Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I want to walk, not be carried

I want the principles of a timeless muse
I want to eradicate my negative views
And get rid of those people who are always on a down
--- Lou Reed, "New Sensations"

One of Lou's best songs; I especially like the live version on Perfect Night.


Today's my no-work, easy day. I got up late, had a nice egg breakfast, and made my stately, plump way to State School without stress or rush.

In Art, Music and Physical Development, two groups had their art-centric model lesson plan presentations (my group goes next week). Both, coincidentally, were lessons on Americana --- one on Thanksgiving, one on Native Americans. The former was geared toward first grade, and we made handprint turkeys with feathers glued on. The latter was also, I believe, for first graders; we made paper "headdresses" with feathers, again.

I know art and expression are crucial to children's development, but all this does smack of the kind of anti-academic, aimless lessons that No Child Left Behind is supposed to remedy. The essential thing is to have a teacher who makes sure kids know why they are making these crafts, so they don't go home thinking that, for example, Thanksgiving is all about gluing plastic googly eyes to silly-looking turkeys.

After the presentations, Ms. M lectured a bit on Bloom's Taxonomy, Gardner's eight intelligences, and the SCAMPER technique. The first two are old news; the third I'd never heard of. It's a creativity-boosting exercise; the name is an acronym, each letter standing for a process that an idea can undergo to help form a new one.

Substitute a new element in the idea for an old one
Combine old ideas to form a new one
Adapt old ideas
Modify, magnify, minify
Put an old idea to new uses
Eliminate elements from an old idea
Reverse or rearrange elements


I used the time between classes to do my Art and Math homework in the library. Then I trudged over to Diagnostic Reading. It was very bewildering, as Dr. D tried to go over all the various (needlessly complicated) steps for all the projects that are coming up due in the next few weeks. The first one is a combination book talk-Reader's Theater assignment. We did a Reader's Theater in class. We also talked about Diagnostic Reading Correction and some comprehension activities teachers can use in reading. Dr. D is rather flighty, and has a mind much given to exploring tangents. We got out late.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

And he'd probably kick your head in to boot

There's always somebody taller with more of a wit
And he's equipped to enthrall her
And her friends think he's fit
And you just can't measure up no, you don't have a prayer
Wishing that you'd made the most of her, when she was there
--- Arctic Monkeys, "Bigger Boys And Stolen Sweethearts"

Today is Math Concepts at 7:00 p.m. I'm trying to get back into the habit of sneaking a nap in between work and class, but so far all I do is toss and turn on the bed for a half hour or so.

I went up to State School early so I could pay $110 for a textbook I'll probably get little to no use out of, and resell (if that's even possible, for they "update" almost every year, making these absurdly overpriced books obsolete regularly) for about $20. Sweet Shiva but this schoolbook scheme is a licence to print money.

Speaking of books, I've noticed that college students are most often using these side bags, like gym bags, with one long shoulder strap, to carry their stuff. When they do use backpacks, they use both straps instead of dangling the whole thing off to one side, as was the custom when I was a wee bairn in high school. Back then, it was considered extremely "nerdy" to use both straps and have the pack full on your back. Of course, I always used both straps anyway, because (a) nonconformist little rebel that I was, I enjoyed kicking against the pricks of conventional wisdom in any case, and (b) the backpack is designed to go over both shoulders --- the "cool" kids were stupidly putting the full load on one side, sacrificing muscle strain and permanent lopsidedness on the altar of that false god fashion.

Now that I think about it, back in high school you were considered a real hoopy frood if, after you pulled on your gym socks, you pushed them down again. People who pulled their socks up their legs were real kneebiters. Perhaps this is true to this day. I never got that either; why should I waste precious energy pushing my socks down after I put them on? If they ought to be down there by my shoes, let them fall down there of their own accord. Lazy socks.

Anyway. Clearly I had mental problems. Where was I?

Oh yeah. Math Concepts. This is turning into a real math class, not the pablum we were spooned out in Math Methods. Indeed, I seem to be behind some of my fellow students; high school and undergrad was a long time ago for me, and I find myself scrambling to recall things such as how to calculate the slope of a graph, set terminology and notation, the equation y=mx + b, and so on. Graphs and sets were actually the math concepts I always had the least aptitude for, but as I am adept at thinking algebraically, I enjoy the class as much as is possible to enjoy this stuff.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Distressingly content

You may not add up but you're close enough
Absolutely sort of almost bearable
You'll find life can be kind of cool
And not completely terrible

--- Mr. T Experience, "Semi-OK"

Trivia at the Hangout tonight was utterly empty. K had said she'd come, but didn't. The regular barfly team was there, of course, and one of Friar's friends. No one else. Actually, I tell a lie: one team, a couple that's an acquaintance of mine, showed up but left because we were having technical trouble and started late, since the neither the sound guy nor Mr. Hangout bothered to come to the bar and set up the audio; my father showed up and sat for about seven questions; and the Hangout's main owner, whom I don't know, answered four before leaving when his wife called him home. We had the game regardless, and the two teams who stayed won the first and second prizes. Hooray! I blame the sparse attendance on last week's cancellation due to the big important fooball game on teevee. Apparently, people came then and asked about the trivia, but didn't feel like showing up this week --- and who can blame them, without a fixed schedule or advertising?

Because fooball season is starting in earnest, we're moving it to a different day, anyway.

Speaking of blame, add to the list of reasons I cited yesterday as to why I am now packing a bit of a gut: much more drinking lately than is typical for me.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Can't be passive, gotta be active

Lately I've been in a life like limbo
Looking out of a smudged up window
We're not sure where our lives are going
Friends, it's summer outside but yet we're snowed in
--- Arrested Development, "Give a Man a Fish"

I was supposed to hang out with my former co-worker Joy and her babydaddy Che, but plans fell through.


