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September 30, 2005

I yearn for when confusion could heal

Apparation Of St George On The Mount Of Olives
Click images for desktop size: "Apparition Of St George On The Mount Of Olives" by Unknown
I was talking to a friend last night about sports. (How many stories and thoughts begin with that phrase: "I was talking to a friend . . . ")
She raised the question about devotion to pro sports teams and how insane it appeared. I agreed and gave my knee jerk reaction regarding pro soccer teams in Europe and how being a fan was tantamount to belonging to a street gang.
It's a light non-response I realized.
Communities do get excited by the team that represents their city-state. It takes you out of yourself and puts you into a larger, or smaller, world sphere.
But there's another reason too. Pro athletes are young men and, at least in my case and millions of similar kids between the ages of 7 and 13, these young men stride across the city like young tormented gods.
These young gods integrate themselves into the community. They are a part of it.
Devil's Harvest, The X01 (1942)Look at the wake of Hurricane Katrina. What I remember is Brett Favre, QB Green Bay Packers, telling a news conference that the game he devoted himself to wasn't important. He pointed out he was lucky, he knew where his family was and he helped fund a help line to track down the families of others.
The images of members of the New Orleans Saints as they wandered through the SuperDome helping children and consoling the refugees, serving food and changing diapers.
No matter where those athletes lived or where they were raised they proved that they were a part of the community where they played.
Then you go to guys like Matt Linhart, the Heisman Trophy winning QB of the Trojans. This young man at 12 was cock-eyed. He endured several operations. He never dreamed he had a chance to be an athlete, all he wanted to do was to be able to see. He got his miracle and this 22 year old kid spends his free time working with the kids of Compton, helping them play the game that inspired him.
Duante Culpepper, QB Minnesota Vikings, makes no secret of the fact that he was born in prison.
Pretty rough knock for a kid. He spends his spare time working with troubled kids in Minneapolis.
Deon "Prime Time" Sanders, to this day always has 50 tickets to every game he plays in given to kids at local boys clubs. He pays for them out of his own pocket.
You can go on and on but the most shocking wonderful story got kind of ignored. Laveranues Coles is a Wide Receiver for the New York Jets. He works with sexually abused kids in NYC. There are too many of them. Well, one would be too many.
Coles admitted to the press that he had been sexually abused by his step father from the time he was 9 until he was 12.
Coles admits he was lucky. His father went to prison for his crime.
See, even today, a sexually assaulted male is a survivor. He lives with guilt, because, like many rape victims, he believes he was complicit in the crime against him.
Felix Vega
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Felix Vega
It took a lot of guts for Coles to go public, to come out of the shadows. He did it to help other kids in trouble.
So some people who support teams to a mad degree may be just jerks. Some super star athletes are jerks. Some people have to be jerks to survive. It's nothing to hold against them.
But some people are inspired by young men who have proven that their exceptional ability is only enhanced by their being exceptional young men.
At least I think so, that's my experience anyway.

I got blindingly shockingly sick yesterday. It was kind of cool in a detached way. It was a bolt of electric exquisite pain through out my body that drove me to one knee. I was light headed and my vision was just a blur. I don't think it lasted for more than a couple minutes but it felt like eternity there, or maybe that eternity was waiting if I could only reach my hand out.
It was okay though. Lots of fatigue and isolated pain like you feel after a car wreck.
It's over. I survived.
My silly puppy kept licking my face.
I didn't miss any work.

September 28, 2005

Not much to say and too much time to say it

Theo Killjoy 04 Halluci-Nation
Click images for desktop size: "Halluci-Nation" by Theo Killjoy
Not much going on.
It is the best of times. It is the worst of times.
Means situations normal. Hope and pain going side by side.
My job is terrible but I get paid and they keep the deal.
I thought that was all I really wanted. I was right.
I just want to live quiet and play with my puppy.
She's the most interesting thing in my life that I'm comfortable talking about.
When you do anything in this life except peacefully agree with everything you make enemies.
Enemies are not a bad thing to have.
Kiowas say you judge a mans power by the strength of his enemies.
I got creepy ones now I guess, which makes them easier to ignore.
Sylvester2-1I've been wrestling with Movable Type. I haven't converted everything over to it yet.
The WordPress export put this odd really ugly set of dashes at the end of every post! And if I could live with that, then, I can't get the fonts looking right in the Movable Type css.
It reads the same but it looks very different.
I figure that when thats the biggest worry I have, things are going okay. Especially when I know I'll figure it out soon enough.
I have to give more blood tomorrow and continue "The Treatment."
Aside from a few of the side effects, "The Treatment" doesn't bother me much anymore. Pain stops being pain after a while, same as pleasure centers get burned out so do the pain ones.
I got a gift today that touched me deeply.
Part of it was tremendously personal.
The other part was a St Francis Medal, a beautiful one.
All in all a pretty perfect gift.

September 24, 2005

USC (1) 45 Oregon (24) 13

Hopper Edward Reclining Nude
Click images for desktop size: "Reclining Nude" by Edward Hopper
Was awakened at 5:00 AM by a frantic puppy who needed to go out.
I enjoyed the ease of the morning. I noticed that the pain in my body was actually less.
I don't know if it was the early hour or the deep trust in my puppy's eyes. Or thinking of conversations of the night.
I had to go into work. I didn't have a ride home so I decided to leave my puppy at home. It would be good for her. She's too dependent on me.
I missed her.
I had to deal with a large amount of people. Not much of it was pleasant, it wasn't unpleasant it just wasn't fun or good.
It lacked canine.
One person was interesting. He let me ride his brand new bike, a Yamaha 1100 Classic. It was interesting. Mucho power and tons of torque but way to sluggish in the feel of the road. It was like riding a hobby horse, a quick hobby horse but the brakes and the suspension were built for comfort and not for life or death.
Eve (1968) As much fun as that was it better talking to the guy. An old outlaw biker what was most fascinating were his out of style tattoos. I'm old enough to recognize them as the height of yesteryear fashion but by todays standards they looked crude almost comical.
He invited me on an "old-timers" run next week. Last week I might have gone for it, but things calm down and I declined.
My picks for tomorrows NFL games . . . don't laugh.
Home team first:

Buffalo v Atlanta - Atlanta

Miami v Carolina - Carolina

Chicago v Cincinnati - Cincinnati (carson Palmer - The Old Spirit Of Troy)

Indianapolis v Cleveland - Indianapolis (Manning gets it all back)

Jet v Jacksonville - Jacksonville

Minnesota v New Orleans - New Orleans (sentimental pick only)

Philadelphia v Oakland - Philadelphia (This is not a bet - this is a sure thing)

Green Bay v Tampa Bay - Tampa Bay

St Louis v Tennessee - St Louis

Seattle v Arizona - Seattle

San Francisco v Dallas - Dallas (crummy game of the week)

Pittsburgh v New England - New England

San Diego v Giants - San Diego
Dna W 1024
Click images for desktop size: "DNA"
No pointing and laughing at me Sunday night. Well I guess you can. Most likely I'll deserve it.My picks last week ranked me at 342nd for the week and dropped me from 1663 to 2014 for the season.
That's so far from stellar . . . I guess maybe it's just human.

