Bike Lessons

After having a distinctly Dante-in-Clerks day on Friday (“I’m not even supposed to BE HERE today!”), I got home, looked at the Hoarders-esque state of the house and said “Fuck it.  I gotta do something else.”  Our weather here has been unseasonably fantastic (I’ve NEVER had the house open and the AC off in August for a day, let alone a whole week), and I didn’t want to waste it cleaning house.

So, I decided to finally got for a good ride on my bike.  Since I bought it earlier this year, it’s been out only twice–once to go pick up my car from the shop (the reason I bought the bike to start), and another very quick circle around the subdivision.

This time, I left the subdivision, and decided to finally explore a local trail around the lake–one I was never quite comfy exploring alone, on foot.  The bike seemed to be a great way to explore this and get some exercise (I’ve been trying to up that with more walking after work on the treadmill to augment what I do at work walking between buildings for meetings–unfortunately, working 12+ hours a day cuts into that time significantly).

First lesson: Biking on loose gravel, headed down a steep a slope takes more care than I thought.  Thankfully, there were few people on the trail to see me nearly wipe out like a 6-year-old who just got the training wheels off.  Of course, I’m posting this admission on the web, so now anyone could know.

Second lesson: Going up long hills is way harder when you’re old and outta shape.  I know I’m out of shape (remember the 12+ hour days I mentioned?).  I know that age is creeping in at an accelerated rate.  But knowledge on a logical level and knowledge in my functional reality finally met when I had to get off my bike just before the top of a long pull and walk the rest of the way.  Seriously.  It was that, or roll backwards.

Third lesson:  My ass-padding is useless.  I have a lard-butt.  And it is useless against the bike seat.  Cushioning attached to me is no match for that tiny, hard implement of pain someone laughingly chooses to call a “seat.”

Despite the screaming of my leg muscles during this ordeal (and my lungs, and my butt), I don’t really feel the ill effects (other than the bruises on my ass where the seat was less than kind).  I don’t actually think I’m completely hopeless here, but it’s going to take a few trips before I’m back in the game.

Headline Heckling

These days, any news I get, I get from pulling up the Google News page and skimming the headlines.   I hate a news day when the same crap stays in the top stories and I’m left knowing something more critical has to be going on in the world, but Google didn’t bring it forward and I can’t spare time to dig deeper.

I’m left to mock what’s there:

“Obama announces proposal to reform NSA surveillance” 

Every time I see a headline about someone in politics “reforming” anything, I recall the Molly Ivins piece about the drill team from Kilgore, Texas hanging their asses over the gallery railing, each with a letter on her bloomers to spell out REFORM.  It sets a certain standard for that particular word that prevents me from taking it seriously.

“Oprah faced not just fashion retail racism, but size bias too”

I can’t believe that the adventures of Oprah and the Snotty Swiss Handbag Store remained on Google News all day (plus I had to hear it in German when I put on SWR to drown out the sound of the air conditioner cutting on–thing sounds like a shuttle lift off, I swear).  Racism sucks.  Bias sucks.  But at the end of the damned day, let’s be real here, I once had the door to the Tiffany’s in North Park Mall shut because I was hanging around outside cooing over the turtles in the fountain (how do I know it was me?  Because no one else was in the area, it wasn’t closing time and the guard gave me a dirty look as he shut the door), I’m betting this Swiss joint wouldn’t have let my ass within 20 feet of the door, white, black or dyed Smurf blue.  Also, $40k for a fucking purse?

“Amanda Bynes’ hospital stay extended, conservatorship granted”

I thought we were done hearing about this after last week.  Guess I was wrong.  I remember some of the kids I baby-sat in high school watching Amanda Bynes’s show (the stand alone and when she was on All That).  I thought she was bat-shit crazy then–all she did was yell, flail and act like a raving lunatic.  I’m going to assume that was a clue right there.  If her folks missed it then, I can only hope they have better luck this go-round.

“U.S. to reopen 18 of the 19 embassies, consulates closed because of terror threats” 

Okay, so this one changed since my check of the news earlier today at work.  I have a theory about this.  It involves the embassy closures, lavabit, Snowden, Jimmy Hoffa, the Lindbergh Baby, AMC’s cancellation of Remember WENN and a jello salad…but these things are best not discussed on the web (everyone, wave and smile to your not-yet-reformed NSA Analyst)

“Spain, U.K. Spar Over Colonial Post”

Oh, please.  They are sparring over a rock.  A large one, but still, a rock.  And can you even call that sparring?  Not really.  Sparring should be more interesting at the very least.  I say we have each of them send a rep to Switzerland.  The reps will be seated across from one another at a cafe table, with hot chocolate in hand.  They will trade insults until the first person finishes his or her chocolate.  Belgium will be the referee regarding the best quantity and quality of insults.  The loser then has to enter the discriminatory handbag shop to be berated by a Swiss shop-owner.  Gibraltar will declare complete independence.

