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January 30, 2009

One lives in the hope of becoming a memory
Antonio Porchia

Museum: Randor the Red by Artix Entertainment
Click images for desktop size: "Museum: Randor the Red" by Artix Entertainment LLC
Went to sleep last night certain I was going to wake up with a cold; scratchy throat, throbbing sinuses. I woke this morning feeling pretty much the way I always feel. I credit Linus Pawling andThe Manitou Vitamin C.
For some reason I found my thoughts stuck, not on the Superbowl, but on Blake, Patchen, Corso and Chandler. I like them because they saw a huge vista of the world that was near inclusive and set out to describe them in terms and ways that were clean and simple. Accessible. They knew it was important to see this world in the cadence they saw it.
I think that Blake's "Visionary" works got too wrapped up in TOADS
Click images for desktop size: "TOAD" by Unknown
Swedenborg to fully succeed in that. The mysticism lost me somewhere and its easier to blame Swedenborg than to see if the lack of comprehension is a failing in me.
Conversely I like Cocteau because all of his "revelations" are simple and obvious but he dressed them up in fine brocades and wild flowers to make them seem like more than they were.
I find it odd that none of my faves ever seemed to consider forgiveness. While Patchen and Blake railed against God and tried to take him to task they never blamed him for humanity and its gross failures. Patchen demanded to know why he allowed men to harm other men. Blake wanted to know why he did not elevate man from the toils of the earth.
(I have always found it amusing and educational that most of Blake's published letters to friends usually included a line about, "Could I borrow 50 pounds so that I can buy copper plates to complete . . . " Genius and grocers and landlords never mix.)
Monochrome Blonde Geometry by Doug Chavo
Click images for desktop size: "Monochrome Blonde Geometry" by Doug Chavo
Chandler's world was godless. Man created life carnally and cruelly. Survival of the fittest and only the high mnemic could possible survive.
None of them ever blamed God for terrible things that are god made, like diseases and cancers. They wanted him to account for greed and poverty and war. Man made things that he should have abolished.
Strange morning.

Another inch of snow yesterday. I discovered that the paths around the yard that the dogs and I have stomped down are pretty narrow. They're invisible under the new snow and if I step off them the snow is calf deep.
I did some light shoveling, loosened up my shoulders.The Psychopath
My puppy was anxious to play with me yesterday. She bought me a toy and demanded I chase her. It made me think that sometimes she misses being a therapy dog. We did have fun. I chased her, she scurried and the gentle dog would bite me, grab my wrist and hold on. Its the way he likes to play with me.
He used to be a somber, wary dog. Now he's happy and more doggish. I like that. I like that he's having fun and wants to join in.
My friend is probably going to rent a car this weekend so we can go look at new cars, well, used cars. The expense bothers me.
She applied for a car loan at her bank. Did it on-line. When she didn't have an answer she called them and was told they never received it and that they'd had a few other complaints like that. He wanted her to come in to fill out a loan app and claimed that applying from the banks website was dangerous that all of her confidential data could easily be hijacked . . . My paranoid streak makes me think this is a new banking ploy to sell Yungang Grottoes at Datong
Click image: "Yungang Grottoes at Datong" by Unknown
you stuff, (sell you money?). Its hard to accept that a bank would want its employees to claim that their secure web site is hopelessly insecure but it would work on a lot of people and it would force people through the door so they can sell you stuff. Like my friend applied for a 10-15 thousand dollar loan, just preliminary approval like we used to get. If they get her in they could bombard her, take her to the max of her credit limit. Tellers and loan officers are still grossly underpaid, they get their raises and bonuses based on how much they get out the door so it makes sense.
Basically I don't believe the on-line app was lost.
I was expecting to get a ride from my friend's parents to avoid having to pay to rent. They're going through their own little impenetrable miasma. No offer, just my expectations.
Funny, my friend's assistant is going to Aruba for two weeks. She has a new Hyundai that sheThe Stranger offered to loan my friend while she's gone!
My first thoughts were how could the assistant afford two weeks in Aruba and a new car while the boss cannot! I'm just like that and sometimes don't see the obvious (single, no house payment, helpful parents). That still doesn't overwhelm my gratitude at such a magnanimous gesture. The assistant has a new puppy. I put it off to the basic generosity of doggishness.
Today is blank. My head is still blank, still coping somewhat with pain and worries. We still have to figure out a good deal on the rental and have to prepare for my friend's being out of town for 3 days next week. Where she's staying has no internet! An odd thing, I think, in this day and age. At least the rental car and the hotel are being paid for by the company.
Then on Sunday, the Superbowl. I've seldom been less excited.
Every time I try to think seriously about the game I find myself falling asleep. It looks to be pretty boring. The Cardinals' O might bring some excitement but the Steelers' will probably make the excitement be mostly near misses.
Even as I think about it now I feel myself getting groggy.
I have to make some time to stay awake and make my pick.

January 29, 2009

The real hero is always a hero by mistake; he dreams of being an honest coward like everybody else
Umberto Eco

Mars by Frank Cho
Click images for desktop size: "Mars" by Frank Cho
There was nearly 5 inches of snow yesterday. Yow! It finally stopped about 3:30 so armed with my trusted shovel and accompanied by three trouble shooting dogs I attacked.
Hills Have Eyes Shoveled snow for nearly 3 hours. I figure without any canine help it would have taken about 1 hour . . .
No ill effects. Sore shoulders this morning. It bothers me in the vaguest way that it was 11 out and I never noticed it was cold. My friend thinks this is dangerous, frost bite and stuff like worries. I still put it down to the survival mode my body takes that enabled me o Fashion, Sex, Politics
Click images for desktop size: "Fashion Sex Politics"
get this far, or at least stay alive this long.
Only odd note was that I began to shovel the long shared driveway again. Was about 10% finished when my neighbor speed up the drive, as usually nearly hitting me and spraying me with snow. As usual he blanked me. I no longer say hello. In this case it would have meant turning off the iPod and it was on a string of pretty cool tunes.
I did about 10% more when a guy in a truck with a snow plow suddenly turned up. He was a nice enough guy. Had his 8 year old son with him.
We chatted for a bit. I complained, good naturedly about him burying the gate when he plowed. He was very apologetic. He did the plowing as a favor. He frequents the bar where the lady neighbor works. He claims no one told him that this was a gate. He offered to clear the snow from the man gate. I told him not to bother as I'm sure he was busy tonight, with all the snow and all. He appreciated my understanding. He was doing this part time and he needed the extra money.
Marek Okon
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Marek Okon
My real reason was that I figured in trying to clear off the 4x5x6 pile of snow he would probably damage the gate or even knock it down. I didn't see any reason to say that to him.
He turned around and plowed the drive. I was relieved, in some ways about not having to do it myself. Not so relieved that I couldn't be irked that my neighbor couldn't be arsed to tell me he had a plow coming and let me just dig away. No biggie. At this stage I'd rather he just keep blanking me. Baseless dislike is an okay feeling.

My friend is still working at home. Yesterdays meals were uninspiring. I made something so boring for lunch I can't even remember what it was. For dinner I made french fries with three types of dipping sauce: a mayonnaise spicy curry sauce, mango chutney, and ketchup (ketchup counts!) andThe Ghost In the Invisible Bikini a side of beans so it would be an official meal and not a snack . . .
My puppy's aunt sent me a couple of recipes for vegetarian tortilla soup that looks pretty ambitious! I'll probably try it and me surprised at whatever results.

I note with dismay that the Economic Stimulus Bill passed the house yesterday. Not one Republican voted for it. So much for "reaching across the aisle". It will be fascinating to see if it does the same in the Senate.
If it does I think this will give Obama a solid ground to blank the Republicans. If this plan has an immediate effect I think that more Republicans will be losing their seats.
With their recent bizarre concession that fatty Rush Limbaugh is the de facto Republican Party leader I'd say they're in for some bad times.
I remember an old Mad Magazine cartoon from the early 60's that showed the American people becoming obese pigs with vestigial legs. The punch line of the cartoon was them showing the Red PicsDestop
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by PicsDesktop
Chinese Army, all skinny, coming in a conquering America not with bombs but by just pushing the fat American over with a finger.
Its kind of scary that Mad Magazines warning was ignored and the cartoon has become prophetic.
I hope something is done about all this. Starbucks is closing down even more shops and firing even more "partners". The insistence on calling mere badly treated employees "partners" seems sardonic now.
The creepiest thing is in order to avoid and trump union organizers Starbucks offered a semi-decent health insurance plan. A lot of people seem to have worked there just to qualify for that insurance. I know I briefly considered working there for that reason. I figured another taciturn and crabby barista was more than they could take. Lucky for me I decided that as another unheralded part of their avoiding expense is to make sure that the employees don't get enough hours to qualify. Its a pretty cynicalThe Killing Floor thing to do. They know that in this climate its hard to get another job so they dangle the carrot of being able to stay alive knowing they have the power to unfairly take it away.
Corporate creeps hiding behind being altruistic employers are the worst. It makes all those "free" google apps loaded with creepy spyware seem almost magnanimous.
Finally I've managed to set up a trade with a guy for an old TV series my friend craved, "My World and Welcome To It". It was a cute surprising show from Sheldon Leonard starring William Windom. It was based on James Thurber's stories and had this interesting gimmick of animating some of Thurber's drawing to help tell the stories.
My friend is only interested in one episode that focuses on dogs. She remembers that episode with fondness. She tracked down a guy with the series. He wants to trade disc for disc.
I was surprised at his choice for a trade, "The Lone Wolf and Cub" series of films! Chambara for TV? Rah!
In terms of dollar value I'm taking a bath. But the Lone Wolf films are dead easy to find or buy. The "My World" series is difficult so that makes it fair deal, but I'm still surprised on the choice.

January 28, 2009

If we were meant to understand life we'd be born dead

Click images for desktop size: "Legs" by Unknown
Its snowing. The drought is over.
Looking forward to shoveling and scooping and having dogs in my way while I do it.
The Bloodstained Butterly
My friend is going to work at home for the rest of the week. She found out yesterday that she has to go out of town for three days next week. The good part is that the company (a not for profit) will pay for the rental car.
Yesterday I made tuna melts on gluten free rye bread for her lunch, (plain ol' tuna salad for me) and then shrimp taco's with chipolite The Waterhole
Click images for desktop size: "The Waterhole" by Unknown
peppers for dinner. They were too hot but I liked them.
Today I have no idea for meals . . . The extent of my menu's usually runs only to days. My normal lunch is stuff she can't or won't eat; popcorn, cereal, macaroni and cheese . . . Now I'll have to think. Not my strongest suit.
Last night we saw the best American dog movie I've seen in a while: "Hotel for Dogs". There's a lot wrong with it. Mainly the script is pure Sid Fields.
Sid fields was a not very successful screenplay writer who needed money so he wrote a book on how to write a screenplay. I don't remember the exact title. The main part of the book that is still dogging the industry was his breakdown of pages - it's like, 1-2 grabber, 3-4 introduction of characters and plot, 80 low point, 85 resolution etc.
Lenbach by Franz Von Hirtenknabe
Click images for desktop size: "Lenbach" by Franz Von Hirtenknabe
An alarming number of producers in the 80's and 90's kept a copy of that breakdown in their desk or pocket. They'd run through a screenplay and order changes based on Field's breakdown. Their logic was movies A, B and C were the top three grossers that year and they all followed the Field's breakdown slavishly ergo if their movie did the same it would also have a shot.
A lot of people unfairly trash Hollywood movies. Field's breakdown actually gives them some footing for their arguments. When computers eventually begin to write the outlines for movies it will probably be Field's breakdown that forms the infrastructure and then they really will all look the same.
Anyway, "Hotel for Dogs" is a kids movie. A brother and sister are orphans living with Kevin Dillon. They're inept foster parents #10, funny and cruel without meaning to be.
The younger brother is something of a Rube Goldberg genius. They have a dog, "Friday" (as usual IThe Beach Girls and the Monster can't remember any of the characters names, just the dogs' names). He creates an elevator so the dog, who they're hiding from the foster parents, can get out of their 3rd floor apartment and back into it on its own volition. Its a crazy cool device using a power drill and a paw activated button. You can tell the props department had a lot of fun building this and the other gadgets.
Through a series of misadventures the kids end up with 6 stray dogs. Fortunately they have also discovered an abandoned hotel. They stash the dogs there. Eventually they have to figure out how to feed and care for the dogs while they are at school. The kid starts to build some incredible devices that automatically feed, bathe, exercise and amuse the dogs. All the devices are doggie activated and they are cooler than the gizmo's Tim Burton dreamt up for "Pee Wee's Big Adventure". Most of the joy of the movie is in seeing these marvelous constructions work. Its tempting to say, "You gotta see the . . . " I won't. If I did there's not much left towards the joy of discovery.
The brother and sister are next joined by the empathetic cute boy, the pudgy girl and the smart alec fat kid who decide to work together and save every stray dog in the city from the villainous dog catchers. (You need a villain but the dog catchers aren't very upsetting, more or less just city employees doing a job they don't much care about, which is chillingly accurate).
The kids end up with about 60 dogs and the devices get even more astounding. Eventually they are discovered. The dogs are all taken to the pound and the bother and sister are sent to different orphanages. (The low point)
Fashion Sex and Food
Click images for desktop size: "Fashion Sex & Food" by Unknown
On the eve of their execution (odd Chidiock Tichbone reference) Friday escaped from the pound. Using that good common sense that only movie dogs are blessed with he reunites the cute boy and the sister, they rescue the younger brother and get pudgy girl and fat smart alec kid together and form a rather credible plan to rescue the dogs! (resolution).
Its pretty amusing stuff actually.
The conclusion of the film could have been, should have been trite. Don Cheadle plays the Social WOrker who saves the day.
If you've seen "Taken" you know that its just a pretty mediocre action/thriller except they have Liam Neeson as the lead. Neeson takes the part seriously and gives the silly tale a weight that most action stars bring through physicality. As in he can't bring the joy or believability of seeing Donnie Yen fly through a glass liquor cabinet but he can make the grim faced father stalking the killers real. While Clint Eastwood made his avengers compelling blankness that tunneled through to faded memories of hard earned happinessThe Chamber Neeson makes his avenging father a deeply etched creature of despair finding solace in duty.
In a similar vein Cheadle brings gravitas to his final resolution. He gives his enunciation a touching genuiness as real as his scenes in "Hotel Rawanda". It works and end the film on a proud note.
The dogs are all pretty wonderful and, for the most part, act like genuine dogs. They're delightful to watch and joyous in their approach to their new lives.
An odd film for me to warmly recommend.
Morning Enough by Blurburger
Click images for desktop size: "Morning Enough" by Blurburger
After the movie my friend made a comment that she didn't think my puppy much liked her. My puppy's breed characteristics tend towards aloofness mixed with goofiness, a strange reserve. They tend to show love and loyalty to one person and to care fervently for their pack, or their herd or their family.
My puppy loves my friend. She doesn't like many people. She loves kids but even then she has to size them up first.
When she was working as a therapy dog part of her rounds were to go from room to room and see if the occupant could benefit from petting a dog. Some people she simply would ignore. On her own property she dislikes strangers until she decides they are alright. She won't be trifled with.
I watched her viscously get in the face of a handyman on the property because he moved to fast The Fly towards me. She didn't bite but she made it clear she would if he got any closer. And this fellow liked dogs!
Unless you have a treat for her. She'll take treats from anyone.
The glucosamine seems to have had a rather rapid effect on the dogs. Gentle dogs limp is hardly apparent. I have to stare at him intently to notice any hint of it. The giant dog is running like a maniac when he's outside, clearly feeling good all over. I'm amazed that this happened so quickly. My hope is that the injury to gentle dog was so minor it didn't take much to correct.
My puppy shows no effect whatsoever . . . she just keeps on being she.
Oh, I've had to clamp down on the images again due to hot linking. Now they'll only appear directly on this site. Somebody linked to a full sized one not even just a thumbnail, on some bulletin board. It used to allow you to put the url to the image in your browser to see it. They used that technique to get around the normal policy. Band width is flying through the roof. I've had to stop that until the bulleting board page moves on.