September 22, 2005

They don't back down, not my boys
Gary Usher

Lbrooks Copy
Click images for desktop size: "Louise Brooks"
When I was a kid I read monster magazines. One of the biggest thrills of my young life was when "Castle Of Frankenstein" published a 3 page letter I'd written about films and why monster films were the superior art form.
One day when I was hitting my local news stand - the drug store on San Vincente - I saw a magazine called "Film Comment". It had a yellow cover and an article on some horror film.
I snapped it up.
It wasn't until now that I'm wondering why my local drug store was carrying such an effete type of mag. Blame LA.
I Bury The LivingThe cover story was an over view of King Vidor.
I understood maybe half of it.
I became a huge Vidor fan and secretly wished he'd made horror films. A populist version of Dracula made sense to me.
A monster rejoicing in his monstrosity and then being compelled to rejoin society had it merits too - as long as he ate a lot of people I thought it would be a great movie.
As usual my thoughts are always digressions.
The article on Vidor was written by some guy named Raymond Durgnant.
Some years later, when I was in college I chanced across Durgnant only this time published in a book.
A book on Georges Franju. Now at the time the only thing I knew about Franju was his film released in America as "Dr Faustus Chamber Of Horror" which, then, appealed to me more than it's real title "Les Yeux Sans Visage" - Eyes Without A Face.
Remembering the Vidor article and figuring this Franju guy was a french horror film maker I got the book.
The book was beguiling. Franju didn't make horror films as I thought of them. He was a surrealist who admired Cocteau. He though believed that the true surrealism lay in what we experienced everyday, not in the, in his example, the "putting the telephone in the raspberry jam pot" school.
His proof was his short film his first film, "Le Sang Du Bete" (The Blood Of The Beasts).
This ten minutes may have been the most horrifying film ever made. It's a documentary of a slaughter house told with ice cold black and white photography in every intimate detail.
The killers sing French pop tunes while hot blood cascades around their galoshes. And the banal voice over is read by an innocent 9 year old girl.
Hedley Ralph Two Terriers
Click images for desktop size: "Two Terriers" by Ralph Hedley
Or Franju's next monstrous film, "Un Chien" which explores the bizarre Parisian habit of releasing your dog to the whims of the street when it comes time to take your long summer vacation. told with the same human but distant eyes as "Beasts" we are subjected to the indignities heaped upon a poor little dog.
So powerful was this 12 minute film that it was necessary for Franju to appear on TV several times with the films star in tow, proving he was not as devastated as the film made out.
The film changed what was a good natured habit into the lazy despicable act it truly was. Twelve minutes of horror that changed, if not the world, than at least a city.
I go into detail over Franju's career because Durgnant's book - Franju, is basically a combination of review of all of Franju's films, an interview with Franju and a hodge podge of old Franju interviews.
Durgnant took a difficult subject, an obscure filmmaker who followed an even more obscure path and managed to write a riveting book.
Black And White Study Of A Male Peacock
Click images for desktop size: Black & White Study Of A Male Peacock"
Each chapter was a film. As you read the chapter you began to understand the aesthetics, you began to understand the filmmaker, and you were drenched in the cold bleak love of Durgnant's.
At first there was a compulsion to see all these films, to view them and store them up one at a time so you could feel the fiery passion of Durgnant.
It was another dozen years before I read Northrop Frye's, "Anatomy Of Criticism". At the time of this book the bog wheel was Peter Weller and his "Sign And Meaning", which convinced the world of the auteur theory and espoused semiotics as the only valid mode of viewing life, art and pleasure.
Durgnant didn't subscribe to any theory, like Bazin he only knew what he loved, he quested to understand what he loved, and then he had enough talent to make me love it too.
If nothing else he wrote one of the all time greatest lines. It's brief and it gives an insight into the power of this book - "As we watch the movie we see it transcend dreams which are, after all, mere poetry."
Mere poetry.
Got to love it.
I want, once ion my life to do something that goes beyond being "mere poetry."
My puppy went to the vet today.
Everything is fine. She's very healthy. I worry about her weight. I want her to have a little puppy fat on her, but they assure me her present weight is fine.
In relation to human development she's about 2 years old now, which means she's a maniac always into things, always exploring and nearly always in trouble.
I wouldn't want her any other way.

September 21, 2005

When the clock strikes

Argyros Oumbertos Girl In B
Click images for desktop size: "Girl In Bedroom" by Argyros Oumbertos
I enjoyed having a day off.
I want two days off in a row, but for now this will suffice.
My puppy and I went for a lot of walks today. Did a lot of housework, laundry, yard work etc.
I don't like that most of this seems to have become my responsibility but I'm not going to let that ruin my day.
I am thinking about moving.
I don't want to but  . . .
And there's the concept of moving to someplace instead of just drifting.
I don't think I mind drifting, but I can't do that. I owe that to my puppy.
Pe(1931)-01She was pretty horrible today. We get along so well when it's just us that I am surprised at how much she dislikes other people, and worse how much she over reacts if I'm out of sight for even a minute.
She's getting larger and she's starting to lose her puppy fur. People still boldly approach us in the street. Some are alright and some are just kind of . . . ignorant?
This was one of those days that leads to near panic. At least as near as I get to panic.
I was walking along with my puppy, listening to music (as usual) and I realized how angry I was.
I'm tired of being ill.
I've had enough of it.
I can't believe how I've allowed it to upset my life.
I don't regret any of the decisions I made about my lifestyle but sometimes I can't help but wish I'd never gotten sick.
But it was a beautiful day. Everything seemed clean after the rain and I had friends, a life and a puppy.
Most people don't have one of those let alone all three.
So I kept walking.
And I thought about dogs and children being ill and felt angry and impotent all over again.
I enjoyed my $1 DVD so much I got TWO more. "Hercules Unchained" which was better than I expected it to be. I like cute Italian women . . . and another Double Feature DVD with two Gamera flics . . . I like Gamera, the giant fire breathing, jet propelled flying turtle . . . turtle?? Yeah, giant turtle. But, hey man, he beat Godzilla!
I put them on and then encoded a few dozen m4a's.
ACC encoding just makes mp3 look primitive. Even with all the brilliant work being put into the LAME encoder, ACC is faster, has fewer problems, fewer artifacts and produces smaller files to achieve transparency.
I got an email from the high school coach. I admire that he was trying to pump me for info. I find it amusing that somehow I'm perceived as an offensive "genius."
Hell, I like being flattered even if I don't quite believe it. At least he didn't call me an offensive guru.
I hate being called a guru.
I did nothing today about moving the site back to Movable Type . . .
It just fatigued me to think about it.
I'm also still on the same treatment for another week.

