Monday, July 31, 2006

liveblogging the wait for my now-tardy monday afternoon guitar student to show up

The good thing about these summer months is that it is easy for parents to forget about things like guitar lessons. The company I teach for will still charge them, as the contract clearly covers these things, and I will get paid while being able to hold that week’s lesson over to the next.

Cha-ching, as it were, but on a very small scale.

I’m down to two students now, and each is an absolute beginner. There is a girl who practices religiously and wants me to teach her all manner of songs from these endless teen acts spawned by the Disney channel. I don’t mind it so much since she’s evidently enthusiastic about the instrument and has already started writing songs with the seven chords she’s been shown thus far.

She's only eight, by the way. I had a guitar at the age of eight but did not attempt to learn how to play it until much later. By then the neck had warped from years of using it as a bow to launch homemade arrows.


Damn. They’re here within the grace period. I’ll be back shortly.

(You can either choose to simply imagine a lapse of a half an hour or so or go somewhere else on the Internet and come back in that same allotted time. Actually, you should better make it more like forty minutes, as Carl Weathers demands to be fed and let outside immediately following a guitar lesson.)

Yes. Anyway, that was the other student, a ten year old boy with a healthy curiosity in musical instruments but a noticeable lack of enthusiasm when it comes to learning how to play them. For example: Today we went over the minor pentatonic scale in G. He can navigate it reasonably well and I told him as much in more youth-centric terminology.

I believe your exact words were: “Yo, you gots the mad minor pentatonic on the G-tip manipulatin’ skillz, Beeee-otch!”

No, they weren’t. Besides, I think my teaching methods fall under the same rules as attorney-client privilege or something and are therefore a private matter. Anyway, that’s not the point.

Once he had finished the scale I asked him to attempt it backwards. It is an extremely easy scale and he picked it up in no time at all. It was a reasonable request on my part.

“No”, he said. “That sounds hard”.

I then slowly showed him how easy it was, but he only shook his head and told me that it also looked hard.

Things didn’t start off well with this one either. I always like to talk to the kids about the music they listen to at first, and this particular student only had one influence to list: Tim McGraw.

My face twitched at this and I began to involuntarily mumble something. The kid then told me that I had used some bad words and asked me what “arch nemesis” meant.
“That comes later”, I told him.

Look, I suppose expecting a kid in fourth grade to show up here with an Elvis Costello album tucked under his arm is about as realistic as him also showing up with a box of cigars and a nice bottle of pinot noir for me to enjoy while I teach it to him. It won’t happen, and the best I can hope for is a kid who would rather learn Hendrix than (insert name of the Korn guitarist here; I’m not going to bother looking it up).

Those kids at least have a reasonable shot of one day appreciating Django Reinhardt.

Hell, maybe the Korn kids would even like some Django. Perhaps I underestimate them.

Still, I don’t see that sort of desire occuring in anyone who confines themselves to the McGraw body of work. Were I to make that leap occur, I would sort of be like that lady who taught Helen Keller how to do those things she did to get famous so that people would tell jokes about her, but in a good way. My story would be the stuff of after school specials or maybe even a Hallmark movie.

Nevermind. I seem to recall that Hallmark movies are just the place for Tim McGraw songs.

At any rate, I like the kid because he spends most of his time pointing to the various other instruments around the room and asking interesting questions about each. This allows me to play the upright bass or mandolin a bit and answer questions, therefore imparting some knowledge within the lesson time and relieving myself of any guilt that may arise if I am ever implanted with a conscience.

Still, methinks that some kids would be better served with lessons on how to use one’s guitar as a makeshift bow. This would allow the instrument to serve a purpose until ths student inspired by the need to impress high school girls or whatever it is that drives them to want to more properly manipulate the guitar.
I would call it “Guitarchery”.

Friday, July 28, 2006

you know what, stuart, i like you. you're not like the other people, here, in the trailer park.

