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Amused Muse

Inspiring dissent and debate and the love of dissonance

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Location: Surreality, Have Fun Will Travel, Past Midnight before a Workday

Master's Degree holder, telecommuting from the hot tub, proud Darwinian Dawkobot, and pirate librarian belly-dancer bohemian secret agent scribe on a mission to rescue bloggers from the wholesome clutches of the pious backstabbing girl fridays of the world.

Thursday, August 30, 2007


I'm car-free, right? Well, guess which 80s band is my all-time favorite. That's right: The Cars.

And what was my favorite song of theirs? "Drive."

Ironic, huh?

A little over a month ago, when I was riding home with two friends from dinner after a MN Atheists meeting, I was trying to join in the conversation and joking as usual, but inside I was really miserable. At the same time that I was headed west toward northeast Minneapolis I knew that someone else was headed east, far away from me again, and maybe this time for good, and I kept thinking, I wish things were different, I wish things were different... The radio was on, and this song came on, and as I rode and listened I remembered when the song first came out and how much I always loved this song, and how lonely and sad I was back then because I did not think I would ever find love. And now it is especially poignant because Ben Orr, who sings it, died in 2000.

Aside from their emissions, I don't hate cars, really - I hate their ability to divide people and to harm people. But I would never pass up any opportunity to let a car bring people together. I would never say, "Well, I hate cars, so I can't ride with you." There has to be some give-and-take, because if you fight something too hard, you become your enemy.

UPDATED: Here's my favorite video from The Cars, really their sweetest.

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Blogger Cat's Staff said...

I was talking to some people from rural Kenya a few years ago who were here visiting. I asked them(like I ask many foreigners who come here), "What's the most surprising/unexpected thing you've seen here?" They said it was strange that there was no one on the streets. They meant people walking. They often walk 10 miles one way, and everyone else is out walking too. The cars on the road are the exception. The next question is, is that a better way of doing things? To go 5 miles away to the market and back with whatever you carry can take all day. Think of all the things we get done because we can hop in a car and get what we need when we need it within minutes. Sure I'd be in a lot better shape (because of the walking and not being able to get a snack in minutes).

Another big problem is that certain forces have conspired to make our society one that necessitates cars, if not encourages them. Neighborhoods without sidewalks, vast tracts of suburbia zoned residential without any commercial areas, and poor mass-transit. Now that regulation has gone a certain way to encourage car use, I wouldn't be so concerned about it if regulation was also enacted/enforced improving the emissions and economy standards. The auto/petrol/industrial complex has gotten its way for a long time.

Have you considered an electric scooter?

August 31, 2007 2:54 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

No, I haven't - don't really like those things. I would really rather ride a bike, for the exercise, or ride the bus so that I can do my homework.

I agree with you about how our culture arranges everything around the car. That's why I live in the city (and will continue to do so after I move).

August 31, 2007 4:23 PM  
Blogger Rev. Barking Nonsequitor said...

every one naturally wants yo get around quickly, safely, independently - and cheaply. Anything that will allow this ill be a hit. All of our choices right now have significant drawbacks. The PRT system is quite interesting, but probably impractical.

August 31, 2007 8:42 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Oh, my dear, don't get me started on PRT! I oppose it and so does a good friend, Ken Avidor - check out his website on the subject.

As hard as it is to say this (because some of them are friends), the PRT folks are basically a cult!

August 31, 2007 9:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I stated before, I am also carless. I have not driven in about eighteen years. It is a combination of reasons.

When I did drive, I did not enjoy it at all. When I had to drive for a long distance, I would speed. Not because I loved to go fast but because I wanted to get the deed over with.

An other reason is because I am blind in one eye, therefore, I have no depth perception. I had to come up with a couple of tricks in order to make sure I was driving within the lane. Parking was not much fun either.

I also have a personal resentment for cars. At one point, I was working three jobs for a couple of months. The plan was for me to meet up with a friend in Japan. The car I had broke down and sucked up my modest pile of money. Plus the conbination of lack of mobility and extreme burn out from working three jobs left me with no job for a short time. Damn that broken car!

Because I choise to live without a car, I try not to bother people about rides. I will take a ride if that person was going in the direction anyways. Or I will pay for the gas.

And yes, it is much more easy to be car free when you are in an urban setting.

As for songs bringing out feelings of longing, Richard and Linda Thompson's "I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight" does it for me. "Has He Got A Friend For Me" just bleeds dramatic loneliness. Maria McKee did a lovely cover of that song also.

I do hope you are dealing with your situlation alright, Kristine.

August 31, 2007 11:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Forgot to sign my message.


