UB-Day March 31

(for more information on what UB-Day is and why you should care, read this post)

Angus Young (3/31/1955)

Angus Young was the lead guitarist for AC/DC, the band that brought us “Highway To Hell” and some other songs. Sorry; not a huge fan here.

Young was recognized not only for his passionate guitar playing but also for his onstage, um, passion. Including taking a lot of his clothes off and writhing (not at the same time). Remember Michael J. Fox playing the guitar in “Back To The Future” at the 1955 prom and getting wild at the end? That was Angus Young stuff.

(NOTE: Marc McClure, who played Fox’s older brother in that movie and also Jimmy Olsen in the Christopher Reeve “Superman” films, was born on this day in 1957. It was sort of a toss-up.)

Angus was also known for his “schoolboy” look, wearing a school uniform on stage. This is often attributed to an apocryphal episode when he rushed from school to a performance, but more likely it had to do with where he shopped for clothes.

Angus Young Trivia

He is 5’2″.

He is of Scottish ancestry, with some leprechaun thrown in.

Favorite movie: “Anything with that Yoda bloke.”

Favorite saying: “They’ve stolen me Lucky Charms!”

He lives in Australia but also has a home in the Netherlands, and was recently named one of the 500 richest people in Holland (pop. 723).

Age Today: 52.

Shares Birthday With: Gordie Howe (79), Shirley Jones (73), Richard Chamberlain (72), Christopher Walken (64), and Al Gore (58).

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Justice For All

Think the U.S. Attorneys investigation is “political theater,” as the boss says, much ado about nothing other than some non-serving at the displeasure of the President? Think Scooter Libby just had a faulty memory, maybe, and anyway Valerie Plame wasn’t really covert so where’s the harm in outing her and then sorta lying about it? Think we ought to be concentrating on putting the real bad guys behind bars?

Here are a couple of examples of stillborn justice that aren’t for weak ethical stomachs. The first deals with an HIV-positive man and medical marijuana, the second with high crimes and seafood.

I could use some medical marijuana myself right about now. There oughta be a law…

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Neologisms and UB-Day #1

I like words, so it’s obviously a good thing that I speak English, because we’ve got lots. Sometimes I feel sorry for people who learn English as a second language. It feels almost like a cruel joke perpetuated by Insane Dictionary Man. As soon as you’ve mastered “beautiful,” “lovely,” and “pretty,” which are more adjectives that any language really needs for essentially the same thing, somebody will throw out “luscious” and send you reeling into the OED.

Three years ago I invented a word, although it wasn’t that hard and it hasn’t exactly taken off. The word was “Ãœberboomer” and you can read the whole story here. If you’re too lazy to do that, it simply refers to someone born in either 1957 or 1958, when the Baby Boom had a baby boom. It was just a joke.

What still interests me, though, is finding a generational (or maybe subgenerational) marker for people like me. Baby boomers represented a huge demographic bump, but clumping us all together seems clumsy. Dumb, even. While some people refer to boomers as just post-War babies (roughly 1945-1955), generally we’re considered BBs if we were born between 1946 and 1964. Eighteen years. Are Bill Clinton (1946) and Stephen Colbert (1964) generational twins, separated at birth but still fondly remembering the same TV shows? I think not.

Where do we draw the line? Remembering Adlai Stevenson? Beanie and Cecil? Sputnik?

Actually, right down the middle works pretty well for me, and mostly because of Viet Nam. The draft ended in 1973, meaning that people born in 1955 and later were spared the trauma of being possibly sent to Southeast Asia. Generally speaking; it gets a little fuzzy, but I’m pretty fuzzy myself.

So I hereby re-define “Ãœberboomer” (also known as Late Boomers) as someone born between 1955 and 1964. I could get nitpicky and make it July 1, 1955 to December 31, 1964, but then my wife (2/27/1955) would be excluded and I’m not sure I want to do that.

I wrote about Ãœberboomers a few weeks ago, in regards to Barack Obama and Superman (I do this for a living; don’t try it at home), and I’m sure I will again. If we share nothing else, boomers are narcissistic. And if we’re going to be running the world soon, somebody has to chronicle and figure out stuff. *raises hand*

So I’ve decided to celebrate the ubeys, and what better way than to mark their birthdays?

OK, maybe I’ll think of a better way later.

