Tuesday, August 30, 2011


For the last ten days, the local raccoons have ripped up my lawn looking for, apparently, grubs that resemble succulent prawns that live under the turf. I've attempted to kill the grubs, which this late in the season means applying Sevin, a totally poisonous dust, to the grass.

It hasn't made any difference - each night the raccoons have torn up the turf. But something in their dynamic has changed. This morning at 6 am, I heard them fighting. I got out too late to see what they where squabbling over. A few minutes ago at dusk, I heard them fighting again, and watched them climb into the tree that serves as their stepladder between my yard and everyone else's. Hopefully this means that the free shrimp bar is over and the patrons are arguing about the remnants. I'm only sorry that I had to apply the world's worst insecticide to get it done. Next year I'll apply less harmful barrier products earlier in the year.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Today in Shopping

I was treated as a potential criminal at a store today. It was the Farm to Market in San Juan Capistrano, where I go to get cheap local produce, herbs, spices and above all, organic hair dye. My hair's been fading from red to ginger over the past couple of years. Being of British origin, ginger doesn't exactly cut it, so I first resorted to henna, then Herbatint. I suspect Herbatint is made of exactly the same stuff I would buy in Vons, but it's very careful to tell me it's "herbal" and I fall for that kind of stuff.

The woman behind the cosmetic counter asked me if she could help me, and I said no. After a second I realized all the hair dye had been put behind the counter glass, so I said, "Apparently you can help me...I need a box of Herbatint and it's behind glass now."

She fished for the shade I wanted, handed it to me and then as I made to push the cart off into the uncharted waters of the Made-Up Vitamins Aisle, she stopped me. "You can't put that in the cart. I have to take it up to the front. We've had kids taking them. Are you done shopping?"

I wasn't done shopping, I said, but I didn't point out I was far from a "kid".

"Nothing personal," she said as she took the box from me. "You can collect it when you're ready to leave."

It might have been "nothing personal" but I felt like I'd been singled out as a common criminal. I fumed in humiliation all the way through the store and wanted to leave without collecting the dye - at $17, it was twice the price of everything else I was buying combined, but not exactly an X-Box or an iPhone - but I realized that if I left without it, I'd definitely be known forever as the Woman Who Tried To Lift Our Hair Dye But Was Foiled.

"Ready," I grated at her when I was set to leave. She made small talk and wished me a nice day about eleven times on the way to the cash register, but all I could think of was that she'd essentially accused me of being a thief.

I won't be going to Farm to Market in San Juan Capistrano in future. I don't need to be humiliated while shopping. The city has a farmer's market in town once a week where I can get fresh vegetables, and I can buy ordinary hair dye at Vons like a normal person. It won't be "herbal" but then again it doesn't seem to harm anyone else.

Farm to Market is one of those places that sells organic veg along with things like negatively-charged water (the extra electrons stop the water molecules clumping together, apparently), water with added oxygen, and Colloidal Silver. SJC is a pragmatic town, and I'm surprised there are enough Fans of the Woo to keep Farm to Market going. Well, it just lost me, and my steady $20 a month. A major blow, I'm sure.

I first got this treatment many years ago in East London, when I was shopping in some megastore - English equivalent of Target or Walmart - and a security guard came up and followed me around. He didn't follow at a discreet distance, but shadowed me from a foot away, looking at what I was looking at and bending when I bent down to look at something. I spent longer than I should have pretending it wasn't happening and trying to act normally, but after a while I gave up and left the store, which is what he undoubtedly wanted. I never went back there again, either, but since I can't remember where it was, I can't badmouth it on the internet.

I remember later, also in East London, going to a chemist's opposite the teaching hospital where I worked and asking for carbon tetra-chloride. The assistant called for the pharmacist who came down some wooden stairs from the attic like a wandmaker from Diagon Alley, and stared at me like I was a bug. "I don't have any carbon tetra-chloride, and even if I did, I wouldn't sell it to YOU," he said, as if I were Amy Winehouse or something. "What do you want it for?"

"I need to clean carbon deposits off the nylon spindles on my amplifier knobs," I said, trying to be reasonable in the face of frank condescension. "The build-up is making the sound crackle when I change the settings."

"Use nail polish remover. Acetone," he said, walking away from me.

I wanted to shout at him, "Nylon is soluble in acetone, you utter failure as a supposedly degreed chemist! It'd soften the spindles and wreck my entire amplifier." But I didn't. I just learned to hate East Londoners.

