Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Master Builder

"Show me your achievement, and the knowledge will give me courage for mine." - Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead

… or, home improvement volume II. There it is, the compost heap behind the garage. The only structure on earth conceived, designed and erected by yours truly. My legacy. I told the Weaver that I thought it looked Pre-Columbian. The Weaver thought that comparison was an insult to the Mayas and the Incas.

My apologies to Ayn Rand.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

If I Were A Carpenter

So my purse fetish has been replaced by the manly art of pounding nails into wood. The new shingles are in place, new soffit has been installed, and I am cursing the drunken S.O.B. who built the addition I am working on. The old part of the house is well over one hundred years old and it is pretty much OK, albeit a little saggy in parts. The new part is only 30 years old and needs a disproportionate amount of TLC. The rotten wood is gone, the squirrel damage has been fixed, and the exterior wall is ready for painting. I'm feeling so macho that I may go watch some NASCAR while drinking a piss-poor American beer.


                               Only one more wall to go.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 3 

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Breakfast At Bolstaðarhlið 8

Staying in a guesthouse is a win/lose proposition. Win: you get a nice homey place to stay (sometimes) and can meet a variety of people over breakfast. Lose: The variety of people are usually tourists. I had been out late the night before so I didn't have any idea with whom I would be eating. I soon found out; it was a group of grad students in education from Michigan, in Iceland to do some comparative studies. It was a package deal, they were led by a weary faculty adviser who had evidently done this thing one too many times before. There were three women and one man, John. John didn't want to be here either. His steady stream of complaints about the strangeness of things here was instantly annoying. The breakfast table was spread with a wide variety of things, breads, crackers, cheeses, fish, granola, skyr and other dairy products. The food was all wholesome and natural. John would have none of it. He rummaged through his back-pack and came up with a jar of Jif peanut butter. He grabbed the whitest bread he could find and slathered it with the sweetened, hydrogenated goo. That's all I ever saw him eat.

The table talk turned to the Iraq invasion and occupation. It had been ongoing for less than a year at the time, before the Abu Ghraib prison photos, and when things there weren't nearly so dire. John thought the US was completely justified, and couldn't understand why the Iraqis hadn't been more helpful to the cause of democracy.

I posted my objections to his reasoning- "Their country is occupied by a foreign army. It doesn't matter what political system the US is offering, we're occupying their homeland, that is why they want us out."

"I think the US should be able to go anywhere and do anything when it comes to their own best interests." John countered. A look of apprehension passed over our landlady's face.

"John, you might want to consider tempering your comments, seeing as Iceland is also a country occupied by the US military." The conversation came to a halt.

That was over three years ago. It's fairly certain that John's views haven't changed much. The US role in Iraq has changed, and not for the better. One thing has changed- there is no longer a United States military garrison stationed in Iceland. In a way, it may be a result of the Iraq occupation. The US armed forces are spread thin and even our spendthrift president has had to make cutbacks somewhere.

And so, on this, the fifth Memorial Day since the invasion of Iraq, (its occupation has lasted longer than the US involvement in World War II) there is still almost no public discourse in the media about the morality of the US occupying a sovereign foreign nation without any prior military provocation. There has been no meaningful action toward the end of the US involvement. None of the presidential candidates wants the war to end until after they are elected (can you say "Nobel Peace prize?") The real name of the game is "cut your losses" but Dubya is going to continue playing "Texas Hold 'em" until he's busted.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Monday, May 28, 2007

Perfect Purse Pursuit

It has been said that as people age, men become more feminine and women more masculine. There's so much variation in gender expression that it seems to me to be a moot point, although as for describing a general trend that statement may have some value. In light of this, I seem to have taken a decidedly unmasculine interest in purses and handbags as of late. I've always been aware of them as a fashion accessory, indeed, the right bag can be an iconic expression of a woman's personality. Whether it is a petite clutch or a large over-the shoulder, the right purse can complete one's "look" and function as a mini-storehouse for various essentials.

