Monday, January 30

Alert to the Spoiler

We walked down to our local pretentious art-house cinema on Saturday.

"2 for The Iron Lady", I said to the guy with the aggressive piercings behind the counter.
"How often do you come here?", he asked, oblivious that he had used the most popular chat-up line of the 1970s

We go every other month, so obviously we took up his offer to shell out $200 on cut-price pre-purchased tickets.

I hope Anne reads this blog at some point, because it will remind her that we have $200 worth of tickets in her handbag. I know she reads the blog because after a few pints of Guinness on Friday night she told me that she actually did like Diablo Cody, referring to a mildly libelous comment I wrote a few weeks ago on this forum.

Back to the Iron Lady. It soon dawned on me that the audience were watching this vaguely biopic movie with little knowledge of what happened to Thatcher in the 70s and 80s.

So when Airey Neave drove past Maggie I held back from shouting "Boom" 5 seconds before the audience jumped.

Likewise as Dennis brushed his teeth in a Brighton hotel at 3 in the morning, I did not spoil the surprise by making an explosion shape with my cupped hands.

But when they showed Maggie considering whether to torpedo the General Belgrano as it sailed away from the war zone I turned to Anne and said "Don't worry, she blows it up".

Of course our most popular newspaper celebrated this war crime with this.



All I learned from this movie was that my childhood was full of awful incidents of rioting, violence and bombings. Oh, and that Carol Thatcher is a short-tongued fuck-up.

By the way, Streep was the bomb ... but not an IRA one thankfully.

Sunday, January 29

Ma Baker


I finished my Alabama trip with a visit to the Space Center in Huntsville.

They've all kinds of rockets and spaceships, but I went to see the burial place of a monkey - Miss Baker.

I suppose the devil is in the detail, but her tombstone says she was the first U.S. animal to fly in space and return alive.

Fans of monkey travel will know that she went up with another monkey, Miss Able.

Sadly Miss Able died 4 days after her return to earth from a reaction to the anesthesia used to remove electrodes from her body.

"This is the type of anesthetic death every surgeon fears," said Colonel Robert Hullinghorst ... probably with no sense of irony or perspective.

Back to Miss Baker. She now found space travel to be passé, leaving it to mere humans to copy her.

After her co-ground-breaking trip she no doubt surrounded herself with cute primate ass, but 3 years later she settled down by marrying 'Big George'. Because why not?

BG died in the 70s, and like some kind of furry Zsa Zsa Gabor, Miss Baker bagged another gigolo. The sexily monikered 'Norman' became her 2nd husband, although the ceremony featured Miss Baker tearing off her dress. Minxy!

She finally passed in 1984.

Of course, death doesn't stop the good folk of Alabama from luring tourists to their nirvana. As you'll see from the photo, people love to leave b.a.n.a.n.a.s. on her tombstone.

Afterwards I went and laughed at a Uranus exhibit.

And in case you think I made any of this up read this.

Friday, January 27

Typography lesson

Always remember that the word count is a problem when partially obscured.

Either that or, upscale UK supermarket Waitrose just doesn't like you.

Wednesday, January 18

Battle of the Supermarkets

So in my job I'm an interested by-stander in competing stores. For the last 20 years I've helped to create stuff that ends up on the shelves of everything from high-end stores of epicurean quality down to ... well ... Dollar Stores.



So it was fun to be able to see the 2 giants of Alabama retail up against each other. Dollar General and Family Dollar let you know right up front that value is their calling card.

Their depressing exteriors are matched inside too. By the way that's an ice machine in the foreground, not Mice, or Lice.

At Dollar General I made a purchase and check-out was my worst nightmare. I try to avoid conversation even in New England, my home for the past 12 years. I've had too many "Where you from?" questions, and when that question is asked in a Southern accent it makes me think of Deliverance.

The kid behind the counter was wearing dungarees. That was another thing to cross off my list. He asked me a question 3 times. Each time I replied, "Sorry?".

Finally he pointed at a sign that said, "Would you like to donate your change to Child Literacy?". I'd love to say literacy was spelled incorrectly but damn it was perfect.

