Saturday, May 14, 2016

What Is Vacation, Anyway?

There are many reasons why I might not like vacations.  One is, simply, that at home I am surrounded by everything I love, not the least of which are my dogs & cats, who (usually) can't come with.  A second might be that I grew up quite poor, & didn't ever take vacations as a child.  It just wasn't something we did.  When my mother would go back to Germany - she took me once, when I was six - it was to visit her family.  When I went again, in 1992, at the age of 24, I was bored out of my mind.  I didn't speak German well, I didn't really know anyone there, & my mother was at home, so when I suggested sightseeing, she understood it to mean I was taking her away from being with her brother & sister & their kids.

When I finally started  going other places when I was in my twenties, I didn't understand a lot of the common things folk did on vacation.  First & foremost, flying seemed out of the questions.  Why fly when you could rent a car? Never mind that that took much, much longer - flying seemed a luxury.  Another thing: hotels.  When I drove to see my friend Dale in Los Angeles, in 1995, I dropped off my girlfriend in Moab, Utah (that's a long story), & made the trek across Utah & Nevada toward the Bay Area.  When it seemed obvious I wouldn't make it in one go, I didn't find a cheap motel outside Reno to hole up in - I slept in the car.

That was half my life ago.  Whether I am better or not about traveling is a matter of debate - my wife likes to boast she is always the last person on the plane, while just contemplating such a situation increases my blood pressure to dangerous levels.  Hotels remain a weird, uncomfortable place for me - & not just because someone else was sleeping here the night before - or bedbugs, or whatever,  but just because they're not places I was ever made familiar with as a kid.  & don't get me started about Air B&B!

Luckily my wife, who was raised in a more affluent family, navigates this world better than I do.  She has to put up with my anxieties (which she mocks me for) & my occasional nervous outburst, but she knows what she's doing & most importantly knows she's in charge.

As for enjoying the vacation - oh good lord, how does one do that?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Self Help Radio 051016: Forgetting

(Original image here.)

Hooray! I remembered to do a radio show!

Probably I've thanked Jenny enough for the suggestion.  There were so many songs that I could've filled four hours if four hours were mine to fill.  Can you believe Self Help Radio was once an hour long?

Here's something I do at the end of each day: I keep something like a diary or journal.  It's not full of deep thoughts - don't really have those - but rather it's a list of things I did that day.  I imagine one day when I read over it, I'll be puzzled (or saddened) by my meaningless waste of days, or my memory will fill in the blanks (which may still leave me puzzled or saddened).  One thing I will do is mention what television shows I may have watched that day.  I always forget them.  I can't even rely on a particular show that's on a particular day because I DVR most shows & watch them later.  Even if I've taken two hours to watch a movie, I will struggle at the end of the day to remember which movie it was.  Such is my brain.

But you know what?  I know the words to lots of Elvis Costello songs.  A fair trade-off?

Before I forget: the show about forgetting is over at Self Help Radio website.  It's in two parts.  What's in each part is below.

That's all I can remember that I wanted to tell you.

(part one)

"Forget" Mission Of Burma _Forget_
"Forget" Witches _Forever_
"Forget" Ed's Redeeming Qualities _It's All Good News_

"Forgive & Forget" Acid House Kings _The Sound Of Young Sweden_
"Forgive & Forget" Making Marks _A Thousand Half-Truths_
"Forgive & Forget" I Was A King _Old Friends_
"Laughter & Forgetting" David Sylvian _Gone To Earth_

"How Can I Forget" The Temptations _Emperors Of Soul_
"Forget About That Mess (Part 1)" The Marvels _Absolute Funk, Vol. 4_
"The Kind Of Boy You Can't Forget" The Raindrops _The Best Of The Girl Groups Vol. 2_
"You Won't Forget Me" Sandie Shaw _Sandie_
"Clean Forgot" The Cannanes & Steward _Communicating At An Unknown Rate_

"I Keep Forgettin'" David Bowie _Tonight_
"True Love Tends To Forget" Bob Dylan _Street Legal_

(part two)

"I Forgot To Remember To Forget" Elvis Presley _The Sun Records Sessions_
"I Can't Forget" Leonard Cohen _I'm Your Man_
"I Don't Mind If You Forget Me" Morrissey _Viva Hate_

"Amnesia" The Mekons _Rock & Roll_
"Teach Me To Forget You" Lyres _Lyres Lyres_
"Everyone Will Forget You" Watoo Watoo _This Is Stereophonic Sunshine_
"Forget" Burnt Palms _Back On My Wall_

"Forget You All The Time" Cloud Nothings _Cloud Nothings_
"You Forget So Easily" ExLovers _You Forget So Easily_
"Have You Forgotten The Bomb?" Barcelona _Zero One Infinity_
"Forget The World" Kleenex Girl Wonder _Ponyoak_

"Should God Forget" The Psychedelic Furs _Book Of Days_

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Whither Forgetting?