I've found myself leaving the house in the morning, wishing I had a proper receptacle for my various accoutrements: camera, notebook, moist towelettes (never leave home without them!), a refreshment perhaps, personal grooming items (nose-hair clipper?), the newspaper, and a sweater for those over-air-conditioned places I might run into. A camera bag or a backpack would be just as functional I suppose, but they would define a role and not reflect my stunning personality at all. For inspiration I checked out the gear of some of my linked "regulars" (I once spent an afternoon with Audi and her legendary bag which she used in such a clever and purposeful way that I was a bit envious) and I found a these bags worth coveting:


Kristí­n's studs 'n leather would definitely draw attention (while allowing me to retain a hint of masculinity), while Sharon's softer minimalism is also appealing (love the monogram!)

Alas, I am not quite ready to cross that Metrosexual threshold. Maybe next year.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 5 

Friday, May 25, 2007

A Case of Shingles

Any of you who have been afflicted with the disease Herpes Zoster know that it can be excruciatingly painful. Hot needles in your skin is a common description of the discomfort it causes. When I was a newlywed, I came down with the disorder upon my first visit to my in-laws. Wonderful timing. (It has been said that stress can trigger a flare-up.) I picked up another case of shingles today:

A different kind.

After twenty-three years of living in a house with mis-matched exterior coverings, it is finally time to correct the situation. And after looking at new siding options that were the price of two new cars and would leave the house looking like it was made of Legos and make it even more vulnerable to the ravages of Minnesota weather, shingling the odd parts with cedar made the most sense me. We'll have to paint it, but that we can afford.

Imagine that. A house that looks like something planned.

That should raise our property tax more than a little.


By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Voice Of The Student

Underground Papers

Underground newspapers were a short-lived high-school craze in the late '60s. It seems quaint now, that a three page dittoed paper could cause such a stir. In our senior year my friend Andy started one with a quickly made sheet complaining about an arbitrary act by the school's principal. I expanded it, got some contributions from another cranky classmate, it wasn't more than twenty four hours later that the three of us found ourselves in front of the "great man" himself. Anything that could be construed as a threat to his authority was always dealt with an over-reaction on his part. His ultimatum: drop the paper or you won't graduate. Whether or not he actually had the authority to erase credits already earned was beside the point. We were sufficiently cowed.

When I told my father what had happened, he was livid. Not at me, but at the principal. I was most impressed, I had not seen this side of my Dad before. We went to see an ACLU lawyer, learned our options (not many- seeing as I would graduate long before any legal actions could take effect) but because of this "clout" I was allowed to continue my paper and my vanishing credit for the regular newspaper class would be turned into an independent study credit for Drama class, and I would graduate. My scholastic career had been less than stellar prior to my senior year, but I had finally found my stride, and I was getting straight A's at the time.

News of this micro-tempest actually reached the media, I was interviewed by the Minneapolis paper, I received correspondence from other underground newspapers from around the country: New York, Washington DC, Louisiana, Seattle and California; I got an author's inquiry from Esquire magazine and even a subscription request from the University of Wisconsin, Madison (of course!) The other papers were similar to ours, tackling social issues of the day, including birth control, drug use, the war in Viet Nam (some things never seem to change) and just stating what it was like being a teen-ager. It wasn't great journalism, but I suspect they did start the careers of many writers. Now, children in grade school can have an international audience, instant publishing is a reality for the masses, and one can find a few "needles" in the haystacks of MySpace and Blogger- young people who are still "acting up" and have something worthwhile to say. (Although I fear that this electronic mode of communication is already being taken for granted.)

By Professor Batty

Comments: 3 

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

My Life As a Feral Child

North 3rd Street

My childhood was not exactly what would be described as “structured.” Consequently, many happy hours were spent in idleness and depravity. I’ve prepared a map to give you a sense of the neighborhood, with a number key for particularly notable incidents.

