Plants, Kant & Automobiles

Wow things are really crazy right now!

But you already know that. While I am all for social change I am really tired of hearing “the new normal,” “this period of change” or any of the buzzy phrases they use now. It is if the labeling and the naming of movements, pandemics and social attitudes has to be explained with a short, cool and catchy sentence. This is probably because we have no attention span and the average person cannot, or will not dig deeper into something without some glossy cover. After all, what is going on now, all of it, is a remarkable moment and I am not sure you can really label it until after all the dust has settled.

It is June and the indoor plants are not dead. Hap (short for Huge Ass Plant) is still growing and I will need to clip some branches soon. There are no flowers or perennials yet but I did just get some potting soil last week so movement on that is forthwith.

Sadly most of that will go to fill the massive indentation left by a car that backed into the yard and left deep tire track impression behind. These are perfect for collecting water during storms and are generally kind of hoosier-y. they also are great homes for mosquitoes. So once those tracks are filled in, plant fun will be in full effect.

I have been reading Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. Not to be enlightened per se, but mainly to help me make sense of the madness we are living in. Immanuel Kant’s philosophy can be neatly sliced into two halves, his theoretical philosophy, which is based on a rational understanding of nature and his more digestible practical philosophy which comprises his beliefs on ethics and political philosophy. touching on the concept of personal freedom, his ideas resonate a little louder now.

So the world is up and running again. Kind of. I have noticed more cars on the street and more traffic as people get back to doing whatever it is they think they need to do. Me, I am still sitting out most activities that involve crowds or people who are too selfish to social distance.

The increase in automobile traffic is kind of a sign, I guess, that people are getting back to some of the things they did before. many begrudgingly. For me, I just can’t be bothered to eat inside a restaurant or go to the mall or go bowling. I am only doing super essential stuff, and then only going to places where I know they will adhere to recommended policies of safety and health etc.

I am still greatly perturbed at the number of assclowns that simply don’t get it. It is not that hard to wear a mask or be socially distant. it also is a terribly nice thing to do as an empathetic human being. It is just like high school; a few stupid knuckleheads are gonna ruin it for everyone. Wear a damn mask people! For crying out loud!

Over the last few weeks I have seen a lot of short films. I love short films because they allow the filmmaker to be really creative in compact amount of time. Shorts also allow for some interesting experimentation. The reason for all my viewing was that I got press credentials for Vienna Shorts 2020.

I don’t recall applying for them but an email showed up one day with my access code information and a press kit so I figured I would give it a go. Normally, the fest is held from May 28th to June 2 in Vienna. But this year the entire thing was moved online.

Featuring over 280 short films from around the world there was a lot of interesting stuff. I wrote a more in-depth review for and will post that later.

If Marvin the Paranoid Android made a short film about bees and insect life you would get In the Company of Insects. A gloriously grumpy short that tackles themes of grief and environmentalism with an apocalyptic vibe about how mankind is toast if the bees are gone. It is an emotionally dense film. It was my favorite short of the festival.

Cinema St. Louis participated in another Film Festival Day. this time the featured film was called Life In Synchro, a documentary about synchronized skating.

Although it is not yet an Olympic sport, the sport is massively popular. It was really interesting hearing the stories of of skaters past and present and hows their experiences doing synchronized skating changed their lives.

With no new sports happening ESPN has been running some documentary stuff with their 30 For 30 brand. The first of these endeavors was The Last Dance, a ten part series on Michael Jordan and the Bulls teams he played on. Focusing on the 1998 team, it really was much more interesting than I expected it to be. Jordan clearly called the shots with the doc and made sure he came out in a positive light.

However, interviews with other players, teammates and sports analysts paint an interesting portrait of Jordan who at times, comes off as an egomaniac. I was surprised how engaging this was.

My suspicions that MJ was kind of a jerk were pretty much confirmed. But, having said that, the series lays it out there in explaining how he got to be this way. I also was interested in the motivation for his ‘win at all costs’ competitiveness. Jordan may not be the most complex character study, but he remains fascinating in how he succeeded on the court, how he has made a brand of himself and his candidness in talking about his former teammates and Bulls management.

ESPN also profiled Lance Armstrong. Lance was only 2 episodes, as opposed to the 10 for The Last Dance but it certainly did not disappoint. Armston clearly believes his own narrative and he’s made A LOT of mistakes along the way. Hearing him explain his reasoning and, in some cases, own up to things is pretty interesting.

He is a complete tool, make no mistake about that, but this doc really did dig deep into the world of professional cycling and it was riveting. In terms of documentary storytelling this was pretty compelling.

I went into it not expecting much. I knew he was a jerk and an egomaniac who stepped over a lot of people on his path to fame, but I had no idea he was this intense and this insane in telling his own narrative. To be fair, most of the cyclists interviews came off as jerks too.

The is no major league baseball. This makes me sad. I have been watching the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) on ESPN as a replacement. It is pretty strange. They have cheerleaders and flamboyant bat flips and, since there are no fans at games, stuffed animals sitting in the stands. They also piped in audience sounds so the players feel more at home. The baseball itself is pretty good.

One of the odd things about being stuck inside for so long is that you end up watching some strange TV that you otherwise would not. This will be a thing soon for everyone since the networks and streaming channels are soon going to run out of fresh programming. Since I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff streaming and the general ickiness of network TV I have been watching some reruns. Mostly the old detective shows of the 1970s. They had a grit to them and they loved having ensemble guest stars, which allowed things to be fresh each week/

One of the shows I really have grown to like is Barnaby Jones. it eschews good looks and cheap gimmicks in favor of real stories and plots that are not recycled from week to week. Having St. Louis’ own Buddy Ebsen in it doesn’t hurt either. As a detective he does not play around. he is kind of sneaky too which is kind of cool.

