Archive for June, 1996

music… mostly

22 June 1996 at 3:33 pm
by Jonah

Well, it’s a Saturday afternoon. I finally got up around noon. Alice left
for parts unknown shortly after that. The Wallaces are gone for the weekend,
so it’s just me, the cats, and the computer.

And George Winston. I found a couple of hi CDs in the Wallaces’ collection.
I’ve heard bits and pieces of his stuff now and then but never seriously
listened to any of it. Paul, after hearing me play, asked if I listened
to/was influenced by George Winston. I suppose what I play is closer in
genre to him than anyone else I know of, but to say I play like George
Winston would be quite arrogant indeed. I listened to _Autumn_ and am now on
_December_. I think the director used some of the stuff off of this one in
our production of _The Best Christmas Pageant Ever_. That was fun doing that
play. I loved watching the teachers who accompanied the kids who came to see
it cry afterward.

Some of this stuff is simple. I got out of bed this morning and sat down and
played the intro to _Autumn_. Or close to it. I’ll have to sit down the the
CD player and the keyboard and see if I can work it out. I gave up on “If
These Walls Could Speak”. I think the batteries in my walkman are a little
weak, because the song sounds like it’s flat. I can’t play along with the
tape (since it sounds really aweful), and trying to transpose it isn’t
working. Plus when someone’s singing, it’s hard to hear all the notes.

Dick wrote me saying he plays along with the tape I made him sometimes. Till
he falls asleep and the guitar falls out of his hands.

I’ve also listened to Paul Simon _Negotiations and Love Songs 1971-1986_.
It’s got “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” on it. That’s the only one
I’d heard before other than “You Can Call Me Al”. I saw the video to that
back in the eighties sometime and thought it was hilarious. That was my
first exposure to Paul Simon except for maybe a thing on TV where he and
another guy were singing into a microphone and my parents said, “Look, that’s
Simon and Garfunkel (Garfunkle?).”

Now George Winston is playing his version of Pachelbel’s Kanon. I learned
the first part of the the top part of it a while back. Steph learned the
bottom, and we’d play together till one of us messed up and didn’t know

I played all the “experts” at checkers and beat them all. So then I switched
to Gin and got beat soundly. Tried Poker and lost every cent… twice. I’m
too reckless. I guess I don’t bluff well. Maybe I should try playing more
unpredictably. Although the computer probably wouldn’t care. I ought to do
some reading.

Hmm.. he must have done a couple of tracks to this part. I don’t think one
person could handle it. Some heavy metal guitar players just record layer on
layer of guitar riffs and stick it all together. So it sounds like they’re
tearing up their ax when all it’s really is just a bunch of tracks all at the
same time.

Oh, now this has a neat bass hand part. I’ll have to see if I can get it

I wonder what George Winston’s concerts are like. Probably all different. I
bet he improvises a bunch.

He doesn’t change chords much. I change chords all the time. Guess I get
too bored with one.

I’ve decided I don’t really like heavy metal. I like King’s X, but they’re
atypical. Too distinctive a sound.

Maybe I’ll go back to bed. I should exercise, but my motivation level is at
about zip. Joanne Wallace started training for a marathon one year never
having ran a mile before. She trained and ran the marathon the next year.
Doug said he’d drop her off and she’d run 10 or 15 miles. Then he’d come
back and pick her up. I can’t really imagine that. I hate running. I mean,
for short distances it’s great, or while playing sports. But just running
for the sake of making one’s lungs and knees as uncomfortable as possible….
Walking is good though. I can handle that. Hiking works. Or biking. As
long as it’s not all uphill.

Well, the CD is over. I love the way he ends without resolving the piece.

Insecure sunglasses

22 June 1996 at 12:41 am
by Jonah

“Be sure to check your oil.”

My dad was giving me some final words of advice before I left on my trek
north. My sister’s boyfriend had told me to do the same thing. I assured
them I would.

That was more than three weeks back. I remembered to check it (when the
engine was cool) a few days ago. It didn’t quite come up to the “ADD” line.

So it was off to Kmart to get a couple of quarts at my dad’s suggestion.
“Get some high quality stuff,” he told me on the phone. So I selected two
yellow containers that bore a name I recognized from ads between sporting
events and were more expensive than the other kinds there on the shelf. When
I got home, I dumped them one at a time into a promising hole inside one of
the engine components. Tossing the empty containers into the trash, I
thought, well, that’s that.

This morning, my engine wouldn’t start. The starter just made an obscene
clicking noise whenever I turned the key. “Okay, God, what are you trying to
tell me,” I asked as I returned into the house. Calling my employer to tell
him I’d be late, I looked in vain for some keys to the other two cars in the
circular driveway. The other occupants of this house had left on their
motorcycles already. I guess they’d taken their keys with them, because I
couldn’t find any with which to try to jump my car off of their’s. So for
the second time in less than two weeks, I called AAA. I think I even talked
to the same operator on the other end of the line. Veronica, her name was.
She was nice, even if she wasn’t the same one. All but called me “hon” as
she promised a tow would be on the way.