August 31, 2007 11:47 PM  
Blogger Rev. Barking Nonsequitor said...

I vote for "All by Myself" by Eric Carmen or "Alone Again" by Gilbert O'Sullivan.

August 31, 2007 11:57 PM  
Blogger Rev. Barking Nonsequitor said...

Oh and then there is "Someone to Watch Over Me" by Ira Gershwin and "Me and the Man in the Moon" sung by Helen Kane. Or "Mr. Sandman" by the Chordettes.

September 01, 2007 12:02 AM  
Blogger Scott Hatfield . . . said...

This may be a little maudlin, but I vote for "I Am I Said" (Neil Diamond)

September 02, 2007 2:56 AM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Thanks, Janine, even though he and I can't be totally alone yet, and I'm still shakled to the house at the moment, my situation is just fine. :-)

I love all those songs, everyone, but none of them make me hurt the way that "Drive" does, except for "All By Myself."

Scott - a secret - I went to a Neil Diamond concert! :-) I like "Love on the Rocks" and "Forever in Blue Jeans." Oh, and get this - despite everything I feel about Barry Manilow and his face (someone stuck a piece of gum over his slobbering puss on a poster near Macalester College and I just about split my sides), I still love some of his songs: "Mandy," and "When Will I Hold You Again."

My name is Kristine H. and I have a secret sentimental streak.

September 02, 2007 3:35 PM  
Blogger Scott Hatfield . . . said...

D'ya ever shimmy to 'The Cars'? I'm kind of visualizing a mashup of the synth sounds in 'Drive' and a driving 7/8 clay drum. Interested?

September 03, 2007 11:44 PM  
Blogger JimV said...

This was another good post. I realize cars were not your main subject, but you managed to push my rant button anyway:

I moved closer to some nephews in semi-retirement recently hoping to play more tennis this summer. One reason I didn't get to play a lot of tennis with a 16yo grandnephew is that his mother had to drop him off at the tennis courts in their SUV and pick him up afterward. He lives about two miles from the courts and has a bike! I don't remember my parents ever providing me a taxi service within a five-mile radius (of course, that was in the Good Old Days).

I have never owned a car, but had to get a license and drive lots of rentals on business trips for my job. Expensive, noisy, dangerous polluters, IMHO. There are cars/SUV's on the road that cost more than my parents got when they sold their house a few years ago. I'd rather have the house.

When I had health problems a few years ago and had to lower my weight and blood pressure, I upped my daily walking mileage from 4-5 mpd to a maximum week's average of 18 mpd. After about six months, my life expectancy (from livingto100. com) went from 67 years to 93 years (if you believe all the damage goes away when your blood pressure goes down).

Sorry for the rant. Your attitude is better than mine. I don't like to accept rides when I can get there by walking - it's nobody else's problem that I don't own a car.

September 04, 2007 8:46 AM  
Blogger Kristine said...

I'm kind of visualizing a mashup of the synth sounds in 'Drive' and a driving 7/8 clay drum. Interested?

Yes, I'm interested, Scott. I just don't exactly see what you mean though - I'm intrigued, definitely. "Drive" is pretty slow - not the rhythm I'm used to. Is this for a public performance?

I have considered dancing to R.E.M’s “Drive” – a more appropriate slow song, I think.

Interestingly, my now ex-boyfriend verbally reacted in a negative way to “Drive” by The Cars, but as I recall “Drive” by R.E.M. was one of his (and also my) favorite songs.

Sorry for the rant. Your attitude is better than mine. I don't like to accept rides when I can get there by walking - it's nobody else's problem that I don't own a car.

No problem. I think you and I agree mostly – it’s just that I now realize that my lifestyle was so incredibly alternative that it was constricting. Yes, driving a kid two miles to tennis lessons is outrageous, unless he would have to cross a highway on his bike or ride on dangerous roads (have you considered that?). As the crow flies distance doesn’t count with a bike or the bus. There are some neighborhoods I simply should not walk through, as well. It’s fine to be noble, but not to the point of anti-social activism.

September 04, 2007 10:39 AM  
Anonymous AJ Milne said...

"You Might Think" was one of the first videos I ever saw. Still think of it as one of the better ones made. Sweet, yeah, too.

Re cars: We own one. But in our defense, it's a very small, very efficient standard Echo. And we've made some efforts to keep its use reasonably rare and responsible: can get daughter to her school, my wife to work on foot--said school and office are close enough (my son still gets driven, will for another year, until we can get him into his sister's school). Me, I work from home, a good 29 days out of thirty. Can even get small grocery loads by bike (large ones, yes, we break out the Echo). So the car doesn't move much or far.

