Kitchen Sink Drama

So I have been meaning to update this sooner but things have been crazy. I have been been putting in more hours at the university bookstore job and it has been weird since the kids are now back and even though we are only letting 10 in at a time they don’t always pay attention to the rules of social distancing. They are wearing masks though which is a plus. We still don’t have plexiglass at the registers. I am all over corporate about it but I think they are oblivious. My coworkers are trying to be socially distant and most of the kids are as well, but there are still a few knuckleheads out there.

I also have been knee deep in radio stuff. Juxtaposition turned 25 and I had planned a 5 hour show only to have management put the kibosh on that a little more than 48 hours ahead time even though they had two plus weeks notice. Anyway, it is fine, I am just spreading some of the live sessions out over a few weeks instead. Still, I had gone through a lot of archival sessions and interviews and planned a lot which ate up time and delayed getting back to this. However, the point of all of this is that I had a ton of time invested in that which detracted from updating the blog.

This brings us to now. Pretty exciting.

Let’s talk about appliances!

So early, early last Saturday morning I noticed the kitchen sink was filling up with water. It smelled like sulphur and the water was gross. I put on gloves to see if there was a clog in the garbage disposal. There wasn’t so I ran the disposal to see if that helped. It only made more water come up. After cleaning out a few buckets of water and drying up everything I put the stopper over the drain, cleaned up and went to bed. In the morning the water was back, rising past the stopper. It got a bit worse as the morning went on so I had to get more buckets of water out of the sink. it was gross!

I needed up calling maintenance and after a bit of back of forth about getting a person to fix things it was discovered that the cause of all of this was the girl on the second floor dumped more than half a bag of rice in her kitchen sink which clogged everything up. I was hoping that it was not a broken pipe. that would have been a mess. I also was quite happy that no one had to come into the apartment.

This brings me to the point that getting any kind of maintenance help right now is a messy drama. It adds a ton of intense stress as well. Especially, since a lot of people involved in that particular line of work don’t believe in social distancing or necessarily masks.

So, if all of that was not enough the washing machine decided it didn’t want to be polite and operate properly. It stopped working. Luckily, I was able to hang dry a lot of cloths until a guy came to fix that last Monday. In this case the service was prompt and pleasant.

With COVID everyone in learning about new gizmos and gadgets. For me, the month has been filled with learning about MERV filers and circulating fans, this month it is other stuff like ventilation and dry hydrogen.

I picked up a 59s UV-C LED Sterilizer box. it is great for sterling things like pens, my phone, keys, he charging chord, masks, credit cards and everything else that can fit inside of it. It takes about three minutes to use and runs silent.

It has a very abrupt Asian voice that says “sterilizing’ when you start and “sterilizing over” when it is done. In fact, everything about the product is direct and to the point. So far it has been a nice thing to have around in that I don’t need to wash every little thing when I get home.

In other appliance news Deep Thought has arrived. That is the name given to the new air purifier that is lovingly cleaning the air around me (I hope). It reminded me of the TV version of the character from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, hence the name.

Since I get allergies and want to improve air circulation I thought this could be handy with keeping any of this stuff and any other nasty stuff from blowing around the apartment.

While it does not speak it does know how to circulate in a room. I hope it does not go HAL 9000 on me.

I have spent a lot of time during the pandemic watching movies. Some are ones I have not seen in awhile, some are new and some are ones I just wanted to take a chance on.

One film I saw was It All Came True, a Humphrey Bogart flick from 1940. When I broke my foot in 2010 I was laid up for several weeks at home. During that time I made an effort to see as many of Bogie’s films as I could. To date, I have seen nearly all of them including this one which I rewatched since it is not shown very often.

Although it is not one of his best. It is not terrible either. He plays a gangster named Chips Maguire who is hunkered down in a boarding house after killing an unsavory character named Monks.

Ann Sheridan co-stars as Sarah Jane, a showgirl resident of the house who just happens to recognize Chips but keeps his true identity secret.

Despite a dubious reputation, Chips is basically a nice guy underneath it all. Monks was a real jerk and had it coming, so in the film world, he had it coming.