1.  Magnuson’s grocery. Candy, pop, and baseball card gum. Belching contests on its stoop with my old pal Kevin.

2.  Phillip 66 gas station. Peeking in the bathroom windows, also with Kevin. They’d let us patch our bike tires there with a vulcanized patch kit that you would light with a match.

3.  Parking lot where school buses were stored. Smoked my first cigarette underneath one of them with my childhood nemesis Frank J.

4.  Field full of trash. Endless opportunities for enjoyment.

5.  Site of my first mural- 4x20 feet, in crayon, on the stucco garage across the alley from my house. Remains my largest work to date.

6.  Place where the one legged man lived. His yard was full of weird slime balls growing up in the grass.

7. Johnson’s dog house. Strip poker, also with Kevin. ‘Nuff said.

8.  Jensen’s garage, where Kevin’s dad Jake kept his Gluek beer.

9.  Hanson’s. I cut myself on a razor blade there, I had to see if it was really sharp. It was.

10. Home Sweet Home. Site of numerous whippings and many instances of mental abuse. Sandbox in the backyard was a favored meeting place for all the neighborhood cats.

11. Next door. Some kids from Pennsylvania lived there for a while. They talked funny.

12. Mrs. Gustafson’s house. She was retired and lived alone, although an old man would show up once in a while. “The old fool” is how she described him on our party line.

13. The new house. When it was under construction, I nearly put out a kids eye with a well aimed rock when we were playing “war” around the excavation. When the house was being built, we'd pee and poop inside. Broke my arm here as well. After the house was finished, a big kid moved in who won all my marbles.

14. Jeanie P. and I got married in her back yard when we were six. Movie footage exists!

15. The apartment house. Received my first BJ in the alley behind the garage.

16. The MacAuliff’s. Hank was in the Marines in WW1 and had a tattoo to prove it.

17. Home of Arlan the queer. (see #15)

18. Home of Frank J. and his older JD sister.

19. The field where Frank pulled down his little sister’s pants. There would always be a stash of porn hidden (probably Frank’s) in the trees there. Mrs. McAuliff would set the field on fire from time to time. The swamp was further west, where my older sister once made me sit on the big stump under a mushroom shelf.

20. The Big Field. It was usually full of unused storm sewer pipes (the big ones), more endless fun, especially with firecrackers.

21. To The Mississippi Courts and The River and Green Lake. Where the mean kids lived.

We moved out in 1960, when I was 10, to a more “refined” area. I had to behave, the houses were only 8 feet apart there, with no fields or dumps—no places for kind of nonsense that we indulged in earlier.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 4 

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Branson's Box

In a recent article in the New Yorker. Sir Richard Branson (who has come a long way from promoting Sex Pistols records) offers a $25 million award to anyone who helps impede climate change without seriously disrupting our way of life. This would entail not only a switch to carbon-neutral bio-fuels, but also calls for the invention of some form of technology that would actually reduce the amount of carbon dioxide already present in the atmosphere. In other words, a gizmo in a box.

If such a device could be built, say as an engine that catalyzed CO2 into elemental carbon and oxygen, it would be worth far more than $25 million. It would also, by its very nature, disrupt our way of life. A clean source of energy, if it were small enough, would destroy the utilities and oil companies. Everyone would have a "Branson Box" in the basement,in the car, powering grow-lights and communications technology. Mid-east regimes, run on oil profits, would collapse into anarchy. The climate could cool off, hopefully not too cool, and, paradoxically, the earth's population, now showing signs of a Malthusian melt-down (especially in Africa) would rapidly expand at first, as the have-nots embraced the new world order.

Of course, no such box exists. But Sir Richard has proposed this idea, his lucky streak in business always depended on his eye for the next big thing. He has defined the problem and offered an incentive to its solution.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 3 

Monday, May 21, 2007

No Time For Bloggers

Way too much to do, and way too little time in which to do it. With five rough drafts in the can you'd think I'd be able to turn out a proper post. Not gonna happen. And, to top it off, consortium calls.

See you tomorrow.


