Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Magic Door revisitied

Well I must admit I do like the fringey characters, at least most of the time. Those who live on the psychic "outskirts" of town. There was one I knew in College, a friend of a friend, who definitely had a connection with some other dimension.

Not sure what he was studying there as far as a major, but he was apparently writing a book on "alternative lifestyles". As to what sort of "lifestyles" were referred to here(political, social, sexual, all of the above)I never found out. But he was an author pretending to be a student. Or maybe a student pretending to be an author. Never found that out either as far as which was which...

But an interesting character, whatever his pretensions. Had a poster in his room that said, in huge letters: FUCK authority. And then these two little characters at the bottom: "All authority?" "Yep, all authority". Okay this was the 70's(the decade that spawned the word lifestyle as well, for that matter), and the poster has since been watered-down to say Question authority(wimpywimpywimpy, but that's another blog!). He was real big on personal freedoms, which is- well, probably cool.

One of his two salient characteristics was that he was a nicknamer. Had a nickname for just about everyone, and they were all pretty- well, tart maybe. The friend I knew him through was The Educated Goldfish, due to thick glasses and thick lips. I was Tobacco-Pouch Beard(or, for convenience: TPB. "I was talking with TPB today", he'd say to my friend). Then there was this little Chinese girl, Squeaky Teapot, and her stocky Romanian boyfriend, Beef Stroganoff. And a guy he called Slamdoorface since he looked like he'd had a door slammed in his face. " But Ma." "Shuddup, boy!!"(slam!!).

Well okay, being a nicknamer in itself isn't that big a deal. I mean, it is cool, but there are a few folks out there who are skilled in the fine art of sobriquet. Among them is a musician friend of mine who once gave this name to a guy who useta help as a roadie: 10-watt. (For, of course, having 10 watts of brain power, strangely enough about half the capacity of the normal human brain!) . Whew!

Besides the nickname thing(and this is the other salient characteristic), he invented a baseball game played with cards. And he would hold the games I guess in his dorm room but they'd take place in Pearly Gates Memorial Stadium. And the players were--well, us! Tobacco-Pouch Beard, The Educated Goldfish, Squeaky Teapot, Beef Stroganoff. Maybe even Slamdoorface, for that matter("but Ma"..)..Never witnessed one of these games and don't know the mechanics of the game as far as what card means what(or doesn't mean what), and don't know anyone who did. But all the same he would regale us with the goings-on at the games, and how we performed.

He definitely had his own domain, probably pretty close in with the guy who thought he was in The Flock(see The Magic Door a bit further down), and probably just needs a thumbprint to get through his own Magic Door...

What the hell. He wasn't hurting anyone, and it made him happy. At least I think it did. And it was pretty entertaining to those of us he'd nicknamed and appointed positions on his team. I just wish Tobacco-Pouch Beard could've had a better RBI that season..

Ground Level Zero

This is my third consecutive day away from the rigors of daygig. Well, okay, Saturday is a given, but I've still had two whole days of peace and quiet going on three. Two beers and working on that third. I once proposed marriage on two beers/working on a third. But that's another blog.

Yes there are more stressful places than the one I work in. The ER is more stressful. The County Jail or State Prison would be more stressful. (Well, those are bigger boo boo's..)But I do work in a fairly charged atmosphere. An often stressful atmosphere, relatively speaking. So it's always a good idea to try and leave all that at the office when you're away.

And I've noticed that the longer I'm away, the more tension is lifted- tensions I didn't think I had. You don't realize how much tension is in your body until you start to get rid of it..My alcohol consumption dwindles to one or no beers in a day, and I sleep like a log. Woke up this morning from a perfect night's sleep feeling completely relaxed and peaceful.

Sometimes it takes a good 48 hours just to do the basic 'airing out'. After week upon week upon week of work, your psyche gets like that pair of leather shoes that hafta just sit on the back porch for a spell. And then you're okay.

So I guess I feel like I hit a Ground Level Zero point this morning. Like the little sound your computer makes when it's cleaned out all the nasty infected files. That's the mark of a good vacation, to me. 4 more days to enjoy.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Magic Door

Every social setting has one. Hell, I might be one on someone else's list. Somebody you knew, usually from High School days, the mere utterance of whose name could(in certain circles at any rate)inspire 5 minutes of laughter and an hour of stories.

I went to High School from 1968 to 1972. Was a fledgling guitarist then, as were several of my classmates, including the 5-minutes-of-laughter-an-hour-of-stories guy, listening to Clapton and Hendrix and the other heroes of the day. And of course we had our little High School assemblages, our bands. Our friend was a part of all that.

There was also a very popular band at that time, based out of Chicago, called The Flock. They played down here on occasion, usually with The Grass Roots or another band from that period.. We dreamed, in our little basement band practices, of playing with a band like The Flock. Our friend took it a step further. He played in The Flock.

That's right. He actually played with The Flock. At any rate, that's what he told us, in all seriousness. Three things puzzle me here: first, he was a mediocre guitarist to begin with; second, he never seemed to appear on any of their recordings; and third, we saw him every day!! When did he have time to play, and tour with them??

I think it's like the clerk in One Hour Photo who tells the lie so long("yeah, that's my little nephew Jake")that he starts to believe it himself. He's worn the sheep's clothes so long he doesn't remember not wearing them. But he did swear up and down that he played in The Flock. I remember being somewhere and talking to someone who was kind of putting them down. He was within earshot, and starting to get irritated and I had to explain to them, "listen, be careful with the remarks. He thinks he's in The Flock".

Yes, a very weird thing to have to explain to someone. But they seemed to understand the pathology at hand, and moved on. My friend called me one night to tell me that Jerry Goodman(of The Flock)was in town and would I like to meet him. Sure, I said, knowing damn well this was another load of malarkey. But not having any plans for the evening, figured on some kind of entertainment.