The storm came from out of nowhere

Donald'sgolfgame
Click images for desktop size: "Donalds Golf Game" by Carl Barks
I got paid today.
I have enough for rent, the vet and my meds.
I think that's cool.
I even have enough for food for me and my puppy. And Puppy treats!
That's even cooler.
And I have a day off tomorrow.
Life is meant for this.
I spent a dollar on a DVD. A double feature DVD: Wild Guitar, which is a goofy film starring Arch Obler Jr, directed by his dad. It's interesting because in a few years, this baby faced actor with the big hair would turn in one of the all time great performances in James Landis' "The Sadist".
Here the music is a joke, the guitar is not too wild but it's diverting enough and fun.
The other flic was awesome. "The Beatnicks"
It's not a great movie but it has a lot of energy, a bad plot, some incandescent cinematography and it was directed by the guy who gave Bullwinkle J Moose his voice!
Legend Of The 7 Golden VampiresBut it also has Peter Breck. How Breck was not a superstar and ended up on a TV show is beyond me.
Here he's not quite brilliant but moving there. He plays the hot cool sexy psychotic killer, who is there because a hot cool sexy psychotic killer is the best way to have some plot when you've no other ideas.
He's not held in check so sometimes he's too much, but most of the time there's a talent there that goes beyond the hair and profile and into dementia.
Sam Fuller exploited that veneer. Breck should have gotten an Oscar 4 years after this flic for his stunning work in one of the all time great films, "Shock Corridor". The genius Breck displayed there is hinted at here.
I liked it plenty.
I also was given a glass table that I'm using for the TV stand in my room. Yes, my house has devolved into a room and a yard. That's okay. My puppy and I like the yard and we can survive in the room.
My room still feels sparse, which I like, but is now pretty livable. Not perfect, but livable.
It has the lightness and ease that I like. It feels open and a room where you can play with your puppy and then think big thoughts . . . I'm not sure about what but big big thoughts nonetheless.
Tomorrow I get a mini-evaluation and pick up my drugs. My puppy gets another class in her therapy dog training.
The training is helping her feel better about herself.
Thought some about football today. It's a great game.
I've been offered a position at one of the high schools for next season. As a volunteer. I have a debt to pay and I can't accept money for working with kids - ever. They have some good kids.
Football is a great game. Nowadays most people watch it and forget the humanity behind it. They see it as a giant video game and forget the pain, the preparation.
When I look at young people playing sports I see so much in them, so much that is positive and needing direction. It humbles me because I know there's not much I can offer them but some guidance, some support and some respect . . . and drills, lots and lots of bone wearying drills. After a season we'll stand as champions, win or lose my players always know they are champions.
Cry For Dawn
Click images for desktop size: "Cry For Dawn"
With a little bit of luck I'll have this site moved to Movable Type 3.2 by this weekend. It takes some time as I like the way it looks and I'm trying to get the same look in Movable Type.
I'm not good at that stuff so it's a struggle for me, particularly as Movable Type changed the whole way they handle css now.
I guess it's better. Everyone says it's better, so who am I to disagree. It's just more confusing for me.
Movable Type is more secure than WordPress, I think. It gives a tighter sense of control over the look and feel of itself.
I expect to be a bit happier about things.
And the RSS feeds are definitely better. I'm a big advocate of RSS.

September 19, 2005

She broke my wrist with a red hot iron. Because I was reaching for hunk of lousy chocolate she was keeping for a cake. I killed the witch two nights later. With a knife. I was 11. They sent me to reform school.
Alan Ladd

Vanitas Still Life Wga
Click images for desktop size: "Still Life" by Vanitas
I am definitely no good at predicting the NFL.
If I'd bet $10 a game against the spread I'd be up $10 . . .
I've been neglecting to input some of the more mundane things in my life. Just that way sometimes. It's trying to be significant in my own mind. Like if I ignore it, it will cease to exist, like the jokes about the small gods.
My blood results came in last Weds. They were not very good but they showed positive signs. My red blood cell count is up to 4.1. My cholesterol is still stunning - 72, but my HDL (the good cholesterol) has dropped to 36. They want it at 50.
So as much as I dislike the pill I have empirical proof. I hate empirical proof and would prefer going on stupid ill informed gut instinct and forego the side effects and sail on blissfully until it couldn't happen anymore.
My puppy has been a set of small disasters, costly ones but not her fault. She is really a treasure to me.
The worst problem is that she gets frantic if she can't see me. As she spends most of her time with me either sleeping, gnawing on me, or being told NO! I don't think this is healthy for her.
Theo Killjoy 10 Malice
Click images for desktop size: "Malice" by Theo Killjoy
She has a yeast infection in her left ear and is loosing hair over her eyes.
All the tests for mange, etc came back negative. If it doesn't clear up after her spaying (it might be hormonal) she'll have to go to a doggie dermatologist.
Then the little thing gets so excited about playing that she jumped almost to my shoulder and then couldn't control it. She landed on her back. She's still playful but that night she yelped all most every time she moved.
X-rays sowed nothing was broken, so, if I can keep her from jumping all over the place it might clear up on its own or we'll have to find a canine chiropractor . . .
This weekend my housemate and I helped a friend move some furniture to her new duplex.
I was appalled that she wanted to move this crappy press-wood construction that pretended to be a computer desk.
We got it on the truck. While we were unloading it I grabbed it around the middle, lifted it . . .
IT EXPLODED!
Suddenly I was holding just two side rails while about 14 pieces of wood were falling around my feet . . .
You can insert your own humorous comments here. I had to hear them all Saturday.

September 18, 2005

USC 70 Arkansas 17
My Picks For Today

The Wild Bunch Poster Rough night.
Worried about my puppy. Vet this morning for her. It's okay.
My Picks for Today in BOLD. Home team first. Tennessee - Baltimore Tampa Bay - Buffalo Chicago - Detroit Indianapolis - Jacksonville Cincinnati - Minnesota Carolina - New England Houston - Pittsburgh Philadelphia - San Francisco Seattle - Atlanta Arizona - St Louis Green Bay - Cleveland Jets - Miami Denver - San Diego Oakland - Kansas City A lot of road teams.
Can't pick against Peyton Manning, even though I like Jacksonville and think Jack Del Rio is a fine coach. With or without Rothlesberger the Steelers have too much in the tank.
Carson Palmer is getting ready to explode this season, even against an improved Viking defence.
Atlanta and Seattle is the most interesting game. Seattle might win at home and have to if they want to be taken seriously.

September 17, 2005

I'm just re-telling you

Becchi Luigi The Letter
Click images for desktop size: "The Letter" by Luigi Becchi
A goofy but fun day.
I'm exhausted tired and looking to my day off. A day to do nothing.
I'd planned to go see Div II football today but ended up helping a friend move . . . with my housemate and his truck. He drove into a ditch and we had to wait for 90 minutes for a tow truck.
I, being of that bent, had fun with the whole thing. It was better than the game, any game.

I'm waiting for the USC-Arkansas match tonight but fear that I'll pass out before that.
So to fill up time I'm just retelling -posting some things that we're sent to me today.

A 92-year-old, petite, well-poised and proud man, who is fully dressed each morning by eight o'clock, with his hair fashionably coifed and shaved perfectly applied, even though he is legally blind, moved to a nursing home today. His wife of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary. After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, he smiled sweetly when told his room was ready.
King Of The Rocket MenAs he maneuvered his walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of his tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on his window.
"I love it," he stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy.
"Mr. Jones, you haven't seen the room; just wait.""That doesn't have anything to do with it," he replied.
"Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn't depend on how the furniture is arranged ... it's how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it. It's a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do.
Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open I'll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I've stored away. Just for this time in my life, old age is like a bank account. You withdraw from what you've put in.
So, my advice to you would be to deposit a lot of happiness in the bank account of memories. Thank you for your part in filling my memory bank.
I am still depositing.
Remember the five simple rules to be happy:
1. Free your heart from hatred.
2. Free your mind from worries.
3. Live simply.
4. Give more.
5. Expect less.

And then this one, which, I admit I don't get . . .