It was a conscious decision we made, doing that. Prior to living here, we'd lived in the DC burbs, and I especially had a really pretty horrible commute, and we really did have to drive almost everywhere for necessities. Got to thinking: we're sick of living like that. We'll take a smaller house, downtown, pay more for it, cheaper car or none, thanks.

But in fairness, I don't know how many people can manage that, the way things are laid out in most cities. We had a few friends, coming up, seeing how we live who thought it was a nice idea, and after getting married they nosed around looking for houses in downtown neighbourhoods... and they still wound up giving up on that, going for the burbs, anyway. Price/size ratio around here scared 'em off. They went for bigger, newer, cheaper... and the commute that comes with. Not sure I blame 'em, entirely... seeing especially as real estate was just skyrocketing, around the same time. We sorta half beat the upswing, or part of it, didn't suffer quite as much from that as they would have.

But I do think it's no good, that so many people go that way, whether they have to or choose to. Our world needs more neighbourhoods where people can live, work, play, live life without driving. People really should be able to go at least a few days without having to turn an ignition key, nor is it sane that so many of us spend a good quarter of our waking hours drumming our fingers on the steering wheels, alone in asphalt wastelands. And as I'm sure you know, the burbs are too frequently built on decent farmland, places we'd otherwise be using for growing food we wouldn't be shipping from elsewhere... burning more fuel to do so, so on.

I liked driving, growing up. I was rural; it was a symbol of freedom... Still do a bit, honestly, when it's to somewhere I actually want to go, and it's not stuck in a traffic jam or at a slow light. But I get that it's expensive in a whole lot of ways, not all of which I pay for myself or immediately.

My other grump about cars is the whole keeping up with the Joneses thing. I'm proud of my little Echo... does what we need it to do, takes us where we need to go. It makes perfect sense for us.

But show up at a nice furniture store with that thing to pick up a coupla end tables, and the salesguy who carries them out to it is looking at you like: 'Okay... so where's your car?'

It's right here, chum. And man, it'd be a moped, if that were practical in this climate.

September 04, 2007 11:32 AM  
Blogger Rev. Barking Nonsequitor said...

I must say it is very chancy trying to balance a 1930's Kem Weber Settee fished out of a trash heap on top of a 1985 Toyota MR2, but it beats carrying it a few miles.

September 04, 2007 2:21 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

'Okay... so where's your car?'

I just say, "I have a Harley. I am my own Harley." Hey, it's true.

but it beats carrying it a few miles.

I don't know how many times I saw something cool sitting by the side of the road and said, "I should bring that home, except I've no way of getting it there." Which is a good thing, because I didn't have room for it nohow!

September 04, 2007 3:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just say, "I have a Harley. I am my own Harley." Hey, it's true.

I am sorry to ask this but it demands to be asked. Kristine, are you as loud as the other Harleys.

(I am grateful that nothing can be tossed in my direction through the tube!)

September 05, 2007 2:10 AM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Kristine, are you as loud as the other Harleys.

All Harleys are quiet. They have to be fitted with pipes to become the belching, coughing behemoths that set off people's car alarms.

That means I didn't really answer your question, so you can just continue to speculate. ;-)

September 05, 2007 9:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Goes to show how much I know about motorcycles! But as you pointed out, you did not answer my question. Hey, I hear Tony Snow is leaving his post. You want a new job?

And yes, I forgot to sign my post.


September 05, 2007 9:24 AM  
Blogger Kristine said...

I am a very quiet person, really.

I want Karl Rove's job. :-D

September 05, 2007 9:58 AM  
Blogger Kristine said...

(Although he turned into a real windbag toward the end there.)

September 05, 2007 9:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You may want to be the brains behind the seat of power but you should go with your strenghts. You have shown you can provide the non-answer answer.

As for being a Rove like figure, I have this question. If you had to spend so much time around a dubya type figure, how long would it be befor you just went crazy?


September 05, 2007 11:13 AM  
Anonymous AJ Milne said...

If you had to spend so much time around a Dubya type figure, how long would it be befor you just went crazy?

A reasonable concern. I'm fairly sure merely knowing such a figure exists--and that roughly half* of those in the US who bothered to show up to vote actually put an X beside his name--especially in 2004, after they'd got to know him a little better--has been generally bad for my mental health.

I think--I'm not quite sure--I was actually quite stable, before all this. Didn't even blog, if memory serves. I believe I may have been an accountant or a dentist or a notary public or something equally stable and reliable and all main street, prior to the year 2000... but I'm afraid it's all a hazy, confusing blur of maniacal, distraught laughter and blue and red CNN graphics, now.

