July 9, 2009
The Archive War
As a child, I begged my mother to pull over every single time we saw an historical marker in Austin - I was utterly fascinated with these little tidbits of history on the side of the road. So when someone on Twitter recently said, "I couldn't explain Austin any better than to share this story," I couldn't resist going to check. I love Texas history and particularly anything to do with my beloved Austin.
I about fell over laughing. Librarians and archivists, beware - this is a sordid and scary tale. English teachers - FLEE NOW - this was written, I think in 1974 and apparently by a committee of third graders. (I was going to say fifth graders, but I'm not so sure about that any more.)
Without further ado, I give you ... The Archive War!
In 1839 Austin became the capital of the Republic of Texas. The national archives - state papers and land titles - were house on Congress Avenue. In 1842, after Mexican armies seized San Antonio and seemed likely to capture Austin. Many residents fled in what was called "The Breakup." From his home in Galveston, President Sam Houston ordered removal of the government papers. A local "Archive Committee" responded by burying them. The president then tried unsuccessfully to have congress create a new capital near the coast. Later his men came secretly to haul the papers to the interim capital, Washington-on-the-Brazos, loading them before dawn on Dec. 30, 1842.
Mrs. Angelina Eberly, a noted innkeeper and one of the few women in Austin during The Breakup, found the men loading the archives in darkness. Running to the city cannon on Congress Avenue at Pecan (6th) Street, she fired at the wagons. The 26 men departed with the records. About 68 citizens rode after them, hauling along the city cannon. Some 20 miles from Austin they retrieved the archives without bloodshed.
Because the archives remained here, the president and the congress returned in 1845, preserving Austin as the capital of the republic and (later) the state.
Yep, gotta agree with the tweeter - nothing explains Texas as well as The Archive War.
July 8, 2009
While I continue working on my critique of Amazon.com's website, let me write a quick and fun post. And since 80s music is the topic of the moment, let me once again emphasize how weird I was.
I did not, in fact, own any Michael Jackson albums. In fact, I thought he was terribly weird as it was back in the day, before he got really weird. I can perhaps name three Michael Jackson songs: "Billie Jean," "Thriller," "Beat It." Honestly? I prefer Weird Al's version of Beat It.
I did own: Police Synchronicity on cassette tape and a couple of Air Supply cassettes as well. Also, Yes 90125, the title of which I always have to look up because despite never having watched the show, 90210 comes to mind more quickly. I owned an REO Speedwagon LP and U2's early discography on LP ... though I stopped after Rattle & Hum. I wanted 38 Special, but never got around to buying any. I also had a few 45s, the stride song from St. Elmo's Fire ("Ain't Nothing Gonna Break-a My Stride") and Howard Jones' "No One Ever Is to Blame." Nope, no Madonna - I couldn't stand her. (She offended me with her first big hit. What can I say, I was a prude. Err, still am, just not quite that bad any more.) No Lionel Ritchie, though I did like him. No Springsteen, either.
We did not have cable, so I missed out on the entire music videos, MTV thing. By the time I finally had MTV, they'd stopped playing videos (not that I really cared, to be honest). We did have a Betamax VCR because both my father and I are gadget-heads. By the time I moved out of the house in, I think it was 1989, Dad had the family VCR in the living room and I think four VCRs in his bedroom. Also a video enhancer, a stereo receiver/mixer, two illegal microwave antennae and a Commodore 128 with monitor. Also, stereo speakers. But that's another ball of wax completely.
The one LP I had that caused a bit of controversy in the house was, of course, Purple Rain. I was thinking of buying it even though I had heard there was something naughty about it because I really liked a couple of songs I'd heard on the radio. So when I ran into my rebellious cousin at the mall, it didn't take much arm-twisting for her to talk me into it.
I adored having my LPs in pristine condition. I took meticulous care of them. There would never be a scratch on any of my LPs, nor even the faintest hint of one. I treated them like the finest glass sculptures. But when I listened to the flip side of the LP, the very first song freaked. me. out. I seriously contemplated taking out my penknife and making a deep groove through "Darling Nikki" so it could never be played and the needle would just traverse through to "I Would Die 4 U" instead.
