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May 31, 2007

Why was I born a poet? Why a poet? Why not something easy like a saint?
Elliott Baker

Trendsetter Cover By Candas
Click images for desktop size: "Trendsetter Cover" by Candas
Pain won't kill you.
It might make you want to die, but that's just your choice.
Pain won't kill you. I'm pretty sure of that. Not having died I can't be dead certain, but I'm pretty sure.
Even mental hurt won't kill you. Honest.
The stuff we tell ourselves that lead to madness should be easy to ignore. Its the world out there that demands attention.

I had a pretty poor Memorial day Weekend. The high spot was getting to see the Cubs play the Dodgers on TV.
I ended up with 4 dogs. I was taken advantage of. People figure out pretty early on that I'm easy to manipulate when it comes to dogs and kids.
The four dogs kept me up and jumping around. I'm feeling bone fatigued right now, physically uncomfortable in every way. I put that all off on not being able to rest.
I Passed For White (1960) What I didn't like was that the two guest dogs weren't well behaved. One was just totally untrained and out of control wild, and the other is just old and used to being in charge. Lots of fight breaking up to do.
Then when the owners came back there were just cursory thanks, no little gifts or offers to pay for the extra food and stuff. I was treated like I performed a paid service instead of a favor and I didn't get paid . . .
They know I'm not healthy and that it was a trial for me. So now I pay the price and no not to do it for them again.

My puppy's Uncle Hank has cancer. I'm sad about this.
Very sad,
Animals don't understand why they hurt. This breed is more concerned with the people they watch over than they are for themselves. They shake off pain and discomfort and try not to worry the people they watch over.
It feels tragic.

Fatigue is catching up to me badly.
I hate fatigue. My muscle memory recalls what it presages and tries to help fight it. We'll be okay. I mean, I'll be okay. There's really no other option. My puppy keeps fighting to be close to me. I worry about her over empathizing with my health. It gives me cheer that something so simple and pure as a puppy cares enough about me to worry.
There's nothing to worry about really. Its just a phase of time.
Like pain is your body fighting back, reminding you that you are alive. That's why pain doesn't kill you. Pain is hope.
You're not supposed to like it but you have to know that it means your alive.
When I feel the worst I don't have pain. I have generic and specific numbness.
Not feeling is death.
Not feeling is worse than death.

This Saturday I have volleyball and pee wee football. The real pain would be in disappointing kids.
Do remember that scene in that old movie, "Mr Smith Goes To Washington"? Its where Harry Caray, playing the President of the Senate, looks down on Jimmy Stewart. Stewart is at the edge of his rope and about to quit. Caray looks at him and gives a half hidden sad smile.

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May 24, 2007

So. Look, like I was saying

Upland Studiobenben
Click images for desktop size: "Upland" by Studio BenBen
I survived one of the physically roughest days in my older life.
And it was a sort of fun.

Proctoring the test was enjoyable. I was surprised that the classrooms were so small. I thought that was a good thing. When I was in school it was usually at least 40 to a class. Here it was about 20.
Another surprise was that these tests are the ones the state uses in allocating funds, firing people, giving raises. So why didn't they fund the program to the point of at least not having to beg for volunteers? Even jury duty style money or bus fare would have enticed a lot more people to show up.
I liked the kids. The huge clothes they wear nowadays made sense in the classroom. As soon as they handed in their answer sheets they'd pull the shirts over their heads and pull their arms out of the sleeves and take a nap in a wearable cocoon. I thought it was clever.
Lady From Shanghai Especially considering the kids who finished first still had to sit in the classroom for 3 hours, waiting for everyone else to finish.
They all handled that pretty well.
They tried some things on me but they wouldn't be kids if they didn't. Nothing outrageous, in fact it was all very well modulated and the kids were very well behaved.
I'm the kind of guy who finds it amusing to watch kids try and get away with stuff I tried when I was a kid: the old dropped pencil ploy, the sneezing a note across a room. They seldom worked for me either.
One kid finished the test in 10 minutes. I was curious as to whether he was that smart or that apathetic. There was no one I could safely ask.