January 27, 2009

You cannot get ahead while you are getting even
Dick Armey

JW McGinnis
Click images for desktop size: "Pin Up" by JW Mcginnis
Yesterday I made Lumpia as part of a three course dinner. Only made two courses of it though. Too full, too sleepy to finish the Pad Thai.
Lumpia are a Filipino type egg roll/spring roll thing. They're supposed to be tighter wrapped and about finger The Son Of Dr Jekyll thickness.
The main ingredient is supposed to be pork. I substituted tofu for the pork. It was okay.
If on my own I would have used chicken instead of pork or tofu. My friend is a vegetarian.
I also used rice paper wrappers instead of lumpia wrappers to keep it gluten free. You skillet fry lumpia and the wheat free wrappers don't get the rich brown color of the glutinous cousins but I like the The Enchantress
Click images for desktop size: "Enchantress" by Marvel Comics
color fine, tan translucence instead of brown and the texture was fine.
Second course was Tom Yum Gum soup. I like it. I like it more because eating it always reminds me of the movie.
My friend had fallen asleep and didn't eat hers until this morning. I didn't want any. Lumpia'd out.
Today I'm making tuna melts for lunch.
With no car my friend is working at home which is cool. A few more of my meals my get her scurrying back to work ASAP.
Still looking for a ride to go to the used car lot. Strange responses I don't understand. I can't find a bus route out there so trying to figure out a bold plan.

I got a couple of questions about yesterdays notes.
Yeah, I went to a Catholic High School. (Or Catlick as the non-parochial kids called it). It didn't have Koh by Kawarajima
Click images for desktop size: "Koh" by Kawarajima
nuns as teachers. There were a couple of brothers in Admin positions. They were usually the biggest jerks. It had a Priest as the Principal.
The school was mostly black. Parents getting their kids into any school they could. Lots of discipline problems. At catechism only about 20% of the class attended. Because the brothers were all white and pretty well terrified of the black students they tended to pick on the white and hispanic students the most. But they were easy to scare. A cocked fist and a nasty glare would do it the first time and then after that just the glare keep them out of your hair.
We didn't have to wear uniforms or the creepy light blue shirt and tie that the kids in the grammar school had to wear.
It had solid football teams. My step-father, a devout racist, wanted me to go there because they were supposed to be one of the best football schools in the state and always went deep into the conference play-offs. They also had a dominant baseball team so I was happy there. It was co-edSweet Charity .
I hated my football coach. He was a jerk. One of those Marine drill sergeant types who thinks that good coaching involves a lot of yelling. The tradition there seemed to be that we won despite him. He had a solid reputation because we won so much but we seldom ran his playbook and he never seemed to notice.
The baseball coach was a drunk type, he was often crabby, so maybe he was a dry drunk. His usual advice was, "Come on! You know how to play this game so why are you bothering me!" We had a whole lot of fun just playing and winning. Dominant athletes can usually beat better coaches.

In California it used to be that you could get your learner's permit at 14 and with a signature and a driving test you could get your license too. Something to do with rural communities and kids having to help their families farming and driving that massive farm equipment on public roads. So we Dogs by S4W
Click images for desktop size: "Dogs" by S4W
urban kids got the benefit of their suffering.
My first car only lasted two weeks. I was incensed because the shoe polish (Black Paw) I used to spruce up the genuine leather interior didn't say anything about how breathing the fumes in an enclosed car would make you queasy.
We lived in the Palisades so, of course, I wanted to sue. My car was worthless. Fifty bucks flushed. My step-pointed out that company's defense would be my stupidity. My mother gently agreed it was my fault. O I junked it for $20 bucks and my auto heartbreak lasted two whole interminable weeks while I sought for another piece of junk I could nurse along the roads.

I'm not going to get into cajoling and pleading with women. I give away to many guy secrets as is.
As well as poetry I like art. I got to meet a lot of the LA art scene, guys like Keinholz. I like art that makes me feel something. I don't much care for decorative stuff. I agree with Georgia O'Keeffe that The Awful Dr Orloff Mike Rothko's stuff would make great rugs. I took a couple of art appreciation classes in school. Slept through them mostly. Got A's!
I like pop art, surrealism, Dada, Rene Magritte, Jean Miro, Paul Klee, Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth, Rauschenberg and a lot more but my brain is too crackly to remember their names. I like art plenty. I like it to be fun. That means I think a lot of comic book art is tres cool too.

Not really much to do today. Regular chores, regular pills, regular suffering.
We watched "The Express" this weekend. I was really surprised. I knew Ernie David had passed away before he could play in the NFL. I didn't know he had died of leukemia. Maybe I did and just blocked it out.
Something else for me to feel guilty about, surviving and my ignorance.

January 26, 2009

Time is not measured by the passing of years, but by what one does, what one feels and what one achieves
Jawaharlal Nehru

Click images for desktop size: "Jazz" by Unknown
No football this weekend. None.
Why bother with weekends if there's not a feeling of football.Private Hell 36
It gives me time to think. Who needs time to think? What I think about is life and guilt.
Every time there's a tragedy there's a pretty human response to feel like some how you've failed. Like you could have done or didn't do the one thing that could have made things different. Somehow different always feels better.
Maybe its not a human thing. Maybe its a catholic thing, this guilt.
HK Pepnx II
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by HK Pepnx II
But like when the little blind dog died I spent weeks thinking what I could have done to give him more time. When the car died I still keep rolling through my mind what I could have done differently, what I should have done. Even when I conclude that we did what we could there's another possibility.
This doesn't detract from addressing issues. It doesn't bog you down. Maybe Catholics are trained to feel and deal with guilt.
We have found a place that sells cars at a reasonable cost. With a couple that look pretty possible. Used cars but . . .
When you remember that my first 3 cars each cost less than fifty bucks . . . I even got one car that ran until I sold it for a game ball used cars costing over 10 grand kind of freak me.
Some of these cars still have warranty time left so we'll check it out.
For various reasons that reminds me of stupid errands I did with my second car (the first car, a green 52 Pontiac with the amber indian head for a hood ornament [yes, older even than me] the one where I shoe polished the leather upholstery - the car still ran great, especially with my specially Indians Hunting Buffalo by Charles Russel Marion
Click images for desktop size: "Indians Hunting Buffalo" by Charles Marion
designed coat hanger choke, but the smell of the shoe polish got you super sick after about 10 minutes).
I was writing songs so I thought I should check out some poetry. I was driving back from the beach when I saw this book store I'd heard of on the wrong side of the street. I did a you turn and went into Papa Bach's. It was a weird hippie joint. They burned incense which still makes me queasy. They had all these small press books and this line called new directions.
They had this book by William Borroughs. "Naked Lunch". I thought it was "Naked Came a Stranger" which was like this porno book I'd read about in the LA Times. It was supposed to be an "erotic" novel that was written by a different author in each chapter. Being a kid I was most stunned that women had written some of it. I was still convinced that women hated sex and only endured it with a huge amount of cajoling and pleading. The idea of women writing porn was jaw dropping.Rape Squad
I figured in this hippie shop they'd sell porn even to a grossly underaged kid. So I grabbed "Naked Lunch" (thinking it was "Naked Came a Stranger", how many books could there be with naked in the title anyway) grabbed a mess of small press poetry and New Directions books (to conceal my real intention was the purpose) and stood there, a fifteen year old surfer in baggies ready to make my purchase.
I went to school that day and spent the whole day reading "Naked Lunch" in class. I didn't care if it was the wrong book. It had plenty of porn, but all the wrong sort. It was the fact I found it funny, mystifying and well, at that time my world consisted of the beach, football, clubs, school and avoiding my step father.
"Naked Lunch" was about places I never imagined could be, about people I didn't seriously think existed. I thought it was great.
After reading it through twice in a day I loaned it to my friend Tom. He thought it was crazy but liked some of the funny bits. We began having conversations straight from the book, talking in that weird broken metier of drug addicts and William Burroughs. Our favorite joke became, "I am the Great Slashtubitch and I can tell you fake the orgasm by the way you wiggle your big toe!" I have no idea why we thought it was funny except in some sort of Bevis and Butthead way.
Pretty soon we'd infected the entire football team with the book. About 80 high school kids roaming the halls reciting chunks of "Naked Lunch" to each other was not something I figure the Board of Education would have approved of.
Click images for desktop size: "Anime" by Unknown
There was an Assistant Principal at school. He was in charge of discipline. That meant he was the guy who gave you detention and called your parents if you were absent or parked your car in the wrong spot or if your muffler was too loud. He carried a hunk of celluloid in his pocket so he could measure your hair to make sure it didn't cover more than 1 and 1/2 inches of your collar . . . Catholic School.
Thing is, he dug the job, the power we guessed.
His name was close enough to one of the "Naked Lunch" characters, the Sollibees, that we all took to calling him Mr Sollibee (The sollibees were creatures who lived underneath tavern bars, they poked their heads out through holes in the bar to "service" customers while they drank. The name fit our attitude towards him perfectly. Soon the whole school was calling him Mr Sollibee. I don't think he ever twigged as to why we were all suddenly mispronouncing his name. None of the other teachers did either. At least we never caught any of them laughing.
Because that book was such a hit I checked out the other things I'd picked up that day. I wasRide The Pink Horse amazed. Kenneth Patchen, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gregory Corso. Beat poets.
None of them helped me write any songs but they led me to believe that poets were the next Superman. I read how Corso used to read his poetry to a simple bongo accompaniment, which still sounds totally cool to me. And Kenneth Patchen explained the movies in his head and made them sound cooler than "The Great Escape" and "A Fistful of Dollars" combined.
I rally thought these were the guys who had powers "far beyond those of mortal men". I doubt if they helped me write better lyrics . . . (look for me babe but I ain't there; could hardly stand improvement . . . ) but I felt these guys understood parts of the world that I sensed were out there but had never seen. I thought that they had the map to something important. Something important to me and to the world and that it was a power they had, power louder than my Fender amp. I liked them, adored them and didn't want to be Jeanne D'Arc by Michael Parkes
Click images for desktop size: "Jeanne D'Arc" by Michael Parkes
like them but I wanted to know what they knew even while I thought it was impossible.
Their effect on me was that I lead the conference in yards and touchdowns that season.
For the first time in my life I wanted to go someplace that wasn't in California.

Its been cold here. But we seem to be in the middle of a snow drought. There's enough snow on the ground to keep everything pretty and the constant snow means the dogs and I have got solid paths wending through the yard. Great paths that lead no where but are easy to follow.
The giant dog has suddenly decided he won't go outside without me. I have no idea why. His attitude hasn't changed and when we go out together he gets full on dog play crazy. Bears watching.The Shining
A couple of weeks ago the gentle dog went to work with my friend. He got so excited he leapt in the air and landed, slipping on the ice. Lately we've noticed that he starts to limp every time he first gets up from sleeping or just lying around. Its not a bad limp and it vanished pretty quickly. He has no tenderness in his legs and no change in his attitude. Walking him is still like walking a kite. So I worry. Today started to give each of them 500 mg of Glucosamine to lubricate their joints. Reports as events warrant.
Of course my puppy still loves me and I love her.

