also, as tradition would have it, opened a door for someone.

T-shirts were passed out, because t-shirts are still currency on the inside.

My story is giggling at watching everyone wonder about that inverted question mark.

Everyone wonders about that inverted question mark.

I’ve stopped questioning such things. My questions are now directed as this building. You know, I’ve got an opportunity to run a nice little feature and then they stop doing the most obvious work on it a week ago yesterday.

The crew working on it have been doing some stuff at the ground level, and the building’s footprint is surrounded by streets on three sides, and then an alley and a parking deck in the back. There’s most assuredly a good and practical reason for pausing the destruction, if it’s only the debris-management version of moving around the vegetables on your plate.

This is a better drone view of the building, by the way.

At any rate, we’ll put this on pause until they start pulling down more of the building. Someone has to find the lost keys to that orange machine again before long, after all.

I had to stay on campus after hours today as well. Funny how that works. Nothing like a good 10-plus hour Friday to set the stage for the semester. (The semester begins next Monday.) But, with that done, I did leave just before 6:30. I’ve been taking a slightly different bike route this week, and the almost-90 minute difference changed the light to a nice warm golden hue. Some of the smells were different, as well.

At the place where the campus and the residential housing meet there was a vague burnt Texas toast smell in the air, and then some low quality fabric softener. After passing through those two neighborhoods, you cross a big road, and then cut across a strip mall, where you can easily pick up notes of bad marinara. That sticks in your mind until you ride back into the woods. There, the seasons are beginning to change, and your nose is the first to tell you so. There’s the tiniest bit of old leaf and soil in the air. If you had a fire burning, for some reason (it was in the 80s today) you’d have the entire cozy fall feeling.

Back home, the August lily is in bloom. They’ve gotten tall in the last few weeks, and now their long buds have unwrapped, showing a white, sparkling flower. Because the flowers are so top heavy that they’ll droop if someone doesn’t stake them. That clove-like smell turns into something sweetly fragrant to compete with the rose bushes, which are likewise still going strong — ours, here, has done its work for the year — and people that care about blackberry are cutting back the old canes. Even dealing with the blackberry you feel like summer will last forever, and it very surely might.

Me? Here? I’m just watching the trees, willing their leaves to stay green, and spraying water on things on the ground. Maybe I’ll meet some more roly polies.


1
Aug 22

Welcome to August? Somehow?

I wiped out a little spider web with my pedal just before my morning ride on Saturday. I looked down and saw two small webs close together, oriented horizontally, on top of the wet grass. I was wondering what sort of insects the spiders would get in webs arranged that way, when my left pedal went right through one of the webs. The little spider will have to build again for his supper and I felt bad about that.

I also picked up this blade of grass on my bike shoe in the yard.

It stuck there because of the morning dew. It stayed until I hit 24 miles per hour. Either the dew dried, or the breeze got under the blade, or it just gave up, or even got to where it needed to be. It hung on for about a mile, though, and I felt good about that.

At one point I thought I’d caught up to my lovely bride, but it was another rider. I blame hypoxia. And the fact that this other person also had long hair, and was wearing something similar to one of The Yankee’s kits. But, after thousands and thousands of miles on bikes, most of it chasing her around, I figured out my error … because it wasn’t her pedaling style.

Which meant she was still somewhere ahead of me, which meant I was still behind, which meant I had to pedal even harder.

Caught her just at the end of the ride.

Wrapped up the Tour de France Femmes this weekend. Anthony McCrossan, a British commentator who was the world feed voice for both the men’s and women’s Tours, had a perfectly characteristic go home line.

Let’s do a quick check with the cats, so that we might satisfy our most enthusiastic visitors. They’re having a grand ol’ summer.

Though I’m not sure what they were doing here.

It’s always a bit weird when they do the same thing. It’s never obvious what they’re up to, and given their normal dynamic, this always feels a bit creepy.

Phoebe had a great nap yesterday. Not sure how this is comfortable, but, hey, she’s a cat.

Poseidon was a very good listener this weekend.

He listens. He doesn’t process. Doesn’t do what we ask of him. But he listens. Give him that at least.

Anyway, welcome to August. However that happened, I hope you have a big and happy month ahead of you.