Everyone you meet now is carrying a burden, even good-looking people like me

Posted: April 16, 2020 in Miscellaneous, music
Tags: , , ,

I hope everyone reading this is safe, healthy, and strong. In Yiddish, that’s zayt (safe), gezunt (healthy), and shtark (strong). You know gezunt from “Gezuntheit!” You may also know shtark from Starker, the KAOS flunkie in Get Smart! A shtarker is the guy who moves your furniture, not the guy who tutors you in math. My Dad always said, whenever I tried to lift anything heavier than a stack of New Yorkers, “Stevie! You’re not a shtarker!”

A shtarker would not have read the profile of the English novelist Anna Kavan that I recently plowed through. In 1967, Kavan published a book called Ice, which is beloved by Patti Smith, J.G. Ballard, Doris Lessing, Christopher Priest, Jonatham Lethem, and Brian Aldiss (who called Kavan “Kafka’s sister”). That is a literary lineup that can hurt you in a lot of ways.

“Kavan’s fiction features icy heroines, dystopian quests, and gothic flourishes,” the profile’s author, Leo Robson, writes. The last word of this piece is “doomed.” “Yeah!” I said to myself, mentally pumping my fist. There’s no telling how this global crisis is going to end. It’s definitely time to read something that’s icy, dystopian, gothic, and doomed.

I didn’t.

I’m fortunate that I still have a job. I work from my basement. Because I am of a certain age, and rapidly aging, I wrote to a friend to say that I wanted to retire from an office, not from a basement. He wrote back and said I should retire from the basement: “You know you were going to end up there anyway.”

I’ve started running. I’m still writing. I’m rebuilding my house [citation needed]. The inside doorknob pulled out of the front door like I was in a horror movie. The lockset was only installed in 1942. It’s already broken? Fortunately, the good men at Atlasta Lock & Safe told me I could bring in the knob and its attached spindle and they’d tell me how to fix it. I was masked, they were masked. They told me how to fix it. I fixed it. Now I love 1940s technology. Doorknobs, doorbells, steam irons with buttons. The battleship Iowa.

Our garden (and pizza) is helping everyone get by here at Run-DMSteve World HQ. My wife has a project. Our dog has a project. I have a project: shade composting. The one spot in the yard where I could create a compost pile never gets any sun, but through sophisticated methods I cannot reveal and against the advice of Anthony Fauci I have transformed an enormous quantity of dead dirt into loamy dark soil, well-aerated and suffused with yummy worms. The shade-composting season is short (by the end of May, my compost will have the consistency of concrete) but intense.

I’ll share my success in the manuscript I’m preparing: Shade Composting: The Secret Process That Spells Doom for Your Spin Bin. This is the sequel to my first gardening book, The Daylily Solution: Stick ’Em in the Ground, You’re Done.

We’re all watching more screens for more hours than ever before, so let’s look at something we watched here at the Bureau while sitting 6’ apart.

10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
This retelling of The Taming of the Shrew has a serious moral flaw at its center, and it’s not Shakespeare’s ideas on how to manage women. The film is set in Seattle (it’s filmed mostly in Tacoma), but it doesn’t include a single band from Seattle. The soundtrack is an undifferentiated mass of bands from such Pacific Northwesty places as California, Florida, Minnesota, Sweden, and the U.K. Even the band that performs live in the film, Letters to Cleo, is from Boston; they play covers by not-Seattle artists Cheap Trick and Nick Lowe.

There’s a scene in a lesbian club where someone mentions Bikini Kill. That’s the lone Northwest music reference in this film from the Seattle music renaissance. (Cultural note: In 1999, all lesbians wore spaghetti-strap black tops and weighed 90 pounds.)

None of this crap is memorable, except for the George Clinton classic “Atomic Dog,” and he ain’t from Seattle, either. The 10 Things I Hate About You soundtrack is the opposite of the Singles soundtrack: both movies take place in Seattle, but only Singles sounds like it.

Oh right, the movie: Though the script manages to be both underwritten and a mess, 10 Things I Hate About You is sufficient to keep you occupied during a pandemic. It stars the teenaged Julia Stiles, Heath Ledger, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. We also get the annoying David Krumholtz (fans of Firefly will recognize him as Mr. Universe), Joe Isuzu as the clueless gym teacher, Daryl Mitchell (Tommy Webber of Galaxy Quest) as the angry English teacher who can rap in Shakespeare, and Allison Janney as the porn-writing guidance counselor.

I enjoyed this film, but I would’ve enjoyed it much more if it had been about the English teacher and the guidance counselor and the music was by nerds in flannel shirts and maybe Sir Mix-a-Lot. (But not Kenny G.) As we said in Seattle in 1999, let’s call for pizza.

  1. Mr. Seaside says:

    I seem to recall a well-known play or movie where the main character, when referring to his ‘retirement,’ says something like: “I got up one morning and just didn’t go into work.” You can beat this retiring in a pandemic dilemma …at the break of dawn, exactly one day before your scheduled last day of work, just simply get up & don’t go down to your basement. And don’t tell anyone at your work about this. Just refuse any further communication with the workplace. Just be finished with it! You’ll be ‘sticking it to the man,’ and maintain your dignity…retiring on your terms. Have you ever considered getting another hose & joining your mate in her project with the dog’s project? I believe that Dr. Fauci has OK’ed being within six feet of a spouse. Check the rulebook…and live it up a little!!

    • Run-DMSteve says:

      This is fucking brilliant. Why not? They’ll probably forget me anyway by then. I’m fading from their memory even as I type this! You should’ve had a career in HR.

      It’s OK to be within six feet of a spouse? What?! Someone’s been messing with my news feed!

  2. Dr. D says:

    Did you mean “piazza” not “pizza” early in the piece? Are you a copywriter?

    Seriously, it is better to be working from home now than recently retired. There is so much I wish I could do, but I am not allowed. That does not include joining in non-social distancing protests. Crap, I hope they all get infected….

    • Run-DMSteve says:

      I always mean pizza.

      It’s the worst kind of schadenfreude, but I can’t help noticing the growing number of coronavirus deniers who are dying because of their conspiracy theories. I smile, but then I think of the people they probably infected and the infections they helped along, and then I have to stop reading because it is So. Fucking. Stupid.

  3. Accused of Lurking says:

    When I saw your headline, I thought the shared burden was a need for a hair stylist, any hair stylist, even a bad hair stylist.

  4. Jerry Kaufman says:

    What happened to that poor dog’s legs? They’re hardly there!

  5. William Seabrook says:

    Maybe Daryl Mitchell has read Anna Kavan; he actually calls himself Daryl “Chill” Mitchell.

  6. Sherry says:

    Stay safe. I watched your video. Cute pup. Freddie is enjoying living at the beach. So quiet. We’ve got the trail all to ourselves. It’s awesome. Stay safe

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