It’s a gray morning here in Mondoville, the result of a cold front that has settled over the area and will likely keep things damp for the next few days. Mrs. M is off to the Y, and the Spawn is probably waking up right about now. I’ll be heading to the college gym this afternoon to see our men’s and women’s hoopsters in action — I’ve missed a few games of late, with the flu and all that. But I haven’t posted in a few days, so let’s remedy that, shall we?
My freshpeeps are starting the poetry unit in Comp, and as is my custom, we started by taking a look at Robinson’s “Richard Cory.” As is also my custom, I’m having them write a journal entry on “Richard Corys I Have Known”, either culturally (Cobain? Robin Williams? Michael Jackson? All these and more have I seen.) or personally (the person who seemed to have everything going for them in high school, but who found a way to auger in.)
And as I was explaining this yesterday, I suddenly realized that I was also talking about my brother, who will turn 48 in sixteen days. I suppose in a way I had already known that; in my victim impact statement, I talked about how Mike had squandered so much — intellect, talent, charm, wit, physical grace, the love and support of the people around him. And like Cory, all those were lost to the sound of a pistol. Unlike Cory, of course, my brother did incalculable harm to those around him, wasting lives and gifts and love, but it remains the case that the rest of his life is forfeit for that, and in a sense is over as well.
There are Richard Corys all around us, I guess, and maybe that’s one of the things Robinson knew. And maybe when I first connected with that poem, many years ago, it was both a lesson I might grasp right away, and one I would take decades to learn.
Yesterday afternoon, the Spawn wandered downstairs and we started talking about intelligence. Specifically, she was talking about a phenomenon she has observed from time to time in honors classes and similar settings, where some folks feel obligated to be the smartest person in the room. She said that growing up in our family, which has or had numerous very bright people in it, has taught her that it’s entirely possible not to be the smartest person in the room, while simultaneously being more than capable of facing whatever she needs to face.
And from there, I pointed out that like many things, intelligence is a horses-for-courses situation. I have lots of very bright friends who I see as being far more elegant thinkers than I happen to be. They have minds like scalpels or laser beams. What I have is more like a very large hammer. Or maybe it’s more like Silly String, connecting wildly disparate items depending on the direction in which the can is pointing. I don’t really know, but like the Spawn, it seems to have served me well enough so far.
On a much sillier note, the Spawn also observes that I pound the hell out of my computer keyboard as I type. Some of that’s probably a drummer thing. It also reminds me of when I worked customer service at Sears in the mid-80s. As usual, I was something of an oddball, and that manifested in my cash register technique (we’d take credit card payments, ring up catalogue orders, stuff like that.) I used both hands, and entered the information really hard and really quickly. I wasn’t any more error-prone than anyone else, but apparently I was the only person who did it like that. My manager, a fellow named Mueller, asked me why I did it like that. I told him I didn’t know — that it just was what came naturally to me. But yeah — even in the little things, I guess I’m kind of weird.
Like a lot of people, I was thrilled by the mostly successful launch of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy this past week. This is one of those odd points where the “Prof and Mad Dog” Venn diagrams intersect, and as we chatted online about it, I thought about the fact that Musk et al. used a Tesla roadster as the payload. I thought it was amusing, but somehow familiar. Then I realized why. It was reminiscent of the sort of stunt D.D. Harriman would have pulled in Heinlein’s classic novella “The Man Who Sold the Moon.” And like Heinlein’s work, there was just something wonderfully brash and American about it. Brightened my whole week.
And why don’t we close today’s post by continuing our space travel theme? The film Heavy Metal (based on the magazine, in turn based on the French Metal Hurlant) is remembered by folks of my generation for a number of reasons, not least its soundtrack. It included tracks from a wide variety of rock artists of the period, including Devo, Sammy Hagar, Don Felder, and Blue Oyster Cult. But B.O.C. actually wrote several songs for the movie, and while only one was used (their collaboration with Michael Moorcock, “Veteran of the Psychic Wars”) in the film, the others showed up on the band’s Fire of Unknown Origin album, a staple of my high school years. One of those songs was an intended title theme, and I’ve always preferred it both to Hagar’s song and to Felder’s similarly titled “Heavy Metal (Takin’ A Ride”). So from Long Island’s finest, here’s “Heavy Metal (The Black and Silver)”.
See you soon!