Vinyl, Bubbles, Urban Beachcombing, CARRIE

The now-ended Federal Government shutdown did not affect me this time, since I now work for the State of Ohio, but I did sit out one day of it.  Last Monday was Columbus Day, one of those holidays that Federal workers–but not many other people–get to take.  (State workers have the same holidays as Federal workers, except for unannounced Federal holidays, such as the death of Gerald Ford in late 2006.)  I took full advantage by sleeping in for three days in a row, prowling record stores, and acquiring more furniture.  Most welcome was a cabinet (given to me by a friend; she had foraged it from curbside in Dublin, but had never used it) to house the latest additions to the vinyl collection.

Ah, yes!  My collection of 78s seems to have stagnated at this point, but I am at least 100 albums richer when it comes to 33s.  A fellow student at St. Mary’s Middle School (I was there for seventh and eighth grade; when I was in eighth grade, he was in fifth) has been a Facebook friend for some time, and noted my frequent posts about my never-ending hunt for vinyl.  He messaged me privately, saying that he was going to get rid of much of his vinyl collection, did I want them?  I was floored and moved at the same time.  We had not seen each other since 1977, and we were not especially close at St. Mary’s, but he was willing to drive from Carroll to Olde North to leave me the vinyl he had collected since junior high.  Only through social media is such a thing possible.

You can’t bold or italic on Facebook, but I would have set my “Hell yes!” in 24-point bold were it possible.  So, late last week, I came home from work, and lo and behold there were between 100 and 150 albums sitting on my porch.  I apparently have become more anal-retentive (or more conscientious–this can be spun more than one way, I suppose), because I hefted the stack of them upstairs to my study, logged onto my account, and began cataloging my acquisitions.

I witnessed something interesting late Sunday afternoon, as I was waiting at the corner of S. Grant and Oak Sts.  I was in a good mood, because I had come from the library’s Bag Sale (a grocery bag full of books for $5), and I held a grocery bag that was close to overflowing).  I happened to see soap bubbles, some the size of volleyballs, drifting across Oak St.  I turned around, and there was a heavily bearded man, in a purple dress shirt and black pants, standing in a parking lot and blowing these enormous bubbles.  He had a large white bucket full of soap, and he did not say a word, but he blew bubbles so large that one driver on S. Grant slammed on his brakes when he saw it floating across the street.  I have not blown bubbles since I was a child, except maybe to teach it to Susie when she was a toddler, but I truly enjoyed watching this.

Thursday night, I went to the first showing of the remake of Carrie at the Gateway Film Center.  Carrie was the first Stephen King novel I ever read, although I was an adult before I saw the 1976 movie with Sissy Spacek and John Travolta.  I was pleased to see that this remake was more faithful to the novel, while including some of the scenes from the first movie that were not in the book.  (I am not sure how the 1976 movie did not get an X rating, since there was full frontal nudity during the opening credits.)

What did I think?  I agreed with the reviewer from The San José Mercury News who said the movie’s biggest fault was the downplaying of Carrie’s bullying.  The movie made it seem like the bulk of Carrie’s suffering came from her fanatical mother, who seemed to think anything that brought pleasure was sinful.  I was glad that the movie emphasized how social media has made bullying even worse.  When 17-year-old Carrie has her menarche (first menstrual period) in the gym shower, not only do the other girls throw tampons and sanitary napkins at her, one of the girls films it with her camera phone, and within days the video is all over YouTube.

As one who was not popular in high school, and on the receiving end of plenty of bullying and ridicule, there is a large part of me that was rooting for Carrie after she laid waste to her school (and fellow prom-goers) after her very public humiliation.  I think of it as the ultimate Revenge of the Nerds.  The Carrie White character is also the ultimate fish out of water.  Many TV series deal with people who are adapting to new and totally alien surroundings–shows such as The Beverly Hillbillies, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and even The O.C.–yet you come away thinking that there is no safe place for Carrie, not at home, not at school, not in the small Maine city where she lives.

I heard the name Stephen King again this morning.  At 12 midnight on November 1, NaNoWriMo (a portmanteau of the phrase National Novel-Writing Month) begins, and now that I’m experiencing the empty nest syndrome, I have no excuse not to become one with my laptop and try to write 50 thousand words between then and 11:59:59 p.m. on the 30th.  I braved the cold rain to go to a workshop at the Bexley Public Library on preparing for NaNoWriMo.  The leader was Jody Casella, who writes children’s and young adult fiction (author of Thin Space).  She emphasized the acronym BIC as the #1 must for NaNoWriMo.  (It’s not the ballpoint pen or BIC America speakers, it stands for Butt In Chair.)  For advice, inspiration, or a how-to for writing effectively, Casella recommended over a dozen books, and one of them was Stephen King’s On Writing.

A Wang word processor from the early 1980s, similar to the model formerly used by Stephen King.

I am not sure if Susie is going to attempt NaNoWriMo this year.  She has mentioned her plot idea in a Facebook post, but whether she will find the time between schoolwork and her mom’s rule that she needs to be offline by 10:30 p.m. on school nights, is unclear to me.

For my part, I have heard that it takes two weeks to develop a habit.  This is often a truism, when it comes to something like remembering to turn on the porch light at night (which I do every night of the year except trick-or-treat night) or shutting off the computer before leaving the house.  NaNoWriMo seems to be the exception to that in my case.  Susie and I were both poised at our respective keyboards starting at 11:55 on the night of October 31 in 2011, and at midnight we were like thoroughbreds charging out of the gate at Churchill Downs.  That year, I did manage to “win” NaNoWriMo, but my experience has been that I will write like a house afire for about two weeks, easily getting in the 1667 words per day necessary to come up with 50 thousand by the end of the month, and then I’ll start slowing down and slowing down, and by the 12th or 13th of the month, I’ll have ground down to a halt.

Earlier in this entry (which has strayed all over the landscape, I admit), I mentioned Federal holidays.  NaNoWriMo comes at a good time for me, because I have two holidays in November, Veterans’ Day and Thanksgiving.  November is also a choice month because the weather is generally pretty crummy, and more people are inclined to want to stay where it’s warm and with a roof over his/her head (especially days like today).  It’s also a palatable alternative for literate people during the height of college football season.  (Why anyone who has learned to walk upright would love football is totally past my understanding.)  I think there had been one attempt to move it back to September or October, but this would have inconvenienced Jewish participants, because the month would likely include the High Holidays.

The Columbus Marathon is tomorrow.  The closest I have ever come is walking in the 5K marathon at The Charles School last spring.  There is no way I would ever run a marathon (I don’t run because I don’t have the stamina.  Why don’t I have the stamina?  Because I don’t run), but I think walking one (or at least a half marathon) is a possibility.  I keep reminding myself of my favorite line of dialogue in W.C. Fields’ movie The Bank Dick (1940):

EGBERT SOUSÉ (played by Fields): My uncle, a balloon ascenionist, Effingham Hoofnagle, took a chance.  He was three miles and a half up in the air.  He jumped out of the basket of the balloon and took a chance of alighting on a load of hay.

OG OGGILBY (played by Grady Sutton): Golly!  Did he make it?

EGBERT SOUSÉ: Uh… no.  He didn’t.  Had he been a younger man, he probably would have made it.  That’s the point.  Don’t wait too long in life.