Saturday, February 23, 2013

Bed gravity

I went to bed late last night to the sound of raindrops plopping onto my skylights and roof.  I awoke on several occasions, each time to a quieter version of the same sound. By the early afternoon, when I exited the bed to work, the day was still, but the sky remained a sunless, uniform light gray.

On such days, the bed's gravity increases. The warm sheets and comfy mattress join forces with my exhaustion to tug me toward them, and I resist, a ship trying hard to maintain its orbit.  They beckon to me repeatedly, their whispered entreaties speaking of safety, rest, warmth, and slumber. 

I almost always win, get up and get on with my day and stay out of the bed.

I must confess that today I surrendered once and enjoyed a long and refreshing nap.

It was quite a treat indeed.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Watch this

It's a video from Levi Weaver, whose music I quite like and whom you should support.  It's a cover of a Death Cab for Cutie song, whose music I quite like and whom you should support.  It's a chance to spot Sarah and Ben.  It's an ending you don't expect. 

It's beautiful.  It's worth the seven minutes and sixteen seconds it will cost you.

As Richard Curtis wrote and Hugh Grant delivered, "Love actually is all around."


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Would you like a guard with that waffe?

I have an odd affection for Waffle Houses, the little yellow-fronted buildings where you can get a sad breakfast at any hour.  I particularly like them at holidays, when their jukeboxes have--or, at least, had in the past--Waffle-house-ized versions of seasonal songs.  I like that Bill Hicks picked on them.

Even I, however, will have to think twice about going into any Waffle House with a security surcharge.  Yes, the Waffle House in Underground Atlanta is now adding a 20% fee to each customer's visit to help pay for a guard the owners clearly feel is necessary. 

Many people are decrying this move, but I see it as an interesting precedent for other potential Waffle House improvements.  Add 5%, and the cook won't flick his ashes into your hash browns.  For an additional 5%, the waitress won't cough on your food as she carries it.  Want today's bread for your toast?  Just chuck in another 10%.  The possibilities are myriad. 

The best part of all of this is that the Waffle House instituted this fee back in mid-December.  Let's face it, nothing says "Waffle House Christmas" like a guard and a 20% surcharge for paying him or her. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

What do you hope to accomplish during your six weeks in Europe?

A lot of folks have asked me this question, so I thought I'd answer it once and for all.


There is nothing I hope to accomplish during my sabbatical time in Europe.  Put differently, I have no particular goals for that time.  I really do aim simply to live.  (Well, I will also write daily, but I consider that part of living.)

Having said that, I have constructed the trip so that it puts me outside many of my comfort zones:

  • I am sticking to the continent, so I will not be fluent in the language of any country I visit. 
  • I am relentlessly refusing to plan or to commit to visiting any of the places many folks have recommended.  I want to wake up each day knowing that I could choose that day to go anywhere--but also knowing that whatever I choose, however it goes, I picked it with no external commitment or pressure.  I will never have an excuse to blame someone else. 
  • I am not going to check with work at all.  The level at which I work is functionally an addiction; it's time to break that. 
  • The utter lack of planning means I cannot fail.  I tend to use fear of failure as a motivator; I am removing that motivation.  
  • I have never been away from home this long, so I will have to deal with all the feelings a trip of this length is likely to engender.
  • I am not committing to blogging during the trip. If I write a blog entry, it will be because I chose to do so, because I was indulging in the joy of writing.  I need to get back in touch with more of the joy and less of the chore of writing. 
I want to be outside of my comfort zone simply because I want to see what it is like to live so very differently. 

I expect to have a grand time.  I also expect to find odd emotional traps inside me, dependencies I have never fully understood.  I feel that is all to the good.

I expect the trip may well change me--or not. 

Either way, I'm quite looking forward to it. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Five changes I'll make if elected Pope

Sure, I'm not a Cardinal, and I'm not a practicing Catholic, but I was christened Catholic, so that's got to count for something.  Besides, a guy can dream, right?

So, on the off chance that this particular dream were to come true, here are the first five changes I would make as Pope.

5. Hold a special season of Project Runway, with the winner getting to design new uniforms for the Vatican guard.

4. Inauguration concert!  We're talking the Boss rocking Vatican Square as the headliner of a seven-day festival that will put Bonnaroo to shame. 

3. Vatican-logoed condoms.  It's time to acknowledge that the rate of Catholic birth demonstrates that condoms are a Catholic thing, too.

I kid you not:  as I wrote the above, the power in my house went off and my system rebooted, the UPS clearly failing in its job.  Maybe I shouldn't continue this post.

Nah, on with it.

2. Chuck Taylor limited-edition Papal tennis shoes.

1. Flames on the Popemobile!

Please note that this is simply humor and I mean no offense to Catholics. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

The most unusual phone message of 2013 (so far)

When I'm on the road, I check my home office voicemail only every now and then.  As chance would have it, I checked it last Thursday and found only the usual assortment of hang-ups and donation solicitations.  Friday night, around three in the morning, as I was preparing to crash, I glanced at the machine (Yes, I still have a land line and an answering machine on it.  I'm old.  Get off my lawn.) and saw that I had one new message.  Here's what I heard:

Phone company machine voice:  You have a collect call from...

Male voice, deep, slow, and sexy:  Hello, my darling

Phone company machine voice:  an inmate at [name I won't list] prison in [city I won't list] in the California Penal System. 

It continued, but I hit rewind, because I was sure I must not have heard correctly.

Nope.  I had heard correctly.  The same message played. 

I have no idea why such weird shit happens to me, but it does. 

Now, I can't decide whether to hope for a weirder message later this year or to pray that this one owns the crown. 

Nah, I know myself.  Bring on the weird!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A visit with some folk art

A group of us headed into the country today to catch the eleventh Fearrington Folk Art Show. We ate brunch first at the Granary restaurant, where the food is always reliably good if never stellar.  After the show, we browsed the lovely McIntyre's Books.  Both of those experiences were laid-back fun with friends.

The show itself was far more of a mixed bag. 

On the one hand, I applaud many things about it.  I'm interested in folk and outsider art.  I like that it doesn't charge a booth fee or take a percentage of the sales of the participants; most artists, much less folks artists, are barely getting by.  The regional focus is a reasonable choice.  I enjoyed wandering the aisles and checking out the many strange ways these people approach their art. 

That said, I'm not at all sure I'll be returning next year, because the show's quality just isn't where I'd like it to be.  I certainly found the work of most of the artists to be at least interesting, but too many were either weak or simply didn't belong there (a completely standard potter comes to mind).  I wish the show would search more broadly for new talent and also make room for some significant percentage of first-time artists each year.  (They definitely ought to recruit Jain to show her odder pieces there; they would both fit right in and stand out for their quality.)

Despite my misgivings, if you haven't been before, you should definitely check out the show at least once.  At five bucks a person, it's a bargain, and at least a few of the odd pieces are bound to play with your head--in a good way. 


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