Music: If you don’t mind the mind…

Did you ever hear Jumpin’ Gene Simmons hit song, Haunted House? Some classic lyrics, there…

He ate the raw meat right from my hand
Drank the hot grease from the fryin’ pan
He said to me now you better run
And don’t be here when the mornin’ comes

It’s stuck in my head, sort of. I don’t remember all the lyrics – just the main guitar riff and the ‘hot grease’ part. I’m guessing it sometimes happens to some of you, too. A song you like, or don’t like, keeps playing on the jukebox-brain.

Funny thing is – and I’ve probably mentioned this somewhere along the line – there are other associations that get caught up in there. For example, I can tell you where I was when I first heard that novelty song. I was riding in a school bus with a little radio held up to my ear.

I can even tell you where the bus was driving when the song really caught my attention: we were westbound on what was formerly called Grand Avenue in McAlester.

Many years later, my brother-in-law Dennis introduced me to the music of Steve Goodman, a Chicago songwriter who died way too young. He wrote Go Cubs Go – which probably gets played more often than his song City of New Orleans, a train-riding hit for Woody Guthrie’s son, Arlo.

It was easy to remember that Dennis provided the musical introduction. We were at a family get-together and his record ended up in my Steely Dan album jacket. It was several years before we got that mix-up squared away.

For some reason, I was thinking about my mental-music-retention (talk about a slow-day-brain-activity, but anything can trigger it… the song Low Rider just came on the shop’s music system – which I remember first hearing as a DJ at Top-40 KQYX in Joplin, Missouri.): earlier, something made me think about the jarring way I was introduced to Led Zeppelin.


In Mr Sittel’s first-hour Mechanical Drawing class, we toiled away to the soothing sounds of his classical LPs, played on a little record player mounted on the corner wall. Whatever the reason, he invited us to bring in a record of our own to play during the period.

As a tenth-grader, during my first-ever stint in a public school, I was about as small as I could make myself. There were a number of seniors who sat directly across from me: I think Don Whitehead and Jim Sadler were among those sitting opposite, but I don’t think they ever spoke a word to me all year. I did listen, though, and I ascertained there was some sort of conspiracy afoot. Might have been Johnny Peccio who provided the record album.

Too naïve to know what it was all about, I watched along with everyone else as Mr Sittel carefully removed the record from the paper sleeve and got it spinning on the player. There was a palpable sense of anticipation before the first shocking blasts of guitar rolled out over our drafting tables. It wasn’t Classical Music, that’s for sure. Couldn’t have been a full couple of musical measures later before Mr Sittel grabbed the tone arm and scraped the needle from the LP.

I recall thinking that was sure to cause a scratch (something you young whippersnappers never experienced in your non-vinyl musical lives), a playback pop to be heard ever-after on what I heard described by a classmate as a ‘brand new record.’ Mr Sittel, red-faced and blustery, was none too happy.

And that was my introduction to Whole Lotta Love, the first song on Side 1, Led Zeppelin II.

Later, I acquired a copy of the record. It was one of those that was in the regular rotation, but truthfully, I was more of a Beatles fan.

And starting up their albums could be done without raising up memories of a surprised Mr Sittel, the speediest music censor ever, at McAlester High School.

Alexa: Write a Blog for me…

I was talking to one of our lunch guests the other day, and he made a quick pronouncement: You LOVE gadgets, don’t you?

It’s true. I always have. Years and years ago, before streaming video, before DVDs, Before Blue-ray and Laserdisk… there were videocassettes. The machines were big boxy things that sat on the shelving system that took up an entire wall and was dedicated to housing your stereo components.

At that time, we had just experienced a small financial windfall and I believed our household HAD to have a VCR (that’s video cassette recorder, for you young scalawags). They were so new that the machine could record only a single program, at a single time. Only the channel you were currently watching. Couldn’t program it to record later – you had to press, simultaneously – the Record and Play buttons.

By the time you had the show’s channel on the TV, waiting for the program to begin so the buttons could be pressed – you might as well have just plopped down on the couch and watched it right then and there.