My mother was not happy about this purchase as she'd thought she'd heard dire things about it. I came home from school one day and she made some comment about my music ... I went to my room, looked through my albums and came out and sat at the foot of her recliner whilst she read the newspaper. I said nothing.
"What do you want?" she asked fussily.
"I'd like my album back, please."
"It's filth, you can't have it." I didn't move and didn't respond. I was fairly certain she hadn't broken it and fairly certain she still had it. Not 100% positive, but pretty sure.
The newspaper crinkled down in the corner again so she could peer at me. "I heard on the news that it was bad."
I said nothing and just waited.
It took perhaps 10 minutes and she told me where it was. I retrieved it and put it in my desk drawer where she never found it. Of course, I'm not sure she bothered to look again.
Had she just asked me, I would have told her that there was a single song on there that would freak her out. That it had freaked me out and I hadn't even listened to it all the way through once and had no plans of ever listening to it. Had she trusted that she had, in fact, instilled her morals in me, she never would have had to worry about that LP.
But, my real 80s music that I listened to obsessively? Billy Joel. I wasn't even all that fond of Bruce Springsteen, really. In fact I thought my friends were going to throw something at me when I asked who he was.
I watched Our House with a very young Shannon Dougherty. But I didn't see the point in 90210. Missed Dallas and Falcon's Crest which were both quite popular in my high school. I watched The Hogan Family instead. About the only "popular" thing I watched was Fame. Not the movie, but the series. Now that I would never miss. But I don't think anyone in my school watched that either. I was definitely off the beaten track with my taste. (And I didn't care. I'd prattle on and on about The Secret of Nimh whilst friends babbled about Rambo or Risky Business, other 80s gems that I missed.)
I do recall in late elementary school one pop music event --
My cousin called me bawling her eyes out one day. I mean absolutely BAWLING. When she was somewhat coherent she sobbed to me that the King was dead and now Chubby Checker was going to get to be King and she was just *SOB*
I had to ask who she meant. And to be honest, I think she had just found out because I'm pretty sure he died about 2 years before she called me. Also? With the arrogance of youth, I thought he'd died a million years earlier.
She was unamused with me. Apparently it was a horrible thing for the king of rock-n-roll to die without naming a worthy successor and I was not showing enough respect.
Today, history repeats itself with the king of pop.
Now when Billy Joel finally kicks the bucket (and if it's true only the well-behaved die young, he's going to live for a long freaking time still), THEN I'll be an inconsolable fan who bitches that they're not shutting down NYC for Billy the way they shut down the 101 in LA for MJ. I'll probably haul the LPs up from the basement and finally get them digitized and play them and the CDs endlessly.
But until then, I admit to being perplexed by all the hoo-raw. He was just a man like any other. A weird, tormented little man for whom, to be honest, I felt pity rather than admiration. I hope he rests in peace.
And I wish the rest of us would freaking get over it.
(I know, I know, I'm the picture of sympathy, aren't I? But I'm tired of hearing about it already.)
June 23, 2009
Critical Hit - The Perfect 20
I am a scrounger. I drove my mother the neat-freak insane with my picking up of "trash" and carting it around, insisting it was cool stuff that I didn't just want, but I needed. Besides, it was still good. Why throw something away if it could be used or fixed or re-purposed?
I was the ultimate recycling kid. I made shelves out of cardboard and string, I made space ships for my Fisher Price Adventure People out of the packaging to mom's acrylic and oil paints. And that tendency hasn't gone away as I've gotten older. Let me put it this way. My dad was a VP at EDS at one point. Total suit, executive computer guy. And he would bring home dingy dumb terminals, clocks, office chairs - from the DUMPSTER at work. Drove my mom nuts - this executive in a suit would take off his jacket and go dumpster diving at work. Heh.