What a great idea. More stores should do that.

And so, with no heavy cumbersome change, I skipped out of Dollar General, got back in my car and ate a box of these. And they were delicious.

Tuesday, January 17

Closed

Sunday Bloody Sunday

There comes a time when you're alone and on the road when you think "Is it really worth driving all this way for?"

I was heading for the Rattlesnake Café, a cool eatery wedged into a cave at the bottom of a cliff face. But it was about 20 miles from any where. The only person I saw was a guy in a pick-up truck and he looked like he was a fan of banjo music.

Even my GPS was giving me the "What the Fuck" signals. Finally, I rolled up to find the place was closed on Sundays. I guess they were all at church.



Never mind I thought to myself, I'll drive another 20 miles and go to a Mexican restaurant I'd read about in the hotel the previous night.

Now to be fair, I did not go and try the front door, but from the parking lot this place looked closed as well. Perhaps inside resembled some kind of Robert Rodriguez Psychobilly juke-joint but I guess I'll never know.



25 more miles of winding single lane road later I hit the highlight of my trip.



A Coon Dog Cemetery. Holy shit this is weird.

I love that they have CC-TV out here. I'd passed a trailer home 10 miles closer to civilization that had no electricity.

So many of the colorful flowers, wreaths and bouquets were fresh and the tiny gravestones were clean and shiny. Who's driving 40 plus miles round trip just to reminisce about their dead dog?

When I die Anne's told me that she won't come and visit my grave. And I'm cool with that. I presume she'd feel the same way if she had a coon dog?

I did not invent slavery and answers to other questions

Next on my magical tour of No'Ala, as the one hipster in Alabama calls it (he's locked in a tornado shelter), was the W.C. Handy Home and Museum.

W.C. Handy is the 'Father of the Blues', and he was born in Florence, Alabama. But they deconstructed his house and reconstructed it in another part of town.

That's the first time I've used deconstructed in a sentence that didn't include a pretentious reference to molecular gastronomy.

Back to the W.C. Handy museum. I was greeted by a woman who I would describe as 'Morgan Freeman with tits'. I paid for the $2 tour and walked into the lobby. The lady followed me. I walked into the black history library. The lady followed me. Finally it dawned on me that she was giving the tour. A split second later I also realized I was the only person in the museum.

She gave me a wonderful tour of the reconstructed house. I'm pretty good at inserting nods, "a-ha"s, head tilts, and "interesting" at various junctures of tours. Finally we got to the part where she told me Handy's father and grandfather were slaves, and I had that white guilt moment where you think to yourself, "I'm paying $2 for a personalized tour of music history by a poor woman of color". It was actually worse than the moment an African American family walked past me while I was being photographed outside the motel balcony where Dr King was shot in Memphis.

The rest of the tour was looking over memorabilia displayed in chronological order. When we got to the part where W.C. married his much younger personal assistant I thought I saw a disapproving look in the guide's eyes.

The museum missed a trick, they did not call their restroom facilities W.Cs W.Cs, and their gift shop was disappointing in comparison to the Keller offerings.

Did she enjoy playing the organ?

As a kid in the 70/80s it seemed inevitable that you'd buy a book of tasteless jokes, and there was always a section on Helen Keller. I must confess I had no idea who she was, but you could work it out based on jokes like,
Q. What was Helen Keller's favorite color. A. Corduroy

So it was with a schizophrenic anticipation of childish glee and adult reverence that I visited Helen Keller's birthplace on Saturday. I'll start with the adult bit ... well informed staff take you around the beautiful period house highlighting interesting items and giving you a potted history of her life.



I didn't need to make my own entertainment. I walked around the tour with a family of four who really did ask, "Did she enjoy playing the organ?" And even better when they asked, "If the small house to the right was the garage?"

The guide turned her attention to me and managed to point out 4 things that were of British origin in the house. I felt at home.

As philistines throughout the world know, the best part of any museum is the gift shop, and the Keller house did not disappoint.

