Change Comes From Within… Wine Jugs.

The Changing Man
The Changing Man

In 1995 I found a gallon wine jug that wasn’t being used anymore, mostly because my friends and I had drained it. I cleaned it, peeled the labels off, and immediately began putting my change in it.

I was inspired to do so by a variety of people. My roommate, The Ramen City Kid, had a penny jar, and around this time my friend Justin was able to afford a trip to Europe funded by tips he’d saved in a jar. It seemed like the thing to do, and there was something very Country Mouse about saving money this way.

My problem, of course, was that I was almost always broke when I started this habit. For many years, the jar remained fairly empty. At the end of the month I would desperately need to buy food, so I’d spill the contents of the jar on my bed, pick out the silver, and survive for another few days. I would have idle fantasies that, someday, the jar would actually be full. What I would do with it when it was full, I couldn’t say. But it would be a glorious day, indeed.

Flash-forward to three years ago. Suddenly, I noticed that I hadn’t had to dig into the jar in quite some time. Not only was the level of coinage going up, but I was adding to it almost every day, and never needed to dip in anymore. Soon, the jar became almost too heavy to lift with one hand. I tried to forget that it was even money, and when I did think of it in those terms, I tried to pretend it was all pennies. For some reason, it didn’t seem as valuable that way. In the back of my mind, it was my other other savings. For what, though, I wasn’t sure.

Until I checked the balance of my account last week, and noticed that the economic crisis was finally hitting me, too. Normally this only happens at the end of the month, and I can sit a few days out of my usual routine and stick closer to the homestead. But this time, there just was no denying it. For the first time in years, I had to dip into the jar.

At first I was embarrassed. I had, finally, almost filled the jar, and was also concerned about having to carry large bags of coins with me to do my shopping. To my benefit, there is actually quite a bit in the jar now; I’ve been living off of it for the last week +, and the picture above was taken this morning. To my further surprise, everywhere I’ve gone has been really excited to see me pay in coins. “Oh, we need quarters! Thank you!” The fact that I’m still wearing residual pieces of my hobo costume from Halloween seems to add to the effect; hey, that jacket it warm!

As soon as I pull out the bag of coins, I get a huge laugh, and the same exchange takes place.

“Ha ha. You too, huh?”

“Yep.”

It’s amazing how many discounts you can get when everyone is in the same boat.

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a.k.a. Used Books & Records

In the late ’80’s and ’90’s my mom ran a bookstore / record store called a.k.a. Used Books & Records. She and her partner took care of every aspect of the store: they traveled all over the West Coast buying books, records, & comics, built home-made tables, shelves, and racks for the merchandise, and painted / made every sign they hung in the store. It was a huge undertaking; almost every waking hour involved something with “The Shop,” and my first job was helping them out in the store. It was a formative experience; the three things I seem to value most in life are books, comics & records.

Eventually they went out of business. There was just too much work to do, not enough money coming in, and few places a pair of lesbian business owners could turn in the small, closed-minded town of Cottage Grove. Eventually they sold the business, except for the Records, which the new owner was not interested in. Ever since, my mom has had the back-stock from The Shop in storage.

Every so often she would kick down a few Records here or there, and then we eventually fell into a regular routine: she would deliver to me a box of Records that she didn’t want, and I would keep anything I was interested in and dispose of the rest for her. It was a fair deal, as I got free records for a little amount of work, and she was rid of a box that was cluttering up her house.

Yesterday I got the most recent delivery when my sister and brother were passing through town. These boxes of records are always very well picked over by the time I get them. Occasionally you’ll find a gem here and there, but on the whole, you are better off selecting for reasons other than the music contained within. I now have the complete Moody Blues collection; aside from looking at the album covers, however, they remain unplayed.

Here are a few selections that came in yesterday’s shipment:

Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of The Haunted House
Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of The Haunted House

I collect Halloween Records and music, but so does everyone else that has any good taste. Thus, there are certain ones that I’ve been looking for, but have never managed to get. My roommate laughed at me when I found this one, because I actually gasped audibly and quickly began pouring over the liner notes. This record is the Soundtrack to The Haunted House in Disneyland, and is one of the earliest Halloween “Scary Sounds” Records around.  Side A is a series of scary stories, while Side B is a collection of scary noises and sounds (Screams, Animals Howling, Doors Creaking, etc.) I can’t wait to put this next to Sounds To Make You Shiver and A Night In A Haunted House.

