I have to be at work three hours early today and, believe it or not, that small change will be enough to throw me off-track for a couple of days. I’m not sure why, but my ability to adapt is now greatly diminished. I used to be able to stay out late drinking great tankards of Meister Brau or whatever, sleep a couple of hours, and put in a full day, Or I’d work all sorts of random shifts, back to back, without even thinking about it. Now? Any small change sends me spiraling. I’ll still be feeling this crap tomorrow evening, and possibly into Saturday. I am, at this point, a full-blown puss.
Because of my early day today, I told myself I’d write this update yesterday. Hilarious. That shit didn’t happen, and I was foolish to believe it would. I’m the guy who generally did all his school assignments in home room, the day they were due. I remember writing a book report that way, for a book I never opened. I just took the description straight off the back, added my manufactured opinion of the work, and turned it in. However, the description included the phrase “comely twins,” which gave me away. The teacher wasn’t buying it and I was grilled at length, in front of everyone. I was tap dancing as fast as I could, but don’t believe I fooled anyone. Oh well. It’s not like there was much integrity to defend, anyway.
The other day in NYC we were in the bus station, waiting to board. Everybody was in a stupor, after stumbling in off the streets of Manhattan. We’d all be asleep within minutes. But as we were standing there, a giant bird appeared and created a brief blast of mayhem. The thing was huge, like a guinea pig with wings, and was just wildly flapping and flopping inches above our heads. Somebody yelled, “Jesus Christ!” and we were all ducking and putting our hands on our heads. Good stuff.
But I don’t like birds inside a building. When I was in Atlanta I used to hear people say that if a bird gets in the house, a family member will die. That’s some old school southern superstition, of course, but I didn’t like the sounds of it. I mean, seriously.
In fact, I was working at a bookstore in Atlanta — The $3 Book Sale — and a bird got in one evening. I was working with a cutesy cheerleader type girl, who was probably 16 or 17 years old. We chased that bird around with brooms, and finally got it out of there. It was all a big laugh, and a splendid time was had by all. But… two days later the girl’s dad fell while painting their house, broke his neck, and died.
So that shit’s cemented in my brain now. And any time I encounter a bird inside a building I get uneasy. I had visions of our bus sailing off a cliff, or it rolling down Interstate 81 on fire. But we made it. I have no doubt, though, that somebody died. Somebody associated with our group is no longer alive, and that winged reaper was there to warn us. Shit! I just had a full-body shiver. I sure hope Broadway Betty is OK.
I need to go now. This is ridiculous. It feels like the middle of the night, and it’s 9:28 am. I’ll be destroyed for days. But before I call it a day, I’d like to ask for your input on something.
When we first moved to Pennsylvania there was a man who lived in our neighborhood named Spring Steel. Or maybe Spring Steele. I’m not sure about the spelling, but he was a prominent member of the community who moved out shortly after we moved in. He probably saw the writing on the wall… In any case, I always thought his name sounded like a character in an action/adventure movie. Or maybe a flawed but brilliant detective, or something. Spring Steel!
The man who ran the hardware store in Dunbar when I was a kid falls into the same category: Kenny Jack! Hell yeah.
For a question, I’d like to know if you’ve ever met anyone with a name like that. A name they might use for a hard-nosed plays-by-his-own-rules adventure movie hero. This might go nowhere, but I’m flying by the seat of my enormous pants here. Please share whatever you’ve got in the comments.
Also, if you have anything to tell us about superstition, please do so. Are there any that you kinda sorta believe? Or maybe not believe, but consider? Have any come true, like my bird story above? Please bring us up to date on it.
And I’m going to work now.
Have yourselves a great weekend, my friends!
I’ll be back on Monday.
Now playing in the bunker
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My parents once took a check from a guy named Cliff Puffpaff. They brought it home and showed to us when we were kids. Does that count?
When I was in the Marine Corps, I knew a Captain America, don’t remember his first name. He was a helicopter pilot…
I went to high school with James Bond.