Although I no longer wear a leather bike jacket and a Ramones t-shirt, it appears I'm still in the drug-addict/thief class as far as store owners are concerned. Fuck 'em all.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Scrubs, the jammies of the medical professon

I saw another woman in the supermarket wearing scrubs today.

I HATE that. I can just imagine her shopping while thinking, "Shit, what a horrible day I've had in the Emergency Room, treating people with MRSA, Rabies, drug-resistant TB...that HIV-positive guy who'd had the bloody catfight with the Hepatitis C-infected guy...then the possible-Ebola guy bleeding out all over the floor and Ol' No Nose Phil, the Leprosy Man, coming in to have a few bits of dying flesh snipped off...I'm too tired to even change my clothes!" Meanwhile she's squeezing avocados and bending over the peaches looking for a good one.

I can also imagine her leaning over some deathly ill Flesh Eating Bacteria Guy in the hospital cleaning out his wounds as her scrubs' top rubs against him, the same top she was wearing when she carried the bag of moldy onions on her hip back to Von's to get her money back at lunchtime.

Update: an article in the Atlantic on the subject of scrubs in food shops - by an MD!

A rose in Spanish Harlem blooms no more

Yesterday, Jerry Leiber died.


The guy who wrote Hound Dog, among a thousand more.

Nick Ashford died today as well.

RIP both.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Black Waterside

As for White Summer/Black Mountainside, in case anybody feels my fangirliness precludes adequate exploration into Jimmy Page's roots, here's Black Waterside by Bert Jansch.

And here's the corresponding Zeppelin tune. Can't figure out how to embed it, so you'll have to click. I think Jimmy wins, but then I always did.

And White Summer? Davey Graham.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Led Zeppelin, the I

For whatever reason, today was Led Zeppelin day. Always loved the first album.  I'd had it for many years before someone told me Jimmy Page's guitar on the album was a Telecaster.  Listening to I Can't Quit You Baby, it was natural to assume it was a Gibson ES 335.

Nope, it was a Telecaster - same as on Communications Breakdown, the world's first angry punk song.

I'm not the world's biggest fan of I Can't Quit You Baby, which I think of as a Savoy Brown song, but hell, it's a fuck of a version.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Daily Telegraph develops a sense of humor

I'm not sure how the Torygraph managed to match up the (stock looking?) picture with the headline but it made me laugh like a drain.

You can find the original at the Daily Telegraph site. Hope they don't change it!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Radio Off

SiriusXM just dropped BBC Radio 1 from its lineup without warning. On the 2nd of August, I paid a year's dues, on the 9th, BBC Radio 1 disappeared to be replaced by a disembodied voice saying I can find songs like the ones I used to enjoy on several channels.... It didn't explain how I could find people like Annie Nightingale and Zane Lowe, or things like Radio 1 outside broadcasts from Ibiza, or the Live Lounge.

I cancelled - they gave me my dues back minus two bucks - complained, and will listen to Radio 1 on the website instead, although that wrecks the timeshift that XM used to put into it. (It was streamed five hours late, so the times on the BBC clock were correct for the east coast - three hours wrong for me, but not as weird as listening with an 8 hour offset.)

I'm not sure what the issue was. I've seen folk say that the BBC did it, as they are readying for iPlayer, and I've seen people say that XM simply backed out of the negotiations.  Either way, it wasn't a nice thing to do. And it's not like I have other things to take my mind off it, like lay-offs at work, the Crisis of Capitalism or the England riots.

Monday, August 08, 2011

How could I dance with her mother?

I was alarmed today to learn that the worst song ever just became No. 1 in the UK charts. It has a couple of inescapable hooks, but still. I mean, I sometimes hum Hot Butter by Popcorn, or it may be Popcorn by Hot Butter forty years later, but I don't have it confused with a good song.

On the chart show today they interviewed Cher Lloyd and she's 17 and new to the business, which almost made me hold off from posting. But on the other hand, I was first taught Clementine when I was six, and although Sir Mix A Lot was not around when I was six, I could have learned Buttermilk Biscuits at the same age. It's no excuse to say you put them together because you were just seventeen (if you know what I mean).

Also, it doesn't explain what a Swagger Jagger is. It doesn't seem to have anything to do with Mick Jagger and I'm not getting anywhere trying to track it to Staggerlee. I wish I could.

All I get from it is orange boxes without topses were shoes for Clementine and a touch of Buffalo Girls go around the outside, around the outside. Or Buttermilk Biscuits.

At least Clementine is out of copyright.

I quite liked that Friday song. And that Pricetag song. And the Friday song by the Pricetag lady. Whatever happened to the good songs of three months ago?


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