Saturday, November 23, 2013

Long before you get to the end of this you ought to realize that there is going to be no cover version of this song. (Awesome Covers Of Already Awesome Songs)

Love at first sight.

This is how that goes:  You look at someone, maybe across the room, maybe through a few rows of chairs in class or at a theater, maybe as you walked across campus in the early September sunlight, that kind of sunlight that by the time it reaches through the thicker layers of atmosphere it has to swim down into, through the tops of trees whose leaves are starting to be red yellow brown orange sometimes, maybe at one of those times or any other time, you looked and you for a moment did not breathe, and in not breathing for a second, you throw off the entire rhythm of your life, the way if you marched in a band or something, sometimes you would miss a step and were then out of sync and had to try to figure out how to get back into sync do I take two quick steps? Or one slow one? Or a half and half and half and half? 

Only with love at first sight, you don't want to get back into sync and it isn't maybe until years and years and years later that you even realize you stepped out of time and into your own flow of things.

This is also how that goes: the first parts of the song Crimson ; Clover by Tommy James & The Shondells is how that goes:

Aaah and you have fallen off the timeline you were on.

Now I don't hardly know her and the parts of your brain that need things to function the right way, to keep everything in order, are both yelling and overwhelmed and the rest of your brain -- not the part that makes your heart actually beat your lungs actually breathe your blood actually flow your legs actually walk and your eyes actually see, not that part at all, that's not the important part, everything has parts like that sharks and turtles and eagles and hamsters all have those parts -- the part that makes you feel and makes you feel, especially, love, says:

But I think I could love her.

and you have stepped into your real life (the one that is out of sync with your old no longer real life, the life you only thought you were going to live before you lived the life you would have wanted to live if you knew it existed before this moment.)(Which you didn't, because if you knew this moment, and then this life, would happen, you'd have hated the old life, so it's best that it comes as a surprise.)

That is how I felt when I met Sweetie, and when I recognized the feeling I suddenly recognized, I finally realized why I love this song so much.

Not the later, rock version, not that -- the earlier, psychedelic version written before I was even born is the one I love.  That one, that song that is older than me, captures to me perfectly a feeling that otherwise cannot be captured.

The song Crimson and Clover, in its original, longform weirdly compelling overly repetitious soaring spiraling madness, is what love would be if you transcribed it and then reincarnated it, recorded it on a wax cylinder and then used that as a blueprint to bring it back to life.  From the first gasp of feeling to the ending, where the impression is of sinking slowly beneath the surface of the warmest, softest, somehow easiest-to-breathe ocean (the kind of ocean that surrounds small tropical islands and which doesn't have large waves, the kind of ocean that fills a lagoon on those islands with water that is the same temperature of blood as it leaves the heart, water that can be seen through as though it is not there but which, mysteriously, is more there than things that you can touch (because you can't touch water, not really -- when you poke at it it runs away from you, when you try to pick it up it slips through your fingers and when you finally dive into it and wrap your arms around it and try to hug it, it slips through your grasp and hugs you, instead), the song is like love existing as sound, like love is wiggling through the air electromagnetically, great looping arcs of energy invisible to us and sometimes passing through us but sometimes hitting us just right in just the right place so we know what we're hearing.

This is how things go: that first part of the song is like waking up, almost, not quite a shout of surprise.  Then you sort of float through the beginning part of the song and then things get a bit of hectic, and then you stop, and you say:


And you wanna do ever-y-thing, saying it in three syllables, like you know how your mom used to extend out your name when you were in trouble? When she called you home for dinner it was just your name and when she needed you to set the table it was just your name but when she found the dent in the car it was your name plus your middle name plus your last name and she hit every syllable, that's how you know people mean it.

So when you wanna do




you really mean it.

And I heard this song years and years and years ago, I bet, I bet I heard it on my dad's radio, listening to the 'oldies' in the Chevette, the car he bought while my mom drove the Gran Prix, hatchbacks were new then, and I was a kid and Dad was a dad and summer was hot and the Chevette was a stick shift and the radio didn't play the second part of the song, the weirder part of the song, I didn't hear that until I was older:

The second part of my life, the weirder part of my life, the guitars seeming stuck for a second (that would be dropping out of college and going back and dropping out and going back) and then real quiet like:

Crimsonandcloveroverandover and you're under water.

This is how I go: I sing it like that, like I'm under water, I sing it at the top of my lungs at stoplights and I sing it to myself while I mow the lawn which I hardly ever do anymore and sometimes late at night I don't have any covers left and I tug on the blankets but they don't move not even an inch, and I sigh and go back to sleep, cold, the song playing in my head.