I used to take the Dog for two walks a day. Because of the oppressive heat all summer and my combined work and school schedule, I have been slacking off quite a bit. My father comes over and walks her quite a lot, so no worries about Dog being cooped up all day. The toll, rather, is being taken out on me. I'm naturally very heavy for my height, being both broad-shouldered and fairly well-developed in terms of musculature, but lately that weight's gone up due to my packing on about 6-7 superfluous pounds around the midsection. Lifting weights don't help that! Hopefully with the weather turning, and me deciding not to be such a lazy ass, I will walk some of that flab off.


Things only tangentially related to me have got me thinking a bit about mortality again. I could go at any time. For anyone, our last day on earth might be today. I would like to strive to be the person about whom people say: "He really tried to make a difference in people's lives, and was great company." Of course, in practice I'm a supercilious, self-hating curmudgeon, but I'm trying.


Having a CDROM drive with music ripping capability is terrific. I've put about 50 of my CDs on my hard drive, and listen to a nearly 45 hour-long playlist on shuffle. Pure magic.

The downside is that I'm falling for the consumer trap that I try not to write into. That is, having ripped a bunch of songs for the first time, I find myself thinking I "need" an Ipod or an external hard drive, or some other gadget that I never thought about before.

However, you know what else is musically terrific? Bob Dylan's new album, Modern Times. I pre-ordered it direct from Sony. I loved Time Out of Mind, and grew to appreciate "Love and Theft", but this new album is one that --- for the first time in many years --- I find myself playing again and again. It's truly mesmerizing; my few listens have offered glimpses of brilliance, humor and wisdom throughout. It's a vein of gold that I'm driven to dig deeper into.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Whether I sink or swim you know I'll end up dead

And when the world comes knocking down upon my door
Well, don't you know that it's no fun
'Cause whether you win or lose it doesn't really matter
Life has got you on the run
--- Spacehog, "Skylark"

Maddening Angel called me. She's been on vacation with her family. I went over to her place and watched Office Space. She'd been having a bad day. I would be too if I lived with two cats and two dogs who peed and puked all over everything. Anyway, we lay on her bed, watching the movie, wrestling and laughing. I think we scared her roommate with our exuberance --- I'm sure he had no diea what to make of us. Despite all our physical play, I think I've finally settled into the role of Older Brother Figure, though I probably will always have some lingering vestigial jealousy of her lifestyle because I've so uptight and square and she's so gorgeous and vivacious and I won't ever have her social power.

At one point, she tried to change into a different dress, but got stuck while taking it off. Don't ask me how that happened. I had to help lift the dress off her (she never wears a bra). One of the seams actually ripped as I pulled it, and we joked about the power of her mighty breasts being no match for flimsy cloth. Once it came off I looked away like a gentleman, of course, but I guess that shows what a relaxed, close relationship we have; she also talks freely to me about her sex life, her period, etc.

Anyway. After the movie, she called up K, whom I haven't seen in a while. K (still finishing up law school) came over; she has lost a ton of weight. The three of us went to a favorite Indian place of ours. Mmm, lamb masala.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Reeling around the nightclub like the hubcaps off a car

He says you ain't worth a dime
To his life support systems
They still keep him talking
On the chance that he'll say something
--- American Music Club, "Crabwalk"

After work, I met Friar at the Hangout. Over a few drinks, we reminisced about our high school circle and what's become of them. That's a pastime I still enjoy every now and then, even though it often makes clear just how short of the mark, by any measure, I've fallen compared to them.

Anyway, then we went off to the Theater where one of Friar's bands was playing. It was a terrific show, full of sounds and lights and fury. Local comedian Skullfuck introduced the band, after telling a few corny jokes. Naturally, after his set I felt the need to go up and give him some helpful advice on comedy and timing. He appreciated that.

We ran into Gunner, the young sister of one of Friar's friends. She's one of those cool, songwriter-digging, motivated chicks; at a very young age, she served as a congressional aide in D.C. She lives life hard, goes to as many shows as she can and has a huge crush on Auric.

Before the band's second set finished (unfortunately, as they were in fine form), Friar headed us back to the Hangout, where Sonar was playing an intimate solo set. Sonar's a very talented guy, and Friar and I were up front cheering and singing along.

When we entered the bar, a doorman I'd never seen before asked me for ID (I look and dress young). Usually, I don't mind --- it's these guys' job, after all. But tonight, I was having none of it. I happened to be standing next to Bon, one of the part-owners of Hangout, and just wordlessly tapped him on the shoulder, then jerked a thumb back at the doorman and walked away, leaving Bon to tell him it was OK. A dick move, but what's the point of being a regular at a place if you don't flaunt your familiarity with the bosses every now and then? Later, Friar, Bon and I played video golf, and we ate some suspicious-looking fried bar food. Everything's better with ranch.

There's a waitress at the Hangout named Cocotte, whom Friar tells me is a tip-snatcher. She'll intercept customers who have been ordering from other waitresses and take their order and ring up their whole bill under her name, taking the tip total for the whole night. AL, the venerable waitress whom I've mentioned before, has been the victim of this at times, but as an easygoing, self-abnegating, motherly type, AL doesn't mind, even willingly passing off her own customers to Cocotte. While I'm friends with several waitresses, I've never worked in a bar or restaurant before, so I'm not personally familiar with the professional code of conduct. I would think, however, that this practice of tip-snatching would be seriously frowned upon. I'm surprised at Cocotte, as she seems so friendly and sweet. She is also easily one of the five most beautiful girls I have ever seen in my life.