January 23, 2009

Poets only pretend to die
Jean Cocteau

Fractal 4 by Clody
Click images for desktop size: "Fractal 4" by Clody
I was pretty pleased that among the first things Obama has done is to stop as much of the killing of endangered species that George Bush was trying to slip through.Metropolis
Bush was and is a pratt.
With the abrupt announcing of the end of torture and the closure of the illegal prisons more and more people are starting to bicker about criminal charges. I agree.
One thing that some sociologists and most film critics (real film critics, not opinion dispensers) agree on is that horror movies are a good indication of the general state of mind of the people. I think that's cool. Judging where we are by what scares us most. Understanding our fears gives a clearer image of who we are.
Unknown Starlet
Click images for desktop size: "Unknown Starlet"
Yeah. I like that.
I like horror movies almost as much as I like Westerns. Its harder to make a good scary movie than it is to make a great Western. Like Westerns the first filmmakers tried horror. Edison did that weird Oglethorpe version of Frankenstein, Melies flics had plenty of horror elements, pudgy ladies becoming skeletons and the Devil always lurking about with his imps. Cool stuff all.
The scariest thing for me was a book my mother left lying around the house, some stranger than fiction thing that was filled with lavacious stories about something unseen biting the hell out of innocent children; women whose eye spit fountains of blood around Mexican deserts; people spontaneously bursting into flames! Not the sort of thing you should let a 7 year old who was watching his happy world disintegrate only because his mother fell in love and bought this stranger into our home. I was hooked on fear and adrenalin from then out.
The twenties saw Lon Chaney and his monsters that were products of human deformity. In the 30's we had a continuation of the humanoid being the cruelest monster - Browning (who worked a lot Gallery of Covers
Click images for desktop size: "Gallery of Covers" by Unknown
with Chaney in the silent days) giving up Dracula and Freaks. And Whale gave up Frankenstein. Even what made King Kong so memorable was his resemblance to human beings.
The Germans, so heavily involved in great horror movies in the 20's following WWI seemed to stop horror. Maybe they weren't scared of anything.
The forties bought on the real ultimate horror: WWII; and the horror movies moved into a slightly new type of monster; the monster who grieved, the monster who couldn't stop his monstrous devotion to terror.
The fifties exploded with Sci-Fi and horror. Teenagers, the scariest thing adults had ever seen were the monsters now, rock & roll was a monster. And there was the atom bomb and any second we could all be vaporized and the entire planet destroyed in a paroxysm of wild adult fury. The worldNight Of The Howling Beast (1977)-1 was such a terrifying place that we also knew that there was even more evil out there in outer space. But the Japanese touched the real horror and showed it came not from the stars but as a natural rebellion to man, it came from nature: Godzilla.
The atomic legacy wasn't just a painful death it was giganticism: Giant ants, grasshoppers, leeches killing all those the bomb sought to spare.
The sixties was the Hammer and AIP era. American International took the fifties themes to even higher layers of hysteria to a thumping beat. The Hammer flics said the world is still a safe and scary place, familiar. The monsters are deviants but we already know them. It didn't go deep enough and justified the deviant fantasies of the Gore movies.
(What's more deviant than paying to see a former Playboy Playmate get her leg cut off with an axe or her tongue pulled out of her mouth with ice tongs.)
KRM Photos
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by KRM Photos
The 60's ended with a horror so great it opened up the 70's: George Romero's "Night of the Living Dead" changed the world for a little while. I mean Roger Ebert wrote a piece for Reader Digest calling this film a socially depraved nightmare! The medium was the new monster!
And the 70's saw "Last House on the Left", "Texas Chainsaw Massacre", "The Hills Have Eyes" and the emergence of David Cronenberg.
Horror became a sensual sexual thing. Pleasure was always punished and the weak were fodder, only the strong survived. The monster was us, just stronger and less inhibited, more willing to survive.
The 80's belonged to Cronenberg. He purified and extolled the 70's. Horror was a by product of our lives, a virus that floated from lover to eunuch and a horror that extolled the perverted.Night Of The Howling Beast (1977)-1 It gave Clive Barker his starting inspiration. The 80's monsters were creatures from Hell. creatures who had human vices and needed love, a deviant love.
It saw the Hellraiser films stand with the Freddie Krueger movies. Splatter moved into the main stream building off of Cronenberg and Paul Schrader's "Taxi Driver".
One oddity were the "Friday the 13th" movies. Created by Steve Miner who worked on "The Last House on the Left" took and exalted the 70's themes by creating an inhuman monster who punished promiscuity with a searing precision.
The 90's spawned little in new horror. Real life was getting too complicated. The old school ruled and shut out the upstarts who might interfere with their mini empires.
Charles Band made his straight to video cheapies. They were sometimes entertaining. Sam Rami did the most destruction by combining a healthy does of bleak humour with the fear, a natural enough reaction. The final decimation cam from Italy. It started in the 80's but blossomed under Argento's hand and guidance.
Horror was reduced to steel and a knife and our own ability to merely watch and remain passive. Great globs of cool icy hatred and death.
And the 00's? Bush's time of remaking the world saw everyone fleeing into a fear of creativity. Brian Yzuna continued onward making original films that were often flaccid but never unimposing (Where is Creaming Mad George). The Asian horror cycle clicked in. Lots of ghosts and possessions of inanimate objects. Diverting Green Lantern
Click images for desktop size: "Green Lantern" by DC Comics
but not much else.
It began the era of the re-make. The great lost propensity of the damned. Doomed to never create but to simply relive the same old fear over and over again. How dull.
Even the crazed independents, the usual saviors of horror were working harder to look and act like the hits. There were no demons driving them. I mean, they're remaking "My Bloody Valentine" which was a mediocre 80's rip off of Friday the 13th.
I recently saw some horrors that left me pretty cold but seem indicative of the 00's. "Vacancy" was psycho with a profit motive. It was simply fun to kill people and then sell the security tapes for some serious bucks. I guess its scary that people would die for something so trivial.
"The Strangers" was a turgid mess. So slow it was almost expressionistic. Pretty poor and derivative with no payoff at all.
"The Alphabet Killer" was an attempt at something undefinable. It ended up being worthless and Night Of The Howling Beast (1977)-1 shameless. I liked the idea of a serial killer being hunted by an ambulatory schizophrenic except Eliza Dushku is not the actress to pull it off. Her idea of a schizo coping with hallucinations seems to be to twitch a lot and make weird faces. Asia Argento could have made the role real and probably made this a better movie. Oh you do get a glance at Dushku's nude breasts. It wasn't that exciting.
"Hit and Run" was typically dreadful but had some odd quirks. A fat leading lady who is pretty despicable as a character. She gets drunk and runs over some random guy. On getting home she finds his broken body tangled in her Jeep's front bumper so she takes the easy way out and beats him to death with one of her daddy's gold clubs. Then she buries this poor victim out in the woods . . . and she's the heroine.
I mean she has a guilty conscious so I guess that's alright. The guy wasn't really dead and for some reason being hit by a car, bashed in the head and then buried alive doesn't sit well with him. He actually presented as unreasonable and monstrous for wanting justice!
Off course the heroine get away with it and kills this loathsome monster. See he's a monster because he was recently diagnosed as being bipolar. There's little made of the fact that the pudgy girl tried to murder a man with a wife and son. See, provoked by the pudgy girl he murder's his wife . . . see pudgy girl was doing the world a favor Untitled by Gibberling
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Gibberling
because bipolar guys are notorious for murdering their spouses . . . well, that's the movies argument anyway.
There's a tacked on ending when pudgy girl gets caught. Someone must have said we can't let her get away with killing the guy even if she does have great tits! So she gets busted in a way that totally ignores the visual evidence we saw maybe two minutes before . . . I guess they figured that my attention span would have drifted away before then.
But it is an interesting trend: The perpetrator as victim: Bush's intended legacy. Nothing that happens to pudgy girl is anyway near as vile as the things she did to her victim. But it was an accident nearly and she even had a nightmare!Pieces
I like that movies try to present us with identifiable characters and then strives to find a person who embodies our self image, not the view others have but our self image. Its scary that being fat is becoming that idealized view of ourselves.

The server was down for a few hours. The hosting company says the cooling system broke and they had to shut down the servers to protect them. I can relate to that.
Should be fine now.

No football this weekend. I have a couple of Football movies to watch. I'm a football addict.
The dogs all love me. That's good but a little heart rending at times.
My friend planned to pull an all nighter. I was pleased she ended up coming home and getting some sleep.
There's been no solution to the car issue. Maybe when the job is done at work can sit down and come up with a real plan. Right now a lot of it eels like we're waiting for divine intervention. Not bad as ideas go but seldom workable.
One of her co-workers is facing a similar dilemma, a 10 year old car that costs just slightly less to repair than it would to replace.

January 22, 2009

No one needs your love like I do
Gene Pitney

Five O'Clock in Orksland by Mathias Kollros
Click images for desktop size: "Five O'Clock in Orksland" by Mathias Kollros
I've been so obsessed with the Great Car Trauma of 2009 and my friends difficult time at work (no problems, just excessive work) that I've lost sight of the other things I've been doing.Leave Her to Heaven
I made dog treats.
They finally decided that they love dehydrated sweet potato. My puppy loves dried apple. No surprise there, she love plain apple and will beg fiercely when I'm eating one. The gentle dog and the giant dog are more reserved about the dried apple. They only want it when my puppy is still happily eating hers. That figures. They are dogs as well as being my friends and family.
I like making things for the dogs. Not just out of love but because I am always worried about commercial dog food.
Today the Chinese government announced they had sentenced three Dogss by S4W
Click images for desktop size: "Dogs" by S4W
people to death for the use of melamine in baby formula that led directly to an undisclosed mount of infant deaths.
I just hope that its the right three people. I'm opposed to the death penalty but I guess murdering a few hundred kids justifies it as much as Ted Bundy's death.
I just hope its the right three people and not just 3 schmoes who were following orders from some highly placed party official or some rich businessman. They may have learned that from capitalism, protect the rich who kill for negligent profit.
Because all the American food producers used melamine (a deadly plastic additive that increases the measured protein level of foods when mixed in) to save about 10 cents a bag on their over priced premium food and then suffered no legal penalties for cheating us and killing animals. They made them take the poison food back . . . if it were unopened.
American Flag
Click images for desktop size: "American Flag" by Unknown
Can't feel too badly about that, after all we also cleared Union Carbide for killing nearly 4,000 in India because it Union Carbide was too cheap to install required safety equipment. Poison gas clouds or saving 10,000 bucks. To the corporate guys theirs no value to human lives, but 10,000 bucks that like a good months wage.
Its an old story which is why I'm nervous about prepared foods. I used a small factory to make my puppy's food to spec. Here the pet shop makes their own special blend. I feel slightly more secure.
Making my/their own dog treats makes me feel safer. So, its a selfish thing, because, trust me, the dogs don't much care.
My thumbs have gotten worse. Last night I had to figure out how to open the door with my elbows. Perseverance pays. Took me about 5 minutes. I can't open most jars.Jail Bait
Odd thing is that this morning my right thumb feels much better and the left feels much worse than the right one ever did. This just goes to confirm my self diagnoses of more neuropathic damage. Livable no that I'm certain what it is.
The pain in my thumbs has one benefit. I don't like living on pain killers even if the only ones I'll take are ibuprofen. I usually wait to long to take them only succumbing when the pain gets unendurable. Oddly I can never time it to figure out when to take them to avoid those episodes.
The thumbs start to hurt about half an hour before the big pain comes. So if I take the pills when the thumbs start to ache (and its a very endurable pain) I avoid those blind flashes. It is almost worth it.
The only real problem is in guitar playing. I use my left thumb to mute strings when I play certain chords. This makes that kind of impossible. It just means that I have to execute my right hand with a lot more accuracy. Since I've always been a pretty sloppy player in that sense (Mess and finesse) its energy that exercises new muscles.
My left hand is getting stronger and more precise. I'm pleased by that. I was afraid that the muscles wouldn't respond to exercise and would just atrophy. Its coming along fine. My biggest problems seem to be some of the more extravagant minor chords (which I adore) and some of the crazed 7ths (which I can play around by leaving out a couple of string. Who'd notice?)
I've also been rearranging the living room. Not so much rearranging it as tacking down wires and trying to hide them as well as I can. Its hard hammering.
Joan of Ark (Orleans) By Yasushi Nirasawa
Click images for desktop size: "Joan of Ark (Orleans)" by Yasushi Nirasawa
I do get to move all the furniture and unleash the roomba of dirt war upon it. The roomba still fascinates me. If I'm not careful I end up staring at it while it does its work, which sort of defeats the purpose of a vacuuming robot. I'm glad I'm not the only one who this happens to; a lot people comment on it.
So there's just a light dusty snow this morning. None since I shoveled out the driveway so no forced interaction with jerk neighbors. That's a good thing.
No luck on finding the ideal car. (Affordable) My friend just wants her old car back. Maybe that will be the way to go. She commented on the fact that the rental is causing her some pain in her arms.
The cat has not defecated in the house for a couple of days. This is another good thing.
My friend has decided that the cat is afraid of me. I could only wish. This morning it came and sat on my foot and yelled at me to let her out. Stupid cat.Killer Tongue
Haven't seen any decent movies. The Oscar nominations are boring as hell. Even the foreign flics are dull. Danny Boyle getting nominated makes me want to weep. He stinks and "Slum Dog Millionaire" was dull silliness to me.
I always thought Aronofsky's movies were pretentious tripe. "The Wrestler" came off like a low budget less ambitoius "Raging Bull". Mickey Rourke was pretty outstanding. I thought Marisa Tomei was incredible and pretty nice to look at. . .
I did find a copy of a film I haven't seen since it first came out "Truffaut's" La Nuit Americaine". I'm semi-afraid to watch it. This movie, as much as Cocteau and Steve McQueen probably made me go for the grad degree in Cinema. I mean, I remember watching this movie about making a movie and thinking, "This is what I need to do!" instead of taking a career I could make a living at . . . I'm afraid the movie will rightly stink and I'll stare at it and wonder about my own level of sanity then and now. Like running into an old girlfriend on the street it exposes you Luis Royo
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Luis Royo
to more risk of ridicule than pleasure. I'll probably still watch it.
Also it seems we're in one of those fallow periods where there seems to be no new music to interest me. Bruce Springsteen doesn't interest me at all. Which at least gives me the chance to justifylistening to my old stuff.
I like that fine.
ecto, the app I use to layout this site, has sort of stagnated since the developer guy sold it to the big software company. Its still buggy but does what it does well enough to justify hassling with it. I was having a huge problem with it. It was just like taking forever to load. Figured out it was the attachment.plst file. Because there's so many attachments that file had grown for about 8k to 14 megs. The app insisted on writing and reading that file each time it was loaded and each time I added a picture. I just dumped the file. No ill effects after three days and it runs nice and smoothly again.
A bug I don't expect to see fixed.
Most people who use Mac's know about Quicksilver. A nifty little app for launching apps, docs, Louisiana Hussyediting, its kind of remarkable. And its free!
The guy who developed Quicksilver has dumped the project. He's made it open source but thus far no one seems to have taken it up.
He left Quicksilver for a paying gig with Google. I'm glad he's making money. He's developing a Quicksilver replacement for them called "Google Search Box". It works pretty well and its also free. Well, free only in the sense you don't have to pay for it.
The search box is dead ugly. Disappointing after the several elegant interfaces you could pick and chose with Quicksilver. Here you can only chose the color of the box. Not any color you want but select from 4. And you have to look at the stupid google logo.
One of its "benefits" is that it searches not only your hard drive but checks the internet as well, mostly launching the browser and the google search. It also launches the app associated with the document when you pull one of those up.
Its buggy, although the 2nd alpha fixes the most annoying things. Its got a long way to go. I'm trying to ignore Quicksilver and use it. Its hard as Quicksilver require no thought from me. Its an app that learns from you as you work so it is always snappy. Google Search Box isn't there yet at all, but maybe.
And that is all. Time to take my fit dogs for their fit walk.

January 21, 2009

Nothing valuable can be lost by taking time
Abraham Lincoln

Erotic Apera by Alex Varenne
Click images for desktop size: "Erotic Opera" by Alex Varenne
I wasn't very overwhelmed with the inauguration speech.
Somehow it reminded me of a my old physics professor berating the class for doing so poorly on anHere Comes Mr Jordan exam that he had to throw out the bell curve.
I don't mind being underwhelmed. FDR was not a very magnificent speaker and he pulled this country out of a similar set of nasty circumstances.
I was very disheartened by the actions and comments of people like Rush Limbaugh. I mean there's a fat kid who clearly had his butt kicked every day when he was growing up and now has so much nastiness left in him that all the other fat kids with bruised rear Penguins by Wallpaper Coll
Click image: "Penguins" by Wallpaper Collection
ends follow him slavishly.
And the other Republican antics are just so much dross that its apparent they're committed to becoming a third party.
One thing is that Cheney reminded me of was Mussolini. An evil man as judged by history who viewed himself as compassionate and who cared for his people. He did not think he lied. He thought he was being Machiavellian clever.
There was this odd book, "Inferno" by Larry Niven. I don't usually like much of Niven's stuff but this book had an interesting conceit.
It retold Dante's "Inferno" in the simplest Cliff Notes way possible. The guide through the Seven Circles of Hell was Benito Mussolini.
Here the endless damnation, pain and torment was not seen as an end in and of itself. The layers of hell were seen not as a test but a rite of purification. A voyage through lakes of boiling blood and burning pitch to self awareness and discovery. So that by making the long path of torture through hell one can finally understand themselves and rise up to heaven.
Girl, Scotty and Violin by Archie Dickens
Click images for desktop size: "Girl, Scotty and Violin" by Archie Dickens
The book uses people like Billy the Kid to show how this rite can be abandoned but not failed. "Inferno" eventually ends up listing the seven circles of hell the same way De Sade's last book descended into being a simple lists of tortures he wished he been able to try.
Its an nteresting read and as Mussolini details his sins and regrets it is words that belonged in Dick Cheney's mouth. Cheney has implemented torture and been directly responsible for the death of thousands and still feels no regrets.
Who moreso deserves hell and an eternity of struggling through the lake of boiling blood.
Not even Bush, moving into his restricted multi-million dollar home has been so callous, unrepentant, blame shifting and vile he's a man doomed by himself.
Here's to a future.The Incredible Shrinking Man

My puppy's aun made a suggestion: that we look for a year old car that still has a few years left on the warranty. A pretty good idea. The main stumbling block is that brand new cars can be had with 0% financing. That might make the slightly used car more expensive. We'll have to keep searching though. Its worth investigating.
One idle thought I'd had was trying to pick up a junker, "Transportation Cars" they call them in the ads. Something to last a few months until the Honda hybrids come out. The price on them seems to keep rising but its still cheaper than most out there and 63 mpg is pretty cool.
So much to consider and time is like a taxi meter right now.

