Long Day

Today was a long day.

7:00 AM: Breakfast meeting with “Key 3” of my local Boy Scout district.

8:00 AM: Work.

2:00 PM: Dallas City Plan Commission, where I spoke on behalf of a project (I’ll write more later)

5:00 PM: Find out that the speaker for this evening’s neighborhood association meeting cannot attend (has to do with the Plan Commission thing)

5:50 PM: Visit vet to talk about how to deal with my dog’s heartworms (I’ll write more later)

6:30 PM (right after I get home): Plan neighborhood association meeting.

7:00 PM: Neighborhood association quarterly meeting and annual elections. (I got elected president again!)

8:40 PM: Run back to meeting place to retrieve lost camera.

9:15 PM: Finally run through the day’s missed emails.

My childhood kitties

This is a late-’80s picture me holding my favorite cat of all times:

(Yes, I remember that sweater.) His name was Nicholas Pennington, but we called him “kitty.” My dad called him “Kitty Lickins’.” He was a huge, white, long-haired cat with coarse hair. You could see some very faint orangish tabby markings on his forehead.

We got him in Van, TX in 1985 or 1986 when a church member called us about a white, friendly cat that took residence in his tree. We drove over in our ’77 Oldsmobile with some kind of food, and he came straight to us. That was a good sign, indicating a friendly, people-oriented cat. He may have wandered away from someone else’s house. We immediately took him to the Van Veterinary Clinic where the vet pronounced him healthy and about 6 months old.

Did I say he was huge? If I remember correctly, he was around 15 lbs. He loved being held. When I used to type on the computer, he would jump on my lap and lay down, slowly cutting off circulation to my legs. When anyone would read a newspaper on the floor, he would lay down on the paper.

He succumbed to some wasting disease in 1998, probably at 12 or 13 years old. Over the course of about 3 months, he wasted until he was too gaunt to get up. My father, the family Pet Executioner, had him put down that June.

This is Micah holding our other cat:

Her name was Sophia Ludmilla (Russian-themed name since my mother had a Russian penpal at the time). She was a calico mutt of some sort with patches of nice jet black hair, and she never got all that big. Since the other cat was named “Kitty,” and since this one was small, we called her “Widdy.” I guess that was a “small-ish” name? My dad called her “Widdy Lickins’.”

My mother got her in 1986 or 1987 from a litter of kittens at a house in Groves.

This cat had a weird, schizoid personality in that she hid all day long and would only come out at night for certain people. In the above picture, she is spooked because someone is giving her attention during the daytime. I think part of her problem was that she was not well socialized as a kitten. Another problem is Micah and I weren’t particularly nice to her early on. I think we played football with her once in the Groves parsonage living room with her being the ball. Plus she didn’t take well to Skeeter, our sheltie bad dog, which we may have encouraged to “play” with the cat on occasion.

When she voluntarily came out, she was extraordinarily affectionate. Female cats give the allusion of affection because of the “presentation” instinct when you rub just in front of their tail, but, I assure you, she was on a different level. She was so happy to get affection–on her terms–that she couldn’t stay still. She walked to and fro while you petted her, wrapped her body around your hand or torso, etc.

There was one exception to her skittishness: she loved my grandfather. She would approach him at almost any time, day or night. All we could guess is he had some scent that pleased her?

She died of the same wasting disease that the other cat got. I think that the family Pet Executioner had her put down shortly after I left for my senior year in fall 1998.

Long lost song, recovered after two decades

Back when I lived in Groves, the local Putt Putt Golf would reward good students with game tokens. My report cards would usually net me enough tokens for around 45 minutes of video games.

I think this place was on the southwest side of TX 73 and 39th St. If that’s correct, current aerial maps suggest the place has been razed and replaced.

I remember one really enjoyable game. To get to it, you would take a right after entering the facility and find the rightmost video game machine perched in front of the balcony.

On that game, I would pilot some car through a course where you would jump between platforms while the scenery moves from right to left. It was as if you are looking at the passenger side of a moving car that was maneuvering through all sorts of erector sets.

I don’t remember the game’s name, but I remember that I liked its song. At the time, I thought it was a classical song, although I didn’t know what it was.

Fast forward around 20 years: on today’s A Prairie Home Companion summer break rebroadcast, I knew the first song, although I couldn’t put my finger on it. After a few seconds, I realized that it revived the 20 year old memory of the long lost video game song! You can listen to the song here.

This song is Pipeline, a 1962 surf rock song by the one hit wonder group The Chantays. I’ve been looking for that song for years, but could never find it because I didn’t remember how to describe it. It’s amazing that I never got exposed to that landmark song in those 20 years.

My weird musical tastes

I have strange music tastes.