Watching her at the bar, I said to Friar, "Even knowing she had taken every other server's customer in the bar, I would still happily give that girl the biggest tip I could possibly afford." Female pulchritude is a form of brainwashing in males.

Pieces missing everywhere

I don't want to be crippled, cracked
Shoulders, wrists, knees and back
Ground to dust and ash
Crawling on all fours
--- Radiohead, "Bones"

So last night I got home from the Hangout rather late for a workday. As soon as I came in the door, though, I saw something was wrong with the Dog. She was keeping her right front paw up at all times, not just favoring it a bit but actually hopping to avoid touching it to the ground. I put my hand on her side to draw her in closer to check it out, and she whimpered grievously and fell on her back. She started panting heavily, and I thought her body was hot. A quick inspection revealed three small wounds on her leg. She must have gotten them on her evening walk (my father comes over to take her while I'm gone.)

Now as a rule I'm not that big of a worrier about animals' health, since they seem to shake off injury much better than people. Had Dog had only the limp, I would have just gone to sleep and seen how she was in the morning. But this whimpering, apparent fever, and excessive panting gave me pause; I thought about snake or rat bites, of poison and infection. So after a bit of deliberation, I drove her up to the all-night emergency vet clinic. I couldn't find it at first, and it was about 2:00 in the morning when I took her in. But as we waited in the lobby, I noticed that Dog seemed to be doing a bit better. The only vet on call was deep in surgery and would be for the next two hours, the receptionist told me.

So, feeling a bit silly, I took Dog back home. As I walked her back to the house, we passed a lizard scurrying up a wall, and the Dog leaped up after it; that's when I knew I had made the right decision. She was fine, the little faker. I had some canine pain meds left from when the vet prescribed her some earlier, so gave her a couple. Then I went to bed, close on to 4:00 a.m.

In the morning, she was right as rain, bounding around on all four paws with great energy. While I was at work, my father did me a favor and took Dog to the vet. They didn't have any clue what had caused the injuries --- even professionals don't seem to have any animal husbandry these days. However, they gave him some antibiotics, a good precaution.

As to what caused all that panting, the fever, and the whimpering, I'm not sure. Possibly she was scared and worried more than in pain. And then, I had been gone since 10:00 that morning, returning only after midnight, so the Dog might have worked herself up into a frenzy of worry. My own consternation and anxiety upon seeing her probably had a lot to do with it, too; dogs are extremely sensitive to human's moods, inflections of voice and even chemical balances. In any case, all those symptoms were gone by the next day, and she tore up the distance on her evening walk today with enormous energy.

As for me, I was really damn tired all day.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I want the freedom and I want the guile

With the drive and ambition,
The zeal I feel
This is my time...
Has the Perrier gone

Straight to my head
Or is life sick and cruel, instead?
--- The Smiths, "I Won't Share You"

I like to think of the word "want" in the title line above as having mainly the British meaning of "to lack."


Here's my Wednesday schedule. No work. I slept in and had a leisurely breakfast. What a complacent sybarite. Then I tooled up to State School for my first class, 12:30-3:15 p.m. It's entitled "Art, Music, and Physical Development." It's taught by Ms. M, and emphasized integrating art into all subject areas of teaching. Over the course of the, uh, course, we will be expected to learn how to play the recorder (third grade flashback!), write the lyrics to an original children's song, and --- ugh --- sing. I have no musical talent, and my voice is so excruciatingly off-pitch and atonal, it has been known to render musically-inclined people deaf or alcoholic. Nevertheless, I'm looking forward to it; I've already written many children's songs of my own for The Job. The beginning of a great adventure, as Cranky Uncle Lou says about an entirely different subject.

Having nothing to do until my next class at 7:00 p.m., and State School being too far away to justify driving back home and back again, I texted Ram to see if she was on campus. Yes, I know I vowed not to do that again, but there's a perfectly reasonable explanation for my behaviour. It's that I'm a stupid romantic idiot and a glutton for emotional punishment.

Anyway, I texted her, and met her at the library. I took care of all my math homework while she wrapped up a paper, and then we ate lunch together. I told her that whenever she contacted me, I had dreams about her the next night, and that I was still infatuated with her. And if this foolish outpouring of misplaced affection surprises you about me, than you must surely have just stumbled upon this blog today.

Well, look. I'm not a total jackass; I didn't rhapsodize on her in some starry-eyed soliloquy as if in a shitty romantic movie's lame-ass climax; I made these points within a fairly stable, reminiscing conversational context. Still and all, her reaction was less than heartening. Instead of being flattered and her old affections stoked, she took it all in stride, remarked without inflection that she seemed to have penetrated my subconscious, and ended things as before. That is to say, she presented herself as vaguely wanting to be friends (no longer anything more), with me, certainly with no inclination to change her current romantic attachments. "Well," I said rather weakly, "your loss." She smiled sweetly. "Yours too," she replied.


My emasculating humiliation complete, and feeling like Tim on "The Office" (before the happy ending of the insanely brilliant and touching Christmas Special, of course), I stomped off to my final class of the week. Diagnostic Reading, was described to me by several school acquaintances as a mountain of work, and Dr. D, the teacher, as a real mule-driver. Despite their warnings, the first day proved rather pleasant; Dr. D was there to greet us as we came in, explained the syllabus in detail, and sketched out a few of the long-term assignments we'll be doing (including some hours of tutoring in reading, which we must arrange ourselves). There does seem to be great deal of work ahead, but so far there's a rather convivial atmosphere.