I sat out on the front porch and read the paper while waiting for the truck
to arrive, which it did as soon as I ducked inside to use the bathroom.
Outside, a young man in drooping black jeans, a teal t-shirt, and blond Van
Dyke was untangling a pair of jumper cables. He didn’t respond when I
greeted him, just silently hooked the clamps up to my battery and then softly
told me to start it up. The engine simply clicked all the more obscenely.
The insecure tow truck operator frowned at the battery and adjusted the
clamps, fooled with the wires, poked around. I stared and frowned at the
engine too, not because I thought I might find something wrong but because
there really wasn’t anything else to look at without looking foolish.
Something caught my eye, however. A gaping hole, the same hole I’d dumped
two quarts of oil into, Doh! the same hole I’d forgotten to put the top back
onto! Fortunately for me, the lid was attached to the car. I screwed it
back on and then proceeded to rediculously check my oil as Mr. Insecurity
fooled with more wires. I was way above the “SAFE” line.

After several more unsuccessful tries, Insecurity gave up. “Um, it may be
the starter,” he suggested meekly. I asked him if he could take it to
Llyellyns, the same place that fixed my tire last week. He assented. Then
he pushed my car out into the street so he could back up to hook it up to his
rig. The “damage free” truck lowered a system of bars that opened, wrapped
around my front tires, and locked into place like some spaceship satellite
retrieval device. I hopped into the front seat with him, and we barreled off
down the road.

“There it is,” I pointed, as we zipped past Llyellyns after riding in silence
for several minutes. Insecurity slowly breaked, turned around at the next
median crossing, and headed back to the garage. We got out and went up to a
couple of guys intently discussing something in front of a car with an open
hood. My tow truck driver didn’t seem bold enough to break into the
conversation, so when one of the fellows, a guy with RayBan (ray-band?) like
sunglasses turned around and came close to acknowledging our existence, I
blurted out, “I think we’ve got a problem with the starter.”

Insecurity moved the car into an empty spot and unhooked it. Then he
gallantly, if meekly, waited till RayBan made his way over to have a look.
They curtly discussed the nature of batteries and starters while RayBan
hooked the battery up to a handheld measuring device of some sort and
declared, “This battery is dead!”

I thought Insecurity would get me to sign something or other, but he just
eventually hopped into his truck and drove off. I waved thank you and smiled
gratefully. His dimples appeared from beyond the Van Dyke as he waved shyly
back. RayBan returned from the garage with a new battery, which, when hooked
up to my car, started it right up. “I think we can charge your battery back
up,” RayBan gave his prognosis, “We’ll clean the corrosion off of the heads
too. That’ll drain a battery.” I waited in the office and read (I’d brought
a book this time instead of having to flip through auto magazines). Finally,
RayBan reappeared behind the counter, “All done! That’ll be fifteen bucks.”
He explained to me as I handed him my credit card that I might just have to
get a new battery if the charge didn’t hold. “The heat is real bad on ’em.”

In other news, my employer informed me today that I am working for the
company as a “subcontractor” since otherwise this nonprofit organization
would have to pay taxes. “So now you’ll get paid!”

I haven’t really had any expenses. My lodging is provided for, people keep
feeding me. But now I’ll have money for the next time my car decides to
break down. Or if I need more oil.

“You silly, twisted boy”

20 June 1996 at 5:55 pm
by Jonah

Do I have a great job or what?

I get to play with scissors, stickers, and glue. I get to practice my alphabetical skills. I get to wear jeans to work (yes!). I have a great office chair. I get to listen to… The Goon Show.

Every so often as I’m typing up library of congress labels and pasting them onto book spines, my employer walks in and says, “I think it’s time for a Goon Show. What do you think? Is it that time of day?” Then he’ll select a reel of tape from off a shelf and ask something like, “How about ‘Climbing Mt. Everest from the Inside’?” before walking into the studio and cuing it up on one of the reel to reel players. Then the room is filled with an announcer with a crisp British accent announcing, “This is the BBC.”

That’s as sane as it gets. From there, Peter Sellers and his cohorts delve into madness as Neddy Seagoon, Eckles, Bluebottle, Major Denis Bloodlock, Count Mariotti, and others in this radio comedy from the 50’s.

Today, the spirit of adventure spoke to Neddy. He decided to climb Mt. Everest, but seeing as that had already been done, went on to attempt it from the inside. The “story” is punctuated by musical interludes from a cheesy combo.

“Is it any wonder,” Ken mused the other day, “that John Cleese and the rest of the guys in Monty Python ended up as warped as they did after growing up listening to this sort of thing?”

