SB Means Shaw Brothers

27 June 2016

Dear J—

I’m not sure if I ever told you but growing up we’d occasionally get the package in the mail – square and flat, inside having two or more reels of a film from Hong Kong. I’m not sure how my dad managed it but we’d get screeners or something from a consulate in Seattle or someplace similarly far-flung and then the coming Saturday, after enough notice had been given to the local students, we’d occupy an empty classroom on campus and show it. You learn your letters this way, or at least I learned what S and B stood for.

Right now Netflix has some classic Shaw Brothers stuff online – I’m finding that I’m partial to Fu Sheng (Alexander) and Ti Lung but you pick and choose what works for you – Come Drink With Me; Five Shaolin Masters; Avenging Eagle – but the roots of these things get sunk in deep and I wonder if my dad ended up being too busy with us to keep up but those Saturday’s did dry up after 1982 when we bought the store. It echoes in my life in a million different ways now, though, from learning to run projectors myself when I was ten to favoring that honorable genre late at night when there’s just me and the endless night facing along.

Mike

Exhaust

22 June 2016

Dear J—

You know how they say the sleep deprivation doesn’t catch up to you until the second day? Wait, they don’t say that? Well, they should. I went to bed at an unreasonable hour Monday night/Tuesday morning and yesterday I felt okay aside from the inevitable crabbiness that night; today, though, whoo. So unmotivated to be here on the train headed south, even if I’ve only spent a few hours at work this week. I’m going to have to burn another vacation day or two, I think, as well.

I just … I can’t. Perhaps if I switch up my location and head over to the library and work from there, perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. Drive on, the day is young and the digits are still cool to the touch.

Mike

Repetitionary

21 June 2016

Dear J—

We watch a lot of the same things over and over again (although strangely, not The Croods, which I’m not sure I’ve ever sat through without falling asleep), so right now the heavy rotation is on Yo-Kai Watch and Hotel Transylvania 2, which I’m more inclined to watch now that I’ve learned Genndy Tartakovsky helmed both of those films, despite lines that klunk like this:

Hey, dude man: I’m a dude man.

Still, it’s an ear worm and it gets stuck in your head, so yeah. Hey dude man.

Mike

Two Words

20 June 2016

Dear J—

So first, a brief word about the Warriors: at one point last night I thought to myself: well gee, they’re not here for your entertainment. And then I reversed that thought and thought: well, no, that’s exactly why they exist. So to avoid the sort of inevitable disappointment that comes with thinking about it too much more, I remember the lyrics to Turn It Off and remind myself there are worse things in the world than to spend Father’s Day with many kids and lots of toys.

The other thought for the morning is this: I saw it last week but forgot about it until now: the city, no doubt flush with increased property tax cash, has begun replacing the high pressure sodium bulbs with LED fixtures, which makes an incredible difference in the character of street lighting. This is a fundamental change between the monochromatic orange-and-black of the past fifty-plus years of lighting and colors at night (colors at night!) and one day we may have to explain just why we settled for less.

Mike

Assigned Seating

15 June 2016

We ate assigned bike parking spots (especially now, with three bikes occupying a space designed for forty) like we’re assigned seats or like I’m assigned a hole in my head (five, actually: two nostrils, two ears and a mouth), so maybe that’s not the best analogy, but you know: it’s public transit, so it’s sit where and park your bike where you can and don’t complain, because most of everyone else doesn’t even have bikes, right? If I liken the idea of the train to an exclusive private transport hired at my trifling expense, then what becomes the role of my fellow passengers?

It’s a fancy way of saying there’s a bike parked where I usually tie mine up and it’s got me feeling discombobulated, although on the other hand it’s not like I’m not taking some time off this week anyhow, so suck it up and quit your whining, okay?

Mike

Rogue Robots

14 June 2016

Dear J—

The voice that tells us CAUTION: DOORS ARE ABOUT TO CLOSE on the train sounds a lot like the voice from WALL-E that warns us about ROGUE ROBOTS. That is all the observational power I have for you today. Let’s not be too aggravated by things we can’t fully control, all right? You can control your own reactions, not what other people do, and that should be your mantra for now. We have enough; this is enough, they are enough, we have plenty. Remind yourself; drill it into your head if you need to, but yeah, this is enough.There’s a small buffer zone of repair shops near downtown but just north of there you start seeing the little houses and solid walls to shut out the noises. 

What activities will we have this weekend? Is it okay to be thinking that far forward this early? Tuesday. Let’s make it a great week, all right? What a slow start to it, though.

Mike

Stuff Habit

13 June 2016

Dear J—

You know, the stuff habit: I got to hab-it. I’m contemplating hopping out of the train early and heading back home just so I can go nab a barbecue that I saw sitting on the side of the road with the rest of the trash to be picked up, assuming that it won’t be picked up today, or by one of the other thousands of cars passing by and oh why am I even torturing myself like this? It’s trash day on the other side of the freeway and of course like a dope I sit there and stare at the piles, including several kids’ bikes which I’m sure Calcifer could be riding now and other detritus of moving including a Weber grill with the enclosed ash catcher (seriously, people: if you don’t help me out here I’m going to go nuts thinking about it all day today.)

Tell them how I am defying good sense here and good taste by not picking through someone else’s garbage, because I’m not. I’m really now. You can get by without being so scavenging, I think. And yet here I am, having spent the weekend obsessing over an electric piano that’s a close cousins to the one that I gave up when we moved here. Because that’s how I roll.

Mike got to hab-it.

Weeklong

10 June 2016

Dear J—

I’ve spent the week at work doing a couple of things: first, organizing as best I could the Shoreline Parks pictures on Wikimedia Commons; second, grabbing details here possible and finishing up the report that was due at the beginning of last week. With luck that’ll be out today and then I can turn to some more interesting or at least different things like revisiting the slides my senpai put together for training. I still contend that we could have organized things better, but that’s mostly me whistling into the wind, I think.

I’m not convinced I’m doing anything right lately, though. Perhaps it’s time to take some vacation.

Mike

Dealing with it

9 June 2016

Dear J—

It feels like a lot of my waking time is spent justifying the if-this-then-that equation. Here’s roughly how it goes:

  1. Oh, that ___ is a GOOD deal.
  2. What would I do with ___?
  3. Come up with a lame excuse.
  4. I can’t imagine how or why I have lived without ___ for so long.

Current case in point: there’s a set of speakers that arrived earlier this week which are waiting to be hooked up so I can listen to music in the living room. Because I listen to music in the living room so much, so often, so what? Really? That’s the best I could come up with on short notice.

These conclusions seem like a good idea at the time, even when they’re not. Brilliant, eh?

Mike

Train Time

7 June 2016

Dear J—

I watch the train rolling up in the morning, a silver promise each day  showing me the way south, bell ringing, wheels squealing, hitting the mark and pushing me on down the road to where I need to go. And riding the train in the week is a different experience than riding on the weekend; you get a bit of the same experience only not at all the same when frequency slows to once an hour instead of as often as you need or that tracks and stations can bear, the byzanitine scheduling practices that dictate which stations will skip and which will stop. There is a fearful complexity that has us clutching paper copies of schedules and timetables (note to app developers: the timetable view is far more important than picking out paired stations, unless you’re limited to only passing between the same two stations every day every way; I would love to see one where the timetable is the default view).

Still we roll along, a lighted prayer against the darkness, a clanking noise in the silence of the early morning bringing order and schedule into the day.

Mike


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