(I found this image here.)

The reason I'm doing a show about forgetting is simple: Jenny suggested it!

That seems crazy, doesn't it?  You can just email me or call me during the show & I'll do a show based on the theme you thought of?  That's some kind of craziness!  But it isn't.  I will always assume your ideas are better than mine because, you know, I am intimately familiar with my ideas.  They are usually bad ideas.

So: today you can listen how Self Help Radio ruins Jenny's idea for a show!  It's on from 4-6pm today on 88.1 fm WRFL Lexington + also too online at wrfl dot fm.  I hope you remember to listen, but, you know, if you don't - fair enough.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Preface To Forgetting: My Stupid Brain Theory

This is a theory of the brain I have, which I am certain is stupid, & which may apply only to me, & which I don't have any evidence to back it up with except my own personal experience, & which I haven't actually gone out & read anything to try to support it, possibly because I am afraid I am wrong.  So it's probably best called the Narcissistic Gary Brain Thought-Thing.  Here it is:

My brain believes that when certain memories I have are put somewhere else - saved in a journal, or a letter, or an email, or anywhere other than my brain - it (the brain) can safely forget them, or store them someplace obscure in the dusty vaults of the mind.

The most recent example of this happened when I was re-reading this short story I wrote over twenty-five years ago.  It's a sad truth that I one time wanted to be a writer - but, as this blog demonstrates, it's obviously not something I was ever good at.  But in the story, I described something that had really happened to me, involving my mother & a relative.  It was a somewhat traumatic experience, & it shook me - I was accused of something I hadn't done, & luckily my protestations of innocence were accepted.  But I hadn't thought about it for years - probably not since I wrote the story.  How could that be?

Because my brain said, Oh, he wrote this down. Put that somewhere way down. Let's make more space for Bob Dylan lyrics!

It gets worse: now that my brain knows that I can access almost any information on the little computer I keep in my back pocket, it stores in difficult-to-access parts of itself things that I really should know.  I couldn't bring immediately to mind the director of It's A Wonderful Life the other day!  Frank Capra!  How hard is that to remember?  Not hard at all!

Honestly, it'll only get worse.  & it could just be old age, or alcohol use, but I suspect we're all experiencing some aspect of this in our lives.  We know we have access to so much information that we used to either have to keep in books or in our brains.  No more.  If I can't remember that guy that was in that film, I can describe the film in a search engine & it's better than any recall I've ever had.

Forgetting, alas, is the future.  Let's just hope we don't forget how to work the external brains that will have more information than we would ever need or want.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Not Another Movie Review!

No, of course not.  But I did see Captain America: Civil War this afternoon, & my only comment here, since this isn't a movie review, is that it was the Marvel movie I have enjoyed most since the first Avengers movie.  (Well, not counting Deadpool, but that didn't feel like it took place in the same universe.)

Instead of a movie review, here's a movie experience review, sort of like I wrote here.  The experience today was nowhere near as unpleasant as that, but I was surrounded by (all male) geeky types whose (mostly happy) comments I could hear as they whispered to each other about different things in the movie.  To my direct right were two young men who, before the movie & during the credits, talked about the comic series from which Civil War was drawn, how exciting certain comic book movies were on cable ("Dude! Fantastic Four is on HBO Go!" "Dude! Is it any good?" "Dude! The first half is!"), & random comments about how the various preceding movies related to one another.

Not to suggest this hindered my enjoyment of the movie - they weren't rude or anything.  I was just bemused by it all, as if I were somehow better.  & then - sigh - during one of the scenes with the Scarlet Witch & the Vision, I leaned over to my wife & said, "In the comics, those two get married."

My wife couldn't have cared less.  But I thought to myself, Oh no! Me too!

Look: I knew it all along.  I was just amazed at how, in middle of my eye-rolling, I so quickly, in that element, reverted to my core geek mode.