This is how hard it is to come up with something that can top the feeling of feeling.  People can make it and remake it and remake the remakes and it can even be remade by the remakers, and this is how that goes: each version flatter than the others, mostly.


There is something to be said for a song that cannot be reinterpreted, and this is what is to be said about that: if a song is so perfect in its original form that nobody can do much other than polish it a bit, spin it around, say it again, then the song exists almost in a Platonic state of song qua song.

I set out at the beginning of this to find other versions of the song Crimson and Clover, and over and over I listened to people singing it, playing it, humming it strumming it never overcoming the fact that the original is unimprovable.

And then I went back and listened to the original.


And I thought about how it could be, that this song existed really in only one form, that no matter who plays it no matter when no matter what, this song stays almost immutable, almost unchanged, and that is when I remembered what the song means, what it really embodies, and that was when I realized that the song was both different from and the exact same for everybody, just as love at first sight is: from a minute particle we all spring forth into separate existences each a half-step off from everyone else's each our own world, our own lives, our own slice of time that we share with the person who through us out of sync, but if you trace back along my line, your line, his line, her line, if you were to turn around (but you wouldn't, you wouldn't turn away from where you are looking when it happens) if you turned around you'd find at the beginning the same spark, the same surprise, the same gasp, the same


The same for each in how it starts because sometimes you heard the song as a kid waiting at the train tracks next to the plastics factory where Mom used to work, sometimes you heard it on a mixtape a girlfriend gave you sophomore year at the University of Illinois and then she broke up with you on the day after Thanksgiving, sometimes you hear it on tinny speakers in an airport bar by Seattle, just as sometimes you look up from the ATM and see her, sometimes you stop at a yellow light even though you usually run them and he walks in front of you, sometimes you shake her hand and she says "Hi, nice to meet you, I like cookies," and for the rest of your life you will make her cookies as often as you can.

Always different, how it starts, always different, how it ends, always different where you go, but how it always goes is the same in all its different ways.  It can't get any better, it can't.

It can't.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Here's what Mattel had to say about their terrible "GUP A" toy. (Life With Unicorns)

The other day I wrote about my displeasure with Fisher-Price and a crummy toy they made, a crummy toy in a line of crummy toys based on the "Octonauts," a toy so crummy that it made my son sob with sadness.

I emailed that complaint to Mattel and tried to post it on their website (I was unable to do so; it kept saying I didn't meet the age requirements) and posted it on Amazon.

I got THIS response back from Mattel:

Dear Ms. Pagel,
I'm so glad you contacted us! I was sorry to learn about your disappointing and upsetting experience with the Gup A Mission Vehicle. I can help you with this, I just need a little more information. I am not quite sure which Gup A Mission Vehicle you're asking about.
You can help us by e-mailing the product number or a detailed description of your product to us. The product number is usually five numbers or five characters beginning with a letter. It is located on the packaging above the barcode or can often be found on the bottom or back of your product.  Also, can you look for a manufacturing code that is engraved into the plastic?  It is four numbers followed by two letters.
Also, please send your mailing address.
If you would rather communicate with us by phone or Live Chat, please use this link to see our contact information:
We can't wait to hear from you!
Thanks,Susan CMattel Consumer Services Team

PS. Did you know you can visit us at for replacement parts, product information, and frequently asked questions?

I can forgive the "Ms," as many people make that mistake.  The rest is corporate nonsense, as demonstrated by my reply:

I have already thrown out the box for this toy.  However, the GUP A Mission Vehicle was both pictured (twice) in my complaint, and is locatable on your website.
I don't like to provide my mailing address for no reason whatsoever, but if you need to contact me, you may do so by this email, or by mailing to my office:

Briane F. Pagel, Jr.c/o Krekeler Strother, S.C.2901 W. Beltline Highway, Suite 301Madison, WI 53713

When I wrote, I was merely trying to bring this defect to your attention, as well as to warn others not to buy this toy.  I think that your response is disingenuous in its suggestion that you could not identify the toy, and in seeking my mailing address.
Originally, I was going to simply write the review and leave it.  Now, though, I would like my $19.99 plus tax back.  Sales tax in Wisconsin is 5.5%, so the tax is $1.10.

 Please send me $21.09, payable to me, at the address above.  Please do so by the end of November, 2013. 

