kaasirpent: (Music)
Thursday, September 18th, 2014 03:19 pm
I'm about to show my age. Not that I don't freely admit I'm <blur>ty-<blur> years old. I mean — What? You couldn't read that? How very odd. You should probably have your eyes checked. First sign of old age, you know.

Anyhow, back when I first got interested in music, it was The Eighties. I know! It actually existed! It wasn't just some improbable, magical realm of freaky hair and clothing conjured up by John Hughes as a world in which it actually made sense for Pretty in Pink and The Breakfast Club to exist.

Granted, I was well past my larval stage and headed into pupa at this point. Meaning that my musically formative years happened in late high school and college rather than in childhood, which occurred, for the most part, in The Seventies.

Which didn't actually exist, unlike the Eighties. Well, at least not musically, for me. I lived in a tiny town in rural Alabama, and pretty much the only stations we got that I was aware of were all country stations. So while I was aware of (and had probably heard, briefly) hard, acid rock groups like The Osmonds, The Carpenters, The Jackson Five, and The Three Dog Night, most of what I actually heard on a daily basis was Tammy Wynette, Roy Clark, Loretta (pronounced LOW-RETta, thank you) Lynn, George Jones, and Charlie Pride. Why? Because I wasn't in control of the radio. I wasn't driving.1

The summer of the year after tenth grade (I think; it was a long time ago, and I've slept since then), I registered at Livingston University (now known as The University of West Alabama) for an introductory level college chemistry course.2

What? Yes, this all relates. Jesus, you're impatient. Another sign of age. Hmm? Nothing. Really. Now, where was I?

So I registered for this chemistry course, because my high school chemistry class had been a joke. Not because the teacher wasn't any good, but because she simply wasn't there. She had a sick child, and we had substitutes and such a lot, and . . . well, not everyone in the class was college-bound and our pace . . . reflected that. We (my mother and father) felt that although I had good grades in chemistry, I needed to actually learn the topic.

I know! Crazy talk.

Anyway, I got to drive (in my own car!) from Eutaw to Livingston three times per week (or whatever it was) to take the class. And on that twice-daily hour-long drive to and from school, in my two-door, 1976 Chrysler Cordoba, by myself, I discovered that the radio picked up stations that . . . that weren't country.

I mean, like, totally not country. Do you understand what I'm telling you? They had, like, people who pronounced "well" as one syllable and "thing" didn't rhyme with "slang." These were people who had probably never heard of Ricky Scaggs or Jeannie Riley. Who probably thought a steel guitar was just a really heavy, metal guitar. As opposed to a heavy-metal guitar. Because that's totally different.

Was this what music was?

I liked it! I really liked it!

I remember the song that "turned the corner" for me. Every single morning on the way to Livingston, whatever station it was that I tuned into played the song "Time" by The Alan Parsons Project. I would also have heard songs by Blondie, Hall & Oates, Kool & the Gang3, Sprick Ringfield . . . you should picture angelic chords playing here. They would probably sound something like "Time" by The Alan Parsons Project.

Fast forward a couple of years. 1983. Graduation. Going off to college. Buying cassette tapes for the first time. I seldom bought whole albums because I was one of those people who only liked one or two songs, and didn't want to take the chance with all those other ones. Because on a cassette tape (back in the old days before newfangled things like fire and dirt), there's no skipping around. You pretty much had to listen to music in the order it was on the cassette.

So I bought two compilation albums called Hit Explosion4 and Dancing Madness5 from K-tel. They both had some awesome hits from the previous couple of years. Coincidentally, during the time in which I had my own car and could listen to what I wanted to listen to. Go. Figure. :)

I must have listened to those cassettes hundreds of times. Straight through, in order.

Now, let's fast forward through the 80s (Don't we wish that had been possible at the time?) and the 90s. And most of the 2000s. To, in fact, a few months ago.

While declutterizing my home office, I found my old box of cassette tapes (Have I mentioned I pretty much never throw anything media-related away? Books, cassettes, CDs...). I had maybe sixty of them. Most of which I'd already replaced by buying the album on CD and then ripping to MP3 to put in iTunes. But I missed Hit Explosion and Dancing Madness. And I don't even own a cassette deck.

My, how times have changed.

And then it dawned on me that I could make my own damned compilation albums using playlists in iTunes.

Well, duh!

I already owned a good many of the songs. Twenty minutes and maybe $8 later, I had reassembled both albums from 1983 as playlists in iTunes.

Last night, I felt the need to escape writing code for a while and just not be bothered. The call of 1983 was too strong to resist. "If I haaaaad a photograph of YOU-oo-OO-oo-OOOOH, as something to remiiiiind meeeeee..."

Which is what I meant by "The Small Pleasures."