Wanting to wash the stench of rejection away, I drove to the Hangout, where Friar, bless his completely wrong-headed good intentions, tried to build me up with flattery and encouraging talk. It didn't take, but I stayed for longer than I'd intended, chatting with several of the old barfly buddies. Waitress T called me and made me laugh with some friendly conversation, and I played some games. I didn't get home until past midnight, which was poor planning on my part, given my new work schedule. My night didn't end there; however, the Dog's saga will have to wait until tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I'm the one going through the rescue

Medication, met you in
Authication, it's a
Hazardness, valley of deception
Walk alone, but it was
Not my intention, not my invention
And now my heart's been ripped wide open
--- Rancid, "Tropical London"

Fall semester 2006 started today. I can't believe it's been a full year since I started school again. Tonight was Math Concepts for Elementary Teachers. Yes, I have already taken Math Methods as a requirement for this same program. Yes, I have taken Algebra and Pre-Calculus before, in high school and as an undergrad. They don't care: to them, I am a poorly-taught fellow, sorely in need of more basic freshman skills. This course, taught by the affable Ms. H, seems to be reinforcing (read: repeating) many of the lessons taught in Math Concepts (i.e., emphasizing different learning styles and strategies). I won't mind it, I'm betting: although no prodigy, indeed not even blessed with any particular natural aptitude for the subject, I have always very much enjoyed wrestling with mathematical problems. Indeed, going over some of the homework for this class later, I felt the need to try my hand at some of the more intriguing problems that weren't assigned. For example. A chef has only two hourglass timers: one of eleven minutes, and one of seven; how can he use them to time 15 minutes?


Monday, August 21, 2006

The moon to whom the poets croon has given up and died

I don't believe in the sun
How could it shine down on everyone
And never shine on me
How could there be such cruelty
--- The Magnetic Fields, "I Don't Believe In the Sun"

Today was my first "early" shift at work --- 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., officially anyway. But since a recent hire abruptly quit, I had to stay an hour later until the Boss returned from picking up her daughter.

Doldrums? Yes. Doldrums, I think.

Live trivia at the Hangout was cancelled due to some goddam fooball game. Lame. I hate goddamn fooball. But Lord amighty, don't most Texicans jest love them some fooball?

Much Badness is going on due to my father's recent auto accident. There is ugly muttering of repossessing the car I had agreed to seel the Ex. Yes, she would deserve it, having dealt with me mercilessly in the past and basically fucking me over six ways to Sunday. And yet, there's some rumbling deep in my soul that says that's not the kind of thing I could do and still respect myself.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

I got none

I got none
I got no mind for nothing
I got no insight
I got no feelings
I got nothing that you want
So stay away from here
--- Rancid, "Leicester Square"

I'm retreating back into the ways of the anchorite. I was a young boy that had big plans, etc.

Saturday, August 19, 2006


This afternoon an unlikely ennead of folks --- me; 74 and Zaftig and their baby girl; Friar (but no Palfrey); and T-Bone and his wife and their two kids --- got together for lunch at Cheesefries. I think the last time I saw T-Bone was at Flax's pseudo-bachelor party. Cheesefries, one of Friar's favorite greasy spoons (he has deplorable taste), is awful, but I do like these social gatherings. Soon, indeed, we were joined by an enormous roach, waddling its insectoid way across the booth's adjoining wall. Now that's class.

Afterwards, a few of us (okay, the male contingent) went to everyone's favorite Electronics Store Named For Potato Snacks, Fry's. This is a national chain of places the size of airbus hangars, nerd havens described by 74 as "an enticing trap of found bargains thrown in among overpriced crap." I picked up what was hopefully the former, a reassembled CDR drive. Now I can "burn" and "rip" and "steal" mp3's and all the other things the kids are doing nowadays. Hooray!

Oh no! There goes Tokyo! I mean, it's Devo!

Oh, man. Yesterday morning, I received a text message (typical friendly tone: "what's up, what classes are you taking," etc) from Ram --- my first contact from her in perhaps three months. This wouldn't be worth mentioning, except that as a result all last night Ram was in my dreams. In the dreams, I was trying to become more than friends with her again (at one point lying in bed with her), but the presence of some people --- possibly her male housemates, who don't actually exist --- was stopping my plans from coming to fruition.

Well. Clearly, this girl still haunts my thoughts whether I like it or not. Hell, I was dreaming about her back in February while I was still in the throes of dating Spooky. And afterwards, as well. Odd: I formally dated Ram just a single time and we barely kissed, but I guess she made an impact. There's no point in telling her how I feel or trying to start that all up again, though. She made it clear at the beginning of the year that she was not interested in anything of the kind.


Anyway. Today at work we said goodbye to three of our older preschoolers, who are heading to kindergarten or first grade. One girl brought pizza and brownies. I put chocolate sauce on the kids' pizza. It tastes better that way when you're four and five.


After work, I went and met Friar at the Hangout. We played a little video trivia, then went to an art show in the beatnik neighborhood. One of Friar's bands was hosting a show of pieces based on music from the new album. The lead singer had made an impressive metal mobile as well. Unrelated to the band's show were a lot of smaller ink-and-paper pieces that caught my eye. They had a clean, cartoony style I like. Indeed, I could easily produce drawings just as interested and detailed --- and have, while doodling in my notebooks and so on. I'm not denigrating the pieces, which were of high quality and carefully presented. Instead, I'm knocking around the idea of trying to make a few serious pieces in this style myself. Yes, when you work and go to school, it's not easy to make time for creative pursuits as well (which is why so many artists live in poverty), but that's just an excuse. There's always an excuse for everything you want to do but don't.