Briane Pagel

The reason we throw out the box is that if Mr Bunches gets used to having the box around, he will always associate it with the toy, and have to have the box forever, and we don't want crummy old ratty cardboard laying around.  But more importantly, the response points out that Mattel was simply dodging the issue.

There is only ONE GUP A vehicle toy, period. ONE.  And even if there were MORE THAN ONE, I sent a picture.

I was, as I said, simply going to complain.  Now, I think I might take this to small claims court.  I'd like to sue Mattel for $21.09.  I frequently tell my clients that the only thing corporations understand is money.  Until you cost them money, they do not care.  So maybe I will have to pay $85 to file a small claims summons and complaint, pay $35 to serve it on Mattel's corporate representative in Wisconsin, and then go down to the return date to get a judgment for $21.09 plus my costs -- and Mattel would have to pay just over $100 -- assuming they didn't hire a lawyer to defend it -- because they had a stupid corporate representative who thought it would be funny to try to play stupid corporate mind games with a consumer lawyer.

A REAL response would have been "We are so sorry about that, we don't want kids to cry, can we replace the toy for you or maybe offer you a small store credit or just say we are very sorry?"  I wasn't even asking for money.  I just wanted them to know their toy sucked, and they responded with Corporate Smarm.

Corporations may be people, but they are people that I hate.

My original post here.


Time again to Caption A New Yorker Cartoon (in case the post title didn't help you figure out what's going on here.)  It's 6:25 a.m., Mr F is swinging off to my right, and I've got the 1982 Thanksgiving episode of "Family Ties" on Netflix -- I've been watching every old Thanksgiving episode of sitcoms that I can find, to help me with the SUPERTHANXGIVIN' spirit, so I am READY for this.

Let's go.  Okay. Lady staring at giant turkey. The butcher is talking. Are there still butcher shops? Possibly. Maybe New York is as stereotypically New York as John Cheever and Jerry Seinfeld have made it seem?

The obvious joke here is the butcher is explaining how the turkey got so big, and I'd bet about a zillion people are going to go with some kind of steroid joke, so let's go ultrareference with that.

"It was A-Rod's pet turkey."

I kind of like that.  But I want to think weirder.  How about if the butcher is saying:

"It comes with a cement truck to mix the stuffing."


"We're gonna need a bigger oven."

Thanksgiving-Jaws mashups being the hot thing this year, right? They SHOULD be.

NOTE: I've sort of lost the thread of the storyline on "Family Ties," where the parents were going to protest nuclear weapons on Thanksgiving and somehow ended up in jail.  Alex's grandfather I think is one of the Darren's from Bewitched, which also had a Thanksgiving episode (Wikipedia has a list) but that show isn't on Netflix Instant. I don't know why a movie or TV show wouldn't be on Netflix instant. It makes no sense to me: "We want to make it harder for people to watch our show."


"You should see our yams."

I like that because even though it doesn't make sense -- butchers don't sell yams, in case you didn't know -- the word "yams" is funny.  Even though it didn't make the arbitrary list of 100 funniest words in English ("pandiculation" makes the cut, but not "yam"? STUPID KATHRYN HARRIS)(OBSCURE REFERENCE ALERT).

"Yams" also sounds like it might be just a little naughty.

"We ship them in from Texas?"

No, too obvious. Plus, why would The New Yorker want to pay a compliment to Texas?

Right now, Elyse is talking about the jail cell:

Elyse: You know, this place could use some redecorating.
Steven: First thing I'd do is take out those bars.

Ha, the 80s!

How about

"If that's not enough I can get the big one."

I like that one the best, so far.

"We don't deliver."

I'm going to go with "If that's not enough I can get the big one."

UPDATE: I entered it, and now I think I should've gone with yams.

UPDATE, 2: I ran them by Sweetie, who liked "We're gonna need a bigger oven," and liked A-Rod second best, so I tried to enter that under her name by going back to the form but I didn't realize that I'd left my original entry (If that's not enough...) in so now it looks as though Sweetie and I both entered the same caption. CRAP CRAP CRAP.

UPDATE 3: I entered "bigger oven" using my work email.

Anyway: the episode ended (SPOILER ALERT!) with the family eating Thanksgiving dinner in the jail, after Grandma brought it down. When asked how they got the food in there, Grandma said something about how there wasn't a guard in the jail who hadn't gotten a taste of her dumplings.  Which is EXACTLY the kind of discomforting joke about elderly women having sex with multiple partners that made the 1980s the 'family friendly' era we all remember so fondly.


