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Happy Columbus Day!

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Monday/Memeday: Pooh

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Star Wars Day: May The Fourth Be With You

I’m a Trek guy myself, but I just found out about the “Star Wars Day” thing and I think it’s a real hoot.  Star Wars has always been a problem for me–from plot points and set pieces clearly calculated to sell merchandise, to the whiniest hero in the history of movies, I liked the stories well enough but it never moved me, or moved my thoughts to deeper things.

Of course, things worked out for Luke better than they did for poor old Uncle Owen,  although we have to look to supplementary materials to find out why:

And all along I thought that Australian bastard, Boba Fett, killed Owen & Aunt Whatshername.  Damn.

Despite all the silliness, I’m kind of stoked about the new Star Wars movie–Abrahms has proven he has the chops and the appropriate reverence to revive an old series that has gone all to hell, and he’s no slouch with the marketing, either.  I mean, did you see the cast photo released from the first read-through this week?  Iconic is an understatement in this context–that photo has the look of something downright historical.

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Hey, what’s Indiana Jones doing in this movie? Is it a crossover? And where the hell is Uhuru?

 

 

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National Poetry Month: Delmore Schwartz

firewx1Short of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, I have a hard time thinking of another prominent English-language poet for whom I’d seem to have less interest than Delmore Schwartz.  You’ll note I said “seem.”  Something about this guy consistently strikes at my nerves.  Since April is National Poetry Month, here’s a Poem set in April.  Bonus points if you can tell me what this poem has to do with Captain James Tiberius Kirk?  Don’t cheat.

Calmly We Walk through This April’s Day  By Delmore Schwartz

Calmly we walk through this April’s day,
Metropolitan poetry here and there,
In the park sit pauper and rentier,
The screaming children, the motor-car
Fugitive about us, running away,
Between the worker and the millionaire
Number provides all distances,
It is Nineteen Thirty-Seven now,
Many great dears are taken away,
What will become of you and me
(This is the school in which we learn …)
Besides the photo and the memory?
(… that time is the fire in which we burn.)
(This is the school in which we learn …)
What is the self amid this blaze?
What am I now that I was then
Which I shall suffer and act again,
The theodicy I wrote in my high school days
Restored all life from infancy,
The children shouting are bright as they run
(This is the school in which they learn …)
Ravished entirely in their passing play!
(… that time is the fire in which they burn.)
Avid its rush, that reeling blaze!
Where is my father and Eleanor?
Not where are they now, dead seven years,
But what they were then?
                                     No more? No more?
From Nineteen-Fourteen to the present day,
Bert Spira and Rhoda consume, consume
Not where they are now (where are they now?)
But what they were then, both beautiful;
Each minute bursts in the burning room,
The great globe reels in the solar fire,
Spinning the trivial and unique away.
(How all things flash! How all things flare!)
What am I now that I was then?
May memory restore again and again
The smallest color of the smallest day:
Time is the school in which we learn,
Time is the fire in which we burn.
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Exhausting, But Damn Fine Weekend Part 2: Concert

We had yet another trip to Pittsburgh in store for us Saturday–my fourth in a row, as I’d been in the suburbs Wednesday to help my mom pick out 2011-chevrolet-cruze_100330176_land negotiate for a new car–a long but unexpectedly pleasant experience with Day Chevrolet in Murrysville, PA.  We got her an almost new Chevy Cruze–a perfect Grandma-car, but still a little sporty, a little perky to drive.  Way to go, Detroit–this one brings a hammer to the Compact Dance, and has the Asian marques in a tizzy, I’d wager.

After that, and the two days of swim meet, let’s just say I was less than enthusiastic about another day crammed into a car, even though the plans for the evening were for recreation.  I was grumpy all day, sick of restaurant food, weary of having a seat belt carving into my cartoid, and just plain tired.  If we hadn’t been locked in to the tune of $130 I would have been tempted to bail.  I just wanted to sleep.

