Sunday, August 30, 2009

We're off on the Road to Winooski, Dept.

Well, your sobsister's back from Points North. And, as always, I have thoughts that I will inflict upon you simply for having wandered onto this page. I know: it's unwarranted and spiteful. But such is my sobsisterly obligation. And I am but the Slave of Duty. ♫♫♪ Oh, is there not one maiden here whose homely face and bad complexion...♫♪♫

And so...

1) The main street of Woodstock, NY, is not a destination, if by "destination" you mean a place to which you would intentionally go. It's five blocks of fromagerrific "hippie" shops selling tie-dyed everything and posters of that long-ago weekend, sketchy food stores that seem confused as to the purpose of sell-by dates and tinkly-winkly craft stores. Interestingly, not a head shop to be seen. I figured, if nothing else, I'd photograph the World's Largest Bong. But no.

2) Dorset, VT, is a lovely town. Quaint, quiet, qwisp in the fall, no doubt. Here's an interesting fact about Dorset: there's no frackin' cell phone reception anywhere in or near it. I suspect it has something to do with the town's monthly ritual at which the lizard-skinned Undergrounders sacrifice unwary tourists in tribute to the Elder Gods.

3) Dorset also has the Softest Tap Water in the Eastern United States™. To the extent that water falling on, say, one's soapy hands bounces off like bullets off Superman's chest. Not sure WTF is up with that, except to conjecture that it somehow serves the Elder Gods to whom many Vermonters are in thrall.

4) Vermont, generally speaking, is composed almost entirely of White People. While in Burlington, for example, we saw only three Black People. However, two of these were riding in a gleaming Escalade EXT pumping enough bootybass to loosen the bowels of the most continent passersby. It was nice of these two fellows not to confirm any stereotypes residents may have held. Nice fellows!

5) Most of the people in Vermont are regular folks. There are a number, however, who look like they would lose a casting call for crazed Vietnam vets because they looked too, you know, crazed. Generally, these are men. And, generally, they are accompanied by women who either look like prostitutes, if prostitutes were intended to put men off sex, or large, doughy, mentally challenged children. Let me say at this juncture that the Elder Gods have an unfathomable sense of humor.

6) If you go to the Web site for The Avalon Inn and Spa, located in Island Pond, Vermont, and check the source HTML for the page, you'll find 25 hidden links to I had set out to make some joke about Vermont and incest, but, really, it'd just be gilding the lily at this point, wouldn't it?

7) Harold's New York Deli in Edison, NJ, is the sort of place you'd go, say, for a working lunch to discuss protesting the skimpy portions at Cheesecake Factory. The "X-Large" corned beef sandwich costs 32 dollars and feeds "3-4". But three to four people who really fucking love corned beef. Like a priest loves a gift subscription to Boys' Life. Your sobsister ordered a chocolate egg cream. The waitress, who seemed, shall we say, unamused by her situation in life, asked, "What size?" I asked what sizes they offered. "Small and large," she responded in a tone one might normally employ to address a bipedal figure composed of warm shit that had wandered into one's snowbank-white living room. "Large," I pluckily responded. She brought me a container just too small to bathe a newborn, filled with chocolate egg cream.

At the next table sat a guy who I assumed is known as "Joey Mooch." Wearing a charmingly loud shirt in face-sized red, white and black Japanese script blotches. There was a woman with him in some subordinate position. None of the creases on his face was caused by smiling. He orders a roast beef and pastrami two-meat sandwich and a plate of fries. The two of them go off to the pickle bar, whence patrons are seen returning bearing stacks of sours, half-sours and dills alongside shelves of pumpernickel and rye. No sooner do the two of them return, when the waitress arrives with Pickett's Charge recreated in deli meats, soon joined by a child's schoolroom volcano as imagined in fried potatoes and cheese product. Joey Mooch's shape did not suggest that he was cherry in any corner of Harold's ample menu. I assume he worked off the meal by dismantling the Woolworth Building.

8) Hot Grill, in Clifton, NJ, serves a loyal, local clientele. We sat down with our Texas Wieners--all the way, hold the onions--fries (gravy on the side) and "Sierra Mist," a beverage about whose existence I'd been unaware prior to this meal. The men behind the counter looked and sounded like they'd fought the Turks at İnönü. Everyone behind and before the counter seemed to know each other. The man next to whom we sat noted to me, in reference to my all-the-way wiener, "You gotta work that mess around," before going on to greet "Teddie Nig" and "Nigga Tom." I felt a bit like the second editor on Huck Finn. Oh, and Sierra Mist is like Jan Brady to Sprite's Marcia.

