Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Long Time, No Blog

Just some random updates and free-association.

Breaking News
Frequent readers of this blog, all two of you, will have noticed that, for the most part, I lead a pretty dull, uneventful, and boring life. At 52 it's hard not to--I'm way past the Age of Wild, Uninhibited Partying (especially since I no longer partake of mood-altering substances beyond caffeine and nicotine and, really, would rather take a nap) and the idea of a frantic, dope-inspired, meth-fueled, On the Road/Fear and Loathing-style cross-country trip, though wonderful as a fantasy, makes my head and bladder ache. Most of the time I prefer to curl up on the couch with Sid the Cat, a good book, and House reruns playing in the background.

But, you know, every now and then you've just got to say "what the fuck."

Which is a roundabout way of saying, WOO-HOOO! I'm going on a Fake Date this Friday (Feb. 8) with my (24-yr. old) friend, ex-phone sex operator Sarah, to see the Sex Workers' Art Show!
(MySpace page here)

And what, exactly, are we talking about? Well, according to the Gay Community Center of Richmond, "The Sex Workers’ Art Show is an eye-popping evening of visual and performance art created by people who work in the sex industry to dispel the myth that they are anything short of artists, innovators, and geniuses!"

Oh, yeah; this should be a hoot-and-a-half! I just wish Ducky DooLittle and Emily Stern were going to be there!

They Laughed When I Sat Down at the Piano...
The closest I've ever come to learning to play a musical instrument was in 4th grade music class when poor Mrs. Whateverthehellhernamewas tried to teach us simple melodies on that cochlea-crackin' educational device, the Tonette (mine was new and obnoxiously bright yellow; I so envied the people with sibling hand-me-downs in basic black).

I never quite got the hang of it.

Meanwhile, Mom and Dad used to ship me off to my maternal grandparents and their tobacco farm for a week or so every summer (completely unrelated to my lack of expertise with the screechy Tonette) where one of my fondest memories was hanging out with Grandma and singing selections from the Baptist Hymnal while she banged away at the ancient upright piano in the parlor (this pretty much explains why a born-again agnostic knows the lyrics to dozens of obscure hymns and is perfectly willing to prove it at a moment's notice). Naturally, I wanted to try my hand(s) at the keyboard and though I occasionally managed to produce a traditional chord by accident, mostly I was engaged in the independent discovery of atonality. No one ever figured I was a candidate for piano lessons.

In 7th grade I found myself as a tenor in junior high school chorus (even though I probably had no more than a one-octave range) where we were promptly issued these godawful yellowish-beige workbooks on musical theory and notation. I kinda, sorta, vaguely followed what was being discussed ("Hey! That's a staff! And that's a, uh, treble clef! Right?") but was never able to make the cognitive connection between the notes and the sounds they represented. Ever see the movie Drumline? Remember Devon, who couldn't read music but had an uncanny ability to memorize complex rhythms after a single performance? Well, that was me except without the "uncanny" or "single" part, my first experience with any form of illiteracy, but back then I didn't particularly care and so faked my way through two more years secure in the knowledge that what I didn't know would be covered by the people sitting around me.

Still, I was annoyed that I had difficulty grasping concepts many elementary school kids seemed to master in minutes but hey! Chess and microscopes and model rockets and fossil collecting and monster movie making all beckoned and soon all was forgotten.

Fast-forward forty years and as of last week and for reasons which aren't entirely clear to me yet I own a newish Yamaha YPT-210 portable keyboard (check eBay; they're cheap!) and a copy of Piano For Dummies and I'm learning! Slowly, painfully, but I'm learning. There's also the added attraction of the darn thing being just plain fun to noodle with--activate the "sound effects kit" and I'm able to entertain myself for hours overlaying a pre-programmed techno beat with random (but rhythmic) weird-ass sounds. Hell, give me a sufficiently liquored-up, Ecstasy-laden raver crowd and I could keep 'em dancing for a good ten minutes!

Preparedness Notes
I'm always on the lookout for decent sources of Survivalist/Preparedness information and I've recently come across a particularly good online site-- Zombie Squad. Don't be put off by the name--the "Zombie Apocalypse" stuff is merely a semi-humorous metaphor for dealing with natural or man-made disasters (see the Wikipedia entry)... maybe. The discussion forums are particularly interesting, full of solid information and pretty much free of the near-hysterical conspiracy ranting all too typical in similar boards. Well worth bookmarking if you're at all interested in the subject.

Happiness Is A Warm Gun
I hesitate to mention this since so many people have such a viscerally negative reaction to any discussion of firearms and I really, really do not want to come across as a gun nut, but the truth of the matter is I enjoy shooting. Not hunting, mind you, Gawd forbid; shooting. I stalk the wily paper target, have done battle with the evil tin can (though not recently; remind me to tell you the story of the first time I fired a .357 magnum revolver--hilarity ensued), and lived to tell the tale. With the recent massive price increases in larger-caliber ammunition what I haven't had is an inexpensive platform for maintaining my rifle skills (which, at least for me, require frequent practice as in "use 'em or lose 'em")... until now. Now I have a new old school Marlin 981T bolt action, tube-fed .22 rifle which just happens to be very similar to the one I learned on back in the 'Sixties (those were the days when a small gang of 13-yr. olds wandering the local dump with rifles, Coke bottles, and peanut butter sandwiches wasn't a cause for alarm except, maybe, to the rat population). .22 ammunition is ridiculously cheap, which means you can shoot a lot of the stuff without breaking the bank, and the rifle itself was not particularly expensive-- around $100. Sure, I could have bought a fancy-ass, rapid-firing, endlessly customizable, semi-scary semi-automatic weapon, but that would have defeated the purpose-- slow, careful, deliberate perforation of the center of a paper target from 25 yards away and, as an added bonus, this particular model is lightweight enough and unintimidating enough so as to convince attractive women that target shooting can be fun (as opposed to this).

Well, the cat is begging for attention (or food) and I need a bath, so let's wrap things up for now.


Cathy VanPatten said...

Oh, lord. The Tonette! I had an ugly yellow one too, when I SO coveted the red one. Even a black one would have been better than the hideous yellow one. I don't know why I hated that color Tonette so much, but it was visceral.

And I had to chuckle when you admitted knowing a pile of old hymns. Me too--but mainly because I was in church choir for most of my childhood and teenage years. You've always had a great memory for that stuff, though. As I recall, you and I are probably the only people (well, maybe Barb too) who remember the tune AND the words to that first grade Halloween favorite, "Stirring My Brew."

G. W. Ferguson said...

Oh, yeah!

Stirring and stirring and stirring our brew,
Stirring and stirring and stirring our brew,
Tip-toe, tip-toe, tip-toe,

And who could ever forget...

We are jack o' lanterns!
Boo! Boo! Boo!
We are out to scare you!
Boo! Boo! Boo!
We have teeth but cannot bite!
In our heads a candle light!
We are jack o' lanterns!
Boo! Boo! Boo!

I'll refrain from "The Grand Old Duke of York" and, most especially for you, "The Dummy Line."

Cathy VanPatten said...

Oh, my--you have an amazing memory!

And thanks for refraining from posting the Dummy Line. It still makes me reach for a Xanax.

Sam said...

"On the Dummy,
on the Dummy Line,
Rise and shine,
(bum, bum, bum)
Rise and shine and pay your fine
When your ridin'on the Dummy,
On the Dummy Dummy Line!"
(So there, pass the Xanax.)