And the rest, 2017 edition

From my last two posts whooping and hollering about the amazingness of some different lands that we visited, you might get the impression that I don’t appreciate the USA. That would be wrong. I love a place that has this merry-go-round sign for a Chinese restaurant

and this giant polar bear casino

and this crazy pastime

and this sign

and this fish ladder

and so much more that there’s no way I can include even just the best stuff from a four-state road trip in one post. I love you, USA. This isn’t a popularity contest. Chill out.

Ain’t it time we said goodbye?

Benny has a much better David Bowie story than I do, but this is my blog and not his so I’ll tell you my dumb David Bowie story now. It’s not really a story and it’s not even about David Bowie.

My high school freshman year best friends Mona and Laura and I had been trying to figure out how to get to Santa Cruz without asking our parents to drive us. It was a bit of a long haul from Sunnyvale to Santa Cruz, and there was no way our parents would just drive us there without expecting to hang out with us, and that was simply not acceptable to us freshman year of high school. Mona’s mom, maybe. She was a “cool mom” and generally let us alone when we got there, but she still wasn’t too enthusiastic about driving us all of the time. It might have been her who found the solution to our problem, come to think of it. Greyhound.

Yes, Greyhound had a bus that took us straight from Sunnyvale to Santa Cruz, and it was cheap. The first time we took it, we could not believe our luck. Why didn’t we do this all the time? What a deal. Freedom. Fun. The bus. Anyway, the first time we did it the ride was uneventful, but the second time one of us wound up sitting next to a bleach-blonde woman in her mid-thirties. This lady started talking to us about music, and then she said, “Oh hey? Do you know David Bowie?” This was 1984. Yes, we knew David Bowie. “I’m his ex-wife.” Angie Bowie.

We all said our “wow, how cool”s and then there really wasn’t anything further to say. She made some vague comments about how she could probably get us backstage at his next show, but the whole thing just seemed a little off. I think Mona got her phone number out of some sense of politeness, but we never called her, and I don’t remember us taking the Greyhound to Santa Cruz after that. I’m not sure if it was really Angie Bowie on the bus or if it even matters. Mona is dead now and Laura doesn’t talk to me any more, so I have this dumb memory just kind of clattering around in my head without anybody to share it with. Like I said, it’s not really a story but I wanted this memory to stop clattering around so I wrote it down here.

Anyway, here’s a song not written or performed by David Bowie and not about Angie Bowie as far as I’ve been able to tell, but I couldn’t get it out of my head last night when I found out David Bowie died. Please enjoy, preferably not on a bus with someone who’s going to make you feel uncomfortable.

Published in: on January 11, 2016 at 5:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Soft serve pastoral

Benny and I visited our friends Peter and Sally this weekend in the Valley. We don’t see them enough, and so I’m sure we overstayed our welcome (we actually invited ourselves over), but they were very gracious as they always are and insisted that we stay until the ice cream man came by.

The sun went down, we had eaten as many hot dogs and slices of grilling cheese as we could possibly cram into our stomachs, and still there was no ice cream man. “He comes at night,” Sally explained. Hm. “It’s soft serve!” Okay. We would have to see this ice cream man with his mysterious night-time soft serve.

Some time after 7 pm, we were playing dice games in the backyard when Peter and Sally’s heads shot up. “The ice cream man!” They sprinted toward the back gate that opened onto an alley. Benny and I heard nothing. No tinkling music, no slowly choogling motor, nothing.

Peter climbed halfway over the gate and started waving desperately. A van sped by. Peter waved more broadly as Sally shouted. “It’s okay, he’ll come around again.” Either the first time or the second time around (he was going really fast), the van driver finally stopped well past the gate and backed up to us. Peter managed to get the gate open. And that is where we saw this ice cream truck.

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There was something otherworldly about this truck, there was no denying it. The extensive menu including full dinner selections, the night-time silent speeding through alleyways – this was some secret and precious thing. Secret and precious even without a pastoral scene on the side panel of children swimming and playing

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and enjoying ice cream and Cheetos

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but of course this truck had that too. And yes, the soft serve was amazing.

Maybe this was all just a dream. If it was, thanks for the dream, Peter and Sally.

Princess Lolli

Ever since I read a couple of books on the history of candy bars in the United States, I’ve been trying to figure out a way to sell regional treats so that Angelenos can get a steady source for Valomilk and Charleston Chews and Goo Goo Clusters. I thought I might get a little vehicle and drive around or set up retrofitted vintage cigarette machines in local knick knack shops, but neither of those options seem commercially viable at the moment. I still really want to do it, though, especially since I found my perfect seller’s uniform:

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Look. Seriously.

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Maybe I could turn this into some sort of long-term performance art project. Anybody know a good grant writer?

Published in: on August 15, 2014 at 6:37 pm  Comments (2)  
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Rubelia ballet

You can always tell a proper castle by the inability of an amateur photographer to capture its magnificence. Albeit one made of bottles and bike parts and discarded telephone poles, Rubel Castle in Glendora is a proper castle.

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I didn’t get a proper photo of the windmill, the fake cemetery, the old caboose, the bottle house, or the Round Table, but here’s the drawbridge. The cannons on top were made by hollowing out some telephone poles. Michael Rubel and his friends shot oranges into the neighborhood sometimes.