So, imagine my surprise when I was taking out the recycling last week and I discovered this:
Yep, a 20 sided die. GOLD, no less, sparkling at the end of the driveway. And whilst the original owner apparently failed a saving throw, it was rolled to a perfect 20 for me! WOOHOO! SCORE!
And then tonight, whilst hunting for the egg slicer which has, apparently, disappeared off the face of the earth, I got on a ladder and hunted in the top cabinet of the house we've lived in for umm, nearly seven years now, and I made another discovery.
First, the house was built in 1952 and I keep hoping we'll find some really cool retro stuff. So far that's been held to an Indiana State Trooper hardhat (pretty cool), a pair of women's motorcycle boots, and a can of Harley Davidson paint that has to be from the 50s or 60s. Some cool stuff, but nothing spectacular.
Our kitchen cabinets are a little ... eccentric. The kitchen itself is tiny - about the size of my cubicle at work. You can't open the oven and the fridge at the same time, counterspace is non existent, no room for a dishwasher and the microwave takes up an entire counter. The massive KitchenAid mixer and the toaster pretty much take up the other side of the sink.
So there are odd corners to these cabinets. And today, whilst hunting that elusive egg slicer for my salad tonight, I made a new retro discovery. I think these damn things have been in the house since it was built ... and there's only one piece missing ... I give you the all important ... Nikoban!
Go ahead and click the pic for a larger size - you can actually read the back of the box and learn about the "slight astringent burrs" that might form from chewing this crap.
Heh, and yes, I took that picture of the eldery Nikoban gum on top of my Hardy Boys Season 1 DVD. I still have to rip that DVD to my iPod ....
Definitely a critical hit of finds over the last week!
June 21, 2009
Because I'm a Dork
Here are some more pix of little Mr. Tieg cuz I'm just that dorky.
I know, he looks a little lost there on the floor, doesn't he? That's "crabcakes" at his feet, one of Scraps' favourite small toys. And that turtle is bigger than Tieg - nearly bigger than Scraps. Apparently both boys really enjoy huge toys.
We call this the teepee. Originally Scout would go in there and huddle and sometimes she still uses it, but the little boy here loves it. He's taken all of the jingle balls he can find and hoarded them along with a few other toys. He also seems to think that the teepee itself is a toy as seen here. He will bite the edges and then try to drag it around. Of course, that doesn't work really well when he's inside it, but somehow that doesn't seem to matter. What's best is he'll go play in there for a while and be self-contained and quiet. Everyone will forget where he is ... until one of the other animals walks past and he springs out like a freaking trap door spider, lightning fast, and strikes at the innocent passer-by. Scraps, as you might guess, is not really that amused by it.
But I am.
Scraps' favourite toy is his bear. It's about twice as big as he is and so far, this is the only toy that both boys can play with at the same time. I got this for Scraps ages ago because he "stole" my coyote stuffie that was as big as he was and had the same soft, silky texture as this bear. He was so proud, walking through the house with this coyote toy, proud he could lift something so big, so happy that I'd brought him a treat. I'd gotten it at a zoo and for me because, well, duh, I have a love of coyotes (except for the human coyotes - those assholes can eat shit and die). Anyhow, not to digress, I felt guilty and decided to get Scraps a replacement that was both large and that same texture. He LOVES that bear, dragging it around, shake-killing it, laying on top of it and chewing the ears ... he just loves it.
So of course, I got it out yesterday and got the puppy to attack it. Scraps was not so sure of that and immediately hopped down and also began attacking bear. I kept hold of bear and let the boys play "tug" with me making sure the puppy got to keep his grip. They were both ecstatic and had quite the grand time playing together. Scraps is happy because Scout will NOT play tug ... at all. As soon as Scraps starts to tug hard, she lets go with this pitiful, "I thought we were playing, why are you being mean" look. She just doesn't get the concept at all.
Apparently Tieg gets the concept. I expect the boys to have tons of fun together once Tieg stops trying to bite everything in his path with those little razor puppy-teeth.
