Another madcap month of riding, reading, listening, and watching has passed and I did my level best at three out of the four.
I managed to pull off my sixth straight month of 1,000 miles or more on my bikes. October clocked in at 1,041 miles. I took five days off for the sake of sanity. I did rides of 50 or more miles six times, which might sound impressive but that’s called loafing by bike touring standards. (It still strikes me as odd that I can do 55 miles a day carrying 40+ pounds of gear over mountains or into stiff headwinds and feel energized on a tour, but feel whipped after three days of unweighted local riding in the flat terrain around home. Let that be a lesson to you aspiring bike tourists.)
I rode my CrossCheck most often only because it was whining that I had neglected it for most of the summer. (My bikes can talk. If only the CrossCheck would tell me its proper name. Someday, I suppose.)
I rode one bike event, the Great Pumpkin Ride. It takes place in rural Fauquier (don’t ask how it’s pronounced) County, Virginia. It was one of many leaf peeping jaunts this month. I have to say the foliage has been pretty darned awesome around here this year. And there hasn’t been a truly nasty storm to put an end to the festivities so I expect I’ll get a few more days of reds and golds and browns yet.
I have less than 50 miles to go to reach 10,000 miles for the fifth year in a row. That is, assuming a calamity (pulmonary embolisms anyone?).
Cloud Cuckoo Land: Yes, this month is by the book (singular) because I only read one. Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr. This one was a bit of a challenge as the plot is split among multiple plot lines across centuries. The separate plot lines are linked by an ancient Greek text. (Doerr’s mind works in strange ways.) Doerr does manage to tie things together at the end but by page 400 I was getting whiplash from going from the distant future to the 16th Century and back to present day Idaho.
Ultra: A few years ago I got into podcasts in a big way. Over time I fell out of the habit but this month I found a whopper. Rachel Maddow Presents Ultra is the absolutely riveting tale of how white supremacists and the Nazis nearly took over American politics in the run up to World War II. The whole story starts with the deadliest plane crash to date in U. S. history. The crash took place near Lovettsville, Virginia. Lovettsville is separated from the upper Shenandoah Valley by a mountain ridge into which the plane, carrying a sitting U.S. senator, two FBI agents, and a federal prosecutor, collided. That’s episode one. It gets better and better.
Ghost Stories: Ultra uses some audio from the 30s and 40s which brought to mind a repressed memory from my childhood. For some reason during a bike ride my brain coughed up a story about a squirrel. (It’s a bit ironic. One friend once called my bike rides my meditation practice. Another friend refers to having squirrels running around in her head when she meditates.) A few miles later the name Clarence came to the surface. Then I recalled that the squirrel could talk. When I got home I did some searching of the interwebs to find that these memories were fragments of a story contained on a 1962 spoken word LP called Alfred Hitchcock Presents Ghost Stories for Young People. I listened to the entire record and only recalled the squirrel story, for good reason. It’s about a ten-year-old boy named Johnny who is playing in a house that is under construction, something that I (same first name) used to do when I was about the same age. On a dare, the boy decides to stay in the house overnight. A squirrel comes into the house. Then another bigger than the first. And they start talking. They have names, one of which is Clarence. Then another still bigger squirrel comes in. And, well, go listen to it for yourself.
Revolver: At the end of the month, reconstructed recordings of the Beatles album Revolver came out. These new recordings use an advanced audio technique developed for the Get Back documentary. On Revolver, the Beatles used one track for the band playing live: guitar, bass, drums, piano, and such. The other three tracks were for vocals, instrumental add ons, and sound effects. Applying the new audio techniques allowed the live track to be deconstructed as if each instrument and vocal and sound effect had been separately recorded. The fruits of this show most clearly in the new mix of Taxman. The rhythm guitar and drums practically jump into your ears. The mix of Eleanor Rigby actually sounds worse to me as you can hear the scratchiness of McCartney’s voice. It sounds as if he just woke up. In contrast, his vocals for Here, There and Everywhere and For No One are smooth as glass.
There are a few treats such as a Yellow Submarine outtake that shows that this bouncy children’s song grew out of a somber germ of a song idea from Lennon. Paperback Writer and Rain, without all the technical slight of hand, are straightforward rockers. Rain was played at much faster speed then slowed down in the final version. Paperback Writer without the dominating heavy jazzy bass, reveals a tight band playing their brains out. Getting a peek at the creative process is always fascinating to me.
I didn’t go to any baseball games because the weather at the beginning of the month was cold and rainy. The Nats were the worst team in baseball so nothing lost. Wait til next year. Nowhere to go but up.
The playoffs have been quite entertaining. It’s nice to see major league baseball played well, something that’s been missing hereabouts for a few years. One painful aspect though is seeing so many former Washington Nationals playing for other teams. Harper, Scherzer, Turner, Schwarzer, Soto, Bell, and Hand. Oof. Two certain future Hall of Famers and perhaps two more.
Away from the ballgames, I watched Andor, the latest Star Wars miniseries. It’s so well done. Much better than anything else from Star Wars since, well, Rogue One, to which Andor is a prequel. Diego Luna is great as are Stellan Skarsgard and Fiona Shaw.
I finished watching SheHulk, Attorney at Law. It was dreadful. I kept hoping each new episode would get better. Nope.
Finally, I watched Anxious People, a Swedish miniseries based on the book of the same name by Fredrik Bachman. It took a few episodes to get into but I enjoyed it as much as I did the book. Mrs. Rootchopper did too and shed a few tears at the end. I am looking forward to the release later this year of A Man Called Otto, based on Bachman’s book A Man Called Ove. (It was already made into a movie in Swedish which I recommend.) In this American version, Otto is played by Tom Hanks.