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Let’s go inside and see more terrible photos that I took.

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I didn’t get any photos of the machine shop, the blacksmith shop, or the bird bath that was powered by a very loud 16-ton single piston oil pump, but here’s where the bee hives were kept.

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And here’s the clock tower. It was much more impressive in real life. The clock struck eleven when we were there and we got to see the weights whirl around and everything. I did take a photo of that but it came out all blurry.

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Finally, I didn’t get any shots of the dumbwaiter Dwight Eisenhower got stuck in, the table Sally Rand danced on for a ten-year-old boy’s birthday party, nor the room Prince Philip liked to hang out in. Here’s a motorcycle stuck in a wall.

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And I can’t remember what happened in here. This might have been the queen’s private quarters.

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I will never make a proper docent. Let’s just wrap up my lame tour of the incredible Rubel Castle, shall we? Someday maybe I will share with you my terrible photos of the fantastical Schloss Nymphenburg.

Etiquette & superstition: sandals

sandals
Mr. McCall was a teacher at my high school who wore flip-flops to work, much to the disgust of most of his students. “Shoes are coffins for the feet,” he’d say, “and my feet aren’t dead.” Eventually, of course, some wise-guy kid asked Mr. McCall why he wore a hat.

ETIQUETTE: Toes are an intimate body part. If you are someplace where it is considered inappropriate to show excessive cleavage, you shouldn’t be wearing sandals. Don’t wear sandals in an office. Don’t wear sandals to court. Don’t wear sandals when you’re competing in an international chess tournament.

As for some commonly-held sandal myths: yes, you actually can wear sandals in winter and sandals with socks, but only if you really know what you’re doing fashion-wise.

SUPERSTITION: You will have a romance by moonlight if you dream of wearing comfortable sandals. Burning a pair of sandals and inhaling the smoke will cure you of a headache. Putting on a new pair of sandals after 5 p.m. is unlucky, as is breaking the strap on a Japanese geta sandal.

Photo by genibee on Flickr

Virtual closet

Have you ever had a dream where you didn’t get to finish it but you feel like the dream was really important? I had that late last week. I’ve had dreams lots of times before where I liked the dream and wanted to stay in it, but this was the first time I had a dream that was very important to complete and I didn’t get to complete it, and I haven’t been able to get back to that dream all week. I was sorting a lot of old photos and mementos, and actually throwing stuff out. It felt good, throwing the stuff out. There was a lot of stuff I didn’t need. But there was so much more stuff to go through. And then I woke up.

I guess I should be happy that I got through some of the stuff, at least. But you know how when you’re cleaning your closet or the garage or the basement, and you have to make even a bigger mess before you can clean it up? Right now I feel like I made the bigger mess and then the door to the room was cemented shut and the whole room was sent to the middle of the earth. I can’t get back to that dream, and I’ve been trying so hard.

Oh, but hey. Here’s a cartoon that reminds me of my childhood in Silicon Valley, back before it was called Silicon Valley. That was a long time ago.

Cartoon via Gizmodo (via Neatorama)

Words of the day for Tuesday, October 22nd

I think I’m going to have to do more reading on Portuguese idioms, because the first one I’ve encountered is fantastic.

Viajou na maionese means to live in a dream world, but its literal translation is “to travel in mayonnaise.” I know for several people (including our current president) this sounds like a horrible nightmare, but as I am part seal pup, it sounds lovely to me.

Published in: on October 22, 2013 at 4:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
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William Pene du Bois, take us away

The weather today is beautiful, but I have to say that something about the day itself is rather strange and sinister. On my way to work, as I drove down Beverly Blvd. I noticed about two blocks-worth of gutter filled with bras and panties and high heels. On my way to lunch, I encountered two bags of groceries in the crosswalk. A sack of oranges, a packet of sliced beef, and a bag of maybe sausages (but maybe turds) getting run over by cars as they drove by.

On his way to lunch, Benny walked by a dead dog in a box with a sign over it that said, “Do you recognize this dead dog?” Then he drove by a probably dead guy at the moment that the cops and ambulance were driving up to investigate. Then he got stuck behind a funeral procession.

I’m not sure what is happening here today. It sure would be nice if a bunch of balloons could just come and take us to Krakatoa.

Matriarch of the family of spies

My uncle Kurt is really named Steve. My uncle Eric is really named Tom (I think; I don’t even know for sure any more, to tell you the truth). I don’t use the name I grew up with either. It’s like my family is a bunch of spies.

I don’t usually think about this too much, but it did strike me again as I was looking on the internet for some information about my granna Jane. I couldn’t find any information about her at first, which isn’t that unusual because I don’t think there are that many 92-year-olds with a huge internet presence, but then I followed a link from a link from a link and finally remembered… my granna Jane is really named Clarinda.

Clarinda Jane died last night. Like all good female spies, she was exotic, beautiful and charming. She once told me that when she died, she wanted her body to be left out in the desert for the coyotes to eat. I don’t think we’re going to be able to do that, but I did get a bottle of wine today with a label written in secret code, so perhaps we’ll drink that in her honor tonight.

Published in: on August 9, 2011 at 11:36 am  Leave a Comment  
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