I also believe the bird superstition.
I was in New Orleans for my 30th birthday. There was a ladder over the sidewalk, in our way. It was walk in the street or walk under it. In my head, I defied the “walking under a ladder is bad luck” superstition. Mocked it, even. Because, cmon, superstition, right? Two days later, on the drive home to IL, I had a gallbladder attack. Didn’t even make it the whole way home; I ended up having surgery in a hospital before making it back. Then, like 3 weeks later, my porch collapsed beneath me, dropping me 4 feet onto my back. Also went to the hospital then.
I’ll never walk under a ladder ever again. Fuck that shit.
I currently work at a jobsite with an electrician named Randy Hunter. I asked him if it was his name or title.
Lee Harvey Ramone says
I’ve been seeing the name Uday Pimple in a technical listserve as of late. I assume that he is some type of superhero
Lee Harvey Ramone says
Also, I cannot abide by a hat left on a bed. Somewhere a heroin addict will die.
Well I’m Irish so no walking under a ladder, no shoes on tables or couches or beds, no umbrellas inside any buildings–grandma really drilled these into our heads.
Hey Patty! That rhymes! Cool.
My mother-in-law has a friend named Barbara Marbleblatt from Marblehead (Massachusetts).
Not made up – these are some people I’ve encountered:
Brooke Trout – and his sister, Lake.
Just put a check through for someone named J’Vaughn Innocent. Hope he has a sister named Ima Guilty
There are more… I need to think but I’m on a deadline.
There seems to be a whole bunch of birds living in Lowes here where I live. They have figured out how to fly in and out of the doors when someone triggers the automatic open I guess. I take it this is a common thing. I recall seeing birds swooping in and put of Giant Eagle also.
A few years ago I was standing in front of K-Mart and noticed there were flocks of birds hanging nearby. I noticed there was bird shit all over the bicycles they had on the sidewalk. It turns out they had bags of bird seed stacked on the sidewalk and the birds had learned to peck the bags open.
For years I noticed large black birds with scraggly tails in parking lots everywhere. I had vaguely wondered why they were always there. One day I was waiting on someone to come out of a store and saw the birds eating dead bugs from car radiators. Mystery solved.
I went to high school in the suburbs of Atlanta with a girl named Easy Crow. No child deserves a name like that.
Ask my classmate Harry Bottoms. Or his sister Sharon. Or his brother Louis. Pronounced with a southern accent you know how warped the parent’s sense of humor must have been.
Knew a guy in Chicago decades ago named Jim Swingdinger.
My first wife was Chinese, and their culture makes them world champs at superstition. Examples:
Never serve watermelon and eggs in the same meal.
Never put scissors on a bed.
Also have a friend in England whose daughter is named Rosie Hore.
Art Fark….sold office supplies in St. Cloud MN back in the day.
When I was a kid, I was told by my mom that crows (ravens) in cemeteries are souls looking for lost relatives. During the fall, about a million of them end up in the trees in our backyard. Even without the lost souls thing, that many birds in one spot is Alfred Hitchcock creepy.
That’s why they call a pack of them a murder of crows.
I know Neil Armstrong (born in 1971). We call him Buzz.
My nom de junk mail is Hugh Janus.
Limey, I know you’re a man of the world, so I’m guessing you know that Buzz was the other, considerably more colorful, guy.
Kinda like playing ball with Blue Schoendienst or Vinegar Ben Gibson who had a hell of a fastball.
There’s a bar down the road from us called Healy’s. Son’s name is Austin.
I was always fond of Dick Lugar.
I have an ancestor from the 1600s named Zebulon. Sounds to me like maybe a Bond villain or an evil android or something.
Pikes Peak is named after Zebulon Pike who was only a Bond villain in the sense that he died fighting the British in the War of 1812. I don’t know whether he used an iPhone or an Android.
Grandpa Walton’s first name was Zebulon.
But he was usually referred to as “you old fool” from Grandma.
