This post features 15% recycled content.

I wrote a post a couple weeks ago declaring that it was my intention to write 10 posts in 10 days.  It wasn’t nearly as tough a challenge as I thought it would be.  It turns out that I still like writing posts…even though I hadn’t been doing much of it lately.  I had such a good time with the project that I continued it for four extra days.  Yes, I wrote 14 posts in two weeks.  I hadn’t done that many posts in that short a time since my last Countdown to Christmas Party Time series back in 2011.

Well, I didn’t get around to writing my daily post yesterday, so I guess the project is now over.  I’m fine with that.  Here are all the posts from the series for those of you who may have missed some (or all) of them:

Now that the project is over, I think I’ll go back to doing one or two posts each week.  That should be a relief to the few of you out there who get them emailed to you.

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Mark Pickerel @ Sea-Tac Airport (7/21/16)

I swear I don’t plan my trips to and from Seattle around Mark Pickerel’s appearances at the airport, but I ran into the man there again yesterday.  He was performing as part of Sea-Tac’s City of Music program which features local musicians playing live music throughout the airport.  This was the second time that our schedules have overlapped.  This time I found him singing in the middle of the Central Terminal food court to an audience of travelers eating Qdoba burritos and something that might’ve been Chinese food.  I pulled up a chair and watched the rest of his set.

Here he is:


And here are the songs he played while I was there:

Setlist: … / Sway (Dean Martin) / Waiting on a Friend (Rolling Stones) / Solitary Man (Neil Diamond) / Forest Fire / Your Avenue / You’ll Be Mine / Mother of Earth (Gun Club) / One More Cup of Coffee (Bob Dylan) / Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone (Willie Nelson & others)

Much like last time, he played an interesting mix of covers and originals.  The highlights for me included a song I associate with Dean Martin called “Sway” and a cover of Neil Diamond’s “Solitary Man.”  As far as the original songs go, I particularly enjoyed “Forest Fire” and “You’ll Be Mine.”  I was happy to find both of these songs on the Snake in the Radio CD I bought as Mark was packing up after the show.  It’s an album Beth tried to give me years ago.  I refused the offer back then by saying,

I don’t want a CD by some guy you gotta crush on!

As you can see, I eventually came around.

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Paul McCartney @ U.S. Bank Arena (7/10/16)

After three days of searching, I finally found my Paul McCartney ticket just 212 hours before the doors opened.  It turned out that one of my cousins had an extra and was willing to sell it to me for face value.  Once I knew I had a ticket, I felt a great relief at no longer having to deal with the scalpers on StubHub or the psychopaths on Craigslist.  I started geeking out.  I went so far as to dig out my old red JOHN PAUL GEORGE RINGO t-shirt.  Yes, I decided to dismiss concert etiquette and wear a Paul McCartney shirt to a Paul McCartney show.

My parents and I went downtown and met up with my cousin.  I gave her a check in exchange for the ticket.  It was the most expensive concert ticket I’ve ever purchased, even more expensive than the prime seat I accidentally bought for the Eagles’ Hell Freezes Over tour back in 1994.  (I’m not kidding.  It really was an accident.)  Here’s the Paul McCartney ticket:

paul mccartney ticketThere was no time for small talk.  I gave my cousin a hug and headed for one of the metal detector lines.  “I’ll see you at Christmas,” I said over my shoulder.  My parents and I split up on the other side of security, and I went off to find my seat.  It was a surprisingly excellent seat…far away from the stage, but with good sight-lines and a metal bar between me and the section in front.  The people on either side were nice, as well.  Here’s a pre-show shot:

sailor babo gets readyThe concert started about an hour later.

