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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Greetings for a stranger

Hi folks, I'm still alive. I know I've said it before, but it seems as though I never make it to a computer long enough to write a blog post (except when I'm at work, and I'm not allowed to blog at work--for obvious reasons).

So what's new with me you ask? I've been reading quite a bit lately, for one thing. While on vacation, I picked up an old book called Going All the Way by Dan Wakefield. It's a coming-of-age story (bildungsroman, if you will) that takes place in 1950s Indianapolis. The book has been a pleasant surprise and well worth the $3.50 I spent on it at the used book shop in Munising, Michigan.

The used book shop in Munising is this place:

Falling Rock Cafe, Munising

Great food, good coffee, and used (and some new) books. It replaces the dearly departed 84 Charing Cross, which was the previous book shop in Munising that closed back in about 1999 or 2000. So if you are passing through the upper peninsula, or plan on going on the Pictured Rocks tour, but also are a book worm, make a point to stop in Falling Rock Cafe.

I shouldn't be too surprised that I like the Wakefield book, because I also liked another book he wrote called New York in the Fifties, which was a memoir about (drum roll please)....New York in the fifties. I wouldn't say that Wakefield is a beautiful stylist like, say, John Updike, but he does have a dry wit and tells a good story.

In other news, October 2 is the release date for The Tragically Hip's new album, Now For Plan A. As I may have mentioned before, I love this band. They have been together since 1983 and have been recording since 1987, but sadly I didn't discover their music until 2006--and it was practically love at first listen. The Hip have been a Canadian institution for decades, but have a mere cult following in the States and everywhere else in the world. This is probably due to their lyrics being, for the most part, specific to Canada and lost in translation everywhere else. That's not to say that ALL of their lyrics are "Canadian" (lyricist Gord Downie tackles plenty of other subjects too, but he's probably best when he touches on elements of the Canadian experience). Gord also has a very impressionistic and stream-of-consciousness bent, and that probably limits the band's accessibility. Oh, and Gord's singing is idiosyncratic and definitely an acquired taste. So I guess that probably explains why the band has never broken big in the States.

I have been writing most of the morning: here and on my MSU sports blog, so I need to wrap it up and get on with life. More later...

Monday, September 3, 2012

(I started this blog post on August 21, did not finish it before I went on vacation, came back to it after vacation, and just ran out of steam. Here it is, warts and all--and it has plenty of warts):

I'm off for a five-day camping vacation in the Upper Peninsula, and will be on the road starting tomorrow morning. I've wanted to post in here for a while, so here goes. Better to do it now before I'm off the grid for almost a week.

I'm just going to let it fly and not worry too much about grammar, spelling, linear thought, paragraph construction, or the like. Just write like I did back when I was 21 and lamely and unsuccessfully ripping off Jack Kerouac. (Doesn't almost every American male go through a Kerouac phase? And if you don't go through a Kerouac phase, you go through a Jim Morrison phase at about the same time or maybe younger. In any case, it was a  rite of passage for every sensitive, English-major-ish guy back in the '80s, probably not so much anymore).

Anyway, we're trying to get stuff ready for the trip and I'm sure my wife, L., is doing a much better job than I am.  She's a hell of a lot better at the organizational stuff me--he said as he farted around posting in his blog. (I refer to her as L. because I can't remember if I have used her full name in here before and if I have not, I want her to be able to have at least some anonymity and plausible denial).

Well, I had all these wonderful topics I was gonna write about, but I seem to have forgotten all of them.  Let me see if I can jar my memory. Okay, I thought of one...

Everyday at work, I try and take at least two walks through downtown Lansing. Since my job requires me to sit for eight hours and stare at a computer screen, I have to get up and walk vigorously for both physical and mental exercise. The best aspect of walking through the city is that I ALWAYS see something interesting--either a demonstration or event at the State Capitol, an interesting or odd person, or even something as mundane as a cool car parked on the street. In this case, it was an interesting and odd person. Here's the story:

So I'm walking up South Washington and about half-a-block in front of me I see a young woman, maybe 20 years old, roller-blading towards me. Now ordinarily, someone on roller blades would be wearing athletic gear or at least shorts, but not this young woman. She is wearing a long, denim skirt that is only about an inch above her ankles, if that. Her hair appears to be tied back and she is wearing some sort of white shirt/blouse type thing. I couldn't tell if she was a Deadhead hippie girl, or Amish, or Mennonite. Anyway, as she is blading across the intersection of Washington and Washtenaw, she trips and very nearly falls in the street, but catches her balance at the last second and averts disaster. She is so close to getting a faceful of black asphalt, that I prepare myself to dial 911 on my cell phone just in case of a major accident.  I continue on my walk, which is a circuit from Washington, to Michigan Ave., to Capitol Avenue and back to work.  While I am walking on Capitol, I cross paths with the hippie/Amish girl again, wobbling along on her roller blades. I have no idea where she is going. Does she actually have a destination in mind? or is she just rollerblading in a circle? I have no idea where I'm going with this story, but it's just an example of the unusual sighting I have on my daily walks.