That would have been a shame, because we had a semi-potluck in the mid-afternoon: ham, oven-baked herbed potatoes, salad, lots of fresh fruit and tasty bread, and apple pie for desert, with 4 friends and our kids, then the grown-ups saddled up and made the very familiar drive back to Cardiac Hill.  This time, after hours on a weekend, the parking was easy.  We quickly found a space in a small garage, downed some beers in the van–the garage was full of folks sitting in their vehicles, bartending out of PetersenEventsCenter_at_Pitttheir trunks.  Soon enough it was time, and we strolled up to the Peterson Center, a pretty fantastic venue on the Pitt campus.  We were there to see  The Old Crow Medicine Show and The Avett Brothers, and it turned out we got enviable, fantastic seats, just above floor level.

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And man, it was awesome.  Old Crow opened with a boisterous cover of John Denver’s seminal kneeslappin’ Thank God I’m A Country Boy and the crowd roared into Full Whoop–where is stayed through their too 4380881794_bf3f2fcf32_oshort 50-minute opening set.  I loved the crowd–more beards per capita than anyplace but downtown Islamabad– so I felt right at home, enjoying the irony of realizing that at the same moment Old Crow was jamming out genuine old-school Grand Old Opry-grade country to 35,000 hipsters in Pittsburgh, PA all over the country so-called Country Bands were shoveling candy-coated bubblegum pop to hundreds of thousands of rednecks.  The energy was pure and joyful–especially during the most popular songs, when the bands and 35,000 background singers–just listen to the voices….

By the time the Avetts ripped through more than two hours (!!) of their show then re-emerged onstage the crowd was in a danced-up, esq-avett-xlg-38788231full-flowering bliss, seemingly impossible to improve–until they called Old Crow out on the stage for a magnum freaking opus encore medley of Willie Nelson’s On The Road Again, The Carter Family’s Will The Circle Be Unbroken (you know an alt.country band is certified when they cover The Carters in their encore), and–finally–an inspired cover of the Spaniels’ Goodnight, Sweetheart.  Freaking awesome, and utterly perfect.  A stop for take out from Mineo’s Pizza on the way home, and the night was complete.

 

 

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Valentine’s Update–

It’s Valentine’s Day.  Give someone a kiss.

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We got hit with about 5 inches of snow yesterday, after meteorologists promised 1-3, the bastards–I’ve got a rant coming about them!  Early dismissals for Mrs. Junk and the Junkettes, and the postponement of their final varsity swim meet of the season from last night to tonight–which also means the cancellation of Ma and Pa Junk’s romantic night out.  No big deal, though–the team is going to clinch another Section Championship tonight, and it’s Senior Salute.  A couple of nice kids I’ve known a long time, who’ve been good role models and better friends to my kids, will be graduating this year.  It’s great to see them move on–everyone is headed to good school, with grand prospects, but I’m going to miss them.  It wasn’t so long ago they were a bunch of tiny, pudgy, scrawny little things…

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And now they’re young men and women, kicking ass and taking names.  It’s a pity that the state of the world dictates it’s best for all of us to maintain privacy–I’d love to give them all a shout-out.

We can always go out to dinner another night, right?  As for the gift thing, mentioned in an earlier post, I think that I’ve got it covered.

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Valentine’s Day Gifts

Beginning with full disclosure: historically speaking, I’ve always failed at this one–at least, that’s the attitude I take into it.  Some guys are assorted-color-alstroemeria-flowers-wholesale-flowers-globalrose zangling for surprise, acrobatic sexual compensation for their Valentine’s triumphs, but I’m just holding my breath and hoping for an indifferent shrug, or anything that is not patently disappointed.  How many Valentines minds have I blown in my lifetime?  Exactly none.  None minds.  I am fortunate, however –my wife likes flowers a lot, so I can’t really go wrong there, and despite all rhyme and reason she likes me, so flowers and a night out generally suffices–but I still crave that sudden moment of Valentine’s Day inspiration that would leave her shell-shocked, possibly struggling to remember to breathe and, should dreams really come true, in a partial state of undress.images  I keep wracking my brain, but I get nuthin.

