Fall arrived with a vengeance over the weekend. We went from the high 70s last week to the mid-40s today, and as much as I love the cooler weather in general, this change is way too abrupt. It's like Ma Nature fiendishly lulled us into a false sense of security, keeping the hot days coming until the end of September, then WHAM! Before we even had a chance to dig out our sweaters and mittens, she yanked summer right out from under us and now she's cackling somewhere, laughing at our headcolds and sinus infections and thinking up more ways to make us suffer in the months to come.
*I've no idea what that switch actually controlled.
Grocery store, Saturday night: I stop in for a few things and bump into a rack of cloth grocery bags marked $1 each. They're big & sturdy, and they're definitely worth a buck, so I grab two, put them in my basket and head up to the registers to check out.
There's only one cashier working and the line is loooooong. There are young dudes buying beer, young ladies buying Mike's Hard Lemonade, and old people buying prunes and dog food (or whatever it is old people buy). I get in line and wait. People are being kind of cranky with the cashier, probably because the line's so long, but he's working quickly and really, the major hold-ups here are the people who wait until everything is rung up before they dig out their checkbooks. (That drives me nuts.)
The old lady in front of me is one of those who builds a fortress of solitude around her bottle of liquor on the conveyor belt. There's a bag of flour flanking the brandy's northern side; a box of bran flakes covering the all-too-visible western front. I understand this is probably a relic of a bygone age, when perhaps people would've frowned upon an old woman buying a bottle of hooch, but seriously, half the people in this line are here with the sole purpose of getting drunk tonight. Your nightly snifter of brandy isn't going to raise any eyebrows, ma'am.
Finally, it's my turn. I quickly unload my basket and stand at the ready with my debit card. The cashier reminds me of Shaggy from Scooby-Doo. Small talk is exchanged, and I get the impression Shaggy's relieved that I'm not being crabby about the wait. He gets to the last of my stuff--the two cloth bags.
Shaggy: Whoa, man, I didn't know we sold these! (he even sounds a little like Casey Kasem) Me: Yeah, they're over by the produce department. And they're really cheap! Shaggy: That's like, awesome, dude. Go green and stuff! Me: Yeah, I have a couple already, but keep forgetting to leave them in the car. Shaggy: Save the earth, man!
And Shaggy winks at me--like a BIG, theatrical wink--as he runs the bags' bar codes over the scanner. But I'm pretty sure I don't hear anything beep.
Sure enough, I get out to my car, and they're not on the receipt.
The Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a scarecrow contest in downtown Ashland this week, and they're all over the place. It's a cute idea, and it's great to see so many businesses participating--there are very traditional scarecrows, some very clever scarecrows, and a rather eye-catching Wizard of Oz-themed scene set up in front of the courthouse.
(With Munchkinland and the Emerald City, even!)
So eye-catching, in fact, that every time I walk out of my office, I catch Dorothy there out of the corner of my eye and I scream like a little girl. I'm not sure if it's because I'm not used to seeing inanimate people standing over there, or if it's Dorothy's...um...face...but needless to say, it's a little embarrassing to get startled by a scarecrow two or three times a day.
Anyway, the scarecrows are cool, and I hope this becomes an annual thing. Except for Dorothy. I wouldn't mind if she missed the hot air balloon out of Oz next year and couldn't make it.
(Lady scarecrow; Army Navy scarecrow; Elvis sighting.)
(Twitchy = the one in the middle, not to be confused with Thumper, the one next to Pinky. Thumper used to twitch, but not anymore. Weird.)
What's making my toe twitch?
- Sudden onset divining rod syndrome? - A secret microchip the government implanted in my brain transmitting Morse code messages to an underground bunker beneath Mt. Ashwabay? - A mild case of boogie-woogie fever centralized in my feet?
We may never know. I will say this much--the twitchy toe is much more satisfying to observe in the summer months, when I've got sandals on, than it is during winter boot season (aka October 'til April).
Actually, it's been done for a while. And the scaffolding's been down for a while, too--I just haven't gotten around to taking a picture of that yet.