The doctor was a pain. There has been a study on the diabetics medicine they've been feeding me for the last 7 years. This study holds that the medicine increases the likelihood of heart attacks by 45%. I got diabetes as a side effect to one of the chemo's. This chemo they knew increased the likelihood of heart attacks by 50%. Add in all the other factors and I think I just shot into the favored position, as in it will be amazing if I don't have a heart attack! Glaxo, the drug company is defending themselves by saying their tests only indicate a 30% increase in heart attacks . . . and they claim they made it public knowledge last year . . . they've been selling it for 15 years . . .
Going in my favor is the fact that I'm reasonably calm, don't have high blood pressure and work out a reasonable amount.
Its nothing to stress over. Its just something that can't be ignored.

Then there were the volleyball camps. I like volleyball as a sport. I'm not too keen on beach volleyball. It lacks the intricate passing and the opponent confusing fakes and feigns. I do like that beach volley ball protects the athletes body when going for the dig. (The dig is where the athlete lays out in an attempt to stop the opponent from scoring. The theory is that you give up your body so that you can get enough of your hand on the ball to get the ball up for a teammate to scoop the ball up and try and set up your own score.)
14. Somelikeithot This was a pretty rough group of kids, but they were all polite, interested and motivated.
I don't know much about coaching volleyball, But I'm good with SAQ (Speed, Agility, Quickness). There are no sports that don't benefit from Speed, agility or quickness.
The coach thought I worked the kids too hard, at first. Then he saw that they were even more enthusiastic! They asked me, the way rough kids do, if I'd be back next week. I said yeah.

The hospital with Dr Puppy always goes well. She does her job so well. She played tea time with the girls. They got mad and lectured her about being impolite and eating her cookie before everyone else had been served!

Work is the same: more annoyed each time I meet a coworker. Dismayed and appalled that I should be grouped in with people with no hygiene and no manners who tell pornographic unfunny jokes to strangers. Yeah.

My friend has asked me why the universe is unraveling. Like I can point to a specific thread and say it starts there.
It's not like that. Its like the fabric of my little micro-verse has been doused with caustic acid and the whole sheaf has become something unrecognizable. She has a right to ask.
I'll try and make time to answer. I see ways to answer but not complete explanations yet.

I also realized how ingrained Southern California is in me. I heard me described as the tall guy with the Southern California accent . . . maybe that's why I like Chandler so much. The Irish have Joyce, the South has Faulkner and the lonely surfers have Chandler.

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May 18, 2007

They live for different amusements
Raymond Chandler

Vincebaak Eyeswideopen 1440X900
Click images for desktop size: "Eyes Wide Open" by Vince Baak
When I start to feel things are falling apart, like the center of my universe is unravelling, I think about Raymond Chandler.

Its one of my rules.
We all have them. I just the sort of guy who needs to codify them, list them and remember to the point of no longer having to write them down.

1) Avoid all situations they write operas about.

2) You can always rely on the wisdom of Satchel Paige and Ernie Banks. ("Don't look back, they might be gaining on you" - S. Paige and "Its a beautiful day. Lets play two" - E. Banks)

3) When devising a plan if you can imagine Wile E Coyote agreeing with you then it is best to re-think.

4) No matter what anyone says it is better to love than to be loved.

5) Remember your life is not a movie. Your life is not a pop song.

6) If something's broken, fix it or shut up.

7) Don't judge. Simply watch.

8) Children and dogs always deserve a hand.

