austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

Put down your chainsaw and listen to me

Among the CDs I bought in the big FYE store-closing sale was Weird Al's Dare To Be Stupid, which I hadn't owned before because of my long-running issue where I know and pretty much like music but don't connect that to making any effort to own any. But I quite liked the album and was lifted to shocking giddy heights by the title track. I'd forgotten how thoroughly gleeful a silly song it is and decades of warm associations of it crashed into me with such power that I probably should have pulled to the side of the road and got my giggles out rather than kept driving.

Second thread: several weeks back chefmongoose sent me a heads-up about Weird Al signing his new children's book, When I Grow Up. Despite vastly overblown predictions of inclement weather (the road was actually dryer than it's been in droughts), I went, trusting that my niece is approaching the age where she needs comfortable subversion, and enjoying a line which went on ... and on ... and on ... and on ... and on ... and on. The line was sufficiently long the leading hand-phone conversation topic was people trying to direct partners to their spot in line. I helped one woman by standing on tip-toes and waving my book; she said, ``There's a 6'5" man waving his book, do you see him?'' I felt irrationally happy at being called six foot five and at being called a man, for some reason.

The coffee shop people came around several times with complementary-sized hot chocolates which I'd rate as a nearly perfect goodwill-generating maneuver on their parts, but some of the roughly eight-year-ld girls with the guy behind me got into squabbling over it because one of them had been away when the server came around, and didn't get an extra for her, and there you go. Actually, my dominant impression of the line was that despite the genial good nature of everyone and the slow abandoning of nerd-friendly material on the shelves beside the line, was that people don't know how to wait in line anymore. I can forgive eight-year-olds being fidgety and uncomfortable just standing around, but the adults weren't doing well just being there either.

Also, one of the girls behind me leafed through a Cult Films book and said she found something about the Rocky Horror Picture Show she didn't know before. I don't want to sound too provincial but that seems like a bit young to know enough trivia about the Rocky Horror Picture Show to notice picking up new stuff about it.

It was a good-spirited line, though, with a lot of people telling people on the phone they were waiting for Weird Al. There were also a healthy number of people wandering around who had no idea what the line was for, about half of whom had clearly never heard of Weird Al but who strove mightily to act like the identification meant something to them. ``Comic musician'' or ``parody singer'' were the most common explanations. Several explained him as, ``a weird guy'', and I drew an appropriately-scaled modest chuckle by pointing out how he's never described as ``an Al guy''. One woman come near fainting when she met him.

Anyway, at my turn I got an actual photograph of me with Weird Al, taken on my hand phone because I somehow forgot to bring my real camera with me. And I discovered that my phone will send pictures to chefmongoose but not to other people, and there's no obvious pattern to who will be rejected. Well, he probably deserved the picture first and foremost. I'm shocked by how thin I look. Weird Al should be less shocking in appearance.

And when I did meet him and shake his hand, I thanked him specifically for ``Dare To Be Stupid''. He seemed pleased, and thanked me, and told me to keep in touch. (This was not a uniquely given command.) In collecting my phone from the guy who took our picture and my signed book, I dropped my jacket, then my messenger bag, then my jacket again, and I stumbled off like a silent-movie comedian.

(The book, by the way, is sweet and as per the rule for this sort of thing not freakish or disturbing the way Weird Al's reputation as a funny guy seems to encourage people, at least not unless you think it particularly distressing that a kid might fantasize about being a lathe operator or assistant tarantula shaver.)

Trivia: The United States Surgeon General had 97 army camps keeping weather records by 1853, although they did not necessarily record barometric pressure or psychrometric data (the properties of water vapor/air mixtures) until after 1874. Source: A History of the United States Weather Bureau, Donald R Whitnah.

Currently Reading: Emmy Noether's Wonderful Theorem, Dwight E Nuenschwander. This is a delightful semi-pop math/physics book, explaining the important yet advanced topic of Noether's theorem connecting symmetries and invariants for people who just don't know a blasted thing about tensors but are comfortable with Hamilton's principle. I found the book while bracing myself for the Weird Al line, so, it was a good day all around.

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