My wife and daughter and I went to visit Jim in Orlando last week, and I’m playing catch-up with some notes from the trip. Here’s a start:
April 20: Driving through the West Virginia mountains in the late afternoon sun was
incredible. When my wife and daughter and I hit Charleston
for that east-west stretch of Interstate 77 that runs along the city and the
river, the sun was just pouring in through the valley, bouncing golden off the
hillsides. And when we turned south again, a rainbow appeared, slowly. At
first, we saw a segment, bright and doubled, close enough that it looked like
we could actually see where it was touching down on a mountainside. Over the
next 15 or 20 minutes, the whole arc revealed itself, spreading off to the west
of the road over hills and valleys. People were pulling their cars off to the
shoulder to stop and take pictures and stare. It was majestic and amazing and the picture doesn’t do it justice.
After a fast-food dinner
stop near Beckley, Jenn took over
driving for a few hours. As it got close to midnight,
we came to the part of the highway that twists out of the Blue Ridge mountains
and there’s a fantastic vista off to the east where the land drops off. It was
dark, and you could see lights spread out and dusted across this quiet, dark
landscape. Jenn was listening to the radio and was singing this old Stevie
Nicks song – I think it’s called “Landslide” just barely loud enough for me to
hear. I don’t think she knew I was awake. I felt a tap on my shoulder, and turned around. My daughter, from the backseat,
all cuddled up in her blanket and sitting up from her pillow, whispers, “I love
Back from vacation – notes from the road will come soon, but for now, let’s ease back into the blog with a couple good lists:
And then there are the top 25 TV opening sequences of the 1980s, the content of which is hard to argue, though I really think Airwolf and The A-Team should be shooting it out at the top, but that’s just me.
A double-throw of the rock horns and a link smorgasbord for my buddy Jim Carchidi, Field’s Edge co-founder and photographer extraordinaire, who’s getting some of his work displayed in the Rock Walk at this year’s Florida Music Festival. Jim’s concert stuff is fantastic – he’s shot the Orlando festival the last two years (galleries here and here) – and tons of other shows, too. (Clapton, BB King, and, heck, just look at these two collections.)
So my daughter and I are playing a little Guitar Hero the other night, and we each do a couple songs “for real” to advance our band careers, and then we decide to wrap up by rocking a little cheese metal: We’re totally hooked on “Through the Fire and Flames,” falsetto-singing along, falling to our knees during the solos (okay, that’s just me) and just generally having a goofy blast.
Unfortunately, we’re having so much fun that during her go, she loses her finger positions for a few seconds at exactly the wrong time, and she winds up getting booed from the stage.
She’s peeved. And it’s too late to do it again because it’s a long song and she still has to go practice her viola before we settle in for “Survivor,” another guilty pleasure.
She sulks off into the back room, and I head to the kitchen to take care of the dinner dishes.
After a minute or two, I hear the “can-can music” – the part of Jacques Offenbach’s “The Infernal Gallop” about 31 seconds into that clip – being played.
Rapidly. (And, I should add, badly as a result.)
It’s the can-can as only a pissed-off fifth-grade girl who’s just been shredding DragonForce can play it.
And I think it rocks.
Bought the new REM "Accelerate" over the weekend, since I listened to the songs online and liked the top-to-bottom sound of it more than any album they’ve done since "Automatic for the People," which will always be my favorite. Getting a new album is funny because sometimes, you’re never quite sure which songs will grow on you and which ones you’ll immediately want to listen to over and over.
Was also loaned the audiobook of Sarah Vowell’s "Assassination Vacation," so I started listening to that in the car. I’ve had a thing for her voice and her writing ever since hearing her Goth transformation story on This American Life. (Sarah Vowell as Violet was the primary reason I went to see The Incredibles. Having an elementary-school-aged daughter to take to the movie made for a good excuse.)
I haven’t gotten that far into "Assassination Vacation," but I find myself goofily looking forward to hearing Eric Bogosian read the part of John Wilkes Booth.
My two brothers and I tore down the old shed yesterday, with gloves and prybars and claw hammers and a mallet and a sledgehammer.
My youngest brother lives in the house we grew up in, and it’s been time for a new shed for at least a couple summers now.
I remember when it was new, back there at the southwest corner of our yard, tucked next to the row of pine trees. At least a few times, it was my summer chore to paint it: Hot, messy work, and no shade. One year I also painted stripes on a rusting garden implement behind the shed, and on the legs of my blue jeans, too.
Wasps built nests every year under the cornice above the shed door. Sometimes you’d see mice inside scurrying into the corners when you opened the door to get the lawn mower. Even in winter, the shed smelled like half-rotting grass clippings, oil spots and gasoline vapor.
When I was a little older and a little taller, I discovered the shed roof made for a perfect sniper’s perch playing Lazer Tag. It was a risk, since you had to break across the wide open back half the yard to get there, and you had to be careful not to thump too much jumping up and hooking your hands over the roof edge, then scrambling and pulling yourself up. But it was totally worth it, to lie there on your belly, knowing you were invisible against the dark treeline, and pick off opponents from the length of the yard as they came sneaking into view.
It took us a couple hours to tear it down: The roof and walls were pretty easy to rip apart, but the floor was solid and heavy, and when we flipped the base over to get at the four-by-fours beneath, we had a tough time pulling the beams from the plywood.
Gravel’s coming to cover the mud and stones that mark where the shed was, and the pile of lumber will get hauled away, and pretty soon, my brother will have a new, bigger shed in the old one’s place.
It’ll take longer for the one in my mind to disappear.