After a while at the art show, we went up to the venue where I last saw Auric on his solo tour. A band that the Friar is trying to sign up was playing. But instead of staying there, we headed out to Fair Park, an outdoor arena where Devo was playing. The Friar had scored a ticket from one of his many contacts. He generously bought me a ticket, over my objections, and then went up front to get me a better class of ticket. Actually, he just borrowed a friend's stub, but that was enough to get me down to the close seats. Yes, it's slightly dishonest, but those drinks weren't cheap, my friends! We arrived just as the opening act, the Psychedelic Furs, were finishing up.

And then Devo played. I'm no big fan --- I recognized perhaps their four greatest hits --- but they were loud and energetic and Mark Mothersbaugh was in terrific voice.

After that, Friar and I went back to the Hangout, where we played video golf and talked about this and that. Some awful amateur funk band was playing. It's difficult to say which was worse: their tuneless, uninspiring originals, or the covers they butchered unmercifully. I was appalled at what they did to Sheryl Crow's "All I Wanna Do," let alone the classics they attacked. In addition to their rock singer guy, they had a genuine black guy doing a sort of reggae-tinted, growling rap/chant and dancing, but unfortunately he wasn't good at either. They thought they were tearing the roof off the sucker, but they were actually attaching the roof even more firmly to the sucker. Yes, the next band will have to try doubly hard to tear the roof off; these guys clamped it on with metaphorical nails of suck.

I'm out.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Vocabulaire: le crottin

le crottin - horse manure
Je mangerais une livre de crottin de cheval pour une chance de voir cette môme à poil.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Schedule change at work

The Job is changing. Although the preschool attendance is still looking pretty sparse, we enrolled to more kids out of nowhere. Oddly, both sets of parents are French.

My schedule at State School was set a while back, but one of the classes was cancelled. In desperation, I signed up for a day class, the first I've taken. Now, I will have my night class on Tuesday and two classes on Wednesday. Therefore, I worked out with the Boss that I would start work at 8:00 (and here's me so not a morning person, and lately accustomed to burning the candle at both ends a bit) and leave at 3:00 or possibly 4:00, except Wednesdays when I won't come in at all. I'm glad that the Boss is very flexible and willing to put up with my school schedule. Hopefully everything will work out.

School starts next Tuesday.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

What kind of idiot doesn't even know about wild mountain honey?

Tower had a big sale t'other day, and I scooped up a handful of CDs. Some had been on my want list a while and some were impulse purchases. It's funny how sometimes what you think you'll like doesn't really appeal after it fully sinks in, while you can be surprised by other material that you'd previously written off. Such is the case for me with the new Steve Miller greatest hits album. Steve Miller can be horribly clichéd ("you got to go through hell before you get to heaven"), eye-rollingly goofy ("some call me the pompatus of love"), unhelpfully trite ("shoe the children with no shoes on their feet"), awkwardly silly ("I'm a space cowboy; bet you weren't ready for that"), and just plain boneheaded ("she don't even know about wild mountain honey"). Still and yet, I find myself playing these songs more often than I'd have guessed.

Yeah, his stuff is corny and cheesy. But sometimes your life is at a point when you embrace blind, reason-free optimism. You want to believe you can fly like an eagle, that there's a solution, that you don't have to live in a world that's heartless, that you can keep on dancing and be alive, that --- yes, Virginia --- there is a Pompatus of Love.

There's no justice

Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises. He boasts of the cravings of his heart; he blesses the greedy and reviles the LORD. In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God (Psalms 10:1-4).

My father's auto accident is turning into a nightmare. I took the day off (we only had a staff development day) and drove him to the doctor assigned to him by his lawyer. It wasn't a very inspirational visit; the whole thing smacked of shady operations and scams, with emphasis on needless daily "therapy" to establish pain and suffering in preparation for the forthcoming lawsuit. This is not the type of atmosphere my father is familiar with.

The woman who rear-ended him, whose husband works in a police department (though I don't believe he's a peace officer), is claiming that my father hit the car ahead of him first, causing this
woman to crash into him. What actually happened is that she hit him and smashed him into the car ahead. Since the two women in the car ahead felt only one impact, it's pretty clear that my father's is the true version. Still, obviously the woman at fault and her husband are adept at manipulating the system, and it looks like getting anything out of their insurance, much less medical or a rental car, will be like pulling teeth. Bad news.


On the plus side, tonight's trivia at the Hangout went well. We had eight teams, everyone seemed to have a lot of fun, and people came up and asked if they could play next week. It was a much more pleasant, affable atmosphere, not like last week when the horrible stench of futility lingered in the air as Friar and I asked questions to a basically empty room. Tonight was great; we even had an irritating very drunk girl come up on stage and bother us. I asked the room, "Who wants to escort this drunk idiot off stage?" and she got pissy and left. Awesome.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Blue bits

My laptop seems fixed, more or less. I may get back to writing my more typical introspective posts soon. For now, a few quick notes.

I stayed out until 4:00 a.m. last night. The usual goes by like a blur: playing video golf, having a deep heart-to heart with Friar about my current life situtation, and the guys ribbing Friar no end over that Kurt Vonnegut question from last week.

The Hangout has changed. For many years, the same waitstaff stayed on, a bunch of friendly, typical "indie" types. Recently, those mainstays all been cleared out, including my beloved AL (a mother-hen figure who came off brusque and unfriendly to strangers but is warm and friendly to those she likes). Now it's a bunch of young, muscle-bound guys (every one of them seems to train for mixed martial arts competitions) and extremely beautiful girls who show a lot of skin.

