Saturday, August 13, 2022

Cargo bike and typewriter madness

The boy is starting to outgrow his (excellent) second-hand bike trailer, so I figured, now that kindergarten is upon us, maybe it's time for a cargo bike? I considered buying an e-bike, but those are super expensive and I'm used to riding "acoustic" bikes a long way under heavy load anyway, so I bought a second-hand Yuba Mundo off the second-hand site that is not Kraigzlizst. It is blue and pretty.

After handing over cash and riding off, I immediately encountered a yard sale. Mostly tchotchkes and stuff I don't need - [record scratching sound] - is that an Olivetti typewriter case? Sadly, I'm at the point where I recognize Olivetti typewriter cases in the wild. It is, and it's an Olivetti Lettera 36, just scintillatingly cool. Look at those Smyrf blue knobs. Does it fit in the huge saddlebags in my new bicycle? It fits. Like it's daring me to take it home. Am I crazy enough to take it home for half off $5? I am.

When I get home, the boy meets me at the garage door and immediately wants to take a ride to his future elementary school. So with my back still sweaty from the backpack, I put his helmet on, hoist him up onto the padded seat, and take off. Within 8 minutes I am at the school, trying to figure out a way to get a very long bicycle through a little gate. We get through and he starts playing on their new and swanky playground equipment. There is evidence of summertime mischief on the playground - lots of "Buzzballz" scattered everywhere, and what more teenagey a place to drink cocktailz out of truncated spheres than an elementary school playground? - but it is awesome regardless. I stop by some more yard sales on the way home and people can't stop talking about the bike. A lady waves at us and we wave back. It feels pretty awesome.

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Happy birthday Tove Jansson

Today the boy was asking me to sing happy birthday to someone as I was washing his hands. I frantically scrolled through Wikipedia and got as far as Jean Piaget (1896). And while it seems particularly appropriate to sing happy birthday to Piaget with a five-year-old, if I had scrolled farther I would have discovered that it was also Tove Jansson's birthday, which is much more exciting.

Tove Jansson, such a talent! Of course the melancholy twee comics nerd in me is a big fan of the Moomins, but her novels and short stories are great too. You can probably read The Summer Book in a hammock in a single summer afternoon. Take it from me, highly recommended.

I clicked through to the Wikipedia article, which offers this origin story for the Moomins:
Jansson said that she had designed the Moomins in her youth: after she lost a philosophical quarrel about Immanuel Kant with one of her brothers, she drew "the ugliest creature imaginable" on the wall of their outhouse and wrote under it "Kant". This Moomin later gained weight and a more pleasant appearance, but in the first Moomin book The Moomins and the Great Flood (originally Småtrollen och den stora översvämningen), the Immanuel-Kant-Moomin is still perceptible.

What kind of maniac loses philosophical quarrels with her brother about Kant when she is a youth and then proceeds to draw a caricature about it that goes on to change lives and launch theme parks? 

I can guarantee that my brother and I did not get into quarrels about Kant, and while I retain some fondness for the horrific comic I drew in my youth ("Hardon the Mutilator") and his band's songs "Need Bullets," "Gun Kill," and "The Philosophical Ramifications of Ontological Theory", let's just say there is no comparison.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Moon Dice/voopoowoo/new nostalgia sounds

Many years ago, I put in a big order to Night-People (now defunct it looks like, sadly) and I got a big package in the mail with a lot of thoroughly aesthetically unified cassettes, as well as a T-shirt that weirds everyone out when I wear it, all eyeballs and dizzy-making warped op art.

One of the cassettes with said aesthetic was from also-now-defunct Melbourne act Moon Dice. They have that lost-inside-a-VCR sound that I can appreciate every so often without actually dipping their foot into the dreaded vaporwhatever genre trappings, especially now that vooporwoover is getting appropriated by a bunch of loathsome types eager to mix 80s nostalgia with nostalgia for late-30s Germany. MD just sound like a weird out-of-time facsimile of an 80s where everyone was listening to, well, not the Clean, but maybe Stephen? instead of A Flock of Seagulls.

Also, warbly pop music like this is one of the few scenarios where I can see tapes making sense. Because it does have the exact correct amount of bad sound on tape.

Looking forward to voopoowoo fading out, along with its fash hangers-on. Next step is making music on the Palm Pilot.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

The Tortures of the Memory of a Lost Love

Schulz again with what might be Lucy's best moment of combined mayhem and regret

The way she uses the over-the-top phrase "the tortures of the memory of a lost love" not once, but twice, just to make sure that Schroeder (and the reader) are absolutely clear about why she is reducing his toy piano to dust!

I've largely left all the tortures of my memories of lost loves in other states, thank goodness*, but this one is just so great.

*(c.f. "All My Exes Live in Texas," a song that needed to be written, as inevitable as "Honky-Tonk Badonkadonk" - the language was laying it out there, saying, hey, here's that rhyme that will bring you the large amount of money and fame you were looking for)

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Noon whistle/Siren enthusiasts

Today my son was obsessed with expressions that include the word "whistle": clean as a whistle, bells and whistles, etc.

This naturally led me to do a search for noon whistles, that fixture of rural life back in my days in the hinterlands. Do they still exist? Yes! Are people obsessed with them and warning sirens in general? Yes!

A brief search and I was down a serious rabbit hole. Midwest Siren Productions, IASIRENSANDMORE. Sirens of NY. North Dakota Sirens and Roblox. Iowan Siren Recordings.

None of the videos actually, you know, really LISTENABLE unless you crank the volume way down. Does siren fandom include owning a siren? If so, do the fans crank them up? What went down at SirenCon 2021?

What a world!

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Mole Attack/Neutrals

I mentioned Neutrals' "Personal Computing" a while back. Great song, right? What I didn't know is that there is a preposterous and delightful video, also in maximum nuclear blast burnt orange throughout, in which ray-traced* versions of the band themselves perform music. 

There are also millisecond ray-traced blips of various computer activities, one of which is pretty clearly "Mole Attack" for the Commodore Vic-20, a deeply silly computerized version of Whack-a-Mole in which you earn points for striking mole heads as they emerge from the ground - BUT you lose points and create computerized flatus noise if you strike their rear ends as they wiggle out of the same holes. 

DEEP CUT! I can only hope that this ridiculous game on a ridiculous machine, both of which I'm sure my folks purchased in deep discount bins at Pamida stores well after the machine was obsolete, meant something to someone in Scotland at the same time that I was making computer fart sounds on the plowed-over prairies of the American Midwest. 

*Probably not the correct adjective - please watch the video and imagine yourself correcting me if I am incorrect

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Summer Regret/Charles Schulz

It still blows my mind to think that Charles Schulz did a daily comic strip for nearly 50 years. By the time he drew this strip for August 10, 1991, he had been doing it for 41 years!

Hey, Marcie! It's a beautiful summer day!
C'mon out, and we'll waste it away doing nothing.. Then we can look back upon it, and regret it for the rest of our lives!
This was a good idea, sir.

We are finally getting some non-gloomy weather here in the rainy Northwest. I'm upstairs doing endless work and this strip is looming large.