Monday, November 19, 2007

"There's a splinter in your eye that reads 'React'."

Crisis #1 (a minor problem)--Do you remember cassette tapes? Because I didn't have lots of disposable money in college and was therefore late to the CD revolution, I had about one hundred cassettes back in the Nineties. But ever since I bought my first CD stereo system when Lynda and I got married, I slowly phased cassettes out of my auditory life. I've replaced a number of my original tapes with CDs leaving me around fifteen or twenty cassettes left.

Today, when I was at work, I got an email from MSquared (my eldest brother) about an R.E.M.-related blog that I am alternatively impressed by and angry that I didn't think of it first. So, as I got in the van this afternoon to pick up Sarah, I dug out Reckoning, one of the few R.E.M. offerings that I don't have on CD yet. But, then I was confronted with the crisis--how to figure out which side of the cassette is being played on the cassette deck. Remember how that works? As I remember, some tape decks played the "bottom" of the tape first while on other decks, the decks played the "top." Since I haven't listened to a cassette in a while and since I had never yet listened to one in the new van, I was completely unaware of how this one worked. I sat there in the parking lot with the engine running while I pondered what to do. So, I stuck in the tape (which was wound to begin on side two) and looked at the sound system display. It showed a downward pointing arrow as a song began and I hit the fast forward button. I wanted to listen to the album from the beginning. As the tape wound, I experienced the auditory memory of hearing that magnetic tape spool through the plastic case, speeding up as the distribution became more and more lopsided. I realized that I haven't heard that particular noise in a very long time. But, once the tape finished fast forwarding, I realized that I still was confused about whether I had Side 1 pointing up or down, so I wasn't sure what I was learning. I ejected the tape and gave it a look, but my mind was still unable to figure out the operating rules of the van's tape deck. (I realize this is a pretty simple problem that I was struggling with, but I was trying to drive out of the parking lot and up the road as I pondered these issues.) In the end, I sort of gave up and just started listening to the songs, trying to sing along as I drove. Anyone who has tried to sing along to 80s era R.E.M. knows that "singing along" is a bit of a guessing game. The lyrics are notorious opaque and Stipe's style back then was heavy of the slurred words and mumbles. Part of the fun, I guess, is trying to keep up. More than anything, I just enjoyed hearing those old familiar rhythms. I'll be listening along as I read the posts over on Pop Songs 07.

Crisis #2--After I finished picking up Sarah and Grace, we got home. Sarah immediately told me that there was a bird's nest in a backyard tree and she wanted to look inside it to see if there were any eggs. If there were, she informed us, we could take them inside and hatch them and take care of the baby birds. I tried to deflect this by wondering how we would take care of these birds. Sarah was confident, however, that we could go to the pet store to get "seeds" to feed the birds and then, when summer came, we could let them free. I didn't get into a discussion of mother birds regurgitating predigested food for their children. Grace seemed to back up my skepticism that we might not be able to handle this, but Sarah was sure it would somehow work out.
When we got outside, Sarah tried several different ways to climb the tree in question. I helped her make it to the lowest branches, but she was never going to be able to make it up to where the nest way, about ten feet above the ground. I told the kids that even if there was an egg in the nest, there must be something wrong with it because healthy eggs would have hatched before autumn. I was just trying to prevent Sarah from feeling like she had failed in her attempt to discover what was in the nest, but she started crying. Apparently, what she really wanted was a pet, and she thought that this might be her way of convincing Lynda and me to give them one.
I tried to calm her down by explaining that now (with Hannah coming) wasn't the best time for us to introduce a pet into the mix. We've told both girls this before, but they remain firm in the hope that Lynda or I would change our stance on the issue. Every time I say no, I feel a bit guilty, but as the same time I am not ready to introduce a pet (and all that comes with it) to the family. I decided to deflect their disappointment by reminding them that Lynda had checked out a DVD from the library this weekend, and wondered if they wanted to go in and watch it. (The complete third season of the Flintstones!)
This seemed to appease the kids and so we went inside. I got the DVD running and began to think about supper options. Listening to the cartoon from across the room, I realized how much I loved the Flintstones as a kid and how nice it was hear the familiar jokes, Barney's laugh, and especially how great it was to hear that music. Easily some of the best cartoon music ever.

Did you know, however, that the above opening credits--which I bet we are all very familiar with--was not the original credits to the show?

Just when you think you understand everything, it gets all messed up.

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