After three weeks in the Garden of Eden, God came to visit Eve. "So, how is everything going?" inquired God.
"It is all so beautiful, God," she replied.
"The sunrises and sunsets are breathtaking, the smells, the sights, everything is wonderful, but I have just one problem.
Michael Parkes
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Michael Parkes
It's these breasts you have given me.The middle one pushes the other two out and I am constantly knocking them with my arms, catching them on branches and snagging them on bushes. They're a real pain," reported Eve.
And Eve went on to tell God that since many other parts of her body came in pairs, such as her limbs, eyes, ears, etc..........she felt that having only two breasts might leave her body more "symmetrically balanced.""That's a fair point," replied God, "But it was my first shot at this, you know. I gave the animals six breasts, so I figured that you needed only half of those, but I see that you are right. I will fix it up right away."
And God reached down, removed the middle breast and tossed it into the bushes.
Three weeks passed and God once again visited Eve in the Garden of Eden
"Well, Eve, how is my favorite creation?""Just fantastic," she replied, "But for one oversight. You see, all the animals are paired off. The ewe has a ram and the cow has her bull. All the animals have a mate except me. I feel so alone."
God thought for a moment and said, "You know, Eve, you are right. How could I have overlooked this? You do need a mate and I will immediately create a man from a part of you. Now let's see............where did I put the useless boob?"
Now doesn't THAT make more sense than that stuff about the rib?

September 15, 2005

My mind is made of gravel

Icy Cold River, Ontario
Click images for desktop size: "Icy Cold River, Canada"
Everything goes from lightness to heaviness and back again.
I hate the phone sometimes but like getting phone calls from people who just want to chat.
My puppy got a sponge bath yesterday. She looks much less pathetic but is still losing her hair. Odd. All the tests come back negative.
My friend suggested an allergy. Which is a solid thing to explore. I'm trying to think what new thing I introduced into her life.
She's happy and playful. I had a surprise inspection at work today and she was just about as perfectly behaved as any wild young hooligan could be.
I love my puppy and sometimes I think she likes me.
On my football game pool thing I am ranked 1972 out of 59,000.
It's a free pool via roadrunner. What a terrible start!
I got a surprise inspection at work from a corporate manager. I got my schedule changed to something that I think will be more livable for me.
It was fine. I drank 4 cups of coffee at lunch.
I ate a nice salad tonight with avacado and seaseme dressing. It made me really crabby and uncomfortable.

September 13, 2005

NIAGRA FALLS! Slowly I turned . . .

Pretty Copy My puppy got very ill last night.
Reaction to a vaccination.
I picked up a trace of it today. It was a fear. Even with oral chemo your resistance drops and your immune system has bigger things to worry about.
It's okay.
I'm greatly concerned about my NFL football picks.
A long time ago my wife was always excited. There's a local paper in LA and they ran a weekly contest for picking the winners of 25 college games a week. I could pick college winners at a near perfect rate, even against the spread. So she was always winning free dinners, movie tickets and the like.
It was a 3 month ritual. The paper came out on Tuesdays and she would follow me around the house, newspaper in hand, and dutifully record my picks.
Four Flies On Grey Velvet (2)Then on Saturdays she would watch all the scores with rapt attention. Frowning at me if I missed the point spread.
Some how she won about 2/3'rds of the time.
When I would lose she was very disconcerted and actually questioned whether or not I was paying attention!
This year I'm doing an NFL thing.
You would think that with the pros the picks would be cleaner and more subject to analysis. Maybe they are, but not for me.
While it's easy to assess match-ups and emotional turns in college ball I'm bewildered by men who play for the money.
I think I lost over half of my picks for this past weekend.
The NFL! When it's good it's the best, but I still can't predict the games.
So in real life my ride home from work didn't show up so I had to walk the 8 or so miles home. It was dark and it was raining.
My puppy and I were having a pretty good time. I had a couple of dizzy spells and I get aggravated that there aren't any sidewalks most of the time, but we found some dead things and other interesting road side oddities.
After about 4 miles of exploring Dr J happened by. I didn't see here but I heard the car skid on it brakes and then roar in reverse back towards us. It was her.
She yelled, "What in God's name are you doing walking in the rain! Hello Shelby!" Shelby is my puppy. I liked that she didn't get yelled at.
So I got a ride home with a lot of lecturing I didn't pay much attention to. I was thinking about Pearl Jam and the Grunge scene and the Foo Fighters. And I still prefer The Alkaline Trio.

--------

September 12, 2005

I want what I want and I want it now

Michael Parkes02
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Michael Parkes
Sometimes you just reach a limit.
Cops know this. Big city cops know it anyway.
They know that a guy will take it and take it for years and for years. Take it every day.
Then, for reasons even they don't even pretend to understand, suddenly the guy just won't take it anymore and they bash in someone's face with a crowbar or they remember the lessons of Charles Whitman.
Nothing sets them off that anyone can see. There's no place to point a finger and say, "See, this is what caused it."
It's just the edge is honed too fine and the heart can't take being shaved anymore.
I'm not at that fine an edge yet. I'm the type who'll never get that far.
Pity.
I can relate though.
I have that prickly skin feeling that calls for something mad and bad.
Rio Bravo X01 (1959)I should join the Hells Angels and go on a town terrifying run riding alongside Marlon Brando and Lee Marvin.
Except I don't have a bike.
I should go to a bar and pick a fight with someone bigger and fitter than me.
Except I don't drink.
I should embezzle millions from my company and steal a lear jet and somehow fly it down to Rio and live in sun and a rich guy's poverty.
No. Forget Rio. Fly to Monte Carlo and put it all on 36 (Why 36? Why not!). A bet so large they have to get the casino owner down to okay the play. And when the croupier spins the wheel you don't watch the ball you stare into the casino owner's eyes.
It doesn't matter whether you win or loose, as long as the ball is clattering in the grooves you're living on the edge of possibility. You feel alive. Playing for the rest of your life on stolen money and stolen time, and somehow this moment in a casino with a bet so large that the whole place has gotten silent, an atmosphere so pregnant that drunken billionaires are shushed. And when the ball stops clattering and the attentive crowd gasps it doesn't matter who won or lost.
You and the casino owner understand becasue you smile at each other before either of you looks to see what number hit.
But I won't do any of that.
It's not who I am.
I'm feeling sadly nostalgic for the past. Even the bad times seem better than this.
I understand why I feel this way. I was wondering, idly, if this was part of the personality change they warned me about, a side effect to the drug.
It's not. All it is is the lack of the ability or the unwillingness to see through other people's eyes. Too much pain to think about the other guy's pain, sort of thing.
I don't like it.
It's not who I am either.
I used to have teammates who rejoiced in inflicting damage to opponents. I understood them then. I understand them better now.
I just wanted to win.
To finish it off my puppy is sick and my football picks were terrible.
Shark Cycle

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September 11, 2005

Just waiting

Yellow House Cleaned house today and felt the physical distress erupt into pointless rage.
Calmed down because I have a puppy who needs care. She has a yeast infection in her ear.
You can't stew around when you have a puppy who needs you.
I did think that in 4 years our government has proven it's sheer ineptness. Like international keystone cops we haven't come close to capturing the most wanted man in the world. We took down a nation because we didn't like the guy. We're watching the finest young people we have lay bleeding in forgein sand out of massive ego and desire for increased profits for cowards who run and hide from the pain and agonies of those they take money to protect.
A good day to stand quiet. I'm too old and disinterested to lead a revolution.