Musikalischer Mittwoch: K-Pop Confessions

Among the other things that have happened in the time I’ve been avoiding my blogging duties has been my inadvertent  plunge into Korean soaps (which are really more like  telenovelas in that they have a defined arc–but they are shorter than a Latin American TN) and through this, into….<shamefaced expression> K-Pop.

Now, I was already a fan of My Korean Husband (which has been in the queue for a Time Vampire for a while…since before I went radio silent around here–it’s fabulous and I’ve spent way more time reading cartoons there than I ought), so I’d heard about K-Pop (and Korean Soaps) before, but it’s really all Amazon’s fault I actually started exploring.  They put a bunch of Korean shows up on Prime, and I’m a sucker for subtitles (“Oh, hey, look!  I’ve never watched anything from Korea before…except those random parts of Lost….”) .  Really, you can only dangle foreign media before me for so long and I just have to give in.  It’s a problem I have.  But I digress.

I got sucked into the soap Protect the Boss .  I thought that would be it.  I’d watch the show, become a little more aware of the rest of the world.  Done and done.

Then I wound up with the theme song stuck in my head.

A theme song by a K-Pop girl band called A-Pink.

What results is both my earworm for this week and a combination Musikalischer Mittwoch/Secret Heresy.

The immediate ear worm problem is called “Please Allow Us to Love*.”  But in procuring a copy of this from iTunes to put on an embarrassingly high playlist rotation, I thought I might as well get the whole show soundtrack, right?  Of course right.  And, oh, hey, maybe I’ll just look into other albums from some of these artists….

I’m more ashamed of admitting how much I’m enjoying this whole K-Pop thing than I am of knowing the words to “There’s a Tear in My Beer” (that may be a bad baseline, because as Kristy can attest, I’m not ashamed at all of knowing the words to that one….I should be, though).  I’m at least as ashamed as I am of some of the German Schlager stars I listen to**, or of the Celine Dion albums on my shelf (Shut up.).

K-Pop is, well, cheesy.  It’s all the bizarre cuteness you find in East Asia (that I don’t get….seriously, outside of the Idea Channel analysis of Hello Kitty as Minimalism, I don’t get Hello Kitty.  Or Pokemon.  Or any of the other crazy animated-stuff-with-big-eyes.  I get it’s a thing, but I don’t get why it’s a thing), plus bubble-gum-pop, maybe a touch of electronica, heavy doses of saccharine and inevitably performed by energetic and highly attractive people.  “Please Allow Us to Love” is a girl band, but there’s also an inordinately high volume of boy bands.  And when it’s not the peppy dance beat sucking you in, it’s the whole melodramatic ballad thing  (“Protect You” by Kim Jae Joong, I’m looking at you).  I kind of feel like I should be a 14 year old for my listeing to this to be truly acceptable.

It’s also–naturally–in Korean.  And I speak zero Korean.  I might actually speak less than zero Korean.  Even after a full TV series, I understand more Swabisch than I do Korean.  Hell, I know more Hindi than Korean.  It’s the first time I’ve watched that much of a show in a foreign language and learned so little.    So, clearly, I’m getting zilch out of the lyrics.  Which may be to my advantage because with a sound that bubble-gum, I doubt the lyrics are really deep enough to justify commentary.

So, nothing for me in the lyrics, and since we’ve already established that the sound itself is pop-cheese, I  have no respectable way to defend my obsession.  But, even without a way to explain it to myself and others,  “Please Allow Us to Love” has been on repeat in my queue for almost as long as the theme for “Por Ella…Soy Eva” (which, at least there I understood my obsession–I mean, Jaime Camil?  I know, right?).  And I’m not going to say I was dancing around the kitchen to this song, but there may have been some flailing in something vaguely approaching the same rhythm as the song.

I suppose it boils down to the fact that it’s fun.  It’s upbeat (in contrast to my mood of late).  Sure, it’s completely junior-high, but it’s irresistibly peppy.

All that is rational and logical says that I should stop now.  I shouldn’t embarrass myself any further.  I should limit this K-Pop exploration to the handful of songs from Protect the Boss and the few others I’ve found from artists on that album.  I certainly shouldn’t actually follow up on the My Korean Husband videos on K-Pop that I haven’t had time to watch yet.  I’m already harboring a playlist in my car that sports a lot of German Schlager musik, Bollywood songs, 80s country and Mexican Ranchera & Tejano.  It’s already like a really uncool musical United Nations.  Do I really want to include K-Pop?  Shouldn’t I be worried about cultural appropriation issues or something?

Or should I give in and just embrace the cheese?

*Probably on YouTube, but I didn’t check.
**Not Claudia Jung.  She’s awesome and I have no shame over listening to her stuff….but some of the others.  Let’s just say that unless I’m a 50-something German Hausfrau in Karlsruhe or something, there’s really no excuse here…