“When you’re done listening to all the Goon Shows,” Ken told me, “You can hear ‘My Word’.” Ken used to work for NPR and taped all these shows on old tape they were throwing out.

My first day on the job, Ken took me into a room full of books. “This is the Great Task,” he said, “All these books need to be labeled.”

Well, today I completed the Great Task. I went into Ken’s area and told him. “Congratulations!” he said, “But I didn’t tell you. There’s a secret cache. See this bookcase right here? All these need not only to be labeled but inserted into the catalog as well. But for now, you need a break. Why don’t you go watch MST3K?”
So I spent the rest of my time watching _War Against the Colossal Man_ on Mystery Science Theater 3000 in the studio. I’m afraid I camehome, sat down in front of an ESPN special on past Olympics, and started shooting off snide comments. I apologized to my hosts as soon as I realized what I was doing.

In other news, I was relaxing on my way home from work tonight, listening to White Zombie at full blast, when I saw a faint green light approach my car. It was a lightning bug. Then it went SPLAT against my windshield. And suddenly there as another smear on my window, just like all the other bugs that were as unfortunate to get in my car’s way. Except this smudge was glowing. It’s one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. I mean, I’m the type that will go out and try to catch fireflies, but I just stuck them in jars, never smushed them to see what was inside. And here there was a squashed bug, lighting up my windshield, glowing softly into the glass. It was just… cool.

Ringing in my ears

18 June 1996 at 11:08 pm
by Jonah

I answered the phone today.

Normally I don’t. At the Myers’, Ken or his wife Kate are there to pick it
up. Out in the studio, Ken always gets it or I let the answering machine
take a message. It’s more efficient than me jotting something down. At the
office in Charlottesville, Jenna, Jeff, Bart, Florence, or Ken will shout, “I
got it.” At the Wallaces, Doug, Joanne, or Alice answer the phone or else I
let it ring and allow voice mail take care of the messaging.

But today Ken went to C’ville by himself, leaving me with a room full of
books to label. He had to leave really early and run around to several
appointments, so it made more sense for me to stay behind. Turned out it was
a good thing I did.

I was sitting at the electric typewriter, pecking out a Library of Congress
number when the phone rang. I stopped to listen if someone would leave an
audible message on the machine. But the phone kept ringing. I decided it
was the home line, since it wasn’t letting up. Ken had promised to call when
he got a chance, and Kate and the kids were gone, so I went into the studio
and picked up the phone with the flashing red light. “Hello?”

“Hello?” It was Ken. “I guess Kate is gone since you answered?” he

“Yeah, they went to the library.”

“Ah, well, how are you?”

“Fine.” One thing about Ken is if he’s ever talked to you before, he’ll ask
you how you are the next time he talks to you. Every morning when I walk
into the office, he asks me how I am. I’ve given up on answering with
anything other than the usual.

“How is everything?” he went on, “Any fires, earthquakes, catastophes of that

“No, nothing major,” I answered.

“How are you?” he asked again.

“Doing well,” I tried another answer. He went on to give some details about
his schedule for the rest of the day, which I promised to pass on to Kate.
I’d hung up and walked back into my area when the phone rang again before I
could sit down. He’s forgotten something, I thought as I returned into the
studio and picked the phone back up. “Hello?”

It was Kate. “Do you know where Flat Rock is?” she asked.

“No idea.” She gave me detailed directions even though it was just down the
road right past the first traffic light. The family car had picked that
resting spot to die. I was there within five minutes. All the junk that has
accumulated in my car in the past couple weeks found its way to the trunk as
Kate and the two kids piled in.

“It’s a good thing you answered my call,” Kate smiled. “I was going to let
it ring and ring till -somebody- figured out which phone it was and picked it

In other news, working backward, I got to “C” in the room full of books
organized by author last names. Jonathan was sick with a fever, so I’m glad
they didn’t have to walk back in the hot sun after the car died.


17 June 1996 at 10:01 pm
by Jonah

Stalin died in agony. I feel pretty bad about that, but there really wasn’t
anything I could have done, so at least I don’t have “Oh, man, if only I
had…” on my mind.

Ken is going to C’ville by himself tomorrow, so I’ll get the office to
myself. Woohoo.

It was weird because as I was driving to work this morning, something ran out
in front of the semi ahead of me. It was bigger than a mouse but smaller
than a squirrel. A ground squirrel maybe? At first I though, maybe it’s
just a leaf, but then the tires spit out a flattened bit of bloody flesh.
“CRAP!” I exclaimed. Seeing roadkill on the side of the road is one thing.
Watching it happen in front of you is something else.

So I got to watch two rodents die today. Stalin was in so much pain. I
thought about wanging his head on the pavement to put him out of his misery.
But I couldn’t while he still had a chance. “Freak,” I kept repeating to
myself quietly. He actually died a lot sooner than I thought he would. I
guess that’s good.