Saturday, November 12, 2005

Good word

"And 'Much Too Young To Feel This Damn Old,' 'Friends In Low Places,' and especially 'Two of a Kind' were -- forgive me! -- truly good country songs, with truly superior singing."

-- Robbie Fulks on Garth Brooks

Friday, November 11, 2005

Good word

"The thought of [Maureen] Dowd's girls' nights with fellow Times sirens Alessandra Stanley and Michiko Kakutani sounds about as soft and yielding as Macbeth's three witches on a club crawl."

-- Tina Brown
Good word

"College equalizes people from different economic backgrounds, and once you graduate, you're put back where you were."

-- Noah Baumbach

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Ah, the Junkers

Here's a rarity: a boombox recording of my late, lamented honkytonk band the Junkers performing "Crazy Arms" in an April 20, 2001 show at the late, lamented Rainbow Room gay bar. Be forewarned: this sounds like a boombox recording. But I think it captures much that was important about Junker shows circa 2001: the chaos, the yelling, etc. Crazy arms, indeed.
Idle question

What staff newspaper reporters in Madison, besides me, maintain personal, regularly updated, non-anonymous blogs? I'm at a loss to think of even one. Not that I've looked that hard.
Ring ring

My friend Alison, a college professor in Charleston, S.C., has been riding her bike to work. The other day she had a confrontation with some motorists. "I pedaled along in the road, a couple of feet from the gutter, just as bikers are supposed to do," she wrote on her blog. "I was obeying all the laws -- I was a legal vehicle in the road, but they didn't know it. They were really annoying. One person finally passed me, and as she passed, she yelled, 'Get on the sidewalk!'"

Stories like this make me glad for Madison's profound bike-friendliness. I can't imagine getting yelled at for not biking on the sidewalk here, though I certainly can imagine getting yelled at for biking on the sidewalk. (I have yelled at people for biking on the sidewalk.)

More than that, though, the motorists I encounter between here and work are almost always polite: where the bike path crosses streets, drivers generally stop and wave me through. At four-way stops, drivers nearly always wave me on. Waving and waving me on -- drivers, it seems, just want me to get where I'm going.

Life as a bike commuter in Madison is a very fine thing -- a revelation, even. When I started my new job in June I bought a cheap Schwinn at Target, and it has paid for itself many times over. The only problem: I'm a gadget freak, and I'm spending more on gadgets than I did on the bike. Example: dark comes early now, so I bought blinking lights to announce my existence. For the moment I've got just one fore and one aft, but I have noticed some bikers who bedeck themselves like Christmas trees. Something to ponder.

The only question: will I be on the bike path come February? Wisconsin certainly has winter bike commuters, but until I started biking in, I thought those people were insane. Now I'm not so sure.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Things past

As regular Back With Interest readers know, I find old television commercials evocative. (I discussed them here, here, here and here.) So I'm always delighted to run across a trove of them like this one on the X-Entertainment web site. It's a sickness, I realize, but what's better than the old spot for the Clapper? Clap on!

I found that site in the course of Googling Henry "The Fonz" Winkler, who I heard the other day in a compelling interview on "Fresh Air." Like many children of the 1970s, I adored Winkler on "Happy Days," and it was fascinating to hear him discuss Fonziemania, in which I participated wholeheartedly. (I named a hamster Fonzie during that period.)

Winkler was on the radio to promote his new CBS sitcom, "Out of Practice," which I checked out last night. I didn't hate it, which for me is saying something. (When it comes to sitcoms, I have high expectations.)

It was strange seeing Winkler on TV again. Thirty years later, the sight of him on the boob tube prompted long-dormant stirrings of Fonziemania. These were intensified by the presence on the show of Stockard Channing, who starred in the movie version of the 1950s-inspired musical Grease. That came out at the same time as "Happy Days" and plowed much the same ground.

All that was missing was Bowzer.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Good word

"Even when the gigs are bad, it's better onstage than off it."

-- Nashville singer and songwriter David Olney