UB-Day — March 30

Paul Reiser (3/30/1957)

Paul Reiser is probably best known for creating and starring in “Mad About You,” which ran from 1992 to 1999 and I watched every once in a while. He was also in “Diner,” though, which is a pretty good movie and connects Paul in one step to Kevin Bacon, another ubey (1958).

Trivia: Paul was a music major (piano and composition; source Wikipedia) in college.

Age Today: The Big Five-Oh.

Shares Birthday With: Norah Jones (28), Celine Dion (39), Eric Clapton (62), Warren Beatty (70) and Vincent Van Gogh (154, but looks 122).

Happy birthday, Paul. Where you been lately, bud?

Stay tuned for more OB-Days. I’ve gotta post something here. Wouldn’t you like to be an ubey, too?

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Mezzo For Hire

I always thought it would have been a more interesting story if Dorothy had been swept up from Oz by a tornado and plunked down in Kansas. Now we’re talking motivation to get back home.

What happens when a girl leaves God’s Favorite Place (i.e., the Pacific Northwest) and moves to her ancestral home in Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me Land (i.e., north Texas)? Wouldn’t there be lots of fun adventures, most of them involving humidity? Will she ever make it back home? Who are her wacky companions? Is there any chance of getting some decent sushi?

Well, you won’t find the answers here, but you will get to hear some pretty music and maybe note a family resemblance. If you squint real hard.

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And Yet, It Moves

And there it is, all you really need to know about life summed up by the definitive Renaissance Man, muttered under his breath like an incantation against ignorance. You can lead a horse to water, and I suppose with enough power you can make him drink, but he still knows whether or not he’s thirsty. OK, Your Excellency (or whatever), if you insist that the earth stands still then I’ll sign off on it…and yet, it moves. You go, Galileo.

So, I guess it’s spring.

I thought for the longest time I was standing still. Sometimes, in weak moments, I still do. Like, say, the past two weeks. A mighty funkiness descended on this household and I wasn’t immune, and I admit there were days when I just waited for bedtime so I could cross this one off my list.

But it’s an illusion. Nothing stands still, not even middle-aged men with the blues, so suddenly the sun is out and I’ve been blinking a lot. Ain’t no stopping spring, no way no how.

What happened is that my brain woke up.

The resiliency of the human body is not nearly as interesting to me as its redundancy. For example, we’re all aware that each of us has oodles and oodles of brain cells (I personally have at least dozens). Most of us also know that brain cells can die, particularly if they’re murdered, and they will never be resurrected. But we’ve got lots of spares, and the ones left behind take over functions of the dear departed.

It’s just that sometimes it takes a while. In my case, about six months. I was functioning fine, not much in the way of memory or coordination problems, etc., but one day I opened my mouth and actual words came out, all nice and arranged in sentences and clauses and everything, and I knew something was different.

This isn’t uncommon in people, like me, who stop poisoning themselves. But, again, it can take some time, and that varies.

It’s hard to do the sensation justice, but it is similar to waking up after an extra-long nap, wandering down from the hills and seeing a picture of the wrong George hanging over the inn (oh, stop it. That’s a very useful metaphor, particularly in this country right now). There’s some disorientation, and not a little depression. And impatience; I want my life back now.

I really think I must exhaust people sometimes.

I know what’s going on. Too many changes, too fast. Change is good, and it was necessary, but the universe went a little overboard. Shoulder surgery. Holidays. Back pain. Work reversals. New environments. Financial setbacks. Son issues, daughter issues, wife issues, dog issues, food issues, teeth issues, issue issues, enough already. Stop the world, I want to get off.

Sorry, Charlie. You say you want a revolution? Stick around for 24 hours.

So, I’ve been trying lately to make decisions based on insufficient information, namely that I really don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. Go figure.

The good news, on the other hand, is that I remember yesterday.

Some choices have to be made. I’ve already made some, but I have to persuade the rest of the planet to go along with me on this. And I have to fight the urge to hide, crawl under the covers and hope the lawn doesn’t grow anymore, that sort of thing. As I said, I must just wear my family out with this crap.

It’s nice to know I have tomorrow, though. Or at least I’m pretty sure I do. And the day will be just a little bit longer, which is good because I need all the help I can get.

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You've Got (A) Life!

You know those greeting cards that play a tune or an audio message when you open them? Sure you do. A little cute, a little annoying?

They’re powered by a little chip, a tiny thing, a unitasker, and it contains more computing power than the spacecraft on the Apollo missions. Imagine that.