Season Two of Dead to Me was just as odd and crazy as the first one. It is one of those programs where overtime you think you have an angle sorted out a new twist is thrown your way.

It is very well written and it has terrific pacing. This season also featured some terrific music in it as well so I am guessing their licensing department is all over finding music that works into the tapestry of the show.

In addition to finishing some freelance work and working on my online classes, I have gotten some time this month to watch more movies! As much as I love short film, I do miss the energy of going to an actual theater.

Despite all of that I most likely will pass on going to see a film in a theater for awhile. I was never a big fan of multiplexes to being with. the confessions are too pricy, the seats are not comfortable and people don’t really care about the movies. This is why I try to support the STL’s art house theaters. They are each pretty well stocked with interesting films and staff who at least knows something about movies.

This is why I am hoping that the films I am looking forward to seeing will stream at the same time they are in megaplexes. Also, is it bad that AMC may go under? They kind of suck.

It was a decision that required lot of thought but I think I hate Grease more than Dirty Dancing. they both are terrible is you ask me, but if I had to pick one. I also hate Top Gun. It is stupid.

Early this morning I watched Zombieland: Double Tap. I simply didn’t;t get around to seeing in it the theaters. I thought the first one was pretty clever and was hoping this one could be fun.

It really was. However, the big mistake I made was watching it during a pandemic. That was kind of a downer.

Having said that, it was a silly bit of distracting fun. Woody Harrelson loves to chew up scenery and I think he is one of those weird actors who can do drama and comedy well.

Overall, if you want a silly distraction and want to just let out some tension this is a fun watch.

Friday and Saturday evenings are the big movie watching nights for me. I had wanted to see Blinded By the Light for some time now and I finally found time to get to it about two weeks ago.

It is one of those fun British films with a great musical score, social messages and plenty of drama mixed with humor. Set in 1987, it is all about The Boss. Javed is a Pakistani. living in Luton whose life is filled with an overbearing father, racism and an English economy where many are on the dole. His way out is his writing, mostly poetry, which gives him a real opportunity to get out. After a classmate introduces him to the music of Bruce Springsteen his life changes in so many ways. The best thing about the movie is that it has its own spirit and energy to it.

In kinda sorta appliance news. There are new blinds in the kitchen. The old ones lasted thirteen years. Also, the AC was being wonky so a guy came to sort it out and discovered it was running at only 30%. He went into the basement and checked some wiring and found ‘3 or 4’ other things that needed to be fixed. He fixed all of it which is terrific since I do not want to be muggy inside in the humid STL summers.

Despite my lackluster excitement about reopening it is great to see so many people in town rallying to support local businesses. I also am excited by all the cool things our arts organizations are doing in lieu of having a regular season of live programming.

The coming days have some interview transcriptions in store for me as well as a few articles, some decluttering and probably more drinking lemonade on my back porch.

The Sound & the Blurry

So, somehow at a time when nothing has been going on, I have been too busy to actually update this thing. Everything has been a big blur.

Days move into days and are suddenly weekends. A few minutes online suddenly becomes hours and going out has turned into a big pain in the ass. The worst part is that I still feel there is not enough time to get things done and it is kind of a bummer.

Despite being furloughed and having only my PT job, I have been insanely busy. for starters I had three freelance projects to work on. The latter was a beast with a client that gave me a two word outline and orders to ‘go.’ Don’t get me wrong the income has been sorely needed.

I hate the getting ready to go out followed by the coming in from going out. it takes so long and is such an annoying process. But this is the new normal.

So, when I have gone out it has been brief. I have been to Whisk on Cherokee a few times to pick up the amazing scones and popsicles they have been making. The strawberry hibiscus one is incredible. I want to support local business and they have never steered me astray.

It has been weird to see Cherokee street deserted and without any signs of life. Surreal actually. The Loop has bene mostly quiet. When I take my walks it is on a vacant lot or around the block a few times. It has been interesting to notice the amount of idiots outside who are not social distancing.

It has been amazing to see how many people just don’t care. I mean it is not that hard to keep away from other people. I think the hardest thing is remaining composed in the presence of the stupid who just don’t get it or have no desire to not be selfish.

This also goes for people shopping. Get what you need and get out people. don’t dawdle or linger or be annoying. This is not the time to browse or wander aimlessly.

In appliance news…..The tv remote crapped out. I had an older model that worked but I ordered a new one. It got here pretty fast, which surprised me. The food processor decided to call it a day so there is now a nifty new a Cuisinart (purchased with Target gift cards) in its stead.

I have been taking some online classes. The ones I have taken with the MoMA have been very interesting. It is nice to explore learning right now.

There is one on the history of photography that I have enjoyed. The MoMA has a Dorothea Lange exhibition right now that is virtual but will be going live again when they reopen.

I also want to see the Basquiat show that is in Boston. it looks amazing!

It looks amazing. They are still doing some interesting stuff with it, even though it has technically closed.

I saw Little Richard play at Chuck Berry’s 70th birthday party at The Pageant in October of 2001. From the time he walked on stage to the end of is set he was utterly mesmerizing.

His hips were obviously in bad shape but the voice was immaculate. It was one of those voices that made the hair on the back of your neck stand up. Seeing him live underscored that he was the consummate showman.

He had so many amazing records. I know he has a slew of great singles, but I really am partial to Rip It Up. It is raw and tough and amazing.

Seeing him live it was easy to understand why his impact on both Bowie and Prince was so profound. I know people talk about Elvis a lot as the King of rock and everything, but really, the crown should go to Little Richard. He was a revolutionary.

I was also bummed to hear about the passing of Florian Schneider of Kraftwerk. I love Kraftwerk.