Robert Gordon & Link Wray
Robert Gordon & Link Wray

Robert Gordon was the primary mover and shaker behind Tuff Darts, a little-known band in the NY punk scene. Robert went solo and started playing with Link Wray (yes, THE Link Wray), and recorded a few albums of covers with Wray as the primary guitar player. Gordon led the East Coast rockabilly revival in the late ’70’s, but without any original tunes on this album, nor the promise of the full power of Link Wray coming to the forefront, this can’t possibly be as good as, say, actually listening to a real Link Wray album instead. Why my mom had this or knew about it is still beyond me. (My guess: this album is most notable for Gordon & Wray doing a cover of the Springsteen hit, “Fire.” )

ELP
ELP

As allmusic.comis quick to point out, this is ELP’s “contractual obligation” record with Atlantic, and thus, is all you need to know about this album. I would contend that you should also know that all three of these men have their shirts unbuttoned to some degree, are all wearing gold chains, and have hairy chests. I would also assert that you should know that Side B consists of one, 20-Minute long suite that is broken up into four parts, and was also released in 1978. Aside from that, I don’t think I ever need to know anything else about this album, or even listen to it, for that matter. It’s the little pleasures in life…

Al Hirt
Al Hirt

Al “He’s The King” Hirt released this “Dynagroove Recording” in 1967, and was (apparently) available in both Mono & Stereo. The back of the album shows Al playing trumpet, next to his name inside of a crown logo, above the phrase, “Al Hirt – A man for all girl watchers.”

Which is funny, because I have always been looking for the perfect man to compliment my girl watching activities, and now it turns out that he recorded a soundtrack for me to do this by, too. Will wonders never cease?

Life Really Does Imitate Art… In Comics

Reality... Or Fantasy?
Reality... Or Fantasy?

As a person dependent on bus transportation, you quickly tire of many of the usual ways to pass the time when being ferried back and forth. To shake things up, I’ve been listening to NPR on my iPod, since it’s not only a surefire way to show my instant alignment with the political Left, but it also sends a clear signal to the masturbating homeless man sitting next to me that it’s not okay to engage me in conversation. (Might I add: mission accomplished.)

Recently I listened to this Radiolab episode, in which Robert Krulwich and Brian Greene get down to brass tacks about the nature of the universe. It’s pretty compelling stuff, and Robert’s incredulous questioning not only acts as a proxy for the usual kind of scepticism new ideas like this tend to become associated with, but Brian’s cool demeanor in what must be a pretty uncomfortable position creates a perfect science narrative for us to take home: even in the face of absolute hostility from skeptics, the bigger truths that science is uncovering are, without a doubt, compelling and fascinating, even for Christians.

Even more interesting than the encoded religious discourse is the fact that, according to Brian’s understanding of the universe, Comic Books had it right all along: we live in a universe where every imaginable variant universe – and, in fact, exact, to-the-molecule duplicates – exists somewhere, “out there.” Not only that, but there are exact duplicates of me in other duplicate universes posting this exact same blog entry… along with all the other versions of me that are posting entirely other things (or, similar things worded differently). I’m sure the duplicates of you, reading this, are having the same reactions to reading this sentence as you are, too.

Metatextual jokes aside, the hilarious part to me, listening to this, was how easily I believed Brian’s “crazy” ideas. The whole time I was thinking, “this is like the multiverse concept in DC Comics… a concept propagated by every other version of DC Comics in all the other universes, too.” It led to some pretty funny moments throughout the podcast, which I’m sure was amusing to the other people riding the bus, as they inched further away from the giggling kid with the iPod at 8:30 in the morning.

Shave And The World Shaves With You…

Put A Beard On It
Put A Beard On It

Some questions with regards to shaving:

1.) Does anyone actually enjoy shaving? (Outside of fetishes & 19th Century barbers?)

2.) Is there any way to know if people of the opposite sex like / don’t like facial hair until it’s too late? And if so, how come no one has marketed a device that can answer this question for us early in the dating process? Do we really need that many ring-tones, when we really just want to know if they’ll go out with us?

3.) Do any of those bearded indie rockers realize how lame they actually look? I mean, really? Does the beard make their music bad, or does the bad music stimulate beard growth? Do I really want to know the answer to that question?

4.) How much longer can us clean-shaven weirdos hold out for a date without an indie-rock beard? Five years? …Six?

5.) Will someone ever develop facial hair that doesn’t appear inherently gay? If so, what would we call it?