A few quick announcements:

I'm STILL open for PAID submissions for my writing blog, lit: you can get paid for stories and/or enter a contest that might get you paid even MORE.  Submissions are starting to come in but I need MORE MORE MORE BWHAHAHAHAHA... wait, that ended badly.  CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS including the email to submit to.  

Over on Me, Annotated I've been revisiting Thanksgiving memories by posting what I call SUPERTHANXGIVIN', so check that out if you need to remember that Thanksgiving is an actual holiday.  (I'll be in line at Best Buy.)  CLICK HERE TO GO TO THAT SITE.

Your other links to check out?

Here's that list of the 100 funniest words I made a reference to.

If you're done here, why not check out Tina Downey's blog? She writes about grilled cheese with a skill that would make that guy who actually wrote all of Shakespeare's plays jealous. Click here to go to her site. (If you tell her I sent you, you get 10% off admission to her All Night Spectacular.)

PS: Tina, you'd better put together an "All Night Spectacular." Don't want to let these people down.  You might get literally ones of people coming from this blog. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

This is the ONE thing Mr Bunches wants you to know about him. (Life With Unicorns)

Today I got to have lunch with Mr Bunches at his school.  While I was waiting for him to come out of the class, I looked at the latest projects the kids had done. The assignment was to write, on a computer, a sentence beginning with "The most important thing about me is..." and then finish the sentence and draw a picture of that thing.

Some kids said their most important thing was that they were nice, or that they took care of their dog or other pet. (Three pets were frogs. Is that the hot new pet? Because I was thinking turtle.)  One kid said the most important thing about him was that he eats peanut butter & jelly.  (NAILED IT.)

Then there was Mr Bunches' sign:

Which also? I'm not sure it's even true.

My favorite is that the spider appears pretty nonplussed about Mr Bunches' love for him.
Looking for a post? Click the picture to read what I posted today on Me, Annotated:

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

To The Bomb Shelters, Everyone! (Updates On Civilization)

With Civilization surviving Miley Cyrus -- just barely

*shudders, remembers how we all had to huddle in the doorways of abandoned skyscrapers as tumbleweeds blew past driven by the fiery winds of a scorched Earth roamed by half-men, crazed by the loss of innocence, wielding nicked swords fashioned from sharpened fenceposts, children crying as they were mowed down by herds of saber-toothed tigers, all because someone twerked on TV...*

*in my fan fiction at least*

Where was I? Oh, yeah: Civilization barely got past Twerkgate, and without even a chance to catch our breath and hope that Burger King's new McRib knockoff inspires a fake-rib-sandwich war like the glorious $5 Pizza Battles of 2007, we...

*takes a moment to stop drooling*

Let's get on with this. Here is the latest

Threat To Civilization As We Know It!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!?!!!!!!!!!!!!'s boxers:

That is a K-Mart commercial, and lest you miss what is so incredibly disturbing about it that I probably should have burned the Internet before I showed it to you, let me quote from Huffington Post's article about this ad:

The men squat down and begin shaking their booties to the song "Jingle Bells." The typical interpretation of their actions is that the men's testicles are swinging in their shorts, thus creating the bell sounds.

"[T]he typical interpretation of their action..." SO, question 1:

What's wrong with me? I watched that and thought the joke was that they had put the bells in their pants.  I mean, I get it: bells, so veeeeeeeeery close to... HECK I'LL SAY IT:


I mean I get it but I didn't think that the junk was making the sounds.  As such, this commercial for me didn't portend the end of civilization so much as just continue to demonstrate that I am a social pariah.

The commercial has been branded "brash, ugly," and " disgustingly uncaring," (all by the same person), and it's that last one that really got me wondering the following wonderments:

1. Is it possible that until this commercial, K-Mart did care about... stuff?
2. What does the commercial demonstrate K-Mart doesn't care about?
3. Could it be that Testicular  Bells is a real condition and the commenter is disgusted by K-Mart's cavalier attitude towards this heartrending syndrome?
4.  How awesome is it that I managed to come up with "Testicular Bells?"

You all know what I'm talking about, right?

That song is not actually called "Tubular Bells," but if you listen to it, Snape says "And... tubular bells," which is totally awesome and if you listen to the song you have to pantomime hitting a tubular bell when they actually hit them.   TRY IT, IT'S FUN.

I got a little distracted there again.  Anyway, civilization is dying, etc. etc. pretty soon hyenas will dine on our sun-scorched bones, etc etc you get the drift.