Actually, the preferred nomenclature would be "mobile" or "manufactured" home. I was told this over and over again by a woman I worked alongside in the file room of a large manufactured housing company just outside of Knoxville. She lived in a trailer park.
I was there at the company headquarters through a temp agency for six months, though my actual work ran out before my first two months had finished. This happens quite a bit when temping with a large corporation. The woman in charge of the file room thought that having a temp made them look busy and therefore wanted to keep as many temps employed for as long as possible. This was unspoken, of course, though it was obvious to all involved.
So it was that I spent four months reading books in various self-made hiding places throughout a warehouse that resembled the one at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. I even got so bored that I rummaged through the discarded office furniture corner of the warehouse for chairs and unfashionable paintings and other assorted decorations to adorn these makeshift hiding places that sat behind seemingly endless stacks of boxes containing old "manufactured home" contracts with a Polaroid of a different crumbling trailer stapled to each.
The assistant vice president--who we will hereafter refer to as "Stuart"--would sometimes have me rummage through these boxes to look for a specific contract and Polaroid. He would sincerely apologize for taking me from my reading, as he himself began in that very same useless position before casually working his way up the corporate ladder out of boredom more than anything, and would then weave tales of delinquent trailer mortgages or various customer service oddities as we shifted and sifted through boxes. We once even had to find the paperwork for a woman suing the company for selling her a used trailer that she later discovered to be haunted.
But the times that really stuck with me were those occasions when we had to find contracts for trailers that had recently been scattered in the wake of a tornado. Stuart or one of his underlings would show up with a stack of obliterated trailers and documentation of the damage to staple to the old contracts and Polaroids. I remember him once holding up a photo of nothing more than a couple of scraps of aluminum wrapped around a tree and saying, "That's why you never want to live in a trailer".
I didn't much fancy the idea before that actually. However, the more I looked at them the more I began to have an appreciation for the artistic form of the trailer and its various adornments ranging from year-round Christmas lights and plastic flamingos to vivid paint schemes and designs in the (presumably) Mexican style of its owner. Still, it never struck me as a suitable domicile. I couldn't even try and sell one in good conscience or with a straight face.
Many can. I occasionally had to emerge from the warehouse into a sea of cubicles abuzz with the angrily raised voices of a thousand mortgage brokers attempting to impart the fear of God into a thousand previously proud manufactured home owners. Subtlety was not a virtue in this line of work, and I at first thought that the operators were each yelling at their own children at the other end of the line. It was sometimes brutal and unsuitable to be printed here, and this is presumably why Stuart often liked to work in the warehouse himself rather than send an underling.
Also, there were a few formerly proud manufactured home owners who didn't appreciate being yelled at. Many of them lived in east Tennessee and knew exactly where the headquarters sat and were interested in finishing the conversation on delinquent payments in person. This is why all employees needed one of those sliding encoded badges to operate any of the doors.
However, I worked there for six months without being issued a badge, as my official orders were simply to just "follow someone in". It is an artform and I perfected it, though it started off quite awkwardly. In that first week, I would run up behind people as they entered and soon learned that those who spend their days yelling at trailer park inhabitants can be quite skiddish when out of the safe confines of their cubicle. However, by the end I had the timing and movements down. They would even hold the door for me as I feigned looking for by badge. I would pretend to be oblivious and then notice and acknowledge their kindness before sneaking off to the warehouse for a quick nap before the day's reading.
Disgruntled trailer park inhabitants should take note.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

another campaign update

Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time. - Winnie Churchill, avid painter and martini enthusiast.

I early voted today but neglected to retrieve the little sticker that boasted as much from that little old lady behind the sign-in table. Therefore, you'll simply have to take my word for it.

Who did I vote for? For governor, I voted the same as CLC. I hadn't planned on assuming the governorship, but one takes what one can get. I then John-Jay-Hookeringly voted for myself on senator as well. I also wrote in my name wherever incumbents were running unopposed but then chose to vote for a few people actually on the ballot.