So, after all that, are we resting on our laurels, conserving our collective energy until the annual epic leaf raking exercise begins in a week or two?
Of course not!
This weekend, we hauled in the scaffolding and cleaned/painted the upper levels of the living room. (Admittedly, my mother did most of that, but we all chipped in with the shifting of furniture and scaffolding.)
Work is play!!! I can't wait to see what next weekend brings.
I Drink For a Reason by David Cross On the whole, I liked this, but felt it could've done with some pruning here & there. Some essays/lists were funnier than others, and the weaker ones might've found more traction as live pieces instead of getting flattened-out on the page. (One quibble: not to nitpick, but there were tons of spelling mistakes in this book. Granted, as a former 8th grade spelling champion, I'm particularly sensitive to such nerdery, but we're talking about mixing up "their" and "they're." Distracting stuff that an editor, or a spellcheck/grammar check program, should've caught.)
Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin by Kathy Griffin And here we have the polar opposite of David Cross. As anyone who's ever seen her TV show knows, Kathy Griffin wants you to love her, wants the whole world to love her, and she will do just about anything it takes to make that happen. I'm only about 1/4th of the way through this, but it's funny. Really, really funny. She writes how she talks--it's rapid-fire, it's blunt, and she lets it all hang out.
STFU, Parents I love my friends. I love my friends' kids. And I especially love that none of my friends post things on Facebook that even remotely resemble anything like what appears on STFU, Parents. Thank you, friends with kids.
Matt Taibbi on Health Care Reform: Sick and Wrong - Rolling Stone The full article isn't online yet (it's in the most recent issue of the magazine, with the Beatles on the cover), but oh my god, it's infuriating, the mess that's being made of health care reform. To clarify: I support health care reform 100%, for a whole slew of reasons, but the longer this goes on the more I'm convinced they should just scrap what they have and start over. It's so corrupted at this point, by both the Republicans and the Democrats, not to mention the insurance companies lining everyone's pockets, that it's getting hard to believe that any change that comes out of this is going to be meaningful or positive. I hope I'm wrong.
District 9 Suspenseful, moving, and clever. I loved it.
Funny People I'm conflicted about this one. Mostly, I liked it--I thought it had some funny passages and I really liked the cast and the characters. On the other hand, I thought it was too long, thought the plot would have benefited from some streamlining, and thought the story was a little muddled. It stuck in my head for a few days afterwards, though, and rattled around...I suppose that's a compliment.
Murphy Brown, Season 1 The true test of a sitcom is how well it holds up after it goes off the air. Murphy Brown holds up really well. Except for the shoulder pads. Dear god, the shoulder pads.
The State I've heard how wonderful The State was for years & years--I never saw it when it was on back in the early 1990s, because we didn't have MTV and/or cable--and for me, it's kind of hit-or-miss sometimes. The stuff I've laughed at the most were the most bizarre things, like "$240 Worth of Pudding" and "Kabuki Doug." But that probably says more about me than the show itself.
Michael and Michael Have Issues I hope they bring this back for another season, because I thought it had really found its groove by the season finale.
"That Look You Give That Guy" video by Eels
- My parents bought a VHS-to-DVD recorder back in...oh...February? I guess I could measure the layer of dust on the box to figure out how long it's been sitting there, but let's just go with that February estimate. Anyway, I'm thinking about digging that out of its box this weekend and taking it for a long-overdue trial run.
- Operation: Crochet a Buttload of Baby Blankets '09 continues. I've got three more in the hopper, and then it looks like I'll get a dry spell for a while. Nobody get pregnant for a few months, okay? Thanks.
- A project for this winter: go through all my old pictures, and sort them out. Really well. Not just into plastic bags like I have a lot of them right now, but y'know, like with actual boxes and organization and stuff. I should be more dutiful about writing on the backs of them--names, dates, that kind of crap--and I go in spurts where I'm really great about that. And I'm super-diligent about labeling the digital pictures I take and organizing those. There's just a sizeable backlog I should get hopping on one of these days. It seems like an ideal project for the six months of the year when it gets dark at 5 o'clock in the evening and I'm snowed into my basement lair.