Secret Pop

Jul 31, 2003

Injuries in the Home and How They Can Be Prevented

I was flipping through the The Goodrich Almanac for Farm and Home 1937, and I found a number of quaint bits of advice and charming old timey illustrations. I was looking for inspiration for my journal, but this sort of thing poses a problem for me. If I have a book or booklet that isn't already scrapped, it's difficult for me to tear it up or to use parts of it without feeling the anxious fear that I will suddenly realize the stuff on the reverse side of the paper is more wonderful than the stuff on the front as soon as I've glued it down. This must be what has kept me on the outside of the art world for so long: fear and neurosis.

Towards the back of the booklet (intact but for a missing corner of the cover), I found a feature called Injuries in the Home and How They Can Be Prevented. I laughed when I saw "Gun Shot Wounds" as one of the listed items. How perilous it was to live in 1937! The rest of the items were also surprisingly dire. These weren't just your run-of-the-mill in-home accidents. These were disaster-caliber incidents like "Asphyxiations and Suffocations," "Poisonings," and "Other." But as a reminder of the sweetness of that age, the illustration shows a mother gently bandaging the unsevered arm of her young girl child. I guess a sketch of a corpse with its eyes bulging out and a bottle in its hand marked "XXX" would have been too gruesome.

On the facing page, Helpful Hints Courtesy of "Successful Farming" beckons with entries like this:

Don't overlook the possibilities of old headlight reflectors for light shades about the farm buildings. When coated with aluminum paint they make extra good light. --M.H., Pa.

A useful device for the children in figuring, drawing and so on, is a dark-solored window shade fastened on the wall. It can be written on with chalk and can be easily erased. When not in use, it is rolled up. --M.W., N. Dak.

Turn a clear glass bowl over the alarm clock in the sickroom. You can then see the face perfectly, but the patient will not be dusturbed by the sound of the ticking. --Mrs. O.N., Nebr.

I'm not painting, but I sure am learning a lot. Did you know that the "B.F." in "B.F. Goodrich" stands for "Benjamin Franklin" -- I didn't.

All this, and still no artwork in the happening. If I say I paint with words, we can just keep the fact that this is a cop out between us. That way everybody wins.

Jul 29, 2003

Hoist him on your shoulders and carry him around the town, will you?

I'm speaking, of course, of Paul F. Tompkins, whose brilliance only continues to amaze, delight, and defy me. His show tonight was especially wonderful, and he embarrassed me, as he often does when I'm sitting in the front. But I got some balled-up paper to take home as a souvenir. So, all's well. Truly.

He made some timely comments about the passing of Bob Hope and the sort of getting-carried-away of saying he provided the world with one hundred years of laughter. He applauded Mr. Hope for providing the world with, say, fifty years of laughter and "twenty-five years of terrifying, bloody red eyeballs." I was engulfed in whelps of laughter. I know some people don't like to make jokes about sad subjects that are fresh and tender, but I admire those who do. I have always said there is no line. And I stick to it.

He also performed Folsom Prison Blues with the Watkins Family and made my favorite Johnny Cash song even more favoritey to me. If anyone can push the limits of a superlative, it's Paul F. Tompkins. He's really too wonderful to be spoken of in mere mortal terms.

But enough of my gush.

I want to drink cool water until it comes trickling out my ears. And it's not just because of the momentary rainstorm we had.

Jul 28, 2003

"I wanted to play every piano in the building, and it was exhausting."

I feel fatigue weighing down on me like a great bag of something heavy. It was a long, long weekend that ended in a sunny interlude and a sense of abject gratefulness that a breeze was happening through my car window. Even with shoulders stooped by the downward pull of the need for sleep, I can recount a many-layered tale of early morning parking searches and sidewalk adventures. When I am sent on my way with a great lot of memories, I am usually closer to content.

It's getting cooler and later and older and wiser. It's getting better all the time.

Jul 24, 2003

Don't know why there are clouds up in the sky.

I was introduced to a paper store today. It had many beautiful paper products in it. It made me want to make paper. That's a problem of mine. Tomorrow, it may be chickens made of felt and Clorox bottles. But today, it was fancy papers. The entrepreneurial spirit is not dead in me. But it isn't fully stabilized either.

The night ended with cool breezes and the promise of fall. I can't wait.

Jul 22, 2003

To entertain you and tax your intellect...

Victory Quiz is the name of the filler program currently airing on Turner Classic Movies. It is a parade of wartime factoids, melodramatic demonstrations, and ultra-keen miniature models. It even has a quiz clock with a moving hand and a bell that rings when time's up. And I just learned that the parachute was invented circa 1496. So if I'm ever going to be traveling back in time and have the foreknowledge of falling from a very high place, I will want to find myself in an era that postdates 1496. Because my possession of the power of time travel is not an automatic assurance that I will have also acquired the ability to fly.

Give me vintage television AND give me death. That, sir, would a perfect evening make.

Inner Monologue

I was in the grocery store, passing an older woman in the aisle containing bar soap. She was reading from the packaging of a four-pack of Ensure Light she was holding in her hand. "Seven dollars? For this? Hm. French Vanilla. That might be good..." I never looked at her. Never saw her lips moving. I could just as easily have been in a movie, striding forward, into and out of the zone of her voiceover narration. She sounded like a nice lady.

I talk to myself. Not always out loud. But the words are almost always going. I wonder if -- when I get older -- I will also inadvertently speak my thoughts. If so, prepare to be bored. I burn a lot of brain fuel thinking about things that don't matter at all.

I also take note of the fact that I am nearly always running through things again in my head. Retracing the steps of conversations I've had. Looking for details in my memory as if feeling around in the dark with my hand outstretched, fingers taking on that tarantula-like movement that is the hallmark of cautious touch. Sometimes I find something I forgot. Sometimes it adds to my understanding. Sometimes it enables me to be furious in retrospect. Or to be amused. Frequently, I find the bases for making a better argument or for proving my point.

