Monday, August 25, 2014

A Bad Workman Quarrels With His Tools

This video is something on the order of five years old at this point. That's a century in Intertunnel years. Seemed topical today, after yesterday's extravaganza. It has the production values of a porno made by the  Department of Agriculture, but we're not curing cancer here; it'll do.

I've never ascribed to the old saw: A bad workman quarrels with his tools. I've always thought Bierce had it right: A bad workman quarrels with the man who calls him that.

Left to my own devices when writing, I'd make James Joyce look like Erma Bombeck. I feel an obligation to the reader on these here Intertunnels to tone it down a skosh, and not be so obscure about everything I'm talking about. I could stop writing using expressions that are meant to be spoken aloud in the head, for instance. I could stop making references to Wodehouse in blogposts about roofing. I could explain myself to the last jot and tittle. Hell, I could explain why I'm writing this paragraph right now.

I can use words like hammers, and be paid for it. I do. But I won't do it here. If you don't know what it says I can't help you. Well, I won't help you.


Larry Geiger said...

Hey, what happened to the other two kids in the band? Or is that more UH video magic?

Love the Wurlizer plugged into the rock. Nice effect. THAT was Shatner? Did he get the girl?

Leslie said...

This is the only place to go to get what you have. Don't worry about those who fail to get it.

leelu said...

"I can write it for you, but I can't understand it for you."

Don't worry. Keep on doing what you're doing. Or, not. You're still one of the best writers around.

Gringo said...

Thought you might be interested in a mention of Rumford I ran across in Dogging Steinbeck: How I went looking for John Steinbeck’s America, found my own America, and exposed the truth about ‘Travels With Charley,’written by Bill Steigerwald.

Steinbeck took the same route to Bangor, then dropped south to Deer Isle on the Maine coast. He would have recognized this part of his highway, too. Though a short stretch of U.S. 2 near the Maine border was under major reconstruction, little was new from 50 years ago. I passed the same farms, same houses, same white churches, same frozen-in-time intersections he did – at the same speed but in far greater comfort.
Not that I am especially sensitive to such things, but nothing I saw screamed "urban sprawl" or "development" or "over commercialization." In fact, a few of the drab Maine towns hanging on U.S. 2 – Rumford in particular – could use some national homogenization from a chain like Bob Evans. When I asked a young Maine state trooper washing his windshield at a gas station in Rumford where I could get something decent to eat for dinner, he thought hard. Being an honest cop, he pointed across the road and, with a mix of civic embarrassment and empathy, said, "There's the Subway."
Several hours and 170 miles later, after following a spooky dancing glow in the sky that I eventually realized was the Northern Lights, I reached the outskirts of Bangor. I thought I’d try doing what Steinbeck did fairly often on his trip – pull into a campground (what he called a “trailer court”) and sleep there in my car. At about 10 p.m. I turned off the highway and followed the signs down a dark gravel road a mile into the pinewoods.
The campground was deathly quiet. The orderly rows of tents and RVs were dark and with my headlights off I couldn’t see a soul. Where was the damn office? My RAV4 sounded like a Panzer tank. I was afraid if I turned on my lights I’d be shot. I knew nothing about the kamping kulture, which apparently goes to bed at 8 p.m. I decided then and there it was too late to learn. I managed to turn around and crunch slowly out of the campground to U.S. Highway 2, where I plugged the address of the nearest Wal-Mart into my GPS and aimed for the bright lights of Greater Bangor.

SippicanCottage said...

Bill Steigerwald doesn't know where he is, and his editor doesn't fact check. There is no Subway in Rumford, Maine, and never has been.

There is, however, a really first rate restaurant downtown called Brian's Bistro, as good as anything in Boston, Providence, or Portland. It doesn't belong here, but it's here.

Gringo said...

Thanks for the inside information, Sippican. So Steigerwald writes a book that exposes the fiction parts of Steinbeck's Travels With Charley, and adds some fictions himself. Or at the least, mixes up one small town in Maine with another. They're all the same, doncha' know?

I wonder if Brian's Bistro had already been open for business when Steigerwald passed through Rumford. As the book was published in 2013, and there is a 2010 Yelp review for Brian's Place-reviews agree with your "really first rate" judgement- the answer would appear to be yes, Brian's Place was open when Steigerwald passed through Route 2.

Which reminds me of reading a travelogue book about interesting things to see in various towns. My NE hometown's most interesting feature, most quirky feature, was the library at the town dump.

That's all they could come up with? Especially my hometown. The onion dome on the Catholic church is just a start. But perhaps not quirky enough. For a town that had only 28 in my graduating 8th grade class, there are quite a few rather interesting things to see. Much more interesting than a library at a town dump. I don't mean to disparage having a library at a town dump: it's a good idea, and an example of Yankee thrift. My point is that the author of the book didn't do a very good job.

My favorite quirky hometown feature was the "doomed house." When I was in elementary school, the owner committed suicide. A decade or so later, there was a big time drug raid on the house, complete with the local congressman tagging along. Not coincidentally, the drug raid occurred several days before election day. Several months later, I sold a Vespa scooter to one of its occupants. Several years later, some space cadet burned the house down when she forgot to turn off the electric stove. I later knew her, and yes, she was a space cadet.

Granted, one shouldn't expect the author to have known of the "doomed house." But some cursory research could have yielded something much better than the library at the town dump.

Tom Lehrer has the final word on My Home Town.

Gringo said...

While Steigerwald was off, he apparently wasn't that far off. There is a Subway in Mexico Me, at 137 Main St, which is just 1.3 miles from Brian's Bistro at 25 Hartford St in Rumford. Assuming that Steigerwald was talking about the Subway in Mexico, and not the Subways in Bethel or Jay- both about 25 miles from Rumford.

Sounds like the trooper was new to the area.

But as you point out, Steigerwald or his editors should have done some fact-checking.

Jeannette said...

Mexico is Mexico, and Rumford is Rumford. Steigerwald didn't quite know where he was, and he didn't realize that here in Maine, town boundaries are exactly what they say they are.
I wouldn't go quite so far as my auto mechanic. When I whined about the sudden transformation of lanes into turn-only lanes (I was new here then, and Brailleing my way around), he grinned and said, "Hey, if you don't know where you're goin', you should stay off the road."

SippicanCottage said...

Hi Jeanette- Are we neighbors? If so, hello!

Gringo - He got the "drab" part right, so we'll give him a pass.

People are funny. Maine is the same size as Ireland with 1/5th the population. That state trooper has to cover an area the size of County Cork, and probably lives two or three hours from the scene of the crime, and the author thinks he's supposed to be a walking Yelp! for the local businesses. Christ, people "from away" never even try to understand this place.

Gringo said...

Sippican and Jeannette, thanks for the local knowledge. I imagine that most from away don't realize the amount of territory that a state trooper in Maine has to cover. I didn't.

In my home state the state troopers were assigned to individual towns, so the territories they patrolled were much smaller.