Monday, November 5, 2007

Laughing Sparrow Died

Recently the MySpace Music page of an artist I really liked disappeared on me. If you are fortunate enough to have heard of McFadden's Parachute, consider yourself oh so lucky. If you do, can you name all the members? Well, they can be counted on a very blind butcher's hand-Dagwood McFadden is the only member; a sort of musical jack-of-all-trades who plays every single instrument on the Parachute's records, thanks to that elven magic known as overdubbing. His song 'Silver Days And Purple Nights' was one of the hallucination induction engines that kept me sane during my second and summer semesters as a junior. Apparently this guy was a kid in the late 60's and early 70's, which makes me just a little jealous. After all, he grew up to a lot of great music; not just the popular sounds of the era, but also local bands from his Rochester, NY hometown that specialized in acid garage. Groovy. I hope he's not done with music; if he is, then the world will just go a little more gray for me. If I could just hear 'Silver Days And Purple Nights' just once more, I think I could die happy.

I got to thinking of someone else who had fallen off my radar in recent months; a girl I went to Penn Ken with. Her name is Andrea Savinda. Fall semester of my freshman year-we had an Honors English Comp class together. She was in the honors program like everyone else in the class; I was just good enough on the placement test to be allowed to schedule it. We never really talked though; me having just come out of homeschooling through high school and being socially inexperienced as a result. Still, she was always quiet herself, but sweet too-not to mention tall, slender, pretty brown hair to her elbows and always wearing long sleeves, as memory recalls. I admit to having a serious crush on her for the rest of that first year at Penn Ken, and all through the next year as well. After moving to State College to finish my degree, I was afraid I'd lose contact with her altogether. But she came up as well; I ran into her one day at the bus stop, and we chatted until my bus came.

Sadly, that was the last I saw or heard from her. I recently looked her up in the Penn State directory; she's not listed anymore. I have her PSU e-mail address; but if she's no longer with the university, she'll never get anything I send her. My only hope is to see if she has a page on Facebook and/or MySpace, and pray to God she remembers me.

It's depressing, painful even, when a friend steps outside your life like that. It's going to happen to me again at the end of next semester; my friend Emily is, I believe, going back to Harper's Ferry, WV to work at the National Historic Site and resume her internship of last summer with the Park Service. (I did suggest to her, tongue quite within cheek, that she should give working at the Steamtown NHS in Scranton a try; but she rolled her eyes at the idea, being much less of a train buff than me.) Or like my friend Jenny from Honors English; she's in Ireland right now, spending a semester abroad. My friend Stoner Tim is in China, and apparently has a kid there. My friends Mike, Matt, and Jonathan are still back in Pittsburgh, due to Matt and John working jobs right now and Mike taking a major only available at Penn Ken.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes, turn and face the strain; pretty soon you're gonna get a little older..........

Then It Gets Much Much Worse As The Day Goes On

Ignore the previous post. I've just discovered some kind of error on Blogger whereby the post regarding the Adult Swim anime bumpers failed to register its labels under 'Thematics' after I deleted an early draft of the post. And to boot, the damn thing won't register the same labels if I change that post to a draft.


In a way, this reminds me of an obscure anecdote from the history of the Pennsylvania Railroad. The electrified rail lines from New York City to Washington D.C. were their territory while they were in business; one of the electric locomotive they operated was known as model P5a. Let me focus on their running gear-the important bit of this story. These engines had three large-wheeled drive axles between two pair of load-bearing axles with much smaller wheels.

The center pair of drivers was blind (had no flange) so that these locomotives could use tighter curves than otherwise intended. Thus, without proper alignment, the center wheels ran the risk of derailing and causing general havoc. Large pins were used to hold said wheels within the proper tolerances.

Well, these things wore out (and fell out or broke) more often than was expected. On occasion, a P5a would come into the shops, I believe, at Enola, PA missing a pin or two. Instead of putting in a new pin and making the locomotive serviceable for another few months, the shop men would dig up a dead D-cell battery, about the same diameter of the pin; hammer it into the pin hole with a mallet; slap some grease over it and pray that there wasn't a Federal Railroad Administration inspector for about a hundred miles. All in order to get 'one more run' out of the locomotive before it really needed to come in for a scheduled inspection or needed more work.

Sure is confidence inspiring, isn't it?

Technical Difficulties

Please Stand By

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Tommorow Morning You'll Wake Up With The White Noise

Has anybody else noticed those strange pre-show intro bits Adult Swim airs after the anime begins? They are really odd. So much so that I've enjoyed watching them as much-if, God forbid, not more-than the actual programming. I can't tell whether they're a photograph or a frame from a film; or whether they're real subjects or models. They feature a scene-it varies wildly; from high above an intersection between several freeways, to trackside on the Alaska Railroad, to inside some hotel with a decidedly industrial-looking freight elevator (I think). They're all slightly disconcerting and deja-vu inducing, filling me with restlessness and heartache. I don't even know why.

The music is good too.

The first picture is one I can more easily dissect than anyone else, I bet. That's an Alaska Railroad GP-series locomotive from EMD, probably a GP40; pulling a Rader Railcar product built for a 'railcruise' company operating trains across Alaska's natural beauty, for which tourists are supplied by means of a cruise ship. Come on, people, there is such a thing as the AlCan Highway. *shoulda been a railroad*The next is a total mystery. This is where I begin to wonder if these aren't skilfully built dioramas, equally skilfully lit and photographed (better than I did with the tevelision, capturing these fleeting images). This 'Last Chance Saloon' is straight out of some Smokey and the Bandit ripoff, I know it; I just know it! Like it was supposed to be blown up in this 'f4k3rz' S&B and they either forgot, made a spare, or never filmed that bit out of sheer apathy. I can't remember what kind of music is playing in either of these; they both seem to have been some kind of spooky lullaby or something, not particularly remarkable but pleasant and evocative of nighttime themed moods. Or mooded themes. I dunno.
Now comes the one with the really cool music; this cool cat has a really nice bluesy jive to it-something I like to call smoky club music. The smog of fifty or so cigarettes; plenty of minor chords on bass and not particularly overdriven guitar and a simple alternating drum line make for an urbanely spooky atmosphere. Probably the reason I think this one represents a hotel. The music seriously ranks up there with 'Have Love Will Travel' by the Black Keys. Cool tools. I think the carpet pattern has something to do with the 'hotel' theory too.

There are a few more of these; one with a big red cargo ship; two, like a hot-air balloon ride over the city, providing views of a shopping district and a major convergence of important highways; one with a battleship; one with a grond level vieew of a highway interchange; one with two backhoes and an aluminum trailer; and one I missed my opportunity in photographing last night, containing a lake in the background, train tracks in the foreground, and between some kind of transmitter tower and a small outbuilding. Gotta get me the rest of these.

What the real mystery is to me is that 'ACTN' logo with all the katakana above it and the odd symbol to the right. A clear closeup of this would be most appreciated, if it's to be found anywhere. The best view of it I have is in the 'hotel' picture. What exactly is ACTN? How does it relate to Adult Swim and Cartoon Network? Why am I geeky enough to pay more attention to the filler between shows than the shows I stayed up to watch? Do these things really have that much meaning to them, or am I just a lonely, empathetic loser? Will our hero be dashed to bits on the jagged rocks below?