Root 66 says
Mom always warned us not to rock the rocking chair with nobody in it. It brought bad luck or conjured up the dead or something.
There’s a County Auditor in Ohio named “Dusty Rhodes”. That kinda has an “Indiana Jones” feel to it!
According to my Gram Irish, rocking an empty chair brings back the spirits of “lost” children.
I paid good money to watch Dusty Rhodes play AAA baseball in 1960, 1961, and 1962, in the sense that fifty cents admission and a quarter for a hot dog is good money. No hit, no field, but a colorful character who occasionally played sober. He was well loved in my home town.
You would like the Dusty Rhodes from Hamilton County Ohio also. Disc Jockey in the 60’s, he’s a very entertaining interview on the radio.
Root 66 says
I just remembered, we grew up knowing a “Dean Martin”. He was an Air Force General!
I knew a Rusty Gates and a guy named Jim Carey.
Met a woman at Moms day Out with the last name of Toothacher. I’ve already written about working for the Dick family. Dick would make a great super hero last name, please jtb you can come up with some good ones. I’ll start you off, Master Dick, Magic Dick, The Dick. Tracy Dick,….
Reva, I might be able to out-dick you with the wind at my back, but what the hell were you doing dicking around on Moms Day Out without an apostrophe? I might be conflating again, which I sometimes do after eating asparagus, with, again, the wind at my back.
Franky T says
Knew of a Richard (Dick) Headley in Michigan.
On occasion I work with Steve Martin. Really nice guy. Almost a spitting image for the comedian, just a bit plumper and balder these days. While not as old as the Comedian, he is getting close to retirement so I doubt it was his parents trying to be smart with naming him.
I also knew Mr. Christmas. He’s retired now. No resemblence at all to Mr Kringle.
Andrea Martin I run into on occasion. She’s young enough that her parents may have indeed tried to be smart when naming her. And no resemblence what so ever to the comedian. No relation to Steve initially mentioned.
I went to high school with Jackie Rabbit, sister of Bunnie – and daughter of Jack.
My husband went to school with Vic Face.
There was a girl in my high school named Betty Boddie. In 7th and 8th grade, I had a classmate named Frank Sinatra and another named Alan Ginsburg. Later I had a client named Bud Miller, and another who was Sergeant Pepper. When I worked at the TV station, I had three coworkers who were all named Marcia. All of the Marcias were very attractive, and two of them were blonde.
BTW, Jeff, this frequent posting thing is awesome. Thanks!
Chill you made me remember my old pal Bud Riser. Great radio name but that was his real name.
Hubster worked with Gary Cooper. They were in the chicken business, not the movies.
Mom had an insurance agent named Render Cash. Paid off like a slot machine.
Sounds like a cheap, watery lager exported to Japan, just to celebrate the racist moment of the day.
Stuart in Oz says
I just had a sales rep in my office last week, name on business card was Saad Butt! Sounds like a comic strip character
Earl Melton says
I knew an Al Sue in high school (don’t know if he went on to become a lawyer). Later, I met Donald Duck who was named before the cartoon character.
Gordion Knott says
One of my all-time favorite installments at this site concerns a Dunbar convenience store worker named Brogan, who, when asked to clean out the garbage bin, pumped up the volume of music in his beater sedan to serenade him through the job. Then, he left without warning, most likely to another town and another convenience store.
Is there any name more appropriate for a wild, itinerant convenience store worker–the Kwai Chang Kaine of retail–than Brogan? I maintain that there is not.
Sometimes my brain works so blindingly fast that it appears to be moving slowly due to the time dilation effect. For example, the last two posts were about Jeff’s “Perfect Day” in New York. I assume this is what he was referring to without, you know, the heroin and stuff. . .
Why is it that in the music biz, they never spell out the word “featuring?”