By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Painter Examined

            Nonesuch Records

Tribute albums are a mixed lot. There are usually a least a few tunes of merit, sometimes the concept works perfectly (as in Bob Dylan's Tribute to Jimmie Rodgers) sometimes it fails (Mojo magazine had a Sargent Pepper's tribute that was ghastly) but most fall somewhere in between.

A Tribute to Joni Mitchell is on the high end of the scale, with a lot of high-priced talent putting their egos aside and making some wonderful new versions of Joni's songs. Björk, k. d. lang, Sarah MacLachlan, Annie Lennox, Elvis Costello and James Taylor all perform admirably. Caetano Veloso remakes Dreamland into a Brazilian delight. Prince really shows his deep, life-long appreciation of Joni on A Case of You. (Joni remembers seeing him in the front row at one of her concerts when he was a child!)

The emotional center of the album has to be The Magdalene Laundries, as sung by Emmylou Harris. The misery of that situation, expressed in Joni's lyric and Emmylou's cracking voice, is almost unbearable:

I was an unmarried girl
I'd just turned twenty-seven
When they sent me to the sisters
For the way men looked at me
Branded as a Jezebel
I knew I was not bound for heaven
I'd be cast in shame
Into the Magdalene laundries

Most girls come here pregnant
Some by their own fathers
Bridget got that belly
By her parish priest
We're trying to get things white as snow
All of us woe-begotten-daughters
In the streaming stains
Of the Magdalene laundries

Prostitutes and destitutes
And temptresses like me--
Fallen women--
Sentenced into dreamless drudgery ...
Why do they call this heartless place
Our lady of charity?
Oh charity!

These bloodless brides of Jesus
If they had just once glimpsed their groom
Then they'd know, and they'd drop the stones
Concealed behind their rosaries
They wilt the grass they walk upon
They leech the light out of a room
They'd like to drive us down the drain
At the Magdalene laundries

Peg O'Connell died today
She was a cheeky girl
A flirt
They just stuffed her in a hole!
Surely to God you'd think at least some bells should ring!
One day I'm going to die here too
And they'll plant me in the dirt
Like some lame bulb
That never blooms come any spring
Not any spring
No, not any spring
Not any spring

Joni fell out of popular favor for a long time. As evidenced on this collection, her influence on a wide variety of musicians and other songwriters is immense. Joni considers herself a painter who wrote a few songs.

One for the ages.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 5 

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Screw Loose

This is where the proverbial "loose screw" ends up. Of all my vices, pack-rattery must lead the list (is onanism still considered a vice?) Bins and bins of parts. The screws and fasteners are small, unlike the collection of amplifiers and speakers I've accumulated. I actually use some of these treasures, in fixing or modifying some gadget or system. They will be my comfort/curse in my dotage.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 4 

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Wiggle Room

There is an act which reveals a bit of the primordial in each of us. To be sure, as children we had been taught not to do this maneuver, and its manifestation in adults is considered unseemly, provocative or even ridiculous. Wiggling. Like the lowly worm or the microscopic spermatozoon, there is an element of the wiggle that is positively sub-human. To wiggle out of a situation implies agility and a non-rational power. The phrase "wiggle room" means one has some allowance for messy, flexible behavior in response to a "sticky situation"- as a mucus-covered worm might experience in an underground passage. The "bump and grind" of a burlesque artist (or her less artistic modern counterpart) usually is beyond wiggling; there is a sense of the unconscious in the wiggle that is definitely lacking in a theatrical performance. Wiggling is a simple pleasure, and when shared with a sympatico partner, most sublime.

I think my late friend Billy put it best.
He was in the Army, stationed in Alaska, and on a lonesome call back home one night he confessed that he had been thinking of every girl he'd ever known, but there was one girl he remembered above all the others. She was the one with that "special wiggle."