9) There are apparently points of light in the nighttime sky that only become visible when one is removed from the sizzling, spitting glow of the big cities. I'm waiting for confirmation of the name, but I believe they're known as "sturz."

That was some of my trip North, kids. It's almost the end of summer in Choc City, and you know what that means: I can stop dreading each waking moment outside air conditioning! Yowlee! Oh, and point (10) could be: the weather in VT was frackin' gorgeous. As was the scenery. One could almost work the calculus out to justify serving the Elder Gods in exchange for a mountainview cottage. Well, maybe more than a "cottage." Maybe a 10,000 sq.ft. spread with stainless steel appliances and hardwood floors.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

More Slap than Tickle, Dept.

I have vague recollections of my childhood before age, say, 8. The apartment in which we lived that I recall as always being dark, even at midday. The cat that belonged to the grocery store on Broadway, the first cat I'd ever approached, that scratched naive me as I went to pet it. Fucking cat. And I remember Popeye cartoons.

They were shown after school on local television, one of those shows hosted by an actor dressed as a cop or a cowboy. This one dressed like a ship's captain. I don't know if the nautical theme inspired the choice of cartoon or vice, you know, versa, but he aired Popeye cartoons every afternoon, just before or after the pretend cop who aired Three Stooges shorts, make of that pairing what you will.

Even as a kid, I preferred the Fleischer Popeyes to the a.a.p./United Artists versions. For one thing, I didn't like his nephews, introduced in the latter series. No Huey, Dewey and Louie, they. I mean, "Poopeye, Pipeye, Pupeye, Peepeye"? Ugh. "Poopeye" sounds like a scat-flick parody of Elzie Segar's sailorman, I also didn't like the all-white uniform Popeye wore in the later cartoons. And the fact that the newer versions didn't have the slamming shipboard door to transition between credits during the opening. As you might have guessed, I was a finicky child. But one with impeccable taste, apparently.

So, Popeye...he and Mr. Rough Trade, Bluto, vying for the favors of Olive Oyl. Who, in retrospect, sounds like Marge Simpson filtered through Edith Bunker. This one episode that I recall with absolutely no certainty of its existence in this time-space continuum involved Popeye and Bluto, as usual, beating the bejeezus out of each other but on the dancefloor. Or maybe Bluto and Olive Oyl first, then Bluto and Popeye.

At any rate, they went back and forth in a ritualized dance that may or may not have been familiar to me at the time from whatever other flotsam of films, cartoons and television I'd gathered in the hem of my Alice Blue Gown, but which I now recognize as having been an Apache Dance.

Pronounced "ah-PASH" rather than, you know, "uh-PAH-chee," the dance, in Wikipedia's words:

" taken from a Parisian street gang, which in turn was named for the American Indian tribe due to the perceived savagery of the hoodlums. The term came to be used more generally to refer to certain vicious elements of the Paris underworld at the beginning of the 20th century.

The dance is very brutal to the woman, and sometimes said to reenact a "discussion" between pimp and prostitute. It includes mock slaps and punches, the man picking up and throwing the woman to the ground, or lifting and carrying her while she struggles or feigns unconsciousness.

And, so, a dance from the 1900s is transmitted through a cartoon of the 1930s to a li'l sobsister decades later. And people think we've got durable memes now...

So, here for your dining and slapping pleasure, is a small selection of Apache Dance numbers courtesy of the Why Tee.

A straightforward one here.
A straightforward one bookended by zany bits from the Crazy Gang in 1937 here.
Cicely Courtneidge does one from 1933's Aunt Sally here.
While Gracie Fields watches then does one herself from 1934's Queen of Hearts here.
An Apache dancer comes to a pointy end in this excerpt from 1935's Charlie Chan in Paris here.
And, finally, a silent clip from 1902 accompanied by useful written commentary here.

Yes, more Danse Apache video clips than you'd ever have thought possible, thanks to the magic of the Intertubes. Enjoy, learn and, in the words of Wang Chung,

Take your baby by the hair
And pull her close and there there there
Take your baby by the ears
And play upon her darkest fears

Saturday, August 01, 2009

My words? They taste like wormwood and head cheese, Dept.

Oh, sure. I mocked the tweeting. I placed myself above the tweeting. But now, a casual glance at my right sidebar reveals...I'm a-tweeting.

Now, you may ask, "Sobsister, why Sobsister why?" And the answer comes in the form of a realization I experienced, an epiphany that was bestowed unto me, and that was this: I'm just that fascinating.

Yes. I am sufficiently fascinating that I believe that my most casual glimmer of a notion of a thought deserves immortality even as volumes and libraries of the work of the greatest minds of the classical world are being used as privy paper somewhere in Egypt.

Therefore, never send to know for whom the bird tweets; it tweets for thee.