If I am completely clueless on a given race I simply vote for the candidate with the most unfortunate name, regardless of party. For instance, while I despise UT football, Jim Bob Cooter can fall back on politics and always have my vote. That goes for governor, mayor, or dog catcher. I'm there for Cooter.
I am tempted by Corker, but he would need to change the "Bob" to "Bobby" and then slap a "Jim" or "Joe" or "Beauford" in the middle to earn my support.
If all of the names are equally unfortunate and there are no Libertarians on the ballot, I then alternate between the parties. However, I probably vote more Democrat on judgeships, as they tend to be considerably more lenient in their sentencing. This will come in handy when I am eventually caught.
One must always think ahead.
Anyway, the governor and senator races are still in the primary phase, and this leaves you plenty of time to vote Camino.
Gracias in advance.

Monday, July 24, 2006

when pygmies roamed my television

There was a moment at work a couple of weeks ago when I brought up that house with secret passageways that Ma'am, George, and Webster went to live in after Webster burned down their apartment. The conversation had been about houses with secret passageways, and I thought it relevant to rummage through my damaged mind and surface with an otherwise useless television reference. Anyway, the infusion Webster garnered me only silence and confused stares. I think there were even tumbleweeds.
Nervously, I persisted.
"No one else remembers that?" I asked. "There were all these secret passageways and a room upstairs that the landlords strictly forbade Webster and the Papadopouloses--or Papadopouli, if you prefer--from entering."
Still silent. By the way, in the interest of full disclosure, I didn't actually use "forbade" in conversation.
"There was even a running gag in which Webster would move from floor to floor by using the dumbwaiter," I added.
They recalled there being a Webster, but none of them admitted to having watched it. Which is understandable, as I am younger than most of the folks I work with. White families adopting undersized black children was not a staple of their formative television watching years. No, they were bred on talking horses, the tomfoolery of redheads and their Cuban bandleaders, and a more demure Mary Tyler Moore who watched in feigned agony as her husband tripped over the same damn ottoman each and every week.
Let it be known that I also have nothing but love for these older programs and that they probably overflow more of my mental filing cabinets than time I spent with my grandparents or any number of assorted conversation topics. However, The Andy Griffith Show never taught me how to escape from the old pervert at the bike shop or deal with a newly diabetic Ben Vereen. Life is all about variety, people, and there is nothing wrong with admitting that you've probably seen every episode of Webster and Diff'rent Strokes multiple times.
Well, perhaps there is. I'm not quite so proud of myself now that I see the admission there on the screen, but there's nothing to be done about it now. Maybe I'll take the dog for an extra walk or feed an old person or do any number of the things that all those Mormon commercials told me to do.
But I digress.
My conversation at work presented a problem. Even my younger coworkers who admitted to having actually watched Webster from time to time didn't remember the house with the secret passageways, and I was left to wonder if I had imagined or hallucinated entire seasons of the program.
Enter the Internet. This site helped to verify that I still have a grasp on sanity. Also, it proves that someone else wasted a great deal of time in front of the television and then a great deal more in front of their computers documenting it, and that, for some reason, makes me feel not as bad.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

presently a beast

I always wonder if there is a point at which a feral human raised by wolves looks down at his wolf boy hands and notices a set of thumbs or has the sudden realization that he is the only one who can move so easily on his hind legs and then thinks to himself that perhaps his talents are being wasted in some way. The same thing goes for a dog girl. I also wonder if a monkey raised by dogs or wolves would have the same realization of not meeting its potential, but one never comes across such stories.
I suppose we are an impressionable species. If running around on all fours and eating raw meat seems the things to do, then that is what we'll do, at least until we find out that there is beer to drink and football to watch. If a baby is born into an Amish family and knows nothing more than beards and zipperless clothing, then they will proudly wear their beards and saunter about in zipperless clothing oblivious to the fact that they could be watching episodes of "Everybody Loves Raymond" on any given channel at any given time.
I hope you like buttermilk.
Anyway, the interesting thing about feral children is the way the primal part of the brain takes over. I thought about that when my fattened spaniel was young and in the midst of seemingly fruitless housetraining. I would first yell at him in short sentences like "That's my shoe, you little bastard" or "Why did you eat that first edition paperback of Catcher in The Rye when there was a tasty copy of The Scarlet Letter sitting on the same bookshelf?" or "Stop humping daddy's Beanie Baby collection". This quickly gave way to sort words like "no" or "bastard" or "neuter". After that came a series of short and stabbing sounds to convey anger. Then I digressed to barking at him and would even growl when he appeared to be contemplating shenanigans.
I find myself doing that around children now. I don't quite go so far as to bark at them, but they seem to understand some of the same primal sounds that thwarted the dog for a while. Actually, I think there was some barking and growling involved when I was a teacher, but many of those kids had yet to make the same realization of thumbs and bipedal movement that evades wolf boys and dog girls for so long.
I've found that the other time those primal sounds come in handy is while drinking beer and watching football.