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Monday, May 14, 2007

Paradise Lost

Poplar Lake
Sunset Over Poplar Lake, Near The Gunflint Trail, Minnesota, July 2006

The spiritual center of Minnesota is on fire. A large fire, perhaps overdue, has taken many square miles of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in the last week, and is still out of control. It could burn for weeks, and if there are no heavy rains, months. The BWCAW is a place of natural beauty, few people who travel there leave untouched by a sense of its natural spirit. It just is, and it has inspired generations of people who feel a need to make a connection to the land and water, unchanged by human touch. Even the rocks of the area are ancient, billions of years old.

I've written here about my timid sojourns there, last summer was spent among the pines and swamps in places that have burned, or may yet burn. I'm almost afraid to check the evening news tonight for I already know that today was a bad day.

Can one pray for a forest?

By Professor Batty

Comments: 7 

Friday, May 11, 2007

Angels Are Naked

Welcome to paradise! You'll notice that you are now robed in diaphanous silk, no-iron and stain-free. Like your redeemed soul! You are free to wander the cloudy expanse, just mind that you stay within the pearly gates! Ha! Ha! A little joke we like to tell here at the newcomers expense. You're in for good! Very good (no evil allowed!) The days pretty much run together here, the sabbath is for "earthies" not you. There are quite a few tykes running around, you really didn't think we'd send unbaptized children to limbo did you? The only limbo you'll find here is the limbo bar at the Saturday night fish fry. Only a few fish and a couple of loves of bread, but don't worry, there'll be plenty- and its heavenly!

You may notice an occasional angel here or there, yes the feathers are real, and yes, that's all they wear- ANGELS ARE NAKED! Not to worry- they're just a little extra "downy' in the nether regions. The one blowing the hot trumpet is old Gabe, don't mind him- the only song he knows is "When The Saints Come Marching In" and he never plays more than two or three thousand choruses at a time. All the angels are OK, if a little flighty, but watch out for Moroni, he'll spend an eternity going over your genealogy if you let him. If you need a lift, just flag down a chariot (golden or flaming) and Ezekiel will take you to whichever cloud you'd want to visit (my recommendation is #9.) Or just kick back and do nothing.

You've got all the time in the world.

Choir practice is at seven.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Landscape Architect

After waiting half a year, spring has arrived full force- with verdant trees, lawns and gardens. The disease of domestica domicilious usually lies dormant but this year it has flared up and I'm the one suffering. Its current manifestation expresses itself as a fixation on patio blocks- those big ones with patterns embossed on one side, 16" x 16"x 2", 42 pounds each (com'on lift 'em two at a time!) Somehow it makes sense to me to have all those hard-to weed areas covered with stylish concrete. At my rate of progress, in 20 years the entire yard will be covered and I'll be able to throw away my lawn mower.

The weaver maintains a respectful distance, as she knows that this malady soon shall pass and I'll be back where I belong- on the sofa, eating bon-bons and doing the New York Times crossword puzzle. In ink. Capability Brown I am not.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Got the new Björk album today. Impressions written while listening for the very first time-

Earth Intruders:

The current military madness has not escaped Björk's consideration- her assumption of the role of a leader of a ruthless army makes its point with marching cadences and an overlay of pulsing rhythm...


The flowing melody and brass choir fight against programmed beats, the beats win...

The Dull Flame Of Desire:

Andrei Tarkovsky's love poetry set to B's music. The massed brass chords again are magnificent, but have to struggle against nervous, mechanical beats. "Antony's" contrapuntal vocalization is meant to be emotional, but merely shows his lack of sensitivity to the phrasing of his partner's superior technique. This would be a stunning track without him and no drums...


Basically a funkier reworking of Alarm Call, the drums make sense in this arrangement, however...

I See Who You Are:

The Japanese song, a celebration of the flesh "before we become corpses", benefits from the ample space in the arrangement. It would fit right in with Vespertine...

Vertebrae By Vertebrae:

Soundtrack music from some parallel dimension Alfred Hitchcock movie? (Actually the brass was sampled from Drawing Restraint 9) Not exactly a sing-a-long...