My father's neck and shoulders hurt from being rear-ended on Friday. I must skip work and take him to a doctor tomorrow. He's thinking of hiring a lawyer to make sure he gets compensated. I say, why not. This situation is worrying me more than the blog medium can appropriately express. It's hard to realize that your parents are not just mature, but elderly. And my father has always been a very stoic, tough, mentally and physically strong man.

I've been worried about him since before the accident. His driving has been a bit erratic, and he's terribly thin. His friends have remarked on it (depressing him no end), and even one of our neighbors, whose dog plays with my Dog nearly every day, said today that my father has seemed "more frail" to him in the last few months.

That neighbor's father has Alzheimer's. We talked a bit about aging, parents, responsibility and mortality.

I stayed a few hours at 74 and Zaftig's house while 74 tinkered with my laptop. he installed a new Microsoft brand anti-virus program. Their nine-month-old is a sweet, smiling baby. They're both well-employed and well-off. But oh, how they argued. Over petty things, really. It's unfortunate.

Maddening Angel called me, drunk and partying, from New Orleans. She's on some spur-of-the-moment vacation. Although she says she's dead broke, she does these things when friends make offers, and I'm sure there's a guy in it somewhere. I really am over mooning about her, though what once might have been jealousy has been replaced by an irrational twinge of resentment that she's out being young and having fun while I'm a grumpy old curmudegeon with no life.

Joy called me as well. She and her common-law husband, she says, are no longer in any relationship other than friendship. That's sad; they've got two kids, the youngest only one year old. I made plans to see them next week.

It's like Friar says. No job, no spouse, no kid is a sure-fire fix on your life. Everyone has problems.

So hot

Some kind of power malfunction, a brownout, has struck. The lights are flickering or intermittent. The AC has wound down.

Here's the difference between America's current power situation and India's. Most places in India have generators to deal with the problems caused by the inadequate infrastructure.

Things fall apart and the center cannot hold.

Sod this for a lark. I'm off to the Hangout.

Friday, August 11, 2006


My father, who had driven out to Bumfuck, Texas to see family friend Potato --- whose severely disabled only son may be dying --- was rear-ended. His car was knocked into the car in front of him, so both ends of the car are damaged. One of the passengers of the front car was carried out on a guerney with a neck brace, so it must have been some impact. My father says his neck doesn't feel too good either; hopefully he'll see a doctor soon. The woman who rear-ended him gave her insurance and all, so with luck everything will proceed seamlessly.

When I feel sorry for myself because I don't have kids and may not ever, I think of Potato, taking care of his poor wheelchair-bound son, wiping him and feeding him and watching him at all hours, and I tell myself to get off my pity pot. Potato --- in his 50s, divorced, alcoholic, just getting by financially, living in an RV in Bumfuck --- won't ever have another child, and the one he does have is deformed, unfinished, sent before his time into this breathing world scarce half made up.

The world is a sick machine breeding a mass of shit.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Still banished from the Internerd

My father took Dog to the vet because she had a limp. That's nothing --- they gave her pain pills --- but I'm worried she may have a cyst over her eye. I'll have to get her checked out soonish.

My friend 74, who works for Massive Computer Industry Corporation, said he will try to fix my laptop on Sunday, both purging it of viruses and repairing the CD-ROM drive. Huzzah! meanwhile, I installed my McAfee brand Norton AntiVirus program onto both my father's and mother's computers. Waste not want not.

I finished Of Mice And Men on audio and am now listening to R.L. Stevenson's Kidnapped in my car. Hoots, there's a wee tae muckle Scots dialect in it, and I canna grasp it all.

Everything put together some day falls apart

Maddening Angel broke her toe. I picked up some cartridges for her printer and dropped them off. We ate pizza and watched TV.

She is trying to pick up a little extra cash by posing for some "risqué" pictures for a well-known "tasteful"-type soft-core site.


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Moribund job

We've had a low enrollment at the school before, but the Job is feeling mighty moribund. A preschooler who started last Monday did not return this week. It may be that we have a lot of babies and toddlers on the waiting list, but my purview --- the preschool --- has seen its numbers dwindle appreciably.

I'm not really worried, as I don't like the Job all that much. It may be the end of an era, that's all. Then again, we may bounce back. The place has a way of doing that. But it also has a way of stagnating. I assume that we will never move into the new space.

Boring trivia

The live trivia Friar and I have been running at the Hangout was a big dud tonight. We had six teams at the start, but three left --- two openly deriding the content of our questions --- leaving only a bar employee, the usual barflies, and my father playing. (My father came in second!) As a knife twist, Mr. Hangout showed up to witness our implosion. On the plus side, I think Friar now realizes that his questions have been both intellectually lazy and off-puttingly difficult. For example, he once gave a line of a song and then asked for the next line (something no one but a rabid fan of the artists would have a hope of getting right) ; another time, he asked people to the twelve novels Kurt Vonnegut wrote between his first and last books. Boring question, far too hard. Perhaps we'll have a snappier session next week.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Alas poor Toshiba

My computer has been killed. I suspect a virus. Whatever the truth, one minute it was chugging along fine, the next minute it wouldn't let me work any of the programs or sign off. So posting for the foreseeable future will be desultory.