*Yes, I know there's some question about precisely how close to half it was--and on which side of half. But this misses the point. Let me put it this way: Diebold and butterfly-ballot-related shrinkage in shipping aside, we still have a problem. What boggles the mind is that there are more than, say, a few hundred people in the US that would put an X in that fateful spot. The few hundred I'm excusing only on the following basis: we may assume there is a cross-section of the truly, deeply, clinically sociopathic and those who could reasonably expect they'd be getting jobs in the administration, if Dubya won (also: there's probably at least a slightly higher percentage of the deeply sociopathic among those working for the administration... but this isn't critical to the calculation). We can excuse these people as having what amounts to a medical reason for voting for Dubya... The rest, I really don't get.

September 05, 2007 11:27 AM  
Blogger Kristine said...

how long would it be befor you just went crazy?

Are you accusing me of sanity, my friend? ;-) I would have to be insane just to take the job.

The rest, I really don't get.

Just head on over to Uncommon Descent (no linky - youcanjust findityerself) and see just how much the wooze heads think Bushisgreat and Iraqourgloriouswarisprogressinjustfine!

I don't get them either.

September 05, 2007 11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't buy a car until I was twenty-five; made it through college and grad school with hitching long rides with friends, or taking the bus. For short distances, it was either shanksmare or a bicycle. Upon the purchase of wheels(4 of them), I gained ten pounds in short order.

So I have had one automobile or another for the last forty years; I do enjoy the independence it gives me. Hop in the bomb and go, no checking schedules.

On a recent trip to Florida, Louise and I did go Greyhound. I didn't trust the ol' tin lizzy to go that far without developing difficulties; I didn't trust myself to stay awake at the wheel for such long spells. But never again; it was such a hassle. And the characters you rub shoulders with!!! Some people should just die and reduce the surplus population.

Even so, I live a ten minute walk to my job; so every chance I get I walk to school. In truth the route I must travel by car takes just as long.

September 05, 2007 1:22 PM  
Blogger Rev. Barking Nonsequitor said...

After his presidency has ended (that sounds so good)George W says he wants to give a speech every once in a while just to "refill the coffers".

I suppose that means you will not be seeing him reading to children or building houses or urging people to give blood in the future.

Not unlike a post-career corporate magnate. Hell, Ken Lay would have been a better mascot for our country.

September 05, 2007 2:49 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Ken Lay filled a coffin, as I recall. ;-)

BTW, my nickname is now “smiling lady” at work. Rev. Barky, my new post will give you something to smile about, even though it is just a dream!

September 05, 2007 3:24 PM  
Blogger Rev. Barking Nonsequitor said...

Cleaver and delightful as always....

September 05, 2007 4:03 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

I'd gladly buy a bag of gourmet chocolate-covered potato chips for the Prez. To show my patriotism. ;-)

September 05, 2007 4:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you accusing me of sanity, my friend? ;-)

I would never stoop so low as to accuse you of sanity. But there is degrees of insanity.

aj, there was no mistake when I did not capitalize the name of 'dubya'. Yes, I note it does lacks respect.


September 06, 2007 6:23 AM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Oh, sorry, people, it was a pretzel! Not a potato chip. A pretzel!

A Prez-tel! :-) Insanity does indeed come in different degrees. “But why will you say that I am mad?” – E.A. Poe

September 06, 2007 11:52 AM  
Anonymous AJ Milne said...

Janine with a capital J:

I like correct capitalization, tend to write and edit pretty much continuously and without clearly stated borders between those activities, and thus tend reflexively to correct such things.. along with just about everything and anything else in anything I touch. Would certainly have fixed the 'befor', too, if I'd seen it in time.

I can assure you, therefore, that my choosing to correct the 'D' in Dubya in your quote had nothing to do with respect or lack thereof for anyone in particular.

If it is, for whatever reason, offensive to you, however, I'm quite happy to leave your prose as it is, in that regard.

Respectfully, &c. Yadda yadda.

September 06, 2007 6:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Consider "Moving in Stereo" - it addresses those feelings of loss and why the easy way isn't.

Neil Diamond is a great singer - there is no doubt about his ability. I just don't like most of his songs - but there are a few that cut right to the bone. I'm certain that the concert was excellent.

Now about Barry.... counseling is available. He's a skilled arranger - but he isn't the male Bette Middler he wants to be.

Joe Jackson is far, far better as a musician, composer and performer (I think Barry is channeling Lee Liberace with his elaborate sets).

September 08, 2007 9:04 AM  

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