He was responsible for some really influential music and his legacy is also pretty profound. I was looking forward to seeing Kraftwerk at The Pageant this summer but I think that is not happening.

In a related note Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark (OMD) streamed an archived concert from their last tour.

Billed as “Live From Your Sofa” it was a really good show and a welcome relief from the tedium of the world.

I also watched some recorded concert sets from Dinosaur Jr. and Warpaint that were really amazing.

The Magnetic Fields have a new album of super short songs. They are quirky and odd and lovely all at once.

But don’t let the brevity fool you. Quickies is a terrific set of tunes. I have really enjoyed hearing their short little bursts of pop awesomeness.

The new X album Alphabetland is the best record of the year.

It is a burst of much needed punk rock attitude. I ti s a 30 minute bombast of adrenaline. I interviewed John Doe last week and he was really cool and nice and genuine.

One of the ways I am escaping right now is by sitting on my porch. There are so many birds out and it is nice to hear them. I am also taking walks which has been nice, except when there are idiots.

I still think it is too soon to reopen.

I have been watching The Last Dance on ESPN. While I am not the biggest basketball fan I appreciated Michael Jordan as a player. Having said that, my interest has been from more of a documentary film perspective. As a documentary it does everything it is supposed to do. The best thing is you do not need to be a fan of the NBA to enjoy it.

Sadly, Michael Jordan is the big jerk I suspected he was. I know being that famous would have a profound affect on someone, but he acted like an entitled baby a lot and was kind of a bully. Still, the 10 part series is compelling TV.

I am glad Dead To Me is back. It is such delicious fun.

The character dynamics are really interesting and has a great blend of hilarity, sadness and humor. Like most good dramas its main characters make poor decisions all the time.

I am curious to see where this goes moving forward.

On the other side of life, I cannot recommend Schitt’s Creek enough. It is hilarious and shows that sitcoms can be funny in the right hands. Especially if those making it are fearless and connected to the human psyche.

It is pretty inexplicable but I have been watch the late night reruns of Cannon and Barnaby Jones. I want to start by saying that Cannon needs to trim his sideburns. Those things have a life of their own. I love how Frank Cannon doesn’t take any crap and is kind of a curmudgeon. He also rocked that old school car phone.

As for Barnaby Jones there is something soothing about watching Buddy Ebsen do his thing. He is very sneaky and devious but in a very understated way. He also was catching people who have made some poor decisions.

I love how Quinn Martin Productions had a deal with Cadillac and LTD to use big cars. Every show had big cars in it.

Well that is a fade out for this one. In future days I will endeavor to do this more and not get behind.

Stay inside, be safe and get of my damn lawn!

Insert Title Here

So the longish days of April have turned into May. It is May Day, and I cannot help but think of working and how hard most people have it by working underpaying jobs where they have to deal with incredibly annoying people.

Before any of this started I had my doubts on how working people could make ends meet, but now the system has been nearly destroyed and I am not sure what is next.

I do know that I am not keen on going back to the way it was unless there are some real opportunities. I am fine with making the trade off of working with people I like and taking less pay for personal happiness. I mean happiness is way better in the long run. But, that pay must be fair and at least remain sustainable.

However, now the arduous task of sniffing around and networking is afoot. Like Sherlock Holmes solving a mystery, I am sniffing out my next gig and hustling to solve thing sand sort it all out.

I am working a bit at my job and still applying for other things which has been nice. I know this much, I am done with having to deal with large groups of people if at all possible.

I love how St. Louis has come together to help small businesses whenever possible. There is a nifty new farmer’s market that has popped up down the street. They have pretty much everything and it is affordable. I am avoiding the grocery store if I can and making do with ordering from local stores when I can. The international grocery store down the street is still open so if I need anything in a pinch there is that.

One nice thing about our city is that it, for the most part, has decent citizens who actually respect other people. As a result, this thing has seen folks come together and help others. Whether it is making masks, checking in on folks, shopping local or supporting the local arts. It is nice to not be divisive.

A lot the museums and arts organizations are working to provide some interesting content right now. I think just getting their name out in the public consciousness really helps a lot.

In appliance news, the food processor is kaput. There’s still some scratch left on the Target gift card so I guess shopping could sort there. But I would rather buy local.

Everything I was looking forward to has been canceled. I was supposed to be in Chicago this week. I miss Chicago. I have a monthly planner but it is pretty useless at this point. Unless I write in ‘stay at home’ each day. I am trying to watch some theater stuff that is being offered and a few concerts etc… So I could put that all in there but it seems pointless since I find I am not looking at it much.

I am taking a few online classes and that has surprisingly eaten into a lot of my time. Yale has a happiness class that apparently is all the rage and the most popular one offered on campus. I am taking a free version of it and it has been interesting. Part Psychology, part mindfulness and part ‘get your shit together,’ The Science of Well Being has been a good way to declutter mentally and sort of assess where things are it.

I also am taking two classes through MoMA in New York. One is Modern Art & Ideas and the other is Seeing Through Photographs. I just started the former this week and the latter about two weeks ago. They both have been pretty great. As someone who likes art and often has to write doubt it for various outlets, it has bene informative. I had a so so art history teacher in college so this has been great. I have always liked photography and am enjoying learning a lot more about it.

I did an online lecture last night for their current exhibition, Dorothea Lange: Words & Pictures.

You can take the virtual tour of the exhibition and see some interactive content on the MoMA website. I have always loved her work and it was really cool getting some context about it.

The next class I start isThe Modern World, Part One: Global History from 1760 to 1910. It is through Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia. I have studied a lot of this before in school but I wanted a deep dive.

These are all mostly 5-6 weeks long so after this I can move on to some other stuff. I also have been studying up on analytics, marketing trends and doing as much writing as I can.

I have also been watching some movies, I saw Tokyo Joe early this morning.

