Sometimes, a change of scenery can improve one's outlook. At least, that's what they say, whoever they are.
I tried that remedy last week. I knew I had been spending way too much in my apartment and not accomplishing anything, other than blogging, reading, and watching my nightly video.
No, I didn't go to the lake (I've never been much for that, I'm afraid), or take off for casinos (I don't gamble) or bars (I haven't had a drop to drink since I was 14). Man, I just read that back over. How boring can one person be?
I just tried to go somewhere every day for a while and keep myself amused. On Tuesday of last week, I drove to Neosho and had my oil changed. It worked so well for me, that I decided to have the same thing done to my car. (I haven't used that line in years.) After that, I hit the antique shops on the square. I like to go through old books, records, and videos. I didn't find anything at the first two places I went, but I hit the jackpot at the third one, finding a box full of 45s. I bought seven of them for a quarter apiece. My discoveries among the stacks of wax were: "Wolverton Mountain," by Claude King, "Dream Lover" by Bobby Darin, "Harbor Lights," by the Platters, the original "Twist and Shout," by the Isley Brothers, "A Steel Guitar and a Glass of Wine," by Paul Anka, and the two-sided hit "Charlie Brown" and "Three Cool Cats," by the Coasters.
It is very rare that I find any good 45s these days, mainly because my collection is so extensive. I probably have over 1,000 45s and a little over 400 albums, as well as a few hundred cassettes, and a handful of CDS (I'm still slowly working my way into the 21st Century.) So when I am able to come up with some music that I don't have, it is a great day.
On Wednesday, I went to Joplin to make the rounds of the used book stores. I didn't buy anything, but it was an anjoyable way to spend time.
On Thursday, I drove over to Sarcoxie and Monett to check out some antique shops and flea markets I had seen advertisd in The Big Nickel. One of the shops in Sarcoxie had hundreds of 45s, but I didn't see anything I wanted that I didn't already have. The only things I bought were copies of USA Today, The Sarcoxie Record, and The Monett Times.
A booming thunderclap knocked me out of a sound sleep Sunday morning. I quickly unplugged all of the electrical appliances in my apartment and didn't think anything of it. It wasn't until I reached Diamond on the way to visit my parents in Newtonia that I noticed that tree limbs were strewn across the shoulder of the road. I assume road crews had already cleared them off the highway. When I reached Newtonia, there were side roads that were impassable with downed trees blocking the way. My parents didn't have any electricity (their electricity wasn't turned on until late Monday night). I spent the afternoon helping them by picking up the hundreds of walnuts that the wind had knocked off their trees. If someone hadn't picked them up, they would have wreaked havoc on Dad's lawnmower.
As I returned home, the first place I saw that had electricity was the convenience store by County Line Road. Apparently, everyone from Newton County had gone there to get gas or ice since they couldn't get it at home. I ran into one of my former students, Kacie Cooper, now a sophomore at Carthage Senior High School, and her mother, there. Kacie told me that she was in a weightlifting picture on page one of the Sunday Joplin Globe.
I stayed in the apartment most of the day today except for a brief trip to Joplin this evening. I bought some magazines (Novel Writing, The Sporting News, and The Washington Times) for me and a genealogy magazine for my mom at Books-a-Million, then went to Hastings, where I discovered a number of good books on sale for 25 cents apiece. I bought six, all non-fiction, mostly biographies.
I know people love the movie "Forrest Gump," and other big ones that Tom Hanks has been in. I really liked him in "You've Got Mail," and "Sleepless in Seattle," but my favorite Tom Hanks movie was the video I watched tonight.
Hanks did not have the starring role in "That Thing You Do," though he did produced it. The movie took place in the 1960s and the plot concerned a rock band that hits it big, how it came together, and how it falls apart. Tom Everett Scott and Jonathan Schaech play the leaders of the band, but the movie was stolen right from under them by Liv Tyler. If anyone didn't know she was going to be a major star before this movie came out, she erased any doubt. I have a hard time understanding young people who watch every movie that comes out over and over again, but this is one I love to watch on a regular basis.
The movie has a wonderful happy ending (not always required, but in this case perfect).
Last night's movie was "The Far Country," another Jimmy Stewart western, this one from 1955. For once, Stewart played a role that was not quite his usual Everyman with the good, kind heart who always tries to do the right thing. His character was hard and jaded and believed in keeping to himself and not helping anyone. Of course, he changed by the end of the movie.
For the fourth time this summer, I found myself watching a movie with Harry Morgan in the supporting cast. If you only know him from his role as Colonel Potter on the MASH television series (and he was superb in that role) you have no idea of his versatility.
I just finished reading Bob Woodward's "Plan of Attack." I'm not a big fan of John Kerry, but after reading this book about how we came to attack Iraq, Kerry is looking better and better all the time.