In fact, I almost always had music on in the car. Music sounds different--better?--on a car stereo. The only other time I really listen to music is if I'm hanging out in my living room, but usually not if I'm reading because I find one distracts from my enjoyment of the other. I don't listen to music when I'm walking around town, because I like to hear the ambient sounds that surround me, and, of course, I like to eavesdrop. I haven't been listening to as much music lately, because I am not driving a car.
One of the things that allows me to listen to music in a car is a sense of isolation and encapsulation. There's nothing else to hear except the sound of the engine and the bumps in the road. And the sirens of emergency vehicles, I suppose.
With the help of a vehicle, I ran a bunch of errands I've been meaning to take care of for quite some time:
- Took a pile of dead batteries to the Washtenaw County drop-off station. I'd been meaning to do that for at least 7 months.
- Took empty laser printer toner cartridge to Office Max for recycling. They gave me a free ream of paper for returning it there. I'd been meaning to do that for about 8 months.
- Ordered a different new gas cap for the Jolly Dodger, since the previous one didn't fit. I'd been meaning to take care of that for nearly a year.
I was glad to get all that done, as it was not just physical clutter but mental clutter as well; every time I saw the toner cartridge I'd think, I have to take care of that. A couple hundred I-have-to-take-care-of-thats piled on top of each other can actually feel a little stressful, even though each task is minor. Then, as I thought about it in that light, I was mad at myself for not taking care of it ages ago. I could have done any of that stuff on my bike.
mrrranda and I went out to Bella Ciao on Friday night, one of the few remaining restaurants in Ann Arbor I'd never been to. We had a good time. They get good marks for atmosphere. The food was good, although the sauce for my linguine had too much salt for my taste. But the real disappointment, the thing I really don't understand, is how a fancy-schmancy restaurant like that can serve up scorched coffee for $1.95. Seriously, that pot of coffee had been sitting on the burner at least an hour, I swear. Perhaps everyone orders cappuccino or espresso? Nice restaurants, take note: throw out the old, scorched coffee and make a fresh pot now and then!
On Saturday we went to Southgate to visit mrrranda's parents and grandparents. We went to the Big Bear Lodge in Flat Rock, where mrrranda and her mother ordered drinks with funny names, like Santa's Whiskers, much to the amusement of the waitress. We also watched Bad Santa and the Invader Zim X-mas Special. Bad Santa should have ended about three minutes earlier than it did. I suspect they tacked on the happy ending after a test audience complained it was too dark. It reminded me a little of A Perfect World, which did have the right ending, although I'm guessing none of you saw that since it starred Kevin Costner. mrrranda's parents regularly re-heat old coffee in the microwave. This is even worse than scorched coffee, but then again, I didn't pay $1.95 for it.
mrrranda's dad also told me about his peculiar family, with whom he is not in touch. As an example of their peculiar behavior, he apparently found out that his mother died when his father mailed him a photocopy of a printed e-mail regarding the funeral arrangements long after the fact.
mrrranda's grandfather, who I knew had been stationed in Attu (or somewhere in the Aleutian Islands) during W.W. II, also revealed he had been stationed in Guam, where they drank various concoctions of fermented coconut milk, and where Japanese P.O.W.s had refused Chesterfields and Old Golds and asked for Luckies. I really enjoy hearing little tidbits like that. History dehumanizes events, and you hear only of broad movements and battles and such. You seldom hear about taking military jeeps for joy-rides, drinking coconut hooch, or just sitting around playing cards in a frozen wasteland.
On Sunday I saw a crazy Bollywood movie with Janet S.--and some people I don't really know, but that all know nerdtech and Matt Collar (although I am beginning to think everyone knows nerdtech and Matt Collar). I don't know what the movie was called. It was a bootleg rented at a local Indian grocer. It was nearly 3 hours long, so we ended up watching a lot of it on fast-forward, since we could still read the subtitles. It was funny, though a lot of it seemed derivative. For example, a lot of dance numbers that looked like Janet Jackson or Paula Abdul videos, and a lot of jokes that may have been pulled directly from Meet the Parents. But does that mean they borrowed from Western pop culture, or that Western pop culture borrowed from them? Hearing a smattering of English mixed in with (presumably) Hindi and Punjabi was also entertaining.