1969 - Chastity And on and on. These aren't rules for everybody. I'll never so arrogant as to lay down a personal code for anyone to emulate.
They're just my simple guidelines that I can always fall back on no matter how stressed.
So I think about Raymond Chandler.
I've long held that Chandler is one of the greatest American writers. His developed style and extended a staid genre into a testament.
Like my other two favorite writers, Wild Bill Faulkner and Wilder Bill Kennedy, he wrote about a specific geographic place. Like in film they turned landscape into psychology.
Faulkner and Kennedy derive much of their frission from sexuality. Faulkner's sexuality was tied up with despair and loneliness as epitomized in "Sanctuary" and Popeye's rape of Temple Drake with a corn cob.
For Kennedy sexuality is a staving off of death, a celebratory thing. the ultimate scene of this is when the Ferryman's necrophiliac urges actually bring the corpse back to life in "Quinn's Book".
In Chandler's Marlowe their is almost no sexuality. There are some carnal thoughts. Chandler was an anglophile but not Victorian. The overt act in Chandler's work are always of love. The little guy drinking the poison to protect Gladys in "The Big Sleep", Marlowe's sacrificing of himself for the love of his friend, Terry Lennox, in "The Long Goodbye". And the driving the abused woman back to Kansas, seeing her home safe when he knows there can never be a romance between them.
Love and loneliness are the semiotic signposts of Chandler. They are a unison.
I've studied enough of his life to understand why he perceived the world this way but when the world is falling apart it helps me to review it and to understand how and why.
Love is an ideal to be cherished quietly.

Tomorrow my puppy and my foster dog are doing a big dog walk for Charity. After the dog walk I have to coach some pee wee footballers and give them their summer diets and personal work out schedules . . . try figuring out what 9 year olds can do as a personal workout! try getting some parents to feed their kids healthy food!
On Weds I have to pedal the old bike to a middle school where I'll proctor the kids final exams. Then the doctors and then the first summer volley ball camp.
It will wear me out physically but lift my spirit immeasurably.

May 11, 2007

A Man, A Plan

Pikkashoe Chicagoatnight 1440X900
Click images for desktop size: "Chicago At Night" by Pikkashoe
It feels like a chapter of my life has just been shut.
That's not a bad thing.
Some emotions still burn and twitch but ending something good because it was turning bad is something that has to be done.
I'm not the sort who can justify certain types of pain being made up for with a certain kind of pleasure. There's not much left of me so I can't stand to see that little bit diminished.
Dreams crash every minute. Most of the crash much harder than this.
Now what I have to do is just make sure that I stay alive for 10 more years to take care of my puppy. That's enough responsibility for anyone.
I've got promises I have to keep to others and to myself.
I'm not dead yet and, hopefully - at least by me - I won't be dead anytime soon.
You always need to remember that wanting to die means you're still alive and a living person can always expect a miracle. Probably not the miracle you want, but a miracle nonetheless.
Fight on.

The wages of sin are a bad reputation and too many friends Rainmakers

Deepsealife Blatte
Click images for desktop size: "Deep Sea Life" by blatte
I made an appointment to get a haircut yesterday. Other than being enormously due for a haircut it shouldn't have been any more than what it was.
Except the haircutter demanded I look at her photographs. There were a lot of them. I flipped through the double exposures and out of focus shots. There were more of those than anything else, and looked at a few of her son with several different men I couldn't know.
I was told I was looking at the wrong ones. I was supposed to be paying attention to the double exposures and the out of focus. I was supposed to look at the blue dots and lens flare.
She asked me, "Do you know what that is?"
I said, "Len flare?"
Wrong answer.
This prompted a 10 minute explanation on bible and dragon stories, with a deep insistence that dragons are scattered all through the bible. As I didn't object in the first place I decide this wasn't a conversation but a tape she played. I went south on this because it totally confused me. Every time there was a mention of something I knew like Rasta she took it someplace I couldn't fathom.
1982 - Fast Times At Ridgemont High It was all said with the clipped precision of an expert and the mad rush of words of the enraptured. Words with no passion but a grim determination.
I wouldn't have thought much of it except she ended it with, "You know, you and I need to hang out together."
I need to find a new haircutter.