I went out and bought McAfee brand Norton Antivirus, but since (I remembered too late) my CD drive has been broken for months, it didn't help much. Although I can hardly afford it, I may need to get a new computer. Some classes at State School require Internet participation.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Our hearts pump dust

We're goin' down the road towards tiny cities made of ashes
I'm goin' to hit you on the face
I'm goin' to punch you in your glasses
--- Modest Mouse, "Tiny Cities Made Of Ashes"

I did a few errands (got the Dog her shots, went to the library and post office, etc). I've been reading a lot of fluff. Not total junk, but light reading like historical mysteries. I'm finished with the audio version of Frankenstein and now I'm listening to Of Mice And Men in my car. Gary Sinise reads it --- quite well, though as an actor he naturally puts great inflection and vivacity into the lines of dialogue and much less effort into the (to him) less important narration. He starred in a movie version that was pretty good, along with the amazing John Malkovich.

MA called me and I went to her place. We watched the 2005 version of House of Wax, the one with Paris Hilton and starring her opposite, some girl who was extremely attractive and could actually act. (MA and I like to appreciate hot girls together).

I can't help but think that Paris' death scene in that movie is an in-joke parodying her sex tape, or at least her well-known proclivities. First, the way she dies is a sort of grotesque mockery of fellatio --- she ends up kneeling, head down impaled into a pole --- and then the killer picks up a video camera and films her, and we see Paris' head in that position in a grainy, pale hand-held shot. Total dis!

"If I were in a movie with Paris Hilton," I remarked during a scene where she kisses some guy, "I'd demand a no-touching clause in my contract because of how she's a burbling, scathing cauldron of STD."

Anyway, it was a truly awful movie and horribly gory --- not in the least my cup of tea --- but I must admit the waxy effects at the film's climax were pretty cool.

I bought MA some fries and grilled cheese sandwich at a burger place and we ate them on her bed and then I left.

"How helpless a man is against a direct attack by a woman. As soon as she leaves the schoolroom a girl learns to fend off, ward off wild love; it becomes second nature; it offends noi code; it is commended not only by the world but by those very men who are thus repulsed. How different for a man! He has no such accumulated depth of armour; and the more delicate, the more gallant, the more 'honourable' he is the less he is able to withstand even a remote advance."
--- Patrick O'Brien, Post Captain

Friday, August 04, 2006

Jefferson turning over in his grave

All that foreign oil controlling American soil,
Look around you, it's just bound to make you embarrassed
Sheiks walkin' around like kings, wearing fancy jewels and nose rings
Deciding America's future from Amsterdam and Paris
--- Bob Dylan, "Slow Train Coming"

Ms. L, the new co-worker I wrote about earlier, turns out to be a Tamil-speaking Christian Indian who grew up in a certain city in Saudi Arabia (her father worked for the Arab American Oil Company).

She told me stories of being watched by the mutawa (religious police), being denied entrance to the American hospital if authorities suspected her family was actually going to the chapel, of their Bible being confiscated and thrown away.

It's no secret that Saudi Arabia is one of the most rigid religious tyrannies. (See here and here for just the tip of the iceberg.)

Yet this is the country America seems eager to be in bed with and to protect. American oil money has made this oppresive theocracy so wealthy that, in the words of my co-worker, "the air around the gold district literally glows yellow."

And let's not even get into the whole 9/11-Saudi link and the coverup there...

Be nice to people who are inferior to you

Step up and shake the hand
Of someone you can't stand
You can tolerate him if you try
--- Tom Lehrer, "National Brotherhood Week"

There's this guy, Dram, whom I occasionally meet at the Hangout. He's a local comedian and musician of no great critical acclaim. I like him okay, but whenever we meet there's this automatic, slightly hostile repartee between us, and he has made no secret of the fact that he doesn't appreciate my company at all. Which is fair enough, as I can be abrasive to a degree at the best of times, and for some reason he tends to bring out the itch in me to joust verbally. Everyone agrees, however, that we're very much alike and we both have personalities that tend to clash with others equally brash and cutting as we are. The difference is, I'm cognizant of it and willing to be plain and civil with Dram; he always turns it into a war of words. (Of course, there's always the possibility that our encounters are some sort of supremely arch meta-act to him, a comedian whose rather meta stage act consists in commenting how unfunny he is on stage --- in which case, I'm the thick one.)

Our exchanges usually end with me crossing some kind of line and him leaving. For example. A few meetings back, in repartee delicto, I said something or other ostensibly flattering but in so oily and obsequious a manner as to be rather insulting. He pounced on the flattering aspect and made an allusion to my apparent homosexuality. I replied, "I'm gay, all right." [Pause, eyelock.] "Gay for you!" He left.

Tonight, I saw Dram again. Once more, I was civil and kept to myself, but he started up the old badinage. Friar talked about an acquaintance of his whose dog had been hit by a car, and Dram suddenly turned quite vicious, saying he'd love to see me hit by a car and suffer before dying. (Honest, I hadn't said much up to this point.) I looked at him and said, "I dreamed yesterday I was having sex with your head." He blinked, and I clarified, "Not you. Just your head."

Friar added, "He was skullfucking you."

Dram left.

Everyone agreed that for someone whose chosen career involves dealing with heckling, Dram's not very good at dealing with heckling.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

You'll find out just who was your friend

Only if you're looking will it find you
‘Cause true love is searching too
But how can it recognize you
Unless you step out into the light?
--- Daniel Johnston, "True Love Will Find You In the End"

An Indian family toured the school today. The toddler son, a very small child, wore a tiny little silver bracelet. When I mentioned to the mother that I saw they were Sikhs from the bracelet, she was very pleased and we talked about Sikhism and India for a while. I've mentioned before that I greatly admire Sikhs as a people, if I may make a racist (though positive) generalization.