Monday, July 17, 2006

nine random things that a person is likely to hear while making a day of sauntering about

1. Stop that.
2. Sir, are you trying to sneak up on someone?
3. Do you require medical attention?
4. I only ask because you appear to be frightening the other customers.
5. I see you started early today, Camino.
6. Are you sure that's not a mosey?
7. Then get out of my way, you sauntering bastard.
8. You seem to have a serious misconception as to what constitutes a saunter, Camino, for I have been witness to any number of saunterings in my day and I don't recall any ever having been performed with such a degree of unnecessary lewdness.
9. However, I think the parasol was a nice touch.

just because it's monday

Today I will not merely walk, I will saunter.

Friday, July 14, 2006

I've never been much interested in bird ownership, however...

Just as soon as they get that Jurassic Park technology worked out I want me a "demon duck of doom". It would no doubt kick the ass of your parrot.

Also, maybe then those bastard geese down at the park will leave me the hell alone.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

a campaign update

There were two things that really surprised me at last weeks blogger meet-up. The first was that a large number of primarily political bloggers had heard of and even read this humble site from time to time. The second was that a large number of you remembered that I am a write in candidate for the US senate seat soon to be vacated by Bill Frist.

Some of you may even be considering voting for me, and I can see why. If both sides succeed in eliminating Corker, the Republicans will then be left with the same two guys the party rolls out for each and every state race. You are understandably less than thrilled with this option. Liberals are even less thrilled with Harold Ford Jr., as he is undoubtedly to the right of the majority of you and will cast socially conservative votes on issues like gay marriage and such.

I would never do that because I never plan to actually vote. In fact, I will rarely even be in the chamber, as the majority of my time will be spent at the Smithsonian getting my learn on or gorging myself on beer and crab cakes in Maryland. I’ve even started a rough draft for the Smithsonian tour I plan to offer. Here’s a sampling:

Just before firing his fatal shots at Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth was overheard to shout "Sic Semper Tyrannis". This roughly translates to English as “Emancipate this, Beardy.” Indeed, it doesn’t sound like much. However, it was a stroke of brilliance on the part of Booth, as research into his victim’s history and tendencies led him to discovery one of Lincoln’s most regretted shortcomings. You see John Wilkes Booth knew full well that Latin was Lincoln’s poorest subject and that this fact bothered the president to no end. Lincoln was known to drop whatever matter he was presently embroiled in and immediately attempt to translate any and all Latin phrases that were muttered within earshot. This gave Booth a still and easy target.

Anyway, just think about it. We have sent politicians to Washington for far too long, and I just think it’s time to get the politicians out of politics for a while. I happen to think that my firm platform of non-voting would appeal to disgruntled voters of both sides but that’s just me. You won’t have to fear any frivolous amendments or embarrassing speeches from the floor of congress with me in office.

No, the only time I’ll show up is to provide any of my constituents a tour of the capital, attend any and all cocktail parties, and the state of the union address so I can get on the TV. I’ll be the one in the stovepipe hat.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

did anyone else know this is wednesday?