September 10, 2005

You'll never have to hear surf music again
Jimi Hendrix

Death Valley Sand Dunes, California
Click images for desktop size: "Death Valley"
Hendrix spent a lot of time studying the double picking left handed playing of Dick Dale.
Dale sort of single handedly invented a genre of music. He made a new voice for the guitar, a voice that smelt of salt water, throbbing power and vain lonely reflection.
And it was fun.
Why Hendrix, probably the greatest player ever, thought people should be deprived sun and fun has perplexed Californians, at least Southern Californians, for lifetimes.
It's not easy to play. Tone really is major. Double picking is de riguer. Metal freaks playing 32nd notes at 200 bpm don't have a thing on surf and they're only going for speed and dexterity most of the time, they're not worried about a mood, an emotion.
Surf was big until the Beatles came over. Then it had a resurgence during the punk movement, driven by guys with punk rage but an ability to play, then in the 90's "Pulp Fiction" bought it back. Surf - too cool for words.
Mothra A while ago a friend of mine and my puppy's asked me to play some spanish guitar.
this kid asked me to play and loaned me a guitar. I did a song that I thought was appropriate. I was pretty shocked at how badly I played it and would have gotten rid of it as a failed experiment. Our friend got a bee sting and got sick (How do I know what an epipen is?) and asked about the tracks.
even though my playing was poor, and I was hitting clinkers all over the place, I sent them.
So today I got to borrow the kids studio again.
It was fun because it was cheap stuff. It's been too long since I had to try and make cheap stuff sound good. I wonder if he'll notice that I cleaned up some scratchy pots and sliders and knocked the buzz out of his METAL cased mixing board.
I messed with his electronics but not with his instruments. His gear I just did the best I could with.
The track is just to make me feel a little bit better about my poor playing and to knock out some sadness and ennui. Playing music makes me forget how much I'm hurting.

Canadian Beach

My puppy's breeders left today. They stopped by my job to say goodbye and to give me a gift. I was suddenly very sad to see them go.
I like them and I liked they're big dog. I think the big dog liked me too. He at least liked to play jokes on me.
Funny, when I wrote that my little puppy started to wail and howl! She was asleep, on her back, but she cried so plantifully. I woke her and she was groggy.
Her wail was a good descriptor of how I feel. Poor thing.


Black Steel 1024
Click images for desktop size: "Black Steel"
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September 9, 2005

Badges? Badges! I no gots to show you no stinking badges!
Alphonso Bedoya

Theo Killjoy 03 Grey Street
Click images for desktop size: "Gray Street" by Theo Killjoy
I'm beat.
Waiting for the world to fall away into it's own place.
Odd day. People I barely know came in to work to talk to me. Most of it was pretty interesting and some of it was dull. That's people for you.
There was this 40 something woman who was terrified of her mother. To me she appeared self confident if a little bit masculine in a banlon shirt and jeans, topped with a too short haircut.
The woman's 14 year old son had been complaining to this woman's mother about how abused he was: he didn't have "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas". (A cool game, I think.)
The mother was taking her to task for not totally spoiling her grandson. Apparently she was dumping out and projecting a lot of guilt.
What I thought was interesting was that a 40 something woman would take abuse and cringe in front of her mother.
That she would talk about it and still cringe, that it upset her so that she needed to talk about it with a stranger.
Blacklegion(1936)-01Then she uttered a phrase I've heard too many times.
I can't say that all women with low self esteem have mom's who've told them this. I can say that about 95% of the abused women, the self destructive women, the women full of self loathing, have told me that there mom's said this to them, over and over again:
"You're so smart. It's a shame you don't have any common sense."
It seems like a pretty simple phrase but I've seen the way it's warped women and turned them into something they're not.
Like the nymphomaniacs and the hookers who's moms seemed to delight in telling them, "You're not ugly but no man is ever going after you for your looks."
And those are the moms who stand there in court or at the shelters looking for pity from men like me because they only wanted what was best for their babies and wailed about how their daughter could turn into this.
As if this wasn't a totally human thing. When I was crueller and younger I would tell these mothers their daughters were more attractive than they ever were.
All of this is still better then the woman I'd never met before - she was about 5'6". 210 and built like a defensive end. She drove a brand new black Dodge pick up truck.
She sat down across from me and started to berate her daughter in law for not fulfilling her "wiferly" duties at home. And now her son was in prison because he had to go looking elsewhere and he got seduced by a tramp 12 year old.
I told her I didn't think a 12 year old could be very seductive. It was apparent she was a catch as catch can street fighter because she looked at the scars on my face and hands and decided I didn't get them in a car wreck.
It took her a couple of squinty eyed moments to decide it was safer to attack me verbally while she was ostensibly defending her son.
Because it was her son I didn't bother telling her what I think of men who molest children. I let her rant and thought I understood why this pedophile son of hers had to turn to dominating a child in order to feel like he was a man.
Understanding is not acceptance and I still feel that capital punishment is more in place for pedophiles than for anyone else on this planet.
Sit 1680
Click images for desktop size: "Sit"
A couple of young guys came in later and talked about life and women.
That was pretty dull stuff but passed the time.
Thing is I still have no idea why any of them came in at all.
But the day ended with a flourish and a peal of trumpets. My puppy's relative came by.
It was wonderful and my puppy, on seeing another black dog like herslef, a black dog so poised, powerful and beautiful, found herself filled with a surge of confidence.
So it was an okay day, except for the pain.

September 8, 2005

I'm going to go to heaven so do you want to kill me some more
Death In Vegas

SpawnFeel worn to some sort of nub today - beat up, put down, thrown down.
The massive amount of blood they took for testing is wearing me out. I think that it's too much to give every other week, but it's the way it is.
In the midst of that a casual visit to the vet turned into an epic ordeal, with the final outcome being that I'm suddenly very very poor. And there's not much to really worry about my puppy.
My puppy's breeders came in to town to pick up another of their dogs who has had spinal surgery and rehab. I enjoyed them but it took a massive amount of will to not seem nervous about Shelby's ordeal or in pain. I wanted to hear them talk about stuff, no I wanted to hear them talk about dogs. That was great. I liked their appreciation for the beautiful dog, my puppy, that we've put together, together.
I'm trying to figure everything out now and put it all into someplace in my head. I need to be able to think to do that and today all I can do is hold tight.