January 20, 2009

Flattery is like chewing gum; enjoy it but don't swallow it
Hank Ketcham

Dolph by Richard Mohler
Click images for desktop size: "Dolph" by Richard Mohler
Joe Paterno, head coach at Penn State, was once offered a coaching job in the NFL. He was offered something near 4 million dollars a year. He turned it down saying, "If you're not saving lives no jobFrogs is worth a million bucks a year."
In 2008 Paterno made $512, 000. Pete Carroll makes about 4 million plus.
When you walk around State College's campus you get sort of numb to all the buildings and libraries with the name Paterno on them. This wasn't an honour bestowed on him. After living his life, sending his kids to school and buying whatever he thought he might need he had money left over so he'd donated his surplus cash to the University so that kids could enjoy the place, could come and get the Remember When
Click image: "Remembering When" by Unknown
best education possible.
Back before Reagan, back when greed was considered a vice and not a virtue Joe Paterno was considered a pretty normal American. You made the money you needed to take care of your needs and your family and you used what was left to help other people get a leg up, get a chance to be what they want to be or at least enough to give them a helping hand.
Greed has always been with us. Its a pretty human trait. America perfected it. Europe and Asia followed. And now greed is destroying the world.
A world at war, a world in tatters and rags. The rich are begging and the poor are fighting to stay alive. Reaganomic trickle down theories were always hogwash, an excuse to be greedy. Rockefeller tossing shiny new roosevelt dimes out his limousine windows to the "darkies". He used to chuckle watching the kids and adults clamour for them.
Today. Obama gets inaugurated as President. Its a big deal that he black and is going to be Cole Phillips
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Cole Phillips
President. It disheartens me that its a big deal.
When you read prophetic novels and non-fiction from the 40's and 50's the general hope was that by the 90's we'd have ended war, ended hunger and would stand with all men as being equal. Only Orwell's 1984 and ANimal Farm proved to be accurate.
Conservative governments world wide put a stop to peace and change. All the energy was directed at preserving their old vision of the world. These are the guys who would have thought to sit on the tribunal to find Gallieo guilty of heresy and seen him burned at the stake.
Obama is getting a world that's been made smaller and even more divided. A world where the rich are committed to destroying the poor. Where our way of life is in hock to the most populous nation on earth and several more of our greatest enemies.Goliath and the Vampires
Enemies we've worked diligently to make hate us.
I hope Obama has some greatness in him. It will take greatness to stand up to the attacks and to the rich who despise him, the bigots who despise him and the Republicans who have pledged to stop any changes he might need to make.
Its an arduous path in front of him. The only good thing for him is that he can't make it any worse.
Good luck to him. Good luck to us all.

The word on the car is that the engine is seized, bearings burned, etc. Can't even be overhauled has to be replaced. $3,750. About what I expected but you always hold out hope.
The facts are that the car has a top Blue Book of $4,000. We don't have $3,750. A new car would run about $350 to $500 on a four year, depending on what we get (of course). Can't afford it.
I feel a touch smug its not my decision to make. I can only advise. Its a 9 year old car.
The rental is a nice Nissan Versa. It would actually be the cheapest and it looks like it would fit 3 or 4 dogs but it rides awfully low.
Haven't bothered to check out used cars yet. Need to do more thinking and fact gathering.

The dogs are at least happy. My puppy pushing through chest high snow makes me smile. She's frustrated trying to flatten out a section of ground where she can go to the bathroom, but she's having fun doing it.
The giant dog is driving me crazy with his ball in the tiny office. This morning he was leaping around Morning by Maxfield Parrish
Click images for desktop size: "Morning" by Maxfield Parrish
like a wild thing. He'd got a leaf tangled in his fur on his face. I removed it and he was irked. It was the best toy he's had in 15 or 20 minutes! I tried to put it back. It fell off but he kept chasing it.
Gentle dog is over being angry about not going to work with my friend.
The cat hasn't gone to the bathroom in the house, or at least I haven't discovered it . . . yet, which is nearly the same thing as her not going . . .
I shoveled the entire driveway, including the final 10 yards of heavy slush. Had a pleasant chat with the Postie who thought I was crazy to do it with a shovel. The neighbor buried the mailbox . . . I wonder how much of this is him just being an inconsiderate idiot jerk and what is malicious just out of patent ingrained jerkiness. While I was shoveling he drove in. Blanked me of course and nearly hit me gunning up the hill. I avoided him and the spray of slush because I'm still cool and quick.Giant From the Unknown
My friend is happy with how much she got done in her Hell Week quarter end. Did some work at home for a few hours thanks to a, finally, smooth running Citrex system.
So all is good in the world except for transportation.
My friend's assistant offered to pick her up and bring her home next week. Since I calculate its about 40 minutes out of her way a week should be all she could handle. But it just goes to show there's still plenty of good in the world.

January 19, 2009

Exploration is really the essence of the human spirit
Frank Borman

Cruel Shoes
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Cruel Shoes
Things aren't going great today.
There was about 6 inches of snow over night. Interesting stuff. New self anointed snow shovelingThe Falcon's Alibi masters have to anticipate being regularly tested.
I was up at six and making the phone calls to handle the garage and rental cars.
The garage gave me the second worst answer a mechanic can give you, "Uh oh!" when I told him the engine had seized.
The worst answer is some variation of laughter or "Seychelles! Here I come!"
Won't know until this afternoon what the final verdict will be. My friend had reality settle in and is now pretty upset. She was very attached to her little car. It fit her and it fit her personality. From Crunch Time.jpg
Click image for desktop size: "Crunch Time" by NFL Films
experience I can say it was little but still held four dogs and two people.
Then I called the car rental joint an hour before the pick up time. I was assured everything was in place and in order.
Four calls later and 1 hour past the pick up time the driver finally showed up. The car rental place is only about 10 minutes away. Three dogs and I could probably walk it in an hour or close to it.
My friend got there to find out that they had no car ready. Since we reserved it on Saturday and with the lateness this was sort of irritating. I guess the attitude was bad too. It wasn't the best on the phone either.
Anyway I had to do a quick search for another car rental joint. Went to one of the big national chains. Oddly, they were about 60 bucks less for the week then the recommended place that created the fiasco.
DC Unknown
Click images for desktop size: "DC Comics" by Unknown
They're on their way to pick her up at the first rental joint.
My friend isn't much given to teary eyed histrionics but I think she's feeling close.
She was wondering if she jinxed herself by calling this "Hell Week". She still has about 100 hours of work to get through this week, barring complications. (She doesn't schedule for contingencies.)
Hopefully, before I finish writing this I'll have word that everything is sorted.

The football yesterday was good. The Philadelphia-Arizona game was very edifying. Great lead changes, each team dominating a half with a socko conclusion. The final play of the game was cool and wild and a suitable championship conclusion.
The Steelers-Ravens match up was pretty much as advertised. I was disappointed in the injury to Fire Maidens Of Outer Space Willie McGahee. It looked devastating. I hope he's okay.
I still blame the Steelers for two of the worst Superbowls in history. Their win against Seattle and the loss to I can't remember who! That's how dull that one was. I think it was against the Dallas Cowboys in the late 90's.
The saddest part is I know they'll be favored. But maybe Larry Fitzgerald, Edge and Kurt Warner can keep the game exciting enough to enjoy.

Just got word that the second rental joint has picked my friend up from the first rental joint. What a mess.
For me, everyone knows that in the face of disasters (and this is a mess albeit a minor one in the face of the world).
When thing go wrong I can't help to think back to what I could have done to make things better or to not happen. Hindsight, yeah, but you need hindsight to expedite the future.

I have to go shovel snow. One bright spot is that the neighbors haven't dumped anymore snow on top of the gate. They've still blocked the man gate but should still be able to get the rental car into the parking space tonight. Amazing what things you find to be grateful for; people not being jerks for even just a little while.

Today is Martin Luther King Jr day. Its a shame they couldn't have re-scheduled the inauguration to happen on today. It would have been touching. It already will be.

January 18, 2009

Doubt isn't the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith
Paul Tillich

Computer Games
Click images for desktop size: "Computer Games" by Unknown
Unfortunate trouble today. Car trouble.
We went out in the morning to get dog food. The oil light was on/ I opened the hood and saw that oil was splaying out from the oil filter. I filled the engine with the oil we had in the car (justThe Desperate Hours purchased).
So we made a quick call to Jiffy Lube to get a new filter and on the way there the engine seized . . .
Not very good news.
We got a tow truck to a to a garage that's nearby. Walked home in the snow. Cold, snow and no ride. Just time to think about can't afford a new car, probably can't afford a new engine. I'd guess the bearing probably burned. Maybe not.
The engine seized on a busy bridge, going uphill. I got out to push it while my friend steered. It was slow going. I was full extended and Cone Nebula
Click image: "Crab Nebula NGC 2264" by NASA
looking at the ground, trying to make sure I didn't hit any ice and fall on my face. Suddenly the pushing got easier. I thought maybe the ground had leveled or something, I looked up and this fellow had just decided to help and was pushing for all he was worth. We got it to a driveway and even between us we could not get it up over the hump when suddenly anther car stopped and this fellow got out and finished helping.
They left as quickly as they came. Big city instincts had me reaching for my pocket and calculating how much money I had. But they left well before I was able to reach. Rah!
I had my mobile on me, fortunately. I walked to two garages, both closed on a Saturday of course. My friend managed to ring up a tow truck on her AAA. Funny thing was she thought her card had expired but the girl on the other end said it was paid for the year. So the tow was free.
We had to wait for it but less that 20 minutes. It was cold but not deadly cold inside.
Then we walked home and felt sad and then not so sad.
Click images for desktop size: "Coffee" by Unknown
I told her that chances were good it would be three to four thousand to fix or replace the engine. Can't afford it. Can't afford a new car either, or a used car.
This is the busy week for my friend. Where she works is 30 miles away. There's public transportation. It runs twice a day and takes over two hours. So we reserved a car. About 240 for the week. Can't afford that either.
But we're still smiling.
That's what friends are for I guess.
The weekend seemed to be off to a good start too. On Friday my friend too the giant dog into work with her. This greatly offended the gentle dog. He's still pouting today! He believes he is the working dog!
But the giant dog did well. He was protective without being aggressive. There's about a 6 acre fieldDivided Into Zero by my friends workplace and he played in the snow with another working puppy. And he was off lead! And came back!
There's a place near us that does a gluten free vegetarian pizza. That night we had pizza. My friend her gluten free one and the dogs and I our terrible bad for you pizza. We enjoyed it and felt all woozy and content.
Until my puppy decided that a piece of pizza I was holding was too tempting. She snatched it from my hand. She gave it right back but then scuttled away rather than go to place, or puppy prison, the big house for bad dogs, or the bathroom with the DOOOR CLOSED! For five whole minutes.
Click images for desktop size: "Daybreak" by Unknown
Then the car thing happened. Stress and cold weather has made my friend sick again. Funny, she was born and bred to this climate but I deal with it better. As we walked I put it off to my building my endurance by taking the dogs out for an hour or so everyday. When we got home it seemed to be that she was just more dressed for running from car to store than for endurance.
First time I ever knew there was a difference.
So I'm waddled in stress and worry. Its only a car but we need a car to survive. It is the centerpiece of our survival universe. It will sort out. It has to. This is the sort of problem that can be dealt with it just ripples and makes things difficult and, hopefully, doesn't destroy.
Thank god for football and movies.
The AFC and NFC Championship games are today. And its certainly odd.
The two six seed teams, the two who barely qualified are in the Championship. Baltimore andEyes Without A Face Arizona looked unreal thrashing favored opponents. Philadelphia looked no nonsense in thrashing an inept Eli Manning and a disorganized New York Giants team while the Steelers destruction of the Chargers seemed predicated on the Steeler's O-Line finally remembering how to block.
I was 2-2 in my picks. Careful study that couldn't anticipate the emotional swings of the teams. My friend was 2-2 because of lucky guesses.

My picks are in bold.

Philadelphia at Arizona - A few weeks ago the Eagles just trounced the Cardinals. It was an embarrassing defeat for them. It was also a meaningless game for the Cardinals. The question is: "Can the Eagles keep up this surprising run?"
They probably can but the Eagles were pretty dinged up after whomping the Giants. Most importantly the Eagles resurgence has hinged upon Brian Westbrook and he is dinged up pretty badly. He'll play but it would be tough to expect him to play at the level he has been at this past month.
The Cardinals are playing ball as well as they have all season. They're bashed up some but reasonably sound. Their X-Factor is Kurt Warner, the evil genius who worked his way into the NFL after years in Arena football and the WFL, worked his Confined by Julie Bell
Click images for desktop size: "Confined" by Julie Bell
way into three Superbowls and two MVP's. This is no doubt his last chance to again prove the world wrong.
The Eagles secondary can handle him. No one can handle Larry Fitzgerald right now. With Antaun Bolden set to play they can't even afford to double cover him unless they wan to rush just 3 linemen all day.
With James and Hightower being just effective enough to get the play action pass working the Cardinals will get their points at home.
The Cardinals' Defense has looked good in the playoffs. Westbrook is too good a back not to make a few great runs. But Donavan McNabb will likely throw a couple of picks against the ball hawking Cardinal's secondary. DeSean Jackson will face a rougher set of jams and presses then he's seen previously. They'll open up the middle for him where he'll get cleaned out.Dracula
This should be the most entertaining game of the day.

Baltimore at Pittsburgh - I'm taking the Ravens almost on a whim. Joe Flacco has gotten a lot of e-ink for being the first rookie to take his team this far, but I keep remembering that Rothlisberger did it with the Steelers in the most boring way possible.
This is going to be a ugly brutal game. The two best defenses in the league playing angry. The Steelers Troy Polamanu is banged up. At 905 he's still the best player on the field.
I don't think the Steelers O-Line can hold up against the Ravens as well as it did last week. They'll bash a fragile Rothlisberger around and do whatever it takes to take him out of the game.
The game should come down to field goals but in nasty weather and cruel winds the kicking game will spend most of the game on the sidelines.
Its should be mean, cruel football today and I think the Ravens feel too maligned to back down, give up or consider losing.