Stunning brass arrangement by Nico Muhly, an emotional vocal performance by Björk. Beautiful...

B's internal dialog about the nature of evil and suicide bombers, over a Indian-style background...

Declare Independence

Hard core Techno-Industrial. Not for the timid. While it was playing sirens went by my window. I dug that...

My Juvenile

What should have been a poignant farewell falls apart with another awkward duet between Björk and "Antony"...

Overall impression: This is a deeply flawed album. There is some good stuff there, but it is usually buried under self-conscious programming and arrangements. Buyer beware.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 3 

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Old Man With A Book

I'm awfully distracted and lonely right now. There's an older gentleman wearing orange and sitting a few chairs down from me, inhaling loudly and pondering a book deeply. I'm tempted to ask him what he's reading because I haven't had that much social interaction today/tonight. - Comica

I saw that you were looking at me. Were I your age, or even half my age, I might try to strike up a conversation. When I was younger, it was never a problem. Just look at the title of the book you are reading, make up some nonsense about the author or subject, and in a half an hour the two of us are sharing coffee, and in an hour, well...

The lonely ones. Only works with the lonely ones. A smile is free, and if its a good one it works nearly every time. But now I'm the lonely one, reading in a library because it makes me feel a little less old to be surrounded by young people. The book? Its OK, a biography, with a good sense of the times the subject lived in. High-class escapism- like a romance novel with a brain.

The idea of romance. Something to live for, an open future, an evolving existence with someone else. When the two of you close that door, the rest of the world disappears. The cruelty of age is romance like that still beckons, but the door of the future is closed.

Talk? Sure, I'll talk, but no coffee, thanks- hard on my arteries, the wheezing is a sign of a weak heart and caffeine doesn't help one bit. My dreams are scarce enough, sleeping through the night is only a distant memory.

But thanks for noticing me. Just thinking about this helps a lot. I'll go home alone tonight, I guess we have that in common. My fire still smolders and keeps me warm but the full blaze which is you would burn me up.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 4 

Monday, May 07, 2007

One Thousand


Why, if I had a nickel for every Flippism Is The Key post, I'd have $50.00 by now!

It has been a little over three years since the first post, and a little over four years since Dubya declared "Mission Accomplished." Draw your own conclusions.

In looking over those thousand posts, a few themes emerge:

Icelandic culture, of course. While my shameless promotion of it may never equal the effect that wonderful place and its people has had on me, my humble efforts in that direction are, nevertheless, sincere.

Childhood memoirs. The child is the father to the man?

Blogging itself: The very oldest blogs are only about ten years old, (or 400 years if you count Pepys) there may be a lot yet to be discovered, although the conversational aspect of it is as old as time. I'm still surprised at the connections I make...

Travel: There has always been something to fulfill the role of "Travel Section" in this on-line journal-

Little Miss Loopy's adventures in Dubrovnik...
Reshma's India...
Comica's Virginia...
My trips through the wilds of Northern Minnesota, Wisconsin and exotic islands...

Book, Music, Art and Movie reviews (this is starting to seem like a Sunday Newspaper!)

Poetry and Fiction: some big truths hide in little lies...

Philosophy: Like a powerful spice, best tasted in small doses...

Satire and Whimsy: I'm so very, very sorry, (but I won't stop...)

Psychology: The mirror is endlessly fascinating...

Feral Cats: #1 photo search hit, no contest...

Love: The only thing, really...

Photography: I'm really ambivalent about this one. With the ascendancy of Flickr, I get many more hits on the photos than on the writing. I've done a fair amount of photography, but the pictures shown here are just illustrations. I'd usually rather read a thousand well-written words than look at a picture...

Group Mind: I cannot forget to mention the contributions of Little Miss Loopy, Comica and Reshma. They each have their own blogs, but were gracious enough to take the time to contribute over 100 of the posts. Thanks again.