  1. My mother, were she to comment on this, would no doubt interject, here, and mention in passing how there was this one particular trip in the mid-70s up to West Virginia to visit my grandparents for Christmas where "we" (my parents) were "forced" to listen to an 8-Track (look it up) of Dr. Seuss stories, pretty much back to back, all the way from Alabama to West Virginia. My mother still shudders when someone says the word "ooblek." This one, isolated, singular incident (this is my blog) notwithstanding, she and/or my father ("we") controlled the radio and what got played thereupon.
  2. Whereat I saw the single weirdest misspelling of my name, ever. The college admissions people had me down (until I corrected them) as "GARX HEMBERSON." Really? Garx? Really? Oy. In an unrelated note, my handwriting really sucked back then.
  3. I would later come to loathe Kool & the Gang because of my next-door-neighbors in the dorm during my sophomore year at the University of Alabama. These boys would listen to Kool & the Gang at a volume that made my bed frame vibrate in the next room. Until 3 AM. On nights before tests. And we (I) wanted to kill them. But since murder is wrong, I just learned to hate Kool & the Gang along with my next-door neighbors. That, and I moved into a room across the dorm from them the next semester. Jerks. I assume they're both prematurely deaf, now.
  4. Side 1
    Mickey / Toni Basil
    Vacation / The Go-Gos
    Steppin' Out / Joe Jackson
    Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl) / Haircut 100
    Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah) / Joan Jett
    Young Turks / Rod Stewart
    Abracadabra / Steve Miller Band
    Side 2
    Shadows of the Night / Pat Benatar
    Gloria / Laura Branigan
    Hold On / Santana
    Space Age Love Song / A Flock of Seagulls
    New World Man / Rush
    Keep the Fire Burnin' / REO Speedwagon
    Eye of the Tiger / Survivor
  5. Side 1
    Come Dancing / The Kinks
    Fascination / Human League
    Always Something There to Remind Me / Naked Eyes
    Cool Places / Sparks
    Whirly Girl / Oxo
    Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You) / A Flock of Seagulls
    Side 2
    Electric Avenue / Eddy Grant
    Time (Clock of the Heart) / Culture Club
    Pass the Dutchie / Musical Youth
    Juicy Fruit / Mtume
    Don't You Get So Mad / Jeffrey Osborne
kaasirpent: (Random Thought)
Tuesday, September 29th, 2009 04:30 pm
One to four sneezes: "Bless you!" (or "Gesundheit!", but that's far less frequent)

Eight to twelve sneezes: "Allergies acting up?"

Fifteen sneezes: "Are you gonna be okay?"

Twenty or more sneezes: "Bless you!" (said with much more authority...and maybe a little fear)

kaasirpent: (Eutaw)
Sunday, February 8th, 2009 03:53 pm
For those of you who have never lived in a small town, you're about to get an object lesson in what it's like. I opened the Greene County Independent (the "white" paper in my hometown (Eutaw, AL), as opposed to the "black" paper, The Greene County Democrat) and saw the headline that is my subject line. As I read, I found myself laughing, and then finally just lost it at one point. I highlighted that point in bold, red letters. Come with me now and enjoy the bizarre alternate reality that is Small Town America!

[Reproduced entirely without permission. Kaa is not responsible for injury caused by extreme laughter. You have been warned. Editorial comments in square brackets, because I just couldn't stop myself.]
by Betty C. Banks
Independent Editor & Publisher

Watch out for flim-flam artists! They paid Eutaw a visit last week.

Several men made an unannounced visit [And really, don't you just hate it when flim-flam artists don't announce their visits?] to a residence of [sic] on Boligee Street last Thursday, January 22 claiming to be floor-covering salesmen.

According to the victim, two men rushed into her house about 4:30 p.m. when she opened her front door. The white men claimed to be acquaintances and happy to see her after such a long time. They held up a sheet of linoleum pretending to display it for her to see. The linoleum blocked her view while others burglarized her home.

The homeowner told the strangers, "I don't believe I know you."

"I am Hardy," one of the men said.

"I still don't believe I know you," she continued. They stayed approximately one hour.

That night, when she went to the bathroom to take her medicine, her medication was missing. Then she looked in her purse and found her money and keys were also missing. No one had been in her house that day except the so-called "floor-covering salesmen."

A station wagon was seen nearby with a Florida tag about the time the theft took place. The owner said she had seen a strange station wagon or van close by for the last two mornings prior to the incident.
And that's where it ends. We are left to wonder (perhaps forever), "Owner of what? Owner of the station wagon with Florida plates? Owner of the home that was burglarized? Owner of a lonely heart? The world may never know.

But the real gem of this article is that the victimized woman probably considered it the height of rudeness to throw them out, in spite of the fact that she didn't know them. And one thing We Do Not Do™ is be rude.

Because that would be, you know...wrong.

This has been a Report from Small-Town America!
kaasirpent: (Good Idea)
Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008 05:25 pm
I was just chatting with a friend in Google Chat and I believe we have hit upon the plan that will save this country billions of dollars in fuel costs while simultaneously lowering food prices and ridding the south of a perennial pest.

Yes, I'm talking about turning kudzu into ethanol. Just think about it: Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi could become the hub of a global fuel cartel. We could call it: BUBBAPEC (but that's just a working title, for now). You think Arabs are scary? Give a bunch of rednecks with shotguns a chance.

Yes. Yes! Forget corn! Forget switchgrass! Kudzu is everywhere and it grows anywhere and you can't kill it! It's...it's....perfect!

We'll make millions! Billions! Dare I say....trillions? <drool>
kaasirpent: (Eutaw)
Wednesday, February 6th, 2008 10:40 am
[This post is dedicated to [livejournal.com profile] jost.]

So, I was at my mother's house in the small town of Eutaw, Alabama, not that long ago. Maybe over Thanksgiving. My mother smokes, but she knows I can't stand it, so she goes outside to smoke. She has a carport (it's not a garage because it's not entirely enclosed) with a low brick wall at which she stands, looking out over the neighborhood.

One particular time she was out there for a long time, and when she came back in, she told me that she thought she knew what had been eating her flowers that she had planted around her mailbox. We had suspected a deer.

My mother was on the carport smoking when she saw a woman approaching, walking her two dogs. One was a blue-tick hound like any hunter would be intimately familiar with, but the other one was a breed my mother wasn't familiar with. A large, black mutt that was walking rather oddly, like there was something wrong with its legs. They were both on leashes.

As they approached even closer, she was amazed to find that the second "dog" wasn't actually a dog.

Behold, the Eater of the Flowers (Maybe):

Behold! )