It is a Humphrey Bogart flick from 1949 and finds him in postwar Tokyo. It is not as good as some of his other stuff but I had not seen it before.

I also am watching. SXSW films on Amazon. some are shorts, some are docs and feature lengths. I enjoyed My Darling Vivian, a documentary about Johnny Cash’s first wife Vivian Liberto. It was really interesting.

I also started watching Schitt’s Creek which has been fun. Dead To me is starting next week and I am looking forward to that. I am behind in watching a lot of stuff I wanted to see, but it is not like I am going out dancing anytime soon or anything.

The worst thing is trying to sort out sleep. it has been frustrating.

I did interview Kathy Valentine of The Go-Go’s about her new book, All I Ever Wanted. It is a very interesting read.

I still have a stack of magazines and books to get to so next time I may have more interesting things to write about.

I have been listening to a lot of music. I have made an effort to listen to the new albums by Fiona Apple and Hazel English. There also is Alphabetland, the new record from X. It is loud and fun! I also like this band called Catholic Action. They are from Glasgow and really have good melodies.

The Magnetic Fields have a new album coming out called Quickies. That should be fun too.

RIP to the great Tony Allen. His latest album, Rejoice is amazing. He was an amazing drummer and will be missed. This album is fantastic.

Well that is it for now. sorry for the delay. Stay inside. Please stay inside.

Lenny Bruce Is Not Afraid

Ok, if I hear “in these uncertain times,” or “in these difficult times,” or “with these changing times” anymore, I am going to yell loudly. The English language has loads of other words and phrases that people can use to describe all of this. Stop being lazy and obvious!

Also, those phrases don’t give people warm and fuzzy feelings. It’s like telling people The Beatles are out there to listen to but they have to listen to Third Eye Blind for awhile. Do your damn job marketing people and think of something else. It is just lazy and, frankly, sort of annoying.

So things now are all about routines. I try to have a set task for each day with a few other things to clean up. There’s webinars, job searching, the St. Louis art Museum’s object of the day and loads of zoo webcams. At night, I listen to Patrick Stewart reading a sonnet. He has a different one each day.

I also am trying to find time to laugh. This is why I am listening to a Lenny Bruce bit each day as often as possible. It’s not overdone or cute or simple. it is raw, honest and funny in a way where your brain is engaged.

As an extrovert I am surprised I am ok being separated from people. I am checking in on folks and saying hello to old friends now and then, but really I am ok social distancing. People are idiots and I am fine with not talking to strangers. I am of a generation where our formative years were spent trying not to get our ass kicked in high school for having a weird haircut and a jacket with buttons and badges all over it. So, for me, avoiding people is kind of old hat.

It reminds me of all of the terrors of Catholic school and social status and all that nonsense. What all this means is that those years of being a ‘weirdo’ in high school are paying off. I sure am glad I learned how to read.

I am really bummed about Bill Withers passing. I really loved his records. There was never a time when I ‘wasn’t in the mood’ to hear Bill Withers. he had a terrific catalog of songs and I think it is sad he didn’t get more mainstream attention. He really didn’t make a bad record.

John Prine’s passing is really sad. It was nice to see him get more notoriety over the last few years. he was one of our country’s best storyteller and his music was moving, fun, spirited and emotional.

Not much on the movie front. I have been watching some old films from the 1970’s and some film noir. The Taking o f Pelham One Two Three is not only a great movie, but an interesting slice of life of America in 1974. Walter Mathau is great in it. I want to be him when I grow up.

I also saw an indie film called Phoenix, Oregon. it was streamed nationally as part of film Festival Day. It is about these guys who buy a bowling alley becsuase there regular job sucks. Here is a link:

I have discovered a band called Deutsche Ashram. They have a new album out called Whisper Om that has been calming and catchy.

They are very dead poppy but also have some textures and density to their music.

There also is a new album out from The Strokes but I haven’t dug too deep into it yet.

I did listen to Felt for the first time in ages yesterday. I forgot how much I liked their records. They formed in 1979 in Water Orton, Warwickshire and have this jangly sound that matures into more adventurous terrain. They are pretty obscure in certain circles, but the kids in the know appreciate the harmonies and nuanced songwriting.

I am still hustling. I finished a freelance technical writing project and have move onto a full on magazine piece. But “in these trying times” you have to take whatever you can get. I do know that I am never going back to any sort of frontline retail if I can help it. Especially since people are rude and uncaring and selfish.

I do miss baseball.

Sadly, I am not expecting to see any live music for the foreseeable future. it is a shame too since there was a lot of shows I was looking forward to seeing. In the meantime, I have books and music and word puzzles to keep me busy.

In appliance news, the dishwasher and washing machine are getting good workouts. I wish I had a freezer too.

I am plowing through All I Ever Wanted, the memoir from The Go-Go’s Kathy Valentine.

There’s a lot of interesting stuff in there. From Austin to the heyday of LA’s punk underground and the rise of new wave pop, she has pretty much seen it all. The narrative is pretty straightforward and no nonsense. It also is candid and honest and free of sugar coating.

This would be a good time to read The American People in the Great Depression by David M. Kennedy.

It is part of the Oxford History of the United States series and is very good. There is some pretty scary and stark stuff in there but it is something people should know anyway. My grandmother always told me stories about the Great Depression and it was pretty sad stuff.

Well I guess you didn’t read this to be cheered up did you?

It’s Palmolive Sunday

So it is Sunday. Pretty exciting stuff. But since my hands are simply just a wreck with roughness I am dubbing today Palmolive Sunday. When I was kid they called this dishpan hands. Now I just call it ‘ouch my hands sure hurt.’

I am generally trying to keep them moisturized with aloe, bag balm and vaseline. I am literally giving these suckers a hand bath a few times a day. Thus is the new way of life.