January 15, 2009

Even though we have chosen to live at the crossroads of hell we suffer for it everyday
Kazuo Koike

Backyard Fashion
Click images for desktop size: "Backyard Fashions" by Unknown
I've decided that the pain in my thumbs is neuropathic.
The only logic I have for this is that the pain has metamorphosed into some of the past neuropathic pains I've had. It reminds me most of the left shoulder.Creature From The Black Lagoon
The left shoulder started in a similar way, annoying pain that slowly became excruciating and managed to hide its intent.
I remember that I was driving and raised my arm to wave to someone on the sidewalk. I nearly plowed into an over pass buttress because I was suddenly convulsed with black vision pain. Nine Dragons Wall at Datong
Click image: "9 Dragon Wall at Datong" by Unknown
I really don't know how close I came to the buttress. I couldn't see it.
After wards I noticed that if I raised my arm at more than a 90 degree angle from my body the pain was intense and blinding. That was my first discovery of neuropathic pain. Its one of the side effects they don't really explain to some of the chemo-therapies. Weird thing is that the pain is based in the nerve damage but its so pervasive it effects the muscles as well.
I went on a self prescribed physical therapy. Later at a regular doctor's appointment they prescribed the same exercises I was already doing but added a couple of new ones so it didn't feel like a wasted time.
It took about a year for me to get completely rid of the pain, or at least bring it to a low enough level to ignore it.
I think the thumb is worse. For one thing its the first time I've not had the pain on my left side. But even though the pain is localized to a much smaller part of my body it was relatively easy to sort of remember not to suddenly raise my left arm over my shoulder. Its hard to remember not to use my right hand to open doors, answer phones and stuff.
Horror by Poze Horor
Click images for desktop size: "Horror" by Poze Horor
I'm going to try and figure out a series of exercises to bring the pain down.
Oddly, except for occasional stabs of pain, the guitar playing is going well . . . I keep working on new songs. Have even taken some tunes and put new words to them. I like that, even if the only "audience" reaction has been, "I've never heard that one before" and "That's not how it goes, is it?" At least they're listening.
Its been very cold here these past few days. It semi-worries me that I can ignore cold so well. The dogs and I went out for an hour or so yesterday. No ill effects at all.
The only worry about this is that I might ignore something that's doing me damage. I've done it in the past. Just another thing to be careful about.
In the intense cold I'm a little bit concerned that I haven't seen the skanky cat for three days. With the light snow it would have been easy to see its footprints. I hope its okay and hasn't frozen to death or something.Cry of the Banshee
I really hope I never see skanky cat again but I don't want it dead or hurt someplace. I want it to be with someone who thinks its beautiful and not skanky at all, who feeds and strokes it and keeps it warm and save.
Maybe I'll see it run across the street or something and it will be all sleek and fat and will probably ignore me. Cats are like that.
My puppy's aunt has suggested that the stupid cat is defecating in the house because its ill.
I don't think so. It's stool is very healthy. I've certainly had to examine enough of it.
We have to keep the cats food and litter box behind a gate to keep the dogs from rooting around. Now all three dogs really hate the stupid cat. Which is odd because the other cat, who died, they never had a problem with at all, not even when it would come and stand on my shoulder to steal some popcorn. They'd even let the other cat sleep against them with no real Sex and Fashion by S4W
Click images for desktop size: "Sex And Fashion" by S4W
reaction. Nor did they freak out when the other cat would butt in and start eating their food. But they hate the stupid cat.
I've watched enough to see that it provokes them quite a bit, sometimes harmlessly but sometimes pretty maliciously. Which is another justification for calling it the stupid cat.
The giant dog in particular takes offense to the stupid cat. When he sees it he'll follow it. He also likes to lie in front of the gate that protects its food and litter box. I'd suspect that the stupid cat doesn't see the need for using the litter box and just goes where its convenient for it. I've watched it swat the giant dog and leap over it to get to its food. I'd figure it doesn't see any sense to use that sort of effort to use the toilet.
The latest version of Handbrake, the app I use to back-up DVD's, has a new pre-set for AppleTV. Its based on CRF (Constant Quality) instead of being based on bit rate. It works extremely well, Darkest Africa1936Bat-Men of Joba.jpg producing better looking files at up to 60% the size! The only drawback to it is that it takes about 30% longer to do so.
Like a two pass H264 encode at 2500 average bit rate with 5.1 sound and ACC stereo would come in at about 2.5 gigs and take about 3 and a half hours to encode.
With the new preset the same movie comes in at about 1.5 gig but took about 6 hours to encode. The smaller file looked BETTER than the larger file. Highly impressive.
I don't have a video iPod but I'd suspect similar results.
Oh, last night there was a huge crash boom bam. Startled me and got the dogs excited. Seems the neighbor backed his trailer into his house! My friend thought that was pretty funny. Since there was not any real damage, thinking about it, she's right; it was.
For the first time he didn't block us out of our house! Probably serendipity and not courtesy. Still, for whatever reason it made me feel better.
In LA there were always some weird guys who kept three revolving cars: The one they drove, the one they were working on and the one they were trying to sell . . . I have no idea why this guy has 5 vehicles for himself. If he were a regular guy I'd ask. It might be educational. Since they have a total value of about $1,400 bucks maybe its 401k hedge . . .
Which is unfair and nasty to think but the rest of today will be spent figuring out the best approach to bureaucrats who have more in common with stupid cats than they do with human beings and coping with my cold. I woke up with the cold at its worst stages. I've got Vitamin C and throat lozenges. So I'm entitled.

January 14, 2009

Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change

Conference At Night by Edward Hopper
Click images for desktop size: "Conference At Night" by Edward Hopper
Its cold today. Minus 14! In Centigrade that's a scary sounding -26!
Its not that bad.
I was in in minus 17 once. In Chicago. Back there for my grandmothers funeral years ago. Cold might be lucky for me.The Call of Cthulhu
We had a rental car. Some kind of Ford. I was zipping along some side street avoiding traffic on the Dan Ryan. I was wondering why nobody else was using the street. I was zipping along at a nice 50! When suddenly there was no more road. There were no signs or anything just suddenly no street, just air.
I don't know how far I flew but I landed in the middle of an empty construction site. The car kept running so DC Comics
Click image: "DC Comics"
I managed to find an exit. In the rear view mirror I saw that there was about a six foot drop. There should at least been a "DIP" sign, I thought.
Astonishingly the car had no damage, not even a shimmy. I turned the car back to the agency and said nothing. I decided American made cars were alright for some things.
But the bigger bit of unbelievable luck was that we decided to change our flight plans and stay a few more days.
The flight we originally had reservations on was the one the American Airlines plane that crashed at the end of the runway, killing all aboard. It was strange. I never was that close to a tragedy that large.
It hit in a different way. Prior to that the big tragedies were always distant. Like my friend Jake who went to a party and sat with his girlfriend on his lap, took out a gun and shot himself in the head. No one knew why. I wasn't there. It was only a story like on TV.
Or when my friend Terry and I were out at Manhattan Beach Pier. It was 12 foot and started to look makable. He jumped off the pier with his board (a way of avoiding the nasty swim through the breakers and foamy white water) and I never saw him again. I dived in after him but couldn't find a Audrey Hepburn
Click images for desktop size: "Audrey Hepburn" by Unknown
trace of him. Not even his board.
The breakers pushed me to shore and I ran and managed to flag down a lifeguard truck. They found Terry's body three days later. For three days I thought he'd show up at school and laugh at me for chasing after him. I figured he'd only pretended to jump in and had swung under the pier in some way and was enjoying my panic.
I'd rather be the butt of one of his pranks. I was 14.
Watching the news story spaced me in a way I couldn't grasp. Terry was a tragedy that scars. This was monumental. Two hundred people dead and we'd have been there if someone hadn't asked us to stay two more days to see a show. If American had charged a fee for changing flight plans we probably wouldn't have paid it. And we'd have taken that short flight.City After Midnight
The enormity of it made me think only of my own welfare. That's the way those big things go. We have to bring it down to just us our the mind explodes imaging the shattered bodies and the shattered lives of the families.
Which is why I sort of understand why George Bush's greatest disappointment isn't the thousands of young American lives lost in the war but his disappointment was in not landing his plane in New Orleans. How could you live thinking you'd had a hand in killing all those thousands of people. It nearly killed Abraham Lincoln before John Wilkes Booth did it for him.
So I can understand how Bush can block it out of his mind. Its what I would do.
How stupid are we as a country that we allowed a guy who is no better than me to boss us.
How hard is it to say, "My deepest regret of my time in office is the American men and women who died in defense of our country, who died protecting liberty around the world, who sacrificed all they Banana At Rest by Blurburger
Click images for desktop size: "Banana At Rest" by Blurburger
had so that we could live free."
It wouldn't have been hard unless he and all of his dozens of staff really didn't care in the slightest. Don't even care enough about our dead to have the decency to lie and pretend to care.
I think its fine that I don't have the depth to consider things like, "If only I'd turned right instead of left I could have avoided hitting that school bus." Cool for me, but not for any responsible person. Used to be the president was the most responsible guy on earth.
I still like the cold. The dogs are invigorated. We're going to take a walk today and see how long we can stand it.

Still the same issues with the neighbors. I was taking the garbage out and saw him. I said, in my most pleasantly neutral voice, "Hey. How you doing?" And he flat out blanked me.
Maybe he's deaf. Maybe he has aspergers syndrome ( a mild form of autism) or most likely he's a stone jerk.CONFESSIONS OF AN OPIUM EATER.jpg
Its a good thing we're not in LA. As most of you know a guy blanking you like that all these times usually means you have to blank him back and, oh yeah, carry a gun as he surely means you harm.
This isn't LA and I don't like the idea of prison is what I was thinking as I watched him use his snow blower to blow snow over the fence into our yard and driveway. When I watched him park his truck and block our driveway I decided that we'll buy a "DO NOT BLOCK DRIVEWAY" sign. That'll show him I mean business.
I still like their dog. I still miss our old neighbor and her dogs. Ditto for our dogs.
Forgetting the jerky new neighbors I hope the old neighbors are doing well.

The dogs are now eating the dehydrated sweet potatoes and apples and enjoying them. I'm pleased. But now I'll have to make more. Which is better than them eating cat feces. The stupid cat has decided that its litter box is not sufficient and has at 8 years of age decided to use various boxes and corners around the house . . .

A few enquiries asking about the "Lone Wolf and Cub" saga. The story that reads like a legend but started as a comic book. Maybe I'll detail more about it.

January 13, 2009

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.
Dalai Lama

Amazing Taprohmtom Braid Tree Temple by Whamuel
Click images for desktop size: "Amazing Taprohmtom Braid Tree Temple" by Whamuel
It snowed. Another 2 and one half inches, I'd guess.
I was only partially joking about snow shoveling and martial arts having a similarity. When I shovel snow I get a feeling eerily similar to the feeling I used to get at karate special trainings.Blood Beach
Its the constant repetitive motion perhaps. Or its like the comedy training in "Return to the 36th Chamber" where the monks have the acolyte do what seems to be a dull never ending task. It ends up that the acolyte has been martial arts training. So well he isn't even aware of it. "Karate Kid" stole the well and condensed it to "wax on, wax off". Which is easier to remember but not quite as deep.
What I'm referring to is the meditation part of the exercise. Shoveling snow and throwing 1,000 kicks aren't as different as I'd Dark Days by PicDeskTop
Click images for desktop size: "Dark Days" by PicDeskTop
like to think. The major difference is that at the end of the snow shoveling exercise you can look back and see a clear path that, hopefully, leads somewhere. With martial arts you only have a tired body and the feeling that you've accomplished something great.
I'm not sure which is more zen.
In the "Lone Wolf and Cub" manga and movies there's a story about Ogami Itto being hired to kill a monk. a very holy monk; a Buddha walking the earth.
Ogami confronts the monk as he prays in a temple. In the manga Ogami's sword slashes and cannot touch the immobile monk. In the movie Ogami cannot even draw his sword.
The monk tells Ogami he cannot be killed because he "is one with the void. The universe begins and ends in me. There is no place where you can strike the heart of the universe. You are enlightened Ogami Itto but your enlightenment is only that of the assassin."
In the comic the exchange ends with the monk saying, "to kill a Buddha you must be a Buddha."
Woody Acres by Jon Draperr
Click images for desktop size: "Woody Acres" by Jon Draperr
In the manga Ogami goes to a temple, fast and prays for 3 months before feeling he is ready. He confronts the monk in a procession and attacks. A line of blood drops down his forehead. He raises his hand and says, "A magnificent stroke." Then his body splits in half, sliced down the vertical from skull to hips.
In the movie Ogami uses a scandalous trick to get the monk in his grasp. He pulls the monk from a boat and drags him underwater. There Ogami stabs the monk with a knife. The monk says, underwater, "so this is the path to enlightenment you have chosen."
I don't think I have a preference between the two ways of telling a story.
I do know that I used to do an annual fast. The first week was rough as the body tried to live off the toxins I'd ingested the previous year. After that first week I felt great. Demonstrably stronger, Belle et la Bette faster. Better concentration.
I used to run five miles every day. During those runs my mind thought of nothing. I didn't have a Walkman or an iPod. I only had the white noise in my brain to keep me company. I marked out the distance previously. I'd start the stop watch and run. Very few of those runs produced any memories. I'd look at the stop watch and 32 to 35 minutes had passed. I was at the mark I knew was five miles from the starting point. That was the only evidence that I had done what I set out to do.
I wonder, now not then, if this was the state of meditation that the Shaolin monks strove for when they practiced their martial arts. To simply flow. To live with their minds filled with something like my white noise?
I'm not a good Buddhist or Christian, I'm not much of a good anything, except a good man. I can say Autumn White Birch by Maxfield Parrish
Click images for desktop size: "Autumn White Birch" by Maxfield Parrish
that with pretty much a calm self assurance.
Shoveling snow produces some similar meditative ideals in me.
Lewis Carroll, (Charles Dodgson), wrote a book that's been fairly well maligned: "Sylvie and Bruno". Dodgson was a great writer. No contest. Most people would call James Joyce a great writer. He wrote three great books. William Faulkner is a great writer. He wrote three great books and created a lot of great scenes. Even my pet, Raymond Chandler only wrote two great books. Charles Dodgson was a great writer.
His "Sylvie and Bruno" is hard to track down. It has some problems but also some great scenes. One of the Chapters of the book is titled, "Bruno's Revenge". It was based on a short story he'd published years before in some dwee Victorian Kiddie mag.
In the story Bruno is angry with his sister, Sylvie. He feels he's been wronged and seeks revenge by Black Ceasar destroying her carefully tended flower garden.
Before he can begin his odious task the narrator, an ill defined adult who alternates between being omnipotent and hapless, stops Bruno and then helps him expend his rage by lovingly enhancing the garden, finding colored stones to accent and line the paths, removing weeds and whatever other stuff you do for a garden.
At the end of his labours Bruno and the narrator are exhausted. Bruno finds his rage has dissipated. The physical exertion in the spirit of kindness, not forgiveness but kindness has removed his rage and transported him closer to the Victorian God Dodgson fervently believed in.
I think you need to pay attention to Dodgson. He made a deep impression in four different disciplines, Kids Lit, Math, Photography and Religion. I mean, any guy who can mathematically prove that Jesus Christ was the Messiah is a force to contend with not against. And its in nice Western terms and not alien Eastern philosophy.
My shoveling the driveway, I guess that's a difficult task, some consider it ridiculous, was my "Bruno's revenge."
I've been angry about the neighbor's dumping a ton of snow pressed against the gate, angry about shoveling it out at midnight so we can get into the house, angry that I still can't use the man gate, angry that even after shoveling it out he sees fit to block the gate with his trailer and snowmobile.
The physical labour locked me into the white noise in my head. It expelled my rage and accomplished something positive.
An Impossible Dream by Sweibel
Click images for desktop size: "An Impossible Dream" by Sweibel
Last night I went out with the dogs to tour the house, like we do every night. I bought them inside and back out to get the mail. I have to use the car gate to do this now and while the gentle dog and the giant dog are getting better at it they still can't be 100% trusted outside. So I went back out to get the mail and was shocked to see that the snow mobile was parked so close to the gate I had to climb over it to get out.
I came back inside enraged. I know that I have to let the rage out or it turns into dark fury so I complained. I got responses that I didn't anticipate.
I went back, climbed the snow mobile and knocked on his door, filled with undisapated rage justified with ludicrous "facts", like the fire department can't get into the house, an ambulance and how he had no right to dictate what times we were allowed to come and go.
Angrier still that I still don't feel that this is malicious more that this guy is such an ass he doesn'tBorn for Hell think or care about others.
Luckily he didn't answer the door. I think he was asleep and I didn't press it. I wasn't that angry yet. That's the furious parts job, to be irrational.
This morning I dealt partially with the snow. When the snow stops I'll finish the rest of it, if I've time.
When cleaning the car I was surprised that it was coated all over with ice. There'd been no rain and the temperature has not gone above freezing, the car hadn't been moved in 3 and half days, so I'm bewildered. My only guess is that the sun shone yesterday. I guess it heated the glass and metal enough to melt stuff and then it refroze. Its just a guess.
When my brain isn't filled with white noise its filled with thoughts like that. Those thoughts always lead to other thoughts like that.
The noise is better, calmer.
Maybe its because I'm dumb. I'm the kind of dumb who believes people are smarter than me because they say they're smarter than me. It takes a lot to change my mind.