When I look at my hands, I notice that they don't ever really lie flat. And when I press them together, palm to palm, I can apply pressure so selectively, from muscle group to muscle group, that I feel as if I can count nearly every delicate bone. I never found my hands to be terribly delicate. They are small. But they are not dainty or graceful. They are not as elegant as I would have liked nor as dextrous. They have been hurt many times. Superficially. They are the front lines of my clumsy corporeal army. I stopped wearing fancy watches at one point, because I was always marring their faces by knocking them against door frames and the like. I allow my hands to flail out wildly. They knock into things. They get scratched. Or bruised. Or pinched. Or crushed momentarily. They get slammed in things. I have grown into the habit of not being careful with them.

But I am also keenly aware of them. And I use them constantly. I am always, always taking stock of tactile sensation. I touch things lightly. Lightly enough so I can feel the things touching me back. I touch my hands and ask the left hand what the right feels like and vice versa. I run my fingertips over the sensitive skin of my inner forearms. I like the way it feels to both my arm and my fingertips. And I wonder what it feels like for someone else. When I touch someone, I wonder what it is like. I wonder if my clumsiness is apparent. Or if the uncertainty seems somehow more delicate. I wonder if my hand feels particularly small when being held by another larger hand. I forget to think about it while it's in progress. I remember so much more in retrospect.

My hands look young to me. Looking at them right now, I wonder whether I will remember having this assessment when I am old and my skin is translucent and crepe-like. My mother had a friend who wore white gloves while driving. I never wanted to be old enough to find that a necessary or good idea. I never thought my hands would be old enough to display jewelry or to wear nail polish properly. My fingers are still unadorned, and nail polish is very infrequently on them. So there's still that. I think one's hands never look younger than when they are wearing mittens.

Jul 14, 2003

Captain Jack Sparrow

Hot, muggy day in the town of Los Angeles. Me with back pain from improperly lifting musical equipment. Things feeling dismal and full of mistakes. Hopeful thoughts at a premium.

But I went to the movies and saw Pirates of the Caribbean, and it wasn't as riddled with Bruckheimerisms as I thought it would be (although they were certainly there, and that should not be overlooked or excused). I was disappointed in the score. It could have been massive and swashbuckling and grand, but it wasn't; it was supervised by Hans Zimmer, and it sounded to have been. But Johnny Depp is wonderful. And not just because he's dreamy.

I had to sit too close to the screen, but perhaps it's for the best that I was challenged in my ability to properly view the teaser for the Haunted Mansion abomination Disney has in store for us. I can't wait to see how they bastardize the surely-forthcoming Main Street U.S.A. feature. Why do people still go to watch movies with Eddie Murphy in them? Why?

I'm not really in a reviewing mood. I don't have all my marbles in place. I'm sticky and tired and a bit adrift in all my free time. But I enjoyed the movie I saw, even at the angle I saw it. And I felt bad for the actors who ever realize how fat they all look when you're sitting too close.

Final word: Johnny Depp is dreamy. Ever so. He makes me think of romance and dirty stuff.

Jul 6, 2003

Soundtrack of Memories

I was singing this song yesterday to my sister's dog. It reminds me of my mid-90s mix tapes. I used to wish someone would make me a mix tape with this song on it so I could pretend to be surprised and charmed, but secretly I always believed it was written for me anyway. Which proves that I am insane.

Phoenix Song

My father told me about how he once pinned up a statement that he didn't want to forget, and it read: If you scratch the surface of a cynic, you will find a frustrated idealist. Something to that effect, anyway. We were having a chat, and it came time to choose up camps. Am I an optimist or a pessimist? I think I concern myself more with which label I wish to be applied to me. How I am perceived is paramount. I am almost ashamed to admit that. Because of how it might cause me to be perceived.

What magic is required to interject hope and something sustainable? What keeps one from giving up? What catalyzes the shift from the bleak to the blazing? Why is it that fire ruins everything when all I ever seem to be is burning?

The Freedom of Cable Television

Comedy Central was broadcasting the South Park movie tonight, cursing and all. Somehow -- in a way that is typical of me and yet inexplicable as well -- I'm encouraged by that. Especially because I nearly declined to watch it, assuming that it would be stripped of its maiden vulgarity to accommodate censors and sponsors and the generally dull-minded. The first swear word came as a surprise to me. In almost as profound a way as the film originally did when I went to see it on a matinee day at a little suburban cineplex I used to live near. With that sort of wide-eyed, giggly giddiness that makes you want to look over at the person next to you and compare your reaction in search of camarederie and normalcy, it startled me. And I realized that I was delighted.

But that doesn't change the fact that a number of people gave me cause for displeasure today. I grow weary of it.

Jul 3, 2003


I have a jim-dandy set of Cutco knives I bought from my little sister's boyfriend (if you're interested, ask me!), and I love them. But, quite honestly, I have cut myself every single time I have used anything other than the table knives. Tonight, I was bashing a clove of garlic, and I sliced my palm open. Earlier, trimming broccolini, I opened the tip of my finger. I just think you should be forewarned that -- should you be invited to dine at my home -- you will probably be ingesting some small portion of what courses through my veins. And if not, you will surely be hearing me yelp in pain before I go looking for that bloodstained piece of tissue I recently set down on the counter.

Mangiar bene!

Jul 1, 2003


Do I love the sun? Do I hate it? Am I resigned to the fact that its absence would mean the end of life on the planet? One thing I know: a hot day has a way of having its way with me. And sometimes I feel childishly angry that such a small thing can have so much power over me. But then, I'm a girl with a lot of turtleneck-y things in her clothes cupboard.