It just feels like a Thursday for some reason. I'm sure that either Heather Orne or Sporto "the non-Neil newsboy" Dwyer made mention of today's Wednesdayness at some point this morning, but I didn't catch it.

I wore my Thursday pants for nothing, and this will undoubtedly complicate the pants situation tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

the adonis phone book company

The new phone book showed up at work the other day. About the only thing I use my phone book at home for is to keep up with the Alexander family and their automotive empire through the ads that have graced the back of each year’s edition since for as long as I can remember. The son appears to be in the Air Force now, and the daughter is practically all grown up, but I can remember a couple of kids fighting off that awkward middle phase just long enough to help pops sell a couple of Fords. Mrs. Alexander’s hair has been cut increasingly shorter, but I like how she has it now. Mr. Alexander still looks like my childhood dentist.

Anyway, with typing things into the Internets being so much easier that flipping through hundreds of sickly yellow and easily smeared pages, my Rutherford County phone book has increasingly served as more of a yearly postcard from the Alexander family than an actual source of information.

Still, it’s nice to see it out there on the step each year.

Workplaces generally receive multiple phonebooks stacked in clear plastic bags in front of their main entrance. That’s how we received ours the other day, but I forget to check the back to see if folks outside of Rutherford County get to feel that same Alexander love I’ve come to look forward to each year.

You probably don’t.

Anyway, whether at home or at work, the phone book always reminds me of this guy I knew back in Alabama who went by the name of “Bubba”.

Yes, there are a lot of those in Alabama, but most have an equally stereotypical given name that “Bubba” takes the place of. Not this Bubba. This Bubba bore the real name of Adonis. I made him show me his driver’s license once.

Adonis, as we will henceforth refer to him, was the husband of the office manager at a print shop where I worked during my first two misspent years of college back in Florence. I drove the delivery van there, and you should remind me sometime to tell you the story about the when the brakes went out as I barreled toward a busy downtown intersection.

Good times.

Anyway, Adonis was six and a half feet tall and bore an uncanny resemblance to that big guy who chases Pee-Wee around the dinosaur in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. I’m really not sure as to his line of work, other than it had something to do with maintenance at a few different apartment complexes, but I do know that he was rarely at work, as he spent most of his time hanging out at the print shop or sitting around smoking on the loading dock out back, leaving only to hit the fast food restaurants within a certain radius of the print shop two or three times a day.

We all liked Adonis. He was a simple and easily amused man who could’ve snapped any of us like twigs with only the slightest of efforts at any given moment. I think another term for this would be “fear”, and it motivated us to always humor Adonis.

Anyway, Adonis pulled up to the print shop one day and beckoned us outside to his truck. The truck bed was a sea of bright new yellow phone books. Adonis leaned against the side of his rusting truck and asked, “Y’all want a phone book…for free?”

“You workin’ for the phone book company this year, Bubba?” someone eventually asked.

“Naw”, he said. “ I just showed up and fount ‘em all just sittin’ outside the apartments free for the takin’, so I snatched ‘em all up before anybody came out.”
What followed was a confused and uncomfortable silence broken only by the clear sound of our office manager slapping her forehead.

Monday, July 10, 2006

fear of a plastic possum

Few things on television are as creepy as an aging male star who has opted for the facelift. In fact, I can’t watch Burt Reynolds anymore for fear that the surgical staples that keep the flesh stretched tightly across his skull may suddenly give way and slingshot into the other person in the scene.

The same thing goes for Kenny Rogers. I never needed him to be smooth and pretty; I only needed him to look like a man who looks like Kenny Rogers and so did the thousands of men who actively cultivate that look.

Which brings us to George Jones.

Is anyone else freaked out by his ever tightening face on all these local Nashville commercials that generally run in the morning and leave me spitting coffee and trying to suppress my blueberry waffles? I mean, if he keeps going at this rate he’ll soon tighten and shrivel down to the appearance of an overly laundered Muppet.
Look, people get old and drinking will take its toll. No one expects you to be any different, George. We’ve all heard the stories. Still, you had a hell of a music career before settling for the understandable position of trusted spokesperson. However, if you want me to buy your sausage or take your custom automotive advice you will need to do a better job of looking like an actual human being.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

polyps of pointlessness

Mrs. Scarborough was kind enough to let me borrow a book of Red Meat a few weeks back.

