Cyclone Road


Tuesday, July 26, 2005

I've neglected the blog in the chaos of moving, but all is well. The house is fine, although my landlord was confused about the day I was coming and he lacks about a week's work on the guest bathroom and a few other places--nothing I can't live or work around.

My furniture was due on the 28th but I knew that was too good to be true. The new delivery date is August 1st, at the end of their promised "spread." That's the way it works. On the positive side, my cost is $400 lower than they had told me because the load weighed less than estimated. Fair enough.

I have a deck chair from Wal-Mart (for which I was mistakenly charged $3) and Eric Nguyen brought me a small mattress yesterday, an inestimable kindness since my back was barking after three night on the floor. I'm not twenty years old anymore, I continue to re-discover.

I'm working on a piece of writing due to a magazine yesterday, and I have to finish tonight no matter what. So I'm in a coffee shop and don't plan to leave for a while. More later.

Friday, July 22, 2005

The movers cleared my apartment this morning and all I have now are the items I'm packing in the truck and a plastic deck chair, which I'm using now. My broadband is active until the lease expires, so with my laptop and network card I still have high speed internet for another twelve hours or so. It's not easy to knock a stormchaser off the internet.

I've been packing and cleaning this morning and already feel tired enough to nap. I hope I can wear myself out a little more and try to catch several hours of sleep starting around 8:00 PM tonight. If I can pull that off, I'll get up around 4:00 AM and try to get rolling by 6:00 AM. It would be great to make Denton by 10:30 or 11:00 PM tomorrow night. The sooner the better. Sitting around doesn't agree with me.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Scratch that. Movers called and we're back to the original plan of loading Friday. Too many pointless details to divulge, but the worst part is that I'll have to call my new landlord, who has so far been fantastic, and reverse what I told him yesterday. He's going to think I'm a nut.

Salvation Army sent two worker bees for the couch and loveseat today. I sent the ten speed with them too. One of the guys was wearing a monitoring device on his ankle, and I don't think this was something from the K-Mart Martha Stewart line of Gangsta fashions. He didn't look like a murderer or anything. I'm sure he dealing weed or stole a car or something. He was cool and he and his friend finished their business quickly.

Those couches were the last vestiges (except for one coffee table) of my very first furniture purchase in 1995, when Randy Keylor put me in charge of American Telemarketing Specialists for $25,000 a year, which I thought was the lottery prize back in those days. I bought all that stuff at Montgomery Ward's and have carried it from Denton to Fort Lauderdale to Denton to Bloomington over the last ten years. But it's covered in cat hair, faded, and frankly, ugly as hell. Time for an upgrade. The new place is going to look like an adult lives there. No more cinder blocks for speaker stands or ratty posters on the wall.

You may have noticed a new link on the sidebar to Shane Adams' blog. Shane is a long-time chaser pal of mine and he's really found his form with blogging. He's a good writer technically, but more importantly his work has the power of being starkly honest. Since Shane's opinions are anything but bland, it makes for good reading and I recommend it highly.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Well, a few hours after my last entry the movers called and said they'd like to pick up my stuff on Thursday if possible. So....maybe I'll take off on Friday morning instead. Can't think of any reason that would be a problem. It might be better to get there late Friday, set things up on Saturday, get some sleep on Sunday before Monday hits and I begin making the rounds at UNT and other spots.

The end of my Bloomington adventure is rapidly approaching. Today I meet with Samrat Upadhyay, a member of my thesis committee, to discuss his feedback on my novel. This is something one would ordinarily do before graduation, but between the deadlines and stormchasing, I had to ask him to sign off on my thesis before we had met. After Samrat, I am waiting to hear from an editor on the east coast before I start the next revision in Denton.

The week unfolds pretty simply. Wednesday I plan what little is coming with me, mainly clothes and cats, for the 'safe room.' Thursday I pack and have the goodbye party at Bear's; Friday the movers come and take my stuff; and Saturday morning around 7:00 AM, I'll take my cokes and go home.

Friday, July 15, 2005

I stopped packing boxes this morning and decided to call utility companies. This isn't quite so labor-intensive as I can cancel electric and water service with my feet propped up on my desk and with loud jazz and southern rock playing on my computer speakers. The problem is that it doesn't take very long either, and now I have to pack more boxes.

I have lately been fascinated with this song "Help Somebody" by Van Zant. This duo is Johnny and Donnie Van Zant, the two younger brothers of legendary Ronnie Van Zant of Lynyrd Skynryd fame who died in a plane crash in 1978. Johnny is now the Skynyrd singer and Donnie fronts the southern rock-pop band 38 Special. The Van Zants are considered the first family of Southern Rock and they are, without question, uniquely talented. The tragedies that have befallen them (the two brothers have lost both parents, brother Ronnie, and their sister too) ascribes a bitter sort of integrity. Their new release is a country album but only in the sense that country music has moved closer to their southern rock roots, and this song "Help Somebody" has engaged me for days.

Let me say right off the bat that it's not a great song. It is some anonymous Nashville songwriter's best Ronnie Van Zant rip-off, with an edgy melody and run-on lyrical phrasing (and even a little falsetto yodel a la "Don't Ask Me Questions" and "Simple Man"). It uses the format of the latter tune, describing advise given the narrator by mythically drawn, salt-of-the-earth grandparents. The music is as bland as Nashville session players can be, and it's filled to the brim with gingoistic, religious, and sentimental references that would have made Ronnie Van Zant take his two little bros and conk their heads together until they passed out.

However, there is some weird vibe that comes through, almost as if despite a hugely-flaw vessel the Van Zant brothers still channel the spirit of the original Skynyrd tone, independent and defiant. Nobody can question the sincerity of what the brothers are singing even if they didn't pen the words and despite those words forming the shape of every conceivable country music cliche' of the last ten years. Perhaps it's that the Van Zant brothers are survivors, and even a thick Nashville radio glaze can't obscure this rare trait.

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