September 7, 2005

The word together is 3 words: to get her
Kenneth Patchen

BrothersgrimmPain to the max today. Sometimes you wonder how you can endure it, but you do because what else can you do?
My next book is a huge sprawly thing. Kenneth Patchen's "The Journal Of Albion Moonlight".
To the beat generation this book comes close to an updating of the bible but told with a rage that makes even the old testament seem tolerant.
It espouses love but it's not a simpering love: it's the sacred love between two people that enables them to perform miracles, for each other and for the world.
Thus it is a savage love.
I have a signed first edition that I bought from a book antiquarian. Shame on me.
This is a living work that can be constantly re-read. The words change. Not just our interpretation of them the actual words reshape themselves on the page.
Like his primary influence, William Blake, Patchen illuminates his manuscript. This was published by New Directions. James Laughlin was a publisher without much interest in the bottom line. In many ways his tiny publishing house has done more to change the world than a war.
Greatescape(1963)-93(Poster-Art]Laughlin endured the fights with the typesetters, as in just one Carrollian example the words on the page descend into tinier and tinier fragments until they are just a string of letters that encircle themselves around a man's throat and hang him unto death.
This is not the kind of stuff Random House asked from it's press guys.
But it shows the power of this book and defines the essence of a masterwork. From the writer, to the publisher, to the printing press to the craftsman who set up the linotype that would grace and illuminate Patchen's fine etchings.
Owning this book is to own a piece of art and what better art can there be when you can shove it in your back pocket and read it on the bus, appreciate it on the toilet?
Moonlight is a novel . . . well, it starts out as one.
It's a journal but it's a journal of the months of summer of 1943, the midst of WWII. It relives and re-sees these 4 months over and over, always through the same eyes.
Sometimes as a precursor to that physical theory, you know the SciFi one where every time a human makes a decision a new universe is created that reflects the effect of a yes decision to compliment the universe created by the no decision. It's a comforting thought, I suppose that enables us to imagine that all the good things we deserve will come to us if only in another universe. (But why only human decisions?)
In Patchen's world there are no good decisions when war and murder are involved.
The framework ramshackle plot is this: Albion Moonlight and his buds are crossing No Mans land in search of God, a real guy who calls himself Roivas (comic book fans get that right away). they are hampered in their quest by a massive pack of wild dogs that harries their trail. They live in fear of the time when the dogs will grow great enough in confidence to attack and overwhelm them.
As they make their way on the quest they deal with death and murder and the murder we call war. they meet Christ and Hitler and beautiful women.
It's Moonlights journal so it all has this personal slant but as they progress he forgets to date things and then when we hit August we snap back to May and the first step of the journey. It's the first step only with full knowledge of everything that happened before.
Cowboy BanjoBut we don't learn much, even recreating. We just get more confused. We're human and even the worst of us has principals or morals or anti-principals that force us to take the same choices.
Because it's Patchen we get a lot of beauty, sometimes so beautiful it makes our own life seem barren.
Because it's Patchen we get insights into the modern world as well as the past. He explains mass murder and serial killers with a frightening ease of logic.
And because it's Patchen it has moments of mind breaking hilarity.
It's a hopeless book. Patchen believed that art could recreate mankind. World War II made him doubt the force of his own work. Moonlight is a blunt instrument reshaping his own ethos and dragging us along.
He holds the world up and makes us see it, re-inspect it, acknowledge it's reality. This is a sure path to madness. He knows it.
In the end Albion Moonlight isn't much of a story. It's a song, an art show and a light show. It's intended to worm it's way into you and make you a person.

Bad day today. Ended up taking an hour nap in a place and time I wasn't expecting to. Good thing I had a doctor dog with me.

September 6, 2005

My heart lives in the sun

Michael Parkes19
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Michael Parkes
Mediocrily bad day.
Too much having to be polite to people when all I wanted was for them to leave me alone.
Even my puppy was grumpy.
Then, worse luck, some kid with a band asked me if I was who I used to be. He wants me to join his band . . .
With sickening speed he sent me a few mp3's of his stuff, I guess with dead earnest seriousness that I'd want to help and help him build his home recording studio.
I like kids to have dreams. I wasn't flattered that he wanted me to be part of his. I wouldn't have minded bashing around on the guitar with him, but the whole idea of a commitment makes it dull and heartless to me.
As I told him, "When I was 20 it was fun, lots of chicks, success just always around the corner."
He asked about the recording deal and I told him how it worked, we were never paid, we were given advances against sales and after 3 albums still owed the record company money.
Doctor Butcher M.D. (Zombie Holocaust What I liked most about the kid was that my dead pan boring monologue did nothing to diminish his excitement and enthusiasm.
He told me about his dreams and his plans. He went into wonderful detail about his recording studio, an isolated building in the middle of 6 acres of pine forest.
He spoke with love about the gear he had and with far reaching eyes about the stuff he dreamed of having.
We spoke about guitars and amps and about tone. Guitar players will almost always talk about tone. It's a reverential subject to us and invariably will end up with John Lee Hooker who is the only great guitar player who never had tone, but made up for it with stultifying rhythm.
He sent me some mp3's of his stuff. Today the pain was near crippling. The idea of listening to his stuff depressed me beyond belief. If its good, what does he need my input for? If it's bad I'll end up spending time thinking about what's wrong with it and how it could be better.
I don't think I have time or energy for him and his excitement and enthusiasm deserves my respect and my help.
So I was lazy and self obsessed enough to forward one his tracks to a special friend and now I'm waiting for feedback to see if I should even listen.
I bought a bike today. Spent $5 on it.
I might have gotten ripped off . . . It's a Keno english racer, made in Japan . . . Keno?
It's got two flat tires, a red seat and lots of red rust. The mechanics still work though, at least the gears shift and the calipers grip when you pull the levers . . .
I thought that it was too tall a bike for me. When I sat on it my feet couldn't touch the ground! It took me a while to realize the seat was fully extended by like 8 inches and I could lower it . . .
I'm going to fill up the tires tomorrow, wait over night to see if they explode or leak.
I'm afraid of it.
Cisco Kid
Click images for desktop size: "Cisco Kid"
For some reason my comment yesterday about getting one B my entire life has elicited some odd response. I guess it's a poor chart of comparison.I'm not particularly self deprecating or modest but I guess the better standard would be to point out that I had to take the SAT 3 times in order to get a 761 which qualified me for my athletic scholarship (NCAA regs.)
A lot of people always found it funny that I scored higher on the GRE that I did on the SAT. I have no idea why.
I think it's telling that people comment more on my grades then they do on Berlioz. Shows how effective some of my communication skills are.
But that's why I have a puppy. All she wants from me is a pet on the head and treats . . . lot and lots of treats . . . lots of treats . . .
More blood work tomorrow. I have no idea if this much pain means things are working or not. It's like this kind of constant agony should be penance for a sin I only dreamed of committing. It should be a cure for slow death.

September 5, 2005

A life's worth living
Uncle Tupelo

7
Click images for desktop size: "Marilyn Monroe"
Relaxed, took a long walk with my puppy, napped, took it easy today.
What I forgot to keep up was the vigilance required when I'm policing the pain.
It didn't get worse. Without a gun, whip and chair to keep it in order, to keep it way back there in the corner, out of sight, the Illness kind of roared and decided to take over. Like Doris Day took over Rock Hudson . . . Obscure reference?