Wealth is a bourgeois construct. I bet when all these kids wanted the Roaring ’20s back they weren’t thinking about this.

Been doing a lot more reading these days. catching up on old magazines lying around and a book on Teddy Roosevelt since he was so prolific, larger than life and had this called, I don’t know, leadership. It is interesting to look at the early 20th century and how it helped define the middle class for later generations. TR wasn’t perfect but you could never say he was dull.

I did some decluttering yesterday. Switched out some CD cases, organized the music collection and cleared out more of the back room. The one great thing about decluttering is that once you are into it, time flies by.

I hope to clear out more of my mom’s stuff this week and start on this one closet. My fear is that after I clean it I’ll end up in Narnia. I also am getting rid of a filing cabinet.

So the basic goal of this is just have a decent extra space to chill. I have this chair that was my by my grandfather’s bed and I used to sit in it while he was too sick to really do anything. The poor guy was pretty much incapacitated and he had to put up with me. This is like 1972-74ish. When he was more functional he was not the biggest fan of small kids so I am sure I drove him crazy.

So somehow, my talky and hyper self was able to just sit and talk to him. I know he liked it and it helped ease his suffering. But anyway, the chair needs work on it but I do not have the heart to throw it out.

I watched Dial M for Murder this week. Everyone in a Hitchcock movie makes poor decisions. It’s kind of sad really. But seriously it was very good and still holds up pretty well. Ray Milland was pretty creepy in it.

Speaking of Ray Milland there was an interesting St. Louis band named Ray Milland back in the day.

with regard to music, there is an interesting band in town now called Frankie Valet. They have an album called Waterfowl that is just terrific. I hope if this all ends that I can check them out.

I also like this Boston band called Vundabar. they have a record out called Either Light that is splendid.

It is their third album and it has some texture and depth to it that I like. I think Montage Music is my fave.

I have also been working on a technical writing project. I love the work but the client is seriously OCD and can’t go ten minutes without asking if I am done yet. Believe me, I love the work and appreciate the opportunity but it is getting absurd. As an FYI, writing about dental crowns is not much more fun than just sitting outside and watching the world go by… slowly.

I think the girl on the 2nd floor has set up a horseshoe pit in her living room. That, or she has borrowed the Clydesdales to stomp around and make noise. That girl makes a lot of noise. Seriously. She has like one piece of furniture and always eats out, so what is she doing up there?

One of the things I have been making it a point to do right now is check in on some folks I haven’t chatted with in awhile. It has been pretty nice.

Patrick Stewart has been reading Sonnets each day. It has been really terrific. He has a great command of language and his vice is soothing at the end of the day.

I wish I liked Picard more. I am only a few episodes in so far but it is not knocking me over.

So let’s talk about kids on skateboards. Back in my day skaters were mostly pretty cool and had great taste in music. I wish this could be said about the no social distancing little moppets down the street who are completely annoying in every possible way. This is not a generational bitching or anything, but I seem to remember kids skating to The Descendants or Black Flag and not any of this wimpy, no aggro, whine pop they listen to now. NO one should listen to Blink 182, much less skate to it.

OK, so watching Days of Thunder was a stupid idea. It is pretty bad. what is up with Nicole Kidman’s frizzy hair?

And what is up with Robert Duvall being in so many terrible movies? He must just like the paycheck.

I also rewatched 12 Monkeys. I have not seen it in decades but I do remember seeing it a few times when it came out. It is still visually interesting but also very much a product of the times it was made in.

However now, the whole damn thing seems prescient as hell.

The St. Louis Art Museum is doing a profile on an object in their collection each day. Even though some it is stuff I probably would not normally look at I am learning a lot.

You can take a virtual tour of their current exhibition,Millet and Modern Art: From Van Gogh to Dalí online.

I really like these two. The first is by Van Gogh, the second is by Millet himself. Check out their stuff at

I am seriously bummed about Bill Withers passing. He had an incredibly amazing voice and his songs are timeless. They are those wonderful types of tunes that can reach out to anyone and really makes their day better. He knew how to craft music so that it resonated with folks. I dare you to listen to Lovely Day and not tap your feet. I wish more people appreciated him because he has a very deep and amazing catalog of music.

Please be safe, stay inside and be kind!

Bleach In Our Time

So, I have spent a lot of time this past week learning about bleach. How to distill it, what not to mix it with, how to clean with it and how to use it to kill every germ around.

My earliest memories of bleach are my parents. My mom was a nurse and always mentioned how it could kill anything. My dad was in the Navy and reminded me to respect it and not go overboard with. He also told me not to let it touch my hands, not to breath it in etc…

But beyond that it was an afterthought. Not anymore!

If that was not enough, having been laid off at my main job, I accepted a technical writing assignment for a dental client. I have a few pieces in the hopper to do but the first one, was of course, about dental crowns and teeth whitening. What do you do for teeth whitening you ask? You basically bleach your teeth. There you go. It is everywhere.

Each day has been an adventure in getting projects done. At this point it is mostly decluttering and organizing music. I have a massive ‘to do’ and ‘to watch’ list.

One of the things I am doing to pass time is look at my collection of art books and coffee table books. I do not have a lot of them and I generally get most of them second hand since they are outrageously priced new. Anyway, I was looking through a book on Art Deco and it helped pass some time.

In case you do not know and because I want to seem cool (not really) here’s a quick summary thing. I know a bunch of my art friends will correct me but oh well.

Art Deco was introduced in Paris (isn’t everything) in 1925 where it captivated the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts. It was a hybrid of sorts of engineering and art that became a big deal in the 1920s and 1930s.

But where this is going to is that this past September I had a friend of mine take me to see her and her husband’s place in Boulder Colorado. One of the big things I wanted to do there was see their court house building. It is on Pearl Street (a really nice area btw) and has some amazing Art Deco fixtures, design and architecture going on.