January 12, 2009

Capitalism without bankruptcy is like Christianity without hell
Frank Borman

Plans Of Man
Click images for desktop size: "Man's Plans For a Better World" by Unknown
My friend is home today. Precautionary sick day. My insistence.
She's got a quarter end thing this month. That usually entails a few 36 to 48 hour shifts. That startsAppointment With Danger Wednesday.
Seems to me that it makes better sense to fully recover from any illness to better endure the hyper-mandatory deadlines that begin this week.
The only issue is that, despite my precautions, I feel myself getting a cold too.
It used to be that I was immune to everything. If I caught a cold I'd sneeze or cough for a couple hours, take a nap and wake up fine. Unremembered Faces
Click image: "Unremembered Faces" by Unknown
Once I had a temperature of 104. I was traveling that day. I took two aspirins I got at the Atlanta Airport on a layover, took a 30 minute nap in one of those creepy airport chairs designed to keep you alert and uncomfortable, and I woke up fine.
Since chemotherapy everything hits me in a near fatal way. I don't understand how the cure (chemotherapy) for one disease makes you immediately vulnerable to every other disease. It doesn't feel logical.
Getting the body tough enough to throw off some crazy blood cells shouldn't take so much effort that your body has nothing left to fight anything else, ever.
Its a reality I reject. And reality doesn't give a damn.
The cold is early stages enough that I think I can fight it off.
Its snowing right now. Light powdery stuff. Makes me want to go skiing . . . or skydiving. Not sure which one would be the closer to fatal but the pleasure receptors in my brain still remember them.
Blue In Space
Click images for desktop size: "Blue in Space" by Unknown
I didn't help my cause for illness fighting by attacking the snow yesterday.
I shoveled the yard as is my usual task. Not the whole yard but the sidewalks and driveways. I usually have the dogs to increase the burden and make it a chore but they make me laugh and feel happy enough to not care about the extra work.
I went to shovel the entrance from the gate to the main driveway. Since my neighbor has piled a few hundred pounds of snow in front of the man gate I had to take the dogs in. They disapproved. (Why is it that in this huge yard they have to stay within 5 feet of me at all times but the second they get out of the gate the mission is to get away from me as fast as possible. How much fun can it be for them watching me chase behind them?)
After I shoveled the entrance I got worried about the neighbor plowing the yard and piling all thatBeast of Blood snow right back in front of our gate. With a sick friend and three dogs I got worried about emergency runs delayed while I frantically shoveled a clear path. I envisioned firemen struggling valiantly with flame throwers trying to burn an exit through the heavily compacted snow. So I shoveled the driveway.
I only did 25 yards. of the 30. The driveway is 12 feet wide so that's like 100 square yards with about 7 inches of snow. I wish I knew the math to calculate how much snow in pounds I shifted. I'm sure it was prodigious.
No matter. I still feel the right to name myself the master of the snow shovel. The driveway looked fabulous, like a pathway to snowy paradise. I'm sure the pathway to Valhalla is not any better shoveled and landscaped.
I'm working on some katas to further evolve the discipline I have so well perfected. Soon I will take students and for a nominal fee instruct them in the art I have constructed.
Shar Pei
Click images for desktop size: "Shar Pei" by Unknown
It was 15 outside. I noticed that again I managed to shut down my body so well that I only felt my usual pain and didn't really notice the cold. I'll make that part of my instruction.
Of course when I went that evening to contemplate my great feat and the beauty of my plan to give us normal ready access I discovered that our neighbor had parked his snow mobile right in front of the gate.
I'm still convinced that this is not malicious just stupidity and an inability to conceive that the world extends somewhat beyond his field of vision.

The NFl on Saturday was Majestic. I was thrilled to see Arizona rise up and play some pretty impressive football in the first half. The Baltimore Ravens win over Tennessee was exciting and tough.Barberellas
On Sunday the games were pathetic. No excitement. Just dull inevitability. Although I still am entertaining the idea that Eli Manning took a huge bribe to throw the game for the Giants. He looked purely horrendous.

I heard from my friend who got his degree in Archaeology. Somehow this has turned into him becoming a teacher. Grammar school teacher. Odd path, I think. He's tutoring an autistic kid while looking for full time employment. Cool stuff. I hope it works for him.
His girlfriend got him a Canon 1000D!! I think that's great. He's been shooting old camera bodies with film. Doing pretty well with it. He has an eye for it.
I would have loved to see photo's by him at some dank jungle while he discovered a million year old space ship made of stone and wood that contained the final remnants of its alien astronaught. (Who then awakens and devours the entire archeological team, of course. His photo's would make him posthumously famous!)

I'm doing laundry. Tending the ill(er) and petting the dogs. Talking to lawyers and bureaucrats and that's enough for me today.

January 10, 2009

When you have a dream, you've got to grab it and never let go
Carol Burnett

Wave Outline
Click images for desktop size: "Wave Outline" by Unknown
Still feeling thin. My friend isn't doing much better. Only two dogs at the dog party. They had a weeks worth of fun looking at the pictures.
She had a bad day. Creepy co-worker who reports to her. My friend went ballistic and gave herselfA Quiet Place to Kill a 26 hour (and counting) headache.
We took the dogs out for a late night walk. It was fun. Everyone felt a little bit better for it. What was nicest that the park near us was completely empty except for two guys who had somehow stomped out a 10 yard square ice skating rink. The dogs had never skating before and they were enthralled to the point of not even barking at Surf
Click images for desktop size: "Surf" by Unknown
the strangers.
It was cold. My friend asked me, "Can you feel your face and fingers?" I said, "Of course!"
But then thinking about it I realized that I couldn't. Not at all. I didn't realize it.
I'm also worried about a dear friend who works at Starbucks. What that corporation is doing is pure evil.
Recently they closed down nearly 700 shops, throwing an estimated 2,800 people out of work. The company disputed all unemployment claims stating that they could have transfered to another store . . .
Their new ploy to force attrition, is to demand that all employees makes themselves available for work for 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. Not being available is cause for termination. They make no guarantee that any employee will receive the hours for which they may have been hired. Meaning that you could wait for work for 84 hours and only get 4 hours Welcome to Hell by Jakob P
Click images for desktop size: "Welcome to Hell" by Jakob P
of work.
I've been in that situation. Watching the rent clock tick and scrabbling for money to pay the phone bill so you can call in and be told there's nothing now, check back in a few hours or tomorrow. You can't even look for another job because you relied on your paycheck that barely met your minimum survival needs. Can't take a part time gig because you have to be available. So you sink into depression clinging to hope and a lifeline that doesn't ever materialize.
This is a pretty cynical move by Starbucks. I'm sure the exec's are still drawing full pay. They have to take care of their families. They are too cowardly to think about yours.
I'm also sure that this has led to a sweet amount of corruption for those low level store managers. Fifty to a hundred bucks a week to get you 30 hours a week. Small bribe when it lets you avoidAlmost Human starving.
The move has given the Union movement a bit of a kick, but its too late now.
When Ronald Reagan destroyed the unions he knew full well that he was destroying the American dream. Even superstar athletes need a union.
I remember Walter Payton had to go through hell to get paid 700,000 a year after leading the NFL in rushing for 4 years. He never got it. Had to settle for 600,000.
It was Reggie White, then a Philadelphia Eagle, who showed the way. He was making 225,000 and wanted a raise to 350,000. The oner of the team said it was impossible. The Eagles were losing money and they couldn't afford to pay him a fraction of what he was worth as a player and a box office draw.
White went to court. HE got the Eagles to open their books. What they found was surprising. The Eagles were losing money. The largest expenditure was a 25 million dollar a year salary paid to the owner. The second largest was the 15 million that went to pay for the owner and his families homes, the fourth largest was for cars, boats and personal vehicles.
Dark Tower
Click images for desktop size: "Dark Tower" by Marvel Comics
Its the same at Starbucks. Its the same for those employees as it was for Reggie White. Dedicated good employees cast aside and their needs ignored.
I'll never drink a cup of franchise coffee again.

At least this is the best week of NFL football this season. All four games have a burgeoning promise that ascends to the imagination as a falling star in the desert beckons to the cave men.
Last week I was 3-1 one in my picks. I missed on Arizona. I was glad to lose it. The Cardinals were brilliant.
My friend was 2-2 in her picks. I guess I just can't teach her anything!
My picks are in bold.

Arizona at Carolina - I don't think the Panther defense can stop the Cardinals. They can slow themA Nymphoid Barbarian In Dinosaur Hell down especially since Boudin, my pick for courageous player of the year, may not be able to play. Still I can't see them stopping Larry Fitzgerald or the quick strike. Meanwhile the Panthers rely on Steve Smith and Deangelo Williams. I think the Cardinals can stop Deangelo and slow down Smith but not at the same time. There'll be a lot of junk passes that will set up a few pass interference calls when Delahome goes deep to Smith. It could be a Panthers blowout but more likely will be a shootout. The Panthers barely won a shootout against the Saints a few weeks ago. That was on the road. I think they'll win a shootout today in the final moments.

Baltimore at Tennessee - If the Titans could have avoided Baltimore I think they had a sure path to the Superbowl. Last week Joe Flacco made history by being the first rookie QB to win a playoff game. He has shown he has no regard for that kind of history. That's a good thing. Every step he has taken has been something new for him and the league. The Titans have enough D to make him nervous but not to stop him completely. Meanwhile the Ravens defense is looking better than anyone since the Ravens won the Superbowl. They match up against the Titans strength for strength. This will be a smash mouth encounter. I pick a surly swarming defense against a great running game. And then there's the Ray Williams fire. The Jake Reed hunger. I can't wait.

Eagles at New York Giants - The games both won at the others house this season. This is the tie Chinese Dancer
Click images for desktop size: "Chinese Dancer" by Unknown
breaker. The game will have almost a college feel. Two rivals who hate each other playing down in the cold and the dirt, true NFL style. There's too much intensity here. The Giants have played cruddy ball since the Plaxico Buress incident while the Eagles have played their best ball in the last four weeks, mainly thanks to studly play by Brian Westbrook. But the Giants have had the bye week to heal. They're completely healthy. The Eagles are in good shape but had a physical game last week. That and the fact the Giants have more talent makes me give them the pick. If all the games weren't so good this would be the game of the week.

San Diego at Pittsburgh - A few weeks ago they played in Pittsburgh. The Steelers won 11-10. ThisArena week the Chargers won't have super stud Ladainian Tomlinson. But the Steelers QB, Rothlisberger is coming off a severe concussion, the kind where you think you're someplace else dreamy. Rothlisberger will get battered. Holmes will pick up some of the slack. If Tomlinson were in the game I'd take the Chargers. Derrick Sproles (who grew 2 inches just by joining the NFL) is a nifty little back. He can't survive the battering from the Steelers and Polamanou. Last week against the Colts they were saying how Philip Rivers was willing the Chargers to the wind. What I saw was Rivers throwing a lot of iffy passes into too tight of a window. I think the Steelers won't let him get away with that. I can see the Steelers winning on a defensive score.

As usual these picks are for my contest and for laughs. I wouldn't pay any attention to them unless your idea of laughs is losing money to bookies . . .

January 9, 2009

The sun can't shine on all creatures
Shonen Knife

Soa Lee
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Soa Lee
Its snowing now. Big fluffy snow flakes. Sweetly sunny. Pretty stuff. Distracting.
My friend took the gentle dog to work with her today. They're having a doggie party today.1984 Hopefully there'll be a half dozen pups there ensuring nothing work related gets done, only important doggie chores accomplished today.
Click image: "Fans" by Gothic Walls

The BSC Championship was sort of boring. Sloppy too. I never saw any really decent football. Percy Harvin and Tim Tebow had moments that were very satisfying but mostly it looked like the SEC and Big 12 were both grossly over rated conferences. Neither looked like Champions.
I can understand Utah making all kinds of whiney noises about law suits demanding to be called the Champs. What a waste of intelligent energy.
I don't think Utah looked indomitable either, but they have an argument. Times like this I prefer the Alice (The Devils Bride) by Stephen Fabian
Click images for desktop size: "Alice (The Devil's Bride)" by Stephen Fabian
old Bowl system where their was no definitive champion just people's opinions and good arguments for the rest of the year. A playoff system is the only thing that would work if we really have to have a "true Champion".
I'll still hold to my stance that all kids who play this game and struggle to the end are Champs.
I was impressed with Tebow after the game. Percy Harvin said the right things very sincerely. All the kids deserve to be Kings of the Football World.

Watching the game made my mind wander (boring sloppy games often do).
I thought about Obama working so hard to reconcile the country. He's trying to do that "hands across the aisle" thing. The Republicans are circling and like most demagogues see his attempts at rightness to be weakness. A weakness to exploit for gains that have nothing to do with us, the 1984 people who suffer their indignities.
I don't think anyone ever sees themselves as evil.
Even a monster like Hitler was a vegetarian for moral not health reasons. And that vile thing probably believed he was doing the right thing for himself and the world. You wonder if at the moment before he died he had a glimpse of the wretched hateful thing he had become.
I've listened to Dick Cheney proudly explain why he thinks torturing people we assume are guilty was a brilliant thing to do. How he circumvented the law to "protect" us. I've listened to Bush not feel responsible for the economy, and how he wishes he had invested the entire Social Security Fund in the stock market. In fact, that's his biggest regret. Not wiping out Social Security.
(Since the Destroyer books once did a edition that involved outside forces destroying America by manipulating the stock market, I wonder where he got this idea. In the book America is saved because of a massive infusion of cash that secretly came from the Social Security fund. Maybe this is Bush's idea as well. Scary stuff.)
As I listen to everyone rewriting history and replacing fact with fancy you have to say that not all these people could be lying. I think they really believe that stuff they're spouting. That from their ivory towers they see not the same sun as we see, nor the same earth.
We invaded Iraq because we thought Hussein did not provide ample proof he had no weapons. We Toot Sweet
Click images for desktop size: "Toot Sweet" by Unknown
justified staying there because Hussein murdered his people, denied them simple civil liberties such as freedom to travel. He rested in gilded palaces while his people struggled to survive. He tortured people to get them to confess to real or imaginary crimes.
He was hung for these crimes. Probably rightly so. I don't know enough about anyone that would justify killing them or not killing them for that matter. (That belief kept me out of a lot of jury duty.)
What bugs me is that Cheney and Bush are now boasting about doing almost the same things that Hussein was murdered for.
I think that they need to be tried for war crimes, for torturing human beings, for holding American citizens in prison on suspicion, for killing people.
As they have said, "if they are innocent we have the system in place to allow them to prove it." Which might be contrary to what I thought were the American Principals and laws but why not let A Bullet For Joey them be subjected to the World Court.
Forcing them to testify and to confront the evidence against them would clear the air. It would raise our world status, our own self respect not matter what the verdict. Do most American realize how hated we are in the rest of the world. How hated George Bush is? Tony Blair escaped scandal after scandal but he was ousted as Prime Minister of the UK because he chose to side with Bush.
It won't happen. We still have segregated neighborhoods and a President who chooses to spend a few million to live in it. And too many people who think that is cool.
The Republican administration doesn't think its evil. They think they did what was right. A lot of people agree with them. I don't. I don't want to live in a world that sees nations collapse in on themselves with self serving stupid arrogance. We used to lead the world, maybe we still do.
It was Ibsen who wrote, "by simple fact the majority is always wrong."