I want to write about the great books I've read, books that opened up my eyes to the possibilities beyond the ball field. The conception of life beyond X's and O's, sweating and running.
It's funny, I've never had an IQ test where I scored lower than 165 and I never got a grade in school higher than a B. And I had to work for that B!
Just goes to show the reliability of those Weschler test boxes I guess.
I forgot where the synergy was going but this was supposed to be a lead in to "The Memoirs Of Hector Berlioz".
Some people might not know who the guy is. Pity.
Cool And The Crazy (1958)His face used to be on the 10 franc note. He wrote music. The reason the French revere him is not just because he wrote great music, he did, but because during the storming of the Bastille he wrote the Marsielle. He was a guy who wrote music. That's all he cared about. Oh, and liberty.
For some background, as a young punk roaming the streets of Paris he wrote TWO pieces that are still in serious rotation to this day. One of them, "Symphony Fantastique" is so tripped out the mind reels.
All music it recounts an opium fever dream. A dude falls in love with a chick but it's no go so he decides to do himself in via OD. The music is this OD. The first movement is Passions - about how much he loves her. It goes on and is pretty intense and lively stuff. Then there's a big pastoral movement where he thinks he has a shot at her but things loom ugly and it becomes apparent it will never happen.
He murders her! He's caught tried and sent to the guillotine. (The dude's head being chopped off may be the best musical joke ever.)
It doesn't end then. The dude goes to hell and there is tormented by the demonic spirit of his beloved for eternity.
Berlioz introduced something cool. He called it the idee' fixe. A snatch of melody that represented his lover. It changes through out the piece but there in the finale it is a distorted nightmarish scream.
This is cool stuff. Very cool and, for music, wilder than anything until rock n roll.
Berlioz decided to keep a journal - a non-electronic blog.
When he goes back and remembers it childhood it is fascinating stuff. He writes about his life in the country side and notes how everything in his life led him to music. Everything except his father who dreamed of his son having a good life as a country doctor.
It is about this time that the book becomes a daily journal, where Berlioz recounts dissecting human corpses and of eating his meager lunch in the morgue. He lived a life of near starvation attending to his studies but waiting for the next big concert where he grew to intimately know the musicians of the symphony.
Iles Isoles
Click images for desktop size: "Iles Isolees'"
The story can't be described. It's a man's life and his love.
He was proven to be a great man and he hung with some of the great men of his time. Their opinions of him are laughable but notable.
While they were off being brilliant and fey Berlioz was starving to death but still managed to create his Symphony Of 1000! He created a massive blast of sound like nothing that had ever been heard before.
He positioned four small brass bands around the warehouse he converted for his concerts. The bands were to suck people into his Lachrymose so that they would feel surrounded by the angels guiding them to heaven.
For Puccinni he wrote the elegant "Harold In Italy", then he wrote the tiny ornate piece "The Infancy Of Christ".
Then after all of this he died a pauper. His only possessions when he died were his guitar (seriously) and a silver Baton given to him by Mendelsohn to mark the emotions his music wrought in his soul.
It's a great book giving a true unvarnished view of a mind consumed with genius. True genius that never compromised and hurled itself against the wall of hell to entertain us.

September 4, 2005

It's like having a party when you're not invited
~Rocket From the Tomb

Johnnyvegas Geisha
Click images for desktop size: "Geisha" by Johnny Vegas
Waiting before I fire up the barbecue.
I feel decadent - grilling a piece of salmon, some chili peppers and an ear of corn.
Tried looking forward and saw no great dramas unfolding, I mean the bad dramas. Drama will always happen. Someone is always willing to bring their drama into your life. The less you want it the more they'll justify the need for you to be involved; no matter what has to be contrived.
It's one of the reasons I'm always smiling: No matter how at peace you are with the world someone will always be knocking at your door with a gun (or the emotional equivalent) in their hand, tired eyes and a bit of trouble that they need to lay in front of you.
I wouldn't have it any other way.
If I was prone to mental illness I'd say this was the day it came to fruition. The pain has gotten so severe that it sometimes seem like I'm not in my body but living in some shell inside of it that's impervious to the pain and discomfort.
Werewolf Of London I'm pretty sure that's a symptom of schizophrenia.
I'm not schizophrenic but right now I'd trade this pain for it.
To celebrate this new armor within the flesh feeling my puppy and I took and impromptu stroll that turned into an eight point two mile hike. With the bright sun and the happy puppy it reminded me a lot of my life or death ambles through the desert with Ethel, my little dog who died. I looked back on it with nostalgia and no sense of regret.
No matter how bad something seemed our mind protects us from anything it decides we can't handle. It also means that no matter how bad something seems at the time only an idiot would shut out that beauty exists even in the midst of hell.
today my puppy and I went to a pawn shop to scope out their guitars. It was closed but we peeked through the barred windows.
Some nice looking wood in there but a pawn shop this good has someone who knows guitars - little chance of the Gibson-Humminbird going for 25 bucks.
After that we just sort of wandered and explored our neighborhood. We liked it.
When the walk seemed to go on to long we stood between some cars at a drive up window at a fast food joint. I had to order a "breakfast biscuit" for them them to give me a cup of water for my puppy.
I figured that I'd eat the biscuit and give my puppy the sausage patty.
Wrong on both counts. The biscuit was vile - loaded with grease and sugar, I guess in a vain attempt to make it edible. I threw it away.
More incredible is that my puppy refused to eat the sausage patty! She mouthed it then dropped it. I picked it up and offered her bits of it as we continued her walk but she got to the point where she wouldn't even take it and drop it!
She did drink the cup of water though. All of it. So it wasn't a total dietary loss.
Then have just sort of "wasted" the day playing with the puppy and watching football on TV.
I thought it was a great day and it's not even half finished yet.
And Not To Brag or anything: USC 63 Hawaii 17

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September 3, 2005

We who are about to die

Summer
Click images for desktop size: "Summer" by Scott
The football game was totally RAH!
The quality of the play was poor and the coaching far worse. But the young men on the team played with beauty, grace and intensity.
Either of my Texas teams would have shredded these kids. Even my worst European team could have easily stayed on the field with them.
That's hardly the real point and did nothing to detract from the joy I feel in seeing people, particularly kids, strive to accomplish something bigger than themselves.
I saw a lot of things that could be easily improved in the individuals. Simple things that would call for some special drills and some speed and weight room work.
I spoke to the HC and we're going to talk after the weekend.
Once a coach always a coach . . .
The oddest thing was how quickly I was picked out as an outsider.
F451(1966)-01The puppy, the dark glasses at night probably helped. What finally hit me though was what a small town this is.
There were probably about 2000 people there and it was apparent that everyone knew or was familiar with everyone else . . . except me.
That didn't stop them from talking to me or from pointing out their son or daughter on the field. (The cheerleaders were cute and charming too - only the band - all 12 of them - lacked something "big city")
This is what fills me with hope and makes the dreariness and perceived loneliness of life seem a joke.
There is so much wonderful and all it takes is the ability to survive the storm and stand with your hand held out in the rain and then be unafraid to touch.
I also got the Etymotic earphones I've been curious about.
They are very cool and I'm totally impressed. I still hold the Stax Lambda Pros as the ultimate headphones. They burn out your brain cells with the sounds while blessing your ears with sonic kisses.
The Etymotics don't fall that far from them. Seriously. I'd put these teeny tiny earbuds as just a half step below Grado's.
What I love is getting that killer sound and music and no one really knows you have them on. They turn your head into a concert hall.
Even the horrifically mastered Kid Rock tunes show detail and tangible bolts of sonic joy.
I bolted my job early. This will be the first time since I started that I've had two whole days off in a row. Even my puppy is cranked. We plan on football and adventures and we have nearly 40 bucks to do it in!
We shall rule this tiny part of the planet and laugh out loud.