I don’t actually know if that’s true, but it was told to me by someone who should know, and who didn’t seem to be a guy tending toward hyperbole. It was just a little aside in a short conversation we had about our particular generation and computers. This guy, who is my age, got a computer science degree in 1979, and we were just talking. He told me the story, for example, of blowing off an interview with a little start-up company across the lake in Redmond. Stuff like that.

We mostly were talking about how fortunate we were to be there at the beginning. The computing world has changed drastically in the past 30 years, but the science is still essentially the same, just smaller and sped up, plus bells and whistles and porn.

So our learning curve has been gradual and easy. Not as easy as, say, for my kids, who grew up with icons and IMs, but we know what’s going on. Somewhere beneath the glamor is an executable file, we know; the rest is just clicking.

I worked on my first computer network in 1978, on a solid-state CRT with glowing green letters and an 11-inch screen. A few years later I watched Alan Alda assemble an IBM AT in 30 seconds on a commercial, and I sure wanted one of them personal computers.

My sister bought one in the mid-80s, as I recall. I eventually bought it from her (or her next one, I’m not sure) when my business was growing and I wanted a back-up. Kids: Cover your ears. It had no hard drive.

My first one, though, I got in 1990. It had a 286 processor, a 40MB hard drive and 1MB of RAM. It cost $2500 and I waited two weeks to get it, because they had to build it first. And, because I was a long-range thinker, I had them install one of those modem thingies.

So bulletin boards became my first online experience. I didn’t have a hobby or special interest to fuel my wanderings, like comic books or arcade games or gay sex, but it was fun to dial up and hook into someplace else. Mild fun. Kill-an-hour fun.

The rest of the time I spent teaching myself computer programming from books and borrowed assemblers, and, of course, buying new computers. My next one was a 486 with 4MG of RAM (count ’em!) and a nearly 100MB hard drive, and — and — a CD ROM drive. Suddenly there were graphics, some of it animated, and sound, not to mention Windows.

It was then, in the summer of 1992, that I noticed a free CD in the grocery store. America Online. Hmm.

For $9.95 a month, I got five hours of online joy (I hope your ears are still covered), which was much more than I needed. This was pre-WWW, and Al Gore was still building the Internet in his garage. There were chat rooms, and e-mail between other AOL users, some features, and eventually Time magazine.

It got popular. One day, I read in a magazine that Patrick Stewart, Jean-Luc Picard himself, was an AOL member. I searched the directory and sure enough there was Patrick, “actor” by profession on his profile. I thought for a long time, then sent him an email with a quote from “Merchant of Venice” and a casual greeting. No fanboy stuff. He wrote back, too, with his own quote (“Midsummer’s Night Dream”).

Of course it was him. There were only 200,000 users at that time and it was like a club. Shut up.

And then, finally, there was unlimited access, and busy signals, and “gateways” to the mysterious Internet while Al put the finishing touches on it. And, of course, there were the squawks from the true believers when all the AOL-ers came wandering around, asking dumb questions.

One day a couple of Arizona attorneys had the temerity to post (gasp!) an advertisement on the ‘net, and the cave dwellers spammed and flamed and threatened. The world shook for a while.

There must be a geek cemetery around here somewhere, with “1995” on a lot of the tombstones and sites lovingly tended with flowers and 2400-baud modems.

For all the derision, mostly I suspect because of its ubiquitousness, AOL worked because it was convenient, a browser slipped into a home page with tons of content. I used to shake my head at non-AOL friends who had to fire up IE and then go looking. It was all there, limitless choices by nature of the Web but handy-dandy stuff all in one place, too. Just sign in, type your password, and go.

Ah. There’s the rub, in case you missed it. Freedom always wins, when given a choice. Cable stuck the sword in, but wireless networks twisted it. Why set up a home network when only AOL users can use it, even when broadband is supplied by the phone company?

For nearly 15 years I was a customer, without many complaints. AOL invented parental controls, as far as I know, so my kids could surf and I could sleep. My wife ventured online in a user-friendly environment. I got free stuff. It worked for me.

Last summer, AOL-Time-Halliburton-whatever got out of the ISP business, essentially, and I could finally go cable without annoying my wife. My son’s iMac could finally connect to our network, Julie could still use AOL, and I never had to hear “You’ve Got Mail!” again if I didn’t want to. Let freedom ring.

I’m a Mozilla Man now. I still have an AOL email address, but I rarely check it; their site is ad heavy and slow, and I’m all over the speed thing.