The next two hours and 45 minutes were probably the most joyous and magical two hours and 45 minutes I’ve ever spent in my life.  Or at least the most joyous and magical two hours and 45 minutes I’ve ever spent at a concert.  I had a big grin on for most of the show and even got a bit teary-eyed once.

view from my seatHere are the setlist notes I wrote during the show:

paul mccartney setlistAnd here’s that setlist all cleaned up with proper titles:

Main set: A Hard Day’s Night / Save Us / Can’t Buy Me Love / Letting Go / Temporary Secretary / Let Me Roll It / Foxy Lady (instrumental Jimi Hendrix cover) / I’ve Got a Feeling / My Valentine / Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five / Here, There and Everywhere / Maybe I’m Amazed / We Can Work It Out / In Spite of All the Danger (early McCartney/Harrison composition recorded by the Quarry Men in 1958) / You Won’t See Me / Love Me Do / And I Love Her / Blackbird / Here Today / Queenie Eye / New / The Fool on the Hill / Lady Madonna / FourFive Seconds (recent song recorded with Kanye West and Rihanna)/ Eleanor Rigby / Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite! / Something / Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da / Band on the Run / Back in the U.S.S.R. / Let It Be / Live and Let Die / Hey Jude

Encore: Yesterday / Hi Hi Hi / Birthday / Golden Slumbers–>Carry That Weight–>The End

For those of you keeping track, that’s 23 Beatles songs (if you count the Abbey Road medley that closed the show as three), 7 solo Paul McCartney songs, 6 Wings-related songs, and 3 other songs that don’t quite fit into one of those categories.  It was all great.  The only song that came anywhere near being a dud was “Temporary Secretary.”  It’s a slightly-annoying, completely weird song that Paul has, for some reason, plucked off McCartney II and started playing at shows.  The funny thing is that I was totally singing along about halfway through.  I’ve still got it in my head as I’m writing this.

What we really should be talking about here are the highlights.  There were so many.  The biggest highlight of a night full of them was a surprise performance of George Harrison’s “Something.”  I call it a surprise because it’s a song that’s so clearly associated with George.  Sure, it’s a Beatles song, but George wrote it and George sang it.  I’m still kind of shocked that I got to hear it–played on a ukulele nonetheless.  It was beautiful and I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried like a big, stupid baby.

Other highlights include “Here, There and Everywhere” and “Maybe I’m Amazed” played back-to-back, a mini Grand Old Opry-style set featuring acoustic versions of early Beatles classics, a boisterous “Live and Let Die” with explosions and fire shooting everywhere, “Ob-La-De, Ob-La-Da” and “Hey Jude” sing-alongs that I actually participated in, an unexpected ba-ba appearance in “Lady Madonna”, and the magnificent “Golden Slumbers–>Carry That Weight–>The End” medley that closed the show.

By the time we got to “The End,” I was happier than I’ve been in a while.  I felt light and clean and had to fight the urge to high-five complete strangers.  I would’ve been willing to spend a lot more money than I did to feel that way.  The way I look at it, I got a bargain.  I met up with my parents outside the venue, high-fived both of them, and then listened to my mom talk about how “awesome” Paul McCartney is, how great he looks for 74, and how she no longer regrets that my grandmother wouldn’t let her go see the Beatles when she was a little girl in 1964.  All is forgiven.

And my dad looked around all sneaky-like and told me he’d secretly recorded a dozen songs on his iPhone.  That pirate!

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I’m gonna go see this guy in concert tonight.

Or rather I’m gonna go see the guy that this guy reminds me of in concert tonight.  If I can find a ticket, that is.  The show is effectively sold out, the doors open in four hours, and I’m currently without a seat.  I purchased two tickets for my parents this morning, but I still haven’t found one for myself.

this guy

(this guy)

I’m gonna be really grumpy if they get to go and I don’t.  I’ll have to listen to them brag about it for the rest of my life.  It’ll be like that time my entire family went to Barcelona and I had to stay home and watch the cat.  They still talk about how great Barcelona was…like 15 years later.

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In which I’m reminded of my earliest memory while walking to the hardware store.

I sold a CD on Discogs this morning (Uncle Tupelo’s The Long Cut + Five Live) and decided to see if I could get it up to the post office before they closed for the weekend.  I pride myself on quick shipping, after all.  I packed up the CD, threw some things in my backpack, and basically power-walked to the post office.  I made it with mere minutes to spare.