The Medicine Teepee
Click images for desktop size: "The Medicine Teepee" by Unknown
Didn't sleep well last night. Worries. Finances. So what else is new?
All that scrapping has resulted, not in a surplus so much as an ability to take care of some things. Health and car mostly.
Eye tests and brake jobs sort of extravagances.
I've also cut my pain killer intake in half. More economy. Maybe was too drastic a cut off. Discomfort level rising sort of thing. So that now I just feel hollow and a little frightened. I'm not scared. Its that sort of fear you can't ignore or escape. Not dread. More grounded and less elliptical than dread.
I'm lucky to have dogs and friends. The only known antidote.
I'm a lucky guy.

January 8, 2009

Eight out of ten people are good; the other two are just unwise
Tsui Shan Lee

Smoke By Felipe
Click images for desktop size: "Smoke" by Felipe
I've had a couple of bad days in a row here.
Tuesday the news of a child's death started things poorly then there was nothing tragic but all little things that kept piling on; pictures falling and glass breaking sort of things, legal letters and grief. World Without End Just a cumulative effect that increased my weariness.
It carried over to Wednesday. Plenty of snowfall. It was the kind of snow that in London would have been called a blizzard, in L.A. it would have been seen as either a miracle or the first sign of the Apocalypse. Here it was Wednesday.
I was out shoveling snow and noticed that the front tire on the car was low. That's been a problem lately. With all of our scrabbling and cutting expenses we're just seeing a dim light ahead. Cars have a way of knowing when you're about to get even.
I have an electric tire pump that plugs into the cigarette lighter. I Cocktail Party - Virtual Girl
Click image: "Party Girl" by Virtual Girl
filled the tire and while I was putting it away I decided to start the car. It wouldn't start. No jumper cables. Weird clicking that sounded like but not quite like a solenoid clicking.
Some stress there. My friend was working at home. After a few hours of stressing she went out to see the car herself. It started right up . . . which was good in the long term, of course, but left my ego slightly dinged.
I spent a few hours making dog treats, drying sweet potatoes and apples. The dogs didn't seem to like them, except for my puppy who'll gladly eat anything.
My response to all this was to attempt to do something positive. Backing up the computer hard drive seemed like a good idea. Except I didn't have enough space on the back up drive . . . no issues. I clone the drive and make it bootable. When faced with crunching space I normally wait for the app to back up the media files and then delete them from the back up drive. I don't need them The Behemoth
Click images for desktop size: "The Behemoth" by Unknown
there in the face of a disastrous crash. Except this time I mistakingly deleted them from the main drive - 14 movies, about 56 gigs. All replaceable just tedious work copying them to the HD except I can't remember what four of them were. I have to take that as a sign that they weren't very important after all.
The skanky cat seems to have taken up residence in the dog house. She/he has found the food I put on top of the dog house (to keep it out of dog's reach). It has also learned not to run from the dogs. The snuffling at it is preferable to being chased and trampled. I fear skanky cat may have found a home. I do see its footprints going over the fence so maybe it has a few different homes. I hope so.
We went to the Wushu show last night. It wasn't Wushu. I like those shows. I saw a great one inWhere Danger Lives London at the Royal Opera House. Monks flashing swords and triple irons, smacking each other around. It was tres' cool.
This was pure dance. Chinese traditional dancing is pretty cool. A lot of the Olympic gymnastics routines had their origins in Chinese dance. It was cool seeing dancers flash around, tumbling at flying and twisting in mid air. A few moves were excellent.
They had one number with 16 female drummers. Awesome stuff. Dancing and hitting the drums in a nifty syncopated beat. Then there was a number called The Dragon Drummers. 14 guys playing Chinese tambourines and flinging themselves around the stage. Finally, for me, there was a killer number with 16 chicks playing "Mongolian Chopsticks". A bunch a reeds tied together that they played by banging the sticks against different body parts. Great sound and scary shaky rhythm.
My friend liked a Tibetan dance number. There was a lot of stomping around and nifty jumps. I slept through a big part of it or else I might have felt more positive about it.
The show did something else I found interesting. Instead of back drops they used a projector, a front projector. I thought that odd only because I'd have figured a rear projector would work better for them. Its a solid idea for a bus and truck show Transformers
Click images for desktop size: "Transformers" by Matell
and it let them do all these nifty SFX of saints descending from heaven and the like.
I was also stunned by all the costume changes. Conservative estimate there had to be at least 500 costume changes. All I could think about was doing the laundry. I figured the costumers had to be up all night washing and ironing. The costumes were nifty and impressive.
There were a couple of things I didn't care for. They had two narrators who were kind of blah. They took turns speaking in Chinese while the other translated into English. Made some pretty superfluous info go twice as long and get twice as tedious.
I didn't care for the heavy Westernization of the Chinese music. Personal preference. It was all original music that sounded like typical dance music with an Asian flair.7th Voyage Of Sinbad
Then to effect all the costume changes they had these "musical interludes" where individuals came out and did these heavy religious songs opera style. It was where I first started napping.
There was a woman who did a lovely number on the "ehru". The ehru is that crazed two string Chinese violin. Her piece was interesting. I wondered where else she could find work as a virtuoso on such an obscure (by Western standards) instrument. Hers was the only endurable number.
All in all it was a pleasant enough evening with a couple of revelatory moments. I would have done the sound a LOT better. The soundman was in the same aisle as us and the same row. His work was poor. He amplified the orchestra pit so that a 20 piece band ended up sounding like a ghetto blaster. Very surprising. I still don't understand the over mikeing. The light design was decent Pepper Project by Imaginary Friends Studio
Click images for desktop size: "Pepper Project" by Imaginary Friends Studio
especially when having to deal with the movie sized front projection system. That's a problem I wouldn't have wanted to deal with.
During the show intermission I got interviewed about the show by some local TV station. Why they picked out a guy in a leather coat, over a black pin stripe suit and a purple and white abstract art tie who was wearing sunglasses indoors is beyond me. I was excellent, as to be expected, and gave them plenty of footage. After 5 minutes I was getting uncomfortable. The light was cutting through my sunglasses and starting to hurt my eyes. I still don't know why they went for me.
The evening was nice enough that neither us was too fussed about the parking ticket we found on the car at the end of the evening.
The snow was still blooming and the roads were a tedious exercise all the way home. We weren'tJules And Jim prepared to get home and discover that the next door neighbors had cleared the driveway by piling all the snow in front of our gate . . . about 4 and a half feet in front of the man gate and nearly 3 feet in front of the car gate.
I had to shovel. I was surprised when about halfway through the neighbor came out and helped me! I was glad. He said "Hey" and that's all. That's still more than he's said to me in the time he's been there.
We decided we really miss her old neighbor. I miss her two dogs and often wonder if they're okay. One had a bad hip dysplasia but such a happy attitude I hope he survives.
The dogs were glad to see us. I missed them even if it was only about 5 hours.

I've been asked about my snow obsession. Part of it is because its so really new to me. The other is kind of a weird Archibald McLeish-Theodore Roethke sort of thing. Its my friend, see. I have this odd thing that I never want to skin of her shoes to ever have to touch snow or ice. Only sunlight.

January 6, 2009

It was the first female-style revolution: no violence and we all went shopping
Gloria Steinem

Song of the Angels by Bouguereau
Click images for desktop size: "Song of the Angels" by Bouguereau
We have a thermometer that reads in both Fahrenheit and Centigrade. I don't like the metric system much. My fault. Not the systems.Vertigo
With metric I spend all my time calculating and converting distances in my head. Since its my head I often end up with some pretty odd results, like the back yard would be two miles long.
But I think I like centigrade although I think it woefully imprecise. I do like it to explain how cold it is. Minus fifteen is much closer to how cold it feels to me. Five degrees sounds like I'm complaining Sparkle Girl by Evegeny
Click image for desktop size: "Sparkle Girl" by Evegeny
about nothing. But minus fifteen! Well, that makes it sound manly even to dare to venture outside!
Perception is always better than reality.

I am now the official master of dishwasher repair. We've done six loads and while the dishwasher doesn't work any better than it did before it stopped cleaning the dishes it certainly doesn't do them worse. More to the point there's no weird grinding or explosions or leaks.
I feel I deserve the right to call myself the master. This means that I can go to your house and if your having problems with your dishwasher you have to endure hours of pointless elliptical advice. And if you're foolish enough to attempt a repair in my presence that means I have the right to lean over your shoulder and spout instructions that have little to do with the situation and when its all finished I get to take credit for its success and get to say, "well, if you'd done it like I told you it Supergirl
Click images for desktop size: "Supergirl" by DC Comics
would have been fine!"
Just one of the infinite pleasures of being a guy.

The guitar playing is going well. No one seems to appreciate it but me. Its frustrating because I'm not playing with anything like my old style and speed. I did a good version of "Your So Young and Beautiful" for my friends birthday and I was happy with my articulate playing.
What's odd is that my left hand is hurting far less than I anticipated. Its stiff and strength is slow in coming. But its my right hand that's giving me fits. It feels like my right thumb is dislocated. Yesterday I even had a hard time grasping the door knob to get back in the house. Finally had to do it left handed.
It makes keeping the baseline going on some of the fingerpicking numbers excruciating. Double picking is impossible as are glissandos. But the odd thing is I can do a near perfect rondo.This Island Earth
Rondo's are those strums that most people know from flamenco music. Its the strum where you lead with your index finger and then follow with the other fingers. It makes a sweet full sound and gives a sort of malicious arpeggio when used in pop stuff. (Super cool on electric guitars.) What's odd is that my rondos are better now then when I was playing near full time. Some sort of body compensation for having no thumb?

I heard from a good friend in London yesterday. That always pleases me. What makes it worth mentioning is that out of nowhere he is suddenly writing to me in text speak! In Europe text messaging is much more prevalent than it is here. Doctor's confirm appointments via text messages! (Stupid that I know so much about doctor's office). Aside from the kids texting each other non-stop like it was a private twitter account business use them constantly.
The City of a Thousand Minarets by Waelsaad
Click image: "The City of a Thousand Minarets" by Waelsaad
What made this notable was that my friend started his message with "glad to read u are". U? Instead of you? U?
This is the way civilization crumbles.

We got through the day okay. I must have missed my friend more than I admitted to myself. After the dogs finished trying to kill me on our long walk (ninety minutes, would have been longer but the three of them were too excited to behave. The gentle dog spent over an hour biting me and flying around at shoulder height. The giant dog kept bounding at me and trying to fly at my head height. While my puppy spent the entire walk in her military posture: the task is to get there and then go home!) my puppy stared at me for a while and then went to get a toy that she pressed hard against my leg.
We played some. Her entire play mode reminded me of something. I just got an email that The Walking Dead reminded me of what.
There's nothing more tragic to me than the death of a child. One of my puppy's "patients" succumbed to leukemia after Christmas. He was 12 years old.
His mother sent me a pained but charming note thanking my puppy for the brief happiness she bought to her son. She remembered how desolate the kid felt in the hospital and she recalled in vivid detail how my puppy did her therapy dog rounds, how she poked her head into her son's room and doctored him with a lick on the nose.
The kid didn't come out and play with my puppy and the other kids very often but his mom recalls how my puppy would always make it a point to come in with whatever toy she was playing with, often a roll of toilet paper and press it into his hand, poking him until he played with her.
The kid followed her web site. He often got exasperated with her but he always wrote to her explaining his exasperation.
I'm proud of my little puppy. As proud of her that she was able to figure out something was wrong and felt like trying to do something about it.
It saddens me for a kid to die. It makes me wonder why I've been spared when a child was not.

January 5, 2009

I don't exactly know what I mean by that, but I mean it
J.D. Salinger

Returning the Sphere by Michael Parkes
Click images for desktop size: "Returning the Sphere" by Michael Parkes
My friend goes back to work today.
Feel rather blank about that. She made this a happy holiday. I fell way behind in my self assigned chores but had nothing but memorable fun.
Sunset Blvd I think the dogs will miss her being about even more than I will.
Predicted horrid weather did not really materialize. No ice storm. So she'll go in and I'll take the dogs for a long walk and everything will settle back into place. The dogs will have the hardest time getting back onto the non-holiday schedule.
I know its been a good holiday because I have a morbid fear of taking out the garbage tomorrow.

We watched an interesting movie the other day, "Wendy and Scar Nebula
Click image for desktop size: "Scar Nebula" by NASA
Lucy". I don't think I liked it much.
Its about a girl who is traveling by car from Muncie, Indiana; going to Alaska to find a new frontier, a new life with just her and her dog, Lucy. Wendy's plans are vague. She takes employment advice from a drunken reprobate who dances around a bonfire while exhorting the other reprobates with stories of past drunkenness and destruction.
She sleeps in her car that night after calculating her meager finances. She's awakened by the store security guard who tells her that she has to move her car. It won't start. She grinds it. It sounds like a blown head gasket, but no one seems to know this.
She eats and waits for a garage to open. When she goes to feed the dog she discovers she's out of dog food. She goes to the local grocery store, ties Lucy to the bike rack while she goes inside. The Wolf by Wallpaper Collections
Click images for desktop size: "The Wolf" by Wallpaper Collection
Wendy gets busted by some nerdo high school kid for shoplifting two cans of dog food. The kid insists that they call the cops. The cops take her away ignoring her pleas about her dog, who is still tied up in front.
Several hours later she's released. She has to pay a fifty dollar fine. Cops being the jerks they like to be let her take a bus back to find her dog. Lucy's gone.
The rest of the film plot is about Wendy trying to find Lucy and to get her car running. This is probably enough plot for a movie. What's frightening is that the theme of the movie is the intense vulnerability of twenty-ish Wendy. One person is modestly kind to her, the security guard who made her move on. His kindness is manifested in directions to the dog pound and then by letting her use his mobile to call the pound even going so far as to let her give them his number if there's word on Lucy.The Host
The rest of the world, her family, the people on the street, the sun, the moon and the star, the garage mechanic could care less about her devastating plight. They all have their own lives and there is the pervading ill feeling that they are all just an unforeseen incident away from joining Wendy in her fall from stability.
Vulnerability, lack of stability and the lack of a caring world, where victims can only victimize each other and dreams are gambles and well meaning promises that cannot be kept.
Its a sad film. Well done for the budget. Slow but interesting enough to keep watching. Nothing dramatically tragic happens in the movie which makes it sadder still. Its a movie that's too easy. Its like watching the legacy of George W Bush, the train wrecks of the lives of the common man.