So goodbye, America Online. You served me well, my friend, and I have nothing to feel bad about, but I’ve moved on. I seek out new experiences, new life, new civilizations, new porn. I want to boldly go where I have never gone before.

Meaning, I really want a Mac now.

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My Weekend

I work at the computer in a recliner, the only solution I could come up with to battle back pain. It turned out all right; I had to learn how to type again, but ergonomically speaking it seems a better choice, and if I have to live with the image of a lazy boy then I guess I just will.

But I fell asleep in it last week, just tilted my head back and conked out for two hours, “like an old person!” Julie thoughtfully said, and I knew something was coming.

It turned out to be a cold, is all, just sinus pain and some coughing, a little lethargy and a convenient place to nap. It could have been much worse, and Lord knows the stress of the dental week didn’t help my energy.

It coincided, though, with a wifeless weekend, just the two boys, and so there were memories of other weekends when I didn’t do a whole lot, and for reasons that still creep into my dreams. I lost a few of those.

I managed to sneak out a couple of times, shore up the supplies, and I was standing in line at the grocery store at 10 am when I saw this jaw-droppingly beautiful woman. I’m not good with ages but I’m thinking early 40s. Blonde hair, perfect body, expensive clothes, classic features, cheap wine.

A big bottle with a $7 price tag. I know this wine. I used to buy it. I haven’t even glanced at it in nearly seven months, but I remember mid-mornings and the whole thing damn near broke my heart.

And, of course, I know nothing. She could have just been errand running and buying the cheap stuff for unimportant dinner guests, but I got a strong sense of pain and I have a pretty well-developed sense of that. Been there, those mornings. Buy some cheese and maybe an apple, make it look like a spontaneous picnic, but you can’t wait to get home because your brain is screaming for relief, and that only comes in a bottle.

I wanted to hold her. I’m sort of embarrassed to write that, what with her being beautiful and fragile, but I did. I wanted to tell her it was okay, that God still believed in her, that miracles happen every day, that I could explain stuff and help her find some peace, but strangers need conventions to connect.

Maybe I’ll catch her in a meeting someday.

I’ve become a hardass, I told Julie the other day, but I have to be more specific. If I become one of those old AA pricks who talk about “we’ve raised the bottom” and sneer at people in pain, then you can shoot me, OK? I give you permission.

What I mean is that I’ve moved past cliches, as comforting as those can be, and as necessary in the beginning. I don’t craft rigorous honesty anymore, build up a nice mini-monologue in case I get called on. You get what’s on my mind, and a lot of time that has to do with my mistakes and misadventures, and sometimes my always growing conviction that it has less to do with drinking than why you would even consider it in the first place.

Not you. Me. Just another convention. Sorry.

I’ve been given back free will. I know, I know. You think I always had it. You want to talk about personal responsibility, and good choices, and I truly understand that and it’s still nonsense, at some level. I lost the power to make choices, for a while. And if you think I was “functional,” just some nice man who drank too much and came to his senses and asked for help and did the hard work and put in the time and got the education, then I could tell you stories.

I crawled into recovery. Crawled. Sustained only by an idea that I didn’t want to die yet, by the love of my family, by the hesitant notion that my higher power wasn’t quite done with me yet, by the knowledge of friendships that stayed through indifference.

Actually, honestly, by the idea that somebody out there might want to hold me.

As I said, I’ve had to learn how to type again.

I almost never go to church these days, but then of course I do. I go mostly to churches, most nights. I know churches. I can find the copier. I know where the power lies (church secretaries). I recognize the hymnals. I understand the seating dynamics.

And I sit in these churches, with people, some of whom don’t believe in God, and I swear I’m tempted to take my shoes off, it’s that holy.

And of course there’s always somebody who wants to talk about being “spiritual” as opposed to “religious,” or expresses a disdain for “organized religion,” and I can be as arrogant as anybody and I’m a hardass now and I express the opinion that for somebody who doesn’t like religion they sure do seem to be active in one.

Rituals. Sacraments. Prayer. Confession. Witnessing. Altar calls. Your typical AA meeting. We hold hands and everything.

I saw a beautiful woman in pain the other day, and of course I saw the least of us, by which I mean me.

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Time Out

Well, good. Now I have absolutely no idea what time it is.

I woke up this morning at 6:11, which is early for me but then I never sleep well when Julie’s out of town, and of course it was 7:11. I want that hour back.

Also, I blame George Bush.  Just on principle.

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