Speaking of work, there seem to be a lot of new faces popping up on the employee lists, and I don't know who they are or what they do. That is a testament to my antisocial nature, as the place only have four rooms and ten teachers total. I keep to myself a lot. With Perpetually Negative Co-Teacher on vacation, again, I have been sharing the two preschool rooms with Ms. L, a woman of some indeterminate Near Asian background. (I did ask her "Where are you from?", but although she speaks accented English absolutely fluently, she must have misunderstood, because she started telling me about her last place of work rather than her country of origin.)

One of the newer baby room teachers has been flirting with me rather heavily, but as I find this woman about as attractive as a beach ball, I've been downplaying it a bit. This, combined with this occurence regarding a State School classmate, should convince anyone that I am a dirty hypocrite underserving of affection, as I hope women I find attractive will look past my ridiculous and loathsome exterior to the warm kind intelligent funny loyal (and humble) interior beneath, but I seem unwilling to do the same much to them. (Though I have in the past.)

Actually, though (to my genuine surprise) these pages seem to record several instances of various girls flirting with me, I really am quite a naif when it comes to these things. When Waitress W told me with great seriousness as we drank together that she "really liked" me, was I supposed to say "I really like you, too --- let's go out?" (What I ended up saying, I think, was something like "Thanks.") When MA and I slept precariously on her narrow couch together and she took off her shirt (and this happened more than a few times), was I supposed to take that as an invitation to, uh, "make a move?" Or what? I'm kind of a square. Too late now!

Co-worker H, a rather air-headed 20-year-old still in college and not in any way a person of culture or intellect, is quitting to work as an aide in public school while she finishes her teaching program. This is yet another reminder of the gulf between the work I'm doing and the more respectable public education field. I'm renumerated extremely well compared to most in my position, but the fact that I'm in that position at all is several strikes against me as a man worthy of respect.

Eh, respect's overrated.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Somebody please take the wheel

Let me rant and let me ramble
You're lookin' at lunatic in shambles
I've got real issues I must wrestle
I'm unfit to steer the vessel...
I keep wishing, I keep waiting
This couldn't be more irritating
Right now I'm feeling like an ant
Let me ramble let me rant
--- Mighty Mighty Bosstones, "Let Me Be"

Spooky text messaged me. This is the first contact I've had from her since I don't know when. Literally, I forgot. Anyway, she said she wanted her pictures back --- the photos she gave me of her and Baby to put on my bulletin board at home. Well, she'll have to wait a while, as I threw them away. Not out of any malice, regret or hurt feelings; I just had no use or sentiment for them and didn't think I'd hear from her again. She also said in the text that she's leaving town in two weeks. It's pretty clear that her relationship with Babydaddy was more than she let on, and I'm sure she was always planning on moving with him to wherever he's going.

What else? Maddening Angel called me, but again I missed the call. I'm almost afraid to return her calls, because I know we're not as close as we once were, and I feel bad about that. However, that's ridiculous; it is what it is, and I should enjoy whatever time we have fun together. She was a good friend once, and there's no reason why she can't be again, even if on much narrower terms.

At work, we got a new kid (which is good --- gotta keep that enrollment up, as a lot of kids are leaving now that summer's winding down). By the end of the day, she was asking for me when I was with the other class and holding my hand when I was in the room. I really do have a strange, special kind of immediate bond with most kids. I'm in the right field. I just need to make a real career of it.

Friar is usually a pretty astute person, but the other day he and his boss's wife were bandying about the idea of inviting me to one of their district attorney mixers. I said to them that women who make the money that DA's make are not interested in guys who make the money I make. Friar disagreed, saying "they don't care what a man makes, since they already make a lot of money." Now that's just foolish. I don't claim to know the beginning and end of it --- if this goes back to some kind of atavistic need for a hunter/protector while women domesticate, or if it's just a modern Western thing --- but it's pretty obvious that just as men seek pulchritude, women seek financial security. You see an attractive, dynamic woman happy with a man who has no financial or career security about as often as you see a wealthy man happy with an conventionally ugly woman. The reverse, of course, is as common as it clichéd: gorgeous women flock to pecuniary powerhouses, whatever they look like, and wealthy men seek out beauty, no matter how shallow or unconvivial.

"So what's wrong with being sexy?"

It's so elegant / So intelligent

At work, three-year-old M, apropos of absolutely nothing, starts shaking her head: "We don't poke babies in the eyes. No."

Me: "Uh... no, that's probably not a good idea." (Inner voice: Holy shit! What the hell?)


The third weekly Hangout trivia night went just fine. Friar and I had a lot of fun and drank for free, and two people from last week came back. A newcomer won second place. It's catching on!

Afterwards, Friar mentioned a few one-day jobs his firm might have for me (monkey work, but hell, it's something to do, and fairly lucrative --- I'll do it, if indeed it ever pans out, as with Friar you never can tell). He also had some cold hard words of truth about my personal and social status which took me down off the happy crest I was riding after the game. I don't blame him; he does a lot to boost my spirits normally and to help me out. He's right. I'm too old and too educated to be in the middling stage of life I find myself; my career-minded peers are still in college. I'm doing what I can to ameliorate my life, but it's a slow and laborious process. Yes, I'm predisposed to plunge into periodic passages of pessimism.

It's not just an image used in fiction. It is really true that at my age, one day you sort of wake up and look back to see, to your surprise, that your life has more or less happened by itself, with less input from you than you'd have thought. In a lot of cases, I figure people look back and nod approvingly; I'm one of the losers who wonder what the hell happened and shrug apathetically.


The Mighty Mighty Bosstones: good for what ails you? Quite often.

Here are four bands that I greatly admire but own zero albums by: the Alarm, the Fall, the Jam, the Who.