Having taken care of that, I decided to run some other errands while I was out and about.  I headed for the hardware store to return an extra angle valve left over from yesterday’s surprisingly successful plumbing project.  Although I often walk from my house to the post office, and frequently make the trip from my house to where the hardware store is, I don’t think I’d ever had reason to walk from the post office to the hardware store.  It’s the third, rarely-used length of the walking triangle.  So I found myself on streets I hardly ever walk.

I was halfway to the hardware store when I came to the corner of Monteith and Victoria.  I suddenly remembered that my aunt and uncle and cousin lived near this intersection back in the 70s and early 80s.  I remember visiting their house many times as a child.  It’s where I learned about video games, Chinese throwing stars, heavy metal music, and the dangers of crossing pee streams.  That stuff all happened when I was around ten, but I remember something that happened there many years earlier.  I suspect I was about two or three.  It’s my first memory that I know couldn’t have been falsely triggered by a photograph.  It took place outside the house right here at this intersection:

the scene Here’s what I remember:

I remember walking with my aunt.  She’s holding my right hand.  I lose my footing and fall.  My aunt maintains her grasp on my hand.  I’m hanging there with my right arm high above my head.  My aunt keeps walking.  I’m being dragged in the street.

That’s what I remember.  I could fill in some likely details or try to guess at why my aunt continued walking, but I’d rather skip the embellishment and leave the memory as is.  All I feel like adding is that I’ve always known my aunt to be a kind person and I sincerely doubt she would’ve dragged me in the street on purpose…or for very long.

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4,289,928 steps

Today is the one year anniversary of the day I got my first Fitbit sports watch-thingy.  The model I own–the Charge HR–measures my heart rate, calories burned, active minutes, and a few other interesting statistics.  The Fitbit is also a great excuse for old women on airplanes to start up a conversation with me.  “How many steps you got so far today?” they want to know.

Now that it’s my Fitbit birthday, I thought it would be fun to look back at my cumulative statistics to see what I accomplished over the course of the year.

  • 4,289,928 steps: That’s how many steps I’ve run, jogged, or walked.  That might be slightly inflated as I noticed that I once got credit for about 2,000 steps at a Yo La Tengo concert.  I was sitting the entire time, so I was initially stumped.  Then I realized that I’d gotten credit for clapping.  Something about the arm movement had tricked the device.
  • 2,074.09 miles: That seems like a lot of miles to me.  I know that it’s longer than the length of India as Fitbit emailed me the India Badge to celebrate 1,997 miles a couple weeks ago.  Hey, I probably could’ve walked to Seattle!
  • 13,574 floors: That’s how many flights of stairs I climbed.  Most of that was me going upstairs to switch CDs.  Fitbit also converts walking up a hill into its equivalent amount of floors, so there’s some of that included, as well.  It’s kind of hilly in my neighborhood.

My Fitbit’s band started to come detached a couple weeks ago.  I took a picture of the damage and emailed it to the company.  I got word yesterday that they’re going to send me a brand new replacement.  I hope I’m able to transfer all my old data to the new watch.  I’d hate to have to start over from zero.

happy hill badge

(My favorite badge is called the Happy Hill badge. I got it on the first day for climbing 10 floors.)

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A Few Words From a Suitcase

Not much is known about my early days.  I’m a suitcase, after all, and don’t have the best memory.  I think I was manufactured in the late 1940s.  The company that made me was called Bon Nalda.  I know this because there’s a small metal medallion by my handle that says it in big bold letters.  The company’s name is right over our motto, “The Standard of Quality.”  I’ve always been proud of our motto and have tried to live up to it whenever I’ve been out traveling with my various owners and their belongings.

Speaking of owners, I’ve had a few.  My first owner bought me at a department store in a city I can’t seem to remember.  It might’ve been Chicago.  I remember the store, though.  There was an entire department full of suitcases, valises, and trunks.  (Notice I don’t use the word “luggage”.  I’ve always considered it a derogatory term.)  We were all excited sitting there on display just waiting for our chance to get out of the store and start carrying things around.  I remember there was a smaller matching version of me for shoes.  We got to be friends on display, but I’m sorry to say that she didn’t get purchased with me.  I left the store alone that day.  I sometimes wonder what happened to her.  I hope she carried a lot of shoes for a lot of years.

