|Nifty art, eh? It’s from an ad for Gilbert electronics, demonstrating all the interesting ways you can use their motors. You could use them in chisels, mixers, fans, and hand-held scalp massagers. The original illustration had the woman operating a fan AND a heating unit, as she was “blowing hot and cold.” I had to remove the heater, because it just looked too odd. The things I do, for no particular pressing reason.
Hot weather all weekend, and I took advantage of it. Spent Saturday ripping up the front of the house by the cliff. Two years ago during a minor construction project some workers ripped up a swatch of Flowering Moneywort, and after they’d replaced the dirt they reseeded the area . . . with grass. Maroons. Last year it looked bad, but this year it was an unsightly disaster. The company responsible for this offered to send someone out, rip up all the ground cover, add new dirt, replace the plants, and send me the bill. That last item, as you might imagine, was the sticking point. Well: Saturday I got out the spade and the claw and dug up the worst spots. Dirt into bags, bags down the steps. Dirt is heavy; no wonder the earth weighs so much. Poor Atlas. Sunday I took a few tendrils to the local garden supply store to get new plants –
I should specify what I mean by “local garden store.” Keep in mind that we have a green season here that lasts about as long as the entire LOTR trilogy – director’s extended cut, if we’re lucky. There are five local garden stores. One is located in a tiny 1920s era gas station. The other, ten blocks south, is housed in a 1960s era gas station. Both provide funky charming urban experiences, I suppose. Ten blocks to the east, a medium-sized place notable for crappy elf-related lawn statuary; it smells faintly of lawn chemicals, those piquant and not-entirely-unpleasant substances you dump on roses. It’s one of those synthetic aromas that has been recontextualized to mean Spring and Summer and Bounteous Fecundity and Hot Weekends Spent In A Floppy Hat Bending Over While Swatting Bugs on your Neck. I never go there any more. To the south, Lyndale Garden Center, which is where you go when Bachman’s is just too frickin’ crowded. Bachman’s is the Cadillac Nursery, a place designed to flatter your good taste and offer limitless enticements to plant more. It’s like walking into a liquor store that has 429 varieties of scotch. You just don’t know where to start.
There are dozens of young people whose job consists entirely of spraying water on the grateful plants. I don’t feel bad about asking them a question, since they’re obviously not en route to something else. (They are trained not to use the hose to point out directions, which would be the natural desire.) A young fellow hosing some parched perennials sent me to the cornermost spot of the yard, where indeed I found a selection of flowering ground covers. I matched the leafs and blossoms, and decided that what I had was Moneywort. I loaded up the cart with three flats.
“Planted those before?” said a voice behind me. I turned; one of those raw tall red-basted Swedes. “They do spread out.”
“I’m replanting,” I said.
He nodded. Ah, the old replanting misconception. Have to school this one, I will.
“Best you put them in a contained area.” He pursed his lips. “They do tend to grow.”
I thanked him for his advice. I put one flat back.
I wheeled the cart into the store; there was a clerk by the seed section, and I asked if they carried any Moneywort seed.
“No,” he said. He looked at my cart. “Planted those before?”
“Um hmm.” He paused. “They do tend to grow,” he said.
What is this stuff? Hyperkudzu?
“The rule of thumb is one plant for every six feet.”
I looked down at my cart. I had enough to cover a football field.
I took some back. In the end I bought four containers of six. In the end I planted them 12 inches apart and had three left over.
Ran other errands on Saturday; drove around listening to old time radio. Sam Spade. Great stuff, even though Sam never seems to make any money, since his clients always end up guilty or dead. Saturday night I stayed up very late and watched “Annie Hall” and “Anything Else,” two Woody Allen movies on the HD feed. Instructive, and a little depressing. Long –time Bleatniks (sorry) will recall how much I love certain Woody Allen films, but find the bulk of his later work labored and mannered beyond redemption. Of course, I should be so lucky as to make 30 money-losing films. Still, I do not understand the uncritical response of his fans – maybe because I am still a fan myself. “Annie Hall” works for a variety of reasons – the exceptional cinematographer, the canny editor, the (AHEM) co-writer, the loose structure that makes the story a journey of constant discovery. It’s such a strong movie it even survives the Dreaded Animation Sequence. I first saw the movie alone in Iowa City, and it was like Star Wars: this is for me. This one goes right to the pith of the gist of the marrow of me. O to be a neurotic amusing nebbish incapable of dealing with California. O to live in a world where literary allusions hang from everyone’s lips like bait from fishhooks. O to have been a little boy in New York in the 40s with Aggressively Ethnic Parents. Of the great films of the 70s, it’s in my top five. I love that movie.
“Anything Else” is “Annie Hall” c. 2004, but Allen’s powers have deserted him; it’s empty, tired, mannered, unfunny, and the actors are not so much “directed” as they are poked around by a long stick with a vinegar-soaked sponge lashed to the end. His hero is a young comedy writer who never says anything particularly funny, and who lives in a gigantic apartment while he avoids writing a novel. His girlfriend is Christina Ricci, a girl who has all of Annie Hall’s neurotic tics with none of the charm or heart. Woody plays a cynical, slightly paranoid schoolteacher who stammers advice to the hero while they walk around the park. On and on it goes. Young people in analysis who talk about Dostoevsky - it’s a parody of Woody Allen, and the only reason it got some good notices had to do with the reviewer’s relief that Grandpa Woodman did not play the romantic lead. Having him paw Ms. Ricci would put the “Paw” in paw, frankly. It’s depressing to watch a movie and realize that a parody of modern Woody Allen would be funnier than a Woody Allen movie on almost any level, since the parodists probably couldn’t resist the opportunity to be honestly funny and interesting, two things Allen can’t do anymore. No one dares tell him.
“Sweet and Lowdown” is next. Like I say: I’m a fan.
Father’s Day: delightful. A lovely card and a great breakfast with all my forbidden high-carb favorites – waffles, how I’ve missed you – and a gift of BBQ tools. Spent the afternoon planting and sweating, spent the evening writing. Three pieces due. Back to work now; new Matchbook up. Note: I’m still working on version 10, and finished the new Institute of Official Cheer design yesterday. When v. 10 goes live in August, I’ll be adding a weekly update. Matchbooks will go M-F. By August the next book should be ready to sell, and I’ll have a week alone at the end of July to finish the site. I’ve abandoned the idea of redoing every page. Life is short. I think I can live with the fact that somewhere in the bowels of lileks.com there’s a page in Courier.
Leave that for v.11.
perm link, if you want to.