At work (shudder) at this time of year I have to deal with an huge onslaught of coeds. Its fine, they're generally pleasant, don't smell bad and have mildly interesting things to talk about. But too often they flirt with me aggressively. I've given up speculating on what happened in their lives that a 20 something young woman would express attraction for an old tired man who falls over when he bends over to tie his shoe laces.
There's one little Korean girl where I do understand. She already feels isolated and alone in an area where the Korean population numbers in double digits. After the shootings at Virginia Tech she feels even more alone. Whether this is in her own head or the result of things going on around her I can't tell, never would be able to tell.
One of the major weaknesses in human relations is that too many men and women can't just be friends. They keep an undercurrent of sexuality always beating underneath it. That's not to worrisome, its when even the sanest person begins to twist that sexuality into an emotional subtext that problems arise.
It requires a certain kind of discipline and detachment to be able to tell the difference from your heart, mind and body.
So its with sadness that I see this little girl turning to me and really just looking for a friend, but not knowing how to express it in any other than a sexual way.
Sad and disenchanting. Disenchanted with America.
She called me twice and dropped by once. We talked about movies. I like Korean cinema a lot so we had that in common.
Mikecpeck-Sleeptime
Click images for desktop size: "Sleeptime" by Mike C Peck
It was evident that she had been yearning for some one to talk about things that interested her.
She said she would cook some Korean dishes for me!!
She's going back to Korea this weekend, for the summer. So there's no immediate worries there.
It distresses me that at a major university there isn't anyone hip enough to see beyond race to talk to this girl. She was amusing and pleasant. Its sad that she only had an old man to talk to, to smile at.
Sad for what it says our nation is rapidly becoming.
I don't know what's going to change it.
For me. I just keep plodding along always wondering why people like to tell me their dreams and fantasies and cock eyed visions of the world.

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May 8, 2007

Let's forget about the whinin' and the cryin' and the shooting and the dying and the fellow with a switchblade knife. Let's think about living. Let's think about life.
Bob Luman

Announcing
Click images for desktop size: "Announcing" by Unknown
It is exactly one point four miles from my front door to the bus stop. When I was feeling my worst it took me 20 minutes or 8 tunes on the iPod to walk there.
Normally it takes me 15 minutes or 6 tunes.
Today it took me 12 minutes or only 4 songs! They were good songs so maybe that helped.
One of them was an Everly Brother's track from their 1983 Reunion concert at Albert Hall. I like the Everly's. Like them plenty.
Until the 80's they were the largest selling duo ever. (Hall and Oates beat them out for first, I'm not quite sure what that means. My friend Billy took it personally and said it only proved that more idiots than ever were buying records.)
Lots of people tried to imitate them, cash in. Normal part of business. No one could ever come close to those weird and exciting harmonies. They were part gospel, part blue grass and made whatever they sang, not just interesting but beautiful..
Jailhouse Rock I also loved the sound of their J200 Gibson guitars. It was also an inimitable sound. Somehow they made it sound like a bursting twelve string with none of the jangle.
I met Phil Everly. My friend Richard got called in to consult about a dog problem he had. He invited me along without mentioning it was Phil Everly. He thought I'd want to come because Phil had Belgians! The breed I owe more to than I can ever repay.
Richard may or may not have even known who The Everly Brothers are. But he knows dogs.
Phil had a big mansion out Zuma way and his pair of Belgians had destroyed the place. Belgians are like that. They worked without malice but thy had transformed a mansion by the sea into a perfect home for two dogs, so long as no people wanted to live there. People were welcome but the dogs didn't understand why everyone was aghast at the state of the house. The dogs thought it was the highest in chic and the ultimate in spacious living.
Now Phil was generally portrayed as the "jerk" in the Everly's and the impetus for their famed fist fights on stage and the constant break ups. I was startled when he came in.
He was a nice guy and most telling was he was not overly concerned about the shape of the house but very concerned that the dogs destruction was a sign that they were unhappy.
Me. I got to love a guy like that.
Richard worked with Phil and the dogs for a couple of hours. I got to be the assistant and had a wonderful time with the two dogs who were full of jokes and loved playing dumb.
Went out a month later to follow up and saw the house being restored and Phil and the dogs rough house playing. The dogs were even happier and greeted us warmly. So did Phil.
And that's what I thought about as I walked and set a record for walking to the bus stop.
Coyote 01
Click images for desktop size: "Wile E Coyote" by Chuck Jones
Work is still terrible. Still looking for an escape. Money is still a worrisome burden but I'm not lacking (mainly thanks to my friend.)
I'm going to start the Football Clinic this Saturday afternoon, and the Volleyball Classes next Weds afternoon - after the doctor and before my puppy has to go doctor her patients.
Last Sunday my foster puppy and I went to her first adoption event. It was National Shelter week in the US so I was disappointed in the turn out. I took a lot of pictures, which may have been a mistake. The adoption group heads are driving me mildly crazy with demands for this picture and that.
I try and explain that I'm not very good at this and all I was doing was grabbing snap shots for my puppy's website. I get ignored.
Next Saturday I have to do a 5K walk with my puppy and my foster dog, raising money to rescue pets. I'll enjoy seeing all the dogs but and chilled thinking about walking these two in a crowd.
All in all things are peaceful. I feel better when I'm moving in a direction.

