Monday, December 12, 2005

But Mr. Pryor doesn't know YOU…

Richard Pryor is on an odd personal list of performers whom I like or admire, but I don't possess a single copy of their work. There are many reasons why I haven't bought a Pryor album. At first, it was because I just didn't enjoy hearing the kind of language he used on his routine (that's, there's little prude hidden beneath my Rabelaisian exterior). Then, when I was in college and playing novelty records on the radio, it's for sure I couldn't play any of his records on the air. By that point, Pryor had gone on to movies and concert films, and the last era for comedy albums had passed.

I liked Pryor in the movies I saw of him, realizing that, of course, he had just a poorly written character in "Superman III." But I knew that wasn't what he was famous for. Sometimes I'd catch one of his live standup movies on TV, but always on a basic cable channel where it'd be heavily censored.

Yet I was pretty well aware of his role in the history of comedy and to American culture.

Go figure.

(And here's a bit of trivia I learned from Mel Brooks' commentary on the "Blazing Saddles" DVD: It's well-known that Brooks wanted Pryor for the lead in the movie, but the studio balked because Pryor was a controversial figure. So Brooks had him co-write the script with him instead. According to Mel, Pryor wrote the funny bits for Mongo and other white chracters, while Brooks wrote most of the black characters, and the result is as you see on the screen.)

Another performer I admire but don't collect would be Willie Nelson. At first because I simply didn't like his chosen genre. Now it would be because I simply don't know how to jump in. Buy all the original albums or be satisfied with greatest-hits collections. And you'll notice nowadays that most veteran musical performers' greatest hits can be had in the form of one CD, 2 CDs, or a four CD box set. Then they come out with a new box set with a DVD included. It gives me a headache. Just when when I finally started buying Dylan on CD, and then they finally released remastered versions of the albums I'd just bought. Makes my widdle head spin.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Set Sail That Day for a Five Hour Tour… A Five Hour Tour!

Those reading this blog in the far distant future on may remember Chicago's Rush Hour Blizzard of 2005. Planes sliding off the runway, snarl-ups all over the place. I found myself trying to get from Downers Grove to Park Forest during the worst of it.

I had already needed to stop off for an oil change along the way, so I finished that while still on Ogden Avenue in Downers (Click the title of this post for a map of my route). I was down to about two gallons of gas, but decided to just head out and get some miles under my belt before I stopped again, as it was still 3:30 pm and rush hour was just starting up. I tried to stay off the tollway because I'd heard it was already jammed up, and tried to make it along the older two-lane highways. Of course that was a bigger mistake, because any place where the major thoroughfares met, it would take up to 20 minutes to cross that last block to the intersection. Add to that any old diagonal highways meeting in a "six corner" (like Joliet Road, the old Rt. 66 in the southwest suburbs), and I was looking at half an hour just to traverse the width of a Jewel parking lot. Could have just stopped somewhere for dinner, but I would have been overstuffed or overserved, and traffic still wouldn't have cleared up.

I finally stopped for gas somewhere in Hickory Hills... I just managed to drive for three hours on only one gallon of gas. Another hour and five miles later, I had to park under a viaduct and get out to clear a snowdrift that had built up on my trunk just behind my rear window.

The end result was, I left work at 3 pm, and got home at 8 pm. Average speed: 8 miles per hour. Next moring, I got back to work only a little later than normal, and found that everyone else had the same horror stories.

In a time like that, best I can do is keep some favorite tunes in the car CD and console myself that every other driver on the road was having the same conniptions. And at least an errant 737 didn't hit me.