We’ve reached the time of year where I can take a comfortable shower without turning on the hot water, but it’s reasonably cool here in the downstairs, so why not deal out some potpourri?
I spent the afternoon in Real City yesterday, having chauffeured the Spawn to her first (and we hope, sole) crack at the GRE. The test took her about 4.5 hours, plus a half-hour check-in process, so I had plenty of time to hit my favorite low-budget Chinese place before making the rounds of the local used media emporia. Afterwards, the Spawn told me about her adventure in standardized testing over burgers at her favorite restaurant.
The test has changed somewhat since I last took it, some twenty years back. The scoring system has changed, and the administrators have gone hardcore about test security. Not only was the Spawn’s ID checked, she was wanded, her glasses were checked over for electronics, and she had to empty her pockets — she wasn’t even allowed to carry her good-luck charms (a Toronto Maple Leafs keychain I carried when I took the GRE, and one of the U of Kentucky socks she wore home from the hospital as a newborn) into the testing area. Even absent the juju, she did a fine job on the exam.
I, meanwhile, went to the local comic store after lunch, and while they haven’t yet received my next target, they did have a copy of a John D. MacDonald collection I’ve wanted for a while for a mere $2.50. And they also had a couple of trips down Memory Lane on the shelves.
I’ve mentioned before that I played pen-and-paper roleplaying games in high school and undergrad (most notably AD&D, Runequest, and Champions), but before that, I had played some of the nerd’s gateway drug — Avalon Hill wargames. The first one I encountered was one my cousin Jack had received when he was ten and I was eight. We were a bit young for the games, but had plenty of fun noodling around with them anyway. A couple of years later, I got copies of PanzerBlitz and Air War, and even though I didn’t play them that much, I had a ball reading the manuals. So I lit up when I glanced at the shelves of the comic store and found Jack’s game that started it all for me:
(And Panzer Blitz next to it? Nerd-vana!) I didn’t buy either of the games, but I did text the picture to Jack — he said he likely still has his copy somewhere in his house. Who am I to hoard the nostalgia?From there, I swung by a CD store and my usual used media spot before sensing that the Spawn was probably finished. I got back to the testing center about five minutes before my phone rang. “I’m ready to go,” the Spawn said.”I’m already in the lot.” Score one for the psychic connection. From there, we hit the mall and had dinner before our return to Mondoville, just in time for a thunderstorm. Not a bad afternoon, that.
The Midcentury Mondohaus sits on a 1.25-acre lot with a fair number of trees, providing us with a corresponding number of birds and squirrels. Mrs. M has hung a few bird feeders within sight of the kitchen and dining room, but as we all know, squirrels see bird feeders as fair game, and for years we’ve seen them plundering the seeds.Mrs. M has tried to combat the rodent invaders both here and at Spackle Manor, but all that wound up doing was raising the Darwinian ante. So this past week, she relocated the feeders to arms branching off a metal pose, which she then Vaselined. This resulted in the lunchtime entertainment of watching the furry marauders leap onto the pole, scurry a bit, and then slide to the turf, reduced to scavenging whatever seeds the birds drop. Still, I just know that one day, I’m gonna see a gang of the little weirdos carrying a bottle of detergent.
Once again, I’d like to remind everyone of the coming Mystery in the Midlands crime fiction gathering in Columbia on 28 July. I’ll be just one of numerous authors talking to writers and fans, and there’ll be signing opportunities as well. I’d love to see you there!
And last but not least, a bit of music to wrap things up. Montreal’s The Haunted achieved garage immortality with their “1-2-5”, a happy little ditty about a naive young man encountering a hooker. But the band had more depth than many of their peers, and put out an album and several singles over their run from 1965 to 1971. Here’s an… interesting (but faithful!) cover. You likely know it.
See you soon!