Built in 1933 it is also a terrific WPA building. The combination of that style with the Art Deco makes it pretty great.

This is one of the first things you see when you go in. it is a really nice overlook with the original lighting fixtures above it.
The front hallway. It’s pretty sleek.
Upstairs hallway by office.
Tucked away in a corner hallway. they use this door each day to lock access.

In front of the courthouse is a really nice fountain, donated by The Lion’s club in 1935. The building has some terrific landscaping around it as well.

When I travel I try to see Art Deco buildings as much as I can. So far, Chicago, New York, Paris and Prague are the best places I have seen it on a large scale. I know there is some cool stuff in Minneapolis.

St. Louis has a lot of great examples of it as well, but sadly a lot of great stuff is gone too. The Civil Courts Building downtown is great as is the Jewel Box in Forest Park.

While in Boulder, I also wanted to see the house used for the exterior shot for Mork & Mindy. I am that nerdy. As an aside, that show got stupid when they had their kid. Even though Jonathan Winters was great, it was a stupid idea.

If there is a video anywhere of Jonathan Winters physically beating the crap out of rich Little please show it to me. I would love t see it.

I was delighted that no one came out and chased me away with a shotgun.

When writing about teeth whitening is the high point of your day you really are a square. Just saying.’

Here is another announcement about the stupid. I am not sure what the girl upstairs does, but she is loud and has a lot of company. She cannot talk on a phone quietly and she has no ability to do simple things quietly. It’s like Paul Bunyan is coming in and out of the building each time she comes and goes. She has cackle that is shrill and she cannot greet her cat without everyone in 10 miles hearing it. My UPS driver noted he could hear her getting out his truck, even with the motor running. I will gladly put up with all of this if she just stayed the hell inside. Now, I have to wipe down the stair railing and doorknobs to the laundry room every day. But personality wise, she is very nice so I should be nicer.

In appliance news, the refrigerator and freezer are really doing their thing. They are pretty full with stuff. I wish I had a massive freezer like some people are getting right now, although for the life of me I cannot imagine putting that much meat in it.

I have been cooking more which is terrific fun. Digging around in the pantry I came upon a bottle of Bayou Fireball I got as a gift.

It is from Louisiana where they do not mess around with kind of stuff. It’s pretty much hot sauce, guns and LSU football. I wish more people in Louisiana liked Fats Domino, but that is not the point here.

Bayou Fireball is a pepper based sauce that uses minced garlic, cayenne and habanero peppers to bring the heat. In addition to the flavor what makes it great is that you don’t need to use a ton of it to get results.

Its big claim to fame is that NASA astronauts love it. So as a hot sauce, I guess you can say it is ‘out of this world.’ It certainly is much better than the stuff they use at Chipotle. Speaking of which, they need to bring back Tomatillo.

I hate to harp on this but, again, the kids are not alright. In fact they are morons. Sometimes I wish I could summon George Raft to give them a good what for.

My hands are beat to all giddy. I have been moisturizing them, using bag balm and other stuff but it still is a real annoying thing. Whenever I see Vaseline I think of the Flaming Lips song, She Don’t Use Jelly. I could have lived without that earworm.

Today I hope to finish a novel and read some magazines I had squirreled away. My sleep cycle is pretty much shot to heck these days so naps are terrific. I am also on a narrative film screening committee for a film festival which means I am going to watch a movie or two later today.

Days of Thunder is on later and I have never seen it.

I hated Top Gun so I have low expectations. Thus is my life. Hope yours is better.

Thank God it’s Friday!

That sentence now has been rendered useless.

I know one thing, I am mildly happy about is that with all of this stuff going on there are no more stupid happy hours. All they really did was make people run around from place to place to get deals on terrible food or drinks they couldn’t really enjoy because it was still early in the evening.

Then there’s the social aspect. I am always awkward at happy hours. Even the networking one where I am getting to meet people that are actually interesting.

I’m not sure what the issues are but maybe it stems from the forced short term interactions of Catholic school. Maybe it is the fact that they are so short they never let you be comfortable.

Either way, happy hours suck. I think Dante would find TFI Friday’s happy hour to be a purgatory of epic proportions.

I took a walk yesterday. It was nice to have the Sun out and feel its warmth. I stopped to look at some budding limbs on a few trees and enjoyed seeing some flowers. St. Louis is a pretty green city in many ways and lots of neighborhoods have communal gardens and folks who plant their own gardens. Pretty cool. All of this is making me think about being that guy, who has a garden. you know, the weird older guy with all the plants that goes on about nothing all the time.

I think Agatha Christie had some cool characters that were gardeners. I know Sad Cypress and Peril at End House had some. She also liked poison plants from what I recall. That last title sounds like an indie band name.

I think it is interesting that she is one of those 20th century writers who has a legacy that doesn’t involve getting drunk in Paris. Although she was missing for a bit. probably aliens.

So all of you folks who wanted the Roaring ’20s back. Thanks! Speaking of which this is my next book.

I think it will be interesting. Burns usually writes very short, concise books and this one should be fun since I know a lot about the decade in general but not that specific year.

After that I am throwing myself into Peter Ackroyd’s history of England books and with a chaser of lots of Neil Gaiman fiction.

I have a Minneapolis excursion planned for September that is now unlikely to happen. Because of that I was gonna re read a bunch of F. Scott Fitzgerald. I was hoping to see his house. He probably wouldn’t be home anyway. If Gatsby were around today I’d punch him in the face.

