Friday, June 02, 2006

I Stop At Stop Signs

This morning on the commute to work, I was cruising along on Stinson Blvd and stopping at all the stop signs in a residential area and near a private school. There are several stop signs in a short distance. I must be a dope since I stop at every bleeping sign. Other cyclist blow by me on a regular basis. I used to get my blood pressure to skyrocket by getting angry with the morons. I figure when I get harassed by a car, its because there are more cyclist like them then me. My choices are to join them or ignore them. I find it so hard to ignore them, but I'm trying to so very hard.

Today I stopped like any other day. I look at the cars that stop beside me, but only to see if that tell tale blinker is working and I'm about to possibly get cut off. I also look to see if they actually stop to see if they are in that "its all about me" hurry and I should again beware. Otherwise I try to ignore the predominance of SUV versus modest sized cars.

I do always listen for that telltale sound of an electric window. I don't try to figure out if its going up or down, my adrenaline level goes up as I go into avoidance mode trying to prevent the possibility of getting something thrown at me. I've gotten empty cans, cigars, cigarettes, and half eaten hamburgers and sandwiches thrown at me. Sometimes its just the invective that spews out the window and I always find it hard not to retaliate in kind so I try to avoid hearing that too. Again, avoidance maneuvers are on order.

So, I do a track stand at a stop sign and a car is beside me. I see it is blue, and the turn signal is not on. I go through the intersection like normal about the same time as the car. The car does not zip past me and my senses heighten. Then I hear that window motor and I stand on the pedals ready for anything. As the window goes down I hear what I think is talk radio. Great, some conservative right wing nut. And I hear that first word I always expect to be followed with the insults. "Hey!" I resist looking, its bad to make eye contact. So the guy continues, "Did you know I was a copy next to you?"

Now I look. It is an Officer in uniform in unmarked squad car. I tell him no, I stop at stop signs because its the right thing to do. He yells, "Great job, keep it up!" I figure this is the end as the window goes up and I realize the radio is radio chatter from a squad car not talk radio.

Several blocks later, there seems to be a significant snarl to traffic. I hang with the car I'm next to, and don't piss the cars off by blasting past. When I get to the cause its my cop, along with three others running speed checks. Speed limit is 30, and it appears under 35, you get a warning. At some point they hand out pre-printed, pre-signed tickets. The cop walks in front and writes the license number, gets the drivers license, runs it through a car thing on his belt and the ticket is set.

I love it.

Button for today. I first heard this comment on a Simpsons' show. Bart says it, and I don't remember why. It appeals to me for this reason: I do not find clowns funny or amusing. The one word I consistently associate with clowns is EVIL. As in Stephen King's It evil. And since I have plenty of trouble sleeping clowns are as good a source to blame for my struggle as anything. Done. Happy Friday? Posted by Picasa

Anonymous? Maybe not

Someone left an anonymous comment. I didn't mind the comment or the opposing opinion regarding Neil Young's latest record. They were polite or non-threatening and didn't use any foul language.

Still, I don't like the ability to hide who you are and leave comments.

So, I've turned that feature off. Sorry. Register and show yourself or go away. If you feel strongly enough to leave a comment at least own up to it. If I read your blog and saw something worth commenting on, I would.

Its my blog and its the way I feel. Suit yourself on your own blog.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

A Week Ago Shopping Expedition

I got a pal. He is really interested music, even more than me. He owns a couple of guitars (Fenders!), amps (Fenders! tube!), and more recordings than me. Okay, maybe four times the number of recordings that I own. And I own a ridiculous number, no I won't admit to how many. I've been collecting for thirty years and I'm too bleeping anal to toss any away. In desperation I sold a few as well as traded a few. Serious mistake. The really bad ones remind me of mistaken choices, or whom I should never take advice from.

At any rate when Rocking Mr. Tom shows up, we usually go shopping. And when I talk shopping I'm talking the Fetus. An institution in the area for a long time, they have a great selection of blues, rock, and more. I can't speak for country as I can't stand that crap. Okay, I don't mind the quality country; Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and serious old school artists. Not that putz Garth and Wynonna.