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May 5, 2007

This day belongs to somebody else

Test Your Sanity The little black puppy I took to the shelter was put down.

She was my friend and she trusted me. It took a lot for her to get to trust me and I feel like I let her down.
I'm angry that my stupid job kept me from checking up on her like I should have.

It looked like she had a home but a trip to the vet showed she had a lot of little treatable diseases and one that probably wasn't: heart worm.

They put her to sleep.

I'm mad at the shelter because they could have called me. I'd have taken the little dog home, treatable or untreatable she'd have known she had a friend who'd stand by here and friends to play with. She'd have known she was loved.

I'm mad at myself because I'm old and sick. I know that I should have just gone over and punched my neighbor in the face, taken the dog and just stayed stubborn.

I've done it in the past and that trouble I got myself into was not near as bad as feeling like this. But I'm old and sickly and cautious.

I guess this is what cowardice feels like: Sickly, old and cautious, telling yourself that your doing the right thing, telling yourself instead of just doing it; worrying about yourself instead of about others.

Sflv(2005)-08 Well, I'm safe and a little 17 week old girl is dead.

Not much of a trade off there.

The little girl worked so hard to build up the courage to come to me, to let me pet her. It was hard for her because the only thing she knew was loneliness and pain and hunger.

She lived in my back yard for a couple of days, playing with my puppy and the foster dog. She was darling. She had fun and she laughed. She ate and was astonished that there were good foods that existed for a dog.

When I visited her in the shelter she was happy. She was glad to see me and made me pet her. I complained about her still being dirty and offered to come bathe her.

She didn't know what a bath is but she was sure she didn't want one. She just wanted me to play tug of war with her rope.

Its too late to do that little girl any good but I can make myself the promise that I won't let anyone else down like that again.

Getting knocked down and kicked is a lot better than the savage disappointment of trusting others to do what is my work.

So, I've already told the Pee Wee team I'll be a special consultant coach. I was asked to help coach some kids in a volley ball program. I'll do that.

I've got an ego, but I don't think I'm an egomaniac. I don't think I'm the only one in the world who can do these mundane tasks but sometimes I seem to be the only one willing to try. I know there are plenty who can do it better but for some reason I never see them standing out there where I am.

I'm sorry I let the little dog down. I'm sorry I've let people down. I guess if you're out there trying you're always going to fail some times. But better to crash and burn then to fade away.

I think Neil young said that. He's Canadian. Go figure.

My friend thought I bawled like a baby. I didn't, not this time anyway.

I have some mourning to do, but there's more work to do than crying.

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