September 2, 2005

The darkness below

Transformers
Click images for desktop size: "Transformers"
When you have a mind that drifts along on white noise and power-chords you start to appreciate things, odd things maybe, like lists.
I like lists. an orderly straightening up and reconciliation of the things we know.
It's a measurable like how much weight you're pressing or how many hundredths of a second you cut off you 100 meter time.
I like measurable and lists are the measurements of the mind.
I like books. It stems from my life long passion for stories. I prefer true stories but I must always have stories told as if they are true.
So this is the first of my list of books, books that changed the way I saw the world, life and myself.
Powerful stuff - stories. They change you.
The best ones do it by putting you in places where you can see yourself in their filled up landscapes. Making you feel, not insignificant but as if you could own it.
Starting my list is a book that might seem a trifle: Elliott Baker's "A Fine Madness".
Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!It's Baker's second book. His first, "Threepenny Opera" was a mildly entertaining "coming of age novel". There was a time when tripe like Knowles "A Separate Peace" made it seem indispensable for a writer's career to chronicle an inept adolescence.
To Baker's credit there's more Salinger than Knowles in his trite story. It was released in paperback after the awkward backhanded success of "Madness."
At the time Roth was the Dean of American writers and Pynchon was his Dark pope. Theodore Flicker was inventing a new film ethos in New York, movies based on life and sly observations. In this milieu, which was like the bubbling a tornado before the advent of the tempest this minor book was given a major inexplicable Hollywood greeting.
"A Fine Madness" was made into a baffling movie starring Joanne Woodward, Patrick O'Neil and, in his Hollywood debut, the number one box office star in the world, Sean Connery. It was directed by Irven Kirschner who later did "The Empire Strikes Back" and was Connery's pick to direct him in the Bond comeback, "Never say Never".
Pretty far reaching effects from a little trifle. After the sale Baker wrote a film, equally baffling that still has some effective moments, "Viva Max!" about Peter Ustinov's recapturing of the Alamo to impress a woman he loves. The film was lovingly made, has bravura performances from John Astin and Jonathan Winters and uses Pamela Tiffen's pre hippie, pre-british invasion student to mollifying effect.
This was all big deal product and it all started in this little book.
"A Fine Madness" is a novel about a poet, Samson Shillitoe. Samson has had a book of poems published - Hellebore - an ancient herb thought to cure madness. That the book was published by a prominent publisher as a favor or repayment of a debt seems to have had no ill effect on Samson's ego. In fact the book of poems seems easy enough to find. This is a core of Samson's belief that poetry isn't something you molly coddle. A poem has to stand out there on it's own, not as a little child of words but as a natural destructive/constructive force.
Samson is a poet but has to work a day job shampooing carpeting, while he cleans rich people's rugs he is fashioning his masterwork, an epic poem.
Heartrain
Click images for desktop size: "A Mare's Heart Rain"
Samson is no effete Shelley like poet. He's a fight fan, a drunkard, a total heterosexual. He admonishes his clients (stars are fragile stuff, what I know to be true could put you out of business bub), lives only to have fun and to write his truth out.
Pursued by an ex-wife for alimony, living with an attractive but dumb waitress he struggles joyfully through life, with no dreams of fame just an epic poem burbling to be released.
He has no control over his burning need to create. After one of his skirmishes he drunkenly wonders, "why a poet? Why this need to create. Why not something simple, like a saint."
Through a set of quirky coincidences he ends up in an exclusive "rest home". A sanitarium where the rich have their neuroses treated and their psycho-hypochondria stroked.
While there Samson works doggedly on his masterwork until he is seduced by his psychiatrist's, wife.
On discovering his wife's infidelity he orders Samson to be lobotomized.
Samson is warned and he escapes but he is lured back to the hospital to rescue the only copy of his epic poem.
He agonizes over it, with the argument that poems are set out there to sink or swim on their own. They have no life or meaning to their creator other than he has sent them out into the world. But he loses this argument with himself when he says that this poem is only a morsel, an unfinished leggless child that needs to be nursed through to become the monster it was meant to be.
Girl On A Motorcycle
He owes it to the poem, not to himself to retrieve and finish the manuscript.
He's recaptured, the lobotomy is performed. Amazingly the lobotomy has no physical effect on him. He is as full of rage and as full of the muse as ever.
The conclusion being that artists are extraordinary people watched over by a God who shuns even biological imperative.

The book, while a straight-line amusing narrative also indulges itself in huge flights of Blake and DeQuincey inspired poetry. Some of it is brilliant and often one reads wishing the narrative would stop making demands and pulling us away from the musical words. Written in the third person all of the metaphors are chosen for Samson's alliterative metaphorical style.
It impacted me because I was about 12 and I never knew that writers, especially poets, could be rough and tumble men who delighted in life.
I thought men (and boys) did things while writers had some nameless pleurisy that forced them merely to observe. I was pleased to find out I was wrong.

What's not a story is the pain I'm going through. It's not like chemo but it's severe. My mouth worries me and I don't like eating. Chewing is like a knife through my head and swallowing is odd, like forcing down vomit.
Terrible cramps today in both my right and left hands. This pleased me as I've gotten so used to most of the violent attacks happening to my left side.
Got paid today. Not nearly enough but I'll be able to hold on to enough for the rent and my puppy's expenses with enough to go to a High School football game.
Who needs much more than that?

September 1, 2005

There's a light up above

Hive
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Just felt deathly ill.
I felt like a Mexican boxer. I was staring in the mirror and realized that as the pain got worse my grin got bigger.
I don't enjoy pain. Mexican fighters are trained to grin to psych out their opponents. (A kind of strategy that now finds itself being reversed - the bigger the grin they more hurt he is).
I found myself wondering who I was trying to psyche. Myself?
I don't need to be tough anymore. I just need to get through my day, to get through the week, to get through the month, to get paid, to pay my bills so can get through the day . . .
Once upon a time I dreaded living the kind of life I'm craving now.
It's not being defeated. I've never been beaten. I've lost quite a few, but I've never been defeated, down, surrendered. (For a lot of people that made me seem like quite a jerk.)
I've taught, or tried to teach my 2000 or so kids to walk with a swagger, to know that there is no one on this planet better than you, and to know that you are no better than anyone else.
And I wanted them to know that you're never beaten until you lay down and quit.
Ridiculously my own life is a testament to that.
Hellbound-Hellraiser IiI wonder if it's a weakness to not know that you're beaten?
To just keep trudging on against "the slings and arrows" like a robot, an android, a meat machine.
Nah.
The Vietnamese showed in the real world in the most impossible circumstances what happens when you refuse to roll over. Then the Afghans (remember when we were stunned by their belligerence against the Russians?)
In every life there have to challenges and times when you just want to quit, when you just want to throw the switch and bring down the curtain. If there weren't those trying times what cause would we have to celebrate?
Without duress and victory we'd all live like jet setting debutantes, with no knowledge of joy, no taste of pleasure, no appreciation of beauty.
I've known them and as free from some of the nasty stresses as they might be, the pleasure and love they have is shallow and empty past the point of mere heartbreak.
Excess is only a symptom and never a cure.
So, as bad a the pain is . . . people wonder why I resist taking painkillers so vehemently.
For this it's for sure not toughness or martyrdom. It's the fact I like life.
I've fooled around with them and I know that they only dull the knife edge of the hurt. For that they put a veil of gauze around your heart, your fingers. They make life look like it's all happening through a telephoto lens.
I guess some people like that, need it. It scares me. I like being alive.
When you talk about mountain climbing the first things I remember about climbs are the pain and the fear. Then the more satisfying memories of fear conquered, the impossible figured out and finished, the achievement.
Natalie Portman
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My life is like that now.
My puppy and I went to puppy class. It was unpleasant. My puppy was excellent. She behaved well and I was proud of her. The instructor allows herself to be too distracted. She's also not good with people. She insulted me twice, once very ignorantly and profoundly.
I can ignore all of that, she doesn't matter to me at all. I didn't like the wrongness done to my puppy. Wrongness perpetuated by being distracted and insensitive.
It will be okay. She's a good dog and is just confused now. She doesn't much care for other people and when she is forced to deal with them she, like most children, simply retreats. If the pressure continues she gets frightened.
My puppy did nothing untoward or wrong. She simply got afraid and worried that she wasn't with me.