But it was new tech. A gadget. I’m embarrassed to admit how much we paid for that thing, so I won’t.

Still love the gadgets, though. And thankfully, most of the prices have gone down, comparatively speaking.

Alexa is almost the ultimate gadget for me. I got on board that train when the Echo first came out from Amazon, and now own several. The device is capable of much more than I currently demand of it, but I’m still learning.

One of the things I love is the voice-control of other devices. I can turn on lights from across the room. I can ask Alexa to turn on the TV or turn the volume up or down.

Now, I can even do some of that same stuff in the car. From the parking space behind the store I can turn on the exterior lighting to unload supplies after dark. Listen to the game on the car speakers (a game not available through local radio) on streaming media.

With an AC transformer tucked under the dashboard I can plug in an Echo Dot, set it on the console, and ask Alexa about weather, news headlines, lame jokes, and even turn on the interior lights at the house from the driveway. Music streams through the Trans Am speakers from my Pandora account, and college football from the Sooners Sports Network.

Do I absolutely NEED it? Nah.

But I love gadgets.

It’s a Doggy-Dog world. (No dog-eat-dog, for me…)

I look at Craigslist for a bargain. When I finally find one, it will more than likely be something that I have absolutely no use for. Something like a slightly used Xylophone, bargain-priced and in pristine condition, or vegetable canning supplies – cheap.

It’s nothing short of amazing, the sorts of things that people offer up for sale. Someone has, for months, listed a little wooden business card holder. Under ten bucks, and maybe it is the Cadillac of business card holders – they have an up-close photograph of it, and it seems to be a really nice business card holder – but folks just aren’t biting. It must be to the point that the owner wakes up on Monday morning, yawning broadly, then realizing it is time to scurry over to the computer and re-up the listing.

“Come down a little on the price?” they might wonder. “Nah. Hold out for top dollar! It’s the Cadillac of business card holders, for Pete’s sake!”

But this afternoon (after I had completed my shop chores) I was astonished at a listing under the barter category, where the owner might – instead of asking for a cash payment – might strike a bargain to swap their unwanted item for your unwanted item.

That way, after a few days, you have a brand-new (to you, anyway) unwanted item. Something to take up that cherished spot in the garage or spare bedroom closet. Something your children will desperately hope you will get rid of before that final estate sale in the sky.

Complete with a photograph, the listing is for a two-year old male German shepherd dog.

How do you come to the place that you are willing to barter away your dog? And what will tempt you enough to strike a bargain? Trading for a slightly used cat is out of the question, no doubt.

Admittedly, I am not a dog person (nor a cat person, fish person, gerbil person, lion person, or sea monkey person!), but I am finding myself thinking compassionately about the young dog (although – in dog years – the age of two might represent an octogenarian). It was my understanding that – in the dog world – a pet is taken in and becomes a member of the family, and is the sort of rare family member that doesn’t require elaborate holiday gifts or shopping trips to the mall.

I’m looking at the doggy-picture that accompanies the Craigslist ad, and I’m thinking that the pup is either terribly naïve and having no clue that a brand-new family is in the works, or that sad-eyed look is purposely intended to discourage prospective phone calls.

Doggie, thinking while the picture is being taken: Please don’t call. Please, Please, Please, Please….PLEASE. (Then, doggie-thoughts “Sad eye look, with the sad German shepherd eyebrows look, and pose!”)

Owner, with camera: Okay Fido! Smile for the camera!

Doggie, eyes even sadder: But I don’t WANT a new family! I promise to quit the late night backyard barking! I’ll quit ignoring the discount kibble!

Honestly.

I wonder about the whole psychological impact of being UnFriended in real life, and sent away with strangers. How does one explain adoption or foster care to a two-year-old. German shepherd, no less.

And – because I just don’t know how these things work, there’s this question: Does the new family acquire naming rights, where the doggy has to learn to answer to a new name from the new family members? What if the dog’s current name is something completely out-of-left-field, like the same as the aunt who’s in prison? (It’s name isn’t mentioned in the ad.)

In my mind, I’m petting the pup, reassuringly – if a little hesitatingly.

Like I said, I’m not a dog person.