There are funnier installments within the collection, but this is the one that I repeatedly flip to with giddiness. I think it's the simplicity.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

orange cure for upside down girl

It is no secret that I despise all things UT*. In fact, Moshe Dayan will join together with Yasser Arafat at a karaoke bar somewhere in the afterlife to belt out a stirring rendition of "To Sir With Love" long before I do anything less than whole heartedly cheer for any and all who compete against the Vols in any given sporting activity.
That having been said, I couldn't read this article without imagining an after school special version in which "Rocky Top" slowly builds at that moment when upside down girl is finally able to read.
*However, I do not despise the majority of Vol fans. I'm quite fond of some of them, actually, and consider their regrettable choice of alliances to be one of those "hate the sin, not the sinner" situations.

Friday, July 07, 2006

yes, that was actually me

I hope I didn't try to fight anyone. If so, you should know that it is a drunken sign of affection in Alabama. We're like Klingons sometimes. Anyway, you could've easily taken me and it would've made for a good story.
In fact, here's a big blanket o' apology to cover any and all transgressions.
However, big thanks to Sarcastro and Auntee B. for allowing me to quietly hover around the first faces I recognized after disembarking from the elevator at the WKRN blogger meet up. It took me a few beers to get embarrassing obnoxious charming, but the switch finally flipped. It is a noticeable change, and in my mind it is often accompanied by those cheesy effects from the nineteen seventies TV version of "The Incredible Hulk", complete with sad piano theme.
Serioulsy, did I try to fight anyone?
Anyway, Auntee and 'Stro soon introduced me to Kat Coble and the incredible Huck. Huck showed me pictures of his many beautiful children and Kat let me give her a hug. I meant to hug other bloggers, but Bobby Krumm is the only other one I got to.
He's a groper, by the way.
The great Jon Jackson from Crap and Drivel was pointed out to me but I never got a chance to talk to him. At least, I don't think I did. Did I fight him?
I was standing between the lovely Mary Mancini from Liberadio when she was introduced to the lovely Kleinheider from Volunteer Voters (who mentioned something about wanting links and lots of them), but they did not fight.
Brittany is just as cute in person, and I remembered her Kevin from his days at Murfreesboro's now defunct Red Rose Coffeehouse. She would probably want a link as well, as she and the Kleinheider seem to bicker like siblings.
I finally got to apologize to Rex Hammock for the use of the name "Rex", but he didn't seem to mind. However, we began discussions about a class action lawsuit against Rex Noseworthy of the Nashville City Paper.
Blake Wylie laughed at me for still being on dial-up, but you really haven't seen one of his video blogs until you've seen it freeze in awkward facial expressions every few seconds.
I then fought him, I think.
I spent a long time talking to Newscoma and Squirrels on Snark about alien abductions, giant vegetables and other assorted small town newspaper stories. I certainly hope they make the trek for other gatherings.
Short and Fat isn't. He looks to be in pretty good shape and has a nice head of hair. I pictured him as being bald for some reason.
By the way, I look quite different from my profile pic. I'm Kenny Chesney bald under the fedora, and the stache was photoshopped. Some of you (I'm looking at you, Shauna) didn't think I was me. I sometimes don't think I'm me.
I think I fought me.
I met Jag while on a mad dash to the restroom. I didn't really get a chance to talk to her that much, but it may have been enough to move me into the "locals I've met category" alongside Ceeelcee. She was about to be brilliant but had to leave to see Newton at the 5 Spot.
I meant to talk to Ceeelcee more as well, but didn't. However, I didn't fight him either, as he was wearing a nice tie and looked quite spiffy.
I talked to the dailydiablogger from This is Smyrna about Smyrna of all things. I used to teach there. She had good news that turned out to be bad news and then no news at all, but news that I secretly hoped was actual news. It's a long story.
Sista Smiff's hair really is as cute as everyone says.
TV on the Fritz is taller than I expected. He expected me to be a skinny musician type. I'm not skinny.
I recall telling Chris Wage and Miss Amanda a story about Waylon Jennings as the evening came to a close but I can't remember why. They humored me. They are good people.
Kleinheider and I were the last to leave. I tried to charge my bar tab to Neil Orne, but the barkeep would have none of it. I should probably wear a toupee and bring Heather Orne next time.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