Why anyone would consider a coloring book to be a good Helen Keller commemorative item is beyond me, but I made the purchase if only because the quaint old southern lady behind the counter threw in some free Helen Keller crayons.

Feeling touched by her generosity I bought some Helen Keller pencils as well.

Monday, January 16

Welcome to Alabama

I visited my 45th state this weekend.

Alabama, home of the slammer.

As I landed at Huntsville International* Airport the first thing you see as you break out of security is a piano. I tastefully cropped the photo to also show the state's best looking tree for the past 3 years running.

Odd. But I would see odder in the next 24 hours. It may take me a few days to curate all of this stuff ...


* I scanned the departure and arrivals board and there were no other countries listed. From this I surmise that Alabama considers states north of the Mason-Dixon line to be foreign. That's probably why I was viewed suspiciously everywhere I went. They just know by looking at ya!

Saturday, January 7

Zip it Old Lady

We just got back from the movies. Young Adult, a good movie that in years to come will be called, "The one where Patton Oswalt gets to shag Charlize Theron". <-- Spoiler Alert.



But for now it was our afternoon's entertainment. Anne thought the movie was so-so, but I suspect she dislikes Diablo Cody.

For me, it was a fine movie spoiled by people laughing too much. I realize this is the rantings of an old man, but the humor was nuanced, not giggly. And besides, the laughers were chin-stroking hipsters with ironic Jesus t-shirts and naive thoughts on nihilism.

But stuck between the hipsters and this blog-writing grumpy bastard was an old loon with a big bag of Whoppers. I think she may have swapped-out the bag for a noisier, crunchier bag. It sounded like a fat-camp marching through Fall leaves back there.

To top it off she dropped the bag and Whoppers rolled everywhere. One rested against my shoe. I didn't pick it up and eat it. I only thought about it ... for the last 10 minutes of the movie.

Friday, January 6

Thanks for sharing

Piss-flute!

I jumped into 2Ktwelve (who comes up with this shit?) with the desire to listen to some new music at work through Spotify.

Stupidly I linked my Facebook account with my Spotify profile.

Do you think any of my Facebook friends complimented me on my fine taste? Kiwanuka, Givers, St. Vincent, Sandé?

Did they fuck.

But like pulp fiction detectives they noticed the Queen and Blink 182 songs that featured in a playlist named "2 days of random pop to get you through the daily grind of life."

If I had an e-Harmony profile I'd write "Likes: God (obviously), Fine Dining, Woody Allen Movies, and People not knowing what I'm listening to". Thankfully I'm married! And double thankfully iPods exist. Are Christians allowed to like movies by Jews?

Of course with my tech-know-how the dating profile would link to my Spotify account just as I chose the playlist "Likes someone who moves in the direction that their hair is pulled and opens mouth on command." I should warn you that playlist is full of Spandau Ballet.

Anyway, it's time for me to go vacuum the rug in a black wig and sleeveless pink top. Best not let that get onto the internet!!

Sunday, January 1

Let's get this party started

Happy New Year sports fans.

What kind of fuckery is this? It's fire engine fuckery!

Inman Square is a local neighborhood featuring a 5-way stop, with a Fire Station positioned between 2 of the junctions. Opposite is the pretentious 1369 coffee shop that I complain about 2.5 times a week. Idling at the red light by 1369 I saw an ambulance speeding towards me from the hospital that is further up the road. My traffic light would surely be impacted by the emergency. Sure enough the ambulance swung in front of me and stopped on the other side of the coffee shop.

Then ... a fire engine siren sounded, and from across the junction a truck drove about 15 yards, crossing one junction, at which point the firemen jumped out of their truck and crossed the 2nd road (thanks for the halt hand-signal Fireman #2) to enter the coffee shop where the medics had already determined that there was no emergency.

All the while the light has not changed in 5 minutes.

Here's a Google Street View of the square. The shadow in the foreground is cast by the fire station. The building in the center, is the coffee shop. They managed to get there after the ambulance ... and they drove ... but only half the distance.



I imagine the emergency was some hipster in skinny jeans not getting their latte and scone combo order how they ordered it.