In the meantime, the affable boarding house owners, Nora Taylor and Maggie Ryan are about to lose everything because of their back tax debts. Down on their luck, Nora and Maggie get a break when Chips decides they could solve their cash problems by turning their stodgy boarding house into a fancy NYC nightclub. As a bonus Sarah Jane could sing there and be discovered.

Like many pictures of that time there is lots of double dealing, frame ups, wisecracking and backstabbing. It also has some pretty schmaltzy stuff in it as well. However, It All Came True is interesting to watch because we see Bogart in a raw phase of his career, eager to break out of gangster roles and develop more rounded characters. As the story unfolds Bogart tries his darnedest to make Chips more than a thug as he smoothes out the edges to make a more developed character for audiences.

There also was a slew of George Raft movies on TCM this month. Background to Danger is a 1943 spy thriller with Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet. Raoul Walsh directed it and some of the script was edited and tightened up by William Faulkner.

The film is set in Turkey and revolves dastardly plot by a group of Nazis (led by Greenstreet) who are trying to turn the neutral country into an Axis power. Raft is an American who is sucked into the action by Russian agents who are fighting to keep Turkey neutral.

It is an entertaining little wartime film with Raft again filling in as a Bogart light character in his performance. However, as in all of his movies, he talks tough, is no nonsense and gets right down to it. The supporting cast is terrific and Greenstreet is gleefully diabolical as a Nazi.

Manpower is another Raft movie, this one with Edward G Robinson from 1941. In it both men play power line workers who become entangled with Marlene Dietrich. The biggest takeaway from it is that being a power line worker is not a fun job. Walsh also directed him in this one which is notorious because Robinson and Raft got in a fight on set which made filming problematic. Also, Raft turned down The Maltese Falcon to make this film.

Raft, who didn’t always make the best life choices, was also famous for hanging out with gangsters and turning down a number of now infamous parts in High Sierra, All Though The Night and allegedly, Casablanca. Sadly, the Scarface star also had a reputation for not being all that warm and fuzzy. Offstage he was often difficult for studios, directors and castmates to work with and his taste in friends put him on the outs in Hollywood.

In Escape Route (titled I’ll Get You in the USA) he is wrapped up in Cold War espionage in London after Russian conduct Western scientists. It it not a particularly thrilling picture nor is it exceptional.

However it is interesting to see that Raft has done zero to hone his craft and improve his technique. he basically is playing the same character he played decades earlier.

Do not watch Brazil in dystopian times. It will frighten you! I watched the Criterion edition a few weeks ago and while I did enjoy seeing the film again it was kind of disturbing in the context of present times.

I have been listening to Grandaddy a bit these days. I never stopped liking them but somehow I just lost touch with them. Although, I have heard the Jason Lytle solo records.

Although it is 20 years old, The Software Slump is still wonderfully majestic. I love how it mixes melancholy and melody perfectly. It does;t bother me that some of the songs are long because they have a real pulse to them and are constructed with narrative in mind. I am not sure how they did it but the band evoked a real mood in their music, warm and sad at once,. it is fascinating.

Smell The Magic, the first album from L7, has been reissued by Sub Pop Records. It is a loud and angry record that still sound fresh today. When I saw them at Lollapalooza 1992 I was backstage waiting to interview a band when they were walking by. They had already played and I mentioned I enjoyed their set. They clearly had been partying. this became obvious when while I was talking to a label rep, Demetra Plakas bit me in the neck. it was hilarious but also weird.

Anyway, I am glad their debut is been remastered. I think it got lost in the shuffle after their success on commercial alternative radio. It really is a solid debut and I hope more people discover them now.

Labor Day was pretty uneventful. The biggest thing was I had to run a few errands and noticed all of the little monsters from Washington University are back. None of them are social distancing. they are in gaggles going on blissfully unaware of the world around them. It is pretty annoying!

I also went to the Missouri Botanical Garden. It was peaceful and serene. The English garden there is terrific and they had a lot of new flowers blooming which was nice. I am glad I went, it was good to get some air.

Today I am hoping to get some chill time in with a book before heading off to work.

Because I fear I am babbling on endlessly, I am gonna call it a post. My next post will probably have some more book stuff and movie things in it. I have been seeing a ton of movies lately.

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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.

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.

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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.