Somehow that movie made me think of the greatest tragedy of the 21st Century. The loss of our free press. A very systematic destruction caused by the freedom of the press being exploited by the rich. The constant dumbing down of America and the world.
Journalism used to be nobel. Reporters used to work on stories. The people trusted the press to blandly report staggering facts. We all knew the press was manipulated. One of the few scenes I liked in "Citizen Kane: was when he had the two A Walk In Time by n0rcalguy
Click images for desktop size: "A Walk In Time" by n0rcalguy
headlines prepared for election day. One read, "KANE WINS" while the other read "FRAUD AT POLLS". We were trained to look past that, to interpret and refine. Only the "other guy" was stupid enough to fall for the obvious ploys.
In the 60's guys like Truman Capote, Tom Wolfe and Hunter Thompson raised journalism to an art form.
They worked with unflagging energy, visiting the places, interviewing the people, assembling the facts from the phantasmagoria of conflicting views and distilled it to a vivid narrative that had the power and purity of fiction. But it was real. Almost too real to bear.
Capote's "In Cold Blood" showed the power of the "true crime" novel. All the facts and the words were real. The emotions, the words, the actions, the emotions were all real, verified and accurate.
At about the same time Tom Wolfe was also working on the "new" journalism. He produced some The Damned Don't Cry interesting work. (Although I'm still trying to understand what the surfers in his South Bay surf story were actually saying when they used the slang term "panthers" to describe non-surfers. It a word I've never heard used. I don't know if he misheard them or if they were having some one day joke, perhaps at Wolfe's expense.)
It culminated with the brilliant "Electric Kool Aid Acid Test" describing the life of Ken Kesey and Jack Cassidy, two giants of fiction. One a writer of not insignificant talent and the other a character transformed by Jack Kerouac into one of the great fictional characters of all time. Wolfe lived with them, reported on them and wrote a non-fiction book that burst with drama, reality and perception.
While Capote's book left him an emotional wreck unable to follow it up Wolfe's no less interesting but emotionally safer work enabled him to continue to the present day.
Spirit by Seven Edge
Click images for desktop size: "Spirit" by Seven Edge
The west coast had another journalist - Hunter Thompson wrote "Hell's Angels". He realized his job was not to create characters but to divine and then to define the character, conveying them with a clarity that infected the milieu. He worked not with boring stats and charts but with a vivid present that made the people even more real than they actually were.
Thompson then went on to create Gonzo Journalism with his serialized masterwork, "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas".
The success of these new journalists didn't go unnoticed by other aspiring reporters. But their work was too hard. Not only was it necessary to find the story but then you had to meet all those people, distill the facts, report the facts (which used to be the usual reporters job) but then you had to build these facts into aThe Man Who Turned to Stone narrative, adding drama and imagery. and somehow avoiding those moments were real life is not as exciting as drama.
It was a lot easier simply to create the whole story under the old justification that "someplace out there there really is somebody like this". Not only was this a tidier mode of reporting and story telling, it was quicker and much less stressful. Things could progress the way they should go instead of the way they might.
So we had all the scandals of award winning reporters actually just writing pure fiction. It created some scandals but it still is going on today.
So reporters got lazier. They saw the ambitious caught in their own scandal, they saw hacks get TV shows that replaced facts with opinion. They saw guys doing less work and getting more money while their employers refused to publish the big real stories for fear of offending advertisers and because it didn't fit the way the rich thought the world should be.
Now we have the internet. Which seems to be nothing but personal bias. Its easy to find a news source that fits your personal prejudices and easier still to find sites to revile. The reporting is sloppy most of the time. No one investigates or digs through to truth. They seem to start out with a concept they want to prove and look for the facts that prove it while ignoring any facts that might disprove.
The insanity of this was bred in the law. OJ Simpson is an easy example. We all "know" he is guilty. It used to be that only an idiot would dispute the verdict of judge and jury. But California passed a The Long Leg by Edward Hopper
Click images for desktop size: "The Long Leg" by Edward Hopper
law that said it didn't matter if you were found innocent, we could apply a new standard for the civil courts that ignored the criminal courts decision to redefine the truth.
Now we weren't idiots we were people who were capable of deciding the truth because we were told there were several black and white truths that were ours for the choosing. News became nothing more than entertainment to feed us the different truths we wanted. Pick one.
The free press gave way to entertainment and laziness that was rewarded more handsomely than those fools who put themselves at risk, who dug and fought to find the one truth.
Sad stuff for us. The end result is that a movie gets made about a nice girl who loves her dog and The Shiver of the Vampire discovers that the world is nothing but an uncaring place where what we are no longer matters and love has to be discarded for dollars and pence.
A documentary.
I think its just the end result of a press that ignores that our leaders have turned us all into war criminals who torture and violate all the principals that used to make us the good guys. They bow to the pressure instead of standing tough armed only with the truth and an unquenched desire to reveal that truth to us all.
So we suffer and we suddenly can only notice our own suffering and not the anguish of the man next to us.

The sun is out. Its time to take the dogs for a long walk. They don't like the fact that the world changes on human whims. They'll still laugh, are laughing now.
So am I.
Its just harder to notice when I do it.

January 3, 2009

Doctor said I just need a pocketful of nickels and a juke box to cure all my ills
Carl Perkins

Psychopulse by 4AM
Click images for desktop size: "4 AM" by Psychopulse
One thing I hate about objective opinions is they're hard to ignore or argue against.
I thought I was holding it together but I guess I've been a bit of a jerk these past few days.
Overcompensating. I keep feeling bad, plugging away at the pain pills but I'm still being a jerk.Robot Monster
When that's the case its always a good idea to find something to pin the blame on.
I chose the cats: The stupid cat that lives with us and the skanky cat who I have to feed who resides in the dog house.
See how easy that is?
I like that cats exist now. I think cats are probably responsible for the recession, Cheny's ability to torture people and Bush's ability to Melinda Clarke
Click images for desktop size: "Melinda Clarke"
illegally detain American citizens. And me being crabby. Its all part of a package.
The skanky cat has now moved permanently into the dog house. The dogs don't even care about it anymore. It has enough sense to not antagonize them and now that I'm putting its food out of the dogs reach they couldn't care about it at all. Unlike the stupid cat the skanky cat doesn't try and attack them and then run away thinking its faster than they are.
Cats. Grumble.
I forgot to mention that I've updated the film libraries. A bit over 3,300 movies now. Its slower updating thanks to the AppleTV. Where before I had to keep every movie I saw now I can just delete them. I wish I could delete them from my memory as easily. I still have shudders about "Semi-Pro" but I am pleased that I have absolutely no recall of "Eagle Eye" other than the trailer, I can't remember a thing about it, which is probably a good thing.
I also cleaned a few things up, made corrections that sort of thing. I have to say it: I'm not selling movies or boot legging them. They're for trade only.
Robert Crumb
Click images for desktop size: "Untitled" by Robert Crumb
There's no copy of "The Dark Knight", which I thought was a turgid boringly long mess. Heath Ledger will probably get the Oscar. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences loves to give the Oscar to dead actors. I figure because the producers always vote them in. Any footage they have of Ledger become more valuable and dead actors can't suddenly come back and demand 100 to 1,000 times more money and a percentage of the front end.
I still thought Ledger's the Joker was a sloppy construction. Thew whole film was sloppy and sprawling in a bad way, like your fat uncle sprawling on the sofa watching baseball on a hot summer day way.
I still also don't have a copy of "Gladiator". I didn't like that one either, even though one of my Seven Samurai better friends chides me over its exclusion. He thinks its the greatest movie ever made. He won't trade me his copy. He and his girlfriend have just moved and taken on some new teaching positions so his plan to get a 50 inch plasma, and a Blu Ray player just he can watch "gladiator" over and over again have, thankfully, had to be put on hold.
You will find more Asian films, more action and monster movies. Some wannabee surfer thinks my By Kankei
Click image: "Untitled" by Kankei
taste in movies is elitist. I think its cool that loving Godzilla and Chambara flics is now elitist.
Oh and click on the buttons and things in the movie pages. It will display the posters and descriptions.
After me picking Gene Vincent's re-release of "The Day the World Turned Blue" and "A Million Shades of Blue" as my album of the year a friend sent me another 2008 re-release. Gene Vincent's "Born To Be A Rolling Stone". He's right that "Rolling Stone" is a better over all album. The music is tighter, there are catchier tunes. "Rolling Stone" has been available for ever in one version or another. I have at least 3 CD's of it. This new one is the best though. Remastered sweet and clean. They've bought up the lovely acoustic guitars and at times Parfume by Roebuck
Click images for desktop size: "Parfume" by Roebuck
Gene's voice shimmers. I'll stick with the "Blue" albums though. Two first time on CD releases on a single disk. That's very cool.
The album I'd love to see (hear) on CD is the odd one that Gene made in England with the Puppets. They were his band when he played the Blackpool Pier. Every day two shows a day. I think that was a happy year for Gene. The album is joyous, tight and exuberant as the days with the Blue Caps. Its almost all other versions of his hits but they are very very good. Having it remastered in the same way as these two disks would be very welcome indeed. The same with almost any of the Rebel Heart disks. (Reference for dedicated Gene fans - Rebel Heart has about 20 LPs featuring every scrap of Gene's recordings, including stuff fans recorded in hotel rooms and the like - great stuff.)Secret Beyond the Door

The bowl season is looking interesting. Right now it appears that my opinion of the SEC and Big 12 are more accurate than the presses'. The Sec has decent defenses going against mediocre offenses and the Big 12 has good offenses going up against the worst defenses in the country.
Even Sports journalism has been caught up in the fall of journalism in this country. There won't ever be another, "All the President's Men". They'll just report the press releases as fact and go along with the hype.
Utah destroying "Number 1" Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and Misissippi dismantling Texas Tech yesterday sort of proves all of that. WHile the Pac 10 going 5-0 in the bowls while being called the worst BCS conference in the nation makes everything look kind of silly.
But nothing touches silliness as much as the NFL's Wild Card Weekend.
Planning the Attack by Charles Russell
Click image: "Planning the Attack" by Charles Russell
I'm not a fan of the wild card games. Runner ups get a chance to go to the Super Bowl? It sells tickets though and I'll, no doubt, watch all four games so, there you go.
I'm pretty much way out of the season prize but I'll pick the games anyway.
In the final week of the regular season I picked an astonishing 9 games correctly. My friend, in her abysmal ignorance managed to get SIX games wrong. Pathetic. That she thinks her 10-6 record is superior to my 9-7 picks shows her woeful insight into this beautiful sport.
My picks are in bold.

Atlanta at Arizona - One of the more interesting games. The Cardinals only lost to the New York Giants at home. I'm still picking Atlanta and stunning rookie Matt Ryan. Although I wouldn't be surprised to see the Cardinals jump out to an early lead and then just build on it this game smellsSpice World more like a shoot out. The Falcons have a better defense and the Cardinals have a better offense. It should be the most fun game. I'm still picking the Falcons because its fun to imagine Matt Ryan marching the Falcons down the field in the final minute on the winning drive.

Indianapolis at San Diego - The Colts are pretty heavy favorites here. Good reason. What is more embarrassing for the NFL, having the 8-8 Chargers when the AFC west or having an 8-8 team in the play offs at all! The Colts have managed to win on sheer will this season. They're healthy and experienced. Tomlinson and Gates, the two best players the Chargers have sat out of practice this week. Normally that would bother me but the two of them are serious talents and probably benefited from the bye week. Philip Rivers is looking sharp and I can see them winning the shoot out. It took a great drive by Manning to beat them in the regular season. They should have learned something from that game.

Baltimore at Miami - The Dolphins are stoked by going from 1-15 to the play offs! Chad Pennington is stoked because they eliminated his old team from the play offs. The Ravens are angry. Angry because Matt Ryan got rookie of the year over their super rookie Joe Flacco. Angry that no one Beauty Contest Loser
Click images for desktop size: "Beauty Contest Loser" by Unknown
gives them a chance to advance to the Super Bowl. In the NFL angry always seems to trump happy.

Philadelphia 30 at Minnesota 27 - I don't like the Eagles or the Vikings much. The Eagles have the D-Line to contain but not stop Adrien Petersen. They will make a joke of the lousy QB Jackson. The VIkings can pressure McNabb and contain Brian Westbrook but not all day. It should be close but only because the Eagles will let the Vikings dig out of a hole.

With my gaudy 60% accuracy rate at NFL picks only a total wastrel who wants to throw away his money would pay any attention to these picks . . . for amusement of my enemies only. You know who you are!

January 2, 2009

USC 38 Penn State 24

Click images for desktop size: Unknown by Unknown
It was a quiet New Year for us. The nicest part was there were no fireworks, no one shooting guns into the air hence no scared puppies.Fantastic Voyage
I held up pretty well through out the holidays. Only sick a few times. Sort of sick right now and sort of depressed that the holidays are over. Even though we have three more days it feels close to an end. Time to go back to being leery.

The Rose Bowl was pretty classic football. It was certainly the classiest game this season. Mark Sanchez had his first flawless Fashion and Sex by S4W
Click images for desktop size: "Fashion And Sex" by S4W
game of the season. There was no dirty play from either side just hard edged aggression and positive play. It was a game that was positive entertainment and an advertisement for the sport being played as a way to develop youngsters into men.
It had a beauty. At first I was a touch irked by USC's apparent collapse in the 4th quarter. Now its apparent that it was Penn State playing the football they're capable of. Daryl Clark is an amazing QB. I've seldom seen a player make so many right decisions. His mistakes were rare and created by the USC devastating defense.
Its made for a happier end to the season.

I've been feeding the skanky cat. Its a stray. Not feral but not friendly, which is fine by me.
The dogs have been stealing its food. Even telling them eating cat food will turn them into cats doesn't deter them. I cleared some snow off the dog house roof, which is where it seems to like Eclipse by Peekaboo
Click images for desktop size: "Eclipse" by Peekaboo
living and put its food up there. It eats the dogs look at it angrily so all is well.
The dogs were all negative attention seekers for New Years. My puppy vomited 3 times, once on the bed - nothing like two AM sheet changing. The giant dog somehow got a tiny sliver of metal in his front paw, no blood and my friend dug it out pretty easily. The gentle dog got up for our nightly "security walk" and was limping dramatically. No swelling or tenderness in his legs or feet but the limping persisted until we got outside. Then he started to bound around, bit me a few times (which still seems to be his greatest fun) and had to run like a maniac to chase my puppy down the hill to yell at our neighbor dogs. No limping since.
On new years my friend and I had a bottle of "Ice Cider". Some sort of aperitif. It was expensive. Forbidden Planet Like 30 bucks for 12 ounces! I don't drink but I really disliked it. I thought maybe it was because we were slugging it out of wine glasses. It wasn't until after that I read the label that I saw it was an aperitif, meant for them little tiny port glasses. Since that was about all I drank anyway I'll stand by hating it. It certainly was no inducement to get me to drink.
(I'll never understand why it bothers people that I don't drink. It does. Makes some people angry and some nervous. Too used to Southern California where most people wrongly assume I was just a drunk and that I'm working on my AA chip.)
Still feeling sad and sick enough to want to get back to feeling bad.
NFL Football picks have to be done by tomorrow. I have to practice being wrong. Its so rare for me to be wrong. With practice I'll get it right!