N-U-T-H-I-N.  Unless….

I’m not counting my chickens before my eggs hatch, nor counting eggs before the chickens even lay them, but there is hope.  CBS News did a poll that provides some insight into making at least a “satisfactory” gesture this year.

Click to access CBS_News_Poll_Jan2014b_ValentinesDay.pdf

Lingerie_model_smoking_in_an_office_3d02388uWhat am I up to this year?  Since my wife has been know to scroll around here, I’d better not say.  One thing I’ll assure you: it’s not lingerie, which came in just above “flu shot” at 8%, although I think CBS got it wrong with the lingerie thing: lingerie isn’t for the ladies.  They may be the ones who wear it, but that stuff is for us.  There’s a chance you could pull this off if you’re, say, under 25 and your girl favors anal floss g-strings, but don’t trying bringing garters and hose home to the Mrs.  She won’t appreciate it.  Better to do some housework–something really obvious–and stop by the candy store, or “chocolaterie” if you must.  Hell, a shell pack of mexican strawberries and a can of Hershey’s syrup gives you a better chance than Frederick’s.  Unless your girl is a prostitute–and even then, what she really wants is probably a night off, and maybe Richard Gere--not some self-serving synthetic silk underwear from a transparent plotter like you.  Don’t get me wrong–there may be a time and a place, some cold boring night in January, maybe–it’s just not Valentine’s Day.

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Only One Shopping Week Until Valentine’s Day

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I never do a great job with this one, I suppose the right gift idea falls somewhere between a house plant and some ridiculous lingerie.  Any ideas?

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My Favorite Christmas Recordings # 21 Elvis Presley: If Every Day Was Like Christmas

Bitter, cynical, and borderline misanthropic for most of the year, I reform for the holiday season and from mid-November to the last minute of Epiphany I’m all about the season.  Readers of Old Road Apples will find themselves under a constant barrage of holiday fare this season–from themed essays to book reviews to a countdown of my very favorite Christmas recordings.

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Elvis Presley: If Every Day Was Like Christmas

Okay, now we’re getting into the meat of the order.  I owned this on vinyl when I was in college, along with albums by Nat King Cole, The Beach Boys, Big Crosby, and The Chipmunks. (Alvin? Alvin!) That’s why I was so popular with the ladies, know what I mean?

Neither do I–but it was a better, more extensive Christmas collection than most undergraduates, circa 1986.  The Elvis album is a blast–some classics here, including the title song (try not to sing along with the refrain really, really loudly!), Santa Bring My Baby Back To Me, and one of my all time favorites, Blue Christmas–listen to The King in full on growl, the dude is bringing it.  Big time.  Not a bad performance on the album, and this is another one you can pick up for a dollar or two if you keep your eyes open.  Just make sure you get the one with all 24 songs–there’s at least one version out there that mimics the vinyl record and only has about half as many cuts.

It’s also an example of why this list is a big of a crock–Elvis could very well be in the top 5, but I’ve had this album in one form or another for over 30 years and some things just sound fresher.  It’s a sure thing though.

1. If Every Day Was Like Christmas
2. Blue Christmas
3. Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane)
4. White Christmas
5. Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me)
6. I’ll Be Home For Christmas
7. O Little Town Of Bethlehem
8. Santa Claus Is Back In Town
9. It Won’t Seem Like Christmas (Without You)
10. If I Get Home On Christmas Day
11. Holly Leaves And Christmas Trees
12. Merry Christmas Baby
13. Silver Bells
14. I’ll Be Home On Christmas Day (Alternate Version)
15. On A Snowy Christmas Night
16. Winter Wonderland
17. The Wonderful World Of Christmas
18. O Come All Ye Faithful
19. The First Noel
20. It Won’t Seem Like Christmas (Without You ….)
21. Silver Bells (Alternate Take 1)
22. Holly Leaves And Christmas Trees (Unreleased Alternate Take 8)
23. I’ll Be Home On Christmas Day
24. Christmas Message From Elvis/Silent Night