12.2011: A Falston Pass


One of my greatest successes as a parent is my daughter’s aptitude at using the computer creatively. I take full credit. She gets none, do you hear? Me! It’s all me! Actually, no - I showed her the basics, and off she went. Tonight I was editing the teaser trailer for the first book (and let us just pause and marvel at where we are right now: no longer do I have to rely on the utterly incompetent publicity apparatus of a publishing house, which hires a host of younguns to call radio shows and get you on the Morning Zoo in Des Moines at 6:45 AM and then preen as if it’s an accomplishment, as if these shows don’t have a rapacious appetite for phoners of all sorts, and exist only to suck up your voice and spray it over Greater Des Moinesland, and move along without ever saying another word about you. I did ten of those in one day, I think. A blitz. The publicist called it “a virtual tour.” Yes, that’s what sells picture books: talking. On the radio.

Now it’s different. Now I can launch these things on my own. I can assemble little teaser trailers in an evening and write a little jot of music, and it’s the sort of thing that A) would have taken them a month, and B) they wouldn’t have done at all. I can even write my own cliched tagline you can imagine on a movie poster.) and she made a suggestion. Instead of bringing in the title the way I’d introduced it, have it fade in.


“So it doesn’t look like Ken Burns effect,” she said.


I tried it; it was better. She was pleased. Emboldened, she made another suggestion: use the old-movie filter for the photographs of the Casablanca. Ah, I said, but they’re not movies. They’re stills. They wouldn’t be scratchy.

“You’re right.” she said. “I get it.”

And she does.

Tomorrow you’ll see the clip.


One of my greatest failing as a parent is my failure to pass along some musical tastes. It’s unlikely your kid will care about your music, at least until they revisit the songs on their own and find a door on the side with their name on it. I like some songs my dad liked, but not because he liked them.

For some reason he bought this:


I thought Rolf Harris was a professor of some kind. I liked the song, and I remember telling my dad I thought the start of it sounded like someone flexing an LP cover. At the time the parade of Aussie cliches went right over my head, but it was a fun song. The flip side, however, was the real thing. It started with three hard accordion chords, as if drawing a breath, then kicked up the clickety percussion and went headlong into a series of attributes manifested by The Man who was dressed in a very strange way, ending with the unmistakable sign of a convict. I can sing it from memory to this day; it’s fun to say, and Harris’s delivery is a hoot: shouting, making twangy mouth-harp sounds that turn into words, mincing the “pale pink parasol” line (which is now as offensive as “Kangaroo”’s cringe-inducing line, “let me Abbos go loose Lou) and on and on. It’s the sort of song that people just hate. Never got it out of my mind. Every two or three years it surfaces in my head and I’m singing it for no reason at all.

Today was that day. I had my iPod on me, and called it up as I drove along. It’s the wrong version, that’s the problem - quite similar to the one I knew, but different, an alternate take; the one I knew ended with accordion, and the one I have ends with guitar.

My daughter thinks it’s incomprehensible - the song, it’s attraction to anyone, its reason for existing in the first place. I think it goes without saying that I can’t get my wife to sing along.

So, I am alone.

Anyway, this is the right version. Except for the chain being around the neck. I don't know how you mistake that word, but when I was a kid I thought "a false moustache" was something else entirely - a Fallston Pass, I think. AND THAT'S NOT ALL.



Carted off a box of physical media to the Half-Price Books store in exchange for rectangular pieces of paper, which can be put into a “bank,” converted into symbols in a computer databank, then exchanged for non-corporeal media. I don’t think I watched any of the Lord of the Rings DVDs. At all. Got them as a gift, and was waiting for the right moment to have a 17-hour marathon - they’re the director’s cuts, with extended versions of the sequence where Frodo struggles with throwing the ring into the fire. The scene now lasts 3 hours and 17 minutes, but it felt like 3 hours and 17 minutes in the original cut. It went to the store because I have the blu-ray version, which is more extended than anyone thought possible. I have some time off coming, and will reserve a fortnight for proper viewing. Unless I don’t, of course, and it sits there until a new format comes into being, and I sell the blu-rays to get the new version.

Ownership of media these days seems less about enjoying the actual thing as much as ensuring you can, if you wish, enjoy it at some future point. That point always seems to be two or three weeks in the present. I should just do pay-per-view and spare myself the agony of owning anything.

You know, like we did in the Reagan days:


I have no idea why I have this screen grab, but I do. That was the screen you got when you ordered a movie in 1987. In a way this was a step back; you couldn’t pause. This was the glory of the VCR - not just movies at home (AT HOME!) but you could pause it when someone dropped a wine glass, and you stepped on the shard, and as you dressed your wound you wondered how long it had been since you got a tetanus shot. Could you get lockjaw from glass? Well, off to the University emergency room for a poke, then. We’ll finish the movie when I get back. We can do that now! The wonders of the modern age.

That would have been 1985, I think. The movie was “Dial M for Murder,” and I think it came packaged as a “Night at the Movies” edition, which had a cartoon, a newsreel, and trailers. I would have been living at 718 4th street, across from Ralph and Jerry’s grocery store, the scene of one of the murders in the 1947 novel.

You can tell it's on my mind, can't you.

Tomorrow. Today: there were matches yesterday, ten motels; and Joe; and now a comic: Scooby wannabees. See you around!



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