I think the girl upstairs put her wooden shoes on before she does any household activities. How can one person make so much noise walking across an apartment. She said she had no furniture and didn’t go out. this brings me to a big pet peeve. Every time she uses her cell phone I can hear it. It is always on speaker and she always talks doubt the vacuous jibber jabber that kids today in their mid 20s go on about. She is not deaf. She seems alert and responsive. is she just too lazy to use a phone the proper way? Then there is the rolling cast of cretins she is not properly socially distancing herself with. I have bene using the back door to come in and out so I don’t have to risk the germs. Except to get the mail.

I really miss the English and Japanese gardens at the Missouri Botanical Garden. MOBOT is cool. I bet the critters at the St. Louis zoo and thrilled to not have people gawking at them all day.

I have few things I want to get to on the telly. There is Decades, the New Order concert film and Is There Something I Should Know? the hour long doc about Duran Duran. I never really dug Duran Duran when I was young. I have learned to like the first few albums now.

Beyond that Nada Surf has a new album out. Never Not Together is their 9th album. It offers a nice collection of power pop songs.

I have always been hit or miss on them. This one isn’t too shabby. There’s a nice cohesion of melody going on here that is pretty great.

This is one of the movies waiting on deck. The Spy Who Came In From The Cold is a spy flick from 1965 based on the best selling book. Richard Burton is pretty good in it.

I love John le Carré and this is a really solid interpretation of his work.

I mopped again last night. Good times.

Ok, I have to work on freelance stuff now.

Time I spent some time alone….

It is totally weird to me that with everything going on I somehow have lost track of time. Before all of this I was always busy and had stuff to do and time commitments stuffed to the gills.

Now, with everything coming to an slow crawl I still have little time to do the stuff I want. I make lists, I set things out, I set goals. where the hell has time gone?

I am somewhat proud of myself for the beginnings of a massive declutter in the back room. I have gotten rid of some unused tings but also found some crazy forgotten memories.

I think I need to get a new photo album and fill it. Probably works better than shelves, drawers and random boxes.

I got laid off from my job at Webster University. It was completely expected. My boss said we all get to come back when this is over, but by then the place will look like an unearth archaeological site and the first few days of work will suck ass. Not that everyday there doesn’t drag in some way. I do like working on a university campus, even though the kids are stupid and irritating and have absolutely the worst taste in music, generally.

I went into the art building one day and no one there had cool haircuts. Sad. Back in my day all of us at KCFV radio folks in junior college used to make a trip over to the art building during the first few days of the semester to see what was shaking. I was not sure why any of the others didn’t figure it out. We played cool music, they were cool looking and interesting and both sides were outcasts, misfits and creatives in a way. And. seem to remember they all had really cool long coats.

The best part was wearing all black was like a secret handshake or a sly nod. Sort of like ‘yeah we get it.’

But now, the kids have a lot going on and they are savvy and smart so I should cut them a break. My generation lived through Third Eye blind, Paula Abdul and Collective soul, there’s is living through fascism and a pandemic. So I should lay off.

Circling back to “work,” I still have my PT job at a magazine/convenience store. I got a nifty note on letterhead yesterday telling me I was ‘essential’ so if I am stopped a can show my papers. It is a double edged sword, I generally like the regulars I meet but they need to stay the hell home.

In better news, I did get a technical writing project and I am going to knuckle under and start on that today. It’s for a dental client so there’s a lot of dry research ahead of me.

I got curbside Indian food last night. Lamb Krahi, Aloo Gobi & garlic naan. There are leftovers! I live near an international grocery store which is nice and with most of the college hoodlums away it is bearable. Despite this, I set up from grocery delivery from a few places and I am looking at getting some other options.

One of my friends made an apple pie and left it on the back porch. It was seriously the best pie ever. Ever.

I am cooking more which is nice. Lots of Simple stuff. I have my grandmother’s recipe box from the ’50s and I am gonna start doing some of this. She meticulously typed each recipe on an index card. it is very beautiful and poetic. She shared my birthday.

I have had little time to watch TV but there’s a ton of ‘movies I have been wanting to get to’ in there. So we shall see.

Top Chef would be more interesting if the other chefs had to eat the loser each week. Also watching Jeopardy! Trying to avoid the news.

I know Scott Phillips form the bookstore I used to work at and the coffee shop I went to before all of this. He write books that I don not want to categorize but will call crime fiction. But they are not like Columbo or James Patterson. They have really gritty people in them doing weird and odd things. Bad things.

This is his new book. I started to read it. it has art forgery in it an dis very compelling. I love the way his books flow and pace. If you want t pass the time with a great read check this out.

Concord Press is a nifty publishing house that gives away free books. They are giving away some now in fact. Yesterday I got Rut, a sort of historical fiction story (also by Scott Phillips) and Zig Zag a short story collection from Madison Smart Bell who has written 12 books, none of which I have read.

I like short story anthologies and thought this would be good.

In appliance news I worry that then the coin operate washer and dryer are full we won’t be able to use them. I called the company that handles this but they were morons.

My hands are beat to hell from hand gel and soaps. Been moisturizing but now I have hands like my mom had late it life. She loved it when we put nice smelling aloe on her hands.

I haven’t dove into the puzzles yet or my book of word searches yet. I have found out a nice bench I like where I can sit alone if I want and read. Mostly though I am chilling on my porch and watching and listening to birds.

Another thing I am trying to do is take short walks. I enjoy the quiet but again am annoyed to see people outside screwing around. Stay home!

It is opening day for MLB. I am sad.

So I host a radio show on KDHX. I decided this week, even though media is also ‘essential,’ to do it remotely or with prerecords for the next few weeks. I miss the getting out and rush I get doing it live. However, being in a small room with the potential for lots of germs was not ideal.

They are providing gloves and hand wipes but it is still a small place and microphones as pretty crappy in that they keep germs around. So I aired on the side of caution.