Based on insufficient knowledge, I think “feat” or “feat.” is mostly a hip hop/rap thing. I’ve never seen, “Hot Rod Lincoln with Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen feat Bill Kirchen”, although the song certainly features his fretwork. OK, he was a member of the band, so how about “Hurricane with Bob Dylan feat Scarlet Rivera” although Ms Rivera is certainly featured and not strictly a member of Mr. Dylan’s band. Still too close? How about “In Spite of Ourselves with John Prine feat Iris DeMent”? Not the way it’s published, but that’s one way to describe the piece.
But you can take any old hip hop number and it will be something like “Tear Down Dem Statues by Hot Links Henry feat Gutta Snipe Ed, Uptown Beatah, Rattasnake Hayes, and mostly feat BabyLegs Funk”. Turns out Rattasnake Hayes is the guy who empties the ashtrays, but “feat” is in his contract.
The video we referenced wasn’t given its YouTube name by the guys who made it. Some guy with way too much time on his hands grabbed it and figured with two men so different, one of them must be featured. If he were paying attention, he’d just have titled it “Too Much Heroin, Too Much Food” and been done with it.
I welcome any disagreement or correction. I got off the bus somewhere east of Jefferson Airplane.
I adore Iris Dement. I realize this comment doesn’t add much, I just rarely hear anyone else mention her.
Some say a girl in a neighboring town was named Fonda Dix. Can’t confirm, but people swear it’s true.
Hopefully she married someone with a more appropriate last name……
Fonda sounded a little like an urban (or suburban) legend, but a little research shows that in the 1960s, 24 out of every million girls born were named Fonda. After 1970, there were fewer than one out of a million. In other words, you could line up a million women born after 1970, and you’d either have less than a fifty percent chance that one of them was named Fonda, or you’d have a Barry Manilow concert.
Watered down beer and a Barry Manilow concert, John you are on a roll.
My Grandmother was Romany and told me if you speak of your superstitions they’ll come true, “give them air and alive they’ll come”.
Sucks to be y’all then.
Zigga Vann of Huntsville, AL
In Huntington , WV. there was a lawyer named Peter D Beter. and he had a brother named Dick. Peters son Joe is the guy that owns Jewel City Seafood.
Yeah, we had this discussion once, but if not now, when again?
There’s a reason that virtually every band of note from the 1970s and 80s and beyond gets covered often and most have full time cover bands except for Steely Dan.
Fagen and Becker wrote complex, nuanced music, and asked the best musicians they could find to spend 20 or 30 takes to find the soul at the edge (or in the center) of their compositions. They managed to weave some of the most intricate chord progressions and melodies of their time, and polish it to a bright sheen with a slightly absurd libretto of the slightly absurd last fifty years.
For me, Steely Dan was more of a mirror than a window. That’s probably not because Walter Becker was born on the same day and in the same year I was, although I always pulled for the band’s success, in part, on that account. Turns out they didn’t need me. Talent and insight and a willingness to spend up to a year writing and recording each album with the best sidemen in the business took care of success.
Their art will last much longer.
Walter Becker is dead, but somewhere in the universe there’s a down and out FM station playing his and Donald’s repertoire to a dying galaxy.
Sleep well, Walter.
They never clicked with me. I have a few of their albums, when I heard the news I put Aja on while I worked, and it still doesn’t grab me. Some of the lyrics make me smile. There are a few bands that have devoted followings that I just don’t get, and Steely Dan remains one of them. 67 is far too young though.
It’s not that they’re too noodlely, I don’t get Led Zep or The Who either. I can appreciate the talent, but it just doesn’t click for me.
I really hated to hear Becker died. Steely Dan has always been one of my favorite acts/artists. They were here in Memphis within the last year and I didn’t go because the ticket prices were astronomical. Now I’m sorry I didn’t because I’ll not have that chance again. John, you pretty much nailed them in your post; two incredibly talented guys that wrote and recorded a lot of great music. Rolling Stone posted a tribute to Becker from Fagan. It was nicely done. I’m sad.
To Becker: Goodnight, sweet prince.