I’ve forgotten my first owner’s name.  I know his initials, though, as I’ve got them tattooed in silver beneath my medallion.  G.C.W.  Ahh, good old G.C.W.  We traveled all around.  I mostly remember a waterfall, a lot of black socks, and so many train stations and airports and hotels that they’ve sort of become a blur.  It seems like we went everywhere.  G.C.W. and I had a lot of good years.

He eventually stopped taking me places.  It wasn’t long before I realized that I’d been replaced by a matching set of Samsonite suitcases.  They were bright red and looked like Tupperware.  We were in the same closet for awhile and I’ve got to admit they rubbed me the wrong way.  They were always bragging about how tough they were.  They’d go on and on about the gorillas.  I later learned that they were taking credit for another brand’s durability.  The gorilla was in the commercials for American Tourister, not Samsonite.  I got that straight from a round blue American Tourister Tri-Taper model at a garage sale in 1976.

Yes, it’s hard to talk about, but there were some dark years.  G.C.W. didn’t want me anymore and gave me to his daughter when she left home.  That’s when I carried women’s underwear for the first time.  I can’t remember her full initials, but I remember the last one was a W when I started carrying things for her.  It wasn’t long before her initials changed and I found myself replaced for a second time.  Samsonite again!  This set was even worse than the red one.  They had the audacity to mock my purple lining.  They were little more than luggage and I told them so.

It wasn’t long before I was sold at my first garage sale.  There were two or three more after that in quick succession.  My new owners were fine people, I guess, but they didn’t take me out nearly as much as I would’ve liked.  On the rare trips we did take, I was sad to find that there were hardly any other Bon Nalda models still out and about.  I think I saw my last one in 1978.

Mostly I sat in closets.  One man kept papers in me for much of the 1980s and 90s.  They weren’t even important papers.  They were newspapers.  Old newspapers.  I know it sounds mean to admit it, but I wasn’t sad when that guy died.  I knew it was the only way I’d ever get out of that dang closet.

But then I found myself on the curb with a bunch of my recently deceased owner’s other things.  The newspapers were still inside me!  It was my darkest hour.

Fortunately, a truck pulled up in the middle of the night and rescued me and some Revere Ware pots.  They had copper bottoms.  It’s funny what you remember.

The next thing I know the newspapers are gone and I’m being vacuumed.  With a vacuum cleaner.  One of my purple tying straps got sucked up in there.  I’d never felt anything like that before.  The vacuumer (maybe the same person from the truck?) got my strap out and then sat me next to a bunch of other old suitcases.  I was happy to see that my keys hadn’t been lost.  They were taped to my side.  We went to a store.  The sign on the front said Duck Creek Antiques Mall.  I was particularly proud when I got to sit in the store’s front window.  It reminded me of being on display back in my first store.

Let’s forget about the fact that a nearby piece of folded cardboard said “Perfect For Display or Prop Purposes”.  What’s important here is that my price tag said $45.  I couldn’t believe it.  I think I cost about $12 brand new.  I was really moving up in the world.

That’s where my current owner purchased me back in 2002.  He’s a private man and would rather not be named here.  I’ll just call him by his initials: M.E.F.

M.E.F. knew I still had a lot of good years left in me.  I wasn’t a “prop” yet.  He took me all over the country.  It turned out I fit perfectly in the overhead bins of the current era’s airplanes.  Bon Nalda was a forward-thinking company in that regard.  They got the dimensions just right.  M.E.F. and I went to Boston, Chicago, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and a place called Seattle about two dozen times.  It was great fun.

I got a lot of attention too.  By the time M.E.F. rescued me and put me back in service, there were almost no suitcases from the 1940s still left on the traveling circuit.  It was all monstrous black rectangles with extendable handles and wheels.  Wheels!  They roll around like they own the place.  No subtlety.  No style.  No grace.  I’m green and I’ve got yellow racing stripes.  Talk about classy.  There’s a reason they call me “The Jimmy Stewart Suitcase”.  People often gave M.E.F. positive comments about my appearance and ability to carry things.  It makes a suitcase proud.  I’ll tell you that.