I find that Grinding Halt by The Cure has become my song of the week. If you are bored (and who isn’t?) you can see it on their Hyde Park Concert from 2018 which is on HBO right now.

Sorry are from London. They are gonna be a big deal. Their new album 925 is on Domino Records. It is pretty tasty.

Kenny Rogers has passed away. Growing up I heard this music everywhere. The Gambler films were a big deal. It played all the time. He also had a string of hits that were catchy and less hoosier than some of the other crap that folks were listening to.

I will say that he was very distinguished looking as he aged and then he got a terrible face lift. Dude. Dude.

I often played Ruby late at night during my live DJ sets when all the kids were drunk. Let’s not talk about Six Pack.

But seriously he had string of hits that few artists in any genre can get. I don’t think people today realize that he was a seriously big deal. He crossed over from music to films and books at a time when it was not done often.

So the plan for today so far is to mop the floors, declutter do some technical writing. Plus some TV stuff to clear out the DVR maybe. I probably will hold off on the leftover Indian in favor or a pork chop and ramen noodles. I drank an Emergency C already so I may have tea later. I also have some oranges and grapes. The day includes no plans for drinking a funky cold medina.

The Reboot

I set this up ages ago but somehow was too busy, too nervous or just too concerned my ADHD brain would make this scattershot.

So, despite all of that I am here in the trenches writing stuff. It will be a good exercise for me, since I am someone who generally dislikes annoying people and is not the best person to be cooped up for long periods of time but also feels the need to vent every so often.

So, despite all of that, here I sit at a keyboard with the sun coming into the room and the great sounds of chirping birds to keep me company. After all, there is something nice about hearing them sing first thing in the morning.

I was reminded last night aboutt one of my juvenile pet peeves. It’s people who put their newspapers in plastic bags. I mean why? For decades people have put them folded under their arms and it has worked perfectly.

Now we have to have a plastic bag loose in the environment because someone wanted a handle. I wouldn’t even complain about it except it has been a thing since, I don’t know before WW2. This really bugs me. The next ting you know briefcases will be out of style.

If you think Humphrey Bogart would put his newspapers in a plastic bag than you are nuts. 

The girl upstairs is incredible irritating. Stop using the speaker on your phone. No one cares about hearing every stupid thing you are doing.  She is young and naive and doesn’t know who Prince is so there’s that too.

I am taking time to seriously declutter. I have more music than I can store. It is bloody everywhere. Some of it I don’t even remember having. So a massive purge is afoot. For now, I am not cleaning out the books or graphic novels.

But looking at a long pathway of indoor time, I decided to make lists of movies and TV I want to see and books, some long overdue for perusal, to read. 

Staying inside means I get to make lists. I kind of like making lists. Thus, I have made lists of stuff to see, read and hear. It’ll help me sort it out and not watch the infantile politicians on TV.

Interestingly enough, I have two Farley Granger movies on DVD, Strangers On A Train from 1951 and They Live By Night, a nifty film from 1949.

I am not even that big of a fan of his,  but I had both movies next to each other totally by happenstance. I noticed this while trying to sort out what to watch.

I am planning on watching Chinatown again soon. The plot kinds of falls apart but it is still excellent.  I also am planning watching some Godzilla movies and Ice Station Zebra again. Incidentally, Stan Ridgway name checked that movie in a 1992 song called I Wanna Be A Boss.Stan Ridgway is grossly underrated.

One of the things I am hoping to do in the coming days is clear out the guest room and really toss out some things I do not need.  The upside of this is that every day when I work on this I have decided to listen to an new artist so that there is a balance of work and play involved.

Top Chef is back on. I could be wrong but. bet Padma and Gail are terribly high maintenance and would probably get on my nerves. I love the show but wonder how folks can eat such tiny plates of food. Also, no one uses bacon.

I watched something called Aerial America yesterday. They profiled a state for each episode. I watched the ones on  Missouri, New Jersey and Wisconsin. I learned a lot and they gave a nice survey of each state and their history without glossing over any of the bad bits.

I am looking forward to getting out and taking  walks. I hate being around lots of people and there is something great in the solitude of walking, I am looking forward to not hearing a lot of extraneous noise made by bad drivers and ass clowns and hope to make new discoveries. For instance, I was on my back porch yesterday and noticed that the apartment building across the way has a cool little sculpture thing attached to its roof. It is no great shakes but it was nice to notice it.

A wise friend of mine told me to write two pages a day. So I am adding that to my list of stuff to do along with word searches, freelance projects, cleaning and walking. 

I would like to think that times like this bring out the best in people and build community. but I have little faith in people since most of my life I’ve hidden from people trying to kick my ass or worked form some terrible people professionally. 

I cleared out my wallet. I had a lot of crazy crap in my wallet.

Stuff I am listening to…..The labels are cutting back on sending me digital product so there’s way more digital stuff to check out which is kind of nice.  But generally, lots of classical music and some jazz. I like the new Moaning and Stephen Malkmus record a lot. I am trying to avoid sad things for the moment. 

Having said that, I totally blew it because I am reading a book about Joy Division. I got it at Tattered Cover in Denver awhile back. Jon Savage is a great author.


Ironically, the paperback for this will be available at Target. Target. Really.

Savage is a compelling writer and he brings the band’s dynamics as a unit into focus. He also manages to give readers a broader picture of what they were all about than other books had. I had read Deborah Curtis’ book Touching From A Distance before and really enjoyed that.

This would be a good time to mention that if you get any books during all of this do it for your local bookshop. They need the money. I am fortunate that St. Louis has some really incredible indie bookshops, all of which should be supported.

My hands are a mess because of all the washing. Been using Bag Balm on it. It reminded me of how rough my mom’s hand were late in life and how I often had to moisture them for her.

Ok, off to recycle stuff and take out trash and get going with the day.