June 20, 2009
I love a good pun. Unfortunately, many people think I have bad taste in puns. I attribute that to Rocky & Bullwinkle.
At any rate, there is a book called Shatnerquake. No, I'm not kidding.
You see? Right there. Shatnerquake. You can even buy it for your Kindle on Amazon. And, being a devout anti-Trekkie/anti-Trekker how do I know about this book? Well, because despite the fact that I am a Star Wars Geek who pretty much hates Star Trek (in general, some episodes of tNG were good and same for DS9), I do adore one person who too often gets characterized as a Star Trek actor, but really he's just this guy, you know? So anyhow, Wil mentioned this book he found in Seattle.
And it sparked a pun war of sorts. A virtual explosion of tweets last night predicting ever more dire endings to the world via Star Trek characters and actors.
My favourites, in the order in which they were tweeted:
- nppyinzer: @wilw I assume these disasters are harbingers of the Aspockalypse
- DeWayneFeenstra: @wilw i got the sequel to shatnerquake- AfterSpock!
- LeEnfantSamedi: @wilw A seismic SPOCKWAVE!
- T_Lawson: @wilw and then TNG becomes fair game - Frakes of Wrath, LeVar & Away, East of Wheaton, Dorn to be Wild, Spiner Tap...
- IanKC: @wilw Someone get Dr. Crusher, I think I have Wes Nile Virus :(
- PhilipWheeler: @wilw I only get about on average 7 of 9 these puns
- Tim3P0: @wilw Tasha Yarrmaggedon
- talekyn: @wilw My friend Dennis just suggested a summer theater production: Frakespeare in the Park.
- MarcSchlaf: @wilw Lest we forget EarthFrakes and ThunderDorns.
- harlander: @wilw The final book in the series must, of course, be Doohansday
- goonie_girl: @wilw one before bed: "Troinado."
- Totz_the_Plaid: @wilw You can't forget "Chekovs and Balances"
- Thomas_Green: @wilw "Worfcano", (and games) "World of Warp-Craft", "Dungeons and Klingons".
- Thomas_Green: @wilw (and movies) "I was a Teenage WereWorf", "Finding Nimoy", "The Sacking of Troi", "Prisoner of Rikers Island" Starring: Ernest Borg-9,
- Thomas_Green: @Mystoffolyees @wilw then there's the song "Like a Bridge over Tribbled Waters" or the movie "Big Tribble in Little China"
- HavTuf: @wilw Picard, any card
- HavTuf: @wilw how the Wes was won.
- Thomas_Green: @wilw And my final contribution to the PUNisnment.. "In 2012 the world WILL be destroyed by a huge As-TROI-D..."
- Hesster56: @wilw Sulunami.
Were I building the series, I would go with:
- EarthFrakes and ThunderDorns
And now ... Hey Rocky, watch me while I pull a rabbit out of this hat!
June 15, 2009
Introducing ... Tieg
As I was going to sleep last night - after the idiot neighbor had his crappy, stupid, LOUD fireworks show on a damn Sunday night before everyone had to be up at ungodly hours for WORK on a Monday - I was just about to drift off and I thought: Tieg.
A good Irish name. A name from one of my favourite book series (Katherine Kurtz' Deryni series). The character in the book is a precocious youngster.
Honestly, I fully expected other half to veto it, but she cocked her head to one side and said, "Tieg. I like it. What's it for?" I told her it was Irish and that seemed good. I hesitantly told her it was also the name of one of the characters I like - that is sometimes the kiss of death for animal names around here - but it still seemed fine.
So - he's finally got a name!
Oh yes, that's Scraps in the background, watching over "his" puppy. I will say, though, we managed to keep Scraps from completely obsessing over Tieg and trying to chase everyone away from him as he did with Scout when she was a pup. Scraps seems to have decided that I'm doing a passable job keeping up with him and perhaps he'll allow me to be mommy instead of him. He's not sure, but perhaps so.