It’s August (Wake Me When It’s October)

August 4, 2009

Of course, it’s been August for several days now, but I’ve been in denial. August might be my least favorite month of the year.

(February is in the conversation, but, at least it’s a short month)

I have no doubt that my dislike of August is deep-seeded and is rooted, like most everything, in childhood when it was the month that summer ended and another year of educational incarceration began.

It was also an August twenty-five years ago when I was hired for my first job. I had performed tasks – mowing a lawn, scorekeeping for a women’s softball league, etc. – for money, but McDonald’s was the initial venture into the land of real employment.

I found the experience lacking.

(actually, it wasn’t a bad gig as I worked with several friends and we did all that we could to flout authority at every turn)

Years (and several jobs) later, my friend Eric and I spent the better portion of a work shift declaring to anyone who would listen that we were not recognizing August. Instead, we would continue to add days to July until September hit.

We could have renamed the month Penelope and it would have been irrelevant as we were working in a large record store with a staff of (mostly) twenty-something slackers. To be honest, what day of the week it was hardly even mattered so long as we made it in for our scheduled shifts within a forty-eight hour window.

So, I’m going to suck it up and just deal with writing August on my checks for the next few weeks. It will soon enough be September…another month which I find rather uninspiring.

Bebel Gilberto – August Day Song
from Tanto Tempo

The daughter of “The Father Of Bossa Nova,” I heard Bebel’s debut playing in a used CD store and snagged it. I think I listened to it a couple times and promptly moved on to something else.

(I need to revisit it)

I know as much about bossa nova as I do about basket weaving or Bulgarian cooking, but August Day Song is a delightful little number. It’s mellow but with enough pep to keep you from forgetting it’s playing.

Murray Attaway – August Rain
from In Thrall

I know nothing about Murray Attaway except that he was a member of Guadalcanal Diary (he was lead singer and guitarist). I remember hearing Guadalcanal Diary a few times on 97X back in the late ‘80s, but I don’t really recall their sound.

Apparently In Thrall was his one and only solo album after the band split. That’s too bad as I do remember liking the album when I got a promo (I haven’t listened to it in a decade or more now).

August Rain is a smoldering, slightly trippy song. I think Murray has more issues with August than I do.

Peter Himmelman – 5th Of August
from Skin

Singer/songwriter Peter Himmelman put out a number of albums on major labels in the ‘90s and Skin was one of the more rocking ones in the bunch. He also happens to be the son-in-law of Bob Dylan (you know, Mr. Zimmerman).

I saw him in a small club during those and, afterwards, some friends and I hung out with him for a bit. He referred to Dylan a couple times, with seeming affection, as “the old man.”

Can you imagine spending Thanksgiving with Bob carving the bird?

Robyn Hitchcock – August Hair
from You & Oblivion

Speaking of Bob Dylan (see above), there was often a strong influence of John Lennon, Syd Barrett, and Dylan in the music of Robyn Hitchcock. It’s there in the dreamy August Hair.

The district manager for the record store where Eric and I temporarily banished August from the calendar told us once about an in-store appearance he had hosted for Hitchcock. He claimed that Hitchcock had drawn comments and cartoons on a bunch of photos hanging in his office.

OK, I don’t advocate defacing someone else’s property, but I hope our district manager’s tale (told with righteous indignation) was true. Robyn wrote classics such as My Wife And My Dead Wife, One Long Pair Of Eyes, If You Were A Priest, and Madonna Of The Wasps.

Our district manager was a pompous, mean-spirited jackass.

A Lot Of Calamari (No Matter How You Measure It)

May 5, 2008

Possessing what I would consider a healthy level of curiosity and interest in the world beyond my immediate surroundings, a perusal of news sites is a natural companion with coffee in the morning. Yesterday, alongside the headlines of the cyclone in Myanmar and the running of the Kentucky Derby, something else jostled for attention with my java – a giant squid.

Said squid was actually snatched from the sea a year ago by a New Zealand fishing boat – a story that I somehow missed at the time – and is back in the news because, following a year in deep freeze, scientists in New Zealand are now struggling with the best way to thaw the creature for study.

As my personal experience with thawing carcasses is limited to the annual Thanksgiving turkey, the difficulties in reverse cryogenics on an animal of this size were something I had never pondered. The entire tale of this creature provoked numerous questions the first one being who will keep the waters off Amity safe from giant squid now that Roy Scheider has passed away? The second one being why the hell has Roy Scheider made so many appearances in my entries?

Most pressing among my non-Roy Scheider related questions was exactly how big was this giant squid and how might it affect the price of calamari on the open market? The first article which I stumbled across left me unclear as the size of the squid was given in metric and because, as an American, we don’t do metric.

As a youngster, we were taught the metric system and told that, before we reached high school, metric would be the common standard of measure and it is – just not here, in the United States. The standard measure in yesterday’s Kentucky Derby is furlongs – very unmetric.

And, in an odd twist, of the three countries on the planet which don’t use the metric system, one of them (along with the US and Liberia) is currently in the headlines – Myanmar.

As for that squid, it weighed nearly one-thousand pounds.

Robyn Hitchcock – Victorian Squid
Of course, the one song I’d have with squid in the title would be by a man who has sung of balloon men, his wife and his dead wife, lightbulb heads, and fish.

Flick – Freezer Burnt
Paloma abhors freezer burn, possibly even more than Americans abhor the metric system.

Midnight Oil – Mountains Of Burma
I saw Midnight Oil on their Blue Sky Mining tour and the crowd in attendance was possibly the most diverse group I’ve ever seen at a show. The performance was shortly following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and, given the outspoken political nature of lead singer Peter Garrett, my friend and I expected an earful on the subject. Instead, his only comment regarding the subject was simply, “I hope you kids are ready for war.”

Hoi Polloi – Thaw
In yet another example of everything being connected, Hoi Polloi hails from New Zealand where, even as I write, a giant squid is being thawed.