And last, but not least, you: the readers, commenters and lurkers- past, present, and future. That's the thing that really intrigues me. Assuming that Google/Blogger will continue hosting this madness, there conceivably could be people reading this a thousand years from now.

Gulp. I'd better proof-read this again.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Friday, May 04, 2007

Five reasons why I blog - a meme

-via Gary

Perhaps this should be titled "Why I continue to blog"

#1. Mental gymnastics. Lots of thinking involved: problem solving, learning, exploring. The absolute opposite of watching television.

#2. Getting "out of the house" -the house being my brain and all the notions it develops to make things comfortable. The world is a big place, and the people in it often have different and challenging perspectives.

#3. Getting to know other people. The world is a big place, but the people in it have a lot more in common than I originally thought.

#4. To see how my posts will turn out- I always have a beginning but seldom have a planned ending.

#5. Girls. Girls are great, this I cannot deny. You know who you are! (and thanks for the interaction!)

Tagging: the usual suspects.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 5 

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me

I have been divesting our accumulated wealth in a frenzy as of late. It's as if I was feeding my furnace with shovel fulls of dollar bills. I mentioned the roof last week, the first-half property taxes along with the usual monthly bills have all come due in sickening synchronization. Tomorrow the trusty Batty-mobile undergoes some corrective surgery. The money for all these things is all to maintain the status quo- not even a new fridge or some shiny electronic bauble in the mix.

It's almost as bad as having kid in college.

Although we do have a roof over our heads.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Boy Band

It seemed like a good idea at the time. We'd start a band, learn some songs and get some gigs, get some girls, make a record, get famous and...

Pretty heady dreams for 14-year olds. Most of those dreams, excepting the last one, even came true- in one form or another. The biggest thrill at that age was actually doing something that you had created, something that you weren't told to do, in fact doing something slightly rebellious, even if millions of other boys (and a few girls) were doing it too. Our parents must have been mortified, but they did allow us to rehearse in the basement, they even gave us rides to the first few gigs (before we were old enough to drive.) We learned quickly about the darker side of show biz- playing for fraternity parties (worse than Animal House) and learning how to smoke and drink (the drugs would come later.) But there were some moments that gave us a realization that there was a power in music, and it was good. By our senior year in high school we had split up, the better players were keen to form a regular band, the rest of us tried other things- theater, art, photography; the Viet Nam war made the choice for us in many cases.

While watching a couple of teen-age bands at the Iceland Airwaves festival ( Jakobinarina and Retro Stefson) I had to laugh, comparing them to the groups I was in when I was about the same age. These kids are already accomplished musicians, seasoned performers- Jakobinarina has played internationally- whereas we played for possibly a thousand people in total- using borrowed equipment and more nerve than talent. But somehow, as those Icelandic bands also did, we managed to create some real joy, joy that is harder to capture the more jaded and road-weary one gets with experience.
"A fine little girl, she waits for me
I catch a ship, sail cross the sea
On that ship, I'm all alone
I never know when I'll make it home

Ah Louie, Louie
Oh no!
I said: me gotta go
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
I said ah Louie, Louie
Oh baby!
I said me gotta go..."
-Richard Berry, Louie, Louie

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Iron Irony

You are what you eat. You aren't what you don't. Another rite of passage into adulthood is a flirtation with vegetarianism, in one form or another. We- twenty-somethings with an artistic bent- had been living in a group of houses. J was one of us, a young woman who, after having worked in a restaurant for several years, forswore the eating of meat in any forms. She got into it, really into it, for her brown rice was not a side dish, it was dinner. However she was getting more and more lethargic, her complexion grayer and grayer. One day, as she was preparing dinner, she dropped a pot of boiling water on her foot. She had to go to the ER, they took a blood test and her iron count was extremely low. She didn't give up on her vegetarian lifestyle, but she did get some pills and started to plan her meals better. I had never given my diet any thought at all before that. We all started to eat better, exploring different cuisines, meatless or not.

Now we have an almost unlimited choice of foods; globalization has made its biggest impact on the palate.

By Professor Batty

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