Sunday, August 03, 2008

Stuff and Things

I was at a lovely party on Saturday, a birthday party for our family friend Chris, and we were talking to other friends of ours (including our family friend Buzz). "I haven't really done any things this summer because I've had to do too much stuff," I said, knowing this was the vaguest thing I could possibly say to the question, "Whatcha been doin'?" besides the standard, "Not much, really."

But somehow, everybody at this party understood completely the difference between doing stuff and doing things. Stuff is stuff you gotta do. Things are things you wanna do. I usually get a lot of stuff done in the winter, so that I can do lots of things in the summer. But it was Buzz who figured it out: "I think since we had all that lousy weather in the spring, we didn't get all the stuff we'd normally do done in the spring, and it's bled over to summer." And I think he's right.

Well, one of the things I got to do this weekend, besides eat a pile of crawfish in honor of Chris' birthday, was grab the blanket and plunk it down at Pere Marquette Park for the first of four Friday night River Flicks. This year started out with The Wizard of Oz, and before the movie started, there was a magician whose act was geared toward the children who were gearing up for an outdoor movie. And because of this particular film's classic status, there were plenty of adults there, by themselves, almost on dates. We couldn't have asked for a more perfect night. However, we could have asked for more vendors. I was surprised -- there was only a Cousin's sub stand and a popcorn truck (who'd run out of popcorn right after they'd met the Cowardly Lion but before the poppies put them to sleep. Come on -- right about when they get to the Merry Old Land of Oz was when everybody really needed a popcorn fix.) But I'd counted on a bunch of food vendors -- on the order of those who normally show up on Wednesdays for River Rhythms. And I learned that the normally reliable Pizza Shuttle would not deliver to a park. (Can't blame 'em, but still -- they are known for delivering to just about anywhere.). So I called Rock Bottom -- whose pizzas are pretty darn good, and they whipped up a couple of 'zahs which we ran over to pick up just in time for Miss Gulch to threaten to kill Toto. Overall, a good evening. More popcorn, please.
Tonight I'm missing a perfectly good private party that's featuring the wonderful Danglers. I'm going to catch them soon again. It's been way too long, but I had a lot of stuff to do today.

So here I am, sitting at home, working on stuff, and one of the things I'm doing is watching what's turning out to be OJ Simpson revisited: Fox 6 is pre-empting The Simpsons for live coverage of Brett Favre's plane landing in Green Bay, and then him getting into an SUV (this one's a red Escalade, as opposed to a white Bronco) and driving at less than breakneck speed to some ordinary house. And all the fans are in the rain, watching this. "Family Packer night" probably won't go on because of the rain, but it's still pre-empting the good Simpsons.

And finally, I'm really saddened by this story, the rape of one woman and subsequent murder of three teenagers near Niagra, WI, just a stone's throw away from Iron Mountain, very close to where I was hiking with friends and family not four weeks ago, and just too close for comfort to where I spend at least a weekend, if not a whole week every year. It's a place I go to forget about the stress and pressure of the city, to just chill with nature, and to take in the beauty and serenity of the surroundings. And I suspect it's a place where people go to live for similar reasons. Not that this crap can't go down anywhere (this awful story reminds us of that fact), but we drive through Niagra every year -- a little strip of a town facing a pictureeque cliff over the Menomonee river, and it's the kind of place you would never expect such horror going down unless you were watching a film directed by David Lynch. I hate this stuff.

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