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March 13th, 2003

warm thoughts in warm weather

"Here there are many, many sheep
and the people only sleep,
and awake to tell how gory and gruesome was their end,
and I don't have many friends,
and it's really very clean, and
I'm thinking...Juliet, you broke our little pact;
Juliet, I'm never coming back"--Ron Mael, from "Here in Heaven"


Today's productive work day crescendoed into the arrival of my amazon.com CD of Sparks' Kimono My House. It's wonderful when an album you love at 14 still makes perfect sense to you at 43. The first four Sparks albums, of which Kimono My House is the grandest, are a sort of canon of lovable oddity that aligns with my own poor sense of humor perfectly. One pretty much "gets" Sparks, and lives in a haze of ungainly fun eccentricity, or one fails to "get" Sparks, and is entirely normal and actually quite cool--there is no middle ground. I am not sure what I was born to do, but surely it has something to do with listening to walls of wall-of-guitar power pop accented by tinkertoy keyboards surrounding a guy with a piercing falsetto singing Gilbert and Sullivanesque lyrics laced with a music hall Kinks fixation. The new Sparks album, Li'l Beethoven, still has not been shipped, although its US release was to have taken place on 3/4. Perhaps I should have picked up the UK edition on ebay instead of waiting out the US.

I remember seeing Sparks on the late night television show In Concert around the pre-Christmas of 1974, doing versions of their classic silly rocker, This Town Ain't Big Enough for the Both of Us and their quirky Talent is an Asset (although I heard the refrain as "Terrence is on Acid"). I immediately put Kimono My House on my Christmas list, and by some miracle, a copy was actually available by special order even in our rural Arkansas pre-'net days. I wonder if I would have imagined, then, sitting at my cheap turntable, playing that record, that I would first see that band in concert over twenty seven years later? The reviews for the new CD excite me, because a flight from the "dance music Sparks" back to the mock-grandiose earlier poses really appeals to me.

My wife had to go out of town for a few days due to a friend's father's funeral, so I am doing the bachelor routine. Tonight I stopped on my way home at Que Pho Huong, the little chain Vietnamese Pho place. I never quite figure out how to do the vermicelli in those giant bowls, somehow managing between chopsticks and plastic soup spoon to still be entirely ungraceful and off-kilter. Still, the food is so hearty and good I don't mind the lack of appropriate gravity in my eating action.

I'm slowly closing in on catching up my hobby "to do" list. I like that I do these things in little pieces, so it seems like play not work. But this means I always have something on my list "to do". This morning I was baking play dough for a mail art call, so I'm spending my bachelor time cooking well.

The weather is glorious! The bank temperature thing said 75 degrees this evening. I suddenly noticed that all my neighbors seem to have Bradford Pears, which are all coming into bloom simultaneously. Our little native maple offers no such similar show. As I drove home tonight, the rock critic Ed Ward was gushing about the old Austin punk scene, and I was relieved that my memory of wonderful punk and post-punk bands that never went anywhere but Austin matched his memory. Heaven forbid that I think a thought different from that of a knowing rock journalist. I remember the time that I read a Lester Bangs review of my favorite Black Oak Arkansas live album, and feeling vaguely complimented when he said that fans of BOA were the nearest modern equivalent to teenage Frankensteins.

This weekend the Heard Natural Science Center is having its annual Kite Day, but as interested in the kite shows as I may be, the idea of a secluded nature park with a solo kite appeals to me far more. Of course, this is Third Monday, when nearby McKinney has its Trades Day, so a bit of flea market may be in order. Work remains very busy, but this is not all bad. I'm eager to keep my work rolling.

I'm looking forward to this weekend. First priority--Mail Poetry Call. Second priority--Bizarro April 1 Livejournal post. Yes, the fun is in session.