Friday, October 18, 2013

On This Date in 1998

At 11 o’clock on a Sunday morning, the house is eerily quiet, at least until a tape on which I recorded Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue rewinds. JoAnna went to her office and won’t be home until 6:00. I gave the boys money to go bowling, the Sport Bowl being just a short walk from the house. Andy’s friend Matt dropped by at quarter to ten. He and Andy played a raucous game of rug hockey in the family room until JoAnna returned home from church. She fixed herself a breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast, and even though Andy had recently devoured a serving of syrup-drenched pancakes, and Matt had eaten before the left his house, the boys fixed themselves what JoAnna was eating. I haven’t even had my usual 8 sections of grapefruit yet; a half-glass of apple cider has been my only nourishment so far today.

Eddie and I enjoyed a quiet, pleasant, relaxing Friday evening together. We sat on the couch in the family room, a bowl of popcorn between us. He watched the Cartoon Network while I read. I was intrigued by this cable channel’s approach to programming. They don’t simply throw, willy-nilly, three cartoons into a half-hour time slot. Friday evening featured three Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies cartoons directed by Tex Avery, a filmmaker whom most animation aficionados would place in the pantheon of auteurs, along with Friz Freleng (Bugs Bunny) and Walter Lantz (Woody Woodpecker). (The auteur theory, by the way, is a view of filmmaking, usually associated with live-action films, with directors like Alfred Hitchcock and John Ford and Martin Scorcese, in which the director is considered the primary creative force.)

Eddie, of course, is not watching these cartoons at the same level that I am, my point of view refined over 40 years of fascination with popular culture. I’m sure that he’s as discerning a viewer, though. My guess is that Eddie is not so much interested in the cartoon’s storyline as he is in the – and here I’m going to throw another French film term at you – mise-en-scene (pronounced MEEZ-ahn sane), the physical setting of the action. Eddie has created this huge file of mental images that he effortlessly riffles through whenever he sits at his drafting table and begins a new drawing.

We took two vehicles to get to Andy’s football game yesterday morning. Andy had to be at the field 45 minutes before the 10:30 kickoff time. If we all drove together, Eddie would get bored and in a complaining mood by game time. The Weather Channel predicted scattered showers (my emphasis), and with the sksy looking overcast but not anywhere near threatening, I left the house wearing jeans and a short-sleeve t-shirt. At the end of the first quarter, we heard a single clap of thunder and saw a flash of lightning. A light rain began to fall. I thought the game might be delayed, but the thunder and lightning went away, as if God had immediately answered the coaches’ and parents’ prayers. During much of the second and third quarters, the Orioles played in a driving rain. I mean, it poured! Fortunately, JoAnna had brought along an umbrella and a poncho, and offered me the latter, so I was able to keep dry above the knees. Eddie wore a windbreaker without a hood. He and his friend Garrett enjoyed themselves for awhile, but the brisk wind was probably bringing on a case of hypothermia. Eddie was soaked from head to toe. When he pleaded to go home, JoAnna was happy to oblige.

The Orioles got trounced, 39-0. From start to finish, the team looked disorganized and mostly disinterested on both offense and defense. This was their 6th loss without a win. I think the team lost its spirit before the end of the 1st quarter, as if someone had suddenly popped the balloon of their hopes for a 1st victory. JoAnna and I aren’t sure if it’s a collective lack of talent or poor coaching. Andy still seems to enjoy the experience, though. He hasn’t made any negative comments or tried to weasel out of going to practice.

Andy had only 15 minutes to get ready for Tim’s birthday party. Tim and Andy became good friends in the 3rd grade, a relationship that cooled a bit during 4th grade, but now seems to be warming up again. Tim lives with his dad and stepmom in Middleton during the week and with his mom and stepdad in Verona on the weekends. The party, of course, was in Verona, which is a 15-minute drive from Middleton. On the way home, I stopped at Cub Foods and made a major purchase of groceries. The West Towne area was clogged with traffic, most of the western half of Dane County deciding that shopping was the best way to spend a rainy day. Andy heavy rains continued into the late afternoon.

We hosted a sheepshead party Saturday evening. Jon and Kathy Erpenbach brought along their two children, Joey, 6, and Amy, 3. They get along so well with Andy and Eddie. Some of JoAnna’s staff members showed up: Julie (and her husband, Ron), Emily, Jen, as well as two other Capitol people (legislative aides): Andy, whose Mom is a librarian, and Scott, who does a dead-on Frank Sinatra imitation. (Based on the one time that I tested his knowledge, he seems to know every song that Frank recorded.) It wasn’t a late night. Both tables shut down prior to 11:00.

Mom, did you ever read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn? I finished listening to it on the drive back from Manitowoc on Thursday. It’s a book that remains very popular 45 years after its initial publication, a fact which intrigued me. What is it about this book that makes it so enduring? I wondered. The answer: Betty Smith writes a very compelling coming-of-age story and her depiction of New York City in the 1910s provides a fascinating glimpse of that city’s history.

A Sunday evening postscript

Andy played soccer this afternoon. Matt’s team, which is the team that Andy will play on next spring, was short a player, and Andy was happy to fill in.

I did notice the article in the Warren newspaper about sidewalk replacement. We had a portion of our sidewalk replaced soon after we moved to Mayflower Drive. Our assessment by the city was $80 per square, if I remember correctly. We’d like to get our driveway replaced next spring. I’m sure that won’t be a cheap project.

I clipped the article about the Watson Home. I knew very little about the history of the place, so I found it informative reading. And unless it was shortly after we first moved to Warren, I don’t remember ever being inside the building.

The Buffalo Bills are turning into giant-killers, knocking off another undefeated team today. The mood is a little tense in Packerland after Thursday’s loss to the Lions. JoAnna wondered if Favre might be abusing drugs again, but the local sportswriters point to the Dorsey Levens injury, which left the Packers without a running game and puts more pressure on Favre to do it all. Brett looked like the greenest of rookies against the Lions. He was intercepted three times, but I saw at least three other passes that should have been picked off.

Andy was just demonstrating his dance moves, with Will Smith’s “Men in Black” on the stereo. He looked ready to strut his stuff for the girls. What a guy!

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