So here is the list of what I bought this time. It had been quite a while since I had last shopped for recordings:

Death By Sexy - Eagles of Death Metal
Separation Sunday - the Hold Steady
Flashback - J. Geils
Showtunes - Stephin Merritt
Biggest Prize In Sport - 999
Elan Vital - Pretty Girls Make Graves
Broken Toy Soldiers - the Raconteurs
The Repulsion Box - Sons and Daughters
Songs and Other Things - Tom Verlaine
Dumbing Up - World Party
Living With War - Neil Young

So far I've listened to several recordings, but not enough of all of them. I have listened to these four in depth enough to make a review.

Biggest Prize In Sport by 999 is old school New Wave from the early 80s. I've had a vinyl copy for over 20 years. I loved it then, its pop, its catchy, it has wonderful guitar licks, and its completely meaningless from a seriousness angle. Its a guilty pleasure at its finest. When I saw it in the used bin for $7, I couldn't pass it up. I've rarely seen them in the new racks much less in the used rack. Embarrassed? Nope, its a band which has sentimental value as well as entertainment value. They might be the Bay City Rollers of the New Wave or Punk era, but nobody's hardly heard of them, so maybe its okay? You mileage might vary.

Separation Sunday by The Hold Steady is quality rock and roll with a twist of anger. Some might call it Power Pop or even Punk, but its just all rock and roll isn't it? I heard a cut off this disc on the The Current. The first thing that grabbed me is the vocal similarity to Mark E. Smith of The Fall. I also found the lyric about "your rat faced friend" hilarious. Great biting lyrics about a wide range of stuff. The disc just demands to be played loud. Lots of good crude guitar work and just solid rock and roll. The disc has been well reviewed elsewhere. I find it highly recommended if you like things like the Fall, the Clash, the Jam and other intense music.

Dumbing Up by World Party was a pleasant surprise to see in the record shop in the "new" bin. Its a bit short compared to his (Karl Wallinger of course) other recordings, but it holds up well just the same. If you remember the early days of The Waterboys, then you should consider checking out World Party's back catalog. Personally I suggest you start with Bang! as well as Egyptology. The man has a mind for hooks and catchy lyrics, but he also knows his sound. He always surrounds himself with great players and his recordings sound the same over his 20 plus years of discs. He likes lush production and smooth vocals that may not appeal to everyone. I really have always liked the sound of World Party since Karl was a part of the Waterboys. I thought that was partnership that broke up and each carried a solid portion of the musical ability and later recordings prove that Mike Scott and Karl Wallinger have the chops to carry off their own careers with ease.

Living With War by Neil Young was the biggest disappointment so far. Where was Neil's angst when he made Prairie Wind? I don't know where Neil was, but Shrubbery (its a nickname for George W. Bush by a Texan newspaperwoman you should know even if I can't remember her name at the moment) and his administration have sucked for a long time. I really thought this disc showed Neil's age. Too little, too late. What? The last five or six recordings have left me very unexcited. I don't think I've really enjoyed anything since Arc Weld and before. I expect more from Neil and frankly, I've not found it. Its begun to piss me off. Not bad enough like with U2 where I won't be buying anything new of theirs, but I'll be thinking long and hard before I buy another Neil Young recording. I'm so freaking disappointed.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Commuting in the rain

There was a couple of days a few weeks ago where it rained all the time. Just ride in it is my opinion. I use fenders. They keep a lot of the rain off your feet, legs, and off the chain too. Properly set up of course. That takes some work to get the fenders close and then to add a mud flap so it hangs down low enough to do a good job. Next I use chaps and a rain cape. The cape keeps the rain of you, and lets you get plenty of air underneath. The spats keep the muck off your calves.
Once set up, its no big deal to ride in the rain. I've done it lots and I'm sure I'll do it again.

So should you. Don't let rain scare you off. I think its fun. It makes you feel tough, you feel special, capable of anything, able to persevere against the odds. Cars tend to leave you alone since they are in awe.

For shoes, I use good old Converse All-Stars or Chuck Taylors. The canvas gets wet, but dries fast too. And you look cool wearing them instead of like a goof ball in click-ity clack shoes. This of course requires normal shoes so it means normal pedals. Add toe clips and straps if desired.

Or not.