My Southwestern Bell DSL account comes with a free subscription to Yahoo Music LaunchCast Plus. A nice feature is that I can create my own radio station. As it plays songs, I can rate the songs or authors or albums. The ratings influence the songs played so that songs and artists I like get played more often. After over a year of tweaking, I have ended up with a list of artists:

Artists I Like Artists That Suck
.38 Special
10cc
3 Doors Down
98 Degrees
Abba
ABC
AC/DC
Adam Sandler
Aerosmith
Alien Ant Farm
Asia
Berlin
Blind Faith
Blind Guardian
Bobby Goldsboro
Bon Jovi
Bonnie McKee
Boston
Bread
Bryan Adams
Cameo
Chad Kroeger
Chicago
Christopher Cross
Coldplay
Counting Crows
Crosby, Stills & Nash
Daryl Hall
Deee-Lite
Def Leppard
Derek & The Dominos
Dishwalla
Duran Duran
Elton John
Eminem
Erasure
Evanescence
Extreme
Five For Fighting
Foreigner
Geri Halliwell
Gerry Rafferty
Goo Goo Dolls
Guns N’ Roses
Gwen Stefani
Heart
Hoobastank
Hot Chocolate
Hues Corporation
Indigo Girls
James
James Taylor
Jay-Kid
Jim Croce
Jimmy Fallon
Joe Cocker
John Mayer
John Phillip Sousa
Kim Carnes
Krystal
Lee Ann Womack
Level 42
Limp Bizkit
Luscious Jackson
Madness
Matchbox Twenty
Me First & The Gimme Gimmes
Meat Loaf
Meredith Brooks
Michael McDonald
Modest Mouse
Mud
Natasha Bedingfield
Neil Diamond
Neil Sedaka
Nelly Furtado
New Radicals
Nickelback
Night Ranger
No Doubt
NoFx
Oasis
Oingo Boingo
OK Go
Our Lady Peace
Outkast
Papa Roach
Play
Poison
Powerman 5000
Puddle Of Mudd
R.E.M.
Rachel’s
Ray Scott
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Reel Big Fish
Rob Zombie
Robert Palmer
Rupert Holmes
S Club
Saliva
Sandie Shaw
Scatman John
Scorpions
Sheryl Crow
Simply Red
Sinead O’Connor
Siouxsie & The Banshees
Sister 2 Sister
Sister Hazel
Slaughter
Spin Doctors
Starland Vocal Band
Steely Dan
Steppenwolf
Swing Out Sister
System Of A Down
T.A.T.U.
Talk Talk
Tears For Fears
Ted Nugent
Tenacious D
The All-American Rejects
The Allman Brothers Band
The B-52’s
The Bee Gees
The Black Crowes
The Carpenters
The Cranberries
The Doobie Brothers
The Free Design
The Killers
The Left Banke
The Mamas & The Papas
The Moffatts
The Moody Blues
The New Pornographers1
The Police
The Pretenders
The Prodigy
The Righteous Brothers
The Rumble Bees
The Shangri-Las
The White Stripes
The Who
They Might Be Giants
Third Eye Blind
Three Dog Night
Tom Cochrane
Tom Jones
Tonic
Trans-Siberian Orchestra
U2
Ugly Kid Joe
Van Halen
Village People
Warren Zevon
Weird Al Yankovic
White Zombie
Wilson Phillips
Yaz
Yes
Yvonne Elliman
A Perfect Circle
Bill Engvall
Chris Rock
Chumbawamba
Cradle Of Filth
Denis Leary
Disturbed
Eddie Murphy
George Carlin
Grace Jones
Guerilla Black
Hanson
Jeff Foxworthy
Jimi Hendrix
Joan Rivers
Lil’ Romeo
Lil’ Wayne
Linkin Park
Lisa Marie Presley
Lynyrd Skynyrd
Michael Jackson
Nirvana
Pink Floyd
Prince
Ralphie May
Rodney Carrington
Rodney Dangerfield
Ron White
Why rate?
William Hung
Wu-Tang Clan

1The New Pornographers is not about porn. It’s really a good band with a weird title.

This isn’t a comprehensive list. It’s only the ones I’ve rated. I tell Launchcast to exclude country music, so you don’t see many of them in the suck column.

Some artists may suck overall but have a couple of good songs. Because of the way Yahoo works, they end up in my good column. T.A.T.U. ended up in the good column for this reason. (I am getting sick of T.A.T.U. It seems like a concocted lesbian band with marginal talent.)

Ditching my Nova SS email handle

If you have received emails from my private email account since 1995, the email probably showed my name as “Nova SS.” I adopted that name my freshman year at SMU because I had so closely identified myself with my (now-departed) ’74 Chevrolet Nova. Yes, that was a “Nova,” not a “Nova SS” as in Nova Super Sport. I didn’t chose “Nova” because I didn’t want to be mistaken for a left-wing hippie practitioner of a watered down amalgam of eastern religions. I chose “Nova SS” because that most clearly associated me with the decidedly non-Earth worshipping, gas guzzling, air dirtying, PITA but strangely enjoyable car.

My emails should now come across as just “Aren Cambre.” I am doing this mainly because “Aren Cambre” is less likely to resemble spam than “Nova SS.” Also, people less familiar with my Nova obsession–which is an increasing number since the car has been gone for over 19 months–may not immediately recognize that Nova SS is really me.

Don’t worry: I still like Novas, and if the right Nova at the right price shows up locally, it will end up in my garage. This is merely a logistical change.