my fourth

My family always has a big throw down on the fourth to celebrate my grandfather's birthday. Yesterday was his eighty-sixth. He opened his presents, ate cake, and then drove home to watch the Braves game in peace when he had grown tired of being around all of us. It was a hoot.
My ninety-two year old grandmother from the other side of the family always joins us, though she no longer has the option of controlling her own vehicular destiny and must therefore come and go as folks are able to bring and then take her back home. Actually, she never really had the whole vehicular destiny option anyway, as a minor fender bender on her second day of driving back in the late nineteen-thirties left her too afeard to ever again climb behind the wheel of a car.
This was probably all for the best. No one is really sure if she ever made it to five feet at any point in her in her ninety-one years, and the inability to see over the steering wheel would've only led to an increasing number of fender benders.
Anyway, Father Camino generally spends the morning of the fourth smoking ribs or grilling shrimp and chicken and leaves the privilege of picking Grandmother Camino up to me. I used to dread this sort of thing, but Grandmother Camino has been much more interesting to talk to since she got that hearing aid for her eighty-ninth birthday. She lost a great deal of her hearing after being out in the cold too long one day when she was in her mid-sixties and then figured she was too old to worry about doing something about it. She changed her mind as her ninetieth birthday approached.
Most of the conversations before the hearing aid were exactly the same. She would ask about work and I would answer her. She would then stare at me patiently and I would answer her again. She would then look confused and nod and I would yell my answer at her.
Yelling at my grandmother never felt right. She had a long career as a special ed teacher and then continued to do volunteer work with special ed kids for years after retiring. She never misses a service at the downtown Methodist church and even manages to still do some volunteer work through them. She is a saint, and I never much cared for having to communicate things to her in the same style used by drill sergeants and the lead singers of death metal bands.
So it was that we were all relieved when she finally accepted Father Camino's decades old offer of a hearing aid for her birthday. In no time she was finally hearing what the preacher was saying at church, having actual conversations with friends and family who have been taking her patient stares for years, and making phone calls to other friends and family far away. She even stopped calling me Roy.
However, this also had drawbacks.
It wasn't long after I had picked her up and started heading back in the direction of the Camino Compound yesterday that she turned and said...
Grandma: It sure is hot already.
Rex: Yep. Should be in the mid-nineties before too long.
Grandma: I saw Al Gore on Larry King talking about global warming. Do you think there's anything they can do about that?
Rex: Uh...maybe. Science was never really my forte.
Grandma: (staring patiently)
Grandma: (looking confused, begins to nod)
This was not a heated political discussion. I merely noticed at this point that she had neglected to put in her hearing aid that morning. This unfortunately kept me from taking the conversation in a direction that would have calmed her fear of the world's impending doom or subdued any feelings that her near century of steady hairspray usage had anything to do with it.
That isn't what the fourth is about anyway. The fourth is about beer and BBQ and fireworks booming loudly enough to compensate for any forgotten hearing aids among the audience members.
Thanks, Al. Grandma hardly touched her beer yesterday.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

the kingsley string band, part 2: unelectric banjoloo

It was a weekend of fence painting, and there's nothing like a big lungful of paint fumes on a sweltering and cloudless day. Trust me on this.
Anyway, in the midst of all that excitement I managed to break out the 4-track for some lower than low-fi Kingsley String Band action. You can read the excuses liner notes here and have a listen here.