Sadly, the last time I took a trip was actually the last time I’ll take a trip.  I flew from Seattle to Cincinnati and got crushed in transit by some particularly cruel Delta baggage handlers.  My wooden frame split at the corners and both of my locks buckled from the trauma of being thrown and crushed by those soulless black rectangles I mentioned earlier.  Still, I’m proud that I managed to stay shut and didn’t spill M.E.F.’s clothes and records all over the terminal.  I held tight until he could claim me.  Nothing inside me was damaged.  I’m very proud of that.  I feel like I lived up to the Bon Nalda motto.

M.E.F. took me home and tried to repair me, but I was too far gone.  All the duct tape in the world wouldn’t be able to cure what ails me now.  Yes, I’m sorry to say that my traveling days are over.  I immediately thought back to that dark night by the curb, but M.E.F. has assured me that I’m not garbage.  He’s going to keep me and put things inside me.  It’s what I was made for, after all.  Even if I can’t go to the airport anymore, I can still hold things.  It’s not going to be old newspapers either.  I assure of you that.

suitcase closed

(open me)

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Dostoevsky is the new Minotaur.

The same Dostoevsky quote has appeared in both books I’m reading within 24 hours of each other.  The first appearance was in James Runcie’s Sidney Chambers and the Dangers of Temptation.  It’s on page 312 in the final story, “Love and Duty”:

‘You will remember in The Brothers Karamazov, Father Zosima spoke of hell as “the incapacity to love”?’

‘I can’t recall the passage exactly,’ Sidney replied.

And then–less than 24 hours later (and less than an hour of reading time later)–I came upon the second reference in J.D. Salinger’s Nine Stories.  It’s on page 160 in “For Esmé—with Love & Squalor”:

Then, with far more zeal than he had done anything in weeks, he picked up a pencil stub and wrote down under the inscription, in English, “Fathers and teachers, I ponder ‘What is hell?’  I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love.”  He started to write Dostoevski’s name under the inscription, but saw–with fright that ran through his whole body–that what he had written was almost entirely illegible.  He shut the book.

Beth and I call unlikely references to the same thing over a short period of time a “Minotaur”…as in “X is the new Minotaur.”  I can’t remember why we do this, but I suspect there were a lot of Minotaur references and then we gradually ran out of them.  The Minotaur references were eventually replaced by multiple references to some new and unlikely thing.  That new and unlikely thing is X.  We’ve had about two dozen things be X in a reference chain that has gone on for years, but right now X is that specific Dostoevsky quote.  Got it?

As I always like to put a picture in my posts, I’d like to offer you this photograph of Crater Lake, Oregon taken on 6/2/36.  It has nothing to do with Dostoevsky or Salinger or Minotaurs, but I’m fond of the photo anyway.crater lake, oregon (6:2:36)

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Half Price Haul

Today’s post (#8 in a series of 10) shows the haul from my recent trip to Half Price Books.  I rarely find a bunch of good stuff on any given trip and typically come away with nothing more than a slight depression and a few $2 CDs.  Well, this time I got my cheap music and four books.  I found three titles from that New York Review Children’s Collection series I mentioned in last month’s book post.  Not one, not two, but three!  And then on top of that, I found a pristine hardback copy of Clarice Lispector’s Complete Stories.  At least it was pristine until I opened it flat for this picture to show off the cover design.

Here are the titles all spelled out:

  • Clarice Lispector – Complete Stories
  • Eilís Dillon – The Island of Horses
  • Eric Linklater – The Wind on the Moon
  • T. H. White – Mistress Masham’s Repose
  • Paul McCartney – Kisses on the Bottom
  • k. d. lang – Hymns of the 49th Parallel
  • the Shins – Port of Morrow Acoustic EP
  • Various Artists – Truebrit: 40 Essential Indie Hits
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Sailor Babo & the Amazing Rainbow of Flowers!!!

Sailor Babo went for a stroll a few months ago and found some bright red flowers.  I took a picture of him in front of them.  Then we got it into our heads that we should try to get pictures with flowers of every color.  It took us over an hour, but we eventually got the entire rainbow…and then some.

It turns out that the hardest flowers to find are the green ones.  We almost gave up on them.

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