We were supposed to meet him at what was then The Harness House- a nightclub featuring some pretty good road bands(Jazz, R & B, etc), and sat around for a good 3 hours waiting. All this time my friend regales me with stories about what cool people The Flock are and how they have intellectual discussions about the color of laughter and other abstruse concepts. And about what REAL people they are too, about how Jerry Goodman would think nothing of dropping his clothes and dancing naked on one of the tables in front of all these phonies.

Finally I'd had enough. "Listen, man", I said. "Nobody believes all this shit about you playing in the Flock and knowing all these characters. Hell, you don't even believe it yourself. So what's the point?"

"Well", he shrugs, "who listens anyway?"

Huh. Okay...

"But I have these friends in Bloomington who are really cool, and.." He's off and running on another tangent. If I were a cartoon character, I'd be saying "Oy vey!" and fainting, feet first.

That was over 30 years ago, and I haven't seen him since. Hope he's well. Hope his delusions(whatever they'd be in 2007)don't get him into trouble. Five minutes of laughter, and at least an hour of stories, but certainly no ill will.

How do people get all fucked up like that? Well, reality often stinks like shit, so it's understandable to want to at least deodorize yours if not replace it entirely with another, less odoriferous model. Every age is tough, and High School certainly has its rough spots with all of us trying to somehow "fit in". I didn't do much better than he in that regard, so I can understand.

I guess the worse your reality the greater your need for an alternate one. So he just created another, kinder world where he played in The Flock(and girls were probably nicer to him). Which answers one of my logistical questions about how he managed to make their rehearsals and gigs while living here and going to High School.

Easy. He just went through the Magic Door...

Happy Birthday to ME(and a few other folks)

Well once again, it's my natal anniversary. Technically, I should wait until 8:57 this evening to begin writing this(yes, I was born at night, but not last night!), but I figure anytime within the basic temporal boundaries of 12am last night and 12am tonight will cover it.

So, yeah, it's my birthday once again. Every August 10, I seem to turn a year older. And I'm thinking of the other August 10 people I know or know of, who are either celebrating or quietly saying to themselves, 'oh God, another one': Rosanna Arquette, Antonio Banderas, Jimmy Dean, Eddie Fisher, Claude Thornhill, Rhonda Fleming, Dixie Hinton & Terry Covington(same year as well), and jazz pianist Michael Stryker.

I also have two crazy old Aunts who share this day with me, though we don't seem to share much else besides DNA. Well actually only one is crazy, and even then more neurotic than anything(hmm, maybe we do have something in common!). The other is just terribly self-centered, to the point of being hard to be around, the one no one ends up liking.

Well I wish all my fellow August 10 denizens, regardless of race, creed, neurosis or other personality flaws,a most enjoyable birthday, however you choose to spend it. Of the two aforementioned individuals who also share my birthyear, I knew Dixie through a friend or two back in '86-88, and wanted to have some sort of celebration on December 10, 1987 since we would both be 33 1/3 years old!

Alas, one of those funny ideas(well I thought it was funny anyway!)that never moves out of the idea stage. By December 10th, I'd forgotten all about it, and if I was celebrating something on that day, it wasn't being 33 1/3. Well the next LP speed I could celebrate if I'm still here(and with my two fellow 54'ers if they're still here)is 78...

As for this particular August 10th, it looks to be nice and low-key. I'm on the second day of what I'd call a 6-day weekend. Well, Thursday & Friday and Monday & Tuesday, which of course straddle the weekend. However you slice it, 6 days off in a row.

I wouldn't call it celebrating, but August 10 is once again noted. Another year, which I hope I've made some strides in. And a year ahead to continue to try to get it right.. Well, happy August 10th to all who share it with me.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


A great sigh of relief here in the land of Roundly. Embarking today on the first of what could be called a 6-day weekend. I feel a bit like Christopher Columbus sailing the vast ocean to new depths of sloth and inactivity. Well some folks dive right into a sea of projects and activities, me I jump up into that lazy river- at least for the first couple days.

I have accomplished a few things though: got up abnormally early(6 in the am), won a Poker tournament on Hoyle's(well, 2nd Place for 7-card stud, but hey it's something- $100,000 cyber-dollars..), did a bit of practicing. And I do have a few things to get done as far as Things to Get Done. But they can wait. Got enough basic supplies for one human, one dog and one cat for awhile. (Hmm, somehow I lost my original font, this one will do I guess).

Unlike my last vacation, back in April, it's a beautiful sunny day outside (albeit hot as all get-out), the kind of day you want to see out there if the day is yours. Last time out it rained or threatened to rain every day of my vacation, until Sunday- the day before I was to go back. And naturally every day the week I went back to work was picture-perfect. It was almost funny, in an ironic, just-my-fuckin'-luck sort of way.

One thing I'm sitting here enjoying is the silence. The only sound going on here is my fingers on the keyboard and the window-unit here in Rog Central keeping me from roasting. If I were down at the office, there'd be the keyboard sound plus printers, phones, people complaining, us talking, plus assorted coughs n' wheezes I'd just as soon not go into depth about. Sometimes the cacophony overwhelms a bit, particularly a mid-morning or mid-afternoon when all the elements are going. I call it the PPC Level. PPC stands for phones, printers and complaining- the basic ambience of our office, being what it is as far as function/service.

Besides the lowered decibel level, I'm also enjoying another kind of silence. Seems like everybody in there, be they staff or client, has some sort of struggle going on--and of course in this group I would include myself. Along with the physical noise, you have the psychic equivalent in everyone's basic issues, the things everyone is striving to do in their job or their lives.

We humans make a lot of noise, all around.

So I'm enjoying the peace and quiet. A beautiful day beckons. More blogs to follow.